Saturday, April 02, 2011

Blog stats March

Best month ever. Coincides with the second biggest business confidence downturn since the survey began. Reading blogs make people gloomy? Or gloom encourages people to read blogs? Actually it's probably got something to do with my google ranking, whatever that is.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Criminals and misnomers

Just two quick thoughts this morning.

1/ Anybody who defrauds Work and Income should be barred from ever claiming welfare again, including Super. That would a huge deterrent to people who think they can behave how the hell they like and always fall back on other people's money. Otherwise this extraordinary state of affairs, whereby no matter what people do their 'entitlements' remain intact, will continue to be a major reason why so much crime occurs and will continue to occur. The bullet must be bitten and a stop put to this utter nonsense. The facts;

In 2009;
Cancellations of a benefit for reason ‘going to prison’ 4,192. Grants of a benefit for reason ‘leaving prison’ 3,496.

2/ Does anyone else find the constant use of the term 'mass grave' in reference, to the inability to identify Christchurch quake victims, questionable? Mass graves have connotations associated with mass murder. Surely a better, more sympathetic description could be found. Multiple grave maybe. I don't know but I am certain the term being used is all part and parcel of the tragedy voyeurism some commentators have identified.

Update; Having returned from walking the dog there is something else I want to say. In the business of beneficiaries defrauding the taxpayer and going back on welfare the writer went to ACT for a response;

ACT MP Heather Roy said it was obvious further changes needed to be made. "The question is, how much was the system allowing this to happen? It seems to me if we've got that much money going west ... there's something going wrong."

What a piss-poor response. ACT has had years to think about this matter. And Roger Douglas is supposed to be the welfare spokesperson anyway. I may not always have agreed with Muriel Newman but she didn't prevaricate or miss an opportunity to stamp an impression on voters about where the party stood. And they call National "spineless".

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rhodesian Ridgeback

This is sketched by eye. I am usually more methodical and take short cuts with the use of technology. Sadly this girl is no longer with us. But I remember her as a particularly lollopy, peaceful beast.

Not doing his homework - Dick Smith

Dick Smith calls for two-children limit on families

EVERY Australian family should be limited to just two children to curb the population explosion, controversial millionaire Dick Smith says.

He called for a China-like quota on the number of kids, warning the growing burden on our resources was like "a plague of locusts".

Yes the Australians have been over-producing for decades - haven't they?

Attacks on WWG report continue

This column appeared in the Dominion Post and NZ Herald yesterday.
It disappoints me that everything we are seeing and hearing in the media is coming from the knockers. The Greens, left-wing activists, church groups, academics. The group members, bar one exception, appear to silent, by choice or by some agreed tactic. There is so much one could say in response to this latest column, not least that is ignores wholly the moral imperative for welfare and the role of the family in society but confined to 200 words I thought best to reiterate the big picture:

Dear Editor

Donna Wynd and Susan St John co-wrote a column (Dominion Post, March 30) criticising the final Welfare Working Group report. Almost entirely it comprised analysis of how a sole parent might be affected by "punitive" recommendations. No attention was given to what has happened and will continue to happen under the status quo.

The Group was tasked with examining long-term welfare dependence and found, "Around 60,000 had spent at least ten years on a benefit, and 100,000 had spent at least nine of the last ten years on a benefit," and, " In 1960, only 2 percent (1 in 50) of the working-age population were receiving benefits. By April 2008, after a decade of strong employment growth, around 10 percent of the working-age population (around 278,000 people) were receiving a benefit." Currently, the figure sits at 13 percent.

Clearly reforms are needed to reverse the trend. Accordingly the Group made many recommendations including part-time work-testing single parents whose youngest child is three, in line with some other OECD countries. Being on a benefit long-term is documented as detrimental to children and must be discouraged. There may be some short-term difficulties adjusting to a tightening of welfare but the long-term gain, particularly for children, outweighs this.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why stop at the hut?

Looking at the photo of these two boys I ask myself, why stop at the tree hut? The Nelson City Council tore it down because if someone fell from it they might injure themselves. But the two boys are still in the tree well above ground. Why not chop down the entire tree? And any other council tree they might choose to climb and fall from. That is the logical extension of their initial action.

This reminds me about the notice that appeared on a tree in our street. Two boys had attached a basketball hoop to it before a nasty notice appeared warning them to remove the hoop or face a fine. The tree is 'protected'. Just like the Nelson boys are being 'protected'.

