Saturday, September 10, 2016

Child poverty exaggerations exposed by official source

Below is a random selection of reports regarding child poverty in New Zealand. They represent only a small fraction of similar claims:

As many as 28 per cent of New Zealand children – about 305,000 – currently live in poverty.
When a child grows up in poverty they miss out on things most New Zealanders take for granted. They are living in cold, damp, over-crowded houses, they do not have warm or rain-proof clothing, their shoes are worn, and many days they go hungry. It can mean doing badly at school, not getting a good job, having poor health and falling into a life of crime.
Unicef, New Zealand

Save the Children chief executive Heather Hayden says child poverty could have a huge effect on our economy.
"Unless there is a change of course, we're at risk of writing off the future of hundreds of thousands of New Zealand children – sentencing them to a lifetime of poverty.
"This is not just up to the Government to fix, but for all of us to make different choices so the 305,000 children currently struggling every day to get what they need to thrive, can have a future," she says.

Save the Children

 Ms Turei said 375,000 children lived in cold, damp houses and most of them were rented. ``We would create minimum performance standards for rental properties which would ensure warm, healthy homes for thousands of children.''
Green Party

 " in our first world paradise, 270,000 children are not getting the start they need in life.
These children of Aotearoa, New Zealand:
• Suffer from preventable,life-threatening diseases usually only seen in third world countries
• Live in cold, damp, overcrowded, unsafe houses"
Middlemore Foundation

These are by no means exceptions. They typify the discourse on child poverty in New Zealand.

But I am not the only one who is frustrated by these misrepresentations of the true situation.

The author of the Household Incomes Report (the official source for poverty data) has more than once, in his latest report, addressed some of the exaggerations politely referring to them as "common misunderstandings". I disagree. The modus operandi of many politicians and advocates is to inflate problems for their own purposes. It is neither accidental nor a misapprehension.

Anyway here is what Bryan Perry has to say:

A common misunderstanding involves attributing some or all of the list of deprivations surveyed in the HES and elsewhere to most or all children in low-income households – the reports are clear that this is not the case:
o some develop a narrative that starts with a high number of children in low-income households, then goes on to make it sound as if all these children suffer many serious deprivations – the reports make it clear that this is not the case, and that such narratives produce misleading accounts
o an example using a specific item illustrates the issue:
- HES collects information on the degree of any problem with dampness and mould (no problem, minor problem, major problem)
- 110,000 children are in households with a reported “major problem” re dampness and mould
- 50,000 of these children live in households in the bottom AHC income quintile and 60,000 in other households
- this low income group (bottom quintile) has 20% of all people, and 27% of children in it (290,000)
- so, “only” 17% of these children (50,000 / 290,000) live in homes that report this issue:
E though this is 17% more than what most would consider acceptable, it is well off 100% or even “most” of the income poor
o the same analysis applies to many other individual deprivation items
o the evidence shows that the common claim that “all or most children under a given low-income line have all or most the deprivations that society does not want children to experience” is false – the information in the reports does not support the claim, and shows them to be unfounded
(added emphasis)

Friday, September 09, 2016

NZ's 1% not like US

Unfortunately I don't have time to do justice to the just released Household Incomes Report but here is an interesting finding from the overview:

One of the reasons for the interest in what is happening with very high incomes is the fact that in the USA there has been considerable growth in the share of total income received by high income earners (see graph on previous page) , while at the same time there has been little or no income rise for the bulk of the “middle class”. Neither of these factors apply in New Zealand: the trends for the top 1% and 0.5% shares are flat for New Zealand, and “middle class” income growth has been solid over the 20 years to 2015. 
I can almost feel the collective wince from the Left.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Rumours of nuclear family demise premature

A reader brought up news headlines that recently came out of the longitudinal Dunedin study. Here's a different take on it:

Don’t Write Off The ‘Nuclear Family’

Family First is warning that recent media headlines such as “Mum, dad and the kids? Not so much ...” "nuclear family a thing of the past" and "the nuclear family has exploded" are misleading because of the shortcomings and limitations of the research that the statements are based on.

"The research comes from a very small sample of just over two hundred 15-year-olds. The study itself states that 'the sample cannot be generalised to all New Zealand children.' This is primarily because the 15 year-olds' parents were young at the time of their birth, but also because it is not a random sample of NZ teenagers," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of family First NZ.

"The mothers' median age was just 22 and young maternal age is a known marker for increased instability of family life. The study authors state that 'young parenthood may be associated with educational and socioeconomic disadvantage'. That only 26 percent were living with two biological parents by age 15 may be an effect of this disadvantage and distinct to this sample."


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Barry Soper suggests time limits on dole


"Unlike many other countries New Zealand doesn't have a finite period for how long the dole can be claimed, change that, and you may change some attitudes. That may sound hard but the real mismatch is the number of foreign workers we're required to bring in to fill vacancies, compared to the number of locals on the dole."

Why isn't he explaining why nobody should be expected to work for the minimum wage, how rapacious employers are getting away with treating immigrants like slave labour, how New Zealanders shouldn't have to work in dead-end jobs?? Capitalist muppet.

Seriously, many of the people who come into New Zealand and work at jobs Kiwis don't want to do have come from countries where the dole doesn't even exist - let alone have finite terms. That's why they have a work ethic.

*Fifty six percent have been on welfare for more than a year. 

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Remark of the day

Had to highlight this brief remark from Karl du Fresne

"Sue Bradford was on Radio NZ's Morning Report today lamenting the fact that New Zealand had no left-wing think tanks. Has she forgotten the universities?"


Giving granddads a bad rap is unjustified

According to the editor writer in the HOS:

"Many a grandfather today would have to admit their son's parental performance puts theirs in the shade. "

This is based on fathers being more involved in the day to day care-giving of their children. Those that are still in their children's lives that is. The HOS admits that based on the data used to write this piece only 60 percent of the fathers in the Growing up in NZ study were responding. (I have checked this at the two year interviews when the numbers were 6242 mothers and 3804 of their partners.)

"Committed, conscientious fathers of young children appear to be the norm nowadays."
Well that's nice, even if the norm is defined by three out of five.

By my observations young fathers today are very involved with their children. Partners expect it. Often the father takes sole care to give the mother a break. It's not unusual to see fathers take the primary role of day to day care while the mother pursues her career. And I believe that's a great thing if the two have worked out who is better suited to what and they support each other wholly in the decision.

BUT I am increasingly uncomfortable with the current generation of commentators painting the past as a time when fathers were remote, disciplinarians and marriage a loveless trap. Did I grow up in an unusual family? My dad was always there. He was better at caring for me if I was sick, he made the meals at the weekend, he took interest in every interest I pursued (and still does). Mum did all the housework (though a cleaner came on Fridays because mum was a full-time teacher) but he did all the section and home maintenance work. I'm told he was at rugby practice when I was being born but I was too young to remember:-)

We should stop giving the baby boomer and baby boomer's dads a bad rap. Mostly they stuck around, come hell or high water. To me, that is the ultimate expression of care for a child.

(Apologies to any fathers reading this who have been forcibly excluded from their children's lives.)