Saturday, May 05, 2012

Clash of cultures

This is an odd story described as "an ugly encounter with aggression, racism and abuse". All it really highlights are cultural differences between Germans and Kiwis. Germans are very rules-bound and quite obedient. I discovered that after a few visits there, both working and for leisure.

The story goes, after a collision at a roundabout "We said, 'OK, we want to leave everything like this until the cops come," Ms Kirn said. "In Germany, what we learn is if you have a car accident just leave everything like it is."

I can appreciate the consternation and frustration these two women caused by refusing to move their vehicle which was presumably holding up other traffic. Imagine for a moment if I behaved the same way. I'd get called a stupid woman doubtless. Then I could run to the papers about misogyny being rife in NZ?

Or imagine if I was in Germany, caused a collision at a roundabout and proceeded to drive my car into a position where it was no longer impeding the flow of traffic. The Germans would get very angry with me for interfering with the 'crime' scene  most probably. And they would phlegmatically bar me. I've encountered this sort of unbending slavery to unreasonable rules first-hand. And it isn't pleasant.

Now, I am sure all Germans are not like that. And neither are all Kiwis aggressive, abusive, racists .

"I felt I never want to come back to NZ. It's very nice nature but we didn't know people were racist." 

Get it into perspective. An unfortunate accident and ensuing misunderstanding which brought out the worst in some individuals.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Work-testing the DPB having effect?

The following are the quarterly 'all employed' percentages for households with 'One parent with dependent child(ren) only' (first row) and 'One parent with dependent and adult children' (second row). They span each quarter since March 2010 ending with March 2012.

Work-testing the DPB for care-givers with children aged 6 or older started in September 2010. 

The sole parent employment rates are picking up.


But the overall unemployment rate is up. Which group is reducing their employment?

Couple with one dependent child (first row)
Couple with two dependent children (second row)


When I find time I will graph these interesting developments.

The law of unintended consequences

A fine example of the law of unintended consequences has recently come to my notice.

Where I live the council recently erected pooh-bag dispensers. These bags are easier to use than plastic shopping bags, which often have holes and are bulkier in the pocket, so people are making use of them and not carrying their own bags.  BUT the dispensers keep running out. Result - less dog pooh is  picked up. The consequence of the policy is the exact opposite of its intent - more dog pooh.

I have reverted to carrying my own bags but  can imagine some people now blaming their failure to pick up after their dog on the council for not ensuring the dispensers are full at all times!

Moral of the story. The more you do for people, the less they will do for themselves. The more responsibility you assume for them, the less they will assume for themselves.

(I was reminded of this by a story on 3 News this morning about a set-up whereby people can exchange dog pooh for free wifi. Great incentive to get people busy collecting as much of it as they can find.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Writing for the Truth

The Truth is re-launching and I will be providing a brief weekly column to put a different perspective from Bomber Bradbury's views from the 'left' regarding matters of the moment. My introductory column explains why I get put in the 'right' corner even though I am not a conservative. I will link to the columns post-publication.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

ACT can't go any lower

Kiwiblog has a breakdown of the latest Herald Digipoll.

As an ACT voter at the last election I still take an interest in its fortunes.

Now on 0.0%

Even ACT's social conservatives have defected.

Eighties reforms recalled

I was out of New Zealand from 1985 (with a brief period of return)  to 1991 and missed the following. As apolitical as I was in my 20s the extent of the reforms probably wouldn't have permeated my consciousness even if I had been here. Perusing old issues of the Social Policy Journal I came across this description of them. I hadn't previously appreciated their scope. For your interest:

Since 1984, social and economic reform has occurred at a pace which has no precedent since 1935, when the first Labour Government came to power.

Some of the most notable reforms (not presented in strict chronological order) are:
         the floating of the foreign exchange rate;
         the transformation of state trading departments into State Owned Enterprises and the subsequent privatisation of some of them;
         the flattening of the income tax scale and the elimination of many exemptions;
         the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax;
         elimination of most import restrictions;
         the changes in Māori affairs policy, reflected in the replacement of the Department of Māori Affairs by Manatu Māori and the Iwi Transition Agency, and the subsequent replacement of those agencies with Te Puni Kōkiri;
         legislatively mandated changes to the structure of local and regional government;
         extensive changes to the child protection and juvenile justice systems brought about through the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act;
         changes in the structure of government funded health services (including the creation of a funder/provider separation through the replacement of Health Boards with the Regional Health Authority / Crown Health Enterprise structure);
         extensive changes in the operation of the labour market, brought about through the Employment Contracts Act;
         extensive changes to the mode of operation of state agencies as a consequence of the State Sector Act and the Public Finance Act;
         changes within both the health and welfare sectors directed towards "deinstitutionalisation" of services;
         the incorporation of traffic enforcement within the police, brought about through the amalgamation of the Transport and Police Departments;
         numerous job creation and work training schemes (ACCESS, MACCESS, Taskforce Green, TOPS, etc);
         the introduction of the National Superannuation tax surcharge, and the subsequent tightening of the surcharge;
         the introduction of the Guaranteed Minimum Family Income for families supported by a full-time earner;
         the introduction of some data sharing between the Inland Revenue Department and the Department of Social Welfare;
         extensive changes to the child support system, including transfer of its administration from the Department of Social Welfare to the Department of Inland Revenue:
         the abolition of Family Benefit and the introduction of Family Support;
         the reduction (announced in December 1990 and implemented from April 1991) of most social security benefit rates, and the introduction of a modified system of supplementary assistance (in the form of Special Needs Grants, Special Benefit, and the Accommodation Supplement);
         the increase in the qualifying age for National Superannuation;
         the introduction of new health charges, with the introduction of the Community Services Card as a mechanism for income testing previously untested health subsidies;
         the increase of the school minimum leaving age from 15 to 16 years;
         the rise in age for eligibility for unemployment benefit from 16 to 18 years;
         rises in tertiary education fees;
         the application of parental income testing to student allowances;
         the introduction of repayable student loans;
         the contracting of some state agency functions (e.g. DSW debt recovery) to the private sector;
         the withdrawal by the state from the provision of subsidised rental housing and the introduction of the income tested Accommodation Supplement; and
         the reduction of the state child care subsidy for persons who are not in paid work.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I really don't care if people don't vote

During the week a voter survey was getting publicity. Reasons why voter turnout was so low in 2011 were canvassed.

"41% of non-voters put just a little thought into whether or not to vote, and 29% didn’t think about it at all."

Politically mindless.

" The main overall reasons for not voting were that they had other commitments (14%) or work commitments (9%)"

Seemed to me that it was easier than ever before to place an early vote at a convenient time. Lazy.

"33% of all non-voters agreed ‘I don’t trust politicians’ was an important factor (4 or 5 out of 5) on their not voting."

Putting aside the obvious typo in that sentence, I don't particularly trust  politicians either but I have a go at figuring out who I distrust least. I don't particularly trust real estate agents and cops but I am sure there are good ones. Unable to discern.

"Other important factors were ‘it was obvious who would win so why bother’ (31%)...."


"....and I’m just not interested in politics (29%)."

And that's legitimate if not somewhat ostrich-like.

But why agonise over getting people like the above to tick a box, possibly cancelling out a vote made with a high degree of information and motivation?