Friday, August 10, 2007

The dangers of living

This is cheerful. Health authorities want people to lead such prescriptive lives. They simply don't understand that people might want to enjoy themselves.

Record numbers of people are developing "avoidable cancers" because of their lifestyle, despite warnings.....Figures released yesterday show soaring levels of cancers caused by excessive sunbathing, obesity, alcohol and smoking.....The latest figures show almost 9,000 cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed in 2004 - up from fewer than 6,000 in 1995.....Experts blame the rise in cheap flights to the sun for increased melanoma rates.

So stay home in the dreary English weather. Don't drink to drown your sorrows or over-eat to compensate for being cold. Don't dare have a fag to relieve the stress of it all. Exercise by walking through the endless, sameness of suburbia. And make sure you have these holiday breaks so as not to overwork.

The thing is there are no guarantees. They could still drop dead tomorrow. What is certain is they are alive right now and they are damn well going to make the most of it while it lasts.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Job growth - WFF

2006 June 1,668,000 457,000

2007 June 1,672,000 486,000

These figures are the number of full-time and part-time jobs in June 2006 and June 2007. Only 4,000 more full-time jobs compared to 29,000 more part-time jobs.

This is bound to have something to do with WFF and the In Work Payment. In March this year 118,000 people were receiving an In Work Payment. Many of these people would have previously been on some sort of partial-benefit (dole, DPB) so still counted as beneficiaries. Now they don't. This has got a lot to do with dropping beneficiary numbers. How much I don't know as IRD won't tell me (they don't record the info apparently) how many were previously on a benefit.

Child deaths linked to unemployment

From today's NZ Herald;

Mr Doolan said the data suggested that child killings increased in line with unemployment in the late 1980s and early 90s, but were now trending downwards as the economy improved.

I am less sure about this link. Look at the figures;

We had full employment through the 60s and most of the 70s. Add the 60s and 70s together and there were 179 deaths. Add the 80s and 90s together, when we had soaring and peak unemployment, and there were 169 deaths.

In 1971 there were 909,000 children (0-14). In 1994 there were 828,000. Today there are 867,000. Because of the ageing population although the overall population has grown the numbers of children have been relatively steady.

No. I'm not buying it.

The number of children abused increased by 15.4 per cent to a new record of 10,159 in the financial year to the end of June.

The number might be a rise on the financial year to June 2006 but it's a drop on the calendar year 2006 from 10,873 (again not including 'neglect').

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Politician with too much time on his hands

Yesterday it was the insane suggestion we indiscriminately slaughter certain dog breeds. Today.....Uh oh. Somebody needs to take Gordon Copeland to one side and quietly tell him we already have a Children's Day.

Independent MP Gordon Copeland stated today that he has received a suggestion that New Zealand should have an annual Children’s Day with a strong emphasis on child protection.

“I feel this idea should be progressed,” said Mr Copeland.

“After all we have a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day each year, so why not a Children’s Day?”

“The suggestion I have received is that it would not be a national holiday, just a focus day and perhaps on the 1st Sunday in August each year so that it becomes linked to the death of dear little Nia Glassie.”

“I recommend that the Children’s Commissioner, the Families Commission and the Government grab hold of this idea and progress it so that we direct our thoughts on this special day, at least once a year, to the ongoing need to protect our precious children.”

We are over-regulated!

This represents the number of pages of new primary legislation by decade BUT excludes secondary and tertiary legislation (regulations).

ACT's Regulatory Responsibility Bill is a rare opportunity to do something about controlling the regulators. This editorial explains rather well just what the bill proposes.

Also check out the Cut Red Tape website. If you have a story to tell about the outrageous cost in money and time of complying with pointless regulations then please tell it to the select committee considering this bill. As Rodney Hide says, if the committee doesn't hear from you they will assume there is no problem.

Unfortunately submissions close Friday BUT your written submission needn't be lengthy. Make sure you indicate you want to speak directly to the committee and save the bulk of your story for that occasion. The members will all say they have read your submission and expect to hear something different or additional anyway (my experience) plus it is a chance for them to ask you questions.

Again, I cannot stress what a rare opportunity to do something about unwelcome and unwieldy government intervention this is. Don't waste it. A little bit of time spent now could save you bucketloads in the future.

Rodney's book

Attended Rodney's book launch at Parliament last night. His brief speech was one of the best I have heard in which he spoke about the values we get from our parents and how important that is. When I began reading the first pages his thoughts echoed those I have long held - that my parents gave me absolute security. With it you can take risks and face challenges. Those of us who experience the deep-seated security only parents can provide sometimes take it for granted. I used to. I don't now because when I look around me or read through the pages of the newspaper I know that thousands of children will never experience anything remotely close to it.

But I am too serious. We stopped off at a restaurant on the way home and I couldn't resist a quick dip into the pages. This is the first passage I read and it had me laughing out loud;

"My father didn't believe in stopping to eat. We would drive along chomping on sandwiches lovingly prepared by Mum but tasting of diesel, rock phosphate or whatever it was we were carting. We would also enjoy the best drink - black tea from a thermos. I thought it was the nicest meal in the world. I always considered myself lucky because before I was born my father also carted stock. He'd told me that wasn't so much fun because you had to wipe your hands on the sweat under your armpits to get the sheep shit off before eating your sandwiches. I thought the diesel and rock phosphate tasted pretty good after hearing that."

