Friday, April 04, 2014

Why does the support stop short at overseas holidays?

One aspect of this fuss over beneficiaries travelling overseas bugs me. According to the DomPost:

In a lot of cases it was family and friends paying for beneficiaries to travel for a holiday, Bennett said.

What do the family and friends think?

That it's OK for them to pay for holidays but the taxpayer can fork out for food, power, rent etc. I thought social security was supposed to be the last port of call (excuse the pun). Based on Paula Bennett's observation, there are probably a good many beneficiaires with families who could give them a great deal more practical and financial support but it's neither convenient nor comfortable to do so. Easier to leave it to the faceless collective.

Sue Moroney scrambles to find a problem

Have a listen to Larry Williams interviewing Labour's welfare spokesperson Sue Moroney (follows Paula Bennett) about Labour's gripe with people having benefits stopped because they have gone overseas. It's a very poor show on her part. And this is a minister-in-waiting.

A classic example of an opposition that has and would do exactly the same thing and can't actually find a problem so tries to manufacture some. Sometimes it would be wiser to just shut up.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

First in the world?

You will have read about New Zealand achieving the highest accolade for social progress in a report released today by a Washington think-tank. The following is a cut and paste of what was specifically written about NZ. Check out the italicised (my emphasis) section. Makes you wonder how bad it must be in other countries. 
Still, I have often inwardly reflected, if the poor Maori statistics were removed from many indicators, NZ looks pretty good. But I think to actually give expression to this indicates a disregard for Maori and particularly Maori children. Swept under the carpet no less. Just like we used to do in the "good old days":
New Zealand
Xavier Black, Senior Analyst Corporate Responsibility – Deloitte New Zealand
New Zealand’s strong performance on the 2014 Social Progress Index is, in part, a product of the country’s unique history. Developed as a colony of Great Britain, but with a deliberately more egalitarian outlook, New Zealand has taken a comparatively progressive approach in recognizing indigenous rights. Acknowledgment of the importance of self-determination has impacted not only Māori (the indigenous people) but the societal development of New Zealand as a multicultural nation.
This egalitarian tradition is reflected in a strong tradition of welfare provision. New Zealand citizens’ access to basic human needs and the foundations of wellbeing were provided by the state, and a number of such welfare provisions continue to the present day, despite a transition into more neo-liberal politics since the 1980s. State provision of education (and health to varying degrees) is entrenched within New Zealand, and as a result the country consistently rates well in this (ranked second on Access to Basic Knowledge and fourth on Access to Advanced Education), with the
marked exception of a few groups.
New Zealand is also recognized internationally as having a strong human rights record, ranking first on Personal Rights and Personal Freedom and Choice, and fourth on Tolerance and Inclusion.
A strong and independent judiciary system has power to enforce the rights affirmed through the Bill of Rights Act (1990) and the Human Rights Act (1993) while institutions exist to resolve unlawful discrimination (such as the Human Rights Commission) or protect the people from government
(such as the Ombudsmen). Since the 1980s, there has been significant progress in the hearing and settlement of historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and the protection and revival of the Maori language. More recently, New Zealand has made gains in endorsing marriage equality. New
Zealand women also fare well, with a proud history of being the first nation to grant women the right to vote—resulting in 2 women becoming prime ministers over the last 20 years. While New Zealand has made significant gains in access and participation of women across a number of fields, violence against women, pay inequality and limited gender diversity at the top (in both the private and public sector) continue to persist as systemic and frustrating challenges.
New Zealand also faces some significant perennial challenges, on which there seems to be little progress. Persistent disadvantage is experienced by Maori in terms of social and economic development. Maori represented 50.6% of the prison population in 2013, despite making up only 15.4% of the population. Further, while gaps in academic achievement between Maori and non-Maori are narrowing, they remain stubbornly wide. The place of children in New Zealand is also of concern with suggestions that the lives of up to 20% of New Zealand children are neither as safe nor nurturing as they should be. The ranking of 31st in child mortality demonstrates that insufficient
attention is being paid to childhood injury, and at the far end of the spectrum, is partly evidenced by a 68% increase in recorded violent offences against children between 2008 and 2013.
The structural change to New Zealand’s economy in the 1980’s resulted in considerable change across the board, particularly focused on welfare provision; and the country continues to search for the optimal balance between market and state to address some of New Zealand’s more persistent
challenges. Like other countries, New Zealand is debating the rights and responsibilities of citizens and the role of the state in the 21st century, as a platform for sustained improvements in economic development and social progress.

