Thursday, December 31, 2015

Income support by age

The graph above depicts incomes support by age.

I had to make it double axis or it would have been very tall.

The left-hand axis and grey columns show numbers of Super and Veteran pension recipients.

The right-hand axis and coloured lines show numbers of working-age benefit recipients.

Obviously the growth in Super is large at 49% between 2005 and 2015. In behind the 64+ is a steady but small rise of 55-64 year-olds. Interesting that that age band did not change with the recession. Probably because most are not working due to some form of physical incapacity. Their numbers are not affected by changes in the labour market.

The 18-24 and 40-54 are more-or-less back to where the number lay in 2005 (though the rates would be lower as the relevant populations are higher).

The biggest drop in any age group is among 25-39. This is probably partly due to the growth rate in sole parent employment.

It's great that working age benefit numbers are declining albeit slowly. Currently 10.2% of the 18-64 population relies on a benefit. In 2005 it was 12%; in 2000 it was near to 17%

But we need those numbers to keep falling because government expenditure on income support for 64+ will continue to climb quite steeply over the coming years.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

'Investment' if you want more of it

In today's NZ Herald Child Poverty Group spokeswoman Susan St John writes,

"A shameful disparity between the treatment of children in families who can work enough paid hours, and those children whose families cannot, means in practice New Zealand has two classes of low-income children. The "in work" worthy can be supported to the full extent of the social security legislation, and the children of the unworthy, the outcasts: beneficiaries, disproportionately the disabled, Maori or Pasifika, many with chronic illness, are consigned to remain in poverty.

The parents of the "undeserving children" may struggle in a casualised labour market, on low wages or with redundancies, or in the aftermath of disasters. Irrespective of the cause of low income, regardless of circumstance, all children could and should be afforded the same tax-funded child payments to ensure an adequate standard of living."

You cannot isolate a child from its parent. So in effect she wants all parents to be treated the same whether or not they work. This involves far more than the $25 benefit rise for parents scheduled for next year.

St John wants to increase  "....child assistance by $72.50 a week for the very poorest families" and add "...$100 a week to the newborn's Family Tax Credit for one year for those who don't get paid parental leave."

"...spending of an extra $1 billion per annum is required immediately. This is what an "investment approach" to child poverty should look like."

An investment if more child poverty is what's wanted. How so?

With massive increases like these, having children becomes the way to (initially secure and) increase income. Because these children are being produced by people who have only a thought for the present, their life chances will be compromised. For example the parent who cares more for money than for their child's future will stay out of work and fail to set any example of industry and sacrifice. Or they will live in areas where there are no economic opportunities or prospects for offspring to do anything else but become the next generation of individuals who parent- for- an- income.

And who needs a husband or partner when the state is a better provider? So more sole parents....and more poverty. And more calls from CPAG to raise benefits...

It's time to stop throwing good money after bad and accept that strong family structure and work ethic are the two most important safeguards against poverty.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Historical 'rape'

Pertinent, and I'll make no comment other than I subscribe to The Scotsman because Scotland and New Zealand have surprisingly similar social dysfunction 'statistics':
THERE has been a five-fold increase in the number of rape and attempted rape cases in the High Court linked to domestic abuse over the last four years, figures show.
According to the Crown Office, there were 435 rape or attempted rape cases in the High Court in 2014/15 where domestic abuse was an aggravating factor, compared with 88 in 2010/11.
Prosecutors said the steep rise was due to changes in legislation and an increase in the number of historical crimes being reported.
But charities said Police Scotland’s pro-active approach to tackling domestic abuse was also having an impact.
The number of domestic abuse charges marked for the sheriff court was 31,373 in 2014/15, compared to 20,673 in 2011/12 – an increase of over 50 per cent.
Sandy Brindley, national coordinator for Rape Crisis Scotland, said police had adopted a new tactic of speaking to ex-partners of men being investigated in domestic abuse cases.
Oh bugger it. I will make one more comment. When the policing and justice system operates with a bias, the benefactor can be expected to exploit it.

And that is doubly worrying in view of the last piece of the article above.

Hell hath no fury etc.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The answer is 197 or 5.7%

Sorry for the delay in providing the answer to my previous post question. I received a new lap top for Christmas (the old one was repeatedly over-heating and shutting down) and the transfer of data has taken time.

The Hutt Valley DHB screening process found 197 of the 3, 458 woman questioned disclosed physical abuse at home. That's 5.7%. S Beast guessed 5-15%.

