Saturday, September 05, 2009

US unemployment reaches 9.7% and males take the biggest hit

On the same day that the Washington Post breaks the news that US unemployment has risen to 9.7%, the NCPA has run a piece about the growth of female employment;

Women held 49.83 percent of the nation's 132 million jobs in June and they're gaining the vast majority of jobs in the few sectors of the economy that are growing, according to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, says reporter Dennis Cauchon.

That's a record high for a measure that's been growing steadily for decades and accelerating during the recession. At the current pace, women will become a majority of workers in October or November.

From December 2007 to June 2009:

* Men have lost 74 percent of the 6.4 million jobs erased since the recession began in December 2007.
* Men have lost more than 3 million jobs in construction and manufacturing alone.

The only parts of the economy still growing -- health care, education and government -- have traditionally hired mostly women, says Cauchon. That dominance has increased in part because federal stimulus funding directed money to education, health care and state and local governments.

How does that compare to NZ?

Obviously our unemployment rate is much lower at 6 percent.

Over the last three June quarters (2007 - 2009) the numbers (millions) employed have looked like this;

Males 1.163 1.166 1.159
Females 1.009 1.023 1.011

So although when unemployment information was last released it was noted that females were taking the brunt, over two years they have actually fared better.

Looking at which sectors have continued to grow over the same period they are, as in the US, health and community services, and education. The only other sector to grow was business and financial services.

The sectors that actually generate wealth - construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and fishing all shrank.

It's a worry.

(David has just objected that health indirectly creates wealth. Can't generate wealth without a healthy workforce he says. Can't pay for health without any wealth generation, I counter. I don't think it's a chicken and egg scenario. The wealth comes first. That is observable historically.)

Beat-up headline?

There isn't time to delve very deeply into this right now but the following headline has got to be the biggest beat-up;

DIY disasters kill nearly 600 a year

An average of 11 people died each week from accidents in their homes in the year to the end of June - an annual total of 573. That compares with the road toll last year of 366.

That is amazing. In 1993 157 people died from accidents at home (1996 NZ Yearbook, p180). The number has quadrupled? (Population in 1993 = 3.48 million.)

Unfortunately many elderly die from falls in the home. After age 75 the rate for women is higher than for men. Are they included in the 11 deaths per week?

Also the ACC website says ;

More people are injured at home than anywhere else in New Zealand. Children factor highly in our home injury statistics.....Each year 700 children cut themselves badly enough at home to be admitted to hospital.

Assuming there is some connection between injury and death some of the 11 deaths per week could include children.

No, I am very suspicious of this statistic. But it is Safety Week after all. Got to scare the sheeple.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Time to do nothing

Is the war on child abuse any different from the war on drugs or the war on poverty? They all feature escalating measures and escalating failure. Yet governments doggedly persist, doubtless justifying their actions internally by speculating that the statistics would be even worse if they did nothing (and that they need to be seen to be doing something or what rationale for their very existence?)

Pause for a moment. In the war on child abuse, what would a do nothing approach look like? Governments doing nothing sounds like a unthinkable abdication of responsibility. That is what you have been trained to think.

Fact; Most of the abuse goes on in beneficiary homes. Who or what created these homes? The bricks and mortar is often owned by the government and the occupants are paid to live by the government. These are homes created by social policy.

So the first do-nothing action could be to stop paying people to have babies they have no means of supporting. That would reduce the number of people doing just that, although some babies would still be born into untenable situations. Left to find their own solutions, people would sort out themselves who was best placed to care for and raise the child. That already goes on to a certain degree. Without any state benefits only the most motivated would be stepping forward. The most motivated would coincidentally also provide the best care.

Where children are still being subjected to abuse or neglect, the state then has a role in protecting that child's legal rights - but that's all.

Instead we get the Minister of do-something, as well as keeping current social policy settings unchanged, launching a whole new campaign against child abuse. She says she doesn't care what it costs. If it saves just one child it will be worth it (heard on TV last night). Of course Pharmac doesn't have the luxury of sitting around the table deciding which medicines to fund on this basis - just the Minister of do-something. Then she says it would appear a whole new generation of parents needs to relearn that shaking babies is dangerous. That means this exercise has to be repeated every generation because the state has to step in and do what the failed parent-educator (also a product of the state) doesn't.

You see. It's just a nauseatingly endless self-feeding cycle. Paula Bennett is like the mouse inside the tread wheel. Time to get off.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

OECD warns against long-duration single-parent benefits

Media Release
Thursday, September 3, 2009

The OECD has just released a comparative report about child well-being across developed countries. New Zealand is described as having high child poverty rates.

Welfare Commentator Lindsay Mitchell said that while some child advocacy groups interpreted that as a signal more should be spent on welfare, that isn't what the report is recommending. Mitchell quoted the report as saying, "Some countries spend considerable amounts on long-duration single-parent benefits. There is little or no evidence that these benefits positively influence child well-being. Durations could be reduced and resources concentrated on improving family income during the early part of the life cycle for those children."

