Saturday, July 14, 2012

Noble men sacrificing their jobs?

A Hamilton mother of three was jailed yesterday for "mistreating" her 6 month-old through using P while breastfeeding. The article doesn't stipulate how much of the jail sentence was for this count  and how much for possession and dealing.

What caught my eye however was this line:
Her father has had to quit his job to look after them until she is released.
That's a typical modern-day response and generally it requires going on a benefit (so that's the assumption I will make.) This is part of the reason the number of males on the DPB is growing. Absent mothers.

In the past however the view would have been her  father needs to stay in work as he is the only one capable of meeting the financial needs of his grandchildren. He'd be the one charged with putting bread and butter on the table. Not the state.

And the baby is one and the other two are at school for goodness sake. Have they heard of daycare?

(This has triggered a further thought. I have already raised a couple of loopholes regarding new work-testing regimes. Here's another. A mother who's added a child to her benefit has to take a job when that child turns one. In steps the father. He can now start on a caregiver's benefit free from work-testing until the child is 5. It'll happen.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Last chance!

I blogged earlier about daughter Sam being in the Next Fashion Icon final 25. She's one of the youngest designers at 13. She had a phone call earlier this week from the producers of the show saying she was polling in the top 8 and checking her availability for a Christchurch trip if she makes the top four. The winner gets to see one of her designs made and modelled. The voting closes today so I'm having a last ditch push for her. Shameless, I know.

You can view her video and vote here (mouse over the second screen and use the arrows to find Sam.)

The market well-explained

The market economy is the social system of the division of labor under private ownership of the means of production. Everybody acts on his own behalf; but everybody’s actions aim at the satisfaction of other people's needs as well as at the satisfaction of his own. Everybody in acting serves his fellow citizens. Everybody, on the other hand, is served by his fellow citizens. Everybody is both a means and an end in himself; an ultimate end for himself and a means to other people in their endeavors to attain their own needs.

— Ludwig von Mises, Human Action [1949]

(Hat-tip Future Freedom Foundation)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Another child murder displaying predictable risk factors

Another child murder with all the predictable risk factors:

1/ Child living with 'stepfather'
2/ CYF pre-involved
3/ Inter-generational family disruption
4/ Lives in South Auckland
5/ Living in a state house

And I am guessing

6/ Born onto a benefit
7/ Maori ethnicity involved

There are numerous 'Martins' with gang affiliations and Maori blood. Check out Sensible Sentencing's violent database. Here's one with coincidentally the same Christian name as well.
Waikato police are hunting a man in regards to a sexual assault. A warrant for the arrest of Michael Martin, 33, was issued by the Te Kuiti District Court on May 23, but has not been found. Police believe he had friends who are assisting him avoid arrest. "Anyone found to have aided Martin can expect to face charges," says Det Paul Galletta of Te Awamutu police. Martin is described as Maori, 169cm tall, of medium build, and a gang member.
In which case add another possibility

8/ Gang links

 And here is the innocent victim of this atrocious taxpayer-funded  and enabled lifestyle:

Unenforceable laws and political pretence

The USA Today reports on laws that various states are implementing to restrict what welfare cash benefits can be spent on. They are politically expedient but apparently difficult to enforce.

More states are enacting or considering laws that prohibit people who get welfare cash from spending it on liquor, cigarettes, strip clubs, gambling and guns -- laws that even supporters say are difficult to enforce.
Ten states have passed such laws, and at least 14 are considering them, the National Conference of State Legislatures says.
Under a new federal law, all states must prevent the use of cash benefits in liquor stores, gambling establishments and adult entertainment businesses by 2014. States that fail to establish policies face cuts in federal support.
Welfare recipients use debit cards to buy things or get cash at ATMs. A report by the House Ways and Means committee cited news reports in eight states about people with welfare debit cards withdrawing thousands of dollars from ATMs in casinos, liquor stores and strip clubs.
The Federal government provides the majority share of welfare cash benefits and individual states add to that money. So federal law has to be implemented if states wants to keep receiving funding. But it seems fatuous to make rules that can't be enforced.

So what to do? Well we get back to the whole problem with state welfare on a vast scale. The system becomes so large and the players in it so anonymous the room for misuse is enormous.

Localised, personal assistance through charities etc allow the giver to know recipient. Envisage the Wellington City Mission. They know the people they are helping and no doubt can decide if and when to withdraw that help. They also know when help (cash for instance) is only hindering or exacerbating a problem.

