Tuesday, December 19, 2017

"Let's Undo This"

Signing up to a social media campaign isn't something I've ever done before. I did so because it's one way I can register may protest at the new government.

National policies leave a lot to be desired but they were  better than Labour's.

It'd be satisfying to hear the numbers responding to this campaign reported in the media. That might happen if the numbers are very high.

And it's a well put together site.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Update on sole parent economic situation

An interesting graph from the Briefing to Incoming Social Development Minister:

After the In Work tax credit came in the gap between being on a benefit and working for the minimum wage opened up.

This has undoubtedly contributed to the fall in the number of benefit-dependent sole parents. But anti-child poverty activists want the in work tax credit paid to all beneficiaries. This will be a sticky issue for the new government. Their families package (especially the payment for babies aged 0-2) will effectively close the gap anyway.

Another interesting fact from the Briefing. Maori represent 15% of the population but "48 percent of Sole Parent Support recipients."

Here's a table from my own 2008 paper, Maori and Welfare:

It would appear the employment status of Maori sole parents is not improving as quickly as the general population.

A question remains that I have not had time to properly research. While the number of sole parent support recipients continues to drop...

... it must be remembered that many are now moved onto jobseeker support as their youngest child reaches 14. There may also be some migration onto the supported living benefit positively affecting the drop. The Briefing stresses that "The proportion of clients with mental health conditions has been growing substantially over time."

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Reckless changes to benefit system will hurt children

Myself and Muriel Newman explain how in this week's NZCPR lead articles.

The first part of my piece, which concerns the removal of the requirement to name the father of a child supported by a benefit,  has mostly been stated already at this site but the second was something I had been intending to blog about but hadn't:

"But wait – there’s more.

This is just one of the changes this far-Left government intends to make. They also want to scrap other sanctions (benefit cuts) such as those imposed for failing a drugs test or for failing to keep Work and Income appointments. It won’t surprise if they also scrap sanctions that motivated young parents to attend parenting and budgeting courses, and enrol their child with a local GP.

Many of the sanctions loathed by the Left merely imitate the obligations that the paid workforce experience. Now taxpayers will be expected to meet obligations beneficiaries don’t have to and pay for the beneficiary’s ‘privilege’.

This topsy-turvy ‘world view’ was recently exemplified when Catriona McLennan, a well-meaning lawyer and advocate for the Child Poverty Action Group was heard extolling the generosity and kindness of Micky Savage’s original benefit system, and how New Zealand needs to return to that inclusiveness.

What a shock it would be for a young single mother of today to find, under the 1938 social security provisions, nobody was interested in whether she named the father of their child or not: because there was no benefit for single mothers. At best, a deserted wife could apply for a Widow’s Benefit but eligibility rested on her having been married and having sought financial support from the father through the courts.

It’s almost laughable when today’s beneficiary advocates complain about National’s ‘harshness’.

They are out of touch with reality. But they plan to drive policy made by a government with the same problem."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Life on a benefit drives to crime

A man was let off a charge of stealing around $180 worth of groceries because he said that life on a benefit is hard.

This poses a number of questions for me.

Why has this petty crime made headlines?

Is there still a moral discomfit about beneficiaries biting the hand that feeds?

Would someone on the minimum wage who claimed financial difficulty be let off?

If life on a benefit is hard, isn't  the better reaction to try and get off it?

Will this dismissal of a crime encourage more people to put up a defence of "life on a benefit is hard"?

Why didn't the offender go to a foodbank?

Monday, November 27, 2017

National makes a valid objection, but timidly

The student allowance - which was paid at the same rate as the unemployment benefit - is about to increase by $50 per week.

There is a suggestion from National that, along with the first year free tertiary education, an incentive will present for some to swap 'benefits' without a genuine motivation to study. Well, I dressed that up nicely, as did the spokesperson Paul Goldsmith.

He was being interviewed by a disbelieving Guyon Espiner who said this was a most cynical view.

If it had been me I'd have conceded the point, but maintained that we are dealing with Labour's idealistic and naive view. The truth lies somewhere in  between.

In the past data showed that when the invalid benefit was paid at a higher rate than the sickness benefit there was definite migration to the former.

Mr Goldsmith might also have talked about the pressure that his government had put on work-capable people to find jobs. A year's break from that, along with a $2,600 bonus might be very appealing.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Another angle

Here's a letter that appeared in today's Dompost. I am unable to find the piece it responds to. Odd. But it does highlight another unintended consequence that removing sanctions for not naming fathers will bring:

Friday, November 17, 2017

There's a surprise

Encouraging more adoption?

I doubt this guy is a good fit for a feminist government.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The ghost of Metiria and more lies

She may as well have stayed. In addition to scrapping the legal requirement to name fathers or face a penalty...

As part of a major welfare system overhaul agreed with the Greens, the government would remove other excessive sanctions and ensure people could access what they were entitled to.

And here is Carmel Sepuloni propagating more lies. Lies are OK on the Left.  And when the media reporting are also Left, they enable them.

 Ms Sepuloni said some parents had good reason for not naming the other parent.
"The most common reason for not naming the parent was often family-violence related and so, keeping that mind, it's almost like you're doubly punishing these women and their children. So, we're not going to allow that to continue."
Here is what the Work and Income manual says:

 Your benefit payments may be reduced if you don’t legally identify the other parent or apply for Child Support. In some situations you may not need to do this, for example if you or your child would be at risk of violence. Work and Income can tell you more about this.

There is already an exception to the rule for cases of violence.

So what is the real reason for the change? It's the imposition of  radical feminism whereby women's rights are elevated above children's....with the added bonus of screwing the taxpayer.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Can't disagree with any of this

Arrived in my inbox. I didn't steal it.

From The NATIONAL BUSINESS REVIEW October 27th 2017

The Limits of Cleverness versus Capitalism

Hidesight  -  Rodney Hide

I have concluded our new prime minister Jacinda Ardern is clever stupid.
She's quick, has good analytical skills and communicates well. There's no doubt she's clever.
    But she's stupid on how the world works and lacks thought-through principles and values. She bobs along on feelings and sounding good and thereby perfectly in tune with a media that emotes rather than reports and analyses.
    By her own account she grew up Mormon but jumped to socialism, becoming president of the International Union of Socialist Youth. She substituted one whacky religion for another. Her work experience is university and Parliament, first as a Labour Party staffer, then as an MP.
    She's driven by belief, not understanding. She can't argue ideas and must dismiss her opponents as uncaring or not yet enlightened. The shortcoming in opposing ideas is not the ideas themselves but the moral deficiency of those expressing them.
    When asked if capitalism had failed low-income New Zealanders, the prime minister-designate said: "If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that's a blatant failure. What else could could you describe it as?"
    "Hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive." That  means "hundreds of thousands of children" dying because of material want. It's nonsense. There would be UN relief missions and international popstars having concerts to aid New Zealand were her claim true.
It isn't.
    It's part of the media-manufactured Jacindamania that such rubbish claims are passed over. She cares, that's enough. It's as if her nonsensical hyperbole underscores the extent of her caring. "Yes, she might have been out by a few hundred children, and yes, they're not exactly not surviving, but her heart is in the right place."
    The problem of poor and neglected children is not the fault of capitalism but of welfarism.  Generations of handouts have robbed too many of any sense of personal responsibility even for the  care and upbringing of their own children.
     It's perfectly respectable now not to provide for yourself, nor house your family, nor commit in any way to your partner in child-making and to have children without the ability to provide or care  or them.
    It's not your fault. You're a victim. Capitalism has failed.
    Ms Ardern's blinkered, if not blind, view of the world sees her advocating more of the policies causing the very problems concerning her rather than treating the cause.
    No facts, no analysis, no experience would shift her view. Her socialism is her religion.
    I'm a white, privileged male. I would say all of the above, wouldn't I ? I'm threatened by a female in charge and fear that my greedy exploitation of the poor is at an end. There, I dismissed my argument myself to save her supporters the effort.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Labour happy for taxpayers to be "rorted"

