Friday, February 08, 2008

Half the story

HLFS (Household Labour Force Survey) defined unemployment is at its lowest rate since the survey started in 1986. Then, under 7 percent of working-age people relied on welfare.

Today, however, over 10 percent of working-age people rely on welfare.

We have, like most extensive welfare states, a good deal of hidden unemployment.

And to put the current level of dependence in context, in 1970 under 2 percent of working-age people were on welfare and more than half of those were widows.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Using petrol tax to control inflation

Don Brash is suggesting raising and lowering the tax on petrol in order to control spending and inflation.

I bet the oil industry are impressed with that. The idea of using an industry to control the economy of a country is rather bold and interventionist. One day the government subsidises petrol companies and the next day punishes them. How would they react? New Zealand is not a very large market in the scheme of things. I am ever mindful of the way pharmaceutical manufacturers have reacted to Pharmac's interference over the last 15 years.

The objective is for people to spend less on petrol when inflation is low and there is a need to stimulate general spending. Surely the petrol companies would, to some point, drop their prices to protect their sales? But I am no economist. What am I missing here?

Update; I had deleted this post on realising that I had misrepresented the intention of increasing petrol tax being to boost other spending. The increase is intended to damp the economy and lower inflation. It is still arguable that this would happen. It supposes that people will, over the short term, still use the same amount of petrol and spend less overall.

Otherwise I still hold with my concern about how the oil industry could react and the level of interventionism. Interventionism always brings unintended consequences.

But as the Herald on Sunday have mentioned the post and some may be looking for it I have resurrected it.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Can do

And just talking about 'can do' countries. I see the US is going to allow entry to the badly malformed Samoan baby that this stingy, socialist, state refused entry to. Her parents had raised $100,000 for a proper appraisal. The US think this is enough for her care and two Miami Children's Hospital surgeons are offering their services free. On this occasion (and many others) thanks to central and local government, we are a 'can't do country'. Pathetic.


That's the title of the first post from Rodney Hide for some time. I hope he will be posting regularly. Rodney, the only libertarian in parliament, is also the best political reason for optimism for a freer New Zealand, a 'can do' country. What an amazing transformation, although I have to say, I didn't mind him when he was a rolypoly either. The ideas and energy were always there.

Welcome back.

Swedes on stand by

Although outcomes are rated as 'good', waiting times for health treatment in Sweden are now the longest in Europe.

Long waits are a hallmark of government health care anywhere it's employed. When the perception exists that treatment is free (it is not; Swedes pay more than half their gross income in taxes to support the welfare state), system overuse is inevitable. People can think of no reason to self-ration care. They show up in emergency rooms and doctor's offices with conditions for which they wouldn't seek treatment if they paid directly at the time of service, says IBD.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

To party or not to party?

The United Kingdom now has a Libertarian Party.

But here are five reasons (presented by the winner of the Libertarian Alliance Chris Tame Prize) why libertarians should NOT form a political party. Rather persuasive I thought;

Being something of a contrarian, I choose to work up from the least important of my five reasons towards the most important.

First, practical reasons. Party politics is expensive, and we haven't got the money. And it's time consuming too, and most of us haven't got the time—nor many of us the necessary skills.

Second, agreeing our manifesto would be an immensely difficult task. Many policies favoured by one lot of us would alienate another lot of us. We would have, not only disputes between purists and pragmatists, but also disputes between pragmatists of different stripes. For example, there would be those who want to maintain some form of public welfare system, and favour draconian immigration restrictions, and those who want to ditch the welfare state entirely, and can therefore afford to be relaxed about immigration.

Third, the only example in recent times of a new party gaining power in the islands called Britain was the Labour party—and it took them 31 years, from 1893 to 1924. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't want to wait three decades or more for freedom.

Fourth, a libertarian party won't work anyway. I give you the sad story of the one libertarian party which, to my knowledge, has tasted real success—the Movimiento Libertario in Costa Rica. For many years, they did a great job. They got voter support up to almost ten per cent. They won 6 seats in a 57-seat parliament. They even had a credible presidential candidate. Then, in 2005, the party was taken over by so-called moderates. The libertarians, who had worked so hard for the cause, were branded as radicals and purged from the party. And the party now presents itself as a liberal party. All of which leads to a harsh conclusion. If a libertarian party fails, it fails. And if it succeeds, it fails because it gets taken over and isn't libertarian any more.

Fifth, and most important, politics is old hat.

It is fashionable today, on the far left at least, to say that the state is out of date. That, in an age of technology and nuclear weapons, the state or superstate, with its rulers and ruled, its wars, its re-distributory and confiscatory taxes and its bad laws, is no longer an appropriate way for we human beings to organize ourselves. That new forms of society are needed.

I suggest to you that these thinkers, uncomfortable though some of you may be with their ideas, are dead right. Indeed, I go further. I think the state and its political system are already collapsing around us. And what we are living through now is a phase in the collapse, where the statists are desperately striving to shore up their blessed state. That, I believe, is why they are falling over each other in their efforts to do as many bad things to us as they possibly can.

But there is today, both in the islands called Britain and elsewhere, a rising tide of contempt for politics and politicians. The political classes have spent most of the last two centuries trying to persuade us that they and their state are good for us. But people—and not just those already aware of the ideas of liberty—have begun to see this for what it is, a lie. More and more people are waking up from the anaesthetic, and starting to feel the pain. I sense there's the potential for a big backlash building up out there.

So, I think, to try to form a libertarian political party today would be a step in exactly the wrong direction. Not only would we be trying to play the statists at their own political game. But we would also be tying ourselves to a system that is doomed to fail.

