Friday, May 02, 2014

Crime: 1978 versus 2013

Earlier in the week I took issue with Judith Collins' remark about crime now being at 1978 rates.

In 1978 according to the NZ Yearbook there were 282,656  offences reported to the Police. Statistics NZ Infoshare however shows a considerably lower number of 245,640. Apparently 1978 for the first year of Wanganui computer-generated statistics which had an "inflationary effect". In 2013 there were 360,411 offences. But what about the nature of the crime?

I've used the categorisation from the 1978 Yearbook to make a comparisons between then and now (p7).

Under violence I have included homicide and related offences; acts intended to cause injury; dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons; abduction, harassment and other related offences against a person. No surprise that violence is much higher. Property damage in 2013 also includes environmental/pollution abuses. As mentioned earlier, traffic offences do not form part of the 2013 total.

Another point that hasn't been raised in regard to falling crime - the ageing population. Most crime is committed by young men. That group is shrinking proportionately. So current demographic trends would lead to an expectation of falling crime rates when measured per head of population (which is what Collins is doing).

UK: Neuroscience and intervention policy

An interesting debate at the Guardian has caught my attention this morning. In a nutshell the journalist is questioning the neuroscience that finds neglect of babies retards brain development and leads to intervention policies:

Is misused neuroscience defining early years and child protection policy?

The idea that a child's brain is irrevocably shaped in the first three years increasingly drives government policy on adoption and early childhood intervention. But does the science stand up to scrutiny?

A letter was published from a responding Harvard Professor:

Early neglect does affect brain development

The ramifications of policy predicated on science is the real sore point. The journalist concludes with quotes from a critic of intervention, Sue White, but does not describe her capacity or profession:

Attachment is fascinating as an idea; when it hardens into science, which is inchoate but treated as fact, its consequences can be devastating. White concludes: "There is an argument for removing children, a precautionary principle argument. You can say, 'Right, let's remove all children who are in suboptimal parenting situations.' You can do it. Regimes have done that, over the years. But we're not having those debates. What we're having is this misuse of the neuroscientific evidence, to suggest that it's very dangerous for children to be left in certain situations. I'm not talking about leaving them in situations where they're at risk of injury or sexual abuse, more: 'Your mum's in a bit of a mess, she's drinking a bit and not interacting with you optimally and she's also poor, which is why she's not been able to keep the state out of it.' It's only when the children who've been removed grow up, and ask, 'But did anybody try to help my mum?' That's what you would ask, isn't it?"

A reasonable question. But should the child remain in her care whilst she is receiving assistance which may or may not be successful? I am reminded of the approach with Northern Territory Aboriginal children. I may be doing it a disservice but in some cases the parents have been written off and their children put into the care of grandparents. Removal of children is such a difficult area. But the child's interests must trump the parent's in my view. The opposite view puts the parent's - usually the mother's interests and rights - first. But even separating the interests of both is fraught.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Cartoon of the Day

Dealing with bigots

My kids have been interested in the Clippers controversy. The 15 year-old thinks Sterling should have either  been laughed off the planet or ignored. The 20 year-old is worried about the 'thought police' and privacy  issues. As awful as Sterling's sentiments are - and we are all staggered by them - does he have a right to express them privately? Do we all say things to family that we wouldn't say publicly? Programmes like Family Guy and The Simpsons, Little Britain and even Seven Days encourage politically incorrect humour. In our house we laugh about all sorts of things that accepted modern 'wisdom' would have us cringe at. Occasionally someone says something outrageous in the act of caricaturing a bigot. The next person will looked stunned momentarily then we'll fall about.

Joking aside - and Sterling wasn't - I can't resolve the issue of privacy invasion and when it is justified.

Anyway the following is a good column about how to deal with bigots. Readable and hard to argue with:

Statists have long taken libertarians to task for opposing mandatory integration laws and defending the right of bigoted owners of business establishments to discriminate against people on the basis of race. They inevitably accuse of libertarians of being racists themselves or supporting racial bigotry by virtue of libertarian opposition to mandatory integration laws.
What statists just don’t get, however, is: one, the importance of principle when it comes to individual liberty, and, two, that the free market, not governmental coercion, is the best way to deal with racial bigotry.
No better example of the libertarian position can be found than the current controversy surrounding Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling was caught on tape making prejudicial remarks against blacks to his girlfriend, even exhorting her to not associate with blacks.
Yet, let’s notice something important here: Most of the Clipper team is composed of blacks!
How is that possible? Here you have an owner who is clearly prejudiced against blacks and who obviously does not want to associate with them. Why in the world does he have so many blacks on his basketball team? Why not instead hire mostly whites?
The answer is very simple: Sterling’s love of the color green trumps his dislike of the color black.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Who is Judith Collins kidding

According to WhaleOil:

Post of the Day – Judith Collins

Judith Collins posted to Facebook this photo of herself in 1978…the last time that crime rates were as low as they are now.