Radio news has Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development, saying she will get rid of the penalty for not naming fathers of children who are supported by benefits. We knew it was coming and new information indicates NZ First is going to support the change.

To reiterate on past posts, one of the major reasons mothers refuse to name fathers is to help them dodge child support.

In the past Labour has acknowledged this.

From parliament, 2004:

Heather Roy: When will he admit that this is just a rort so that fathers can dodge child support, and why should taxpayers always have to pick up the bill?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: It is a rort, and I have said time and time again in this Parliament that fathers must front up to their obligations, and we will make sure they do, as much as we can.
Maharey meant it and he increased the penalty in an effort to reduce the rort.

But today Labour  don't care what is costs the taxpayers. And apparently they don't care about children being denied their father's name on their birth certificate.

Sepuloni will argue that the penalty isn't working. However the numbers who incur a section 70a penalty have fallen. In 2004 there were 19,443.

Last year the number had fallen to 13,616.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

What's in a word

It is infrequently that I come across an unknown word. Today however I was reading some hullabaloo (on both sides) about NZ sinking into the shadows of far right influence.An opinion piece was published by the Washington Post, "How the far right is poisoning New Zealand, " and duly responded to by Tim Watkin at RNZ.

Here's the sentence, from the first piece, containing the word:

"Appealing to ethnically homogenous, overwhelmingly cisgender male voters with limited education and economic prospects who feel they’re being left behind in a changing world is nothing new for the far right."
Cisgender. I had to google it.

 Cisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. Cisgender may also be defined as those who have "a gender identity or perform a gender role society considers appropriate for one's sex". Wikipedia
No surprises in a politically correct world that a new label has been attached to a group to categorise and explain with reference and respect to anyone who falls outside of it.

My interest is, am I the only one who wasn't aware of this term? Am I such a dinosaur? You see I think my ignorance of this word is just part and parcel of my whole ignorance about how to really solve problems.

In fact I can't even see the problem a lot of the time. Why are we trying to fix stuff that isn't broken? Why are we obsessing about problems in advance of them actually happening?

Cisgender first appeared in 1994. Our newest generation is full of anxiety. While there have always been global scares, the rate they occur at seems to have sped up. Now our young are worrying about manmade global warming, the 'future of work', inequality, and often the very personal nature of their own sexual identity. Labeling stuff helps them try to sort it, to make sense of it. To feel logical about the illogical.

Because so often much of what they spout is illogical - not all, but even thinkers struggle with the bombardment of paranoia engulfing them.

It is totally redundant to explain to them that they have been born into a world that is more peaceful and more prosperous than any other time in history.

That's not their problem.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Minister for Child Poverty Reduction may very well succeed

The PM has made herself Minister for Child Poverty Reduction. Symbolically a good move for her. But crucial questions have to be answered.

How will she measure child poverty? I suspect there will be an emphasis on incomes. This mirrors what the UK Labour government did in 2000 when they legislated to reduce child poverty.

But this approach was highly controversial and eventually abandoned:

After the 2010 General Election, a Coalition government, made up of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, was elected in the UK. The Coalition remained committed to the Child Poverty Act, but there was a difference in approach. As part of a larger shift away from policy measures to increase income in favor of a focus on efforts to combat what the government identified as the “drivers of poverty” (family breakdown, low levels of education, worklessness, alcohol and drug dependency, personal debt, welfare dependency, and more), the Conservative-led government began to adapt the measurements of the target itself.

This is not dissimilar to the track Bill English was on, though he also concerned himself with lifting incomes via wealth distribution. Contrary to the picture of indifference that Labour painted, National was tackling poverty and, most importantly, its causes. There was a Ministerial Committee on Poverty which produced some strong work on who was poor and why.

In 2016 a follow-up report on progress was published. Here we see emphasis on a strong economy and welfare reform, particularly regarding teen parents, a "special area of focus".

Indications from the new far left government  (compared to the Clark/Cullen administration) to date are that welfare reforms will largely be abandoned and the economy is likely to weaken due to immigration cuts, new and higher taxes, and greater government intervention in the labour market.

On that basis the PM may very well succeed in reducing relative child poverty. After all, if median household incomes go down, a smaller percentage of families will be in relative poverty as highlighted by the UK experience. While,
"....relative low income declined during the recession, absolute low income increased."

Friday, October 27, 2017

Green's persist with Turei's campaign

Thanks to a reader for highlighting this blog post from Jan Logie, now the Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (focussing on Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues).

Logie has stepped straight into Metiria Turei's shoes. This is exactly the message she was pushing before her fall. The message that unsettled so many New Zealanders.

Under the cloak of compassion it promotes open slather access to benefits.

Greater benefit dependency is not good, for many reasons. Being born to unknown or unnamed fathers is not good for children. These statements are generalities but they are self-evident.

People who work have obligations to their employers, and vice versa. The same should apply to a system that purports to replace income from work, at the very least.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

This Labour/Greens/NZ First coalition will be a different kettle of fish from the last Labour govt

This Labour/Greens/NZ First coalition will be a different kettle of fish from the last Labour government. If you doubt that, here's a perfect example.

Just heard on Radio NZ, Ardern talking about excessive sanctions in the welfare system like the penalty for not naming the father of a child. James Shaw then chimes in backing this concern.

When Steve Maharey was Minister for Social Development he too was concerned about mothers not naming the fathers of the children - a growing trend. So he increased the existing penalty against opposition from the Greens.

Most moderate New Zealanders back a welfare system that helps people in genuine need. I accept that. But they balk against  being forced to be financial fathers to children whose biological fathers  fly the coup.

HOWEVER, here is what NZ First MP Bill Gudgeon said in the debate relating to raising the penalty in 2005:

"The Social Security (Social Assistance) Amendment Bill goes part of the way to try to rectify this problem. An increase from 5.6 percent in 1993 to 16 percent in 2004, indicates an increase in the number of liable parents who are failing to meet their responsibilities. One result is that it makes it financially harder for the custodial parent to move off the benefit, as that parent would not receive child support. The crux of the matter in sole parenting is how the children receive physical and spiritual support. Is the benefit sufficient? Will the sole parent become independent of the State? Many in today’s society would consider these questions to be quaint and old-fashioned, yet I say that we should look at where we have been, where we are, and where we are heading.

