Thursday, March 17, 2016

How National is killing Labour

It is still odd to me to read questions and answers that would have sat very comfortably with the last Labour govt. Just substitute Anne Tolley with Steve Maharey and you get my drift:

9. MATT DOOCEY (National—Waimakariri) to the Minister for Social Development: How is low inflation supporting a real increase in superannuation?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): Thanks to the strong financial management of this Government, superannuation has increased by over 34 percent since 2008, which is double the rate of inflation of 15.5 percent in that same time. As this Government has committed to keeping superannuation and veterans pension rates at 66 percent of average income, both rates will increase by 2.73 percent on 1 April. This means that, in addition to lower living costs, our superannuitants are better off, with an extra $15.74 a week for a married couple, $10.23 a week for a single person living alone, and $9.44 for a single person sharing accommodation.
Matt Doocey: In addition to superannuation, what other supports are set to increase on 1 April?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: On 1 April changes introduced as part of the child hardship package will come into effect. That means benefit rates for families with children will rise by $25 a week after tax—the first real increase in 43 years. Given the falling cost of living, this is a significant increase for these families on a benefit. Working for Families rates will also increase by $12.50 for low-income working families, and $24.50 for very low-income working families. The child hardship package reaches over half a million children and will help ease the depth of hardship experienced by families in New Zealand’s lowest-income households.

It's super politics when staying in government is the top priority. But is it fiscally responsible? Is it going to help low income people in the long-term?

Reducing the gap between income from work and income from welfare is very risky. National of the early 1990s did the very opposite to National of 2016. It increased the gap in an explicit effort to get more people working.

Both Labour and National agree that work is the best way out of poverty. I have records of both Helen Clark and John Key making this assertion.

The real problem is, neither have acted like they believe it.

Add too that the John Key-led government  is now fully embracing and boosting what he once called "communism by stealth".

Labour have been utterly out-Laboured.

David Seymour then inserted a supplementary:

David Seymour: How long after the current Prime Minister’s retirement will the Government raise the age of entitlement to New Zealand superannuation?
Mr SPEAKER: No. Oh, I will let the Minister address it. It is a marginal question, I have to accept.
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: That is so far in the future I could not even contemplate it.

So again we have a National government not only bragging about increasing Super payments but promising an increase in recipients by way of the ageing population with no change to qualifying age.

They can hold their National voters so long as the pretence that nobody has to pay for it lasts.

But they can't continue to ramp-up redistribution without increasing revenue or cutting services.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Forget P houses - focus on the P babies

The story being carried by most media this morning relates to P contamination in brand new state houses:

Nearly a quarter of homes built for a brand new state housing development in Christchurch have already been contaminated with P less than a year later.
In most cases, the tenants were single mums with small children, including four toddlers under two.
Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said she found the figures "shockingly high" and the age at which some children were being exposed to P, or meth, was an "extreme concern".
"Four of them are two years or younger, so wee babies. It's at a time when they are most susceptible to their environment and they need the healthiest environment they can possibly get. There are some quite serious health effects [from P] with skin and respiratory conditions. And equally you have to question if its a healthy and safe environment. "

The public has every right to take an interest in this. They are paying for it. Paying people to use P around babies - and quite possibly before their births (but that's another matter).

In NZ CYF advises it's social workers:

How does methamphetamine use affect the care of a child or young person?

While methamphetamine use isn't an automatic indicator of unsuitability to care for a child or young person, it does affect a parent/caregiver's ability on different levels. Low-intensity users can generally still function but may experience mood swings. When high, users can feel 'good', be alert, and have a high level of physical activity.

Methamphetamine users may experience increasing feelings of depression, lethargy and loss of energy when 'coming down' after use. These symptoms can impair the user's interest in caring for their children, depriving them of basic physical and emotional needs. This period can last for months during which there is a high probability of substance re-use and an increased need for sleep.

There is a P crisis and there is a child abuse crisis. Or am I overstating the situation?

When National came to power they launched an attack on P. Is it working? From the Drug Foundation:

One of the Prime Minister’s major allies (and instruments) in the war on meth is Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess. He was skeptical of the downward trend in the statistics the last time I interviewed him in 2014, and eight months on, in light of these two enormous busts, he shows no sign of changing his mind.
“I think we’re probably getting mixed messages around that,” he says into the phone, the wryness in his delivery as reliable as ever.
“Some of the survey data, and Chris Wilkins’ data out of Massey, suggests that the numbers are stable or potentially diminishing. But balanced against that, we’re seeing pretty significant amounts of drugs either being manufactured or imported.”

I am in the legalise- all- drugs camp because prohibition is a failure on so many counts, here and internationally.

But when users expose their children pre and post birth, it's a matter for the law.

(Someone asked me at the ACT conference what I thought about orphanages. I am inclined to believe that properly run, they would be better places than some of these toxic shit-holes children are being raised in).

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rates rise 14 percent in 3 years

The local authority statistics were released on Friday. The tables make interesting reading.

Rates collected have risen 14 percent when comparing December quarters 2012 to 2015.

We haven't seen our rates go up that much. Some poor sod has seen his go up by more.

But we aren't getting more for our money.  Purchases and operating expenditure is up by a mere 1.7%. The big jumps are in interest and depreciation.

Well, it's local body election year. I'd be looking for candidates promising to keep rates within the margin of inflation at least. Promising some fiscal responsibility.

The $1.155 billion collected in the December quarter 2012 kept to current inflation would have been $1.183 billion in 2015

NOT $1.321

Rates up equal rents up. Again it's the poorest who bear the brunt. But it's big-spending councils who are squealing about living wages and poverty. How long will it take them to figure out what Winston Churchill did.

"Can a people tax themselves into prosperity? Can a man stand in a bucket and lift himself up by the handle?" 1904, Free Trade Hall, Manchester