Saturday, March 20, 2010

Moderation turned on

Sorry folks but I have turned on the moderation function. Fortunately I am never far away from the keyboard so when you comment it should appear fairly quickly.

Unfortunately my deep reluctance to curb freedom of speech is increasingly being interpreted as some sort of tacit approval of the quite absurd comments I leave up.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Remember Wayne Patterson?

Do you recall the exploits of one Wayne Patterson?

He invented superannuitant identities and successfully defrauded Work and Income of 3.4 million dollars. A TV doco aired about this quiet and unassuming character who lived modestly, invested the money wisely, including in gold bars which he hid in his ceiling. Ultimately he made a profit for the taxpayer of $467,000.

Contrast this to the sleazebag ASB finance investor who stole $17.8 million from unsuspecting and trusting clients. Blew it on sex and lavish living. Poured it down the toilet pretty much.

Who should have got the longer sentence?

Patterson got 8 years and sleazebag got 6.

Astonishing claim

In Australia "health and welfare " jobs have just overtaken the retail sector in terms of employment. Currently 1 in 9 jobs is in health and social assistance.

According to The Age;

"It will keep getting bigger," says labour market specialist Mark Wooden, of the Melbourne Institute.

The entire sector will one day account for one in every two workers ".

Good lord. How can that be sustainable?

In NZ one in 10 workers is employed in health and social assistance (it rises to closer to 2 for females). But 1.5 works in retail trade and accommodation.

The same upward trend is occurring though. In September 2004 the sector accounted for 8.9 percent of the workforce. Five years later it stood at 10.2 percent.

Returning to the claim I guess what he is saying is that society will become so efficient at creating wealth without labour input that it will be able to afford for every second worker to be a health or care worker. Can't see it myself.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The criminal class has society over a barrel

The criminal class has society over a barrel. Look at the news coverage.

On Tuesday night in Hamilton two young women attempted to rob a family a home. The father acted to prevent them and eventually neighbours became involved. The police say:

"Here we have neighbours looking out for each other resulting in the arrest of the woman, which is to be commended, but we also have a homeowner suffering a stab wound trying to defend his property in what could have been very tragic circumstances.

"We would prefer people capture details and descriptions rather than place themselves at risk. If at all possible, call 111 and let us respond to the problem."

In other words, let them rob you.

Then up the road in Huntly business owners are sick and tired of increasing property crime and theft. They met with their local MP to express their understandable unhappiness;

But Huntly Community Board chairman Frank McInally, who is a strong advocate for the installation of security cameras, yesterday told the Times that most retailers were "their own worst enemies".

"They won't put their hand in their own pockets to contribute towards the cameras," he said.

"You hit them up for $1000 each for cameras and they don't want to know about. But they're happy to talk about increased insurance premiums. "They talk a lot, but will do absolutely nothing off their own bat."

So again the message sent to thieves is, do your worst. Why the hell should small business owners be coughing up for street security when they already pay their rates and taxes for a reasonable level of law enforcement?

But worse than any of this is the fact that we are forced to support the criminal class through a benefit system that has gone haywire; is bereft of a moral compass.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Figures released under the Official Information Act show there has been a sharp increase in the number of people who have had their benefits cancelled because they went to prison.

"In 2009 4,192 people had their benefit cancelled because they were going to prison. That is 37 percent up on the 2008 figure, and 47 percent up on the 2007 figure," according to welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell.

"58 percent were Maori, 89 percent male and 47 percent came off a sickness or invalid's benefit."

"468 parents or caregivers also left the DPB to go to prison. "

"Most criminals break the law many times before they are incarcerated. No doubt there are thousands more people who are serving community sentences or home detention while continuing to receive welfare. Additionally 3,496 people were granted a benefit last year on release from prison."

"This situation rather puts paid to the idea that benefits discourage crime by providing people with a living income."

"The Prime Minister was correct when earlier this year he described New Zealand's welfare rolls as out of control. Welfare was not designed to aid and abet thousands of criminals. "

So we are damned if we do, and damned if we don't. I am rather starting to prefer the idea of damned if we don't.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In the home stretch

Winding down to the exhibition now. With oils you have to have the work finished well before installation and this week I have been able to embark on a new project - soon to be announced. Here is some of the work of other artists involved. Mine is the top right portrait. And below is a publicity shot Sam took yesterday for local papers. Fingers crossed I sell as well as at the last show.

Creeping separatism

It is rumoured that whanau ora is going to be administered by Te Puni Kokiri.

Inasmuch as the DPB is a social policy which benefits (?) mainly women, shouldn't it be handed over to the Ministry of Women's Affairs?

