Thursday, June 28, 2018

Another nail in the coffin of compassion

This is a man who likes to hurt people. Severely physically hurt people.

He has irrevocably alienated himself from normal society by disfiguring his face. He knows that.

I looked for some hardship this man had faced. He is now 29. No spring chicken in criminal circles.

Here's a report about the crime and sentencing that resulted in his initial ten year imprisonment:

A killer was embraced by the family of his victim before he was sentenced to life in prison.

Adam Robert Gempton, 21, was sentenced to life, with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years, by Justice Chisholm in the High Court in Christchurch yesterday for the murder of Timothy John Constable....

Constable's parents hugged Gempton as he stood in the dock.

Pauline Constable said in her victim-impact statement that she forgave Gempton despite going through a "living nightmare" after her son's death.

She hugged Gempton, who twice whispered, "I'm sorry."

...Gempton said: "It was never my intention to kill Tim. I was just trying to defend my partner and I feared for my daughter's safety. I feared for everyone's safety, and I'm sorry."

After the sentencing, Pauline Constable said she was happy with the outcome.

"There was true remorse shown by Adam and he was very sorry this happened," she said. "It's a shame he'll have to spend 10 years in prison."

My experience of prison and prisoners is limited. But greater than most people's. Volunteers tend to work with the most motivated prisoners and it's natural that our views are coloured by this experience. There are plenty of deserving and salvageable souls to be encountered.

Which is why this individual angers me beyond what is reasonable. Because he makes the public turn feral on inmates.

Prison houses the worst humans. The most damaged and the most dangerous. I recently visited a property where two chained dogs were writhing, straining, snarling and desperate to attack. They have to be taught to be that way. And so do humans.

But humans have mental faculties dogs do not. They have the opportunity dogs are not blessed with;  to think about what they have done and where will they go from there.

This man certainly did. And added the deepest insult to injury possible. He became more violent.

State housing capture

State house tenants are on a good wicket. MSD explains: (note: benefit = advantage)

The benefit tenants receive from subsidised rents (IRR/IRRS) [Income related rent subsidy] is (on the whole) significantly greater than the benefit received by people who get the Accommodation Supplement (AS) - creating pressure on public housing places.

Exits from social housing are decreasing rapidly.

MSD explains some of this effect:

"The cost of public housing to government is very sensitive to growth in rental prices
Rental growth has three key impacts:
• IRRS [Income related rent subsidy] increases directly as market prices increase
• growth in rents above incomes means proportion of rent paid by tenants
falls (IRRS grows faster than rental growth)
• higher level of IRRS means tenants are further from the market > decreased
exits and increased durations.
If rental growth per year is 1% higher than what is already built into Budget
forecasting, costs to government grow by 20% and the number of exits falls by
6% over 20 years."

So part of the housing 'crisis' - the shortage specifically - is the result of the normal flow in and out of state houses becoming disrupted as market rents rise.

State housing is about provision of homes for the neediest, hopefully as a temporary state of affairs, because the housing stock hasn't grown for decades. That can't happen if  current occupants batten down.

Every move the government makes that impinges on the private housing market eg land restriction and bureaucratic interference on many more levels, comes back to bite them at the social housing end.

Now instead of reversing restrictions and bureaucracy they plan to increase the supply of state houses and have increased the accommodation supplement. It's just not a viable solution.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What could be kinder than offering a jobseeker a job?

Apparently the treatment of beneficiaries has become harsh and they are subject to unreasonable obligations. An 'expert' panel has been appointed to review the welfare system.

But what could be kinder to a jobseeker than the offer of a job?

MSD freely admits however that it can't get people off benefits despite a demand for workers. In a just-released publication relating to trends as at 2017 they say:
 "Exit rates for jobseekers are lower than expected. Demand for low skilled labour in the regions is not being readily absorbed by jobseekers in those regions."
This indicates a choice on behalf of  jobseekers despite the eligibility condition, "To receive Jobseeker Support a client must be willing and able to undertake employment."

So the rule is ignored. Nothing new there. Let's face it NZ is a place where most people follow rules in order that a few can ignore them without consequences. (And then those following the rules get accused of undue privilege and power.)

As the unemployment rate is dropping, the likelihood people will leave a benefit is also dropping.

Maori make-up 15% of the population but 35% of beneficiaries. Unsurprisingly, their exit rate from the system is also declining and lower than non-Maori.

There are just under 119,000 people currently on a jobseeker benefit. The number has been fairly static over the past six years, but is at risk of rising, especially with the messages being sent by the current government. The Minister, Carmel Sepuloni,  announced today that benefit suspensions - one of the tools staff can use to persuade people into jobs - have fallen by more than a fifth since she changed the policy to allow only senior staff to apply them.

The last Labour government made a song and dance about not wanting 'dead-end' jobs for beneficiaries (Steve Maharey) - an insult to anyone who works. So getting people into education and training became the holy grail. The current Labour government has perpetuated this ideology with their spectacularly unsuccessful tertiary first-year-free policy.

Yet when MSD tracked those who left a benefit in 2013/14 to study or train they found only, "28% were in employment after 18 months" and "35% were back on a main benefit at 18 months."  Were they still studying? Apparently not, "Only 8% had study or training as their primary activity after 18 months."

On the bright side, 60 percent of people who exited to go to employment were still employed after 18 months.

Which brings me back to the opening question, what could be kinder than offering a jobseeker a job?

There is an answer: making him or her accept it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Baby Bumf

Arrived in my letterbox today, this Labour pamphlet:



Talk abut 'milking it'.

She really is all this government has going for it.

Monday, June 25, 2018

'Relaxing bail laws won't increase public risk'

Ex Alliance MP Dr Liz Gordon has apparently "...crunched the numbers on bail" and says the bail laws could be relaxed. RNZ reports:

Dr Liz Gordon a social researcher, who is also president of PILLARS, a group helping prisoners' families, said the average number of murders in New Zealand each year was about 80.
She said when you put that figure alongside the extra 1000 people remanded in custody, it was an emotional over-reaction to suggest Andrew Little would have blood on his hands if he loosened the bail laws.
"The mathematics simply doesn't add up. They're not going to all get out of the prisons and start murdering like mad and if you find good alternatives for them, perhaps you can actually stop them ever having to go to prison again."

Let's give that some context. Police stats for the year to December 2017:

Some portion of the 'serious assaults resulting in injury' could have become murders. In fact there is a school of thought among criminologists that the murder rate today would be higher if not for new life-saving technology. The same applies to the road toll.

If she wants to measure risk, it's not the outcome Ms Gordon should be counting, but the intent.