Friday, March 11, 2011

Choice from government: work or pregnancy

Sense from The Spectator:

Few could doubt that welfare reform is most urgently needed. The British welfare state is now incubating the very poverty it was designed to eradicate, creating what Beveridge called the ‘giant evil’ of idleness. The welfare state, in effect, ‘employs’ the people who would otherwise be part of the economy. Women suffer most. Girls leaving British schools without decent qualifications are given a choice by the government: work or pregnancy. A lone parent with two children in Britain is assured more disposable income than a hairdresser, post office worker or clerk. Only those both living and working in Westminster could fail to see why this is a problem.

(Hat-tip, The Welfare State We're In)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Roger Douglas - political swansong that needs urgent attention

Roger Douglas speech to the House on the Budget Policy Statement 2011:

On the 28th May 2009 I said in this House that “this is a budget of deficits. A deficit of spending, a deficit of the current account, a deficit of courage, but most importantly, a deficit of imagination”.

I realise that I got it wrong – I was being far too generous to the Government. This country is up the proverbial creek, not only without a paddle, but in a boat that is quickly sinking. We are running a cash deficit of $300 million a week (which is about to get much larger) and the Government’s response has been to act like cowards.

They have refused to do the right thing. They want to fund reports, hold press conferences, give speeches – do everything humanly possible to avoid making any decisions that might be unpopular. I am sick of it. We are in a state of financial ruin and the Government wants to sit on its hands. I am disgusted and have had enough.

New Zealand faces problems that are of a long standing nature. If we look around the world we can see inspiring examples of countries that have had the guts to do what is right, made the tough decisions, and are now enjoying tremendous success.

Their economic prosperity has meant that the vulnerable and old in society are looked after, the physically able have access to productive jobs, the sick have access to healthcare and their children are well-educated. These are the hallmarks of a functioning society. For many politicians in this House a vision of a prosperous society is just too difficult for them to fathom. Steve Chadwick made this clear when she said that her children had already resigned themselves to earning less in New Zealand than they would overseas. Is this the vision and inspiration we see coming out of the Labour Party.

What a great future and vision she has instilled in her children for New Zealand. Instead of looking for reforms that could see us pass Australia many politicians in this House have given up! It is a disgrace and unacceptable from a politician in this House. If this is what you are selling to New Zealand as their future you should give up.

In this speech I do not want to focus on a comparison with Australia, the National Party by rejecting the 2025 taskforce report shows that they do not want to catch Australia. This was too ambitious for them. I want to look at a country that we should be outperforming almost in every respect – Singapore. Singapore has everything against it, it has roughly the same sized population as New Zealand, it has absolutely no mineral wealth, and it could easily fit into Lake Taupō. In almost every respect we should outperform them, however the reality is that we do not even come close.

Let us draw comparisons between the two countries. First, New Zealand GDP growth in 2010 was under 1 percent. Singapore grew at a whopping 14 percent. In 1960, our GDP value was almost 3 times that of Singapore. In the last 20 years, Singapore has raced ahead. In 2015, Singapore will have a GDP value that is 3 times that of New Zealand. If we are to look at labour productivity per capita in New Zealand dollars – Singapore labour productivity in 2010 was $182,546 per person, that is almost twice New Zealand’s $93,365.

Why have they been able to achieve such prosperity with no minerals, no land and a relatively small population? They certainly did not do it by giving $43 million loans to private televisions channels. It is because they were willing to make tough decisions.

Government expenditure accounts for only 17% of GDP, that compares to New Zealand’s 43%. Their tax rates are also low, the top take rate being on 20 cents in every dollar kicking in at around $320,000 New Zealand dollars rather than the 33 cents which kicks in at $70,000 in New Zealand. Most importantly, their politicians had a vision for the future, they put aside short-term political gains and focused on the future – in short they had the guts to do what was right. They outlined a blueprint of where they want to go and they moved swiftly to achieve it. In doing so, they have left New Zealand in the dust.

But that is enough of that. What vision should we lay for New Zealand’s future? The first point should be to not accept apathy and poverty. We need new leaders that are inspired and inspiring. They need to implement quality reform. I want to outline what will be needed to leap over Australia and catch Singapore.

