Thursday, March 12, 2020

Greens: "It doesn't matter why you can't work..."

In the permissive tradition made famous by Metiria Turei, Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says: "It doesn't matter why you can't work - you should be able to immediately receive support." She wants stand-down periods permanently abolished and benefit rates increased substantially. This is in response to the coronavirus. But their desire for a sanction-free, no-questions-asked benefit system is well known.

It is staggering how pervasive welfare has become since its very first inception as the stringently policed old-age pension. A prospective recipient had to make application to a magistrate with proof of age, citizenship and good character. The names of those granted a pension were published in daily newspapers.

Until the 1960s clauses remained in benefit legislation to the effect that the applicant had to be sober and of good character and must not have caused their own incapacity to work. These disappeared as gate-keeping became increasingly difficult and society adopted a more 'progressive' attitude to need.

From then numbers exploded.

While Davidson is effectively saying it doesn't matter if you make yourself unemployable, actually she is only giving voice to the current state of affairs anyway. Thousands of  addicts, and criminals - past and present -  have their livelihoods paid for by the law-abiding. Thousands of parents chose to rely on the taxpayer instead of a partner to raise their children. Thousands of individuals have become inter-generational dependents as a result.

Are we a better country for the Green's (current political manifestation) brand of liberalism and non-judgementalism?

We may be. But if I was going to bat for children I'd say 'no'.

(It is one thing to extend kindness and care working one-on-one with beneficiaries and prisoners. A personal relationship includes personal knowledge about circumstances. But it does not follow that a society should apply a blanket approach of unquestioning and uncritical 'compassion'.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Labour's lack of consistent philosophy

These are extremely unusual times. 'Stay calm and carry on' is my preferred mode of action.

A side effect of this flux is the exposure of Labour's lack of a core, consistent approach to assistance.

Under Finance Minister, Bill English, National was developing a highly targeted approach to need. Actuarial analysis was used to find who the most economically vulnerable and potentially costly were and efforts concentrated accordingly.

Along comes Labour and puts up election bribes like:

- Fees Free first year

- Best Start

- Energy Winter Payment

Each of these was cash assistance regardless of assets or income.Not once did they explain why they were prepared to give money to people who didn't need it.

Now Grant Robertson (who I rate in that party) is talking about the government's targeted response. He stresses how careful the government must be to meet only genuine and urgent need. Quite rightly.

But square it please.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Increase in Asian mothers greater than all other groups combined

The matter of falling fertility caught my attention last year when I produced this paper for Family First.

NZ's fertility rate had dropped to an all-time low (like many other developed countries) in 2018. The 2019 data is now available and the birth rate has increased slightly to 1.75.

Predictably most of the increase is to mothers 30 and over. The increase in births by ethnicity is charted below. There were almost twice as many more Asian mothers than all the others combined. (1,203 versus 678)

Important note from data: "Each birth is included in every ethnic group specified. For this reason, some births are counted more than once and responses sum to more than the total number of births."

Birth data does not use a hierarchical system whereby Maori gets prioritised when there are multiple ethnicities. Here I have used 'mothers' as opposed to 'children' because mothers state fewer ethnicities than they do for their child, understandably. Mothers sum to 68,007 whereas children sum to 77,505. Total births for the year on the other hand is given as 59,637.