The bill increases the rate of reduction in the benefit, and does so as an incentive for sole parents to carry out certain actions so that the other parent contributes financially to the upbringing of the child. Currently, under section 70A of the Social Security Act the rate of benefit paid to the sole parent is reduced by $22 per week for each dependent child where that parent fails or refuses to identify the other parent in law, to make an application for child support, or to attend a hearing and give evidence at proceedings brought under the Child Support Act. By July 2005 additional increases in the rate of reduction will be imposed, but this decision will be reconsidered should the beneficiary meet the section 70A requirements.

Let us look at the responsibilities that we have as parliamentarians, because within the four walls of this Chamber we have the power to pass laws. But what about the citizens of this country? New Zealand First is not judgmental of people who find themselves in this situation, but it is the responsibility of Parliament to help them to become independent of the State. It is our responsibility to ensure financial support is given to the sole parent from the other partner, who, in many cases, is the father. On too many occasions we sit here and debate with each other, and among parties, about who did this and who did that, but our prime responsibility as parliamentarians is to govern so that freedom prevails and assistance is given to people in need.

This legislation will be very difficult to implement, but New Zealand First supports it."

So what will Winston do in 2018? Without NZ First support, Labour and Greens are stymied. What price is NZ First prepared to pay for power?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Trotter's advice for Ardern

Writing in today's DomPost:
A "Real Change" Government, determined to reverse the draconian policies adopted by a Ministry of Social development advised by neoliberal "experts", would call upon the experience and expertise of Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei. Those who find themselves astonished and/or offended by the thought of two such bitter opponents of this country's actuarially inspired and excessively punitive welfare system being asked to advise Jacinda's government on its root-and-branch reform should, perhaps, pause and consider just how radical (albeit from the opposite end of the political spectrum) was the "expert" advice that created it.

What were those "draconian" policies?

- funding early childhood education so single mothers could return to the workforce
- providing intensive monitoring for teenage parents
- asking parents receiving benefits to enrol their children with a GP
- increasing penalties (that Labour had introduced) for people who failed to turn up for interviews or pass drug tests
- creating a new category of benefit with no work-testing at all, the Supported Living Payment...
to name a few

Trotter seems to have forgotten that the last Labour government also tried many ways to reduce welfare numbers. The Jobs Jolt is just one example that the far left bitterly opposed.

Again a reality check is sorely required. Not only regarding Trotter's description of National's reforms but the idea that the new government would let Turei anywhere near it. Even I do not think the PM would be that stupid.

Monday, October 23, 2017

"I'm intending to stay and critique these buggers pretty hard"

So said Steven Joyce. I hope he sticks to this. 

Explanations of policy concessions are now emerging and it appears National rejected those 'bridges too far'.

NZ First is also understood to have won concessions from Labour that National balked at, including work to progress a multi-billion dollar Northland port.
The deal will also cut property sales to foreigners - another policy National balked at, warning it would send an unfortunate message to our neighbours and be in breach of trade agreements.
Immigration was also crucial to NZ First's position - National rejected whole sale cuts. concerned about a labour shortage.
The last point mirrors my major concern with the new government.

New Zealand was built on immigration. I am an immigrant. The public services in particular - Health and Corrections I can personally attest to - are heavily supported by immigrant workers. Many rural sectors cannot operate without immigrant labour.

National could not support policies that would actively hurt the economy.

Effort needs to go into explaining this, relentlessly.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Unfounded statements - hallmark of PM Ardern

If you think I have a grudge against Ardern, you are partly right. She  publicly ridiculed my research. But my problem with Ardern is mainly impersonal. It's just another battle in the war against dishonesty.

From NewstalkZB:

She's told TVNZ's Q&A programme that leaving everything to the market simply hasn't worked for workers.
"Everything" is not left to the market though.

Working For Families subsidises employers. It allows them to pay their workers less (and the childless suffer as a consequence).

Ganesh Nana, left-leaning BERL economist, was lamenting this subsidisation last week. But he never drew the correct conclusion. Abolish the state subsidies. Certainly Jacinda isn't going to.

A state-mandated minimum wage  is hardly descriptive of "leaving everything to the market". And she plans to raise it.

Huge regulation/ compliance costs are hardly "leaving everything to the market". Those costs are reflected in wage constraints. They are passed down to employees and clients.

Company tax, GST, rates, etc. all dictate costs to the labour market.

"Leaving everything to the market" is the most absurd statement.

Oh, correction. There will be a more absurd statement shortly. Money on it.

And so the Prime Minister's prevarications begin

Well continue actually, but begin as Prime Minister

Let's start with this one:

"When you have a market economy, it all comes down to whether or not you acknowledge where the market has failed and where intervention is required. Has it failed our people in recent times? Yes. How can you claim you've been successful when you have growth roughly 3 per cent, but you've got the worst homelessness in the developed world?"
This was refuted earlier this year by NZ Herald reporter Isaac Davison who found:

New Zealand was ranked as having the highest homeless rate per capita in a piece of analysis published by Yale University last month.
The analysis was based on an OECD paper which said 0.94 per cent of NZ's population was homeless. The lowest homeless rate in the OECD was Japan, at 0.03 per cent.
The OECD paper said that NZ's high incidence of rough sleepers could partly be explained by its broad definition of homelessness.
As Social Housing Minister Amy Adams says, if NZ measured homelessness the same way Japan did, it would be ranked among the top of developed countries.
Japan only measures rough sleepers. According to the Otago study, New Zealand has around 1400 rough sleepers, or 0.03 per cent of the population - equivalent to Japan.
Conclusion: Mostly fiction. The study does not compare apples with apples, so it is unfair to say NZ has performed worse than every other country on the list.

Then the PM claimed that  most people's incomes are "not keeping up with inflation...."

Another lie. The official source for data on household incomes says:

 • From HES 2015 to HES 2016 median household income (BHC) rose 3% in real terms (3% above the CPI inflation rate)

And over a longer period?

It's going to be a long three years listening to fabrications, distortions and exaggerations ad nauseam. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The " high quality of palliative care" argument not so strong

If the accuracy of this RNZ report can be relied on, those who argue against voluntary euthanasia using the high quality of palliative as support, are misinformed:

"[Hospice] Patients don't have access to stronger pain-killing drugs because they aren't fully-funded, top New Zealand hospice and palliative care doctors say."


Friday, October 20, 2017

Benefit numbers at change of government

For your ongoing reference, here are beneficiary numbers, released today, at change of government. The slow but consistent reduction continued:

This illustrates just one of many positive social and economic factors for National, ignored by voters and Winston Peters (who insists on talking up a looming crisis for which he cannot be held culpable.)

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Another one bites the dust

What a blow. Rodney Hide announces his last column for the Herald on Sunday. I suppose it'll save a few minutes of my day not having to open the Herald page of a Sunday morning but that's the only upside I can think of and it's not a very good one.

