Saturday, June 24, 2006

Finding excuses

Pita Sharples has got involved in the Kahui case.

On TV3 last night he very upset that people were "Blaming Maori as though we are all responsible for what a Maori does." As an individualist I am sympathetic to this viewpoint. I wouldn't want to be blamed for what Donna Awatere-Huata did because she is a woman and so am I, or she was an ACT member and so am I.

But from the DomPost this morning, he said non-cooperation was a "cultural thing" relating to the family being dysfunctional and dispossessed.

Well now he is taking the opposite tack. Only a Maori family would have reasons of 'culture' and 'dispossession' put up for their actions. These are collective excuses.

If Sharples is going to promulgate them then he'll have to put up with the consequences.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Unpaid fines? Be warned!

Just heard a advertisement on radio saying if you don't want to see your name published in the newspaper then you better pay your fines. You wouldn't want your mum or your friends to know, the voice suggested. Do you think fine-dodgers will give a stuff? For that matter, with speed cameras widely believed to be a revenue gathering exercise, is there any particular stigma attached anyway?

That's going to be one very big advertisement.

A very angry community

This morning Paul Holmes was doing one of his question and answer routines which, for those who don't listen, is a monologue with himself. "Is there growing community anger about the Kahui twins?" "OhhhhYesss"

With the latest press conference this afternoon revealing the family met after the twins had been taken to hospital and collectively decided not to co-operate with police enquiries, the issue is approaching boiling point. Apparently Pita Sharples is trying to reason with them.

A way forward

A commentor asked, given the DPB is so entrenched, how do we get rid of it?

Within the context of a government provided welfare system, go back the way we came. First make it strictly temporary. One year maximum for newcomers. That would act as a fairly effective deterrent - a major priority.

For those already on it, eligibility remains until their current youngest is 6 or one year from the time of change - whichever is longer.

The government could set up a voluntary contributory insurance scheme which gives cover for relationship breakdown where there are dependent children. This would provide extra cover. As with ACC a non-Labour government would privatise such a scheme.

radio host for a week

Ex ACT MP, Deborah Coddington is hosting Justin du Fresne's NewstalkZB show next week. (Unless she is hosting Leighton Smith's programme and we are getting the Auckland broadcast which is what usually happens when Justin is away.)

"What ridiculous lawmaking is that?"

The Timaru Herald describes the practical difficulties with enforcing the micro-chipping legislation as it stands. But not before asking the question on thinking people's minds;

Wednesday night's vote on dog microchipping shows just what an ass the legislation is. The Green Party MPs who voted to exempt working dogs did so not with that aim, but to make microchipping as a whole unworkable. What ridiculous lawmaking is that?

Sad loss

It is very sad news that Dave Bowman has passed away. Dave was a very public face fighting for the funding of cancer treatment. I sometimes heard him on the radio and watched the Inside New Zealand programme he made. It is amazing what some people can achieve even with deteriorating health. He certainly made sense of his losing his life prematurely. But it must be very hard for his young family.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I don't care about people in prison....

Well, actually, I do. Believe it or not I have a strong humanitarian streak and find it very hard not to find some saving grace in most people. So let me put that in context. I don't care about people in prison as much as I care about people not in prison. So if we can protect law-abiding people from thugs by locking them up - the thugs that is - well I'm all for it. Here David Green makes the case for building more prisons. The same reasoning can be applied to the New Zealand situation.

(Thanks to The Welfare State We're In for the link)

Let the bribes begin

What will they think of to bribe voters with next?

Forget "free" doctors visits, free childcare, free school milk. Think free PC pornography filters. That's what the Federal government of Australia is promising.

Another compelling reason to pack our bags? I think not.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What went wrong?

My thoughts have crystallised over the past few days. Welfare alone can't be blamed for the underclass that creates tragedies like the deaths of the Kahui twins. But it has a damn lot to do with matters;

A teenage Maori girl had just miscarried. It was suggested her mother made sure she was given contraceptives to prevent a recurrence of another unwanted pregnancy. "No point," came the answer. Why? Because she won't use them. Her and her mates are mad on having babies.

The girl has no job, no qualifications, no partner, no secure home. Her own family distrusts her because she is a compulsive liar.