Read more

Abortion and teenage birth rise

The number of abortions has risen again. From 2003 it had dropped but the total for 2006 - 17,934 - represents a 2.2% increase on 2005.

The number of births which are ex-nuptial continues to rise. In 2006 it was 47% - up from 45 percent the year before, 42 percent in 1996 and 27 percent in 1986.

Births to teenage mothers numbered 4,373 - up from 4,136 in 2005 - a 6 percent rise. 56 percent were European, 53 percent were Maori, 14 percent Pacific, and 0.2 percent Asian. As a percentage of all births, teenage birth rose slightly from 7.2 to 7.4 percent.

There were 35 births to 13-14 year-olds - two thirds were to Maori.

5 babies were born to women aged 49+

Compensating for the father famine

What a mixed up and conflicted society we live in. It seems to boil down to not so much a breakdown between the genders but the different amount of trust and respect individuals feel towards the opposite sex.

Twenty eight percent of all families with dependent children are being led by just one parent, predominantly female. This has come about through a combination of changed attitudes and changed government provision. As we cannot possibly know the circumstances of all these families I am inclined to accept that collectively there is culpability on both parts. But the overriding ethos of socialists (and male socialists are just as much a part of this attitude) is that men are nearly always at fault when it comes to domestic difficulties. And so the past forty years has seen an increasingly feminist-influenced state compensating for his shortcomings.

Unfortunately there is a tendency for some people to turn into what you repeatedly tell them they are - deadbeat dads. And so, even more recently, it hasn't been enough to just replace fathers - they must also be financially and emotionally punished for their inadequacies.

we have schools crying out for male teachers to compensate for the father famine. Yet the expectations these guys have to meet (and suspicion they must endure) is keeping them well away. Who can blame them?

What worries me is those women who don't embrace feminist fascism in their everyday lives, don't do a very good job of opposing it. I understand why. "If you are not with us, you are against us," is the intimidating reception one encounters if you dare to criticise their cherished beliefs and institutions.

Some men are no angels. But 90 percent of those I have had anything to do with are not womanising pricks, or control freaks, or 'out-of-tune with their feelings' or bad fathers. That may be my good fortune. But I hope that it is more about expectation. We find what we look for. And if women have a singularly low opinion of men, men will reflect it. Heaven knows how the sons of men-maligners mature into anything but men worthy of malign. Behind every bad man is a mother.

Much of the feminist distaste for men, especially amongst the lower socio-economic ranks, has now developed into mutual loathing - except when temporary emotional and physical needs demand a ceasefire. Then babies result. And it becomes the preschool and school and secondary schools job to present the child with a positive male role model. But how is he viewed by the mothers? And what has she already inculcated in her female or male child? Is it ever going to be enough to expose a child to one good male role model she has to share and can only keep for a year? And if she is very young and inclined to physically express her fondness for her daddy-substitute, he has to keep her at a cool and uncompromising arms length. Is that really enough to compensate for a father?

I have a flashback to sitting on the back of my father's easy chair on Sunday afternoons while he watched the rugby, me endlessly combing his ever-thinning hair. He never complained. When I was sick he was very patient and would rub my tummy if I was hanging over the toilet vomiting. When I squashed my pet mouse accidentally, breaking its leg, my father made a splint and brought him back to health. (My ever-practical mother wanted to drown it).

It is just too sad that so many kids will never experience a good and loving father. And it is even sadder that the state, which is partly to blame for this tragedy, is now desperate to correct it through the education system. As I said last week about Key and Clark's youth policies, it is too little and too late for many of these children.

Monday, February 04, 2008

More capacity for remand in custody needed

This judge is wasting his time;

Meanwhile, an unemployed Nelson man charged over the assault of two 19-year-olds at Pioneers Park has been granted bail.

Grant Earl Tihi, 39, was remanded without plea on two charges of wounding with intent to cause grevious bodily harm when he appeared in the Nelson District Court on Friday.

Judge Thomas Ingram remanded Tihi on bail to February 19.

He ordered Tihi not to associate with the complainants, to live at his home address, not to consume alcohol, and to observe a curfew.

Tihi was also ordered not to enter Pioneers Park.

Now go and look at the photograph.

Commissioner confused

This appeared in today's Dominion Post. I am sure some of you will want to respond to (Left click to enlarge);

Dear Editor

Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro is confusing two issues (Keeping our children safe, Feb 4). That of so-called adults who abuse their children because they have problems of their own and adults who are trying to teach children that there are consequences for deliberate misbehaviour. Ironically the first group, typified by Ms Kiro as violent offenders, is a product of the no consequences morality that now dominates. Through the welfare and justice system their problems - abuse of alcohol, drugs and each other - are repeatedly alleviated through benefits and various molly-coddling processes.

In part the commissioner recognises this because she writes that, "adults have to take responsibility for their own problems and not take them out on children." But I put it to her that while the state takes responsibility, their violence will continue to affect both their partners and their children.

Making law that attempts to control existing law-breakers is probably futile. But passing legislation that pertains to the many adults who do care very deeply about their children, who are not busy creating the next generation of violent offenders, is pointless and offensive.

Lindsay Mitchell

Sunday, February 03, 2008

No words

What words could do any kind of justice to describing this sort of atrocity? I can't find them. But I have two thoughts. How will Iraqis be regarding anybody in their midst with Downs Syndrome from now on? What a cruel, cruel blow to normally harmless and happy people. And how would you feel about your own Down's Syndrome child reading or hearing about this act? The consequences of Al Qaeda's evil spread far beyond its immediate victims.