Saturday, November 12, 2011

How government begets government

The Ministry of Social Development has just posted about The Government Property Management Centre of Expertise. Looks like this is a new agency. Apart from despairing over more bureacracy, reading the bumph just makes my head hurt.

The PMCoE proudly supports improvements in property management and seek to leverage knowledge, increase knowledge-sharing and improve property management practice across many government agencies, regardless of size.

The PMCoE provides tools, information and guidance on government property management best practice and is the central repository for the cross government property data base, enabling the identification and facilitation of collocation or collective procurement opportunities.

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Labour's families policy will increase welfare dependency"

That's the large headline the DomPost put over my letter published this morning:

Dear Editor

Your editorial of November 9 took Labour to task for promising to extend the In Work Tax Credit (IWTC) to all beneficiary parents. It correctly describes how Labour has done an about-face on what was originally their own policy. Back in 2006 Labour argued that work offered the best chance of economic and social well-being for children. Now Labour is saying that a higher benefit payment offers the best chance.

A large majority of the parents who would receive the extended IWTC are on the DPB. Many are there because they had children they couldn't support because they didn't have a partner. Numerous international studies have linked the rate of benefit payment to the rate of unmarried births. The higher the payment, the higher the rate of unmarried births.

Labour is taking a dangerous gamble in joining all the other Left parties with this policy. Should it be in a position to implement the policy after the election, there is every chance it will drive up the numbers of people who become dependent on the state long-term. And I can't believe that Labour doesn't know that long-term benefit dependence is known to be bad for children.

Third time lucky for CPAG?

The Child Poverty Action Group have announced they are going back to court for a third time to contest the legality of the IWTC.

CPAG has filed an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal today against the High Court decision that the Government’s In Work Tax Credit was “not unlawful discrimination”.

CPAG has consistently argued that the In Work Tax Credit is part of per week child–related family assistance. “The basic needs of low income children do not change when parents’ source of income changes” says CPAG spokesperson Susan St John.

I think this is a case of throwing good money after bad. Theirs and ours.

It could be argued that the IWTC isn't for the needs of children anyway. It is used to meet the costs of going to work - transport, clothing, childcare.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thoughts on the election campaign

Much to my surprise I have actually started to enjoy the campaign. It's a great relief to take no active part, having done so in the last three. But more than that, the polls telling us what real people intend to do, show that New Zealanders are cleverer than Labour think they are. What a tonic. Yes, I know National adopted Labour's big ticket policies but they haven't extended them or added more. Small mercies.

At the campaign start I was neutral on Goff but now I can't abide him. Having seen him in action firsthand, the finger wagging did it for me. Or didn't do it for me. So little do I care what comes out of his mouth.

As others have observed, this campaign has seen the re-emergence of the politics of envy on a grand scale. But the things that worked for Labour post the Great Depression aren't going to work for them now. Not when unemployment is still low by OECD standards; when the welfare system is redistributing furiously to the degree that some beneficiary's incomes are higher than those of the people funding them and when Maori no longer suffer institutionalised widespread discrimination.

And I am growing more confident that ACT can pull perhaps 3 percent - although less confident that Banks will win Epsom. That's a waiting game.

But essentially I am just relishing Labour's vote dwindling by the day.

Duncan Garner doesn't understand WFF

Duncan Garner was on TV3 this morning saying if beneficiaries are going to get Working For Families then WFF should be renamed because beneficiaries aren't working.

That's not right. Beneficiary parents already get WFF. They get it by way of Family Tax Credits which are part of WFF. The name WFF is a play on words really. It implies a tax credit system that works for families. But which also included a new tax credit for people who work - the In Work Tax Credit.

The following is from Work and Income to clarify the matter:

Working for Families Tax Credits

Working for Families Tax Credits are entitlements for families with dependent children 18 years or younger. There are four types of payment and you may qualify for one or more, depending on your personal situation.

Family Tax Credit
In-Work Tax Credit
Minimum Family Tax Credit
Parental Tax Credit

To find out if you qualify for Working for Families Tax Credits

Family Tax Credit

This provides ongoing financial support for families. You can get it while on a benefit or while you’re working (Inland Revenue pays it if you work).

The other payments have different rules and you can only get them if you’re not on a benefit.

And as far as I can ascertain these are the rates:

First child if under 16 $88
First child if 16 or over $101
Subsequent child if under 13 $61
Subsequent child if 13 to 15 $69
Subsequent child if 16 or over $91

That is why some people on the DPB with large families end up on quite substantial incomes.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Reflection on the story of ACT

Just reflecting that ACT began under two ex Labour MPs - Douglas and Prebble.