But as sure as summer yields to autumn, this girl will become a mother. From her viewpoint it's a rational decision. She can sign up for the DPB, get priority for a state house and play mum. Of course, she'll still want to party with her mates of both sexes. She knows none of the discipline or sacrifice that bringing up a child requires. She has never learnt either.

This one is not going to be a good mother. Yet around the late 1960s an idea developed that all children, without exception, are better off with their birth mothers. The wave of opposition to adoption grew. Taking babies away from their birth mothers came to be seen as almost barbaric.

During the fifties and sixties a young mother could choose to keep her child. There were emergency sickness benefits which covered her for a few months while she breastfed the baby. But ultimately she would need family support, or work to pay for childcare, in order to keep her child.

From 1968 to 1972 a benefit called the domestic purposes emergency benefit became available. The social security department could grant this at their discretion. But in 1973 that benefit became statutory, which meant any single parent qualified - no questions asked. The reason for their single parenthood no longer had any bearing on whether the state would assist them.

Adoptions plummetted. Homes for unmarried mothers were no longer needed. The ex-nuptial birthrate soared. This was the new utopia feminists had pushed for.

By the early eighties street kids started to dominate the headlines. Hundreds were reckoned to be living rough in Auckland, in parks and derelict buildings. Many turned to crime and girls often became pregnant.

By 1982 the National Council of Women were advocating adult guardians for teenage mums whose own parents had abdicated any responsibility for. The first generation of children kept by mothers without the emotional or financial wherewithal to parent properly was already repeating the cycle.

Many of the worst cases of violence against children happen to those born to very young mums who continue to have a series of partners and more children by them. Their homes are chaotic and unkempt as are their children. The parent and her mates go on living just as they did before they brought the babies home. Their role as "carers" is a total misnomer because very little caring is going on. Often gang members are involved, tagging on to the mother's steady benefit income and cheap housing.

The lifestyle isn't confined to Maori although it seems to hold more appeal to this ethnic group than others. Newborns going into these "homes" are the acutely vulnerable. Researchers who analysed data from the nineties found children from DPB homes were four times more likely to become the subject of a CYF care and protection notification.

Everybody who works in the social services area can provide too much anecdotal evidence that the cycle of deprivation and depravation is driven, in part, by policy that encourages children to bear children. The idea that all birth mothers, without exception, are the best people to bring up their babies has had tragic consequences.

We must reconsider. While adoption might not have been ideal what we swapped it for has proven far worse for too many children.

Shocker story from the UK

This is a shocker.
A 43 year-old British women who contracted HIV from an Afro-Carribean man went on a "mission" to infect as many other men of the same ethnicity as possible. She has been jailed for 32 months. Spare a thought for her son.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


So now we know that the Kahui house was a "party" house. Neighbours said it was difficult to tell how many people lived there because so many came and went. A small house which could have no more than three bedrooms with a media-reported 9 people living there. Broken windows, banged up boards, loud music. It makes me ill to know that two exceedingly vulnerable babies were taken to live there.
What do you notice about this photo? It was taken in the 1950s at a Salvation Army home for unmarried mothers. I imagine most of these babies would have been adopted out. At that time a mother could only get an emergency sickness benefit for a few months while she breastfed the child, and less frequently, a longer term unemployment benefit was granted, but ultimately if she wanted to keep her child she had to make her own arrangements either with family support or care paid for while she worked. Be honest. Have we really improved matters with the statutory DPB?

More women in prison

The "soaring" female prison population is something I have been aware of for some time. Criminologist Greg Newbold's comment is really interesting and in keeping with a tendency he has to pour oil on troubled waters.

"The female population tends to be very volatile because it is quite small. There have been more women in prison, but there have been a lot more men in prison, too," he said.

Women's imprisonment rates had been higher in the 1940s and the 1880s, when they reached 16% of the total prison population, so the current situation should not be alarming, he said.

Now this is sheer speculation from me but in the 1940's the male population was severely depleted on the back of WW11. In the 1880s prostitution and drunkeness were rife. The Women's temperance movement was the reaction to this.