This result is remarkably similar to that found by the 2014 NZCSS, which found 6% of women and 4% of men "to be the victim of a violent interpersonal offence by an intimate partner in 2013".

"The New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey (NZCASS) is a face-to-face survey of almost 7000 randomly chosen people living in New Zealand who are aged 15 or over.

The NZCASS has been carried out three times: 2014, 2009 and 2006."

The good news is the 5% of people who were victimised by an intimate partner in 2013 was down from 7% in 2008.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Have a guess

A couple of days back I was questioning Jan Logie's claim that 70 percent of sole parents on income support were leaving or had come from violent relationships.

Just yesterday a relevant piece appeared in the Hutt News which highlighted local levels of family violence by screening women presenting at Hutt Hospital.

"During the year ending June 30, 2015, 3,458 women were asked if they had been subjected to physical abuse in their home.
Every woman presenting at one of the hospital's key high risk areas - emergency department, child health, special care baby unit, medical assessment and planning unit and maternity - was screened unless it was inappropriate to do so because children or a controlling partner were present....every mother was asked at least three times during her pregnancy, again if she gave birth at the hospital, and a Plunket nurse might ask later."

So how many do you think disclosed being subjected to physical violence?

(Yes there are too many unknown factors to make an educated guess but have a crack at it anyway.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Govt moves on Sole Parent Support again

The legislation required to increase benefits by $25 next April to families with children is currently passing through parliament. The bill is called the Support for Children in Hardship Bill.

Naturally the opposition will have to support the government bill. But they aren't happy.

That's because National is taking the opportunity to make another change.

At the moment sole parents are required to work (or look for work) averaging at least 15 hours per week when their youngest starts school.

The bill changes that requirement to an average of 20 hours per week when the youngest child turns 3.

That was what the Welfare Working Group recommended in 2011.

In fact Anne Tolley makes mention of it during the debate:

"The Opposition often talks about Norway, and how they do things in Norway. It was interesting to see that France, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland have a work expectation for people receiving a benefit when their youngest child is 3 years of age. A range of other countries have work expectations at an earlier age, including Sweden, Japan, and Denmark, which is another country that is often quoted to us as one that we should take notice of. In Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Japan, and Sweden all sole parents are subject to a work test, regardless of the child’s age. So, actually, what we are doing here in New Zealand is consistent with international practice.

Finally, I refer to the Welfare Working Group from 2011, which recommended that sole parent beneficiaries should be required to seek part-time paid work of at least 20 hours per week once their youngest child is 3 years of age. Of course, we did not implement that—we did not go as far as that. But having seen, then, the success and the number of sole parents with children younger than 5 going into part-time work, we are very confident that the obligations we are placing in this bill will have a great long-term effect for those families—for both the mothers and for their children, long term. So I think the evidence has been well presented. It is very clear. It is well supported.

I refer the Opposition to the comments of Dr Lance O’Sullivan, who was last year’s New Zealander of the Year, who supported the proposals from the Government at the time they were announced. He stated—and, again, we have good evidence that shows it—that children from vulnerable families at risk, which we know many of those children in sole parent, benefit-dependent homes are, will benefit the most from having access to early childhood education. So the 20 hours’ early childhood education will provide those children with learning opportunities and with socialisation, and we think that that has good long-term benefits for those children."

Of course it still won't make any difference to those sole parents who choose to live where work opportunities are scarce.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Typically dodgy claim from Green MP

A report in the DomPost this morning:

"...Green Party social development spokeswoman Jan Logie said international evidence shows about 70 per cent of people seeking income support are in a violent relationship so many more people should be receiving an exemption."

That was news to me.

She also recently said in Parliament:

"I really have to remind this Committee, again, of the fact that there is international research, which indicative research in New Zealand backs up, that 70 percent of these sole parents are likely to be leaving violent relationships."

So a did a bit of googling.