And ACT will probably end under two ex National MPs - Brash and Banks.

Dating dogs

Anyone else having problems with Blogger?

Disappearing posts (even this is a second try).

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

John Banks on why Epsom voters should vote for him

Campbell Live tonight.

Banks says a vote for him is a vote for "Brand Key".

Still going on about branding.

Having a philosophy or a set of principles is just so old hat.

Replaced by brand spend and brand spend more.

How I shall resent giving my vote to you Mr Banks.

I hope this won't be exploited by the Opposition

If you were watching the build-up to the NZ Cup on Trackside you would have observed John Key seemingly talking during the called-for minute's silence for the earthquake victims - John Key and thousands of others.

How do you quiet people in the midst of a riotous party - a deserved party?

Trying to get 'over it' (with consideration to the families that lost members) means not having to constantly recall the grief. Especially not in the middle of what should be a welcome distraction.

The Addington Stand has been demolished but Christchurch managed to put on the great event. Then in the middle of it someone thought it would be a good idea to send everybody enjoying themselves on a massive guilt trip for being alive. Naturally it was less than successful.

Raising benefits increases the rate of unmarried birth...

...which increases dependence on welfare.

Extending the IWTC to beneficiaries increases benefit payments.

If you want some evidence go the my Welfare Reform website and click on 'recommended books' in the lefthand column.

Then click on Michael Tanner's The End of Welfare and go to page 78. He cites 8 studies that show the correlation.

If you don't like US research go here.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Labour desperate with diametrically opposed positions

Today Labour released its welfare policy, now named ' child policy'.

According to the NZ Herald:
"We consider that the ways the In Work Tax Credit stigmatises beneficiary families, undervalues care, and keeps poor families income unnecessarily low outweigh any remaining issues about work incentives," the policy says.

It was Labour that introduced the In Work Tax Credit because they believed that the best way out of poverty was work.

This is a major turn around. It betrays their earlier position, arrived at under better intellects than Annette King's.

The Social Security Amendment Bill 2006, passed under Labour revolved around the principle:

"Work in paid employment offers the best opportunity for people to achieve social and economic well-being."

This policy reneges on that position. Implementation of it would drive up beneficiary numbers as the financial incentive to work is destroyed.

Observation about competition

Watching TV these days nobody can not notice just how much competition shapes what's on offer. Constant Master Chefs, survival shows, talent shows like X Factor, American Idol and whatever-countries Got Talent, home development shows like The Block, Dancing With The Stars and so on.

Radical feminists, and their co-opts, tried to shape a modern culture that largely obliterated competiton. Because competition means winners and losers; competition means hurt feelings; competition challenges equality of outcomes.

What a bitch. They lost.

National's welfare reforms - lots of smoke but not much fire

My column about National's welfare reform proposals has just been published over at The NZ Centre for Political Research.

4 in 5 reject Gareth Morgan's plan

Three NZ Herald reporters took to the road and interviewed 522 people about the upcoming election and their reponse to policies. They call it their Mood of the Nation Survey and it will no doubt provide a number of articles over the next week or so.

Today they detail how most are apparently still against sole parents being work-tested because it would hurt the children. I have to do better on getting across the other side of the coin; that the DPB hurts the children more by often depriving them of fathers, and keeping them poor environments where the risk of neglect and abuse is higher. At least the government is well aware of the reality.

But some good news:

And 79 per cent reject Dr Morgan's proposed $11,000 basic income for everyone, because it would encourage some not to work and because it would be too harsh for sole parents, who now get at least $19,600 including family tax credits, and superannuitants, who get $17,700 if living alone.

Only 15 per cent support the idea and 5 per cent agree in part. "You'd be taking from people what they are entitled to, to give to other people who might not need it," says Devonport doctor Amanda Jones.

So the general noise Morgan says shows New Zealanders want a new way and all the favourable response by way of comment to his series of articles in the NZ Herald isn't reflected amongst the broader community.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


For some time I have been working on a new website called Welfare Reform. This has only been possible because of the generous help of Linda Reid who encouraged me to create a more comprehensive site than just my blog. Linda has done all the technical work involved in building the site unpaid. And I am indebted to her.

With the election less than three weeks away it is ready to officially launch.

The site is intended to be a resource for anyone interested in welfare reform. It contains most of the information I have obtained from the Ministry of Social Development under the Official Information Act since 2001. It has links to overseas sites, recommended books, press releases, interviews etc.

Because it has taken me so long to put together given my changed 'occupational' circumstances this year, there is a possibility some of the information or a link may have already become obsolete. If you find anything that doesn't work please let me know.

And if any fellow bloggers want to link to the site that would be much appreciated.