Saturday, September 16, 2006

If you read one thing today make it this

This is a must read from the UK, bearing in mind that our Children's Commissioner, with plenty of support from CYF, the judiciary and other advocacy groups wants to do the same thing. But look at the difference in this piece compared to similar reports you might read in NZ. Typically the journalist goes to one person for a comment and thinks that provides balance. This article reassures me that the level of criticism is strong and the various voices are reported. Some of the UK public are prepared to put up a fight. Are you?

Civil liberties and children's campaigners are to hold a conference at the London School of Economics on Tuesday to highlight their concerns.

Terri Dowty, director of children's rights group Arch, said: 'Who is bringing children up? Are parents effectively nannies for the state's children or are children born to families and the state just helps families when they ask for it?'

Dr Eileen Munro, an expert in child protection at the LSE, said: 'The authority of parents is being eroded because the children's services, health education and social care are being asked to intervene.

'On the whole parents are the greatest source of safety and welfare that any child has.'

Jonathan Bamford, the Assistant Information Commissioner which polices access to information, said there was no justification for keeping check on 12 million children when only a small proportion were at risk.

He said: 'When you are looking for a needle in a haystack, is it necessary to keep building bigger haystacks?

'The cause for concern indicator against a child's record is expressed in very broad language. For example, it could be cause for concern that a child is not progressing well towards his or her French GCSE.'

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: 'We are heading towards a situation in which an entire generation of kids won't know what privacy is, as though we are preparing them for prison rather than life in a free society. It is time to ask ourselves why we sacrifice the privacy of our children first.'

Friday, September 15, 2006

More for moderate Mr Key

Tut tut. Here I go "citing partisan reports" again. I can't resist Thomas Sowell. (Make this relevant by substituting Maori teenagers for Black teenagers);

It was a common political move when Chicago’s city council voted recently to impose a $10 an hour minimum wage on big-box retailers. There is nothing that politicians like better than handing out benefits to be paid for by someone else.

What was uncommon was the reaction. Chicago’s Mayor Richard M. Daley denounced the bill as “redlining,” since it would have the net effect of keeping much-needed stores and jobs out of black neighborhoods. Both Chicago newspapers also denounced the bill. The crowning touch came when Andrew Young, former civil rights leader and former mayor of Atlanta, went to Chicago to criticize local black leaders who supported this bill. While the $10 an hour minimum wage was politics as usual, the unusual backlash against it provides at least a glimmer of hope that more people are beginning to consider the economic consequences of such feel-good legislation.

A survey has shown that 85 percent of the economists in Canada and 90 percent of the economists in the United States say that minimum wage laws reduce employment. But you don’t need a economics to know that jacking up prices leads fewer people to buy. Those people include employers, who hire less labor when labor is made artificially more expensive.

It happens in France, it happens in South Africa, it happens in New Zealand. How surprised should we be when it happens in Chicago? The economic consequence of political largess -– whether in the form of minimum wage laws or medical or other benefits mandated to be paid for by employers -– is to make labor artificially
more expensive.

Countries with generous employee benefits mandated by law -– Germany and France, for example -– have chronically higher unemployment rates than unemployment rates in the United States, where jobs are created at a far higher rate than in Europe. There is no free lunch. Higher labor costs mean fewer jobs.

Since all workers do not have the same skill or experience, minimum wage laws have more impact on some than on others. Young, inexperienced and unskilled workers are especially likely to find it harder to get a job when wage rates have been set higher than the value of their productivity.

In France, where the national unemployment rate is 10 percent, the unemployment rate among workers less than 26 years old is 23 percent. Among young people from the Muslim minority, the unemployment rate is even higher.

In the United States, the group hardest hit by minimum wage laws are black male teenagers. Those who refuse to admit that the minimum wage is the reason for high unemployment rates among young blacks blame racism, lack of education and whatever else occurs to them.

The hard facts say otherwise. Back in the 1940s, there was no less racism than today and black teenagers had no more education than today, but their unemployment rate was a fraction of what it is now -– and was no different from that of white teenagers.