We need to decide to switch from government delivery, to private sector delivery like Singapore did in a whole range of industries. I have an 11 point action plan to get this country back on track:

1. Tax Choice

1. Introduce a $35,000 dollar tax free threshold.
2. Right to stay on current system for over 30s if they so choose.
3. Allow the poorest in society to keep their money – compassionate.
4. Singapore has a tax free threshold of around $21,000 NZD, and only taxes at 2% up to around $35,000 NZD.

2. Flat tax rate beyond $35,000.

1. Singapore have significantly flattened their tax rate. There top tax bracket is 20%, kicks in at around $320,000 NZD.

3. Replace company tax with an asset tax

1. 1.2 cents in the dollar (not available to fee based industries i.e. lawyers and engineers).

4. Healthcare –

1. Singapore 1 – 3 percent GDP v 9% in NZ.

5. Education

1. Māori – underachievement For Maori, 56 percent will not gain NCEA level 1 or above before they leave school.
2. More generallya third of school leavers fail to achieve NCEA Level 2 or higher.
3. Singapore – education is seen to be a great source of social mobility. Singapore has released statistics recently that show that children from disadvantaged backgrounds continue to achieve academically. Of students in the bottom third socio-economic bracket, about half score within the top two-thirds of their Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). This is cannot be said about New Zealand.

6. Welfare

1. Minimum income.
2. Time limit.
3. Re-education.

7. Government expenditure

1. Goal to get total government expenditure under 20 percent – ideally get it to 17% like Singapore.

8. Regulations

1. Get rid of remaining tariffs.
2. Cut through red tape.

9. Immigration

1. Open up immigration – get skilled people in.

10. Reform Government assets

I want to provide a future where my grandchildren live in New Zealand and can earn wages that are competitive with the world. I have a vision. I know how to get there. I refuse to be like Steve Chadwick and let my grandchildren accept that we will always be poorer than everyone else. It is disgusting. It is time to wake up – it is time to lay the groundwork for our children, make the tough decisions, rather than sit back and give in to apathy and poverty.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Willie Jackson at ACT conference

Listening to Radio Live yesterday I heard John Tamihere make mention that Willie Jackson is speaking at the ACT conference this weekend. First I had heard of it."You would speak to a hole in the wall if you were paid to, " Tamihere observed.

What would Willie Jackson have to say to an ACT audience?

Willie Jackson, Broadcaster: Why Maori should be given
special treatment in New Zealand today

First he will have to define what special treatment is, which will at least include having reserved seats on the Auckland council. Hide is completely opposed to that and I can't imagine any ACT member supporting them. Remember ACT is going to heavily campaign on 'One Law For All' this year.

No doubt it will include the recognition of Maori customary title. ACT is ambivalent on that but against the Seabed and Foreshore Bill. So that'll be a red rag to a bull to at least some audience members, Coastal Coalition types perhaps.

He is there because Willie courts any attention, and because ACT are courting media attention. Silly Willie.

No reasoning person can argue with one law for all. But I don't want to be involved with the anti-Maori sentiment it seeks and succeeds in provoking for the purposes of vote-buying. There will be racists in that audience and Willie himself is racist. Result? They will simply reinforce each others views which will only become further entrenched in the process.

Or no. Silly me actually. This is the enlightened, progressive, big-hearted ACT that engages and listens. Humble apologies. We'll have a little less cynicism from you young lady. Yes Mum.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Then and now

It is a shock to me that 1981 is 30 years ago. Yesterday, looking for a incident I want to research, I looked through all of the Evening Post for January 1981. Fascinating but tiresome when on microfilm. Scanning through all the sport and classified and supplementary advertising is hard on the eyes and neck.

What were the issues of the day?

Violent crime was at unacceptable levels and birching was the proposed solution. Birching. Yes. A serious debate was being had by the public and in parliament and penal reforms groups were enacting such a practice publicly by way of protest.

Child abuse was on the rise.

Red tape was crippling business.

Road deaths were out of control and young drivers were the worst culprits.

Unemployment among young Maori was estimated at around 50 percent. But benefits to 16 and 17 year-olds shouldn't be scrapped because the education system couldn't cope with them staying on at school.

And women should stay out of the workforce, stay at home and be mothers, as a solution to generally rising unemployment.

I was 21. That was NZ then and not much progress has been made on many of these issues. The red tape is different, violence is worse but perhaps more localised, child abuse is arguably worse, unemployment is higher than it was then. The best improvement would be in the reduction in road deaths - although you wouldn't know it listening to the media.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Trying to resurrect the debate over the WWG report

I said that the opponents of the report would lose more by being denied the debate triggered by the WWG report. Accordingly, today a number, probably working in cahoots, have issued releases or made blog posts in an attempt to reignite the issue.