Here is the Australian research:

"This paper summarises the findings from a study investigating aspects of single mothers’ experiences of transition and adaptation to living as a single parent in South Australia in the 1990s.  The qualitative research traced 36 respondents’ decision making, and the events surrounding their entry into sole parent status and subsequent adaptation.....The women in this study were drawn from the group at highest risk of violence - single women who had previously had a partner.  Just over half the sample (55 percent) had ever experienced physical or sexual assault by a former partner and/or other family member.  Of the twenty survivors of violent assaults, ten had first been abused in childhood, and eight of these had also experienced violent adult relationships.  Of the 29 separated mothers, seventy-two percent nominated violence as the reason their relationship ended....
All respondents had claimed income support at the time they became single mothers.
The research sample was drawn from a range of sources in South Australia including 8 women from a parent community of a primary school in a low socio-economic region of metropolitan Adelaide, 6 clients from a sole parent resource centre, 2 students from Flinders University, 10 referrals from respondents and 10 mothers from Whyalla.  Recruitment of respondents was undertaken by a combination of notices at venues which mothers attended, invitation by the researcher and referrals from respondents.  Thirty percent of the respondents were aged between 25 and 34, whilst 60 percent were aged between 35 and 45.  Just over half the sample had been a single parent for less than five years and 70 percent had one or two children.
The sample was grouped for analysis into mothers who gave birth alone (n=7), mothers who separated from non-violent relationships (n=11) and mothers who separated from violent relationships (n=18).....
The findings from the study  highlight the compounding ways in which violence against women and children is a critical factor impacting on the population of single parents in Australia.  The National Council of Single Mothers and their Children’s (NCSMC) member organisation in South Australia, Spark Resource Centre, has consistently identified that between seventy and eighty percent of clients presenting at the Centre are survivors of violence.  Their presenting problems include poverty, homelessness, being unable to protect themselves or  their children from abuse during contact, children’s behavioural problems arising from violence and feelings of rejection and stigma from wider society."

The research is biased. 10 respondents were referrals. The consistent identification of violence survivors comes from those who turn up at resource centres. It'd be like doing a survey at Women's Refuge.

Qualitative research does not allow conclusions to be drawn across the whole population.

Getting back to the reason Jan Logie was making this claim - to ensure certain sole parents aren't work-tested - why is it the Greens think that discouraging women from developing a new support network of friends and co-workers and leaving the isolation of being benefit-dependent and easy prey for a ne'er-do-well, is such a bad thing?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Govt predicts higher child assault numbers in 2016

It's a mystery to me how the projections are made but it's pretty grim.

 "...we are working to reduce the number of assaults on children. By
2017, we aim to halt the 10-year rise in the number of children experiencing physical
abuse, and reduce the current numbers (2011) by five percent. This is a complicated
area of work and the answers are not simple. Long-term success and sustainability will
be challenging."

To be fair at least the govt has been prepared to try new approaches in this area. They want to give more autonomy to the people who live and work in the communities with these children and enable each agent to communicate with the other:

"Children’s Teams are one of the tangible ways in which we are integrating our
support for children at risk. They bring together professionals from iwi/Mäori,
health, education, welfare and social service agencies to work with children and
their families.....The Children’s Action Plan Directorate is currently developing the Vulnerable Kids
Information System (ViKI). ViKI will be an essential tool to enable Children’s Teams to
identify, respond to, and reduce child vulnerability. ViKI will be implemented in phases,
with the first phase supporting the Hamilton Children’s Team....There are currently four Children’s Teams which were established in 2013 and 2014.
These are in Rotorua, Whangarei, Horowhenua/Ōtaki and Marlborough. The remaining
sites yet to go live are in Hamilton, Tairawhiti (Gisborne), Eastern Bay of Plenty,
Christchurch, Whanganui and Clendon/Manurewa/Papakura."

Some of those teams might be up and running since the publication of the report.

But whether the new ways of working can be supported is a further question:

"It is not a simple task to manage transformational business change while also managing
the rise in demand for services in the face of rising prices. To add to the complication of
cost pressures, two large programmes of work (Children’s Action Plan (CAP) and Child,
Youth and Family service delivery changes) were funded on a one-off basis." 
Step back for a moment though.

It has to be asked why New Zealand has come to this.

Pumping money into poor communities through benefits that are supposed to improve the lives of children, only to have to pump in more and more for (sometimes futile) efforts to keep those children safe. 

 The number of children who experienced substantiated physical abuse in the 12 months to 30 June 2015.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

10 years blogging

Image result for birthday cake with 10 candlesYesterday marked ten years of blogging. Over 5,000 posts and I still don't necessarily know what I think about any given subject; or have the answers; or understand the sum of the facts. But on one matter I am consistently provoked enough to keep going. And it's not welfare. I am having difficulty encapsulating what it is. Perhaps it's just low-grade thinking, of which there is no shortage proliferating politics, academia and the media. Rarely a day passes without someone or something setting off my bull-shit detector. Very occasionally they are false alarms highlighting my own prejudices. Sometimes the energy and/or time isn't available to address the offence. And they will most certainly run out before the transgressions do.....