What was different back then? Although there was a minimum wage law on the books, the inflation of that era had raised wage rates well above the specified minimum, which had remained unchanged for years. For all practical purposes, there was no minimum wage law. Only after the minimum wage began to be raised, beginning in 1950, and escalating repeatedly in the years thereafter, did black teenage unemployment skyrocket.

Most studies show unemployment resulting from minimum wages. But a few studies that reach different conclusions are hailed as having “refuted” the “myth” that minimum wages cause unemployment. Some of these latter studies involve surveying employers before and after a minimum wage increase.

But you can only survey employers who are still in business. By surveying people who played Russian roulette and are still around, you could “refute” the “myth” that Russian roulette is dangerous.

Minimum wage laws play Russian roulette with people who need jobs and the work experience that will enable them to rise to higher pay levels. There is now a glimmer of hope that more people are beginning to understand this, despite political demagoguery

S word out and other stuff

I didn't know that the S word couldn't be broadcast in the US. Apparently the Federal Communications Commission has banned it;

This spring, the FCC declared s-words, like f-words before them, to be a step beyond merely “indecent.” Now they are “profane.” That means that these “most offensive words in the English language” will “provoke violent resentment,” and that uttering them on the public airwaves is as good as guaranteed to be punished.

But the President uses it.

And so the FCC now censors and chills political speech—even that of the president, for most broadcast outlets did choose to bleep him for fear of fines. Mind you, the commission does recognize some constitutionally protected speech. That is why it has not ruled racial or religious epithets to be profane: because those words can be political. In the FCC’s skewed logic, then, the n-word is political speech but BS is not.

It took me a while to figure out what the N word is.

So whose community standards is the FCC upholding? The FCC says all America is provoked to “violent resentment” over bullshit. Well, bullshit. Show me the man, woman, or, yes, child in a schoolyard who has not uttered the word. Search Google, and you will find 32 million bullshits. Bullshit is part of our language, culture, and politics. The FCC is not enforcing the nation’s community standards. It is enforcing the taboos of a few religious pressure groups.

I'm pretty sure the S word is allowable here. In fact I think have used the long form of BS on radio....then again, I am more likely to use the word 'bollocks'. In relating what another person had said, I was hesitating over using the P word the other day, but the host said it for me. Here are the published guidelines for radio broadcasters;

1a Broadcasters will take into consideration current norms of decency and good taste in language and behaviour bearing in mind the context in which any language or behaviour occurs and the wider context of the broadcast eg time of day, target audience.

Which reminds me. Lindsay Perigo is standing in for John Tamihere on the Tamihere/Jackson Radio Live show. Jackson, left-wing, unionist, ex-Alliance MP described Perigo yesterday as a "right-wing, fascist."

Doubtless together they will be pushing the boundaries of decency and good taste. Generally I prefer NewstalkZB because of professionals like Justin du Fresne and Larry Williams. On Radio Live some hosts are never happier than when they are slagging each other off. Bad taste.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Minimum wages hurt the people they are supposed to help

There is plenty of analysis showing the effects of raising the minimum wage to be detrimental. People who advocate for raising minimum wages are cynical populists. John Key has a big future as a politician.

Daily Policy Digest


Wednesday, March 08, 2006


After humiliation at the polls in November, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger now advocates raising the state minimum wage from its current $6.75 an hour to $7.75 by July 2007, says David Henderson of the Hoover Institution. While Democrats support the idea of helping poorer families, researchers claim artificial wage rates adversely affect lower income people.

Consider the findings of various economists:

* Only 20 percent of the workers potentially affected by an earlier one dollar increase in California's minimum wage were supporting a family on a single minimum-wage income. The other 80 percent were teenagers or adult children living with their parents, adults living alone or dual earners in a married couple.

* Increases in minimum wages actually redistribute income among poor families by giving wage increases to some and putting others out of work. They estimate the 1996 and 1997 federal minimum-wage increase amplified the proportion of poor families by one-half to one percentage point.

* People in their late 20s worked less and earned less the longer they
were exposed to a high minimum wage, presumably because the minimum wage destroyed job opportunities early in their work life.


* A comprehensive survey of studies of the minimum-wage increase found that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage reduces employment of young workers by one percent to two percent.