OK. We are not stupid.

In 1978 the population was 3.1 million. Today it is 4.4 million.

In 1978 there were 282,656 crimes  reported to police.

In 2013 there were 360,411 recorded crimes.

So allowing for population growth, Collins' claim  is feasible

But what kind of crime are we talking about?

While it is impossible to make 'apples with apples' comparisons due to changes in crime categorisation, some broad comparisons can be made.

Assuming imprisonment reflects severity of crime,

At January 1 1978 there were 2,860 "persons in prison".

At December  2013 the prisoner population was 8,223.

In 1978 14 individuals were sentenced for murder in the Supreme Court.

In 2013 there were '83 homicides and related offences'.

In 1978 traffic offences were still included in recorded crime statistics - 17,626 of them.

Is there any reader who remembers 1978 and believes that NZ was a more lawful, less violent country in 2013?

210,000 children on welfare

At the end of last year 210,000 children were on welfare. The NZCCSS has the breakdown in its latest Vulnerability Report.

There are around 1.07 million children aged 17 and younger. So roughly 1 in 5 is dependent on a benefit.

In the poorest deciles maybe 2 or 3 children  in every five. And the younger the child the higher the likelihood is.

It's been worse in the past, but for a long time now, it hasn't been much better.

Even in 2007/08, when NZ had really low unemployment, the number still failed to drop below 200,000.

This is a problem that needs to be fixed. National has made, as Don Brash puts it, "a useful beginning".

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services, by the way, wants more 'children' on benefits:

“NZCCSS members are beginning to see a greater number of young people appearing at their centres seeking support”, says McGlinchey. “This indicates there is likely to be more young people who are not receiving the support they need from the social welfare system. These young people may be relying on their parents’ and friends’ already stretched resources, or just going without. They should have access to good quality education, training and jobs – or if this is not available a liveable benefit”.

Sue Bradford - capitalist mouthpiece?

When you think about the extreme Left in New Zealand, who comes to mind? John Minto, Hone Harawira, Metiria Turei, Annette Sykes, Sue Bradford?

Comically, the World Socialist Web Site views these individuals as psuedo-leftists at best. Capitalist sell-outs otherwise. In an article about the prospective Mana/ KimDotcom alliance, which Sue Bradford cotinues to shun, the writer foams:

Bradford’s entire political history has been as a mouthpiece for a succession of capitalist parties, including the Alliance, the Greens and now Mana.

Who knew it?

But I feel sympathy for Sue getting bagged. For those who live politics and dream change BUT try to work within the bounds of reality, it's a thankless task.

She has my respect. More than she can get from the Marxists.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Who won't be advantaged by the VSR?

  Kiwiblog posts:

Labour proposes a cut in everyone’s after tax income

April 29th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar David Parker has announced:
Introduce a new tool – a variable savings rate or VSR – allowing the Bank to vary savings rates (which would be universal under ) as an alternative to raising the OCR to take the heat out of the economy. This VSR would mean Kiwis would pay money to their retirement savings instead of higher mortgage payments to overseas banks.
Something that people should be aware of is that only a relatively small proportion of households or earners have a mortgage. While a VSR will impact every single person who earns money, by lowering their take home pay to reduce inflation.

I heard Larry Williams make a similar remark tonight so wanted to verify what a "relatively small" proportion is.

According to Families Commission research, Beyond Reasonable Debt:

Relatively few families have mortgages (26 percent of single families and 55 percent of couple families).
So three quarters of single families and nearly half of couple families will be disadvantaged by the VSR in the short term (and there is no cast-iron guarantee KiwiSaver will deliver in the long-term).

Lost location

Having finished my last commission I found myself with studio time to fill and nothing in particular to paint. I found a photo on the Internet and thought I'd have a crack using a palette knife and crescent board. That absorbs the oil from the paint very quickly and thus dries fast. Here's the result. It's only small, around A4. Problem is I don't know what to call it because I can't find the photo again. Anyone recognize the river and backdrop?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Recent portraits

Just updating my artist blog so have cross-posted here.

I was proud to call Wim Verhoeven  a friend of mine. A gentleman of  enormous integrity and kindness, and a staunch, active believer in individual rights and freedom. I am sure some of my blog readers will remember him with fondness. Here's a pastel I did for his son Terry late last year.

Then, Mrs Connell, whose portrait I painted for her lovely husband. He came to collect it last week and was thrilled. I didn't know her and worked from a small photo on funeral service memorial notes creating a 500 x 400mm oil. She looks like she made the most of life.