Long term benefit dependency - no inroads made yet

MSD now only reports duration of benefit as less or more than 1 year so I put in an OIA to get the breakdown they previously published. I've graphed some of the data supplied. The first compares 2008 to 2013:

It's not a great picture. But perhaps to be expected given the GFC. The ten years plus dependency is a worry. With our rapidly ageing population the numbers long-term dependent should be moving onto Super at a faster rate than prior yet the number has actually increased slightly.

The height of the GFC effect was in 2010 so it's worth looking at what improvement there has been since:

As you'd expect the shorter term dependants decreased. But the 4-10 years number increased and the ten plus number has barely budged.

If I use the National government's official definition of long-term dependent  - one year plus - the percentage has actually increased ever so slightly between 2010 and 2013 from 69 percent to 69.4 percent.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

David Cunliffe - a very unpleasant person

Keeping Stock has blogged about David Cunliffe's hour on NewstalkZB yesterday with Tim Fookes. It was an eye-opener for me, not a pleasant one. He is indeed a sneery, arrogant bully. And my post title reflects how he behaved towards the host at times, despite beginning most convivially.

But there was a bright moment (apart from when Cunliffe claimed John Key has more money than  God!?).

A caller rang in to ask Cunliffe why he wouldn't appear on a sister station's Farming Show. He replied that he had been advised not to because it had been rude to his predecessor. But in what you could hear the cogs of his mind churning as a magnanimous gesture on his part, he told the listener that, in future, he would appear.

How generous.

After Cunliffe left, Tim received a communication from the Farming Show team that he would not be invited on again any time soon. They had asked Shane Jones who had agreed to be their regular guest.

Outflanked again. Bad advice again.

Mr Cunliffe puts up an abrasive and aggressive front to control and to show he is in control. But there is a great deal of anger simmering which manifests in nastiness. And I don't think that anger is just the product of his opponents policies.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Daily Blog/Matt McCarten conspiracy theory busted

In February the Daily Blog screamed the headline, 

EXCLUSIVE: Billions of dollars stolen from the unemployed

EXCLUSIVE: Billions of dollars stolen from the unemployed - See more at:
which claimed a hundred thousand plus people were being denied an unemployment benefit.
The number of those on average receiving a benefit compared to the number of unemployed in the household survey is now about 130,000 fewer than it was in the late 1990s.
The missing 130,000 are the reason why so many social agencies are being inundated for help for food, clothing, shelter despite the so-called recovery in the economy over the last year...
tax cuts for the rich have been paid for by denying entitlements to the poorest and most vulnerable is theft from working people of about a billion dollars a year. It is time to get angry.
The tax cuts for the rich have been paid for by denying entitlements to the poorest and most vulnerable is theft from working people of about a billion dollars a year. It is time to get angry. - See more at:

Then Labour's Chief of Staff, Matt McCarten, still writing for the Herald on Sunday, picked up the accusation:

The 130,000 uncounted unemployed are officially invisible.
As such, they don't get a penny. The billion dollars they should be getting to survive keeps the government books nicely inflated.
It's not only cynically dishonest, but heartlessly cruel. Only totalitarian regimes get away with this.

So I asked the following question under the Official Information Act,  

In the years 2005 to 2013 how many unsuccessful applications for Unemployment Benefit were received/processed?

Here is the answer.

In December there were just over two and hundred fifty thousand people who were officially jobless. 130,000 people were receiving Jobseeker Support. Most of the balance have not applied. Indeed they may already be on other benefits. Those who did apply unsuccessfully, according to MSD,  "did not meet the criteria for an Unemployment Benefit" or presented with a "lack of evidence for eligibility."
The number of those on average receiving a benefit compared to the number of unemployed in the household survey is now about 130,000 fewer than it was in the late 1990s.
The missing 130,000 are the reason why so many social agencies are being inundated for help for food, clothing, shelter despite the so-called recovery in the economy over the last year.
- See more at:

Family structure and values strongly correlated to economic mobility

From NCPA today:
Thoughts on income inequality
...American Enterprise Institute Fellow Jonah Goldberg explains that liberals, in general, view inequality as a systemic problem -- that income is a sort of common good that should be distributed evenly. If it is not, the government or the system messed up. The right, he says, tend to see inequality as a symptom: if the poor are falling behind, it could be the result of poor job creation or stagnating wages. But Goldberg notes that inequality can largely be driven by non-economic issues. Family structure and values, he says, are much more strongly correlated with economic mobility than is income inequality.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Another murder. Another agonising heartbreak. Another perpetrator throws away their life.