* If this estimate holds for California, Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposed 15 percent increase would destroy 1.5 to 3 percent of young Californians' jobs -- about 35,000 to 70,000 jobs.

Me and the EBs

It's a Big night in our house tonight. Supernova final. Haven't missed a show. I'll be glued to the set and heaven help anyone who makes a noise or tries to distract me. I can't stand Lucas Rossi and love Dilana to death. But now I know just how frustrated the Exclusive Brethren feel.

I don't vote.

I can't vote.

I don't know how to text.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Key disappoints again

John Key should be on the Labour benches. If he assumes the leadership of National I will at least cease to be conflicted over my support for Don Brash but distrust of National.
This is very sad. I hope they can find a happy outcome.

Statement from Don Brash re request for privacy
Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 1:41 pm
Press Release: New Zealand National Party
13 September 2006
Don Brash MP
National Party Leader

Statement from Don Brash

National Party Leader Don Brash advised today that he and Mrs Brash have been having some difficulties in their marriage and as a result he has taken leave for a couple of days to spend time with his family.

"Je Lan and I are working through these difficulties, and we are both committed to making our marriage work.

"As people will understand, this is a very difficult time for me and my family. I ask that the media respect our need for privacy."

Social engineering not working 2

This time from Scotland, A £100 million, ten-year government health drive has failed to improve Scotland's diet, according to a damning report, which reveals many of the country's eating habits are worse than they were a decade ago.

But look at the picture that accompanies the story;

The results were blamed on a reliance on junk food and lack of co-ordination in government, agriculture and industry. Picture: PA

That burger doesn't look too bad. Occasionally I either buy Angel Bay burgers or make my own, put them on fresh rolls with fresh lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Everybody likes them. What's the big deal?

Social engineering not working

More on life expectancies. Researchers have found a more than thirty-year difference in life expectancies amongst Americans;

At one end of the scale are Asian-American women living in New Jersey, who have an average life expectancy of 91 years, according to a Harvard University report.

At the other extreme are American Indians in South Dakota, whose average life expectancy is only 58 years.

The life spans of the healthiest Americans are more than 30 years longer than those of the least healthy, despite more than two decades of efforts to reduce the disparities.

"There are millions of Americans that have lifespans the same as in developing countries," Dr Murray said. "That alone is pretty remarkable, considering we spend $US5000 ($A6600) a year per person on health care."

The gaps between groups had if anything grown in the past two decades, he said.

"In simple terms, there has been a lot of discussion and effort, but no progress."

Since hearing Gareth Morgan describe the Indian reservations he recently travelled through I've been meaning to have a closer look at the subject. This article pretty well says it all.

Quick succession babies shorten mother 's life

New research based on data from the UK and US shows that women who have less than an 18 month interval between babies have a higher mortality rate.

Mothers who have babies in rapid succession could be putting their physical and emotional health at risk, experts said.

The study also provided further evidence of the link between teenage motherhood and poorer health in later life.

This may be why, in part, Maori women have a shorter life expectancy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Attack on Exclusive Brethren continues

Well, I guess they asked for it when they went after Labour and the Greens but I find myself marvelling at Labour's hypocrisy whereby they feign deep concern about the Exclusive Brethren but put Muslims on a pedestal.

Sue Moroney manouvered this primary question with a further supplementary to give Dalziel a chance to have a go.

SUE MORONEY to the Minister of Women's Affairs: What reports, if any, has she received encouraging women to enter non-traditional apprenticeships and trades?

Supplementary; What barriers exist to women taking up non-traditional roles in society?

Lianne Dalziel; Unfortunately there are some groups in New Zealand whose beliefs dictate that men make all the decisions and women are treated as second class citizens, unable to participate in any areas of New Zealand life. One of the groups is the Exclusive Brethren, whose beliefs limit choices for women, which is why their alignment to a major political party presents such a threat to the advancement of women here in New Zealand if their policies were ever to be implemented.

"Sunday's Babies"

It's still a buzz when the mainstream media publish one of my pieces. This one, Sunday's Babies, was picked up by the Hawkes Bay Today and the Wellingtonian. That they get published tells me that public opinion is shifting, if at a snail's pace.

