Saturday, September 19, 2020

Beliefs that fly in the face of evidence

 According to the British Adam Smith Institute:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the UK is in something of a housing crisis. Home ownership has been declining for half a century. 90% of 25-34 year olds face average regional housing prices 3 to 4 times their income, up from less than half 20 years ago. Rent as a share of income has been rising, making the prospect of saving for mortgage deposit increasingly remote. 

Odd. Afterall the United Kingdom has a capital gains tax, apparently the solution to our housing crisis.

Unable to gain popular support for one here, Ardern still believes NZ should do the same:

Despite ruling out ever introducing a capital gains tax, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern still believes New Zealand should have one.

Asked on Newshub Nation if she had "betrayed" Labour supporters by canning plans to introduce one after the 2020 election, Ardern said no.

"I've certainly not had that feedback from people that they take that view," she told host Simon Shepherd on Saturday morning.

"Did I believe in it? Yes. Still do."


Friday, September 18, 2020

Stuff: "Little evidence of child poverty coming down"

Stuff is writing a series called 'The Whole Truth' running up to the election. It aims to fact-check campaign claims, party policies and achievements. Today they feature a piece on child poverty which also appears in the Dominion Post. I've included the entire short piece (because it is the simplest summation of the measures I've read) and added  a few of my own comments:

"There is little evidence, on the Government’s own measures, of child poverty coming down.

As one of her Government’s earliest acts, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern brought in the Child Poverty Act in 2018. It established ways of measuring poverty and laid out a series of targets against them.

There are three primary measures of poverty in the Act, two of which are income-based.

For these income measures, a mathematical model is used to “equivalise”, or flatten, the incomes of different households.

This allows a consistent measure to be applied across households of all different sizes. Larger households need more income to manage than smaller households do.As a result, there is no specific income figure under which all households are said to be living in poverty.

However, the government’s first measure for child poverty does say that a child is living in poverty if they’re in a home with an income less than half the average, equivalised disposable household income, before housing costs are deducted. 

(The average disposable household income, before housing costs, is currently $46,700 a year, according to Stats NZ.)

What do the numbers look like using this measure?

Ardern set a 2020/21 target of lifting 70,000 children above this line. That would mean shrinking the 2018 measure of 16.5 per cent of children to 10 per cent.

As of June 2019, the latest available figures, this measure was down by only 1.6 percentage points to 14.9 per cent. Instead of 183,500 children in poverty, there were 168,500.

There is another, similar sort of measure, which has recorded similar results to date.

Again, a child is considered in poverty if they’re in a home with an income less than half the average, equivalised disposable household income, but this time after housing costs are deducted.

(The average disposable housing income after housing costs is $35,800 a year.)

The target for this measure is a 4 per cent shift, or lifting 40,000 children from poverty. 

The 253,800 impoverished children first counted by this measure in 2018 reduced 2 percentage points in the year to June 2019, to 235,400 children.

A third measure goes more directly at material hardship. It defines a child as impoverished if they live in a home that lacks six or more key indicators, such as a home that lacks shoes, fresh fruit or vegetables, the ability to see a doctor, or the ability to pay power bills.  

This measure is favoured by Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft, who says it’s a better measure of a child’s life at home. 

On this measure, the number of children in poverty has increased by 4100 in the year to June 2019, up 0.4 percentage points to 13.4 per cent. 

The shifts on all three measures are so small that they fall within the margins of error for each. 

And due to the lag in the data, it’s hard to know how recent events have affected New Zealand’s poorest children.

Despite this, Ardern has frequently cited a Treasury estimate that the number of children in poverty would reduce between 10 per cent and 12 per cent due to policies like the 2018 Families Package."

She also claims that poverty has fallen on 7 of the 9 measures. However only one of the small reductions is outside of the margin of error (-2% vs + or -1.9%). The margin of error exists because the results come from a survey of just 20,000 households. 

StatsNZ itself says, "...most of the changes likely reflect the expected uncertainties present in all sample surveys."

The Minister for Child Poverty Reduction also ignores that more children are now on benefits. That was the case BEFORE Covid. At December 2019 there were 12,000 more children on benefits than at December 2017. The number of children on welfare should actually represent one of the measures.

The writer, Thomas Manch, has unusually mentioned the equivalisation method. This means a large family with a relatively high income can appear in the poverty data. A household income gets equivalised down progressively based on household members.

Finally, the data is only till June 2019 - almost 15 months old. If the June 2020 data is released pre-election the PM will undoubtedly blame her lack of progress on Covid.

