Friday, July 19, 2013

Chris Trotter goes too far

There have been a couple of on-line polls  this week showing most people support the welfare reforms. To my mind there are a number of reasons why and I'll post about that later. But the average person is comfortable with work expectations and social obligations of the kind they regularly meet themselves. And those beneficiaries who genuinely cannot support themselves will continue to receive the same assistance from the state.

So Chris Trotter's  diatribe this morning is a hysterical and offensive over-reaction. The targets of it should make an official complaint.

But think on this. The constant theme from the 'left' is the 'right' bashes beneficiaries. Listen, any beneficiary that read his column would feel wretched afterwards.

The National-led Government's dramatic reform of New Zealand's social welfare system marks an ominous turning point in the country's history. Never before has the state been willing to satisfy so completely the most punitive, the cruellest and nakedly sociopathic impulses of its wealthiest citizens.....
Before the rest of New Zealand could accept such callous brutalisation, however, the National-led Government had first to transform welfare beneficiaries into useless and undeserving sub-humans. Their poverty had to be presented as the consequence of their own lack of application and self-discipline.
They had to become idle ingrates: drug addicts and criminals, totally unworthy of decent people's respect or compassion.
And now, because it is not made up of monsters, and for the sake of their hapless children, the Government is insisting that these creatures somehow be "persuaded" to turn their lives around. This time, however, the persuasion is not going to involve the use of carrots. This time the ministry is going to use the stick.
And, just as they were in Germany 75 years ago, the doctors are being asked to help.
We must hope that Kiwi physicians turn out to be less enthusiastic social engineers.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Shonky birth statistics

An article appears in Stuff today:

 The number of children born outside wedlock is fast approaching the number born to married parents, and debate is raging over what it will mean for society.

Debate raging? I hadn't noticed. Examples of "raging debates" are  asset sales or same-sex marriage.

Anyway at the end of the article these statistics appear:

Births to married and unmarried couples
Fifty years ago, 8 per cent of births were ex-nuptial.
Last year, 48 per cent of births were ex-nuptial.
About 80 per cent of Maori women give birth ex-nuptially.
About 50 per cent of Pakeha women give birth ex-nuptially.
About 13 per cent of Asian women give birth ex-nuptially.
15 in every 1000 ex-nuptial births is to a woman aged between 40 and 44.
25 in every 1000 ex-nuptial births occur to women aged between 15 and 19.

The third, fourth and fifth are wrong. 80 percent of births to Maori women are ex-nuptial. That's not the same as "80 percent of Maori women give birth ex-nuptially." Not all women give birth.

The last two are really shonky. I'll use the last because I'm familiar with the data.

25 in every 1000 ex-nuptial births is 2.5 percent. Yet in 2012 15-19 year-olds had 6.2 percent of all births (nuptial and ex-nuptial). So a large majority of teenagers are giving birth inside marriage? No.

The current teenage birth rate is around 24.89 per 1000 15-19 females. 23.8 per 1000 unmarried 15-19 year-old females gave birth ex-nuptially.

There were 3,768 births to teenagers last year; that means 3,602 were ex-nuptial which represents 12.4 percent of the 29,159 ex-nuptial births.

Expressed as per above then:

124 in every 1000 ex-nuptial births occur to women aged between 15 and 19

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Percentage of working age population on a benefit over the last decade

The four main benefits all came to an end yesterday. So the data is worth recording for posterity.

Below I've scanned MSD's graphs for each expressed as a percentage of the working age population (18-64) over the past decade. Beneath I've added some observations.

The invalid benefit axis has a different scale  so the improvement looks better than it is.

The overall dependency has dropped from around 12.8 percent to 10.7 percent. Still over one in ten people on welfare.

This represents a reduction in absolute numbers. But because the numbers have held up in the invalid and domestic purposes benefits - where people typically stay dependent for long periods - the degree of dependency in terms of longevity is still very high. To explain that better, look at the unemployment benefit. The numbers plummeted. But those year-end snapshot totals  represent people who will typically be on a benefit for 7-8 months. Whereas the DPB numbers represent people who will be on a benefit for 7-8 years.

To their credit, the government is now addressing this facet by focussing efforts on those who fit a long-termer profile (barring carer's of invalids, terminally ill, chronically disabled, etc).

The improving economy during Labour's stint resulted in a lot of people coming off the unemployment benefit - 4 percent dropped to 0.7 percent. And that was great.

But the DPB was far less amenable to the positive effect, with the percentage dropping from 4.5 to 3.7 percent. If 3.7 percent is the best a strong economy can achieve then it's clear other factors are at play.

Updating artist blog

Working at the gallery keeps me temporarily away from social commentary blogging so here's a new pastel just going up on my artist blog:

Good news that probably won't see the light of day

The latest Household Incomes Survey is now available. It is still one year out of date but indicates some trends nevertheless. This is the official source of 'child poverty' statistics.

I'm just going to highlight some good news and see if this gets reported elsewhere. Most of the people who read and report on this stuff look for bad news:

Hardship rates for children rose from 15% in the 2007 HES to 21% in HES 2011, then fell to 17% in HES 2012.  

On the latest [international] comparisons available (c 2010-2011), New Zealand is in the middle of the rankings for population and child poverty rates on both measures. For example, the rates for children (0-17 years) are 12% (OECD) and 19% (EU), both in the middle for the respective measures.

 From HES 2011 to HES 2012:
·         median household income rose 2.3% in real terms, following a 3% fall from HES 2010 to HES 2011
·         incomes rose a little for all the lower 9 deciles
 in the context of the GFC and its aftermath [the recovery] is better than many other countries who experienced net falls in the median in the period – for example, Australia, Ireland, the UK and the US
 From HES 2011 to 2012, inequality as measured by the Gini fell significantly

Public support welfare reforms

From the NZ Herald:

What do you think of the welfare reforms?

12400–12450 votes

Sensible and about time 58%

Not sure - need to see the effects 12%

A bit heavy-handed 16%

Totally unjustified 13%

I don't care 1%

Monday, July 15, 2013

Trevor Mallard: deluding himself or lying?

Talking to Tim Fookes on NewstalkZB about the welfare reforms this morning, local MP Trevor Mallard said,

"...the total number of beneficiaries dropped by about two thirds when we were in government."

He was stressing the total number to address Tim's suggestion that many people had simply moved off the dole and onto sickness or invalid's benefit (which has some truth to it).

Looking at the four main benefits, in 1999 there were 359,433. Thanks to plummeting numbers on the unemployment benefit, the total had dropped to 261,747 by 2008.

A drop of 27 percent.

So why would Trevor make such a gross exaggeration? Has he kidded himself into believing Labour really accomplished that or is he just a liar?

Listen here.

For the two commentors here's a relevant graph: