Saturday, August 06, 2011

"They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad"

I love my Mum and Dad.

They came for dinner last night. A roast. Because that's all I can cook with real confidence. And my mum, bless her, says she loves my roasts. Leg of lamb. She brought the desert.

I have two close friends I grew up with and Mum and Dad consequently know them well - or knew them well as children. Recently my friends and I got together for a weekend away, one coming from Australia to visit her 90 year-old father. We banded together on a friday and took off for the Wairarapa. Inevitably 4pm - or thereabouts - saw us huddled over a bottle of wine, near an open fire, relishing being able to talk as we always have done. Without reservation and with the security of knowing each other inside out.

But it became apparent that the one who separated from her husband around 4 years ago now, had an attitude to men that was quite irrational. She was always a beauty. But in her fifties is quite convinced - no, convinced isn't the right word - absolutely certain that men are only interested in women superficially.

We dug and delved around why. Kept holding up our own experiences and others that conflicted with hers but she clung passionately to her arguments and examples. As we pushed on, it came out. Her father had always told her that men were only after one thing. He persuaded her he was right. She married early and probably thought she had found the man who was the exception to the rule. Cruelly, after many years of unquestioned faith, that man fell short and found younger (or something) targets for his affection. Of course her father had been right.

I was telling my own Mum and Dad about this. They remember her father. The family lived one house away. My Dad, without hesitation, but quiet recollection, recited the following:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

Philip Larkin

My children were probably mildly shocked to hear Grandad use the f word but are mature enough to understand the context. Dear Grandad. Always makes us laugh, sometimes till we wish he would stop. Always makes us think. Never fucked us up.

But perhaps the lesson is, you will get what you expect from life. If you look for it, you will find it.

Friday, August 05, 2011

DPB cancellations due to incarceration more than double

Periodically I ask MSD for the reasons why people are leaving the DPB. Just tracking trends.

Not much stands out from today's response. Despite the new work-testing regime people are leaving for the reason 'obtained work' at no greater rate. Not when compared to the earlier 2000s.

But the following statistics are interesting enough to graph (the first years are to December; the last two are to June). Since 2002 the number of DPB cancellations due to incarceration has more than doubled.

There are increasingly more men on the DPB and more males than females go to prison from the DPB according to the 2003 Prison Census.

That's a hell of a lot of kids losing a caregiver to prison anyway and the provision of welfare wasn't enough to prevent these recipients resorting to crime, one of the major reasons advocates advance to justify it.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Greens plan is a blueprint for poverty

The Greens plan to lift 100,000 children out of poverty is unworkable and defies reason on a number of counts.

First the definition of poverty is relative. It puts a number of children below a specified threshold. Arbitrary thresholds are exceedingly troublesome in their own right. The US is currently grappling with a new and better way to measure poverty. In the UK not so long ago hundreds of thousands of children were lifted out of poverty overnight simply by moving the threshold! A move no less silly than the Green's proposal as we shall see.

In New Zealand poverty is usually defined as falling below either 50 or 60 percent of the eqivalised (adjusted for number of householders) median household income. But difficult-to-measure outgoings are just as important as incomes. Most of the 100,000 children the Greens target are in DPB homes. Yet there are nearly twice that number relying on that particular benefit. The government tries to make payments to them that are as equitable as possible. Yet some fall below the defined poverty level when others don't. Which straight away indicates that some have greater outgoings than others. For beneficiaries, outgoings are more amenable to change than incomes. Adjusting expenses will do more to alleviate their children's poverty than waiting for an income increase, all the while racking up debt.

The Greens don't want them to wait. They want a parent who does not work to receive the incentive, the In Work Tax Credit, given to a parent who does. How silly is that? Even the Human Rights Tribunal found that the government was justified in discriminating against non-working parents. If they weren't then welfare advocates could demand beneficiaries receive 100 percent of the median household income!

But just imagine for a moment the Greens achieved their desired rise in benefit payments. An abundance of international research has shown a link between level of payments and rate of unmarried births. Put simply, the more the DPB pays the more people will choose it over work. Children that enter the benefit system at birth stay the longest and subsequently cumulatively cost more. That means what the Greens have budgeted is less than the actual cost over time. But hey what doesn't grow exponentially when it comes to handouts. Paid Parental Leave is a great example. It now costs twice what Treasury initially forecast it would.

The next part of the Green's plan is to re-introduce the Training Incentive Allowance yet Treasury reported to the WWG that this allowance probably contributed to beneficiaries staying on welfare even longer ( as studying became the modus operandi?). In reality there is no case for a beneficiary to not have to get into the same debt as other students do to fund the education they choose. Exceptions only produce incentives for people to make bad choices eg having children before acquiring any means of supporting them.

Raising the minimum wage barely warrants comment. What hasn't been said, and demonstrated, before about the effect minimum wages have on overall employment? They reduce it. When the cost of labour increases, all else remaining equal, employers buy less of it. Extra unemployment incurs additional burden on the benefit system. Which means that again the Greens have under-calculated the cost of such a move.

The last part of the plan is the require rental homes to be insulated. The additional expenditure will end up in the tenant's hands as increased rent. There goes the extra benefit payment which is the first step of the grand plan.

We all know that the Greens are economically the most socialist party in the political spectrum. And we all know that socialism makes countries poor. Socialism makes children poor.

What the Greens have produced is not a plan for less poverty but a blueprint for more.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Are you a Conservative?

Are you a Conservative?

I didn't score enough to need a Conservative Party (8 out of 15). And that was an ambivalent 8 as some of the questions are multi-pronged.

Doesn't solve my problems about who to vote for come November.

