Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The 'P' testing hoax

Having dealt with real estate and renting recently, the issue of 'P' testing caught my attention, as matters do when they start to personally effect you. I wrote the following but had sat on it unfinished. Now the Government's chief scientist agrees. So for what it's worth:

Despite concerted efforts to reduce availability of key ingredient pseudo-ephedrine, the manufacture of methamphetamine continues along with a new hysteria - P contaminated houses. This ‘crisis’ suits and serves a new industry of testers and contaminant cleaner-uppers.  Landlords and resident owners however bear the brunt of costs associated with this fledgling ticket-clipping industry.  In late 2017, Ross Bell, New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director, told journalist, Maria Slade,

“As a country we’ve gone down this rabbit hole. I’ve described [meth testing] as the biggest scam that’s ever been run in New Zealand, and I still hold that to be true.” 

There is now a clause in real estate contracts whereby a seller must agree to methamphetamine-testing of their property. Of course most properties will be free from contamination but the clause is there to ‘test’ for willingness to comply. A resistance would indicate a possible problem. But the very presence of the clause draws the attention of the potential buyer who then feels pressured to take up the option. He is unaware that the official level of P contamination considered dangerous is very low and highly contentious. In a risk-averse climate, governments in particular are bound to err on the side of safety.

The current level is set at 1.5 microgram per 100 square centimetres. Above this level a property is legally ‘contaminated’. But Nick Kim of Massey University says the level is “risibly low”. According to Slade:

“In a 2016 paper Kim advised that the lowest level of daily exposure to meth that could have a remotely plausible health effect on infants, the most vulnerable members of society, was 12 micrograms – about 8 times the new standard.” 

Other academics are more cautious but agree that the level is set low to provide a substantial safety buffer. The Drug Foundation succinctly captures how this manufactured crisis is based on falsehood:

“The debate about the health risks of living in a house where methamphetamine has previously been smoked (‘non-labs’) has not arisen from concerns raised by the medical or scientific establishment. Instead, it has been driven by Housing New Zealand’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to tenants taking drugs in their properties, by the media response to that and by the methamphetamine testing and remediation industry.”

New Zealand Drug Foundation, 2017:

"New Zealand spent $52 million last year remediating state houses that contained residues of methamphetamine. In fact, there is no scientific evidence that living in a house where methamphetamine has previously been smoked causes harm. The cost is mind-boggling, but so are the social justice implications – many Housing New Zealand clients were forced to leave their homes and are now homeless and facing huge debts, along with their children and dependants."
Thanks government. Just another fiasco associated with the war on drugs.

More fact checking on Cindy Kiro

Yesterday Cindy Kiro was interviewed by Chris Lynch, NewstalkZB, Christchurch. I blogged about two statements which were false. Here's another:

"...New Zealand was the first country in the world in the 1930s to have the Social Security Act."

Not true. The US 1935 Social Security Act preceded NZ by 3 years.

And of course the Germans were well ahead of very other country. It was Germany that introduced the first old age pension - not NZ.

Back to Kiro.

"We need to go back to some of the roots ...it was called 'security' because it gave people, families in particular, some security in times of massive uncertainty."

Not all families, and certainly not without conditions and obligations.

For instance:
While the 1938 act did not explicitly discriminate against Māori, the provision for the payment of benefits at a lower rate ‘if the maximum benefit is not necessary for the maintenance of the beneficiary’ allowed officials to pay Māori less than Pākehā. While communal living was often cited as a reason for reduction of Māori benefits, MP Eruera Tirikātene told the minister of social security in 1940 that Europeans living at the Rātana pā got the full benefit, while Māori residents had a reduced benefit.
Additionally, and this would be antithetical to the current panelists, in respect of the 1938 act:
"Moral qualifications have been retained in the  liberalized provisions taken over from earlier legislation." 
Moral qualifications? With respect to eligibility to the invalid benefit:
"...the disability must have been acquired during residence in New Zealand and must not be self-induced."
The only benefit available for mothers without partners was contingent on them being legally 'married' and unable to obtain maintenance through the courts. Family allowances were also only payable in respect of married parents.