Time to dismiss Welfare Working Group report, The Greens

Welfare Working Group recommendations flawed without investment, COMVOICES

Wrong-headed Welfare Working Group miss the point,NZCTU

If only those poor people would stop breeding, The Hand Mirror

A beneficiary advocate says proposals to contract out welfare services will create an industry out of misery, Sue Bradford

The only one I have a reaction to is Meteria Turei's, on behalf of the Greens;

“The earthquake in Christchurch has shown the compassionate and supportive power of communities. In that context the Welfare Working Group’s report looks incredibly harsh and inappropriate.”

My feeling is that most New Zealanders can differentiate between emergency aid and lifestyle welfare. The WWG report is an attempt to deal with the latter.

By the end of December 2009 14,394 babies born that year were being supported by a main benefit. A big chunk of the ensuing dependency must have been preventable. The earthquake was not.

US job figures disappoint?

That's the headline. The question mark is mine.

The keenly awaited jobs figures have been released in the US and experts are disappointed.

Unemployment has dropped just below nine percent, and more than 190 thousand new jobs were created.

Government employee numbers dropped because of cutbacks but hiring in manufacturing, health care, construction and transportation numbers increased.

Experts say the 8.9% unemployment rate is still too high to consider the US economic recovery strong.

They say around 250,000 new jobs were needed at this time.

It is disappointing for those unemployed at this time but the really good news is the rebalancing.

There is the essential movement out of the public sector and into the private. Any recovery without that is artificial. It is the private sector that provides the jobs that create wealth directly or indirectly.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Sunday morning rave

Usually people label me as right-wing. Yet I have never been a National member, never voted for National and generally take so little interest in their party politics that I didn't even know whether Jami-lee Ross was a bloke or a girl until I googled the name and image after misinterpreting the opening line from a Standard post.

I was firmly in the ACT camp when it was classical liberal, which is not right-wing.

Classical liberal philosophy promotes above all else individual rights. It opposes the power of the state over individual rights.

On the other side are collective rights. These are pushed by left-wingers. They love the state because it promotes the interests of groups to the detriment of individuals.

But true right wingers are collectivists too. They want the state to promote the rights of groups they belong to. National has a few of those.

A lot of nonsense is talked about left and right in this country. And from time to time I even indulge in it myself for the simple reason that most people are too poorly educated to understand anything else.

There is no classical liberal party in this country currently. Some talk about National having a classical liberal wing but that's a joke. Especially when people regret Simon Power's resignation because he led their more liberal team. Power? He steered through many pieces of legislation that offended against individual rights. And plans to ram through more before November.

Some people just can't grasp the importance of individual rights. People like Sean Plunket who last week took a very illiberal position on his talkshow. He was aghast at the judge's decision about the Wanganui gang patch ban. He believes the wearing of the patch should be illegal across the country. So should gang membership and the very gangs themselves. He says that to get a patch someone has to commit a crime therefore all patch wearers are criminals.

It was gratifying to hear some people challenge him saying, punish the crime, not the process of association or expression of it. I put it to him that some gang leaders are trying to turn their gangs around, recalling an interview he did when he was still at Radio NZ. He interviewed a Sally Army rep and a gang leader over the matter of a group attending rehab at a location in Turangi. Plunket was hostile towards the gang member and seemed to be trying to stir up community unrest about the rehab activity. My point to Plunket was that some gang members do turn their backs on criminal activity but not on the gang. The gang is more than just men. It is their women and children. It is entirely possible that someone sports a patch when they are not currently criminal or have already served time for past misdeeds. I acknowledged it would be naive to believe many fitted the description. But tried to get him to see that the regalia itself should not be illegal. Still he insists that in the matter of gangs like the Mongrel Mob and Black Power there is no room for 'niceties' like freedom of expression, freedom of association, etc. On this matter he would sit quite comfortably in the ACT party.

Relating the exchange to my husband he broke into the famous passage, "First they came for ...

That is exactly why individual rights must be preserved at all cost, even when we don't like the individuals who rights we uphold.

And it is a sobering thought that there isn't a party in our parliament that bases its philosophy and actions on this idea.