Protected. What an abused word. Try stifled, constrained, prevented, forbidden. My guess is around 90 percent of people do not agree with council's 'protective' actions. But there is also a lurking 10 percent of control freaks winning the day. How do we fight them? Usually they operate under the cloak of anonymity. Who are these people and what drives them? Do they see themselves as superior beings with greater foresight and therefore a duty to act? Do they regard themselves as selfless and altruistic in their concern for their fellow human-beings every safety? Or are they grumpy, miserable old farts and fartesses who can't abide the laughter and chatter of excited children?

What we desperately need more than anything else is protection from them - not ourselves.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


...thousand. That's what the lady captain of a Cheshire golf club had claimed in disability living allowances. Perhaps she thought 'disability' included not having enough money to suit her lifestyle.

Valerie Lewis received more than £40,000 in Disability Living Allowance, claiming she suffered back pain that meant she could barely walk.

But the mother-of-two played four nine or 18-hole rounds of golf a week and was lady captain of her local club.

The 55-year-old first claimed the disability benefit in 2001, insisting she had difficulty walking more than 7ft, getting dressed and even cutting up food or tying her shoelaces.

Fraud investigators filmed her teeing off at Sutton Hall Golf Club near Runcorn, Cheshire, loading her golf buggy, lifting clubs in and out of her car and walking ‘five or six miles’.

She was filmed at the 6,000-yard course in November 2008 after investigators received a tip-off that she was ‘fitter than stated’.

Lewis was further implicated by her own diary, which revealed she had played in a golf competition on the day of her very first disability assessment and rode a horse the day after.

In January she escaped jail after admitting failing to inform the Department for Work and Pensions about changes to her circumstances.

At Warrington Crown Court, Lewis, from Runcorn, was given a sentence of 24 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of community service.

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

At the risk of stating the obvious, the problem is dishonesty. The more people who are dishonest, the more it becomes normalised and the more people accept it as normal. A values survey conducted over many decades showed that increasingly people thought it was OK to apply for benefits they were not legally entitled to.

MSD research includes this insight into inter-generational welfare dependence:

"First, poor children are more likely to grow up to be poor, so the correlation could just result from shared economic circumstances. It could also arise if parents who get welfare have less distaste for welfare (and perhaps more distaste for work) and transmit these attitudes to their children. Finally, it could arise if parents who get welfare transmit information about getting welfare to their children in a way that lowers the transaction costs of the children's participation in welfare programmes. Gottschalk (1992), using NLSY data, finds that among individuals eligible for welfare, adults who grew up in families that received welfare were more likely to receive it themselves than adults who grew up in families that did not receive welfare. This suggests that at least some of the intergenerational transmission of welfare use results either from parents and their children sharing norms and values about welfare receipt, or from parents and children sharing information about welfare receipt."

So the transmission of degraded values happens within families and across broader communities.

The question is, of course, how to arrest and reverse the decline. People cannot suddenly be made more honest, but the opportunity to exploit can be minimised, and the rewards for integrity increased, even if only in a relative sense.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thanks Darren

I would like to thank Darren Hughes. For adding to the public perception that most politicians are a pathetic lot. Most do not have the talent to reach similar levels of public recognition and attention in any other sphere. The ones who are attracted to politics very young are particularly suspect. Their convictions almost exclusively rest on the acceptance that government is good and government is power. In that order. And they want a piece of the action. They fancy themselves as leaders because they have more apparent confidence and certainty than their compatriots. They think that they are more capable and compassionate, when, in fact, they simply have an utter lack of compunction about using other people's money to take the easy way out of any given situation. In their minds, life is black and white. Because government is good and powerful, as agents they can do no wrong. And the recompense for being agents just happens to be well above anything they might earn elsewhere given their paucity of skills and talent. They increasingly believe in their goodness and infallibility. Which can be contagious, especially for impressionable wannabes made in their mirror image. But there is a vast difference between admiration of a mind and attraction to a body. If they do co-exist, great. But to assume as much is very, very dicey.

So that's a mistake most mere mortals make at some point. But our politician isn't a mere mortal. Not in his mind. Not until it is convenient to re-assume such a humble position anyway. Hughes is a victim of his own self-regarded success. Yes, lots of people say what a popular guy, what a great wit, what a great debater, what a future. But notice that they all share the government is good and powerful world view.

We yearners-after-small-government sometimes use the quote, a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away. In an ironic way Hughes has just had a nasty taste of that.