Saturday, April 17, 2010

First hand look at the Tea Party supporters

Classically Liberal has a most interesting post about attending a Tea Party rally and what he found there. For one thing, a great deal of anti-immigrant sentiment;

One woman was lecturing a camera about "my country is like my house." She thought that silly analogy valid."And I have the right to say who comes into my house." I couldn't stand it any more and from where I was seat yelled to her: "It's my house too." Not being too bright she smiled, pointed at me and yelled, "EXACTLY!" To that I replied: "And I don't care who comes in." She was not thrilled with that reply.

2 days to go

The lady with the feathers and pounamu has gone to Adelaide but I still have paintings for sale at the Academy Galleries, Queens Wharf, Wellington 10am - 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Around the blogs

School holidays combined with an exhibition has left little time for writing. Fortunately there is plenty of interest on other blogs;

Winston Smith has written movingly about a rare success story from his supported housing experience but observes;

Now, instead of holding up the likes of Catriona as a shining example that one's childhood doesn't have to pre-determine your path in life I have to listen day in day out to the disempowering mantra that young people with anti-social behaviour problems behave the way they do due to their negative childhood experiences. A convenient theory that then allows the young person to self destruct and the agents of state intervention to abdicate all responsibility.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis gets angry about Iwi benefiting from the privatisation of prisons;

I see some iwi are rubbing their hands together in glee at the prospect of being able to get rich by locking their own up.

It goes to show how high the aspirations of some of our Maori leaders are. We now aspire to bung the bros in the hinaki and watch the dollars roll in. The longer and more often we can put them away, the sooner we will be able to afford to expand the prison and lock even more away.

The Frogblog laments what they claim is the stacking of the Welfare Working Group with the "far right".

Presumably under pressure from ACT, the Government seems to be unable to resist finding places for wingnuts on the various advisory groups it is setting up. Yesterday it continued this trend by appointing Business Roundtable communications consultant and former ACT Party President Catherine Isaac (formerly Judd) to its Welfare Working Group.

Karl du Fresne nails it in his usual concise fashion;

THE LEFT keeps moaning that wages in New Zealand are too low, which is perfectly correct. They complain that the government hasn’t delivered the promised higher-wage economy – again, all true.

But just let anyone suggest that something meaningful be done to free up the economy, increase productivity and stimulate income growth – such as reducing taxes and government spending – and who’s the first to howl in protest? Why, it’s the Left.

And last but not least my friend John Ansell has written about an exhibition he went to see earlier this week. Thank you John.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Maori and separatism

Is there an assumption amongst non-Maori that the Maori Party speaks for all Maori?

Perhaps the Maori Party MPs believe they do inasmuch as Maori who do not embrace the cultural and spiritual values of the Maori Party are not 'real' Maori.

The Maori Party is billed as a huge success yet their polling remains consistently around 3 percent despite being high profile, involved in the 'big' issues and appearing to have made some advantageous deals with National.

In Maoridom I am sure that there is no such assumption. The tribal politics and affiliations are strong. And there are plenty of business savvy Maori who don't naturally embrace the economic left and Maori who are inherently conservative.

There has always been disagreement between Maori leaders about what is the best way forward for Maori. Some preached assimilation. Others, like Apirana Ngata wanted Maori to retain their language, their customs and culture but also to take on the education and health services provided in the non-Maori world. To equip themselves for the future.

Remarkably I agree with Garth George today who writes about the Whanau Ora report;

The phrase "te ao Maori", which means "the Maori world", occurs at least 30 times in the taskforce report. I wonder about that. After all, the social welfare system, no matter how it is constituted, exists mainly in the modern Western world.

Many of the tens of thousands of people who are afflicted by poverty or otherwise disadvantaged may indeed be part of the Maori world, but they live in, and have to cope in, the modern Western world.

The Maori Party are most certainly pushing an increasingly separatist line. Yet they represent the aspirations of maybe 2 or 3 out of 12 voting age Maori (and that is assuming the significant Maori voting age population in Australia have a similar voting preferences to their NZ counterparts).

If many Maori are getting frustrated with the direction in which the Maori Party is taking Maoridom I am afraid the door will be re-opened to Winston Peters. Especially if Labour-voting Maori decide they are not wasting their vote at the next election. There is no doubt Winston has been ramping it up recently, opposing separatism but also stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment and economic nationalism. Ironically there are disaffected ex ACT voters, ultra conservatives, who might also lean his way. I say ironically because it was Rodney Hide that got rid of him.

My own frustration lies in not wanting separatism yet not wanting to deny Maori the chance to do things their way. But do most Maori want to "do things their way"? Isn't it about time we were talking about "our way"? I want to hear more from Maori who want to put aside the division but I don't want to hear it from Winston Peters.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welfare Working Group announced

Members of the Welfare Working Group include:

• Ms Paula Rebstock (Chair)
• Professor Des Gorman
• Professor Kathryn McPherson
• Associate Professor Ann Dupuis
• Ms Catherine Isaac (formerly Judd)
• Ms Sharon Wilson-Davis
• Mr Adrian Roberts
• Ms Enid Ratahi Pryor.

According to the Minister's press release;

Based on past trends and current policy settings, the proportion of New Zealanders receiving long-term benefits is expected to increase unabated. The fiscal, social and economic costs of that are unsustainable.

Somewhat similar to what the header of this blog says.

I notice a number in there.

Taxpayers currently spend $7.6 billion per annum on main benefits.

A couple of weeks back I posted about the total of $4.8 billion being bandied about all over the media and said it was too low and the real cost is likely to be over $7 billion.

