Friday, February 01, 2013

Is inequality growing?

Depends over which period you measure it.

Treasury fudges numbers to hide growing inequality

The Greens are complaining that Treasury is misleading us about NZ's comparative inequality rating, intimating it is behaving like a "right wing think tank" - dishonestly they say.

(I've commented - in moderation currently - to the effect that recent trends show inequality reducing in NZ and linking to my sources)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

NZ First endorses long term dependency on DPB

It's never been clear to me where NZ First stands on the DPB.  Here's an indication:

NZ First spokeswoman for social policy and welfare Asenati Lole-Taylor said ... "I'm one of those people who just don't accept that people can become statistics on the welfare system, knowing full well that they're capable of working. I object to the idea of the welfare system being seen as an easy way of accessing money... Anyone who's on a benefit for more than 15 years, who is not a solo mother with young kids ... it's just madness."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

International Housing affordability - NZ rates a mention

I found the following from NCPA fascinating, especially that the US has the best housing affordability, so have cut and paste it for your interest:

The 9th Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey for New Geography rates housing markets based on the median multiple, which is median house price divided by pre-tax median household income. Affordable housing markets have a median multiple of 3.0, while severely unaffordable housing markets have a median multiple of 5.1 or over, says Wendell Cox, an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis and principal of Demographia, a public policy firm located in St. Louis.

  • Hong Kong, Vancouver, Sydney, San Jose, San Francisco and London were the least affordable housing markets of the 337 metropolitan markets analyzed in the study. Each had a median multiple close to 8.0 or above.
  • Detroit, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Rochester and St. Louis were the most affordable housing markets in the study. Each had a median multiple close to 2.0.
Of all the nations in the world, the United States has the most affordable or moderately unaffordable markets. The United States had an overall median multiple of 3.2, compared with 5.1 for the United Kingdom, 3.6 for Ireland, 13.5 for Hong Kong and 4.7 for Canada.

  • Overall trends in the nine years the study has been conducted by the Performance Urban Planning organization indicate that housing affordability has risen most in the United States and Ireland.
  • Australia and New Zealand have the most unaffordable major markets that have not shown any sign of improvement. Every major market has been severely unaffordable in every single year.
Empirical evidence suggests that urban containment policies, particularly urban growth boundaries, raise the price of housing relative to income. Cox notes that urban planning results in reduced standards of living, increasing poverty rates and lower discretionary income.
Cox says that urban policy needs to be reset. To make housing more affordable, cities and nations need to shift away from designing urban areas and instead let free market principles allocate land efficiently. With major demographic shifts underway in most nations, access to affordable housing will play a large role in the duration and quality of life of each nation's people.

Source: Wendell Cox, "Demographic and Economic Challenges: The 9th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey," New Geography, January 21, 2013.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Banks' response to PM's 2013 opener

This isn't a bad message - shame about the messenger.

What would your response have been as the single ACT MP holding a ministerial position?

In three sentences, mine:

Direction passable.

Speed not.

Acceleration barely discernible.

Child sponsorship in New Zealand

Variety has started up a scheme for New Zealanders to sponsor a New Zealand child. The money involved is the same as international sponsorship - $35 monthly.

I'm not going to write in criticism of the scheme. It's charitable and voluntary. Whether the need being met could be sorted differently, or whether meeting the need will just grow more of it are issues for consideration. But assuming donors have thought through these it's their prerogative to give.

But this is what I want to point out.

Variety chief executive Lorraine Taylor said donors could write to their sponsored child, receive regular updates about their health and wellbeing, and were provided with a breakdown at the end of the year detailing where their money went.
This is exactly why private charity trumps state aid. The charity has to be accountable, which in turn means the person receiving the donation has to be accountable. Real progress can be made.

So why not apply these principles to government assistance? Heavens no. Imagine the administrative costs, the invasion of privacy,  and the denial of human rights!

Imagine government having to report on the health and well-being of every individual child on a benefit. Some of the reports would be deeply disappointing and deeply disturbing. The donor would immediately withdraw or turn to a different charity with a better track record.

Oh but I forget. We are taxpayers, not willing donors. We must put up and shut up.

(Update. The Greens say, "We shouldn't need to sponsor kids in NZ". Their variety of caring and sharing must be monopolised by the state.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Damien Grant on child poverty

Damien Grant has written a very unusual column in today's NZ Herald. I don't really follow the logic but was engaged nevertheless. Let's see if I can paraphrase, making some sense of it in the process.

First he says child poverty doesn't exist in NZ. Not by the UN definition. And the NZ definition is  a silly invention, based on the latest Children's Commissioner report.

Then he leaps to poor African children saying he'd rather spend any available money he had upgrading his cellphone than sending it to them. Hence he doesn't care and neither do many others (unless they are sponsoring a child to massage their own ego.)

So if we don't even care about real child poverty in Africa why should we care about invented child poverty in NZ?

Then he ends with an after thought about the office of the Children's Commissioner being abolished.

Um. Well, I agree with some of sentiments, especially the last. But comparing Africa and NZ doesn't work for me.

We've sponsored children for longer than we've had our own. But their photo is not on our $2,000 fridge. Frankly I find the idea of being some sort of phantom parent onerous and worry when World Vision sends cards for you to write a little message to your assigned child. Personally I think it's pointless but do it because I'm concerned that other sponsored children will get messages and photos, and mine will feel left out if they don't. The reason we sponsor World Vision is because we believe in the work they do in making communities self-sufficient or more self-sufficient.

But child poverty in NZ is an entirely different kettle of fish. Here we hand out fish instead of fishing rods. Trite. I know.

My views on how welfare has created child poverty have been well and truly canvassed so no more to say there. But instead of simply not caring we need to be saying to idiots like the Children's Commissioner, I care about the problem (neglect, under-achievement, avoidable ill-health for instance) but I don't give a fig for your diagnosis or solution.

I don't know where I fit into Damien Grant's world.