Govt complicit, govt gutless

The writer of the DomPost editorial and myself are on the same wave-length. These appear together today. (Left click on the editorial to enlarge)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Begging letter

Dear Wellington City Council

While I was visiting your library this morning a parking attendant placed a $40 fine under my windscreen wiper. Imagine my surprise when I returned to my vehicle, having put ample money in the pay and display machine to take me through to 11 am. Of course, it does pay to actually extract the ticket from said machine and display it on the dashboard. I am afraid I missed this important step.

As with a similar recent incident when having asked the ATM for $100 dollars I either a/ confused the receipt with the cash and put the latter in a conveniently located trash can or B/ I simply walked away from the machine without removing the five twenty dollar bills.

I am also reminded of another recent episode when my husband and I arrived at Wellington airport ready to board the 7 am flight to Auckland only to find I had booked us on the 7 pm flight. This necessitated a further expenditure of $700 in order to meet an important engagement.

Either I have entered the first stages of Alzheimer's disease or I am living proof that women cannot multi-task - that is, use their brains and their hands simultaneously. Whichever is the case, as you can see it is a very expensive business.

Would you consider waiving the charge on compassionate grounds? I cannot vouch for my safety if my husband discovers I have yet again treated his hard-earned cash as if it had no more value than Zimbabwean currency.

Your Sincerely

PM - It's a conspiracy

In her regular interview with Paul Holmes this morning the Prime Minister decided to turn the Libertarianz' pledge-card court-case into another secret funding conspiracy. Describing the Libertarianz as a "small right-wing outfit" she asked, "Who thinks the Libertarianz can afford this?"

And again, just to make sure you get the message, "The question is, who is paying for this?"

My question is, will PC be sending HC a sermon on why the Libertarianz are not right-wing?

Update; Latest NewstalkZB headlines reporting that the PM is now suggesting National is behind the "plot".

Oh, sod it

Inadvertently Sue Kedgley can be very funny. She was talking about her train trip up country to collect petition signatures and how there was a barrow-full awaiting her in Otorohanga. It's quite exciting apparently. That same wheel barrow, she said, was used to overturn the first sod on the Overlander!

This was followed by a very pregnant pause from the newsreader....

(This is what she meant, I think.)

Where to next?

1) What has our country achieved on employment and poverty issues over the last 12 years?

2) What have we learned?

3) What do you think will be the main issues that we will need to focus on in the next 12 years?

These are the three questions asked by the final issue of the Jobs Letter which has been published since 1994 and provides a valuable source for anybody interested in such matters. There are answers from a range of politicians, academics, economists, mayors, councillors, trade unionists...and me. You may have your own.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"The pregnancy police are watching you"

I have suggested before that women on the methadone programme should also receive a contraception injection as a condition of participating. I even agree with the idea of paying "crack" mothers to voluntarily have their tubes tied, but the following moves into another realm entirely (it's an excerpt from a Guardian piece which appeared in today's SST);

In the US, women of child-bearing age are being advised to consider themselves 'pre-pregnant' at all times, by giving up smoking, drinking and drugs. What are the implications of treating people as glorified incubators, asks Diane Taylor

Two-faced troublemakers

I am assuming that the Progressive Enterprise workers are striking because of low pay (and some regional parity issues). Here's what I don't understand. Many would qualify for Working For Families assistance. Others, especially young singles, could qualify for an accommodation allowance.

These income support payments are means-tested. If their wages go up they stand to lose assistance $1 for $1. This is a simplistic but valid supposition.

But the likes of Laila Harre have a passion for sticking it to the employer first and failing that, the taxpayer second. It isn't really about the employee, who gains nothing. I will never forget her comment when it was pointed out some people were ripping off Paid Parental Leave by taking it and not returning to work. So what. It's paid for by the state, she said.

And Sue Bradford says she doesn't want the taxpayer subsidising the employer but have you ever heard her calling for less income support? No. Her answer would be to raise the thresholds for qualifying. That way she can hit up the employer and the taxpayer.

Without these infernal interferers, wealth-sapping bureaucracies, dole for deadbeats, witless politicians, the meddling masses of non-producing parasites, we would ALL be better off.