Friday, February 22, 2013

Truth column Jan 17-23

Truth's site is coming together. Here's my column from Jan 17-23. Bit out-of-date now but the topic is perennial:

A friend texted to tell me her partner was down at the local cop shop. Making enquiries about an unrelated matter, police had smelt dope and entered his flat demanding he reveal what he had. Was that legal, she asked? Yes, I responded.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ministry of Men's Affairs

A press release about the topic of the day, prosecuting beneficiary partners, has appeared from the MINISTRY OF MEN’S AFFAIRS, MINITATANGA MO NGA TANE

 This proposed legislation reaches a new low in the financial exploitation of men and also represents a giant backward step for women to a past patriarchal era in which men were held legally responsible for their spouses’ behaviour.
 A Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) fraudster commits an offence by signing a legal document affirming (s)he is not in a marriage-type relationship. The partner committed no offence but Chester Burrows wants to make the partner pay for the beneficiary’s offending even if that partner in no way encouraged it. Burrows’ law will only apply to the partners of DPB and ‘Sole Parent Support’ fraudsters not to other types of benefit fraud, and his public statements have made it clear this distinction is based on the gender of the beneficiaries concerned. The intention of the law is to make men pay for female offending.
Anyone know who's behind this group?

RNZ bias

If you ever wanted confirmation that Radio NZ, or Kathryn Ryan at least, is utterly biased listen to the difference in her treatment of the interviewed lawyer compared to the associate Minister for Social Development Chester Borrows here.

Prosecuting beneficiary partners

National's new law that will see partner's of beneficiaries prosecuted is a good step forward.

Most of the currently prosecuted fraud - after claiming while employed - is claiming the DPB while living in a marriage-type relationship.

Most DPB claimants are women so this change generally affects men though other situations will occur. Same-sex partnerships are now recognised in  the Social Security Act so a lesbian partner could also be prosecuted. And obviously the main beneficiary might be male.  Given there is provision for couples to live together and claim a benefit in their own right - albeit at a reduced rate - the government has every right to start cracking down on people who break the rules. Both of them.

Also this move should reduce the vulnerability that having a secure income and home creates for DPB recipients - especially young, low esteem, malleable types who are all too willing to let a male sponge off her.

It's no surprise that the Maori Party aren't supportive. It's my belief that this sort of living arrangement whereby one half of the couple brings in the DPB and the other has no income, draws a benefit or works, is more common amongst Maori. It might not reflect intent to defraud necessarily. But it does reflect more transient, haphazard living.

In any case there are probably thousands of people who already know their living arrangements are not legit (some because a protection order also forbids them from living under the same roof.) Now it's a matter of changed dynamics as the blame and punishment spreads.

Will it make a difference? These people - mainly men - are risk-takers anyway. They probably have unpaid fines, other debt, previous convictions, child support debt, are possibly unemployable, possibly ex-prisoners, gang members, drug dealers. Is the threat of a $5,000 fine or prison going to change this particular behaviour? I doubt it.

But it does give the female another tool though, if she wants shot of the guy. Perhaps National should go a step further and offer an amnesty to the claiming partner if the other refuses to move out during the period following the new law implementation.

Update: Something was niggling at the back of mind about the business of actually defining someone as a partner. I had forgotten that Work and Income must demonstrate that the beneficiary is in a relationship with the required "emotional commitment" and "financial interdependence" for the other person to be defined as a de facto partner.

"...when considering if a client is in a relationship and the client indicates they are a victim of domestic violence, extra care must be taken when determining if the required level of emotional commitment is present." Here we go again with bad incentives. If he hits her he won't be a 'partner' and he won't go to prison or pay a fine. Good lord. What a mess the benefit system is.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Justice and injustice

Just finished reading Liberty Scott's post featuring a case of carping, chronic entitlitis when I came across this:

Liberty means the security given to each man that, if he employs his energies to sustain the struggle on behalf of himself and those he cares for, he shall dispose of the product exclusively as he chooses. It is impossible to know whence any definition or criterion of justice can be derived, if it is not deduced from this view of things; or if it is not the definition of justice that each shall enjoy the fruit of his own labor and self-denial, and of injustice that the idle and the industrious, the self-indulgent and the self-denying, shall share equally in the product.
- William Graham Sumner, "Socialism" [1880s]

...and so it came to pass and this is what it looks like.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Child support and teen Dads

I'm writing a belated post about this article from Sunday because there seems to be some confusion over liability.

One rogue 19-year-old is a liable father to 13 kids to different mums.
A source has confirmed the man is named on the birth certificates of 13 children, and is liable to pay child support for them.
Figures released by the Inland Revenue Department show 943 teenage fathers were liable to pay child support at the end of last year. Some were just 15 years old, and already liable for two children.

If this liable teenage father does exist he will be assessed for 13 x $16.30 weekly, the minimum, or $$211.90 in total. With that kind of liability going on for the next 18 plus years he may well have skipped the country and become one of the many the Australian government are now trying to chase - or was that student loans?

In any discussion about the merits or otherwise of child support I inevitably come back to the DPB.

Couples will always split or divorce and courts have always ordered maintenance be paid by the father (or occasionally) mother of any dependent children. That's fair. That morphed into today's child support (around 1991-2). Some couples negotiate the payment privately. Some choose to involve the state and subsequently, there is a good deal of argument over whether the current assessment formula is fair.

But for those fathers supporting a child being raised on the DPB from birth, fathers who were never in an ongoing relationship with the mother; who were never told about the pregnancy, had no opportunity to discuss what to do about it; who may have been knowingly used to provide a child/meal ticket - I am very uncomfortable about their liability. Yes, they are responsible to a point but if the DPB didn't exist, the mothers wouldn't have been using them or making the decision which leads to their 18 year liability.  Let's put it another way. A female finds herself pregnant. She knows if she has the child she will get an income equivalent to the minimum age and a home. She can get it from the state on the condition (and even this is easy enough to get around) she names the father so he can pay some probably pathetic amount to the taxpayer. And it usually is a trifling amount because of the socio-economic group these children are generally produced from.

Get rid of this gaming and a good deal of the child support problems disappear.

(BTW I have no idea why, according to the article, "welfare workers were shocked". There are always a few thousand teenagers on the DPB at any given. It's not surprising at least some of the fathers of those children would be teen Dads. Throw in another known fact - male Sole-Maori identifiers are three and a half times more likely to have a partner pregnant by age twenty than non Maori - and none of this is surprising).

Sunday, February 17, 2013

DPB trivia

Around 10,000 sole parents on the DPB have had children to more than one child-support paying partner. (There will be more who have failed to name the father).

This piece of information was contained in an answer to a written question from Jacinda Ardern to the Minister of Revenue.

Wonder why she kept it quiet?

The current minimum child support payment is $16.30 - a mere 3 percent of a typical weekly payment to a single parent with two children living in Auckland.

And the left don't even want that tiny amount to go towards offsetting the DPB bill.