The erroneous $4.8 billion came directly from the Ministry:

345,000 New Zealanders currently receive a benefit, costing taxpayers $4.8 billion a year.

Anyway, good luck to them. One can only hope that if they offer up anything useful the government will have a more constructive response than to the Taskforce 2025 (which already made recommendations about reducing welfare)

When DPB pays more than the average female worker's income

From the Future Focus fact sheets we learned;

A sole parent, with two dependent children, renting in Auckland on DPB could receive approximately $580 per week including Accommodation Supplement and other allowances. A sole parent, with two dependent children, renting in the South Island on DPB could receive approximately $500 per week including Accommodation Supplement and other allowances

Using Statistics NZ Average Weekly Earnings (Employees) by Industry (ANZSIC06) and Sex (Qrtly-Mar/Jun/Sep/Dec) I produced a chart showing how these payments compare.

The point of this chart is to illustrate that choosing motherhood over work is entirely economically rational.

Comments and provisos

- tax applied 21c in the dollar
- a single mother (or other low income workers) employed in a low paying job may qualify for family tax credits, accommodation supplement etc
- the average earnings take no account of region whereas the DPB payments do
- If the DPB recipient has fewer than 2 children the weekly payment is lower; if she has more it is higher

(Inspired by Dynamic Benefits, produced by the UK Centre for Social Justice, undoubtedly the source of this piece by Fraser Nelson;

If an unemployed Pole gets a job as a barista in Starbucks, even for 15 hours a week, his situation improves dramatically. A young man in Britain would be just £10 a week better off than if he stayed at home on benefits. Why break your back for an extra tenner?

The situation is even more pernicious for young women who leave school with low qualifications, because the alternative to low-paid work is pregnancy. A woman with one child and on benefits has, on average, more disposable income than a hairdresser or teaching assistant. With two children, it's more than a receptionist or library assistant. With three, it's a lab technician, typist or bookkeeper. So there should be no mystery about why Britain came to have so many children in workless households (one in five, the highest in Europe). The young mothers, and the young men on benefits, are walking down a road to dependency paved for them by the state.

This is a peculiar definition of compassion. What Beveridge denounced as the "giant evil" of idleness is now being incubated on a mass scale by the very welfare state designed to eradicate it. As Britain positions itself for a recovery, this raises an ominous question for a prospective Conservative government: will it do any better? If the economy is to recover, might it simply suck in more of these industrious, hard-working immigrants while leaving between five and six million British people on out-of-work benefits?

Hat-tip also to The Welfare State We Are In)

Benefit statistics - what the numbers mean

Yesterday the Minister of Social Development pre-empted the release of the March quarter benefit numbers. The good news is total welfare benefits dropped by 20,662.

However, when the economy is not in recession that is a normal development.

Analysis of a similar drop between December 2006 and March 2007 shows that the drops on UB (10,000) and DPB (3,000) were larger than the Minister is indicating for the most recent quarter, respectively 6,000 and 1,000.

So a fair chunk of the drop is off benefits other than the 4 main benefits.

In December 2009 there were 12,096 unemployed students receiving the Unemployment Benfit - Student - Hardship. This compares to 7,997 in December 2006. So in December 2009 50 percent more students were on the dole and many of those will now have transferred onto a student allowance.

So we are beginning to see where most of the drop is and it isn't so much about leaving welfare but transferring onto another form of it.

If there had been any significant reduction in either the sickness or invalid's benefit I am sure we would have been hearing about it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Contradictory crime figures

Reading two pieces back-to-back highlighted a significant error in the first. The error was immediately noticeable and I didn't think I could be bothered blogging about it. But the second caused me to reflect yet again about the misinformation that is spread via the media.

In the NZ Herald, Tapu Misa writes:

Crime went up last year, the biggest real increase in years. Murders were up by 25 per cent, the 65 recorded homicides being the highest in a decade. And violent crime was up by 8 per cent per capita.

In the DomPost, John Hartevelt writes:

Police statistics issued this month showed violent crime was up by 9.2 per cent to 65,465 offences last year. There was a jump in recorded homicide offences – up by more than 20 per cent to 134 last year.

Misa has reported homicides at less than half of the true number. There were 65 murders but it is a significant mistake to interchange the two.

In this column she rails against three strikes, blames increased crime on increased joblessness, discusses the causes of falling crime in the US (including the discredited abortion theory), pans the 'broken windows' revolution and the Californian application of three strikes. All of which is a discussion that will no doubt be addressed by Garth McVicar or David Garrett given the chance (although the NZ Herald doesn't appear to publish responses to Misa).

One theory about a cause of dropping US crime is neglected however. She wouldn't want to find anything in favour of welfare reform.

Strong families and employment are protectors against crime. Both are diminished by out of control welfare. Crime in the US dropped as welfare dependence diminished.

If lower socio-economic men continue to be displaced from their roles as father and provider then more crime is on the cards. And it is guaranteed to continue through to the next generation via any children he produces.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Matt McCarten's misapprehension

The left - and probably many on the right for that matter - do not understand what privatisation is.

Just because taxpayer funding is allocated to people who are not directly employed by the state, it does not follow that privatisation has occurred. The contracts are still publicly funded and the taxpayer has no choice about providing the means.

Whanau ora is not privatisation.

Privatisation of welfare would require that social services and cash assistance were provided by agencies that fund themselves through corporate backing, investment, business ventures, individual donations etc. That is, the funding is provided by willing contributors.

The wages and salaries of those practitioners of whanau ora will still be paid by the state, albeit indirectly.

To use Matt's quotation, "... big f***ing deal."