Saturday, October 21, 2006

Liberal thinking from the Liberal Party

I'm very pleased to see Heather Roy and Rodney Hide are officially against raising the drinking age. For those lobbying for this legislation here are some questions;

Are we going to increase the responsibility of 18 and 19 year-olds by taking it away from them?

How are we going to teach responsible drinking by disallowing it?

Will 18 and 19 year-olds stop drinking or binge-drinking because it is illegal?

Why remove individual freedom from all people simply because they belong to a group which includes some who cannot handle it?

The wowsers are in ascent

Some days I simply want to scream, what with the prospect of raising the drinking age and now a proposal to nationalise the tobacco industry. As my husband says those promoting this idea are "complete lunatics".

"....there's growing interest in defining a clear end-game to the tobacco problem." People will always drink and people are always going to smoke. Get over it. Christ we've been having these arguments for over one hundred years in NZ alone.

If only the state can produce tobacco and the state is constantly rising the price what will happen? The black market will expand rapidly. The taxpayer will be left footing the cost of its failing tobacco industry and policing the crime it has created. Brilliant. I can hear the Mongrel Mob cheering now.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Stretching it

The Ministry of Social Development released its Annual Report today. Full of meaningless repetitive waffle it proudly informs us that there are now 9,000 employees in 200 sites, "supporting more than 1 million New Zealanders in living successful lives." What can I say?

The value of individualism

Individualism is a much maligned and misunderstood concept. Too often it is used to describe a 'me first generation'. Individualism is necessarily accompanied by voluntarism whereas collectivism nearly always relies on compulsion.

The following is the conclusion of a column from Peter Saunders of the Australian Centre for Independent Studies. It appeared in the NZBRT's Perpsectives;

The attempt by our politicians to identify ‘Australian values’ is degenerating into a farcical stand-off between those who insist that immigrants should know the rules of cricket and those who want them to understand the history of trade unionism. What neither side in this debate understands is that we do not need a prescribed set of values for everyone to sign up to.

To live peaceably in Australia , it is not necessary to understand cricket, celebrate trade unionism, or even call people your ‘mate.’ Nor does it matter if you are a Catholic or a Protestant, a Muslim or a Christian, a conservative or a socialist. All that matters is that you should respect other people’s right
to be different from you.

Arguing about whether this or that value is essential to an Australian identity is therefore pointless. All that needs to be said (and reaffirmed repeatedly in all our schools) is that in Australia you can believe what you like, but using force to impose your morality on anyone else puts you beyond the limits of tolerance. As a society of modernity, we must tenaciously and unambiguously defend our commitment to the core ethic of individualism, nothing more, nothing less.

Stealing spare parts

Here's a story to make your hair curl (if you have any). Seven New York undertakers have been arrested for stealing bodyparts and selling them.

The way to get around this risk is offer to give away anything of any use. That's what I've done. My husband says that anything extracted from me will at least be "well-preserved".

What went wrong?

(Left click to enlarge).

Interesting that projections from 1972 predicted our population would reach 5 million by around 2000 and following the same trajectory, near to 6 million by 2006. These predictions were based on medium and low immigration. What happened?

The average number of children per woman was 2.36 which has dropped to around 2.01. That wouldn't account for the 2 million deficit. Immigration was restricted to 5,000 per year for a good number of years but that would still give us the lower line.

They didn't account for the outflow.

More on the state house saga

There is no link to a further piece in today's DomPost that says the family refusing to move from the Panmure state house is also refusing to be interviewed by media unless they get paid. They are negotiating an exclusive with TV3. Smart. Easy money. This is the new gravy train where you get rewarded for breaking the law by dressing it up as being victimised.

And I cannot help but note the tenant is expecting another child. In reality there will be more people living in that house, quite probably a boyfriend, but they cannot 'fess up because they would lose their benefit entitlements. Any sympathy I had for this outfit is fast evaporating.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cullen is pathetic

Is this tittle-tattle-titty-bit worthy of a media statement? Probably the "probably" John Key uttered has been taken out of context. Whatever. I don't care. With everything that has been going on regarding the surplus, the validation legislation, the CIS tax report, Dunne's tax-cut intimations, the deficit, etc., IS THIS THE BEST HE CAN DO?

Gloom and doom predictions

John Tierney, arguing for the need to balance uncertain future events against certain costs today, examines past prophecies of over-population;

* Four decades ago, scientists were so determined to prevent famines that they analyzed the feasibility of putting "fertility control agents" in public drinking water; the physicist William Shockley suggested using sterilization to impose a national limit on the number of births.

* Planned Parenthood's policy of relying on voluntary birth control was called a "tragic ideal" by the ecologist Garrett Hardin, arguing that "freedom to breed will bring ruin to all."

* China's one-child-per-family rule, which, ostensibly was voluntary, but the penalties were so severe that there were reported cases of forced abortions and infanticide.

