Saturday, July 14, 2007

Two new paintings

Two paintings about to be entered into the Academy Gallery's Winter Exhibition. Grappling with names for them and pricing.

Greens of a different variety

The German Greens have ideas that only the ACT party would articulate here. The World Socialist Web has published an article about their latest programme here. Sue Bradford would be horrified.

Germany’s Green Party recently agreed to a new economic programme, published under the title “The Green free-market economy.” The programme paper was developed by prominent party figures under the auspices of the party’s parliamentary faction leader Fritz Kuhn, heralding the free market as the guardian angel of the environment—and their own wallets.
“If the state effects social justice all too bureaucratically, then we end up with an expensive and incapacitating welfare state,” the Greens write. “Green politics require an encouraging and enabling state, which does not curb social life but opens it up.”

The source of such reasoning is well known—it stems from the ideology of neo-liberalism. According to this outlook, it is not unemployment that is responsible for the high number of people on social security, but welfare payments that are responsible for the high number of unemployed.

.....If any questions remain about the direction in which the Greens are headed, they are clarified by the chapter on budgetary policy. Here they demand “a rule that ties the permitted [state] expenditures to the development of [state] receipts.” “Such a rule,” they continue, “effectively limits [state] indebtedness.”

Laws strictly linking public expenditure to the levels of state receipts rank among the most effective means of lowering social spending. They practically eliminate the right of parliament to decide on the level of public expenditure and leave fiscal policy to the arbitrary decisions of the state bureaucracy.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Face Off

On NewstalkZB tomorrow after 11am. This week the Face Off panel is United future Leader Peter Dunne, Peter Dunne's youth MP and myself discussing Hone Harawira's comments, Jason Reihana's medical treatment and the blood/alcohol limit for driving. Should be .....interesting:-)

National's next policy?

The UK Conservatives are moving towards policy that favours married couples. According to leader David Cameron (Key will be paying close attention);

"I believe that families matter more than anything else to our society. If we get the family right, we can fix our broken society."

Apparently this is not unilaterally welcomed among Conservative supporters. One comment from the Conservative website goes;

"What a dreadful set of proposals. As soon as governments start interfering with people's private lives (such as marriage or sex) then you know it's all going wrong."


A socialist utopia , Jim , but not as we know it

Jim Flynn is defending his reported "eugenicist" comments at the Alliance blog. He puts the arguments from the 'real' eugenicists and his responses. Here is one:

THEM: Poor people have many more unplanned children than the well off. They are evicted, suffer from domestic violence, emotional stress. Their lives are chaotic and they lose control.

ME: Well, let us hope that NZ does something about all of that. Redistribution of wealth would eliminate poverty, free education would lower barriers, 20-hour per week jobs with tenure and good child care facilities would mean career women would be less likely to put off having children. All of those things should be done on their merits - and if done your so-called problem would go away. It has gone away in Socialist countries like Finland.

Finland. Finland has a lower fertility rate then NZ and it's declining.

No domestic violence? From an organisation I am sure Jim would trust, Amnesty International;

Violence against women

Violence against women continued to be widespread. The last extensive study on the issue, conducted in 1998, showed that 40 per cent of women in Finland had been victims of physical or sexual violence or threats of violence by men, and 22 per cent of married women and women cohabiting with men had been victims of physical or sexual violence or threats of violence by their partner. The government failed to follow up effectively on a national project on the prevention of violence against women that was carried out between 1998 and 2002.

Finland's crime rate is only just behind NZ's and their homicide rate is higher.
Another thing Jim doesn't mention is their unemployment rate is almost double NZ's.

I'm sure there are lots of positive things socialists can find to say about Finland but let's not go overboard.

Cow disregards govt advice (see following post)

I couldn't resist this gorgeous photograph.

Waharoa farmer Anne Barbour found it easy to forgive her first calving cow of the season for being a bit shaky on her feet after the mum produced a hat trick of new arrivals.

The dairy cow marked the start of the calving season by delivering heifer triplets unaided in the early hours of Wednesday morning last week.

"It really knocked the stuffing out of her," Mrs Barbour said.

"She was a bit off-colour the day before so we put her in the paddock and she delivered naturally overnight. We just came out in the morning and there they were."

The calves were healthy and would be checked by dairy researcher Dexcel to see whether they were identical triplets and worth including in herd research.

Do they look identical to you?

Two child policy urged

A call for UK families to have no more than two children is perplexing;

Families should restrict themselves to having a maximum of two children to stabilise the effect on the environment of Britain's rapidly growing population, a thinktank warns today.

According to the Optimum Population Trust, Britain's rising birth rate, currently growing at the highest rate for nearly 30 years, should be considered an environmental liability.

The author of the report, John Guillebaud, professor of family planning and reproductive health at University College, London, made the call after figures from the office of national statistics showed 669,531 babies were born in Britain last year, with the UK having the highest teenage pregnancy rate in western Europe.