There are countless opinion writers, as mentioned yesterday. There are three I take note of. Karl du Fresne, Martin van Beynen and Colin James. Occasionally I will glance at other writers columns, if the headline interests. But rarely do I reach the end. Mostly because it's recycled pap. The same ideas get expressed repeatedly with little thought about the manner of expression even. Originality is a rare commodity. In part that is why I blog infrequently now. I have said all I have to say and don't want to bore the readers or myself.

But Hide always had a new twist on something. Sometimes the twists seemed implausible but they never failed to either entertain or turn over the grey matter.

Perhaps he could be persuaded to start a blog? Creative thinkers need an outlet. And Lord knows, the rest of us need to hear their thoughts.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Karl du Fresne on Winston Peters

In the on-line media age, where both 'writers' and readers are seemingly insatiably thirsty for content, opinion pieces have become all about quantity - not quality.

But this one is a cracker:

OPINION: As is well known, the MMP electoral system was created to ensure, as far as possible, that no party ended up wielding absolute power.

So far you'd have to say it has worked exactly as intended. In the eight elections since New Zealand adopted MMP, no one party has won an absolute majority. They have all had to compromise and negotiate with smaller coalition partners.

Now we find ourselves in the same position again. It should be familiar by now, yet something seems not quite right. What could it be?

Oh, that's right – Winston Peters, the 7.5 Per cent Man, is back in the mix, and making the most of his intoxicating moment in the spotlight.

He said he was out of phone range when Bill English called last Sunday. But what sort of politician goes bush, leaving his phone unattended, when he's in the hot seat and the country is waiting for a government to be formed?

Then there was his excuse that he was waiting for the 384,000 special votes to come in, as if these had the potential to skew the election night result by such an order of magnitude that any preliminary negotiations with other parties would be futile.

Peters wanted us to think he was delaying showing his hand out of respect for democracy, but I don't think anyone was fooled. We've seen it all before.

If he truly respected democracy, he would acknowledge that his party pulled a measly 7.5 per cent of the vote and stop behaving like some sort of vainglorious potentate from Berzerkistan. Heck, he couldn't even retain his own seat.

But this is Peters we're talking about. The "h" word that comes between "humidify" and "hummingbird" in most dictionaries apparently doesn't exist in the edition on Peters' bookshelf.

Perhaps MMP works best when you have politicians who are prepared to be conciliatory, to compromise and to make concessions. The Germans seem to manage it.

Unfortunately, Peters is not one of those politicians. Bluster and demagoguery, rather than consensus, is his default setting.

Politically, he's a living fossil: a relic of Muldoonism, with all its bullying, divisiveness and ad hoc state interventionism. From the time he first entered Parliament in 1978, his career has been marked by fractiousness and petulance. He is a settler of scores and a bearer of grudges.

Some of his policy ideas – reinstating the old Forest Service, introducing a police "flying squad", legislating to ensure free-to-air coverage of major sporting events – appear designed to exploit the nostalgic yearning of his ageing supporters for New Zealand the way they remember it.

Peters is a political Doctor Who, inviting us to join him in the Tardis for a trip back to a simpler time when an all-powerful state pretended it could solve complex problems with the pull of a lever. Look where that got us.

I said at the start of this column that MMP is working exactly as intended. Does this mean it's a good system? Not at all. It's a dog that replaced a turkey.

We weren't sure at the time that we wanted a dog. All we knew is that we desperately wanted to get rid of the turkey, and a highly motivated lobbying campaign convinced us – by a less than overwhelming majority, incidentally – that the dog would do the job better.

And so we ended up with a system in which a vain and egotistical politician whose party got 7.5 per cent of the vote determines who the next government will be; and where every solemn pledge made during the election campaign is now up for negotiation in a secret process that voters have no control over or input into.

We could, however, do a few things to improve the situation. For one thing, the media could stop stoking Peters' already rampant ego by refusing to give him daily opportunities to grandstand. And let's stop treating the post-election guessing game as some sort of diverting spectator sport or reality TV show. We're talking about the future of the country, for heaven's sake.

Oh, and here's another suggestion that might negate the Peters problem altogether.

You'd think that if any party "got" MMP, it would be the Greens. But at the very suggestion of a deal with National, they clutch at their skirts like startled virgins.

Well, Labour has never invited them into bed. If promiscuity is the price for getting some runs on the board, perhaps they should forget about virtue and get their knickers off.

 - The Dominion Post

Friday, September 29, 2017

Dreaded de javu

And so it came to pass. The self-serving, bad-mannered, boorish, duplicitous, Winston Peters has once more fooled some of the people, thereby visiting an unwanted prospect on all of the people.

Stephen Franks has a piece by his colleague, Rob Olgilvie, well worth a read:

Why just king-maker? Why not king?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Never a truer word...

Decades of state welfare and political paternalism have [since] conditioned some people to believe they cannot take care of themselves without government support. So they jeopardise their own freedom by giving government increasing authority over their lives while reducing the freedom of others too.


Only one party isn't promising to increase their authority over your lives this election. They are the only party promising to spend less, not more.

I will party vote ACT tomorrow. And despair over the vast majority who want to increasingly cede control of their lives. But I have long since stopped trying to understand why.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jacinda Ardern will increase poverty because she doesn't understand the drivers

Last year I wrote a paper which explored the link between child poverty and family structure. The strongest correlate with child poverty is single parent families on welfare. Additionally, children born into de facto relationships - which had a much higher likelihood of dissolving than marriages - were much more likely to become poor.

In a Sunday Star Times column Jacinda Ardern attacked my research:

This week I opened the paper to find some astonishing "news" - a lack of marriage is to blame for child poverty.

I've spent the better part of six years reading and researching the issue of child poverty, and what we need to do to resolve this complex problem in New Zealand

And yet here it was, the silver bullet we have all been looking for. Marriage. Getting hitched. Tying the knot. It turns out that we didn't need an Expert Advisory Group on child poverty, or any OECD analysis for that matter - apparently all we really need is a pastor and a party.

At least, that's the world according to Family First, who commissioned a report this week which, they claim, provides "overwhelming and incontrovertible" evidence that when it comes to child poverty, a lack of marriage is our problem, and it's simply become "politically unfashionable" to talk about it.

I'm happy to talk about it; in fact all of Parliament is. We debated the ins and outs of the institution not that long ago - it was called the Marriage Equality debate. Oddly, I don't recall Family First supporting the idea of increasing access to marriage when it came to same-sex couples. But I digress.

The major piece of evidence Family First use to back up their claims? Child poverty has risen significantly since the 1960s, and more people were married back then. I am paraphrasing, but that's the general gist. And yes, those two pieces of information are true. But are they linked? You only have to look at where child poverty figures really jump around to figure that bit out. Back in the mid-1980s, child poverty numbers (after taking into account housing costs) were about half the levels they are now. What happened to cause the spike? De facto relationships and single parenting didn't all of a sudden become "on trend".

What happened was Ruth Richardson's Mother of all Budgets. Government support was slashed, unemployment rates were grim, and child poverty, as you would expect, went up significantly. Equally, you can also see a downward trend in child poverty numbers around the early 2000s when Working for Families was introduced.

