Saturday, November 23, 2013

Three 'yes' votes

Three 'yes' votes just about to go in the post.

As I emailed Leighton Smith yesterday, in response to people unsure whether they should participate in this fiasco,

If there is the remotest chance of wiping the smirk off Russel Norman's face, I'm taking it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Persuading people to work

The Minister of social Development has taken the unusual step of spelling out how much benefits pay versus income from work. She's probably chosen South Auckland because that's where the numbers of welfare-dependent sole parents are highest :
An average sole parent with two children under thirteen, living in South Auckland would receive around $642 on benefit, including accommodation supplement and a minimal extra allowance for costs.
“If that sole parent works just 15 hours while receiving benefit, they would be $107 better off, taking home $750 a week.”
“If they are able to go off benefit and by working just 20 hours a week on a minimum wage, they would be $171 better off each week at $814.”
Going off benefit and working 40 hours a week on a minimum wage, that same sole parent would be $190 better off at $833 a week with the Family Tax Credit, Accommodation Supplement and In-Work tax credit.
“I get how hard it can be to make the move from welfare to work, but it makes such a difference to your state of mind, not to mention financially.”
Lisa, a sole parent in West Auckland wanted to work and earn her own money and found a part time job with 20 hours work a week.
Her work focused case manager did a Better Off Assessment and Lisa was able to see how much better off she’d be doing 30 hours a week, without a benefit but picking up the In-Work tax Credit.

The act of issuing the release tells me that the financial incentive to work is still not enough. People do their own sums and figure out it's easier not to work. But the release also angers me. People should be getting off benefits because they should be supporting themselves. If they are capable, it's wrong to live off someone else.They shouldn't need to be plied with incentives.

While the politician in me accepts beneficiaries need to be financially incentivised to work, the philosophical me finds the idea quite repugnant.

(And it's somewhat ironic to read the Minister pushing what was Labour policy in 2005. It highlights how National has moved to the left in the area of economic redistribution policy. This pushes Labour/Green further left. Which means that if we get a change of government next year, in the welfare area anyway, the new one will be worse then the Clark/Cullen administration.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bribery for breastfeeding?

This story was sent to me by a reader:

New mothers are to be offered up to £200 in shopping vouchers to encourage them to breastfeed their babies.
The pilot scheme is being targeted at deprived areas of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and funded through a collaboration between government and the medical research sector.

If successful, a nationwide pilot could be rolled out in England next year...The team behind the project said breastfeeding was a cause of health inequalities, pointing to research that showed it helped prevent health problems such as upset stomachs and chest infections as well as leading to better educational attainment.

Hold on a minute. Why aren't leftists creating a hue and cry about  bottle fed babies being further deprived by this 'discrimination'?

Can righting health inequalities justify creating financial inequalities?

And really, what (able to) mother needs vouchers to persuade her to breastfeed her child?

Is  bribery the new cultural currency? It started far more subtly (and happily not widely recognised as such) with social security decades ago. Today welfare has morphed into 'show me the money' for no more than fulfilling natural functions.

Teenage birth statistics - misleading description from govt

According to Paula Bennett,

We have seen teen birth numbers fall for the last three years – despite rising previously. And the birth rate for teens is at its lowest since 1962.

This says to me that in 1962 the teenage birth rate was pretty much the same as it is today. That's incorrect. In 1962 it was 54 (per 1,000 15-19 year-olds). Today it is 25.

What the PR should have said was that the rate is the lowest in the period for which data is available ie since 1962.

Otherwise it's timely for Bennett to point out all of the practical stuff she has implemented. And when she says she "is passionate"  about helping teenage parents, I believe her.

"A snowflakes chance"

Always interested in phraseology and idiom I was unfamiliar with David Cunliffe's choice to describe the likelihood of John Tamihere becoming a Labour candidate,

"I wouldn't be in a hurry to sign him up and I'd say he's got a snowflake's chance of becoming a Labour candidate."

