Saturday, April 06, 2013

What's wrong with Radio Live?

The NZ Herald reports that latest Auckland audience polling shows Radio Live losing listeners in a big way. Marcus Lush, Michael Laws and Willie and JT all lost significant audience share. And it isn't just Aucklanders tuning out.

Laws may have lost audience because he was leaving. People anticipating his departure began looking for an alternative earlier than they needed to? I listened to Laws sporadically usually because he was running a subject that interested me and he didn't suffer fools.

Lush is an unknown but from the promos for his show I've never been tempted. Not enough gravitas in his presentation or content.

Willie and JT are entertaining at times but the (sometimes juvenile) slagging each other off wears thin. A lack of professionalism and repetition of race-related comment make Willie tiresome. JT has a wider field of knowledge and depth of insight but seems to mentally (and physically) disappear quite often. His solo shows make for more compelling listening. Their political panel show frequently degenerates into the verbal equivalent of a bar brawl. Again, I'm only a sporadic listener.

I tuned into Sean Plunket a couple of times during his first week. His style was unchanged since hosting NewstalkZB in Wellington 2011-12 during which time I started to gravitate over to Laws and RadioLive. Perhaps if he incorporates more interviews and news content - competing directly with his nemesis, Radio NZ - he could pull in people like me who refuse to listen to state radio but don't necessarily want music.

Duncan Garner is totally not my cup of tea. Three or four times I've persevered through the hour before Larry Williams starts on NewstalkZB. Garner gets an idea or takes a position (eg a nasty set against Susan Devoy) than asks people to text their support - repeatedly. He has a motor-mouth but not a motor-brain. Shallow and disappointing.

I've listened to RadioLive since the Radio Pacific days. Through many hosts like Jenny Anderson, a consummate professional, Paul Henry, very quirky and comical then, John Banks, cutting and polarising, Alan Dick, personable and forthright.

They just don't have any talent right now.  Perhaps they get what they pay for. In which case it's a downward spiral.

(Mea culpa to Mitch Harris who does run a good show when he gets behind the mike.)

Friday, April 05, 2013

Bulls**t detector

Here's a bit of fun. The NZ Initiative asks,

"How full of it are you? Run your writing (or indeed any writing at all) through this website to get a bulls**t reading. "

I've scored from .17 to .22 - apparently showing "only a few indications of bullshit language" to "some signs but within acceptable limits."

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Truth column March 28 - April 3

My Truth column for March 28 - April 3

Labour was once proudly the party for the workers; the triers and the battlers.
That’s how our oldest living generation remembers them.  But, over the decades they’ve morphed into the party that espouses entitlements and rights before responsibilities.  They shut down free-thinkers with political correctness, but champion free-riders with their promotion of generous, unconditional social security. If you doubt me, consider this recent parliamentary exchange between social development minister Paula Bennett, and Labour’s Jacinda Ardern, complaining about sole-parent benefit reforms:


"I don't like the income tax"

Another great quote dug up by the Freedom Foundation:

I don't like the income tax. Every time we talk about these taxes we get around to the idea of "from each according to his capacity and to each according to his needs." That's socialism. It's written in the Communist Manifesto. Maybe we ought to see that every person who gets a tax return receives a copy of the Communist Manifesto with it so he can see what's happening to him.
- T. Coleman Andrews, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, U.S. News & World Report [May 25, 1956]

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

UK Chancellor defends welfare reform

The UK Chancellor is the equivalent of our Finance Minister. A report from today's Scotsman:

GEORGE Osborne yesterday attacked critics of the UK government’s welfare reform claiming they were talking “ill-informed rubbish” as he defended his controversial policies.
The Chancellor said the welfare system was “fundamentally broken” and he was “proud” of the stance being taken by the government, which has come in for severe criticism for introducing such measures as the “bedroom tax”.
Speaking at a Morrisons’ distribution depot in Kent, Mr Osborne also defended the decision to cut tax for higher earners by slashing the top rate.
“In a modern, global economy where people can move anywhere in the world, you cannot have a top rate of tax that discourages people from living here, from setting up businesses here, investing here, creating jobs here.”
His speech provoked a furious backlash in Scotland where the SNP claimed 105,000 households will be £600 a year worse off as a result of the changes.
But Mr Osborne said: “Those who campaign against a cap on benefits for families who aren’t working are completely out of touch with how the millions of working families, who pay the taxes to fund these benefits, feel about this.
“I’m proud of what we’re doing to restore some common sense and control on costs. In recent days we have heard a lot of, frankly, ill-informed rubbish about these welfare reforms.
“Some have said it’s the end of the welfare state. That is shrill, headline-seeking nonsense. I will tell you what is true. Taxpayers don’t think the welfare state works properly anymore.”
Mr Osborne said the system had not only become unaffordable, it was now so complicated people were better off on the dole rather than going to work.
“These vested interests always complain, with depressingly predictable outrage, about every change to a system which is failing. I want to take the argument to them,” he said.
“Because defending every line item of welfare spending isn’t credible in the current economic environment. Because defending benefits that trap people in poverty and penalise work is defending the indefensible.
“The benefit system is broken; it penalises those who try to do the right thing; and the British people badly want it fixed.”