I don't usually read for pleasure. Just can't find the time except for bedtime. Typically I drop off to sleep after 4 or 5 pages of history or facts and figures. Last night I got to page 29 before pegging out. That is quite an achievement for me. And the book is quite an achievement for Rodney. Can't wait to read more.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mass destruction mooted

I only read this because I was amused that Copeland and Dunne are both trying to grab the headlines over the latest dog attack. Methinks Copeland might be trying a tad too hard though with his latest suggestion;

“However any ban needs to go beyond just eliminating these dogs from our society in the future and, although I know it is a tough call, I think we need to look at the destruction of these breeds in their entirety starting from now. Our children must come first."

Say what?? How will that work? Put out a call to all dangerous dog owners (I know that's ambiguous but some owners are more dangerous than their dogs) to bring them into the pound to be destroyed? Rounding up every family pet Staffie? Gordon Bennett, Gordon. Get a grip.

How times change

Today Nanny vilifies and persecutes smokers, fat people, child-smackers, christians, and dog-owners but never a word is said about evil expectorators who seem to be everywhere.

"Food that travels well"

The following Lincoln University research is being quoted in the New York Times. Interesting.

* Most notably, they found that lamb raised on New Zealand's clover-choked pastures and shipped 11,000 miles by boat to Britain produced 1,520 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per ton while British lamb produced 6,280 pounds of carbon dioxide per ton, in part because poorer British pastures force farmers to use feed.

* In other words, it is four times more energy-efficient for Londoners to buy lamb imported from the other side of the world than to buy it from a producer in their backyard. Similar figures were found for dairy products and fruit.

The only thing is English lamb is nicer than NZ lamb. I buy for flavour and tenderness.

Under-reporting, over-reporting

Figures released by CYF to the Herald on Sunday last week show in the year to June 30, a total of 4672 cases of child abuse - 46 per cent of the overall total - came from Maori households, compared with 27.8 per cent (2828 cases) from Pakeha families. That number for Maori is up from 45.1 per cent the previous year. The figure for Pakeha is down from 30.7 per cent. Only 2.8 per cent of abused children are Asian and 16.4 per cent are Pacific Island.

These figures struck me as too low. The reason why is CYF have left out the 'neglect' category - usually included under the general heading of 'abuse' - which adds about fifty percent more. (Unless of course the reporter left them out.)

So we have people like the Children's Commissioner over-stating the problem (because she is pushing her grand plan to monitor all children and the bigger the problem the more public buy-in she can get.) Barnardos overstating the problem (because they want more public and government funding). And you get other organisations (government) understating it probably for performance - both organisational and political - reasons.

What is noticeable however is the similarity between the year to December 2006 and the year to June 2007. 10,873 to 10,156. The number says more to me about CYF capacity than anything else. This is the number they can deal with so cases are prioritised accordingly.

Monday, August 06, 2007

And so it goes

What year?

Blocking information

A discussion between Judith Collin's researcher and myself precipitated this release questioning the rise in the number of 16 and 17 year-olds on an invalid's benefit. What concerns me deeply is her office's inability to get questions answered by the Ministry equals my own. There isn't much point in having MPs if their access to information is blocked. Like me they are left trying to put together pieces of a puzzle and making stabs in the dark as to the true situation. It's not good enough and it's not what Labour promised. Perhaps the clamp down was a directive from David Benson-Pope. To his credit under Maharey the Ministry was more forthcoming. That may have been merely coincidental.

I made a second complaint to the Office of the Ombudsmen in February and still have not received a response. It is ironic that under the Official Information Act ministries have 20 working days to respond. Yet the office that oversees the proper implementation of the Act has no such obligation. Who scrutinises the scrutinisers?

Update; After phoning the Ombudsman's Office to chase up my complaint I was initially told the letter couldn't be located. The following day I was rung and informed it had been found but has not even been looked at yet. Great.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Some 'noise'

Deborah Coddington's Herald on Sunday column today is also about the child abuse problem. Her angle is, politically nothing is going to change.

Act, the only party ever to have a half-decent welfare policy, has confused libertarian with libertine and reinvented itself as the "fun party", fiddling while Rome burns.

I understand that Rodney is the target of Deborah's anti-ACT barbs. But "fiddling while Rome burns" is rather unfair to Heather (who has never had a bad word for Deborah). This is Heather's area. Not Rodney's. Last week she had this and this to say. She is working as hard as any other social services spokesperson to present ACT's ideas about what would make a difference. And the quality of that presentation is better than most.

More freudian than Freud

Heavens. The truth at last.

Cindy Kiro's claims

From the Sunday Star Times Cindy Kiro claims, in an interview with Steve Braunias;

"(But) of the 88 children killed between 2002 and 2006, 48 were Pakeha. Maori were 28. The remainder were Pacific Island and a few Asian."

In the context of the interview which was, as you would expect, about child abuse, thus deaths from maltreatment, you would expect her to quote relevant figures.

In the five years to 2003 38 children died as a result of maltreatment. From 93-98 fifty. Here are the facts;

Children killed per 100,000 aged 0-14

Non-Maori - 0.67
Maori - 2.40
Total - 1.07

Non-Maori - 0.60
Maori - 1.34
Total - 0.79

Source: Mike Doolan, Canterbury University.

The rates are falling. The 0-14 population has been steady since around 1994. Unless 2006 was an aberration her figures cannot be right. Now why would she produce such inflated figures?