No matter. I celebrated with a good dose of Billy Connolly. May I recommend him next time you are feeling overwhelmed by mush and mediocrity, and desperate to shut out the 'stupid' world.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Latest OECD data on pension qualification and affordability

Summarised by the US Social Security department:

"The report presents a number of aging-related statistics for the OECD member countries, which include the following:

In 32 of the 34 OECD member countries, the fertility rate is below the replacement level.

Average life expectancy at age 65 in the 2010–2015 period is 21.8 additional years for women and 17.4 additional years for men and is expected to reach 25.8 years and 21.9 years, respectively, in the 2060–2065 period.

The average number of expected years in retirement has increased from 11 for men and 15 for women in 1970 to 18 and 22, respectively, in 2014.

The old-age dependency ratio (the population aged 65 or older divided by the population aged 20–64) is projected to nearly double from the current 28 older persons for every 100 working-age persons to 35 older persons by 2025 and to 55 older persons by 2075.

The share of older workers aged 55–64 has risen from 48 percent in 2004 to 56 percent in 2014.
The average effective age for leaving the labor market is 64.4 for men and 63.1 for women.

To counter these trends and the financial strain they put on public pension systems, the report notes that many countries have raised the statutory retirement age and introduced measures that discourage early retirement. By 2054, according to current legislation, 15 of the 34 OECD member countries will have retirement ages older than 65 (compared with 8 member countries in 2015)."

I wonder if New Zealand will be one by 2054?

Martin van Beynen nails it with a MUST-READ

Some years ago Martin van Beynen took off on a tour of New Zealand to find poverty. He didn't stand in a university lecture theatre or go to some church in a wealthy suburb to preach statistics.

What he did do was produce a series of articles and photographs from the most run-down and often dysfunctional environments. He talked to the people who live in them who it must be said were often rather cheerful and stoic. Or sometimes angry and disaffected. But he took us to the places we know exist yet will probably never see for ourselves.

Today he has delivered again with a brilliant expose of the meaninglessness of child poverty reports.
Absolute must-read. Reproduced in full here so I can be assured of access to it in the future:

