Saturday, June 14, 2014

Red Alert - not so alert

Blogs reflect the level of interest, enthusiasm and commitment the blogger/s feel.

Labour's MP blog, Red Alert, used to be a very active place.

In election year an upsurge in activity would be expected.

Since the election date was announced on March 10, there have been 4 posts.

In April there were 0 posts compared to 18 in April 2013 and 49 in April 2012.

And I don't accept that MPs are simply too busy campaigning to contribute. Social media is a hugely important part of the campaign.

So what do you take from this?

Does Labour look like a party remotely interested in winning an election?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Instinct and babies

"I brought a baby into the world but I still had no idea how to raise her, how to change her, how to feed her properly....I had no idea at the time Del-C was born that when she cried it meant she was wet or hungry."
I read this out to my 15 year-old daughter and asked,  Would you know why a baby was crying? Well, yes, she answered. Usually if someone cries there's something wrong so you try to figure out what it is.

What is that? Commonsense? Or instinct? I thought a mother's response to her baby crying was instinctive. Does everything have to be spelt out?

She then said, When I'm older I should get a job inventing lame, pathetic excuses for people. I'd be really good at it. Better than that anyway.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Foster mother writes book about her dealings with CYF

Sean Plunket interviewed author Karen Scott this morning. RadioNZ has done likewise:
Child, Youth and Family's (CYF) fostering system is failing the children it is meant to be protecting, a foster mother has told Nine to Noon.
Karen Scott said she and her husband took in a five-year-old boy who had been removed from his father's care, and told Nine to Noon why after two years she felt she had no choice but to ask CYF to take him back.

She clearly loved this child but he had psychological problems (culminating?) in killing a family cat. That is not reported in the article on Radio NZ and I have not listened to their interview. But the woman seemed genuine, quite heartbroken in having to relinquish the child, and wracked with guilt about whether her actions had affected her own and husband's children.

When describing her experience with CYF she was not damning of individuals, just the system and processes they had to work with. Resolving small matters could take inordinate time (when the boy needed a haircut CYF were worried about cultural sensitivity). But important stuff, like trying to get professional help for the child, seemed impossible.

Sean said that there were times when reading the book he wasn't sure about his own response and that it is a hard read. But he applauded her bravery in writing the book.

(I note RadioNZ does not name the book which is called Another Mother's Love)

In 2011 Karen Scott and Mark Finlay and their six children opened their home and hearts to a sad, skinny five-year-old boy who was placed with them by New Zealand's Child, Youth and Family services. James arrived with nothing other than the clothes he was wearing, supposedly for just a short-term stay. But what followed were two turbulent years as Karen and Mark attempted to parent a very troubled young boy.
Another Mother's Love is a heart-wrenching account of a mother's attempt to nurture her foster child with unconditional love and kindness. However, is love enough? Karen and Mark faced a harrowing decision – to give up James or risk their family's future.

Listening I formed a mental picture of CYF putting a troubled child with new foster parents and hoping like hell that the new family and environment would work...multiplied across many, many more families.

Top heavy populations

NCPA reports about Social Security for retirees:

As baby boomers transition into retirement, the system will see serious strains. Within 15 years, the number of Americans reaching retirement age will increase by a staggering 70 percent, while the number of Americans of working age will increase by just 6 percent.
  • In 1935, when the program started, 17 workers paid for the benefits of one retiree. By 2035, estimates indicate that just two workers will be paying for the benefits of a single retiree.
  • The program is expected to run out of funds by 2038.

And this is the US, a country that shares fertility rates at or above replacement with NZ, reasonably rare amongst English-speaking countries. Many European and Asian nations are in more precarious positions.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Heads you lose, tails you lose

The Guardian reports on the predicted increase in domestic violence during the football World Cup:

The most detailed research into the links between the football World Cup and domestic abuse rates has revealed that in one force area in England and Wales, violent incidents increased by 38% when England lost – but also rose by 26% when they won.
The after match violence is predominantly male-perpetrated but not solely:

In the past few weeks, officers have drawn up a list of 117 high-risk and high-frequency perpetrators – 110 men and seven women – using intelligence drawn from domestic abuse data, risk assessments and football violence data.
The individuals will be visited at home by officers and warned not to vent their feelings on their partners. Essex police are also running a high-profile social media and advertising campaign – informed by interviews with victims of domestic abuse – to raise awareness of the crime's prevalence, highlight that victims can be male, female, gay or straight, and call on the public to stand together to fight it.
I recall attending a game at Old Trafford in the late 1980s and marvelling at the highly effective use of mounted horses to back into groups and disperse violent scuffles. Not much use in a small terrace house though.