And that will represent yet another obfuscation.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Where does NZ's GDP drop sit comparatively?

NZ's  GDP fell by 12.2% in the June Quarter.

Here are some other country comparisons:

(Click on source for interactive image)

The yellow bar (10.7%) represents the average of the G7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US

Taxation out. Revenue Raising in.

Have you noticed that Labour no longer has a Tax Policy - only a Revenue Policy? Grant Robertson uses the term constantly. Now I see the Greens have joined in with a press release entitled, All Healthy, Now We Need To Revenue Raise.

They sound like a charity talking about the need to fundraise. But that involves persuading people to part with their money for a worthy cause.

Revenue raising requires legislated forcible removal of poeple's wealth for expenditure they may not agree with or benefit from. 

How stupid do they think we are?

Tax wasn't love and neither is revenue raising.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

PREFU forecasts

Forecasts of Jobseeker and Emergency benefit numbers over the next few years are very fluid.

According to today's PREFU:

"The number of Jobseeker Support and Emergency Benefit recipients is expected to increase by 89,000 by 2020/21 compared with 2019/20 and then increase further in 2021/22 to peak at 279,000, before reducing to 246,000 recipients by 2023/24, 84,000 (an increase of 52%) more recipients than 2019/20." P56

That immediately struck me as lower than prior forecasts. This chart shows the earlier BEFU forcast:

Personally I still think it is too early to make any reasonable projections. 

You might argue the PREFU projection is more optimistic in the short term (more politically palatable?) but it is more pessimistic in the longer term.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Stop the world, I wanna get off

I've become a huge golf fan. Because I started playing. 

A close childhood friend came from Australia to celebrate our sixtieth birthdays together and she brought me her old clubs. Checked them in on her flight ensconsed in a bag and carrier. 

Briefly, around 32, I played for a few months and introduced her to the game. Then I got married, had a family and never held a club again. But she did. And she brought me her old clubs (replaced by a new supa dupa set) to rekindle my interest and entice me to go on an Australian golfing holiday with her at some future date.

So I joined the Hutt Park Club which has a slightly rumpty 9 hole course with a primary retail operation and driving range. Now I am addicted.

Every night I watch various instalments of the Master's Tournament. The players are my characters. It's like watching movies. Who will beat adversity this time? Who will hold his nerve this time?

Anyway, I'll get to the point of my post.

I'm watching the crowds following Tiger Woods ... in any of the five years in which he won the Green Jacket. And soaking up the sheer exuberance of the fans, his family and Tiger himself when he finally let's the emotion erupt at the 18th.

Is this jubilant, pressing crowd, thousands spread across the course, a thing of the past?

Are we ever going to come back to our senses as a world and relish what we love?

Golf is currently my thing. But you must have had that moment when you stopped in your tracks and said to yourself, "Is pre-Covid the freest we were ever going to be?"

Because it's not just Covid. We're are all well aware of it.

It's social media mindless collectivism which is powerful beyond reason. Think about that. Power beyond reason.

What is going to happen to Comedy in this aggressive, angry, anti-self expression age? When on-line self-appraised 'benign' bullies wield more power than those they wrongly label 'racists, xenophobes and misogynists.'

As we are progressively  sometimes literally held responsible for the so-called sins of our great grand fathers and denied the products of their culture, what great new standard is it we will all be made to hold ourselves to?

Can we not be imperfect humans, irrevant humans, irascible humans, imaginative humans from here on in?

If not, I'll vacate far more happily than should be the case.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Damien Grant on cannabis legalisation

Good discussion from Damien Grant, a committed libertarian. I must be getting intellectually lazy because I want someone to convince me which way to vote instead of making my own mind up. And Grant seems like a good candidate coming down on the 'yes' side due only to the immorality of prohibition, my major impetus towards the same decision. But in the process he highlights the sheer nuttiness of the proposed legislation. This in particular rankles with me. With regard to the new governmental agency to be established, the Cannabis Regulatory Authority :

The Authority must prioritise non-for-profit applicants for licences and applicants that can “...demonstrate a commitment to delivering social benefit to the community or communities…”

I mean, why? The idea is to end the failed prohibition of marijuana by allowing pot-heads to buy their weed from a shop rather than a criminal gang, not tack onto a simple retail operation a range of social justice obligations.

More of the virtue signalling lunacy the Kiwibank is indulging in. Who knows what sort of legislation will develop once given the Green light. I keep feeling as if I am being sold a lemon. What's worse, a useless Green lemon.

So sorry Damien. I am still on the friggin' fence.

I may abstain.