But according to National Statistics;

In the 1960s there was a more sustained 'baby boom', with births rising to a peak of 1,014,700 in 1964. This was followed by a rapid decline in the numbers of births, reaching a low of 657,000 in 1977. The large numbers of women resulting from the 1960s 'baby boom' contributed to a rise in births in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Subsequently births fell to 669,000 in 2001 and 2002. Since then, with rising fertility rates, births have been rising again. In 2005 there were over 722,500 births in the UK, an increase of 6,600 on the previous year (1 per cent).

From the tone of the report's author you would expect a climbing fertility line. In fact it is fairly flat and there were fewer births in 2006 than in the previous two years.

Also teenage pregnancy is not the same as teenage birth. It is the latter that matters here. But the nuttiest thing is this. Telling women they can only have two children risks a backlash. If every woman produced two children the UK's fertility rate would rise.

Update; A reader has pointed out that the Professor was referring to births in England and Wales. Not the UK. I mistakenly compared the figure he quoted with that of the UK. In fact the fertility rate has risen from 1.8 in 2005 to 1.87 in 2006. The reason I thought the Professor was referring to the UK is his reference to the high UK teenage pregnancy rate. I am still unsure why he threw that in given pregnancy does not equal birth, UK does not equal England and Wales, and the biggest increase in fertility is among women in their 30s and 40s. Perhaps he was selectively quoted.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Look to your own patch

Something for the Maori Party to think about.

The 2005-06 rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect per 1,000 0-16 year-olds in Australia was 7.6 For indigenous children the rate was 29.4 and for 'other' children it was 6.5

The most recent available comparison for NZ is 2003 when the rate for non-Maori was 5.9 and for Maori, 11.9 (The overall rate had climbed to 11.8 in 2006 but no breakdown is published.)

Based on care and protection notifications and subsequent established findings Aboriginal children are 4.5 times more likely to be abused or neglected than non-Aboriginal.

Maori children are twice as likely to be abused or neglected than non-Maori.

There is a job for the Maori Party right here.

Better news from Oz

Australian-based Peter Saunders has launched a new book, The Government Giveth and the Government Taketh Away

"We should be getting away from the idea that whenever we have a problem in life we turn straight to government. It infantilises us and destroys our 'can do' spirit."

It's not what you think that matters, Hone

I am not interested in what Hone Harawira thinks about John Howard's actions over the abuse of Aboriginal children. Objections about "racism" and "political motivation" are irrelevant. It is politically none of Harawira's business and most New Zealanders appear to recognise this.

To get a gauge of what Aborigines think I go to one who has been working in this arena for two decades and has the only long term plan I can see working (after Howard does the immediate stuff). He writes here about his reaction after being rung by the Indigenous Affairs Minister 15 minutes before the national emergency announcement was made.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happy throw-away nappy news

Parents can now use you the ever-so convenient, hygienic, better-fitting and safe disposable nappies conscience free;

The announcement in the UK of a Government U-turn on their support for cloth nappies is a victory for parental choice according to the manufacturers of Huggies nappies Kimberly-Clark.

The decision follows a four-year research project at a cost of millions of pounds which found that the impact of burying disposable nappies in landfill sites was matched by the energy consumed and greenhouse gases generated by washing reusables or transporting them to laundries.

The Greens got it wrong again.

Economic illiteracy

This is a prohibition poster from 1924.

It claims that if the money spent on intoxicating liquor was transferred into other items a massive increase in trade would boost labour on farms and in factories, revenue from railways and general transportation, etc.

It ignores the employment and taxation revenue created by the production, freighting and sale of alcohol. It ignores the foreign receipts from importation that allow purchases of NZ goods.

They could have gone a step further and considered how much more employment could be created if alcohol became a significant export market.

Think it over and vote prohibition!

I've thought it over and you are full of ____

Lowering the alcohol limit for driving

A report released on April 17, 2007 showed that drink-driving deaths decreased faster than any other road deaths in the EU.

9 countries, the Czech Republic, Germany , Poland, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Latvia, France, Austria and Greece had alcohol-related deaths decreasing faster than other road deaths.

5 countries, Slovenia, Estonia, Denmark, Switzerland and Lithuania saw road deaths from other causes decreasing faster than alcohol-related deaths.

In 4 countries, Hungary, Finland, Spain and Great Britain drink-driving deaths actually increased in absolute terms.

The alcohol limits in those last four countries are respectively zero, 0.05, 0.05 and 0.08. New Zealand has the last of those limits - 0.08

Like the EU the trend here is a reduction in the rate of alcohol-related road deaths. In 2005 fatal crashes with driver alcohol as a factor represented 29% of all - down from 43% in 1988. The European Transport Safety Council estimates EU alcohol-related deaths account for 30-40 percent of all road deaths. Most EU countries have either 0.05 or zero alcohol limits yet we appear to be performing better.

