Saturday, November 16, 2013

Recent painting

Updating my artist blog so cross-posting.

Just used this painting in an ad going into the new Petone Chronicle being produced out of Eastbourne. It's an oil painted on canvas primed with burnt sienna to create a warm glow feeling which is how I feel about dogs.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

DPB birthday?

Stuff reports today on the 40th anniversary of the DPB coming into being.

The DPB turns 40 today, but beneficiary advocates say it's no cause for celebration.

Except the DPB can't turn forty today because it no longer exists. This is like celebrating the birthday of someone who is dead.

 Before the domestic purposes benefit was introduced by Norman Kirk's Labour Government on November 14, 1973, only widowed solo mothers received income support.
Wrong again. A National government introduced the DPB emergency benefit in 1968 and prior to that single mothers could access emergency benefits but there was no legislated entitlement.

Wellington City Mission chief executive Michelle Branney (said) it was increasingly hard to get off the DPB, with the financial slowdown meaning fewer available jobs, and employers being less willing to give solo parents the flexibility needed to work around childcare commitments, she said.
Yet the employment rate for sole mothers has steadily increased.

 The cost of living had since "gone ballistic", he said. He remembered paying $10-$20 a week in rent, which the Reserve Bank's inflation calculator puts at $43-$86 in today's money.
Yes, I can remember paying $22 a week for a one bedroom flat in Wellington in the late seventies. But accommodation supplements and income related rents are far more generous now.

Conservative Party chief executive Christine Rankin, a former families commissioner and Work and Income boss, was briefly on the DPB in 1978 in Auckland, while caring for her two preschool-aged sons.
"It was really tough. You have to be very skilled in terms of how you manage your money."
After about two months, she got a job that paid only slightly more than her benefit, but it set her up for a career, she said.
She did not believe it was any harder now than then to survive on the DPB or its successors. "We didn't have very much, and life was a real challenge then."

There's a surprise. I didn't know that Christine Rankin was Conservative Party CE. That makes them a good fit for National in the welfare reform arena.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On welfare due to drug or alcohol addiction - the good news

Stuff has reported on the number of people on benefits for drug or alcohol addiction

 More than 5000 people are collecting benefits because drug and alcohol addiction is preventing them from working.
5,349 to be specific.

Last time I asked the question, June 2011, there were 5,855.

That's an 8.6% decrease.

In 2009, 1181 people had spent four to 10 years collecting the benefit, and 291 people had been doing so for more than 10 years.
This year, 1394 people had spent four to 10 years on the benefit, and 485 had been on it for 10 years or more.
This would indicate that the hardcore remain but fewer people are being admitted onto a benefit for addiction reasons.
Labour's social development spokeswoman Sue Moroney said the figures showed the Government's reforms were not working.
"In fact, they've made things worse," she said.
"The number of Kiwis consigned to long-term unemployment has increased by more than 4000 people since the so-called reforms were introduced in July."
I'm not sure how overall long-term unemployment relates to this specific story or where these figures are sourced from.

In fact, the number of long term Jobseekers (dependent one year or more) reduced by 8 percent in the year to September 2013.

Labour has no grounds to complain anyway.

Here's a quote from a press release from 2009,

  Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell said that in June 2002 3,202 people relied on one of these benefits because of substance abuse. "Information just released to me from the Ministry of Social Development shows that number has risen to 5,838."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jackson and Tamihere gone for now

The show is over for the rest of the year.

I guess that's the market. Their detractors spoke and, in turn, the advertisers spoke. But it's still a disturbing example of the repercussions of thinking the 'wrong stuff' out loud.

Living wage promises little to the poorest

A reader has kindly sent me a copy of the Treasury report which analyses the proposed living wage.

Below is a table from it showing how much more the living wage will provide to various earners. The red section however will benefit the government, not the earner.

Take the first row. It is well known that sole parents are proportionately the poorest families in NZ. If a sole parent with two children (in a 3 bedroom home paying $380 in rent)  moves from $15 an hour to $18.40 he or she will only be better off by around $24 because of losses in accommodation supplement and other tax credits.

The report goes on to comment on the research that developed the $18.40 living wage:

    Treasury questions whether the methodology used to arrive at $18.40 is robust, for the following reasons (A more detailed explanation is provided in Appendix 3):

·                The research is based on a family composition of two adults and two children.  The research acknowledges that while it is possible in principle to identify different wage levels for different numbers of dependants, this is not done because it would make the Living Wage estimate unhelpful as a communication tool.

·                Families comprising two adults and two children represent only 6% of families earning below the Living Wage. Those who have the highest deprivation level (i.e. absolute, not relative) are sole parents and this analysis generally does not apply to them.

Treasury can't call the Family Centre Social Policy Unit research nonsense, but I can. Why base a calculation on an atypical low-income earner?

The report goes on:

" The research is inconsistent with Household Economic Survey which finds that at least 70% of people in even the lowest income band say that their current income is either just enough or better."
And here are two more noteworthy tables showing that 1/ internationally NZ has a relatively high minimum wage, and 2/ NZ has a low proportion of its population earning low incomes. 

Going back to the first graph, there is a question nagging at me. Could a strictly voluntary living wage be a good thing if it reduces the burden on the unrelated party (taxpayers) and shifts it to the party who gains the benefit of the labour paid for? If an employer can pay more (acknowledging all the 'ifs' that entails) isn't that preferable to taxpayer subsidies?

The answer is yes. Problem is though, most of the people who would benefit from the living wage aren't currently subsidised (my inference from other data provided). So the living wage does not provide an efficient solution to reducing working welfare.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On Guy Fawke's night explosions

Last night's thunderous Wellington display,  combined with a neurotic, extremely anxious dog with an existing tummy upset manifesting in diarrhoea,  does not make for a fun night...