Murders are fairly unremarkable in this country now.

Amy Elizabeth Farrall with her dog, Chop.

But as I look at this young woman, I wonder why?

Numbers of murders have increased dramatically in New Zealand. In the 1950s a total of 95 people were murdered – an annual average of 9.5. In the 1970s the total number of murders rose to 281 – almost three times as many as in the 1950s. In the 1980s and 1990s there were over 500 murders per decade. While the total number of murders dropped slightly in the first decade of the 21st century, an average of 54.6 people were murdered each year. New Zealand's population grew from 1.9 million in 1950 to 4.36 million in 2009, but this does not explain why murders increased fivefold.

Governments force up housing costs

Housing affordability isn't my subject but it's a given that government is behind many problems perceived as market-created by the Left.

The following supports the theory that government-limited land supply and barriers to building are significant factors in poor housing affordability.

From the Institute of Economic Affairs Kristian Niemietz looks at the affordability of property in Germany versus the UK. is true that you could do a lot worse than being a tenant in Germany. I lived in various rental properties for six years there and found it to be a relatively tenant-friendly market. Perhaps the best ‘soft indicator’ for this is the fact that people there rarely talk about housing, whereas in London, the topic is constantly under discussion. Germany has consistently released more land for development than the UK, and has therefore consistently achieved higher levels of housing development (see Graph 1).... Germany has no green belts, no ‘Campaign to Protect Rural Germany’ and no National Trust. NIMBY hysterics are generally treated with the contempt they deserve.
 Graph 1: Dwellings completed per 10,000 inhabitants, UK vs Germany

 Graph 2: Ratio of average house prices to average incomes, UK vs Germany (1995 = 100)
 , cvomment.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Remembering feminist spiel from the sixties

As a teenager I read a couple of feminist books like the Women's Room, bought into the ideas for a few ...days maybe. But with the heart and mind of an individualist, the idea of treating all males as a class with the same unappealing characteristics quickly grated with me.

Here's a reminder of what the feminists of those times believed:

Liberal feminist icon Gloria Steinem turns 80 today. She once said that “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

Yet for all her talk about equality and rights, one right she worked diligently to deny millions of both sexes was the right to be born and celebrate birthdays of their own. Once again, in her view, a “woman’s right” trumped the rights of another—in this case, an unborn child.

The fact the Supreme Court is hearing a case today about employers being forced to include abortion-inducing drugs in their health plans—even if it violates an employer’s conscience—is in many respects a testament to the work of Steinem and others. It’s a good example of how the “equal rights” she championed result in stepping on the rights of others.

The liberal sisterhood railed against a society they said encouraged women to stay at home and raise children. They demanded the marketplace open up more opportunities for women and pay them the same as men. Fine. But what about women who choose differently?

Today’s young women are empowered to choose career, family, and all sorts of combinations of both. But the words of Steinem and other liberal feminists revealed what they believed about American women…

Steinem: “[Housewives] are dependent creatures who are still children…parasites.”
Simone de Beauvoir: “No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”
Betty Friedan: “[Housewives] are mindless and thing-hungry…not people. [Housework] is peculiarly suited to the capacities of feeble-minded girls. [It] arrests their development at an infantile level, short of personal identity with an inevitably weak core of self…. [Housewives] are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps. [The] conditions which destroyed the human identity of so many prisoners were not the torture and brutality, but conditions similar to those which destroy the identity of the American housewife.”

Steinem has never been a fan of women who didn’t think like her or buy in to her radical feminist political agenda. “Having someone who looks like us but thinks like them (meaning men) is worse than having no one at all.”
So much for tolerance—and the belief that women are individuals who should be free to think and make choices for themselves.