Carter has it right - for a change

Well done Chris Carter, Minister of Housing, who has stated quite clearly and emphatically why this family must move on. There are constantly headlines about families on waiting lists for state houses and now these three only qualify for a two bedroom unit, the rules should be enforced.

Nobody could fail to sympathise with their "emotional connection" to the house but it doesn't belong to them. What beneficiaries fail to grasp is that what they see as security, albeit meagre, can be quite tenuous. More than anyone else beneficiaries (and this family will be on welfare) are at the mercy of the government which is why I always try to help people become more independent.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Get Out Of Jail Free Act... Oswald so aptly coins Labour's validating legislation. A petition of protest has been launched by Blair Mulholland asking the Governor General to withold the Royal Assent from such legislation.

Sign the fast growing list of signatures here.

Dealing to waiting lists UK-style

James Bartholomew blogs on how the British have set up intermediary referral centres - another layer of bureaucracy - to try and shorten waiting lists. It sounds like just the kind of thing Pete Hodgson would be interested in.

When patients in Milton Keynes started complaining of long delays, their GPs investigated. Milton Keynes PCT had set up a referral management centre, which was meant to scrutinise all referrals in order to speed access and ensure patients got the right treatment. But Dr Peter Berkin and colleagues discovered a backlog of more than 2,000 letters locked in a cupboard by the centre's secretaries until just short of the 13-week waiting-time target.

"It got really scary," said Dr Berkin. "There were cases that could have been very serious and needed to see a consultant quickly. We were horrified. The decisions were taken by secretarial staff, not doctors."

The amazing attenuating Rodney Hide. If Rodney tires of politics there is a career waiting for him in the "before and after" industry. I hope he does not.

Taxpayer TV loses money

The DomPost is reporting that TVNZ are dropping their head programmer after ratings fell "dramatically" and advertising rates had to be cut.

Among TVNZ's key demographic of people aged 25 to 54, its share has dropped from 55 percent to about 37 percent. The network slashed TV1's peak viewing (6pm to 10pm) advertising charges last month by 21 percent.

Is this the result of someone deciding that "New Zealanders want to see themselves on the telly", that lauded and lofty aim? Is this our cherished charter?

Just give us some decent entertainment.

(At least one person will be quietly smiling to himself this morning as he presents his superb "World City".)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

National Radio

At 1.30pm today I am talking to Jim Mora on National Radio as of part of the Reeling in the years; 1973 programme. We will talk about how the DPB came about and its effect since.

UPDATE; Interesting audience response. Four e-mails came in immediately;

- There is another reason there are no children available for adoption. Abortion.

- Stranger adoption didn't work for either party which is why we largely discontinued it.

- Lindsay Mitchell is obviously of the 'starve them into submission' persuasion.

- Some 16 year-olds make great parents and 35 year-olds don't.

Learning from Maori

Pita Sharples says that Pakeha could learn much from Maori about grieving;

"I recognise we have different, culturally appropriate ways of grieving, but I wonder - if everyone has the capacity to express emotions, should not the occasion of death be the perfect outlet for such emotions?"

Dr Sharples also spoke about the way Pakeha refer to family and extended-family members.

"The emphasis should be on what connects us, rather than what divides us," he said, citing Pakeha use of phrases such as "step-sister".

"I am often puzzled when I hear Pakeha define members of their whanau in ways which seek to create a distance - to put up a barrier between themselves and another.

"A step-sister, a half-brother, a cousin twice removed, my mother's cousin," he said.

"In our world, we welcome our sisters and brothers, our cousins, our aunties and uncles as whanau - whatever degree of separation a genealogy expert might describe it as.

"And in much the same way, when we need to express grief, the strength for us is in numbers, in our connections, while in other world views, the expression of grief may be another opportunity to create distance - 'we'll leave them alone'; 'they wouldn't want to see people at this time'; 'we'll just send flowers and cause them no bother'

I admit this touches a nerve with me. In grief (what little experience I have had of it) I tend to be very private, internalising how I feel and coping until the pain diminishes. Would it be rash to say this is the Pakeha or European way?

Maybe we could benefit from expressing our grief more intensely and collectively but then we have a long tradition of controlling our emotions. Some emotions need to be kept in check and I would venture that there is a downside to giving vent to them without restraint.

So perhaps we could learn a thing or two about how to grieve and Maori could learn a thing or two about how to control their anger.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dalziel at Women's Refuge Conference

Lianne Dalziel, as Minister of Women's Affairs has just addressed the Women's Refuge AGM. They apparently challenged her to talk in terms of violence aginst women rather than family violence because they "do not want to lose the gender reality of partner violence."