Comparing 2006 to the 1880s is probably more useful than to the 1940s.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Contemplating pregnancy on a benefit

The New Zealand Medical Association deputy chairman, Don Simmers, today said that too many women are contemplating pregnancy on a benefit.

Statistics show that thousands of babies are born onto benefits each year. At July last year 26,126 children had been added to a current benefit.

This isn't just a matter of contraception failure. Anecdotal evidence says many of these babies have been planned. It is encouraging to hear Dr Simmers confirming his. With contraception highly accessible there can be no other explanation for this high rate of child-bearing on a benefit.

Too many women with tobacco, alcohol and drug habits which lead to benefit dependency are busy planning their next meal ticket. It is a crazy welfare system that encourages this by paying more cash with each child produced.

War on drugs "long lost"

Increasingly experts are lending legitimacy to the idea that the war on drugs is highly questionable. Here a former deputy chief constable declares the Scottish war on drugs is "long lost." Tom Wood now holds the "influential post of chairman of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, a body which advises the Executive on future policy".

"In order to make a difference in the long term, education and deterrence have to go to the top of the pile. We have to have the courage and commitment to admit that we have not tackled the problem successfully in the past. We have to win the arguments and persuade young people that drugs are best avoided."

Foreign doctors

According to the College of Practitioners 34 percent of New Zealand GPs are trained overseas and the rural sector would collapse without them. Let's hear it for foreign doctors.

Assimilate or else....

The Dutch are considering introducing a very tough knowledge test for immigrants which would involve 600 hours of course-work. Amongst other subjects it would educate about Holland's traditionally liberal attitudes towards abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality. For those who do not pass, fines, cuts in benefits or termination of residence are proposed. In a population of about 16 million there are around 1.5 million immigrants.

School "fees"

Apparently the Ministry of Education is looking at changing rules about how schools extract donations. Donations must not be called "fees". Pressure must not be put on parents.

Mr English said the Government would be better off being honest with parents and admitting that free education was no longer a reality and that the costs were instead shared by the Government, parents and the community.

That's not really honest either. Free education was never a reality. The only people whose kids are getting a free education are those who are effectively not paying tax. With all the increased redistribution under Labour there should be more money available for school fees and donations.

Mapp's bill will sink

Looks like Wayne Mapp's employment bill, which would see a 90-day probationary period introduced, has sunk. Pita Sharples is voting against it. That is a damn shame. A probationary period would have helped Maori in particular get a foot in the door. Without it there will be fewer opportunities.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Another unnecessary, tragic death

Ironically, while I have been talking about the hysteria over child abuse, another baby has died from head injuries which appear to have been the result of assault.

Latest political polling

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – More voters in New Zealand are voicing support for the opposition National party, according to a poll by Roy Morgan International. 44.5 per cent of respondents would vote for National in the next election, while 40 cent would back the governing Labour party.

The Greens are in third place with 6.5 per cent, followed by New Zealand First with 4.5 per cent, United Future with two per cent, ACT with 1.5 per cent, and the Maori Party with one per cent.

I wonder what is behind that poor Maori Party result? The tobacco ban? Or, with the margin of error, is it just not significant?

"Problems with images"

Following on from yesterday's post about the climate of hysteria surrounding child abuse, here's another hair-raising story, this time out of Florida and this time, a recent occurrence. A nanny was arrested and held in prison for two years after secret camera footage appeared to show her shaking a baby in her care. The baby had no injuries and the nanny has never been taken to trial or convicted. She is now suing the camera manufacturer;

In March, Broward County prosecutors said experts they had consulted concluded the footage was not reliable as evidence because its videotape was time-lapsed, meaning that the movements that appeared to be rough shaking might not have been as violent as they appeared.

Robert McKee, Muro's civil attorney, said the footage was misleading and consumers should be warned about problems with the images.

As an afterthought, the phrase "problems with images" reminded me of these TV images of Resident Doctor's Association secretary, Deborah Powell, used by the DomPost yesterday. It seems obvious the conveyance of a certain impression was intended;

The three photos on the left-right diagonal are quite distorted and reminiscent of a particular image which I will not post here. But this is a good example of the media exploiting images to suit their slant on matters.