Saturday, February 20, 2016

Kim Workman on the 'low' murder rate

Kim Workman kindly sent me a graph which depicts murder rates in New Zealand extending back even further than mine. I've included his commentary below it.

Hi Lindsay

You might like to post the attached graph on your blog – it shows the murder rate from 1879 through to 2010 – it was prepared by the Ministry of Justice. 

What it shows is that there was a very high rate from 1880 to 1890 – New Zealand was a very ‘atomised’ society, high numbers of single men, high levels of vagrancy, itinerant workers significant drinking culture.  A significant downward trend to around 1905, and then it was all over the place until 1950 when there was a significant rise until 1990, when it started to decline, and has been declining ever since. Well over half the murders today are within the family, or people that are in a relationship.  About 1 to 1.5 murders a year are random killings of people who are unknown to the murderer. 

There is no evidence that I know of, which shows that ethnicity is a factor – but a lot of evidence which points to general social dysfunction.   The latest NZ Crime and Safety Survey, (which is the only statistical survey that’s reliable , given the propensity of government agencies to play around with stats) shows that  3 percent of the population experienced more than half of all crime in 2013, - a greater concentration of crime than in 2008 when six percent of the population experienced 52 percent of all crime.  In other words there is a small group of chronic victims, living in marginalised communities.   And the distribution of victimisation is becoming more unequal over time. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Justice sector: "The murder rate is low"

You will be pleased to know that the murder rate is low:

The natural reaction of older folk like me is, Compared To What?

Not 50 years ago.

Data source

(The population grew by 126% over the same period. How to put in a secondary axis has temporarily evaded me.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pacific Islands Family Study: Fathers also victims of partner violence

There are a number of longitudinal studies underway in NZ.

The well-known Christchurch Health and Development Study (birth cohort 1977); the Dunedin Multi-disciplinary Study (birth cohort 1973); and Growing Up in New Zealand Study (birth cohort 2009-10) are those that jump to mind.

But today I learned of the Pacific Island Family Study (birth cohort 2000) reported here.

Readers might be interested in some of the findings to date.

Participants: the PIF Study recruited 1,376 mothers of a cohort of 1,398 Pacific infants (22 pairs of twins) born at Middlemore Hospital (a large tertiary hospital) in South Auckland between 15 March and 19 December 2000. An infant was deemed eligible for the study if at least one of their parents identified themselves as being of a Pacific ethnicity and was a permanent resident of New Zealand

Data collection: the PIF Study primarily collects self-reported data through structured interviews with mothers and fathers in their homes and with children in their schools. Children and their families have been visited when the children were aged six weeks, and 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 11 years

This one intrigues me  because fathers were less likely to smoke over time but mothers more.

This caught my eye because it shows (as often argued on this blog) that men are also victims of partner violence. At Year 11 of the survey 10% of fathers and 16% of mothers reported being victims of minor physical partner violence; 4% of fathers and 8% of mothers reported being victims of severe partner violence.

Noteworthy is this commentary:

"The PIF findings are consistent with those reported in other New Zealand groups (Magdol et al, 1977), and revealed that mothers were just as likely as fathers to perpetrate and be victims of severe IPV."

Overcrowding is not unusual in PI households but this puts some dimensions on the extent. This prompted me to speculate about the apparent poverty of PI children using the official child poverty measurements which are based on equivalised household incomes. Equivalising means adjusting for numbers of household members. So the more members, the lower the equivalised income will be.

While it is quite true that more members will require more financial resources I am nevertheless reminded that child poverty measurement is based on a constructed household income - not actual household income.

Here's a final observation I also found interesting:

The high percentage of traditional gift giving among Pacific families, and the level of financial stress associated with such practices, may play a role in reducing the financial security for some of these Pacific families. There is growing evidence that younger, New Zealand-born, Pacific people are becoming less committed to traditional gift giving to churches and other cultural obligations. 
That may be a good or bad thing depending on which side of the transfer one stands.

Monday, February 15, 2016

PM says something useful

In Parliament last week, after a great deal of belly-aching and nagging by Metiria Turei about taxing people more, the Prime Minister responded:

"...our whole system relies on people getting out of bed in the morning, working hard, and paying taxes. In my experience, there are literally millions of New Zealanders who get up every morning, who do not want the Government to give them a handout, and certainly just want to have a fair system in which to operate."

Then, with some prompting from David Seymour

"As we know, when we have a broad-based, low rate that is fairly applied, actually what you see is that New Zealanders get on and they pay their tax bills. They do not spend time trying to avoid taxes. What we know, actually, with the Green Party and, to be frank, with the Labour Party, is that all they know how to do is spend other people’s money, when the rest of the country is actually focused on how to make money."

Just thought I'd put that up this morning because we don't hear the PM nailing his colours to the mast (other than the flag mast) often enough.

Many of us don't see  a great deal of difference between National and Labour when it comes to spending. But it is also inescapable that to stay in power National has to play a pragmatic game balancing taxing and spending for the greatest political gain. It must frustrate the PM and a number of MPs equally. But in a democracy, is there a choice other than slowly,slowly, catch a monkey?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Some religion on Sunday

My sentiments exactly, but expressed by Rodney Hide in today's Herald on Sunday. On the govt's attempt to tax smokers out of existence

"Taylor's proposal would see a packet of cigarettes priced at a $100 by 2025.
I suspect that would achieve the Government's target. New Zealand would be smoke free. Taylor would not be seeing any smokers. The job would be done.
That would be because we smokers would be holed-up, out of sight, hidden in the hills, puffing furiously on our home-grown weed - bandits and outlaws, but free.
I hope I would be with them. I would prefer the fun and the freedom compared to the prissy lot we have become."

Risk-free living is a relatively new most unwelcome religion.

After the tragic recent spate of drownings we are being told

"Never swim alone and only ever swim at patrolled beaches."

How realistic or desirable is that?

Alcohol causes cancer. Take the law into your own hands and refuse to serve a pregnant women.

Meat causes cancer. Don't barbecue.

Speed kills.  Fine the bejesus out of minor offenders. And again wrest keys of suspect drivers if you like.

Gambling is an insidious addiction further encouraged by alcohol sponsorship. Ban it like we banned tobacco sponsorship.

And while you are at it ban it from all sports. Young minds are too impressionable.

Facebook is a fiendish scourge on young minds too. It drives people to suicide.

Quad bikes. More dangerous than a loaded gun. Guns!! A horrible symbol of animal exploitation and male dominance. Ban them.

I could go on and on. But in the interests of my own safety and sanity ...well it's just too risky or  I'll end up in Them Thar Hills too, swinging off the branches of some nasty non-native tree. Or holed up in my non-consented tree house.