Friday, October 07, 2016

Who's radical?

Naturally the US media are attacking presidential candidate Gary Johnson for his 'radical' ideas.

From Jacob Hornberger, explaining why libertarians are not the radicals.


Guess who the radicals were in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The socialists and interventionists! That is, those Americans who were proposing programs like income taxation, national health care, minimum-wage laws, maximum-hours legislation, and public (i.e., government) schooling, all which they were importing from socialists in Germany. It was those statists who were considered by our American ancestors to be radicals who were trying to shift America from a free-market economy way of life to socialism and interventionism.

Let’s not forget what those radical statists were saying when they were battling for the enactment of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913. They were saying, “We promise that if we are permitted to bring income taxation to America, it will only be levied on the rich — and even then, it will only be a very small percentage of taxation on the rich.” It was an unvarnished appeal to the great sins of envy and covetousness.

As Thomas and others of his socialist and interventionist ilk know full well, income tax didn’t end up being limited to the rich and the percentage didn’t stay small for long. Instead, like a metastasizing cancer it spread throughout the middle class and even to the poor, to the point where many people today, especially the young, can’t make ends meet.


Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Child poverty pleaders mislead yet again

New Zealand should emulate the United Kingdom.

This call has surfaced repeatedly over the past few days. For instance:

[Max Rashbrooke] said New Zealand should follow Britain's lead and pass a Child Poverty Act, which would set out measures and targets, as well as a plan of meeting them.
"It's about taking a comprehensive approach so I think we need to start with measures, start with a plan and then I think the right actions will flow out of that."
And Jonathon Boston,  Professor of Public Policy at Victoria University of Wellington and 'expert' in solutions to child poverty, in this morning's DomPost:

Moreover, there is nothing new about governments setting child poverty-reduction targets. Governments around the world have done so for many years. In Britain a Child Poverty Act was enacted in 2010 with cross-party support committing governments to setting and achieving specific targets to curb child poverty.
But wait.

Only three months ago the UK Child Poverty Action Group reported:

 “A decade ago, when David Cameron became party leader, he promised that under his leadership his party would measure and act on child poverty. It’s a tragedy that we are now talking about rises in child poverty not falls. It’s also hugely depressing that at a time when we’re seeing rising child poverty the Government has passed legislation that eliminates its target to reduce child poverty, or even to report on the progress it is making."

Confirmed by this from 2015:

The government is to scrap its child poverty target and replace it with a new duty to report levels of educational attainment, worklessness and addiction, rather than relative material disadvantage, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said.The old target set by Tony Blair, based on the percentage of households with below average income, will continue to be published as a government statistic – but will no longer be seen as a target.

Out of touch or just willfully ignorant?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Why a 'child poverty reduction target' is wrong

Anti-child poverty campaigner Max Rashbrooke writes at RNZ:

Anyone planning their summer holiday will already be thinking about the logistics - the plane tickets, the car hire, the hotel bookings, and so on.
But before they get onto those things, they'll have decided on one key point: where they're actually going for their holiday, and when.
The same point applies to government policy, and the currently hot topic of tackling child poverty. The first thing is to know where you're going: how much you want to reduce child poverty, and by what date.
He contends that the government has done none of this latter planning.

I thought when I started reading Rashbrooke's opening he was going to allude to the thousands of children whose families can't go on holiday once a year. Not being able to afford an annual holiday is now just one item on a list of family shortfalls indicating material hardship.

So should the government start subsidizing poor-family holidays as part of the demanded percentage reduction in child poverty?

Most people would think that insulating damp state houses might take priority. Or upping immunization rates. Or funding 'home-for-life' parents who take on the most needy, damaged and disadvantaged children there are.

This is the point the Prime Minister is making to those who want a blanket catch-all child poverty reduction target.

Many children in income poverty experience no hardship. Others, whose income is above the poverty threshold, are experiencing a number of deprivations.

Many children in  families on benefits have worse outcomes than children in families who work, even when their incomes are similar. The reasons why are nuanced. But poor working families are more likely to have two parents and budget better. Policy needs to deal with those nuances.

This government, more than any before, has attempted to cross-identify data from a number of agencies that deal with children and their families - MSD, IRD, Corrections, Health and Education - to find those children most at risk of living unhappy, unsafe, unhealthy, and unfulfilled lives.

Targeting whatever funding is available to those children is the correct and humane approach.

Monday, October 03, 2016

New Children's Commissioner plays same old record

Radio NZ reports:

The Labour Party has accepted the Children's Commissioner's challenge to reduce child poverty rates by 10 percent by the end of next year.
Commissioner Andrew Becroft is urging National and Labour to work together to achieve the change.
Mr Becroft wants a material deprivation measure to be used as the official benchmark for child poverty, under which 149,000 children would be considered to be living in hardship.
So the Commissioner is challenging government to reduce child poverty.

What about challenging individuals?  Why not, for instance, challenge couples to stay together and committed to their children? Or challenge people who are dependent on benefits not to add more babies? Or challenge young people to finish their education, pay off their loans and get jobs before they start families?

What a difference changing poverty-inducing behaviours would make.

But the new Commissioner has simply taken up the old demands. Disappointing. Very.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Resisting the evidence

An interesting article appeared in the Daily Signal entitled, "What Happened When New Zealand Got Rid of Government Subsidies for Farmers."

I can't vouch for the veracity of it. I wasn't living in NZ during the 1985 to 1991 period. But the very first comment post article echoes what I thought reading it.