Saturday, September 26, 2020

Blinkers where they shouldn't be

An article discussing the 'right to silence' laws on the back of another clamour to have it removed in the case of child abuse deaths quotes  "law expert and recent Parole Board appointee Khylee Quince".

Abolishing the right to silence would also have “huge gender implications”, she says.

“No one abuses children without abusing mothers. It could make things worse for people ... in relationships of violence and coercive control where their whole lives are really framed around managing violence of a male partner or a male member of the household.”

In many instances, those women, or extended family, will have sought help previously or tried to raise red flags, and failed.

I wonder if she sits on any women's prison parole boards? Perhaps not.

Since first data was collected in 1967 women have been killing children too.

Granted mothers are more likely to kill their babies shortly after birth or in a murder/suicide situation but they are not exempt from killing them through abuse or neglect. Note also the relatively high number of non-mother female caregivers responsible for CAN deaths.

The telling number though is the one related to step-fathers. And deaths are just the tip of the abuse iceberg.

Of course, the use of the term 'step-father' here is quite a departure. Step-fathers used to describe men that married and took on their new wife's children, usually after she was widowed. More recently, after divorce. That's a committment.

Today 'step-fathers' are just as  likely to be shiftless, ill-motivated, individuals looking for regular sex and somewhere to park themselves rent-free. 


Thursday, September 24, 2020

PM's perilous promise

Am I a bad person?

Because I would not don the hijab. Ever. It's not my culture, it has no meaning for me and while I accept someone else has reasons for wearing it, I don't share them.

True tolerance for each other would be demonstrated through side- by- side wearing of the hijab and going bare-headed.

The Al Noor mosque people are star-struck by Jacinda and she is besotted by them, and their terrible personal tragedies.

The senseless and violent murders that took away their family and friends forever were an evil act and must be an agony to live with. Our shared humanity as parents, children, brothers and sisters, tells us that.

But the risk of a repeat will never be eliminated by introducing hate speech laws. It could even be aggravated.

Yet that is what Jacinda promised the Muslim advocates for such a law change today. Down in Christchurch. In her hijab.

In France judges have ruled against implementation of recently introduced hate speech laws finding they did in fact impinge on freedom of speech:

The court said this [tech regulation] created an incentive for risk-averse platforms to indiscriminately remove flagged content, whether or not it was clearly hate speech.

The law’s provisions “therefore infringe upon the exercise of freedom of expression and communication in a way that is not necessary, suitable, and proportionate,” the court said in a statement.

New Zealand is still a free country (I write, with many 'buts' bumping around in my brain). And we will need to fight to remain so. We must not change our laws to appease groups whose safety will not be improved by the process. The PM must not emotionally over-identify with one group at great cost to the other. They need to learn, along with every other citizen, that laws have limitations in terms of desired effect, and that tolerance and persuasion are far more powerful impulses.

Boys, mistrust and violence

 A reader sent me this US 'City Journal' article, Breaking Things,  about boys, mistrust and violence.

We didn’t really believe that the adults in our lives cared about what we did. Seth got thrown out of his house and wouldn’t tell us why. Josh and Brandon’s dad had been divorced five times, and he was always traveling for work. My adoptive mother had recently moved to another town. When I called her every two weeks or so, I lied that my grades were good and that I was doing all my homework. Maybe if we did something severe enough, they would give us their attention. Maybe if we got into enough trouble, or needed enough help, they would be more like the parents we wanted. On some level, we had stopped caring about ourselves in order to get them to care for us. When adults let their children down, kids learn to make choices that let themselves down. Our disappointment with adults led us to believe that rules weren’t actually legitimate. They were invented by adults to keep us from having fun. Why should we listen? 

...Many pundits and commentators focus on economic deprivation or sociocultural factors—above all, racism—to explain the recent wave of urban anger, triggered by Floyd’s awful death. But the data show that American society has fewer people in poverty and less bigotry compared with decades past; and police use of force is far less pervasive than it was during higher-crime periods. What has been getting far worse, however, is family life. Stable families have been in free fall over the last few decades. In 1960, the out-of-wedlock birthrate in the U.S. was 3 percent. In 2000, it was about 30 percent. Today, it is 40 percent. (This figure obscures class divisions: for college graduates, only one out of ten children is born out of wedlock. For those with only a high school diploma, six out of ten are born to unmarried parents.)