So what about the other claims in the report? How about "51 per cent of children in poverty live in single-parent families". Stating the obvious, surely. Single parent equals single income.

So, Family First, here's my view for what it's worth. Families will take many forms. Some children will be raised by one parent, some will be raised by two, possibly with some distance in between, and some will be raised by four. But the other factors Family First was so quick to dismiss - low wages and staggering housing costs - mean we have 305,000 children in poverty. And this is the stuff that needs to change. It's time we faced reality.

I was allowed only 150 words to respond via a letter-to-the-editor, but you can read my full response here.

Because she doesn't understand child - no let's call it 'family' poverty, Ardern is on the brink of making it much worse.

Granted that particular paper was about incomes. But they account for only one aspect of the poverty problem.

When countries redistribute wealth to raise incomes it comes at a cost - joblessness. Peter Whiteford and Willem Adema write:

"...there is an unavoidable trade-off between providing generous assistance to the poor and improving incentives for people to work and provide for themselves. On average across OECD countries, there is a fairly strong correlation between the effectiveness of tax and benefit systems in reducing poverty and the level of family joblessness. The correlation coefficient is 0.63 – implying that every 1 percentage point increase in the level of poverty reduction achieved by the welfare state is associated with an increase in the number of jobless families by 0.63 percentage points. Among the English-speaking countries  the correlation is even stronger (about 0.92), so that Australia and the United Kingdom reduce child poverty very significantly and have very high levels of joblessness among families; while Canada and the United States reduce poverty much less, but have much lower levels of joblessness (although they have much higher poverty among working families with children). That is, in the English-speaking countries the argument made by Adam, Brewer and Shepherd (2006) appears to apply – more generous support to poor families is associated with higher levels of family joblessness."


In a nutshell, for every percentage point family poverty is reduced, joblessness increases.

The possible future Prime Minister will substantially lift benefit incomes for young parents but reduce the incentive to work. Adding $3,120 annually per child aged 2 or under (and that's only one part of her policy) reduces, if not closes, the gap between incomes from work and incomes from benefits. And don't doubt that recipients factor this into a choice between working and staying dependent on the taxpayer.

"I get a good amount of money on the benefit, why bother working?"

Because work has many more benefits than money alone. Most importantly it teaches your children how the real world operates.

The last two decades has seen countries across the western world debating which is the best strategy to get families out of poverty - increasing work participation or redistributing income. National went largely with the former with their welfare reforms. Now there are fewer children benefit-dependent than since the 1980s (though there's a long way to go yet). Ardern though is predominantly choosing the latter. And if she needs the Greens, a softening of the reforms will be inevitable.

While claiming to have researched  child poverty extensively she has ignored the effect that redistribution has on both work participation and relationship status.

NZ Herald's Simon Collins summarized some of the research into the effect of welfare on relationships:

For parents on benefits or low incomes, the tax and benefit system actually created a financial incentive to separate. Economist Patrick Nolan calculated in 2008 that a mother earning $240 a week and an unemployed father would be $132 a week better off apart, even allowing for the extra costs of two households, because of the extra welfare top-ups the mother could get if she lived alone with the children.
Social researchers Paul Callister and David Rea, in a new draft paper, trace the other side of the equation - a worrying minority of mid-life men aged 30 to 44 missing out on both work and marriage. Mid-life men outside the labour force rose from 2 per cent to 11 per cent in the 30 years to 2006, and those living without partners rose in the past 20 years from 19 per cent to 33 per cent. 
Ardern is intent on reducing income poverty (with no guarantee the money will be spent on the children) but will unwittingly or worse, uncaringly, increase another kind of poverty. A poverty of purpose and spirit. These deficits are what drives the problems all New Zealanders want to see alleviated.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Farmers fight back

Great to see:

Maniototo farmers challenge Ardern to visit them on water tax

A group of Central Otago farmers are challenging Jacinda Ardern to visit their farms to discuss Labour's water tax plans.
The group of women, known as Water Maniototo, say they cannot afford a royalty on irrigated water, planned at one to two cents per thousand litres of water, and it could drive some off their land.


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Crucial good news stories ignored by 'change' voters

The number of teenage mothers granted a benefit has plummeted:


The percentage of children dependent on a benefit is falling and is lower than it has been for decades:

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Not all are awestruck

Jacinda Mania hasn't struck everywhere:

Not a skerrick of interest in the royal party it would appear. Working too hard to notice.

Photo source

Election 2017

Muriel Newman accuses the Labour leader of being neither open nor transparent which Ardern claims "at every soundbite".

A democracy deserves politicians who are transparent and honest. Labour’s new leader is showing she is neither.
The reality is that voters deserve to know exactly how much proposed new taxes are going to cost them, before an election. That’s what openness and transparency is all about – revealing the truth to voters, no matter how unpopular it might be.


While Rodney Hide questions Winston's moral entitlement to a pension and also reminds us:

As an aside, Peters is on his third pension entitlement.
Through a quirk of parliamentary history he has been entitled to two extremely generous parliamentary pensions.
His entitlements are gold-plated and make national Super look extremely mean.


Saturday, September 02, 2017

Saturday morning read

If you have a few spare minutes this morning  Jacob Hornberger is well worth reading:

The leftist shibboleth that undergirds America as a welfare state is that Americans, if left to their own choices, would never voluntarily help out others to a sufficient degree. Given such, it is necessary, liberals say, for the state to enter the picture and force Americans to do their moral duty.

Friday, September 01, 2017

ACT well shot of this one

John Banks never appealed to me at any level. Not as a National MP, not as a talkback host, not as a mayor. But most certainly not as an ACT MP.

Follow the link to court decision from here.

Of particular note, Banks alleged reaction on finding his 19 year-old girlfriend was pregnant.

As a committed opponent of the DPB I struggle with the bona fide reasons for its introduction - abandoned pregnant females. If the DPB had only ever been extended to those women, it would never have become the social undoer it did.

The Honourable John Banks. It jars.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Jacinda versus Bill: TV One Debate

Jacinda would be great cast as the humble, charismatic  up-and-coming politician who wins hearts and minds. Tom Hanks would play the male equivalent.

But this is an election. Not Hollywood.

Bill wouldn't be cast by any director. He gets tongue-twisted, he misses his cues and he resides very much in the head space where facts are a given and don't need ardent defence or advocacy. They speak for themselves - thank goodness. Because he does't.

But on a more subtle level, Bill versus Jacinda found a perfect performance in him. There was not a skerrick of anything  unsightly or ugly. He looks like the man who continues to do the business; who gets what aspiring NZers are about, and is respectful. We might have preferred more sass and sparks but that wasn't going to happen.

Bill is a bit of a bumbler. The crew had to contain him when the show ended. He went to move away and then realised he was supposed to stay still. Is that the man who can't wait to get out of the limelight or the man who needs to move on to the next task?

Personally I just think it's the man who has a job to do and finds all of the media stuff an unwelcome intrusion and burden.

That's the kind of character I would to prefer running the country.

