Saturday, May 09, 2020

Quote of the Day

"...if you are worried about stupidity in high places, your best solution would be to get rid of high places."

Eamonn Butler, Adam Smith Institute

Friday, May 08, 2020


I know I should be sleuthing for serious stuff but it's Friday night and I really can't be bothered. This whole lock down debacle has made me realise the government is a law unto itself. If the necessary legislation doesn't exist in the here-and-now, it can be conjured up retrospectively.

But I did have a half-hearted look at the papers dumped today. Being a visual person, shortly into my perusal I was caught by the signatures:

Ashley's signature is terribly, incredibly elegant and David's is a dog's breakfast and looks like ... well I won't say what immediately springs to mind.

But it recalls my thoughts today (and every day) listening to the press conference addresses with the requisite Maori greetings. "How many times do they rehearse the phrases to get the pronunciation right?"

Similarly, now I wonder, how many times have they practiced their signatures - or variations of - to get those just right? I mean, look at them.


(Disclaimer: The only time I ever practiced a signature was when trying to forge my mother's on absentee explanations at college.)

Spurious comparison

Here's what Grant Robertson said at noon today:

He said 40,000 people had signed up for the jobseeker benefit since 20 March.
Robertson said the increased number of people on the benefit represented 0.8 percent of the country's total population.
"For comparison, in the United States, they have had new jobless claims relating to Covid-19 of 33 million, or 10 percent of their population."

The elephant in the room is the wage subsidy. Yes NZ has fortunately not had a huge call on the jobseeker benefit yet because of the 1.7 million wage subsidies being paid out.
Which totally muddies the picture.

Even when the subsidy ceases there will be a lag while WINZ makes covid-response collateral use any redundancy, sick and annual leave payments before 'commencement day' begins.

I don't even know why Robertson brought it up. Just another instance of treating us like numpties.

Update. I checked out the rule re redundancy payments before I wrote this post. Now it would appear that WINZ has been acting unlawfully in taking redundancy payments into account. Good sleuthing on someone's part.

Individualisation of benefits not imminent

A Stuff ("trustworthy, accurate and reliable news") headline reads:

Government considering change to benefit access rules

A spokeswoman for Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said entitlement to most benefits and social assistance was reliant on the "couple" unit of assessment.
“Moving to an individual unit of entitlement would be very complex however it is something that is in our medium to long-term work programme.”

Despite the headline which infers something that might happen shortly in response to the pandemic, I doubt there's any immediacy regarding  individualising benefits.

In 2018 economist and social policy advisor Michael Fletcher was commissioned by Superu to investigate individualising entitlements in New Zealand’s benefit system.  Fletcher cites investigations as far back as the Royal Commission on Social Policy 1988 which concluded, “…a rapid move to individual entitlement would mean a very large increase in government expenditure…”
Fletcher goes on to model changes that “… suggest the cost of individualising all entitlements would be in the order of $1.5 billion to $2 billion.” But he also cites forthcoming work from Anderson and Chapple that estimates individualisation would cost several billion dollars per annum.

On the one hand, compared to what has been spent on wage subsidies to date, "several billion" might seem palatable. Bear in mind though that those estimates are based on 'normal' levels of benefit uptake. Not during a recession or depression.

To make this change in the near future could only be achieved by more borrowing.

(BTW I cannot leave this article without a further comment. Geoff Simmons from the TOP party says,"“Relationships aren't life-long like they were in the 70s and 80s when these rules were designed. I don't know many people who even have joint bank accounts any more.” What a sad observation. I really don't give a monkeys if people want to flip in and out of relationships. That's their business. But very little thought is given to the effect this has on their children...a whole other topic for another day.)

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Who cares?

The years stolen from this baby would probably exceed all of the years left to those who've died from Covid 19.

Oh well. Who cares?

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Hold your nose

Help me out here. Below is a selection of passages from Bomber Bradbury's blog. Now I know Martyn likes to use hyperbole and stir people up but surely, he can't really believe what he writes? Perhaps it's a case of saying it enough will make it true.