A snowflake's chance? Where?

It's a snowflake's chance in hell. I wonder why he didn't use the whole phrase? It might conjure up images of just how hellish a place the Labour Party caucus might be. For Tamihere anyway.

But wait. There's another better known phrase which compares the likelihood of something happening to the likelihood of hell freezing over.  Yet the Eagles famously said this about their bitter breakup in 1980 and the chances of reforming. Of course they eventually did, leading to the sublime "Hell Freezes Over" album and tour.

So perhaps the better expression regarding the possibility of John Tamihere rejoining Labour as a candidate is 'never say never'.

(Another saying that caught my attention recently was 'busted fish' used by Rodney Hide on a Radio Live panel to describe Len Brown. It later appeared in print as 'busted flush'. Both are accurate but I like the first much more.The imagery is much stronger.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Compulsory pregnancy checks?

The NZ Herald reports:

Up to 90 per cent of pregnant women will have to get an antenatal check within 10 weeks if the Government proceeds with bold recommendations made in a major inquiry into children's health and child abuse.

And how does that requirement get enforced? What happens if they don't? Some women actively avoid confirming a pregnancy in order to stave off lifestyle changes.

 In parts of Auckland, the proportion of women seeing a doctor early in their pregnancy was as low as 16 per cent - a trend described as "Third World" by the inquiry's authors.
Which parts of Auckland would they be? Funny how that's not detailed.

Bold changes were also proposed to reduce the high rate of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, including warning labels on all alcohol products and consideration of higher tax excises.

Oh surprise, surprise. Whack up the price of alcohol for responsible drinkers because morons wilfully ignore their pregnancy and continue to binge.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. You can't make people more responsible by removing their responsibilities.

More evidence of police intransigence

Notice that the victim of violence in this case, run over repeatedly by his partner, is a man.

 Waikato police district on-call manager Acting Detective Inspector Ross McKay confirmed the man, who is in Waikato Hospital with serious injuries, and the woman were in a relationship. ''Sadly, just seven days out from White Ribbon Week, today's incident also highlights the dangers associated with domestic violence and police urge anyone who feels unsafe in their home situation to seek help,'' he said.
Doesn't the Inspector understand that the White Ribbon campaign is specifically about domestic violence perpetrated by men?

 White Ribbon is an international movement that condemns men’s violence towards women.
Dear me. Is this another indicator that the police have the 'wrong' attitude? That by dragging White Ribbon Week into this they have disrespected the holy grail of female victimhood?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

10 DPB facts for Kerre McIvor

The Herald on Sunday features a sappy column from Kerre McIvor about how glad she is we have the DPB/Sole Parent Support.

Over time, the DPB has evolved - it's now the sole parent benefit - and critics of the benefit may feel their concerns were justified. There has been an increase in the number of single mothers; it is easier for men to walk away from their obligations; some people take the benefit rather than find work. But I believe that to be a very small minority.
In response, here are ten DPB facts:

1/ One in five children will be on it by the end of their birth year

2/ At April 2012 there were 179,204 children dependent on the DPB

3/ Sole parents spend an average 15.8 years on benefit

4/ Going back just ten years, researchers found at least a third of sole parents had started on welfare as teenagers

5/ 46 percent of sole parent support recipients are Maori (4 out of 5 Maori children are born outside of marriage.)

6/ 83 percent of all children with a substantiated finding of abuse had appeared in the benefit system before age two

7/ 48 percent of sole parents on the benefit had no educational qualifications; 44% had school qualifications only (2005)

8/ 6 out of 10 were in debt to MSD

9/ Sole parents and their children are more likely to have mental health problems

10/ Of all children turning 15 in 2008, one in five had spent seven or more of their first 14 years on a benefit - usually the DPB

McIvor finishes her column with this:

 I'm grateful to live in a country where there's a safety net for vulnerable children - because after all, that's who the DPB really benefits.