And if there is going to be a Minister of Whanau Ora what about a Minister of DPB?

And why not hand the administration of Super over to the Retirement Commissioner and have a Minister of Super?

National tell us that they want trim down public services and bureaucracy and go in exactly the opposite direction with Maori. Pure politics.

Politics aside, the real question is, can Maori providers sort out Maori social problems? How will we know whether the new approach is working? (That question pops into my head because I was reading the other day about the continuing creation of marae courts. In nearly two years since the first began hearing cases no formal evaluation has been conducted.)

My suspicion is that families under the whanau ora scheme will be treated differently to families who are not. That could manifest in avoidance of work-testing for example. It is no secret that the soon-to-be Minister of whanau ora is absolutely against work-testing mothers on the DPB. Whanau ora may provide the political solution to that conflict.

A very close watch needs to be kept on what develops under whanau ora. But my guess is that scrutiny will be impeded by the fact of it being run by the Ministry of Maori Development.

Timid welfare reforms

Some years back I was approached by a parent of children that went to school with mine, who had read my letters, knew my politics etc. She was from the US and very sympathetic to my views about welfare. What she wanted to convey to me was that when she lived in the US she considered herself to be left-leaning. But without changing her own political views, in this country she felt decidedly to the right of the spectrum. In particular she felt NZers were too politically correct and had an over developed sense of being owed. Whereas in the States she would vote Democrat here she would be more likely to vote Act.

It doesn't matter which main party is in power (except for the aberrations of the late 80s/early 90s) New Zealand is essentially very collectivist and socialist. Where once that mentality saw NZ innovating and leading in social policy (eg social insurance paid by the state rather than the employer/employee) it is now creating paralysis.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Mistakes happen. Yesterday for instance I had a letter published in the DomPost and after my name it said "Point Howard". I have been writing to the DomPost for years. Why would someone suddenly take it into their heads that I live in Point Howard? Apart from the fact that people are going to keep asking me if I have moved (which happened when the Dompost temporarily started using the identifier Muritai instead of Eastbourne) it's no big deal. But why?

Anyway, here is a really big "why?"

A Boston cat has been called for jury service. But that's not the why. He was entered on the last census forms as a pet, Sal Esposito. Someone in officialdom has their wires crossed and Sal has transformed into a human. One old enough to do jury service mind you.

No, the why is WHY won't the jury commissioner relieve the cat of his civic duty?

(Hat tip

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ripping off charity

The mentality of someone who rips off the taxpayer is comprehensible. The taxpayer is invisible, indeed the individual himself is one and just getting back some of what he put in.

But ripping off a charity? I suppose donors are also invisible. But the recipients of the charity, especially children, certainly aren't.

I began volunteering in 2004 and up until last year, when I had a client that involved more travel than previous clients, I didn't claim for mileage. I had made a reasonably sized donation to the charity and it seemed illogical to then take money out. But last year I wasn't as flush and when I was asked to take on a client some distance away said yes, but that I would have to claim for mileage.

So if Roger McClay has been ripping off various charities, has he fallen on hard times or is it simply a matter of greed? Perhaps he really rates himself and mentally justifies his actions because they are damn lucky to have his services. Maybe he has a gambling addiction or some other expensive hobby.

Whatever has happened in his head, it is sad to see someone throw away their reputation and future prospects because he will get little sympathy and probably no second chances. And now that I look for a link to the story I discover one of the charities he is accused of ripping off is World Vision, who we have supported for nearly twenty years. Thanks Roger. I wasn't faceless after all.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Am I getting anywhere with this?

Regular readers will know that when I think a comment or a criticism or a revelation is important I will distribute it as a media release. Sometimes I get feedback along the lines of, why isn't it getting picked up?

Actually they do get picked up. But someone who listens only to National Radio for example can be forgiven for thinking they do not.Increasingly I get calls from NewstalkZB, Radio Live and, less so, Rhema. I have been on Radio NZ but only a couple of times. My local paper gives me a bit of coverage as per below which ran in the Hutt News and The Leader and the readership of local papers is quite high because they are distributed free to all homes. Over the years the NZ Herald has published a number of articles but there prime social issues reporter is not sympathetic to my views. Breakfast TV is also calling me if there is a relevant issue.

Courting the media is very difficult. I hate seeing my name in print. I get an immediate but irrational sinking-stomach feeling. The thought of a TV appearance or speech sends my stress levels into the troposphere. But I cope. If I want to advance welfare reform I have to. And advancing welfare reform isn't about beating a political drum for the sake of it. It's about changing how we think about need, how we meet it without creating more; without causing so much unnecessary and additional hurt and waste along the way.