Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Scotsman: A "monstrous invasion of family life"

Extremism in Scotland.

Could it happen here?  Quite possibly. Never under-estimate the state's inclination to summon and impose seemingly easy solutions to difficult problems. Legislators have to justify their salaries.
OPPONENTS of controversial plans to introduce a “state guardian” for every child in Scotland will step up their campaign with a major conference next week.
MSPs, academics, social work experts and medics will gather in Edinburgh prior to a £30,000 court battle aimed at derailing the Scottish Government proposals.
Holyrood passed legislation this year which will mean every child in Scotland is given a designated “named person” – usually a health visitor or teacher – who will be a point of contact for families, but also monitor the child’s welfare and development.
The government insists that mothers and fathers are still, in most cases, the best people to raise their children and the new scheme will not change this when it is rolled out in August 2016.
However, many groups see the move as an intrusion into the traditional role of the family and say the Scottish Government has gone “too far”.
One described it as a “monstrous invasion of family life”.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

The convenience of cannabis contradiction

While leader of the Mana Party is steadfastly opposed to tobacco and cannabis...

RACHEL Decriminalise marijuana you would oppose that.

HONE: That’s a personal position I've taken, it's not a position that Mana's taken, but it's a personal position I've taken. And I take it because I'm not one of those like liberals for whom that sort of thing is cool. I see how marijuana leads to dead eyes in some of the kids that we have to teach. I see how it leads to dead eyes in the families that I've gotta go and talk to because my wife who's a Principal makes me go and see some of these families. I see the problems, and so when people talk about decriminalisation at that level, I think to myself it's not actually one of the major priorities in my life.

...leader of the Internet Party, Laila Harre has announced that her preference is for decriminalisation.

That works well for them. They can individually promise to keep voters with a strong preference either way satisfied.  At least on intent. They can have their on-line policy debate and both sides win!

Upshot? No loss of votes for the Internet/Mana alliance. Quite probably some gain from previous NZALCP and Green voters.

Ah, the vagaries of political pragmatism.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The living wage effect and EMTRs

Two parking wardens who will receive $4 an hour extra under the Wellington City Council's adoption of a living wage each have a partner and a 4 month-old baby. Both say that they will be able to reduce their work hours due to the increase, and spend more time with their families. One from 75 hours down to 40 and the other from 50 down to 40.

That sounds nice. Though some might think, wouldn't you take the opportunity to earn the extra money with a young family to support?

Except there may not be any extra money. Both of these men will be receiving WFF and possibly an accommodation supplement. At the higher pay rate, if they work longer hours they may lose their other subsidies. In fact, they may be working for nothing. That doesn't make any sense.

What these two men may be is a prime example of is how high effective marginal tax rates reduce work effort.

But it also shows that their original wage (combined with state subsidies) was a livable =  living income.

Some of the support for the living wage was based on the assumption that government wouldn't have to subsidise workers to the extent they do now. In fact Bill English said:
The analysis shows that the “living wage” would least help low-income families whose welfare support would abate as their income rose. In those cases, the main beneficiary of the living wage would effectively be the Government because it would receive more in tax and pay out less through abated transfers.
Who picked that these struggling low wage families would simply reduce their hours?

On the upside, at least they are parking wardens.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Frank Macskasy responds

Frank Macskasy responds to my letter.

Couple of points Frank. I don't agree with corporate welfare but subsidies to the film industry and Rio Tinto don't reduce what is available for spending on the poor. They protect government revenue and jobs.

You complain about tax cuts, which "include Working for Families". WFF featured more than one increase to Family Support (now FTC) aimed at children of beneficiaries. In real terms FTC is now worth considerably more than in the early 1990s.

The fact that I disagree with your strategy for lifting the poor doesn't mean I disagree with the goal.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Support for the Greens carbon tax surprises

The Taxpayer's Union has come out in support of a carbon tax that is revenue neutral. On balance they find it preferable to the Emissions Trading Scheme.

I wonder why we need either.

The only answer (for believers in anthropogenic global warming) is that NZ can make a difference by once again leading the world; that we can and must save the planet; that the price we pay will be worth it when we write our country's name into the history books.  It's seductive for some.

And an unrealistic romantic notion for others.

NZ didn't lead the world when it introduced the Old Age Pension. And it barely led the world when giving women the vote (as a very young country NZ didn't face the inertia inherent in long-established parliamentary institutions but the suffragette activity was rife elsewhere). The 1938 Social Security Act happened around the same time as the Beveridge reforms in the UK and was pre-dated by the US Social Security Act of 1935. Recognition for Maori inclusion in mainstream legislative entitlements - and later, new benefits driven partially by Maori activism - occurred while awareness of civil rights grew in the US. Etc.

There is contagion between continents. Social, economic and now environmental issues beset and bother the developed world at pretty much the same time. They did a hundred years ago even without the immediacy of communication.

So kidding ourselves that Kiwis are going to once more set a precedent that cannot conscionably be ignored by countries emitting mega-multiplied emissions, is just pie in the sky.

More welfare changes on the way

The government has announced a rewrite of the Social Security 1964 Act, which is a massive maze of dated legislation.

I note that the cabinet minutes say:

- a rewrite of the Act would mean all aspects of the benefit system, including recent reforms, would be open for debate through the parliamentary process

- the rewrite [would] include consideration of policy change....[including] providing support for redirection of benefit payments and use of payment cards

An extension of 'income management' currently utilised for young beneficiaries was always on the cards. But there are other specific areas for reform including the way in which incomes are assessed against benefits.

There seems to be concern that the level of public interest will be high and that some of the proposals may contravene the Human Rights Act or the NZBOR. My reading of  this is a desire to provide more targeted assistance (or, indeed, method of support) over universal and that could raise issues of discrimination. But I am open to correction.

Proposals for policy changes are invited from the Minister to the Cabinet Social Policy Committee by the end of this year, with the new legislation introduced by December 2015.

Despite the press release claiming, "This work can’t be rushed," this is National pushing change along very quickly - par for the course over the first two terms.

Now all they need to do is get re-elected.

(After-thought. This presents ACT with a great opportunity to get some serious welfare reforms on the table.)

Sunday, June 01, 2014

I only date boys...

Keeping Stock blogs about this example of Green merchandising:

Which got me imagining other party stickers:

Mana - I only date boys my Dad let's me

NZ First - I only date boys with hair like Winston Peters and their own Zimmer frame

Conservative - I only date boys sporting a chastity pledge

NZALCP - I only date boys with bongs

National - I only date boys with big bank accounts

ACT - I only date boys who know how may angels can dance on a pinhead

Labour - I only date boys

I'm sure you can do better.