Friday, February 26, 2016

"Poor decisions" lead to poor lives

The NZ Initiative released a report into poverty this week. Co-author, Jenesa Jeram has a piece in this morning's DomPost explaining the various measures used to gauge poverty and how they can show very different things. She also points out that various parties are motivated to cherry pick to suit their purposes. That's fine but there needs to be transparency around exactly what the numbers they use mean.

The report is a good summary and a great reference source. Unfortunately the overriding message  taken from the report (in part because the NZ Initiative chose to highlight it) was that high housing costs are making some people poor. That is undeniably true. It is a fact. But armed with the facts people continue to expose themselves and their children to that reality.

Take a step back. Those now three famous ways to steer clear of poverty are; finish your education, have your children after you marry, and stay married. Life's expenses are manageable if people make sensible choices, and most do.

The report does allude to this in the executive summary:

Benefit levels and conditions presumably reflect public opinion about the causes of hardship. The more than four-fold increase since 1970 in the proportion of the working age population on a benefit other than the unemployment benefit could be influencing public perceptions. One survey of public perceptions suggests that many might not be accepting the most exaggerated claims of the extent of child poverty and consider poor decisions to be a material reason why some people of working age are experiencing hardship. 
Poor decisions lead to poor lives. I have made some shockers in my own but I did learn from them.

This isn't about being judgmental or on a moral high horse. People need to think ahead, take seriously the consequences of the choices they make especially about forming relationships and having children. Unfortunately welfare has relieved them of the worst outcomes and diminished that ability.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The rush to be state house kids

An interesting piece in today's NZ Herald highlights excerpts from speeches of various MPs deliberately personalising the "kiwi dream" by relating their own childhood experiences. It makes the MPs seem a little silly and their anecdotes contrived when thrown together but it could be coincidence. Whatever. The mad rush to be a state house kid (or grow up next to one) began with the Prime Minister.

The nostalgia for the sixties should be tempered though.

I was flipping through a book at Lower Hutt library yesterday and stopped on a page describing 1961. TV was just being introduced. A handful of restaurants were being granted licences to serve alcohol (their names were recognisable to me illustrating how few there were). The only businesses open at the weekend were dairies. Every man trundled home to his suburban housewife and kids to embark on a weekend of gardening and home maintenance  maybe with a trip to the park or some sports game or beach. Lives were quite predictable and uniform.

I also picked up Gordon McLauchlan's The Passionless People Revisited and opened it somewhere at the back. He was explaining why New Zealand wives last so long as sexual partners. Apparently because they have so few moving parts. I thought that was jolly funny and decided to take the book out. But on getting it home I was disappointed to find it opens with a deeply grudging literary assassination of John Key and a litany of every thing wrong with New Zealand. Another soul pining for regulation and state control.What a drudge. That's going back unread.

It is true we have left behind some good values, or moved away from them increasingly. But it is also true much that was undesirable has been consigned to the past - thankfully. If the sixties were put up for auction I doubt there'd be a bidder in the room.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The left in Wgtn anyway

Local body politics in Wellington is dominated by left activists including churches, unions, political party members and lots of troughers.

Living Wage Wellington is calling for wider implementation because,

 "Becoming a Living Wage council and paying the Living Wage to all council staff — directly employed and those employed via contractors and in CCOs — was overwhelmingly supported in public consultation for the 2014/15 Annual Plan and the 2015/25 Long Term Plan. The Council has voted for this. The people of Wellington have backed it. Now it’s time to make the commitment to the Living Wage a reality.”

So I had a quick scroll through submissions (737 pages).

The following form-submission appears many, many times. Obviously cut and paste from a source and simply e-mailed in. Now there is nothing to stop other non-Left groups encouraging people to do the same, but it tends not to happen.


Dear Annual Plan
I write as a citizen and ratepayer of Wellington to  call on Wellington City Council, through
your 2014/2015 Annual Plan, to:
 Fully implement your decision to become a Living Wage employer and ensure all
Council workers, including directly employed and those working through CCOs and
contractors, are paid a living wage
 Make this a priority in order to address inequality in our city and recognising that the
benefits of a living wage far out-weigh the costs
 Meet the cost through a range of measures, including from the Council’s current
wage budget and through negotiation with relevant contractors. Any cost to
ratepayers will be staged as contracts come up for renegotiation.

I was astonished at the huge number of submissions from cyclists wanting better cycle ways, and other multiple submissions were from anti-fluoridation advocates.

One gets the strong impression that the left are highly organised in Wellington and accordingly, have a great deal of pull with the council.

As far as I am aware the council did not poll on the living wage issue so we cannot know that "the people of Wellington have backed it".

The only "known" is overwhelming support from the very sources you would expect.

Wellington City Council - Living Wage debate

Monday, February 22, 2016

Has the 'child poverty' barrow stopped working for the Greens?

Shedding a third of their vote (12% down to 8% in the latest Colmar Brunton poll) is either about Green MPs or their ideas. Some people think it's a strategic decision by voters to ensure a strong Labour. I'm not buying that. A vote for the Greens is a vote for a Labour-led government after all.

Child poverty is an issue the Greens own. They blatantly campaign in primary schools enticing young minds into their own victimhood mentality. They exploit children on campaign posters in the most thinly-veiled attempt to buy votes.

Never forget that the Greens are Marxist. Child poverty has been an effective way to win the public over to greater wealth redistribution compelled by government.

It doesn't matter to Metiria Turei that redistribution has so far not only failed to improve the lot of children - it's worsened their outcomes.

Doesn't matter that making more people reliant on welfare will make more people more miserable.

Instead of re-evaluating their ideas based on evidence, they forge on, most recently joining and heavily promoting a social media campaign built around the slogan "Child poverty - it's not a choice."

I believe  this slogan was arrived at exactly because of the realization that voters aren't disassociating children from their parents. Voters think that child outcomes are heavily influenced by parental decisions. Voters think that parental choices have a good deal of bearing on whether a child will experience hardship.

Next, showing exactly how out of touch they are, the Greens nominated Sue Bradford for Children's Commissioner. Perhaps they think a blast from the past (a more glorious Green past) would boost their ratings. Fail.

The next poll may very well prove me wrong but my money is on  Metiria Turei and child poverty - the MP and the idea - being a loser for the party.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

That damned flag

It’s not over yet, but it looks like the old flag, left, will win out over the new in the upcoming referendum.

In today's HOS this photo appears with the by-line: It’s not over yet, but it looks like the old flag, left, will win out over the new in the upcoming referendum. 

A friend gave me a book yesterday called Who moved my cheese? which is a little parable about accepting change. After I finished it I thought, I still don't like that damn flag.

I have listened to all the sensible arguments for change yet when I look at the photo above I feel something for the flag on the left that I don't for the flag on the right. So maybe I am letting emotion override logic? How can I have feelings for a set of colours and lines?

I suppose as an artist (I allowed myself to think in terms of being an artist when I started to sell paintings and receive commissions and had to describe how I earned income) I live and breathe colours and lines. And when it comes to what I like - which heavily influences what I produce - it's about beauty, harmony and depth. I hate art that merely serves a purpose or expresses some deep-seated anxiety or is invented only to shock.

But it is virtually impossible to describe why certain colours and lines evoke a good emotional response. And I have never wanted to analyse it.

The current flag is far more aesthetically pleasing to me than the alternative.

And that's why I can't change my mind.