I cannot see any good case for reducing our current alcohol limit.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Hoisted with their own PC petard

Dear me. I confess to having something in common with the Prime Minister. I have recently used the word "leper" in a way which is apparently offensive to the 30 million lepers of the world.

The Leprosy Mission New Zealand is reeling over Prime Minister Helen Clark’s recent, insensitive use of the word ‘leper’in her comments as reported by TV One on Sunday, which is likely to offend over 30 million people who are affected by leprosy worldwide.

The Prime Minister was reported by Guyon Espiner of TV One News as saying that the self-appointed Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, will be “treated something like a leper” if he attends the South Pacific Forum meetings.

However, the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines 'leper' as "Person shunned on moral grounds." Will the PM apologise? It would appear the left sometimes get hoisted on their own PC petard.

We don't know how lucky we are

We often complain about the effect of government interference on our lives, but spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves.

The people of Zimbabwe are under the heel of one of the most autocratic and incompetent governments in the world. Top of the list of catastrophic mistakes made by the Mugabe government is its handling of the economy. Price increases ran at an annual rate of 4,500 percent in May of this year and the hyper-inflationary spiral shows no sign of stopping.

The route cause of the inflation is the take-over of white owned farms by the government in 2000. Experienced farmers were unceremoniously kicked off their land (in many cases at gun-point) and replaced with groups of "War Veterans." The results were predictably disastrous. The new land-owners knew nothing about farming and combined with a difficult growing season, productivity collapsed. The country's economy, which had depended heavily on farming, went into free-fall.

Having launched an attack on property rights, the government went after another plank of capitalism, financial stability. They started to print money in order to pay for wage hikes for the police and military. These two things together caused an immediate collapse of the value of the currency on international markets, meaning more money had to be printed to pay for foreign debts and to import the food they now needed. Needless to say, inflation is now out of control.

The government has come up with more and more bizarre solutions as the crisis has escalated. In February they made inflation illegal. It was simply against the law to increase prices. The latest move was to introduce price controls, accusing shop owners of causing the problems by being greedy and ordering the to cut food prices by 50 percent. This meant supermarkets now had to sell food at less than the cost they were paying the wholesalers. Needless to say, neither of these things worked.

So what makes Zimbabwe so especially tragic? Put simply, there is no good reason, none, why Zimbabwe should be in such a mess. All of the pieces were there 10 years ago. Elections, natural resources, education and so on. Constant meddling by the government has destroyed what was one of the strongest economies in Africa. It's hard to see where to go from here, but Robert Mugbe cannot possibly be part of the solution.

(From the Adam Smith blog)

I'm not offended Jim (and other stuff)

73 year-old intelligence expert Jim Flynn says that lesser educated women out-breeding those with a tertiary education is a problem. I agree. And I'm one of the dummies. I've had two children but have no tertiary qualifications. Fortunately their father has.

Michael Laws was advocating legalisation of drugs in his SST column. Why? Because prohibition isn't working. I wonder why he thinks banning gang patches will.

At the ACT regional conference Colin James spoke to us about 'risk'. Perhaps we need to learn to live with it instead of overreacting with draconian anti-terrorist measures. Now I see what he was alluding to. Travellers will be randomly taken and searched for explosives. A bridge too far I think.

I expect the illiberal National party to start saying they told us so when they said the party pill ban was taking too long to kick in. Look what has happened. People are stockpiling. Umm. I thought a prohibition-driven price increase was supposed to put people off yet they can find money to buy lots at once.

And finally more fatties. In the NZ Herald it's fat Asians and in the SST magazine it was fat dogs. I have come to the conclusion that as nanny can't do anything about the real evils that threaten innocent people, the rapists and murderers, the child abusers and paedophiles, she is going after those she can bully successfully into mending their wicked ways. Fatties, smokers and smackers.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

DPB compounds problem

From the SST,

New research out of last year's census shows that less educated women are the powerhouse behind the country's birth rate. "They are the anchor of our fertility rate at the moment," said Statistics New Zealand principal demographer Mansoor Khawaja.

No surprises there. It has probably been the case for some time. Maori and Pacific females have higher fertility rates but are generally less well-educated.

I thought I'd have a look at the fertility rate of those on the DPB (allowing that for many this is a temporary situation and their children were born before they became dependent on a benefit.)

The most recent stats I can use are 2000 because typically the Ministry has changed (reduced) the available information in it's annual statistics report.

The average fertility rate is 1.79

Just under half of recipients only had one child.

But the other half with two or more children had a fertility rate of 2.54
Almost certainly (but I don't have the information to prove it) those who stay longest on the DPB have the highest fertility rates.

Looked at another way, right now just over half of DPB recipients are Maori or Pacific Island despite representing 21-22 percent of the general population. With their average fertility rates higher anyway (2.9 PI and 2.6 Maori in 2004) it is a fact that DPB is contributing to the problem of "less educated women [being] the powerhouse behind the country's birth rate."