Let's never forget that as Minister for Social Welfare Steve Maharey spent his period in office defending welfare dependency. Bill English turned that on its head. He sought to understand what drove it and what would reduce it. English goes deep when it comes to social deprivation.

Jacinda would return to pulling the levers that drive it.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Is Jacinda the next Michael Joseph Savage?

Is Jacinda the next Michael Joseph Savage?

Will the portrait of Adern adorn walls for decades to come?

Jacinda has evoked Savage for some time now.  She frequently drops his name and talks  about how his welfare ideal degenerated into a judgemental and unjust system under National. She is a little bit Turei, and a little bit Clark.

But no bit Savage.

His goal was to provide assistance for people who were utterly down on their luck through no fault of their own. 

Savage's social security, following in the tradition of the Old Age Pension and even the Widow's Pension, required applicants to prove they were worthy of state support - that provided by their unknown fellow New Zealanders. There was a strong and shared understanding about the deserving and the non-deserving.

That may seem archaic today - certainly to leftists (but not insurance companies). The 'societal social compact' the Left strongly champions was necessarily based on the deserving/non-deserving concept. Without it, the common understanding that held the compact together as a successful policy for so many decades was gone.

Now Ardern  talks forcefully about a better and fairer NZ. But she has no idea - or chooses to ignore - what fairness on Micky Savage's terms would look like.

He wouldn't have been trying to convince Labour supporters they need to pay a young woman $3,000 a year for her newborn. He would have been demanding that a father support his child. He would have strongly rejected any idea that the state should pay for what  Jacinda advocates.

She should quit exploiting past leaders to build support for her own senseless spraying of social subsidies.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

"We don’t have huge numbers sitting on welfare..."

David Farrar has a post about New Zealand's increasing workforce participation in contrast to both Australia and the US.

"We don’t have huge numbers sitting on welfare and/or out of the job market. We have lots of people in work or looking for work."

Regarding the first statement, I beg to differ.

Around one in ten of the working age population relies on a benefit. Granted that is better than during the nineties but it's historically still high. Too high:

Image result for growth in the prevalence of benefit receipt

Think about the likelihood of Judith Collins, back in 2008, campaigning against Labour,  saying "...we don't have huge numbers sitting on welfare". Yet at that time, the rate was the same as today.

One of the the first things National did after becoming government was establish the Welfare Working Group to investigate the high level of dependency.

Memories are very short at election time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

NZ didn't go to the moon but any other difference?

A cut and paste from Samizdata. Appealed to me.

The progress of social programs and the debt

Dale Amon (Belfast, Northern Ireland/Laramie, Wy) · North American affairs

1960’s: Lets eliminate everything bad. We can go to the moon so why not end poverty!
“Yes, do it.”

1970’s: Well, it doesn’t look so easy. We’ll have to spend more money.
“Well, okay.”

1980’s: It is actually not working. Maybe we should spend some more slightly differently.
“Well, give it a try.”

1990’s. We’ve got so many people depending on this! We have to spend more to keep them afloat.
“Well, I don’t want to look like a terrible person, so okay.”

2000’s: The debt is growing, and the social programs are actually having negative effects, but we have to keep trying! We’re nice people! We have to DO SOMETHING!
“Well, is this really necessary… why not cut back… oh, okay, don’t look at me that way.”

2010’s: The country is in debt and things are awful! We must help those who are least able to help themselves. We have to let the world see what nice people we are!
“Well… no.”
“Oh, bog off.”


Monday, August 14, 2017

Metiria goes but the welfare policy stays

The uproar over Metiria Turei wasn't just personal. People were polarized about her past actions and continuing attitude of stubborn, arrogant, defence but the problem for the Greens was multi-faceted. Not least was the reaction to their welfare policy.

Marama Davidson is now leading the 'poverty' policy but there is no talk about changing it. The Greens are still advocating that it is perfectly acceptable not to name the father of a benefit-dependent child, and that failing a drugs test is also OK.

When the state first began financially aiding deserted women it did so under the strict condition that the father had been pursued through the courts, and he would not or could not pay. He could be jailed.

Anyone who was considered to have caused their own incapacity to work was ineligible for social security assistance.

Some would call those conditions draconian. But they kept a lid on welfare numbers for many decades.

Patently the Greens are not going to form a government alone but one of these ideas might slip through. The first. Match that up with Labour's $3000 baby bonus and it isn't hard to predict what will happen.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On Jacinda vs Bill

Somewhat lacking in my own opinion about the overnight sensation that is the new Labour leader, I am borrowing this one:

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Metiria standing in Te Tai Tonga

Metiria standing in Te Tai Tonga. She's not on the list.

2014 Candidate results for Te Tai Tonga

Labour Rino Tirikatene 8445
Māori   Rahui Katene 4891
Green Dora Roimata Langsbury 3173
Mana BEYER, Georgina 1996
Legalise Cannabis Emma-Jane Mihaere Kingi 1005

Can she win it?

As much as I like to see justice served, I also like hard work redemption stories. If there is nothing else to bite her, and she co-operates with WINZ in the way other beneficiaries are required to, and she expresses at least some understanding and remorse about lying to them in the past, she could yet turn into a worthy MP. Writing people off serves no purpose.

She's a talent. Has tremendous tenacity. But currently misguided.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Where does Jacinda's Labour Party stand on benefit fraud? (Updated)

Who said this?

"This Government wants to make sure that everyone who is entitled to support gets it. Benefit abuse and fraud are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. All cases of deliberate fraud are prosecuted. It is a disappointing fact that some people attempt to defraud our system. Where debts are incurred they will be recovered."

(Hint - this time it is not Steve Maharey)


WWallace is correct. David Benson Pope as Social Development Minister under Helen Clark.

Will a future Labour/Green government ever be able to be unequivocal about benefit fraud and back their Ministry's actions again?

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Green's irresponsibility can't even be costed

The Greens want to stop what they call punitive sanctions on benefits and raise core benefit payments by 20 percent. The sanctions abolished include drugs-testing and requirement to name the father of a child.

Many low-skilled, low-pay jobs are currently drug-tested and the trend seems to be for the practice to expand. Consider a scenario whereby the worker can fail an employment drugs test but receive a commensurate non-drugs-tested income from a benefit (the Green's benefit package will push many incomes above minimum wage). It's not hard to envisage which way the foot traffic will be flowing.

And when mothers are no longer required to name the father/s of their children, you can bet many more won't. Why would they? With no financial penalty, there is no economic reason to.  So the money currently collected in child support will reduce. This is effectively a further debit on the welfare bill.

Have we seen any modelling of the possible effects of these policies? You bet we haven't.

But a lift in taxes in higher earning brackets won't cut it.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Will Jacinda dump the Greens?

This question must be crucial to the 72 hour deliberations about the next 7.2 weeks.

I reckon she's going to.

The MoU will be ripped up, but politely.

Large majority still get it


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Charter school supporter now Deputy Leader of Labour

I drew attention to this just a few days ago.

Wonder how Chris Hipkins is dealing with this?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Landlord capture of accommodation subsidies

The following excerpts are from a cabinet paper prepared by MSD, arguing that increasing accommodation subsidies (Accommodation Supplement - AS) won't be exploited by landlords. I am unconvinced if only because of the contradictions in the paper.

