Saturday, October 27, 2012

Never been to Wellington?

To be honest I am surprised that so many children from the lowest income deciles have never been outside them.

Naenae College principal John Russell said that of 26 pupils in a recent year 9 class, 16 had never been to Wellington.

My surprise is due to the number of school outings that children go on. Visits to Te Papa, the Carter Observation Centre, the Zoo,  Capital E, for instance. I've got a Year 9 student and was forever being invited to do parent accompaniment on trips right from kindergarten. Yes these children come from poorer families but their schools get more funding. So I'm taking this assertion with a pinch of salt.

If education is about broadening horizons perhaps the schools should be doing more about this shortfall.

Friday, October 26, 2012

"...fiscally conservative and socially liberal-libertarian"

A new book by David Boaz published by Cato claims, "...The Libertarian Vote: Swing Voters, Tea Parties, and the Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal Center reveals that 10 to 20 percent of Americans are fiscally conservative and socially liberal-libertarian."

It's quite probably matched in this country.  The voting homeless.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

MSD's inconsistent application of work-test rationale

In an analysis of the options discussed by MSD over work-testing sole parents, the following table illustrates part-time work expectations for sole parents internationally. New Zealand has chosen the soft option of 5 years along with a soft definition of part-time work (10-20 hours).

I'm with the one year of age option because it deters people from producing children they can't support. But the Ministry argues against the one year of age option saying
"Earlier work availability expectations could reduce the amount of time that parents have available for the care of their children, which could impact on their child’s health and developmental wellbeing."
Yet later in the same Regulatory Impact Statement MSD puts forward this argument to support work-testing the sole parent (who has added a child to her benefit) when that child turns one:
"One year of age is a reasonable period for parental attachment with the child to be established, and is reflected in current parental leave provisions and child development findings."

What can I say? Obviously the Ministry agrees to disagree with the Ministry. However this sort of inconsistency leaves the policy open to challenge from the any number of aggrieved groups or individuals.  The new rules came in on October 15. There are probably people working on a complaint to the Human Rights Commission as I write.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unintended consequences of drug-testing beneficiaries

I've previously expressed concern that when a drug-testing regime is applied to Jobseekers but addicts are exempted, more beneficiaries will seek to be diagnosed as 'addicts'.

Expressing a similar concern is the Ministry of Health. In a Regulatory Impact Statement the following is contained:

 "The Ministry of Health (MOH) raised concerns with the drug testing proposals in Paper D. Their major concern is beneficiaries that fail drug tests will overstate their drug use to claim that they are drug dependent thereby avoiding financial sanctions. This in turn will lead to unnecessary referrals to drug addiction services, putting pressure on scarce resources."

Further MOH commented that:

"...the policy may result in a 'substitution effect' where some people substitute detectable drugs like cannabis, for drugs that are not detectable for as long such as alcohol or amphetamine-type substances, which may be more harmful."

Parker on unemployment rate

Our official unemployment rate is artificially low but not for the reasons David Parker suggests - the high number of New Zealanders leaving for Australia. Any opposition in any country could claim its unemployment rate was "masked" by people leaving. Where to is irrelevant. Just as governments can claim their unemployment rates are boosted by people arriving. I don't know what point Parker is trying to make or for what gain. Has he forgotten that Labour kept the unemployment rate down by overseeing rises on the sickness and invalid benefits and sustaining high DPB dependence?

He needn't worry anyway. The unemployment rate is about to become higher. The new benefit categories which come into play next year...

...will result in a significantly larger number of people on Jobseeker Support (135,000) than the Unemployment Benefit (50,000).
Although the official unemployment rate is not devised from unemployment benefit numbers, when more people are work-tested they will have to be available and looking for work. That is what constitutes being unemployed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How far should liability extend?

Just one question this morning.

If scientists are legally liable for incorrectly assessing risk resulting in death, what about bail judges and parole board members?

Monday, October 22, 2012

For The Wowsers 2


On the face of it the security risk of the 'BasicsCard' now provided to (some)  teenage beneficiaries looks high - not least because a reporter has now told the world that the pin for the card is actually printed on it. OK, not a lot of money is involved but when it's most of the money you have its safety is paramount. This seems really incompetent.

I'm in favour of cards over cash, of in-kind assistance wherever possible for obvious reasons. But MSD needs to get the system right. Especially as it is highly likely they will expand 'income management' across other groups. As is happening in Australia.

Another mark against MSD and the reforms that needn't have happened.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

John Ansell

My experience of John Ansell is of a genuine, somewhat obsessive, totally honest individual. I haven't swung in heavily behind his colourblind campaign because it's misunderstood. That's not John's fault. It's those seeing or hearing what they want and not what he puts in front of them. Plus talking about Maori privilege always seems slightly absurd taken at face value. Those featuring overwhelmingly in all the worst social statistics are Maori.

But there is undoubtedly privilege in its strictest sense of the word. And particularly amongst those benefiting handsomely from the Treaty industry. The propagators of a supreme tangata whenua culture and tribalism have driven many away, not least non-politicised Maori. Yes, you might argue that Pakeha have propagated their culture as supreme since inhabiting New Zealand but two wrongs do not make a right.  Why are Christian beliefs any better than Maori spiritual beliefs? They are after all just that. Articles of faith.

Apirana Ngata had it right. Maori should take those elements of European institutions that work for them while preserving their own language and customs.

I'm a strong supporter of the retention of te reo and would love to be able to speak it myself but again these are matters of choice. You cannot make people do things that they do not want to. So when the push to grow te reo falls short it isn't anyone's fault but individuals. As soon as blame starts getting thrown around the accuser has slipped into what John is attacking. The grievance mode. Some Maori grieve about not only the past but the present. Constantly.

Grieving is necessary for a time. But when people become locked into grieving it suffocates them. They can't move forward and neither can the people they infect.

John has dedicated himself to attacking the Grievers by educating people about the history of Maori and European, to expose what he sees as propaganda via a reconstructed past and achieving true racial equality before the law. I believe he is driving this campaign because he feels he has no choice. He feels utterly, personally compelled to speak out.

He's taken on a mammoth challenge and he's not far from financially broke. I just hope his campaign doesn't break him psychologically. He could surely do without personal attacks on his integrity.