The lack of stable families has contributed to the widespread mistrust of others and lack of social relationships among young people. It has, I believe, given rise to a sense of nihilism even in an era of relative material abundance, which has characterized some of the violent upheavals.

I concur with the writer. It's childhood stability that protects against negative social outcomes. The main change in my thinking about it over twenty years is that a stable lone parent is better than a lone parent who goes through a series of relationships. And better than a two parent family where the parents are at war with each other. Above all children need  a parent or caregiver who prioritises them above all else.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Stuff fact-checks Judith Collins' claim "400 people a day are losing their jobs"

 After looking solely at Jobseeker Benefit and Covid Income Relief Payment numbers the Stuff journalist says,

Many jobs are being lost as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. But not 400 a day.

Towards the conclusion of the first leaders’ debate, Judith Collins said “the fact” that 400 people are losing their jobs every day is the thing that matters most to her this election.

It was a refrain she had repeated several times throughout the debate - 400 people a day are losing their jobs under the current government.

There is no argument that many, many people are out of work because of Covid-19; either laid off or on severely reduced hours. But are 400 people really losing their jobs every day?

The writer did not take this graph into account.

1,350 of the 4,123 grants were transfers from CIRP. That still leaves 555 jobs a day in a five day week (396 in a 7 day week).

Then there were an additional 1,206 CIRP grants suggesting a further 241 redundancies (or 172 in a 7 day week).

The trap the journalist has fallen into is looking only at net numbers - the difference between grants and cancels. Neither does she consider that some who lose their job will go on other benefits such as the emergency and sole parent support benefits. Or they might not even go on a benefit if it was a part-time second household income job.

Some grants will also be to people returning from overseas but they are still often people who have lost their jobs - just not in this economy!

If anything Judith may be understating it. Substantially.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Jacinda vs Judith: What a reveal

There's a lady on her way to the UN world stage. Jacinda told how the world is acclaiming and depending on us to lead climate change.

Judith on the other hand has NZ's interests first, especially farmers and small business owners.

The commentators following are quite critical of Jacinda seeming passionless. Not living up to her 'great communicator' reputation.

Ardern is simply not up to criticism and quick riposte. She kept looking to her right after questions. I don't know if those posing the questions were on set or on screen. But she needs physical affirmation.

She's spent too much time amongst accolytes. 

Judith hasn't.

Finding the answer you want and making the pieces fit

 Two more child abuse deaths and people start writing columns blaming social inequality. Here's an example published today:

But the issue is much more complicated than blaming dysfunctional parenting and family dynamics. Child abuse is more likely to happen in societies with high levels of social inequality.

Intentional maltreatment death rates more than doubled in New Zealand in the 1980s - co-incidentally the same decade that neo-liberal economic policies were rolled out. The focus on neoliberal policies is on economic growth, with the idea that the 'trickle down' effect will lift all people.

It doesn't quite work like that. Since the 1980s we have had increasing levels of social inequality, child poverty and child abuse and deaths. Correlation is not necessarily causation, but in this case research demonstrates a strong link between social inequality and abuse.

Let's stop there. The writer is roughly correct in one respect: "Intentional maltreatment death rates more than doubled in New Zealand in the 1980s."

After halving in the prior period.

The writer wants neolibralism to be the explanation for this scourge but it isn't.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Changing demographics could sort the housing crisis

We will have to wait a while but won't demographics eventually fix the housing crisis?

We have a very top-heavy population pyramid. NZ had the largest baby boom in the western world with respect to family size.

And the fastest growing household type is single.

I assume this reflects more widows/widowers, family breakdown and fewer people ever partnering.

The second  two trends will probably continue but as they do, more people are going to die (as a % of the population).

Fertility is trending down quite rapidly.

More deaths and fewer births will eventually solve the housing crisis.

Many of those retirement villages will be repurposed and more rental properties should be come available as inheritors become inadvertant landlords.

I  haven't however factored in immigration which could utterly negate my theory.

My guess is NZ will continue to attract and encourage high levels of foreign-born incomers because we want and need them.

So I have probably just written a pointless post.