Saturday, June 16, 2012

Super sense of inevitability

It's my view that New Zealanders have a strong sense of inevitability about the eligibility age for Super going up.

So for the life of me I cannot understand the political football it has developed into.

NZ First are backing no change. Winston plays to the entitlement brigade. Key says, according to the NZ Herald:

"This is my challenge to Winston Peters - I dare him to go out there and say he will not under any conditions form a government with Labour even if Labour's policy is to raise the super age from 2020, not in the 3 year period from 2014 to 2017. I dare him to say that. He will not. He will not because he's tricky. He'll find a way around all of that stuff."

It's all so risible, really.

On gay adoption

My Friday June 8 Truth column is now on-line

What a hullabaloo the issue of gay adoption causes.

So many people theorise about its merits or otherwise. But why should anyone with the capacity to love and raise a child well be barred from doing just that? And guess what. If the gay couple were Maori, adoption would be fine.


Other Truth columns here.

Friday, June 15, 2012

On gay marriage

Bob McCoskrie sent me a two-pager explaining why libertarians should not support gay marriage. Full of woolly thinking. Bob and I agree on some things but this isn't ever going to be one of them. Below are the 4 assertions made by Maggie Gallagher and a response to them from another source. 
 1.  Government did not create marriage and has no business redefining it.   
1. She wants government to prevent evolution in marriage. Marriage is constantly redefined and conservatives wish to prevent that. So they do want government involvement very heavily, to the point of taxing people in 'unmarried' relationships at higher rates. Was govt. redefining marriage when it allowed divorce? Marriage is always changing and most the time government is playing catchup, it doesn't lead the charge but reluctantly brings up the rear. 

Notice also her non sequitur. She argues that marriage encourages the binding of parents to children. "If encouraging mothers and fathers for children is a key part of marriage’s public purpose, then same-sex couples simply do not fit."

There are many parts to marriage. No marriage is required to fill all of them. Certainly allowing the marriage of post-menopausal woman doesn't fit. Nor does the marriage of women, or men, who are sterile, or men who had vasectomies. There are many functions to marriage not just one.
 2.  When marriage declines, government expands. 
 2. If the decline of marriage causes government to expand, then wouldn't expanding marriage reduce the size of government, so why fight the expansion of marriage?
 3.  Gay marriage has no economic benefits. 
 3. No economic benefits to whom? She is very careful to define economic benefits in odd ways. The benefits to couples, who don't pay the higher tax rates, she seems to ignore. Marriage gives people backup, that is others who care for them. When they don't have that they rely on the state. So wouldn't allowing gays to marry eventually reduce welfare costs?
 4.  The Slope Really Is Slippery 
 4. Slippery slope arguments are mostly impossible to address. Where did the slope begin? Why is gay marriage the beginning and not interracial marriage? 

Also note she says people only have a "right to raise our natural children." Does this mean that adoptive parents do not have parental rights? Is she slipping in Catholic crap to mean no one has the right to children born through IVF? 
And Unsolicitedious has a good post on the subject here. 

Heaven forbid responsibility should be handed back to families

Gordon Campbell agrees with John Key. The qualifying age for Super should stay at 65. Here's one of the reasons why:
"...there’s no easy way of easing the costs involved in meeting the burden of care for our ageing population. If we simply raise the entitlement age and/or cut the pension – and National did both in the 1990s under the Shipley administration – while ignoring the employment context, we will simply privatise the social, psychological and financial costs of care, and hand the responsibility over to families."
Heaven forbid we should shift responsibility to individuals or their families. The welfare state has been such a successful experiment who would want a return to the ethos of personal responsibility?

What educational failure looks like

What educational failure looks like

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Good luck with that

The government thinks it can get money out of a DPB recipient's partner if she (usually) is done for fraudulently claiming a single parent benefit.

Just demanding it back from the recipient causes a "gender imbalance" apparently. Paying homage at the equal rights altar now.

Like they get money for unpaid fines and money for child support debt......

And if he has to pay on the principle that he 'benefited' from the fraud, what about a live-in parent or the landlord?

As I said, good luck with that.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Running on empty

One of my all time favourites.

 Sometimes I read stuff that just riles me anew. By now I should be de-sensitised to emotive (yet essentially empty) grandiosity; ignorance of fact and shallow thinking. Sadly a section of the upcoming generation  has been schooled to repeat seductive but superficial reasons for all manner of societal maladies.

I attempted to put a response in a letter to the editor but, I don't know. I've been arguing this so long my pen-to-paper expressions feel as trite as whatever prompts them.

In Green co-leader Metiria Turei's column about protecting children from child abuse the words women, kids, mothers,  families  and midwives appear repeatedly. The word father does not feature. The only inference to men at all appears in the line, "...protecting kids and women from violence and abuse....". This type of unconscious dismissal of fathers, and worse, the perpetuation of the idea that only men abuse women and children, is disgraceful. Official child abuse statistics show that women commit around half of all abuse and neglect, and in 2010 made up 35 percent of apprehensions for child assault.