Minister Bennett mistaken or misled

A 'welfare commentator' must be politically even-handed. If Jacinda Ardern gets it wrong I'm quick to criticise.

When it was reported  Paula Bennett said, "There were 659 subsequent children born to parents already claiming a benefit this January," I knew the number was either aberrant or wrong.

So I queried the number with MSD and received this response,

"to answer your question the number does not necessarily relate to children born in January - but rather children who were to be added, in January, to client benefits as subsequent children."

So then I asked,

What were the ages of the subsequent  children added to an existing benefit in January?

 but was told

unfortunately we are not able to provide an age breakdown for subsequent children

A subsequent child could be added to a foster carer's benefit; or moved into a 'safer' family at CYF instigation; moved from a mother to a father; adopted (particularly whangai) and so on.

Subsequent babies born directly onto a  benefit number annually around 4,800 or
400 monthly.

 "As the second round of welfare reforms come back before Parliament, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the 650 children born to women already claiming a benefit in January are reason enough for her tough reforms"
250 would represent an increase of 62 percent.

There is no need to exaggerate  statistics to justify crucial reforms, especially when inaccurate claims could undermine support.

Pay your weight

What's the difference between carrying extra kilos in baggage and extra kilos on your person, except you get charged for the first? The economies of air travel are directly linked to weight carried and in an increasingly tight market I'd expect this policy to become more widespread. It will only take one major airline to adopt it, making them more attractive to most flyers, and the competition won't be able to afford not to. The NZ Herald is running a poll:

Is it fair to charge overweight passengers more to fly?

1500–1550 votes
Yes - it should be a policy on all airlines.
Maybe - but only a small fee.
No - it's discrimination.

Reducing inequality among road injured

Data has been available for some time that shows Maori are statistically more likely to be involved in a road accident. Now the University of Auckland has measured the risk for Maori children in that region:

Maori children are 65 per cent more likely to be killed or hurt on our roads than children of other ethnicities.

This is synonymous with heightened risk of poverty, neglect, abuse, ill-health, educational under-achievement,  involvement with crime, etc. It is hardly surprising. What captured me was this sentence:

University of Auckland researcher Dr Jamie Hosking said the report highlighted what needed to be done to reduce inequality among those injured.

Another 'inequality obsessed' academic not thinking through the implications of his words.

A reduction in inequality amongst the injured could be achieved if more 'rich' people had accidents. Or more Asians, who are apparently the safest road users.

The goal is surely a reduction of injuries irrespective of ethnicity or economic status.

Does he come out with this sanitised-speak simply to avoid saying, we need to see an improvement in the safety practices around and on roads by Maori, and particularly Maori parents?

Of course describing road-risk  as an 'inequality' problem segues nicely into the logical next step which is, naturally enough, to spend more money righting it.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Calls for more spending/borrowing are astonishing

It is not my primary intention to argue against tax cuts but I couldn't accept the PSA Secretary Richard Wagstaff's rationale for extending Paid Parental Leave. My response in Monday's DomPost:

DomPost: Early work tests for adding children to a benefit fair

Yesterday's DomPost editorial was pleasantly forthright.

After the usual preamble about welfare being a social contract which most beneficiaries do not exploit, it continues,

"Sadly, however, some beneficiaries see it as their God-given right to remain on welfare for life and not only make no effort to improve their lot, but add to the burden on taxpayers.
They include women on the domestic purposes benefit who seem to believe they can have as many children as they want while remaining dependent on the state, and that workers will be happy to pay for them to have that privilege...."

Monday, April 01, 2013

The falling teenage birth rate

A commentor yesterday was surprised that the teenage birth rate is dropping.

I've extracted the data from Statistics NZ and charted them. The first chart shows the birth rate per 15-19 year-olds has been dropping since 2008. The Maori rate is much higher which left me with the question, is the total rate falling only because the Maori rate is?

So I've charted births in absolute numbers. There's a slight quirk in that the Maori data is for births under twenty but there are very few under 15 so the line wouldn't change significantly.

Births for both Maori and non-Maori are dropping. I didn't chart the Pacific and Asian data but the trend is the same. So the reasons, whatever they are, are at least cross-cultural. That's a start. It'll be fascinating to see where the lines go in the next seven years.

Update. The birth rates are falling in every age group except 40 plus. Better half has just said to me it's the recession and that the same thing happened in the Depression. I imagine that the 40 plus females are going against the trend because they are running out of time and have better financial means. Also WFF introduced in 2005 seemed to produce a bit of a temporary baby boom, so a return to more 'normal' rates would be seen as a fall. But the teenage birth in 2012 was the lowest it's ever been (at least according to data going back to 1962 and you wouldn't expect it to be lower in times when people married and started families relatively young).

Sunday, March 31, 2013

"You shouldn't leave a man alone with a baby"

Whaleoil has blogged a YouTube clip supposed to provoke outrage against male physical play with a baby.

By coincidence we had a visiting 15 month-old today.

My (almost) 19 year-old son looked after her from the outset. Her step Granddad was doing swing rides with secure hands, they encouragingly guided her up and down steps, they 'danced' to get her dancing. She loved every moment.

Any 'movement' against men looking after babies is tragic.