OPINION:  If you lived next door to children living in severe poverty, you would probably do something to help out.
You might, for instance, slip the family a few hundred bucks around Christmas, have them over for dinner occasionally or pay the odd household bill for them.
But living cheek by jowl with the poor doesn't happen to middle NZ very much any more.
The gap has widened and the poor congregate in their enclaves and middle NZ goes some place else.
Street life doesn't bring the classes together.
But we hear about poverty quite a bit because, as an advanced society, we have measures and statistics to monitor how we are treating the most vulnerable.
We have reports like the Child Poverty Monitor which was released this week.
It said 305,000 dependent New Zealanders aged 0-17 were living in income poverty. Using another measure, it reported 220,500 of the same age group were living in "severe poverty".
It generated the usual response of Government bashing, capitalist blaming and gnashing of teeth. John Key scandalised Labour's children's spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern by linking poverty to drug use.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the Government's refusal to end child poverty was putting children's lives at risk.
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And then, as is becoming usual, nothing.
Shouldn't we be shocked and appalled? Why aren't we doing something? What is wrong with us?
The answers are many and various. As a political or even social advocacy tool reports like the Child Poverty Monitor are pretty hopeless.
They cast the net too wide so truly serious poverty is trivialised. They suggest the answers all relate to handing out more money, that easy fix solutions exist. They tell us what we already know. Maori and Polynesian children are over-represented. Really?
They imply children are somehow divorced from their family or community environment.
In addition the numbers don't sound quite right.
Let's take a city in NZ which has a population of say 400,000. About 100,000 will be under 18. Of those, about 29,000, according to the report, are living in "income poverty" and about 21,000 will be in "severe poverty".
That's a lot of kindergartens, primary schools and high schools in a city like Christchurch or Wellington.
And what is income or severe poverty anyway?
Poverty is an emotive term, at least for my generation (I am a youthful 57).
It brings to mind an income on which it is impossible to afford the basic necessities of life. It conjures up images of ragged children, dust bowls, rundown houses, beaten down workers and bleak streets. But being poor is different from living in poverty.
In modern sociological terms poverty has become to mean the inability to participate fully in society or to reach one's full potential.
And don't forget we are not just talking about poverty. It is child poverty.
A child is a small innocent person in my book. When you include 16 and 17 year-olds, you bring young adults into the mix. They are still children, of course, but their childhoods have gone.
We all know why these reports use the word child. A child is blameless and  innocent. This gets around the problem of the undeserving poor. These  child poverty victims have, by a cruel quirk of fate, ended up being born in the wrong families.
Child poverty is more worthy of a sympathetic ear than old people poverty or single parent poverty. It is innocent poverty.
Then we have those fascinating definitions. Income poverty is defined as 60 per cent of the median income after housing costs are taken into account. Severe poverty is 50 per cent of the median income.
Median income is the point at which half the people receive more and half receive less than the stated amount.
The child monitor report does not say what the median NZ income is but a bit of detective work shows the median NZ income is $621 a week.
It's more complicated however. The median income from wages and salaries is $882 a week ($45,864 pa).
Then we have income from "Government transfers" which is income provided by the state for things like benefits, Working for Families, ACC payments and NZ Superannuation.
The median weekly transfer is $315 a week.
Another reason to be a little wary of the Child Monitor report is that it reports a big change in income poverty from 2013 ( 24 per cent of dependent 0-17 year olds) to 2014 (29 per cent).
What could have happened in just 12 months to plunge another 45,000 children and young adults into income poverty?
We need to be reminded about children living in true hardship. But not everything that reminds us is worthwhile.
Reports like the Child Poverty Monitor are not working.
Everyone knows a low income is only one of a host of factors which make people poor and increasing benefits or allowances will make little difference to the poverty which stems from human frailties, failures or vices.
We need robust measures to give us an accurate picture of who needs help but the figures are starting to seem meaningless.
We have come to doubt them. They don't seem to reflect reality. They lump the poor into one amorphous caste. They make no allowance for the black market economy or the ability to harvest free food.
A lot is already being done to help families in hardship and a lot more needs to be done but these reports don't help at all.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Who will sing for the male victims?

From the NZ Herald:
Kiwi singer Tina Cross has teamed up with a police choir for a powerful message against domestic violence.
Joining forces with the Counties Manukau District Commander's Police Choir and teenagers from Otahuhu Blue Light Choir, Cross re-recorded her 2014 song Walk Away as a message of support for women in abusive relationships.

According to TV3 last night

So far this year, 33 people have died from family violence - 16 children, 10 women and 7 men.

And recently from the DomPost:

A  Stuff data investigation has found at least 204 children, aged 0-14, have died as a result of neglect, abuse, or maltreatment in New Zealand since 1992.
 Most commonly, they died at the hands of men. Almost three quarters of the killers were family members.
The killers were almost equally likely to be mothers or fathers, accounting for 31 per cent and 29 per cent of cases respectively, where the victim's relationship with the killer was known. 

So who will sing for the male victims of  domestic abuse?

And who will sing for the children killed by their mothers?

Personally, I view singing for a cause as a wankfest.

But it does continue to highlight a biased and unjust refusal to acknowledge the active and aggressive part women can and do play in family violence.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Genuine about reducing child poverty? Here's an original idea

So the misdiagnosers had their day in the sun as the media went potty with the headline buster, Third of children in poverty - report (DomPost front page).

The  implicit answer is more state-mandated wealth transfer.

That won't work though, because that is the policy that creates poverty; not the policy that reduces it.

So it is something of a relief, on the same day, to read a different idea.

Problem 1: Children who lose contact with their fathers do worse in life.
Problem 2: Single mothers who want to work often struggle with the cost of childcare.
Problem 3: Many non-resident fathers are without meaningful work.
All three of these problems are fairly well established in the research literature. Each also motivates a battery of policy responses, with varying degrees of efficacy. In a recent report on poverty and opportunity from a working group convened by Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute, non-resident fathers received some special attention....So, let’s see…Lots of non-resident fathers are not gainfully employed; single mothers are struggling with childcare cost; and children, especially boys, are suffering from the distance or absence of their father. Here’s an idea: have the fathers look after their children, allowing mothers to get into and stay in work. The savings for the mother would far outweigh child support payments, which could be suspended when the father is providing childcare. What if, rather than squeezing these men for every last nickel, we were to ask them to do childcare instead?