Why so many NZ children are poor

Yesterday saw the release of the Household Incomes in New Zealand Report which is updated periodically. It is full of data, both domestic and international. Extremely detailed, very lengthy.

What it does usefully highlight is that many statistics are estimates which lead to considerable variation. But this quote says it all about children in poverty in New Zealand:

What can be said with certainty is that more than one in five and perhaps as many as one in four New Zealand children live in households where there is no adult in full-time employment. These rates and the rate for children in workless households are high by OECD and EU standards.

Yet New Zealand has relatively low unemployment by OECD standards.

What New Zealand does have is a very high proportion of sole parent families living on benefits. Hence the high proportion of 'workless' households.

The high proportion of sole parents, some stats say second highest in the developed world, is a result of social policy accommodation of cultural tradition and feminist dogma. Feminists will say it is the result of male failure to take responsibility but that was secondary. The policy enabled that abrogation.

The very best way - in fact, probably the only way - to reduce the poverty of New Zealand children is to get rid of the policy that creates and sustains (albeit meagrely) sole parent families.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Having more children on welfare... one thing the general public is largely against.

MSD provided a paper to the WWG on the parameters of the problem.

The data matched what I had been getting through different OIA requests.

22-23 percent add a further child to an existing benefit.

I had always thought that seemed fairly low given the number of families on the DPB with more than one child. Further information in the paper explains why my instincts are probably right. The estimates...

"...only count children who were conceived while the caregiver was receiving the DPB
...count only newborns who were included in benefit on the day of their birth or within four weeks of birth and were still includede in benefit three months after birth."

People cycle on and off the benefit constantly. The deliberate adding of a child could be planned whilst off benefit; in fact, for the very reason of getting back onto one.

Here's another quote which again matches my information, or rather, lack of. The estimates...

"...are not able to separately identify whether these newborn children were added to a benefit as a result of an adoption, or a whangai or foster arrangement."

Isn't privacy taken too far when people expect support for their 'dependent' children but don't have to identify what the relationship is? And again I remind you that the whangai process is without any legal standing in NZ justice system. No wonder Maori children are particularly vulnerable.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The NZ Herald's blitz on child hunger rolls on

The NZ Herald's blitz on hungry children in New Zealand continues today with a further piece about the Waikato. Simon Collins at least has the level of objectivity required to acknowledge that the hunger was persistent through the 'economic boom', something I pointed to last week.

A five-year doctoral study by Waikato University sociologist Dr Kellie McNeill has found that charities served 25,000 free meals, Work and Income gave out 12,000 food grants and foodbanks gave out 4000 food parcels in Hamilton in 2006-07.

That was at a time when the economy was booming.

Specifically, in the Waikato, the number of unemployed beneficiaries dropped from 2,800 to 1,900 over the period. Almost a third. But the other three main benefits were flat or grew. There were around 8,000 on the DPB - half Maori.

It would be interesting to know how many of the families given food parcels or food grants were on the DPB. I am sure the researcher, given her long stint - 12 years dependent on same - would have paid attention to circumstances of hungry individuals.

It is clear that the phenomena of child poverty and child hunger are effects of the DPB. The Herald's blitz, following a series of articles about sole parents triggered by the WWG proposals, may have done society a favour by allowing subscribers to read between the lines. Relatively few signed up for the requested monthly donation to feed a New Zealand child (even though I imagine many are deeply concerned about their general circumstances). At a time when we have been seeing tragic footage streaming in from Somalia it seems almost obscene that chubby kids in South Auckland are being held up as our National tragedy.

There is growing national awareness and unease about the 'new' structure of communities; those previously 'working-class' but today largely made up of single parent families (with or without a hanger-on) whose economic hub is welfare.

The NZ Herald has contributed to this awareness. But I am not sure that they were after what is likely to be the result.

Come November the public will give National the green light to do something meaningful about welfare and the learned helplessness it induces. I just hope the public's faith in the current government is well-placed.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Crucial admission

So someone with credibility comes out and says that some boys expect to grow up and live off the mothers of their children because that is what they have grown up with. I have not a shred of doubt that Alison Sutherland is correct.

Alison Sutherland, who works in Wairarapa schools with children who have behavioural problems, says many of the boys she deals with – who haven't even reached their teenage years – can only see being the father of children and living with their mothers ahead.

"That is their career future," she said of youngsters who were opting out of education and employment because they saw babies as a source of income.

But coupled with the desire for children was a complete lack of understanding of what being a good parent might entail.

"There is no warmth about loving little children or wanting to be good parents. It is purely about this being a pathway to an income," the one-time principal of a youth justice facility school said.

"They have a perception that their future is to be unemployed. That is their norm. They have no sensitivity for the children – they see it as their form of income."

Sutherland said in some cases the children were merely repeating what they saw in their own homes.

Not mentioned is the expectation is most certainly more widespread amongst Maori. Consider recent research I previously linked to that showed those teenagers, male or female, identifying as sole Maori, were seven times more likely to become teen parents.

This is an insidious and dangerous state of affairs because, like children that are meal tickets and therefore unvalued and unloved for themselves, so are females. They will be abused in one way or another; to one degree or another.

The article goes on to say,

The sole-parent domestic purposes benefit is available to those over 18 who are not in a relationship with the other parent and do not have a partner, or who have lost their support.


They can be in a relationship with a partner and receive the DPB so long as it is not deemed as 'in the nature of marriage'. This involves the male not providing any financial support or emotional committment. Perfect.

Christ. I don't know what is wrong with the people who have the power to change this state of affairs yet let it continue. It is thoroughly de-humanising, immoral on any scale of values and exponentially self-perpetuating.