Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Children's Commmissioner child poverty cop-out

The scene-setting opener:
"In  1986  an  estimated  11  percent  of  children  lived  in poverty.  By 2011, that figure had risen to 25 percent, or about 270,000 New Zealand children."
Those statistics are remarkably synonymous with the sole parent rates; between 8 and 11 percent in 1986 and 28 percent in 2006. Though not all child described as living in poverty are in single parent homes there's still substantial correlation. 65% of the 270,000 are on welfare. Most will be relying on the DPB.

The report just released by the Children's Commissioner asks for a lot. An awful lot.

It wants

1/ Child support payments to go to the custodial parent instead of to the government to offset the DPB (cost $159 million annually)

2/ Family tax credits to rise by an average of $17 per child and incrementally for those aged 0 - 6

3/ A new universal child payment of $125-150 per week that would be targeted to the poorer after the child reaches 6 (this could replace current forms of financial support like Family Tax Credit)

4/ To raise the take-up of other child entitlements such as the child disability allowance. It wants these rates of take-up published and the IRD and WINZ to offer performance pay for higher rates realised.

5/ More government-funded budgeting services

6/ Increased parental earnings from income and more childcare assistance 

7/ A new Child Poverty Act to "embrace" targets

The list goes on  but forgive me, as I stopped when it got to housing and health. I was overwhelmed. It's all been said before in one form or another. It's a depressing deterministic prescription. No rigorous analysis of why children are in poverty or why some children in poverty have perfectly good outcomes. The closest the authors get is this:

Social commentators often talk about child poverty resulting primarily from parents making poor decisions about how they spend their money, bad morals, a poor work ethic, bad luck, unwise lifestyle choices and so on. While some parents undoubtedly make poor choices, there is little evidence  that  poor  people  mismanage  their  income  to  a  greater  extent  than  those  who  are better  off.  This  is  not  to  suggest  that  we  should  ignore  the  contribution  of  parental  lifestyle choices  and  various  social  ills  (including  drug  and  alcohol  addiction)  to  poor  outcomes  for children, but the main causes of child poverty lie elsewhere. (My emphasis)
That's put "social commentators" in their proper place.

Let me leave you with this sample:  

It is important to recognise the impact of the experience of colonisation on Māori. The alienation of land and resources has seen the loss of a cultural and spiritual base and the loss of an economic base (Cram, 2011). Any analysis of the financial and material deprivation of whānau today is incomplete without understanding this context (Baker, Williams & Tuuta, 2012).



Number 3-- talk about paying to breed!
Who needs to work when you can pop out sprogs.

mistralman said...

Outlaw pokie machines and the problem will mostly vanish.

Mike Steinberg said...

Child poverty is caused by people having children they cannot afford. This is inexcusable in an era where contraception is freely available.

Mike Steinberg said...

Actually, I see Cactus Kate has an excellent post highlighting the high birth rates in NZ relative to other countries.

"Apart from the USA and perhaps Ireland there is not a country above New Zealand that New Zealanders would like to be compared to.

What politician is going to have the balls to call it? New Zealand's birth rate (and if you click over the growth rate) is one of the highest in the developed world (ahead of even Thailand) and this is now a huge problem. The mealy mouth leftist academic apologist "throw money at all problems" report does not address this at all in any detail if you have a read. Of course not, it would be un-PC to suggest individuals take any responsibility.

It is pretty clear with "child poverty" statistics (forgetting how silly the measure is) allegedly getting worse over the years that the people least able to afford children are the ones that keep lining up to have more."