With single mothers increasingly participating in the workforce, this idea has merit - social and economic.

Ironically, it suggests a partial reverse of times gone by, when fathers dominated the workplace and mothers almost always provided the childcare. Like then, two parents should be able to manage their families financial and childcare requirements without welfare - separated or not.

Child poverty - it IS a choice

The Children's Commissioner is leading a social media campaign to battle child poverty.

"Child poverty - it's not choice." That's the message that outgoing Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills wants to spread through social media in a challenge to Government policy.

It's not the choice of the children living in low income households.

But the majority of them end up there through the choices made by their parents.

When one in five children every year is being born directly onto a benefit or into precarious financial circumstances that will see them dependent on a benefit within their first year...

...somewhere along the line choices are made. They are the sole responsibility of the parent. Not you, not me and not the rest of NZ.

Yes, the government, as our representatives, makes choices about how the consequences of those choices are dealt with but the horse has bolted by then.

The Children's Commissioner does his charges no favours by refusing to acknowledge the facts behind child poverty. An illness cannot be cured if it is misdiagnosed and wrongly treated.

But it's an interesting choice of message, "Child poverty - it's not choice".

Clearly the public perception the anti-poverty advocates have identified and want to stamp out is the reverse.

Monday, December 14, 2015

New Zealanders are generous with their time and money

This is charted for the benefit of a discussion thread elsewhere.

69% helped a stranger
62% donated money
44% volunteered time

That was 2014.

Over a five year period NZ ranked 3rd.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Correlation between welfare and poor outcomes

Treasury released these graphs yesterday.

What stands out from the above  is that of those considered at 'extreme risk' of poor outcomes 62% are Maori while only 7% are Pasifika. This highlights yet again the ill-advised practice of referring to 'troubled youth' as Polynesians. The Pacific culture has protective factors at work that aren't always present for Maori.

The next stand-out feature (unsurprising) is the very high mental health service use by those at extreme risk.

But also look at the correlation between being on a benefit for 5 or more years (cumulatively between ages 25-34) and being at extreme or high risk of poor outcomes.

Of the total 15-24 population, 25,713 will be on a benefit 5 or more years but not at risk of poor outcomes.  However, 26,698 - a small majority - are at high or extreme risk of poor outcomes.

And their childhoods?

Why anyone wants to resist reforming welfare is beyond me.

Monday, December 07, 2015

A Corrections history substantially increases benefit dependency

Interesting fact:

Of all people with some form of Corrections history post-1960 that are still under the age of 65 (390,581 people), 28% (or 108,462 people) were receiving a main benefit at 30 June 2013. This compares with approximately 11% of the NZ working-age population as a whole.
Actually, I find this level of benefit dependency surprisingly low.

What it does show is people with criminal convictions have a good chance of becoming self-sustaining.  I expect though that if the data was further analysed, those who serve prison-time (as opposed to community sentences) would have a higher incidence of benefit receipt.

It looks like MSD will do further work in this area, so my expectation will be confirmed in time.

Good for David Seymour

Turning down significant ministerial roles to focus on what is really important - his voluntary euthanasia bill and his party - impresses me. In fact I don't think Seymour has put a foot wrong yet. Certainly not your typical snout- in- the- trough type.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

NBR keeps Xero on the hook

The world of business is foreign to me. When I first read about Xero I had no idea what kind of animal it was and had to ask Google.

Long time supporter of Dave Henderson, Rodney Hide (with friends like that you can afford enemies) has been chronicling his own and Henderson's wife's investigation by the state by stint of running businesses and being related by friendship or marriage to Mr Henderson. It's appalling.

The managing director of Xero is not covering himself in glory. First Xero denied divulging Henderson's wife's business data to the Official Assignee, than admitted they had been directed not to inform the owner of the information.

Even those who cleave to the axiom nothing to hide, nothing to fear should be repulsed and angered by this ability of the state to commandeer private information.

(Left click to enlarge)

Quote of the Day

The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills.

– Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Religion [1776]

Hat-tip FFF

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Don't tell me what to do about the flag

Since childhood I've resented being told what I think or should think. If the opinion piece in today's NZ Herald is aimed at changing minds (and changing the flag)  it's a great big fail for me. It touched that resentful nerve:

Admit it, the ballot paper is still sitting on the sideboard while you wonder what to do. 
No it isn't. It's been binned.