For instance, the paper primarily argues that the tenant is likely to spend the extra income from raised subsidies on food, clothing, heating etc. "...rather than more expensive housing".

But it then goes on to make this statement:

Moving out of HNZ properties into the private sector almost always involves paying extra rent.

Which is it to be?

Then consider this:

It isn't difficult to imagine a graphic depiction of this. The rent line would be increasing year-on-year, and the AS line would be static.

Yet the graph used in the paper (to argue that landlords have not been capturing the subsidies) shows virtually the opposite:

Of course, these are averages and city rents pose a problem for low income people. But that also means that there are imminently affordable rentals elsewhere.

Here is a prime example of someone spending far too much on rent.

The answer to housing affordability is not to keep on increasing subsidies. The answer lies in increasing supply and tenants actually cutting their cloth.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Charter schools - at least two Labour MPs will fight for them

Well, one existing MP and one potential.

Willie Jackson runs a charter school and now Kelvin Davis, an educator himself, says he will resign if two Northland charter schools are closed.

Latest Labour policy intends:
"Repealing the legislation allowing for Charter Schools."

More dissent amongst the Labour Party.

Labour Minister called dodging child support "a rort"

When Ann Hartley was in parliament, 2002-05, Labour passed legislation to increase the penalties for claiming a benefit and not naming the child's father:

25 August 2004

Heather Roy: When will he admit that this is just a rort so that fathers can dodge child support, and why should taxpayers always have to pick up the bill?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: It is a rort, and I have said time and time again in this Parliament that fathers must front up to their obligations, and we will make sure they do, as much as we can.
Labour raised the weekly section 70A penalty from $22 to $28 (I argued at select committee it would make no difference).

Ann Hartley wasn't responsible for her son not being named as father of his and Turei's daughter, but on the balance of probabilities, she would have known. Paying child support is no small deal.

The stance Labour took then, shows how politically difficult it will now be for them to continue their pact with the Greens.

Andrew Little should be asked if he thinks dodging child support is a rort.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Turei explains

Meteria Turei explains to an audience who hasn't a clue about New Zealand.

Last weekend I revealed a lie, a lie that I decided to talk about because of the situation we as a society find ourselves in.

I am the co-leader of the Green party of Aotearoa New Zealand – the third biggest political party in our small democracy. We are two months from our general election, and we’re in a tight tussle to change the government.

Yes, a small party in a small democracy which nevertheless requires two leaders. A small party which in 6 general elections has never convinced enough voters that they are fit to govern.

Over the weekend, at our party’s AGM, we launched an incomes policy which would create the most significant changes to New Zealand’s welfare system in a generation. It’s a comprehensive piece of work that rolls back many of the benefit cuts and sanctions that have been put in place by successive governments in New Zealand (some of which are mirrored in other countries).

Sanctions (which result in cuts) that require the beneficiary to attend job interviews, pass drugs tests and tell the state who the father of their child is so he can play his part in financially supporting them - alongside the taxpayer.

 I decided this weekend I would tell supporters, the media and the country that two decades ago I lied to a government ministry while I was receiving a benefit.

I also lied while training to be a lawyer but that seems neither here nor there. Neither does the fact that I now want to make laws seem to be under any sort of ethical scrutiny.

This is why I did it.

I had my daughter, Piupiu, at 22. I was a single, young mum with no formal education qualifications. After she was born, I knew I needed to forge a career for myself so that I could financially support us and give my girl the best life possible. I made the choice to go to law school.

Over five years, I received a training incentive allowance (a benefit that has since been ditched by our current government), as well as a payment for single parents. I also had help from my family, and my daughter’s father’s family.

Actually I also kept the father's identity from the "goverment ministry" so he wouldn't have to pay child support. Some other strangers with children of their own to feed could face that responsibility.

Despite all that support, which is much more than many people in similar circumstances have, I did not have enough money to pay the rent and put food on the table. And so, like many – but not all – people faced with that choice, I lied to survive.

I lived in a few flats over the years with a few different flatmates. I didn’t tell the government department in charge of my benefit about some of those flatmates. If I had, my benefit would have been reduced, and I would not have had enough money to get by.

I told the government department that I was paying the rent all by myself or maybe with just one or two others. And the other flatmates won't come forward now because they were possibly doing exactly the same. None of us could get by. We'd never heard of pooling benefits.

Of course, I had no idea that when I made that decision that 20-odd years later I’d be a politician, campaigning on benefit reform, two months out from an election.

"That decision" was many decisions, year-on-year. It wasn't a solitary desperate mistake.

I am in a privileged, fortunate position now; I have a voice and I have a platform. Thousands of other New Zealanders who are on a benefit don’t have that. In fact, they’re routinely silenced, marginalised and persecuted for the mere fact that they are poor.

Everybody on income support has a voice and a vote. If the benefit system was so mean and so degrading and so inequitable, the Greens would have been in government long ago.

That came into sharp focus a couple of weeks ago when we were preparing for our policy launch. I came across a news story about a woman who took her own life after she was accused of benefit fraud and told that she was to be prosecuted. It was eventually found that she had committed no offence but it was too late for her and the family she left behind. Reading about that case is what spurred me to tell my story – the whole story, not the redacted, PR version.

Some people have asked why it took me 15 years as an MP to do it. To that, all I can say is that nobody wants to be defined by a lie – I certainly never wanted to be. But the outrage and the urgency I felt after reading that woman’s story was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. For me, it felt like it was now or never.

So "never" was a consideration? That just adds to the sense of mistrust the Greens (via Turei) have engendered.

I also think that as a country we are ready to have a conversation about what life is really like for people on benefits and for the 200,000 Kiwi children growing up in poverty. How the welfare system set up to help people actually keeps them living beneath the poverty line; how the government uses the threat of further poverty against the poor; how the best thing we can do to lift people out of poverty is simply to give them more money.

And if we don't just "give them more money" they should take it. Like I did. Oh, and by the way, if you don't vote Green you may just have to. Don't follow the rules that have been designed to make the system sustainable and fair. And make sure you tell your children that you are ripping the system off to set a good example. Inter-generational fraud should be the goal.

In the days since the speech, I have heard from scores of people, mostly single mums, who have had to make the same choice I did. I’ve had people come up to me on the street and say the same. That reaction was unexpected but has been quite amazing.

So many people have admitted benefit fraud to me but despite being an MP, their secrets are safe with me. I made them kneel down and I touched their shoulders.

I’ve also heard from people who are outraged. They think I’m a fraud and a criminal. (Of course, as I’ve said, I will pay back what I owe.) 

Well, I ruminated over that decision for a few days (and years prior to disclosure.)

But importantly, all the abuse and vitriol that beneficiaries face today, by the agencies and in private, is now being levelled at me, in public. That reaction was expected. And it has broken the silence about how awful life on a benefit really is.

I don’t know whether people’s feelings towards me will change over time. And actually, it doesn’t matter at all. What matters is what comes out of these conversations, and whether we will see the day when our welfare system is restored to its original purpose – to be a true safety net that helps our people when they need it.