Ms Dalziel said she had no problem complying. "I have read the assertion that women are equally as violent as men. And, to use an insurance term, on a knock-for-knock basis that is correct. But it is the women who feel the fear, it is the women who are hospitalised and it is the women who die."

That is the first time I have read a Minister acknowledging partner violence runs both ways. It seems to me that we still do not know how much violence against women is provoked by the eventual victim. Just as I am positive there are women who are largely innocent victims, there are others who are not. That is not to absolve a male from physically assaulting a woman who has mercilessly taunted or attacked him but the circumstances need to be treated as mitigating factors.

But perhaps the need for Women's Refuge could be reduced if some women addressed their own behaviour. A case was recently described to me where the man tried repeatedly to walk away. She kept after him hiding the car keys to keep him captive and eventually assaulted him with a broken bottle at which point he thumped her.

Men who beat women because of their own anger, jealousy, drug and alcohol problems should be listed in the DomPost like drink-drivers, scorned by their mates and banged up for a long time.

As with most social problems there is no one-size-fits-all problem or solution but I am pleased to see Dalziel at least describing the problem with more fairness.

Smoking is child abuse

According to Newstalk ZB;

The Maori Heart Foundation is hitting out at women who smoke during pregnancy, describing their actions as 'child abuse'.

The Foundation says around half of Maori women are smokers and almost all of them continue to smoke while pregnant.

Chief executive Mary McCulloch says even worse, a pregnant woman who quits smoking is often exposed to secondhand smoke by her whanau.

She says research clearly shows smoking results in physical injury to children. Under the legal definition, she says there is no doubt smoking constitutes child abuse.

I have a problem with this. Are we to call CYFS whenever we spot a pregnant woman smoking? Is it a punishable offence? Is it illegal?

By all means try to persuade women away from tobacco but where is the practical use in defining it as child abuse?

Swedish Ministers scrutinised

The new Swedish government has problems. The Trade Minister has decided to resign due to revelations of tax avoidance practices and the new Culture Minister's position is also under threat because she didn't pay her TV licence for up to 16 years.

But wait.... there's more. The Migration Minister is also being pressured over his consistent ideological opposition and non-payment of the TV licence.

Given these politicians were elected to shrink the size of the state and reduce taxes they seem to have pretty good credentials.

Baby-killing in North Korea

From The Times, one page of this is all I could stomach. It tells of eye witness accounts describing Kim Jong-il's obsession with Korean racial purity;

The latest desciption of Kim Jong-il’s policy of state eugenics came from a North Korean doctor, Ri Kwang-chol, who escaped last year and told a forum in Seoul that babies with deformities were killed soon after birth.

“There are no people with physical defects in North Korea,” Ri said. Such babies were put to death by medical staff and buried quickly, he claimed. He denied ever committing the act himself.

Exiles in Seoul said Ri was now keeping a low profile, fearing retaliation by North Korean agents, who have assassinated foes in the South Korean capital before. But his account added to the evidence that the Kim family dictatorship is founded on mystical notions of Korean racial superiority rather than Marxism — a reality that explains its deepening estrangement from China.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Anti-immigration nonsense

According to Newsroom, Voting Ban - New Zealand First wants to ban new residents from voting until they have lived in New Zealand for at least three to five years.

How patently stupid. People who by and large pay taxes and make other economic contributions can't vote while people who don't can?

NZ First are clearly back on their anti-immigration kick. That's all they have left now they've abandoned the grey vote.

Road accidents and ethnicity

During the school holidays we went up to the Bay of Plenty. A greater police presence was obvious on the roads, which prompted me to look at road crashes and ethnicity, given the higher Maori population in that region.

28 percent of crash fatalities were Maori in 2005. So we have another disproportionality due to Maori tending "to be young, rural and of low socio-economic level".

The following graph shows that Pacific people and Maori experience much greater levels of hospitalisation per 100 million km travelled.

The maths is beyond me I am afraid but the chance of Maori being killed or injured on the road is more than double that of other New Zealanders. Pacific people, for the amount of driving they do, are also much more likely to be hospitalised, particularly 0-14 year-olds.

Another road-related reflection; For many years driving was part of my job and I've covered all areas of New Zealand. Today it would drive me nuts, constantly trying to keep to 100km. Last holiday I was pinged on the desert road doing 115km I think. Long downhill stretch necessitating constant braking to keep your speed legal - not another car in sight - perfect driving conditions. It's just a drag. We saw two cars being ticketed and both were in the same situation. Caught at the bottom of a long downhill stretch with good visibility.

The other occasion on which I've been ticketed recently was coming down the Ngauranga Gorge. Again, just as you enter the steep decline the abitrary speed limit flashing overhead invariably shows 80km which means everybody has to brake reasonably hard to bleed off 20 km before passing the camera. It was late at night, fine, very light traffic and I sailed past at over 80km. Shock, horror, danger, danger. $$$ down the drain. It pisses me off.