Employing as much objectivity as I can muster, among my small circle of immediate friends and family - and whose views I know - support or otherwise for the PM is 50/50. I listen to talkback most days, especially when out walking dogs, and again my sense is that the country is split. There maybe a gender bias operating also, with males tending to not support the PM more than females. Of course there is another younger generation I don't know much about.

But if Bomber is right the silent majority must all be as enthralled as he is. What do you find in your circles?

Warning. Hold your nose.

"Voters who have voted Blue their entire lives have been bewildered by Jacinda’s competence and are considering voting Labour in gratitude..."

"Jacinda’s extraordinary leadership not only through this plague but through the White Supremacist Terror attack and the volcanic eruption (all the while being  new mother) have lifted her to legacy level."

"We are seeing a political leader who has every chance of being Prime Minister for 4 terms."

"Jacinda has won the vast majority of New Zealanders over. She asked for lockdown sacrifice and the nation obliged, there is a real sense of pride and gratitude in her leadership that builds an electoral loyalty."

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Covid 19 in context

Here's another viewpoint on Covid 19 from a retired English professor.

"Robert Watson: A comparison of the relative magnitude of ‘COVID-19’ and ‘All other causes’ of deaths per 1,000 for age and sex cohorts

The analysis indicates that:

(i) whilst COVID-19 is most certainly a new cause of death, its victims are predominantly older men (75+) and very elderly women (80+); as both these cohorts are already very small (particularly so in the case of males) and also suffer from very high rates of death from all other causes, COVID-19 deaths only make up a small minority of the deaths (many of which would have occurred anyway within a few months); hence, it seems highly unlikely that COVID-19 will result in a long-term increase in death rates even amongst these vulnerable age cohorts.

(ii) Covid-19 does not kill off young people at all or even the middle aged to any significant extent; indeed, the pattern of deaths largely replicates existing patterns of deaths from all other causes; moreover, COVID-19 actually marginally reinforces the existing pattern of early male death rates
and the very high death rates experienced by the very elderly of both sexes;

(iii) as a new ‘killer’ disease, COVID-19 has the benign characteristic of choosing its victims from the already elderly, i.e., it is best seen as reinforcing the natural order of death; essentially, is there an alternative age cohort that one would rather this new disease decimates?; COVID-19 really would be a human life game-changer if it drew its victims from the young and/or otherwise healthy people in their prime of life!

(iv) If the blither being put about in the media that ‘every life saved is worth it’ really is to be taken seriously, then it is clear that we ought to forget about COVID-19 and instead throw vast medical resources at trying to reduce the existing massive premature slaughter of males in their 40s, 50s and 60s."

Hat tip Rodney Hide

Sunday, May 03, 2020

PM's patronising accolades are misguided

The police are running around ordering people off Christchurch beaches. Their message: "If you're not exercising, clear out." So you can skip on a beach but not sit on it.

It's a revolting and indefensible state of affairs.

But it set me off again on trying to get my head around another consideration.

Many New Zealanders are not law-abiding. Think the size of the black economy. Or that some don't bother to register a birth. Or that substantial numbers lie about their family circumstances to qualify for a benefit. Or the extent of still-illegal cannabis use. Just a few examples I can substantiate for any readers who think I make stuff up.

Despite the PM's patronising and puke-making accolades for our en masse efforts, do YOU honestly believe the level 4 lock down was dutifully observed across the country?

I don't. Not for a minute.

Yet the Covid incidence reduced anyway.

Which explains why Australia's far less intrusive and stringent lock down measures achieved similar results.

Forget Level 4 - Here's Wave 4


Birthdays during the debacle

We've had three April birthdays during the debacle.

My dear Mum turned 88. Yesterday we were at last able to play a few games of Scrabble in her and dad's house at the village she now calls Stalag Summerset. My son turned 26 and was happily at home (choosing more space over his small flat for the duration). And my beloved Limmey turned 2.

I was slightly hesitant about taking on a newborn but she has grown quite painlessly into a charming young adult.