Which is what it already is. At the very least.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Overt media bias

From today's DomPost (though the on-line version differs from the hard copy offering I have responded to, you'll get the gist):

Kiwi baby death rates not improving as experts blame poverty

"New Zealand's high rates of infant deaths places it near the bottom of the OECD, with opposition parties blaming inequality and poverty for the country's poor record compared to the rest of the developed world.

Poor healthcare; poor housing; lack of access to a midwife or maternity carer; and poor health in the mother have all been blamed by experts for the poor statistics."

My response:

Dear Editor

The DomPost ran a headline on July 20, "Poverty cited as baby death rates get worse."

While not strictly 'fake news' it is outdated news, drawing on OECD data from 2012/13. Since then the infant mortality rate has dropped to its lowest number ever in 2016 - 3.58 deaths per 1,000 infants.

How difficult would it have been for your reporter to access this data from Statistics New Zealand? I could.

Instead the article was peppered with quotes about poverty, family violence and poor housing. Undoubtedly these factors contribute but the trend is positive - not negative.

Lindsay Mitchell

"Society is not a family, Government is not a parent."

Here's a thoughtful offering. It's from an Economics Professor. Imagine if we had academics in New Zealand who prescribed to these views.

"...when the government takes on the role of “parent” or ‘big brother” and takes responsibility for all such things, it weakens the personal and familial senses of duty and obligation most people in a free society would ethically and voluntarily feel “the right thing to do” to help, handle and work out with others in the narrower or wider circle of actual relatives."

There was however a time in NZ when the law forced sometimes even distant family members to take financial responsibility for indigent relatives. Not sure I am comfortable with that either. But the pendulum has certainly swung way too far towards state involvement in matters they should keep out of.

People in the interventionist-welfare state soon are desensitized and even dehumanized to these matters. After all, “isn’t that what government is for?” Besides, “I’ve paid my taxes” to pay for those “social services.” And, in addition, “shouldn’t that be left up to the qualified experts in the government who know how to handle these things?”

Now that rings a bell.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Clearly a lifestyle choice

Doesn't Meteria Turei provide clear evidence that living on a benefit is a lifestyle choice? Whenever I call having a baby/ies and staying on welfare long-term (National's definition is over one year) a lifestyle choice, people scoff. "Do you know what a struggle being on a benefit is?" they say. "Who would choose to live like that? Give me a break."

Meteria did. She made it her 'job' to be the rent collector in each house so she could charge flatmates. She knew how long her degree would take and that she would use this arrangement - living off the taxpayer and her fellow flatmates - for the duration.

It was cynical and illegal.

That so many people are prepared to not only excuse her, but deify her, is bewildering to me.

After a period in the UK, I returned to NZ in 1992. At the height of the 1990's recession unemployment. I had worked since aged 18 (1978)  full time. Unemployment was foreign to me. Months passed and I was unable to find a job. Luckily I was living back home with mum and dad. By chance I ran into an old work mate now employed by WINZ. She was adamant that I should apply for the dole. I distinctly remember her saying, "You worked for years and paid your taxes." I was reluctant, but starting to get a bit despondent and desperate. I am sure I didn't go into the local office (or have wiped the memory of it) but equally sure I received the dole for two weeks - about $60 a week because I wasn't living independently. Then I found work.

This is related only to illustrate the contrasting attitudes that people have to welfare - the chasm that has kept this story hot for 3 days now.

I would suggest that if Turei's attitude prevailed, the country would grind to a halt.  Whether she is right or wrong there is only so much of her morality the country's coffers can finance.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Politician commits benefit fraud ... in UK

A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate has been sentenced to 40 hours of unpaid community work after pleading guilty to two counts of benefit fraud which resulted in overpayments of more than £10,000.

Hanna Toms, Cornwall Councillor for the Falmouth Penwerris Ward, made monetary gain after failing to tell local authorities about an increase in income between 2008 and 2014.

The 40-year-old came clean about a "genuine mistake" two years ago and says that she will not be stepping down from her role as councillor.

She was sentenced at Truro Magistrates' Court.

Cllr Toms was set to stand as Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Truro and Falmouth in 2015 before withdrawing just months before the election.

In a statement, she told the BBC: "I was under the impression that as I had advised Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs of changes in my personal circumstances, this information would be passed on to Cornwall Council. I was wrong.

"I would like to publicly apologise to my family and friends, my constituents, my fellow councillors and to people in Cornwall for letting them down in this way."

The money has since been repaid using a bank loan.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Which Minister said this?

"The Minister said that the ministry takes a zero tolerance approach to benefit fraud for the same reasons it takes a zero tolerance approach to staff fraud. Benefit fraud is unacceptable because it undermines people’s confidence in the benefit system. If taxpayers suspect that some people are defrauding the ministry, this could cause a backlash against beneficiaries."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Green's shot at outbidding Labour

The Greens have announced their latest bid to achieve government:

"It includes a big overhaul of social welfare, with all benefit payments increasing by 20 percent and all sanctions and obligations for beneficiaries removed.

It means those receiving welfare won't have their benefits cut if they don't search for jobs or fail drug tests, or if mothers don't name the father of their child.

Working for Families also gets beefed up under the policy, with weekly payments increasing by at least $72. However, the threshold of eligibility won't be changed.

Ms Turei has also made the bold move of introducing a new top tax bracket of 40 percent, which kicks in for all income over $150,000.

The tax rate in the lowest bracket, presently 10.5 percent, will reduce to 9 percent.

Minimum wage will also go up immediately by $2, from $15.75 to $17.75."

Turei went on to admit defrauding the welfare system when she was a beneficiary. I wonder if she ever paid it back when able to?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Baby Bribes

Labour is promising to pay the poorest  people in NZ over $3,000 a year to have a baby. That's the essential upshot of their Best Start package. Catch is, the payment only lasts till the child is two. What then ? Simple answer: have another baby. Stupid answer but simple.

Their next bribe - which will have Winston downing doubles - is extra cash towards electricity costs for ALL superannuitants (and beneficiaries). Yes, that surprised me, even for Labour.

They expect 80 percent take-up among pensioners. Who knows what that is based on but even at 80 percent there will be a truckload of people applying who do not need the money.

Will this get a good chunk of the usual non-voters out? Because that is surely their overarching game plan.

(If my response is harsh, even those I generally disagree with - the CPAG - don't like the package.)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Assisted dying polls

From ACT's Free Press:
"The End-of-Life Choice Society have released a Horizon Poll showing 75 per cent of New Zealanders want assisted dying legalised. Taking out don’t-knows, only 11 per cent are opposed. This is extraordinary support, and is consistent with previous polls from Reid Research (71-24) Colmar Brunton (75-20) and Curia (66-20). It is time for opponents to concede that, whatever other arguments they may have, public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of change."
As previously stated, I'll not try and persuade or argue with detractors. Each is entitled to their view and they can express it here. Just don't tell me that there is some 'greater good' reason for ceding autonomy over my ending (within the context of this bill).