This means adopting a work-based anti-poverty strategy. The report looks at the effect of time-limiting and a number of welfare-to-work US programmes by reviewing the available research and finds;

"Overall, employment promotion pilots linked to making work pay have positive but modest short-term effects on some important dimensions of child well-being, in addition to reducing child poverty. Whether these effects can be sustained into better long-term outcomes for children from permanent polices remains unclear."

So those countries that have focussed their efforts on getting single parents into work have not seen a detrimental effect on children.

The report specifically mentions Norway where in 1998 benefits were raised by a fifth BUT a work or education test was imposed on the parent when the youngest child turned 3. Mitchell noted, "In NZ we wait until the youngest child turns 18. This is bad policy. "

As the report points out, "The indirect evidence from United States welfare-to-work experiments suggest that eligibility for such benefits until late in the child life cycle does not have positive effects on child well-being."

Mitchell says that the government should be paying attention to what the OECD advises. "After all, they campaigned on work testing the DPB."

More pathetic paternalism

Unless the NZ Herald has made a significant mistake a health economist is truly barking. He has proposed a Smartcard system for beneficiary and WFF recipients that "attract the subsidies of about $5 a week per child" to be used on healthy food.

We are talking about 300,000 children at the very least.

He estimated this would cost the Government around $100,000 a year.

Very strange maths. I figure it would cost $78 million. Perhaps he has worked in some 'benefits' from healthy eating by way of health savings. Or perhaps he is referring to the annual administration costs. Or perhaps this is the reimbursement he wants for continuing to mastermind such magnificent, medical intervention.

Whatever the reason behind this somewhat 'conservative' estimate, the suggestion is no more than another pathetically, paternalistic nanny-state-doing-your-thinking-for-you idea.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I thought he said he had bigger fish to fry?

What a lot of BS this is. Key says he hasn't got time for trivial stuff like the anti-smacking law but has the time to ponce about currying favour with the feminists.

Where is the Child Support review going?

A couple of weeks back there was some media reporting about the costs of raising children. The costs seemed over-inflated to me. As the research has been produced in advance of a review of the child support system a closer look is required.

The 21 page report, prepared by the IRD, uses a method used by Australia to estimate child costs as part of its child support reforms. The data comes from the Statistics NZ Household economic survey and comprises 930 households.

The actual formulas are hieroglyphics to me but here is what they produce;

The thing that is immediately obvious is the average low income is actually quite high when one considers that a majority of custodial parents are on a benefit. The lower the income, the higher the proportion the cost of raising a child becomes. If on an income of $450 a week the proportion rose to 24 percent the cost would be $108. But I am only guessing. Why didn't they model as low as that given the purpose of the research? Or wasn't their sample representative of typically low income custodial/liable parents? In which case, was it relevant?

Around half of the paying parents (approx 66,000) currently pay the minimum $14 per week (2007). The maximum level of child support payable (for the year ending 3/2010) is$577 per week, which just happens to be very close to the combined cost of two children (one in each age bracket) at an average income.

So beyond concluding that child support payments as they stand do not realistically meet the costs of raising children as modelled in this paper, it is very difficult to see where this review is going. You can't get blood out of a stone. Upping demands on higher income liable parents or upping state support?

The problematic child support system is anyway largely a side effect of the DPB. That's where attention needs to be focussed.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Paying for other people's choices

Paying for other people's choices. Where will it end?

Last week the Families Commission proposed that child support payments for custodial parents on a benefit should go directly to those parents instead of to the IRD to offset the welfare costs to the taxpayer. With some minor and conservative adjustment to 2006 figures that would mean each custodial parent getting an average income boost of $2,222 per annum and the taxpayer paying an extra $200 million per annum.

So the beneficiary custodial parent gets a rise, the liable parent is no worse off, while the taxpayer picks up the tab. (Or some other service is cut.) Of course father activists are all for it. They shouldn't be.

At a low income, a boost of $42 per week is quite substantial. In reality many will only get $14 extra because the paying parent is either also on a benefit or in low income work. But at the other end of the scale mothers with ex's on better incomes will receive substantially more. That means if the relationship is rocky, leaving becomes a better prospect than it is now. That means the incentive to go on the DPB rises again. More people go on it. More men suffer the consequences.

National is on record as saying New Zealand should consider doing just this. They would certainly get the support of the Maori Party.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Prescription-only pseudoephedrine creates more problems

Making pseudoephedrine prescription-only is back in the media today. Having discussed this with my on-call pharmacist he puts up another objection. MacDoctor, quoted in the article, will no doubt also have considered this angle.

P cooks and crooks (or their agents) currently buy pseudoephedrine at the chemist. They are purchasing it in a peopled and open environment. There is safety and steadfastness in numbers. The potential for trouble caused by a refusal to sell is lower than when the same person attempts to get a prescription from an unwilling GP working essentially alone.

Making pseudoephedrine only available on prescription transfers, and potentially worsens the problem. I have posted before about the Oregon experience. Yet it seems to be Mr Key's favoured weapon in the war on 'P'.