 One or two of those designs are clearly better than the others.
Really? Isn't that a matter of subjective taste? Yet the writer (arrogantly) thinks his or her selection is superior.

 ... to ignore the ballot paper increases the risk of ending up with a flag we really dislike.

How exactly?
 When the Commonwealth leaders gathered at the weekend, very few flags outside their conference venue featured the Union Jack. It is only a matter of time before we remove it from ours. We might not be excited by the alternatives but we need one.
Or perhaps we'll be the last with it on the flag. Perhaps Australia should change theirs. Perhaps changing their flag should be made a forcible outcome for the loser of the next Rugby World Cup. That's only as silly as the current process has been.

 Please vote.

I will. In the next stage.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Graph of the day

Many countries which fared far worse during the GFC would envy that household income line.

(Looking at the tables, the gap in income to housing costs ratios is growing between Auckland and the rest of the country, and largely driving up the steep rise in the bottom line. The difference in ratio in 2007, between Auckland and the rest of the North Island was only 1.4 points. Now it is 4.1 points -though the numbers are somewhat volatile.)

Source Household Economic Survey.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Using police as arbiters of family disputes

Here's a familiar statement from today's NZ Herald:

Statistics show New Zealand has the highest rate of intimate partner violence in the OECD and on average police respond to a family violence incident every five minutes.

Do the maths. That's just over 105,000 'incidents' annually.

But here are some other stats to lay alongside.

Annual imprisonments for:

Acts intending to cause injury - 1,387
Sexual assault and related offences - 434
Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons - 77
Homicide and related offences - 50
Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person - 189

All of the above might result from family violence incidents. I have purposefully gone to the other extreme ie the worst offences as demonstrated by an imprisonment outcome.

So a maximum of 2,137 men and women are imprisoned due to family violence incidents.

I understand that many many more will be charged and prosecuted and sentenced to lesser punishments but my thesis remains (as it does with child abuse and neglect statistics).

A good chunk of the calls to police represent individuals resorting to authority arbitration and administration of family disputes. As people have increasingly become dependent on the 'benevolent' welfare state so they have lost the initiative and intelligence to sort their own shit out.

Friday, November 27, 2015

High unemployment decides election outcomes?

Mike Hosking had a piece in the NZ Herald suggesting that National will be in trouble in 2017 if unemployment is over 6 percent.

He may be right. Below are the last four changes of government and what was happening with the unemployment rates at the time. Govt change happens when unemployment is 'relatively' high and trending up. The only exception on the trend was when National lost in 1999, but the downward trend was very slow and patchy through out the second half of the 1990s:

26 July 1984  (NA by current measurement but unemployment benefit numbers rising with a bullet)
2 November 1990    8%      trending up
10 December 1999  6.8%   trending down
19 November 2008  6.3%    trending up

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Won't someone please think of the childless?"

So said "libertarian" senator David Leyonhjelm from NSW supporting legislation to remove welfare from parents who won't immunise their children.

The central issue aside, what a difference to NZ discourse:

"To the childless people of Australia, I want to say, on behalf of this Parliament, thank you for being childless.
"You work for more years and become more productive than the rest of Australia. You pay thousands and thousands of dollars more tax than other Australians. You get next to no welfare ...
"But you pay when other people get pregnant, you pay when they give birth, you pay when they stay at home to look after their offspring ..." Senator Leyonhjelm said.
The Liberal Democrat said that he was sorry than instead of receiving thanks, Australians without children were "often ignored, pitied, considered strange, or even thought of as irresponsible".
"For your sake, I hope the children you are forced to support don't end up as juvenile delinquents, and I hope that they get immunised so that you don't end up getting sick. Because you'll pay then, too." 
I suppose the immediate objection is that a "libertarian" senator would not support the state forcing parents to immunise their children. But the state isn't. It is withdrawing other people's money from those who refuse to.

Further dumbing-down at RadioLive

The only remaining reason I listen to RadioLive is disappearing.

Image result for sean plunketVeteran broadcaster Sean Plunket has been axed from RadioLive's morning talkback show – and it is believed he could be replaced by long-time colleague Mark Sainsbury.

When MediaWorks sacked John Tamihere they killed the intellectual bite from the afternoon show. Now they are going to purge the pithy wit and humour that is Plunket.

Just what sort of audience they are seeking is a mystery to me. That stands to reason though, because I'm not it.