Like it or not, all the evidence shows (and Metiria Turei calls for evidence-based policies) that children are safest in committed two-parent families, yet social policy of the past forty years has reduced the likelihood they will grow up in those environments.

Ms Turei prides herself on being a feminist and all the gains feminism has brought. But feminist-driven government intervention is also responsible for the alienation of fathers and men from the lives of children. Therein lies a substantial factor in the child abuse problem.

OECD on raising pension age

I have written in favour of raising the Super entitlement age a number of times. I once made the suggestion that as Super is linked to the average wage and the CPI, why not life expectancy? That idea makes an appearance below.

Here's what the OECD is saying:

11/06/2012 - Governments will need to raise retirement ages gradually to address increasing life expectancy in order to ensure that their national pension systems are both affordable and adequate, according to a new OECD report. At a time of heightened global economic uncertainty, such reforms can also play a crucial role in governments’ responses to the crisis, contributing to fiscal consolidation at the same time as boosting growth.

Over the next 50 years, life expectancy at birth is expected to increase by more than 7 years in developed economies. The long-term retirement age in half of OECD countries will be 65, and in 14 countries it will be between 67 and 69. The Pensions Outlook 2012 says that increases in retirement ages are underway or planned in 28 out of the 34 OECD countries. These increases, however, are expected to keep pace with improved life expectancy only in six countries for men and in 10 countries for women. Governments should thus consider formally linking retirement ages to life expectancy, as in Denmark and Italy, and make greater efforts to promote private pensions.

“Bold action is required. Breaking down the barriers that stop older people from working beyond traditional retirement ages will be a necessity to ensure that our children and grand-children can enjoy an adequate pension at the end of their working life,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel GurrĂ­a. “Though these reforms can sometimes be unpopular and painful, at this time of tight public finances and limited scope for fiscal and monetary policy, these reforms can also serve to boost much needed growth in ageing economies.”

The Pensions Outlook 2012 finds that reforms over the past decade have cut future public pension payouts, typically by 20 to 25 per cent. People starting work today can expect a net public pension of about half their net earnings on average in OECD countries, if they retire after a full career, at the official retirement age. But in nearly all the 13 countries that have made private pensions mandatory, pensioners can expect benefits of around 60% of earnings.

Conversely, in countries where public pensions are relatively low and private pensions voluntary, such as Germany, Ireland, Korea, Japan and the United States, large segments of the population can expect major falls in income upon retirement.

This could cause pensioner poverty to increase significantly. Later retirement and greater access to private pensions will be critical to closing this pension gap, says the OECD.

However, making private pensions compulsory is not necessarily the answer for every country. According to the report, such action could unfairly affect low earners and be perceived as an additional tax. Auto-enrolment schemes – where people are enrolled automatically and can then opt out within a certain time frame – might be a suitable alternative.

Italy and New Zealand have already introduced such schemes and the UK is set to roll one out in October 2012. However, the report finds that results are mixed, with a major expansion of coverage of private pensions in countries like New Zealand, and having only a small effect in others like Italy.

More broadly, reforming tax reliefs to encourage private pension savings is also needed, as low earners and younger workers are much less likely to have a private pension. Facilitating matching contributions or giving flat subsidies to savers, such as in Germany and New Zealand, would improve their incentives to contribute. To boost confidence in private pensions, governments also need to improve their oversight of funds to ensure that charges are kept low and risks minimised.

This inaugural edition of the Pensions Outlook also includes the first comprehensive evaluation of national Defined Contribution systems, which are now a central feature of many countries’ pension systems. Among other recommendations, the report argues that it is critical to set the minimum or default contribution rate in Defined Contribution systems at an appropriate level.

Contributions to these systems need to be high enough so that together with public pensions they generate sufficient income at retirement. While Australia is moving in the right direction by increasing its contribution rate from 9% to 12%, it remains too low in countries such as Mexico and New Zealand (6.5% and 3%, respectively).

For comment or further information, journalists should contact Juan Yermo of the OECD’s Financial Affairs division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 96 62) or Edward Whitehouse of the OECD’s Social Policy division (tel. + 33 6 25 89 56 67).

Highlights of the report are available at

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The big lie of the day

"The vast majority of child abuse is perpetrated by men."

That's according to an editorial in this morning's Herald on Sunday.

The following statistics from 2006 clearly show that females are perpetrating a great deal of child abuse.

And just released official data shows that in 2010 35 percent of the apprehensions for assault on a child were females.

It beggars belief that such inaccurate claims from what should be  reliable commentators make print. "I read it is the newspaper - it must be true...."