With regard to the unemployment benefit:
"...the Commission may postpone the commencement of an unemployment benefit
for as long as 6 weeks or even terminate it altogether if the applicant lost his job through misconduct, left voluntarily without good reason, or failed to accept an offer of suitable employment."
I don't think these are the roots that Kiro wants to return to. In fact I doubt she has any idea about the act or she'd stop idealizing it.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Kiro kicks off badly

Among a lot of disjointed verbiage Cindy Kiro, appointed to lead the welfare review Labour promised the Greens, says to Chris Lynch on NewstalkZB:

"...sole parents constitute something less than 2 percent of benefit dependants..."

She is completely out of touch.

Sole parents who are benefit dependants constitute 2% of the working population.

Lynch, to his credit, tackled her on the issue of mothers not being obliged to name the fathers of their children, by talking about the importance of fathers to families. She then contradicts herself by saying we can't hark back to the 1950s because families have changed so much. But earlier she was pushing the line that we need to go back to the beginning of welfare, when it was called social 'security' and reflect those values. She can't have it both ways

Then she clearly tells him that child poverty has worsened since 2003. From the official government source:

There is no evidence of any increasing depth of relative income poverty over the last two decades.

Kiro has a track record of telling porkies.

The best I can offer is maybe she genuinely believes her own statements and is merely misguided.

The alternative is unpalatable.

About as Left as it could be

Labour has announced the make-up of the welfare review panel:

The members:

Professor Cindy Kiro (chairwoman) - responsible for Māori/indigenous education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland

Professor Innes Asher – paediatrician and health spokeswoman for the Child Poverty Action Group

Kay Brereton – Welfare advocate and co-convenor of the National Beneficiary Advocates Consultative Group

Dr Huhana Hickey - Member of the NZ Human Rights Review Tribunal and chairwoman of the Auckland Council Disability Strategic Advisory Panel

Professor Tracey McIntosh - head of department for Sociology at the University of Auckland

Dr Ganesh Nana - Chief economist at BERL

Phil O'Reilly – Former chief executive of BusinessNZ and current managing director at Iron Duke Partners

Robert Reid – President of First Union

Trevor McGlinchey - Executive officer of New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services

Latayvia Tualasea Tautai - Young Pacific leader from Auckland and university student

Charles Waldegrave - Founder of the Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit 1991 and co-lead of the New Zealand Poverty Measurement Project

I've been around the welfare 'industry' a long time and can tell you that, with the exception of Phil O'Reilly, and possibly Latayvia Tualasea Tautai, whose name is new to me, this is a strongly politically left group. Each will believe that greater wealth redistribution is the answer to 'inclusivity'; that the haves must be forced to support the have-nots regardless of what that does to the motivation and spirit of the have-nots and their children. That the main problem with benefits is lack of generosity, too many conditions and too many obligations. I am certain each of these panelists would proudly describe themselves as socialists. It is also assured that this group will tell the Minister exactly what she wants to hear.

The best outcome for NZ, including beneficiaries, would be Labour losing the next election and this group's brief to backwards-pedal going absolutely nowhere.

(What to expect.)

Update: Over at Kiwiblog this regarding Latayvia Tualasea Tautai

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Ireland's abortion vote

The result of Ireland's abortion vote is the right one. I'd have voted with the majority.

But I feel very sad too. Ideally, any smidgen of life should be able to fight its way to fruition. A pregnant mum should want to safeguard her unborn baby, to give it life, even against odds. As an older mum I knew the three month test could show I was carrying a child that was 'imperfect'. I had already resolved to continue should that be the case.

But that's just my situation. My values (not to mention fortunate circumstances and lack of privation) produce a personal decision that cannot be imposed by law on every other female.