Saturday, November 15, 2014

The more things change...November 15, 2014

Another example of the more things change, the more they stay the same. Not sure if this is a new feature of Papers Past or I simply hadn't noticed it previously, but 'computer generated' text provides a pastable version of an item. Here's one I enjoyed from the Evening Post 80 years ago today:

Three thousand million pounds was added to the world's wealth by the inventions of Thomas A. Edison. That estimate was used by Sir James Jeans, in his presidential address to 3000 members of the British Association, states the London "Daily Express." He gave an impassioned denial to the charge that science does more harm than good. Although some new inventions had thrown people out of work, he said, scientific discoveries had provided work for millions
"There are many who attribute most of our present national woes—including unemployment in industry and the danger of war—to the recent rapid advance in scientific knowledge," Sir James went on.
"It is obvious that the country which called a halt to scientific progress would soon fall behind in every other respect as well.
"Those who sigh for an Arcadia in which all the machinery would be swapped and all invention proclaimed a crime, as it was in Erewhon, forget that the Erewhonians had neither to compete with highly organised scientific competitors for the trade of the world, nor to protect themselves against possible bomb-dropping, blockade, or invasion. Scientific research has two products of industrial importance—the laboursaving inventions which displace labour and the more fundamental discoveries which may ultimately lead to new trades, and new popular demands providing employment for vast armies of labour.
"Our great need at the moment is tor industry-making discoveries. The investigator in pure science does not know whether his researches will result in a mere labour-saving device or a new industry. He only knows that if  all science were throttled down neither would result.The community would become crystallised in its present state, with nothing to do but watch its population increase, and shiver as it waited for the famine, pestilence, or war, which must inevitably come, to restore the balance between food and mouths, land and population.'' 

And the same anti-science sentiment survives. Here's an example from 1997:

Jeremy Rifkin
A technology revolution is fast replacing human beings with machines in virtually every sector and industry in the global economy. Already, millions of workers have been permanently eliminated from the economic process, and whole work categories and job assignments have shrunk, been restructured, or disappeared. Global unemployment has now reached its highest level since the great depression of the 1930s. More than 800 million human beings are now unemployed or underemployed in the world. That figure is likely to rise sharply between now and the turn of the century as millions of new entrants into the workforce find themselves without jobs.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

MSD recommends higher benefits to Minister

I've been monitoring the MSD site for the Briefing to the Incoming Minister for Social Development. It's still not there but the NZ Herald has it.

Simon Collins summarises what he thinks the stand out points are. A reference to benefit levels - especially the one that relates particularly to child poverty - appears.

A graph in the briefing paper shows that the income of a sole-parent beneficiary with one child has dropped by almost 20 per cent in real terms since 1983, while the net average ordinary-time wage has risen in real terms over the same period by more than 30 per cent.
"In light of the short and long-term costs of child poverty to individuals and communities and relatively flat trend lines in levels of child poverty and hardship, it is important to continue to make progress in this area," it says.
"Alleviating hardship for children in the 'here-and-now' is an investment to improve life chances and child wellbeing in other domains, and reduces the potential harm and costs (including economic costs) to society.
"Within this multi-pronged approach, options could be explored to review the adequacy of the existing transfer payments, notably in the case of families with children."

The 'here and now' phrase worries me. That is exactly what increases future risk.

In short MSD are recommending to the Minister that sole parent benefit levels should rise despite the proven risks that this will result in more single parents and more unemployed households.

By the way, the graph is lifted from the Household Incomes Report (C.8) which states,

"None of the scenario lines include the Accommodation Supplement or the subsidy received by those on income-related rents vis-à-vis market rents."

The same applies to C.7 which fills out the picture. When a typical South Auckland accommodation supplement is added the SPS (ex DPB) with two children rises to $642 weekly:


Update: Received a link in a subscription e-mail posted at 5.00am this morning. Simon Collins sure reads and writes fast.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

'Long term' unemployed numbers falling

I do wonder why MSD publishes a "snapshot" of Jobseeker data in November which is only current to June. But here is their latest installment showing progress towards BPS target depicting people continuously receiving Jobseeker Support for 12 or more months:

 As at the end of June 2014, 67,531 clients were continuously receiving Jobseeker Support for more than 12 months.

With the unemployment rate dropping you would expect the trend to continue.

As noted in the Result Action Plan for Reducing Long-term Welfare Dependence, a breakdown of client groups most at risk of staying on a benefit for longer periods is provided below. As at the end of June 2014, these client groups consisted of:
  • 21,995 Māori (a 1.6 per cent decrease from the March 2014 quarter)
  • 4,550 Pasifika (a 3.6 per cent decrease from the March 2014 quarter)
  • 6,850 Youth (a 2.1 per cent decrease from the March 2014 quarter).

This is also in line with the HLFS employment data which shows the Maori unemployment rate is not falling as fast as Pasifika.

Numbers on the Supported Living Payment (generally ex Invalid Benefit) are static:

 Supported Living Payment numbers 2009-2014

 Numbers on Sole Parent Support are declining slightly:

Sole Parent Support numbers 2009-2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Incredible cost escalation or incredibly bad reporting?

I listened to TV3 News coverage of the Glenn Inquiry report wondering why the media never questions the info they are fed in press releases (see previous post).

But it gets worse than just repeating spoon fed lines.

The reporter worriedly asserted:

The Glenn Inquiry warns if child abuse and domestic violence aren't curbed in 10 years' time, it will cost New Zealand $80 billion a year. 

That would be around 44% of the country's GDP!!  Didn't anyone writing or reading this news item say, hang on a minute, that can't be right.

The original Glenn Inquiry media statement said:

At this rate, the accumulated costs over the next 10 years could approach $80 billion.

In part I blame the authors of the original statement for using tricky means to blow up costs. But for TV3 to misread and report the statistics so poorly is pathetic.

Glenn Report says family violence costs are soaring

From Scoop:

Study Exposes Soaring Cost of Abuse

10 November 2014
Study Exposes Soaring Cost of Abuse
Child abuse and violence between partners are estimated to be costing New Zealand up to $7 billion a year and rising, an economic impact study conducted for the Glenn Inquiry has concluded.
This is seven times more than what it was costing 20 years ago, and equates to 60 percent of New Zealand’s total dairy export earnings in 2013. The abuse and violence is nearly twice as costly per head of population here as it is in Australia.
At this rate, the accumulated costs over the next 10 years could approach $80 billion.

Estimations of these kinds always make me suspicious and cynical.

So the cost was $1 billion in 1994 and is 7 times that today.

Where did the original figure come from?

It seems Suzanne Snively and Coopers and Lybrand did a report for MSD which was published in the Social Policy Journal in 1995. Women's Refuge refer to it,

" In 1996, economist Suzanne Snively estimated the cost of domestic violence in New Zealand to be between $1.2 and $5.8 billion per annum."

So up to $5.8 billion in 1995 and up to $7 billion in 2014.

Adjusting for inflation would push the 1995 figure above $7 billion.

On what basis can these costs be described as "soaring?"