Anyway, that's the ideal world. Back in the real world NZ will probably go down this path in the near future. Oh. I forget. We already are with the new youth benefit which restricts how much cash and where it can be spent for 16 and 17 year-olds, plus 18 year-old sole parents. And in lieu of better I'd have to support this move. But I am saying 'yes' and shaking my head all at once. Politically popular legislation but highly problematic in its execution.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Contrasting views on unemployment and inequality

An OECD report about international unemployment released yesterday isn't overly optimistic
“The recent deterioriation in the economic outlook is very bad news for the labour market,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel GurrĂ­a, presenting the report in Paris. “It is imperative that governments use every possible means at their disposal to help jobseekers, especially young people, by removing barriers to job creation and investing in their education and skills. The young are at most risk of long-term damage to their careers and livelihoods. Targeting the most cost-effective policies is essential.”

I can't agree with much of the rest of their prescription - far too much weight on what governments should do. Calling for job subsidies, subsidised training investment, etc ignores the opportunity cost. That is every dollar the government spends can't be spent privately. (Actually for every dollar government spends probably $2 can't be spent privately.) But I can agree that it is paramount the young are not allowed to become permanently detached from the labour market. This then caught my eye:
The OECD also calls for action to tackle other labour market challenges such as rising inequality. The labour share of national income has fallen, often sharply, in most OECD countries in recent decades. This trend is closely related to the overall increase in inequality and is being driven, among other factors, by technological change and greater international economic integration. Enhanced investment in education and skills and better targeted tax and transfer programmes can help to ensure that the fruits of economic growth are more broadly shared, says the OECD.
Just a couple of days back I was reading a review which claimed inequality neither caused nor is aggravating the recession.
The Inequality Fetish
According to liberals, either the 2008 financial crisis and its attendant recession, or the sluggish recovery -- and maybe both -- can be attributed in large part to the high level of economic inequality in the United States. In this view, inequality is an economic malady on its own, even in times of prosperity, says Patrick Brennan, a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute. This narrative has been latched onto by many in the field of economics, who then attach their names to the legitimacy of the narrative. The problem, however, is simply this: there is no real evidence that a nation's income inequality either dampens economic growth or worsens financial crises.

Now if you go back to the projection chart above you see that the US - regarded as a rich but unequal society - looks more promising than Europe.

Back to the OECD statists who seem superficially sensible but are actually at the core of the problem.

Individuals operate best under the condition of freedom. Communities and larger societies are only collections of individuals. The freer they are, the more productive and happy they will be.  Government does not represent or embody freedom. It can protect freedom to a degree but it can't create it. Just like it can't create jobs without destroying greater numbers of potential private sector jobs. Similarly government can't create equality without damaging a lot more in the process. Frankly, I don't know why they keep peddling this stuff.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Govt says benefit numbers rise slightly

Interesting that the Minister's  press release about June benefit numbers is titled, "Benefit numbers rise slightly in June."

The June numbers are being compared to May.

I would have compared them by quarter - June to March. That's how the Ministry releases them to the public.

So I did.

Over the past six years, if the March and June quarters are compared there is a pattern. I've marked the ones that featured a rise.

2008 ^
2009 ^
2010 ^

So the positive pattern continues.

But 320,041 working-age people on a benefit is still very high at around one in eight dependent.

That's what the opposition should be highlighting - not a month to month rise.  Let's see what Jacinda says. As usual she's slow to respond but I don't think she'll be able to resist a dig, given the title of the release.

Monday, July 09, 2012

A novel idea to get business reducing the need for government

Here's a novel idea for getting the private sector and therefore, voluntarism back into sorting social problems. If the below example is successful,  required input from both private and public sources should diminish over time. Though I'd like to know what One Service actually does. The investor may be able to assist the ex-prisoner directly through employment for instance.

(A cut and paste from the Maxim newsletter.)

Social Impact Bonds
By Jane Silloway Smith, 26 June 2012
back to top
A recent post on the New York Times website highlights the UK's experiment with social impact bonds — a new, innovative way of thinking about the financing of social projects and programs.

In a nutshell, a group called Social Finance has created a financial product that helps connect investors with social service providers. The investors buy social impact bonds that fund a social service provider's project or programme that is designed to achieve particular measureable outcomes in a set amount of time. If the provider achieves their set outcomes, the UK government will repay the investors a portion of the savings they have made from the success of the project or program.

The first trial of these social impact bonds is currently taking place in Peterborough. An organisation called One Service has made it their mission to cut down on the recidivism rates of men released from short-term sentences in Peterborough Prison. Social Finance has helped them to find 17 investors to fund their programme via social impact bonds. The better One Service does in lowering recividism rates, the more the government will pay out to these investors from the money the government will save.

The idea of social impact bonds is an intriguing one for tackling difficult social issues. It will be interesting to see how the Peterborough trial goes.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Truth Column for Friday June 28

My Truth column for Friday June 28 is now on-line:

Pacific Islanders often get a raw deal, not just because manual work is underpaid in this country, as highlighted in a recent Queen St march, but because poor social statistics relating to Maori are often wrongly attributed to Pacific Island people. For example, welfare dependence, over-representation in child abuse and neglect statistics, and high crime rates. 


Other columns here