Thursday, December 30, 2021

Control what you can

At 20 you feel as if life goes on forever.

At 60 plus you are keenly aware that it does not.

It thoroughly disturbs me that so many young people are experiencing psychological trauma about climate change. To be precise "eco or climate - anxiety".

It's tragic that these anxious young people aren't living their lives with optimism. Aren't intellectually free to pursue ambitions born from their own unique desires and attributes.

Life itself is an amazing win. The odds of being conceived are less than those of striking Lotto.

It should be grabbed and relished.

Your life belongs to you and you alone. It's the only thing you can actually control.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


I especially liked this comment from my good friend Mark Wahlberg whose actions, as I have come to appreciate, speak even louder than his words:

' 35 years ago after leaping into the void at 5000ft and discovering my parachute had a mind of its own which didn't involve my participation, I realised for the first time the prospect of death was a traveling companion on my lifes journey.

I have written before about my battles with an inoperable cancer and the insidious poisons doctors introduced into my body to keep me alive while around me others died horrible deaths.

I stopped believing in the power of political healing so long ago I cant remember when.

I have no fear of dying from Covid or the vaccine they claim might save me.

Some suggest "Jesus Saves", but I would have to die for proof of that

I believe in the power of me and mine and leave the lives of others to sort out for themselves.

"Today is the tomorrow people worried about yesterday" '

Sunday, December 19, 2021


The panicked response to Covid is a feature of death denial. 

We all die. Everyday there is a death for every two births roughly speaking. In 2020 an average of 89 people died each day. Incidentally that is fewer than the 94 in the prior year, pre-covid.

The profile of deaths by age is similar to covid deaths though the lowest bars would be non-existent on a covid death chart.

So why the gripping fear?

The chances of dying from cancer are very high - the highest. By a long shot.

In 2019  9,773 people died from cancer. Just short of a 1,000 died from diabetes.

These are big numbers.

But more importantly, some of these deaths could have been avoided. And on their deathbed some probably regrettably knew that was the case. But they hadn't been frightened enough of the prospect of death to change their behaviours.

A good chunk of the population has that mentality. I include myself. I keep very fit but I drink more than I should. I shouldn't drink at all if I want the longest life possible. I should also probably knock off  cheese and red meat if I want to get a letter from the Queen ... except of course she will be dead by then. Yes, even the Queen is going to kick the bucket.

But I am also one of those quality versus quantity people. And I do want to enjoy my time here.

So if I am right, and most people indulge in some degree of life-shortening risk (and I haven't even got to the risk of death by accident) WHY this maudlin, unprecedented, pervasive fear of covid?

The answer matters because it is allowing our lives to be controlled in a way I never thought possible

The fear is driving glaring irrationalities that are more than something we can chuckle about and dismiss.

Why, in the Hutt Valley, is one local council banning unvaccinated people, and by implication their children,  from the popular Huia swimming pool while the neighbouring local council is allowing unvaccinated people in to the very popular H2O swimming pool?

Even our so-called leaders can't agree on what is safe and what isn't. Their decisions appear more about their own covering- my- back safety as opposed to public safety.

There are many inconsistencies about protocols and rules - too many to list and plenty of people have already pointed them out.

The only reason for compliance with such abitrary confusion must be fear.

But I go round in circles.

Fear of what exactly?

If this virus was killing young people in their droves I would be petrified of my children succumbing. That kind of terror I could understand.


The likelihood of dying from covid is miniscule.

So why am I wearing a mask then taking it off to scoff that glass of lindauer I shouldn't really be having?

I'm wearing a mask because fear-ridden zombies tell me to. But I'm getting to that stage where I am going to simply stop. I am not one of you. And I'm not playing along with this stupid charade any longer. Get a grip for Gods sake.

We are all going to die ... some day.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Green cynicism

More idiotic inferences drawn by the Green Party. 

Maori beneficiaries have more debt to MSD and so have, on average, higher repayments.

The figures were obtained by Green MP Ricardo Menendez March, who said it reeks of systemic discrimination.

But wait. If Maori had fewer and smaller benefit advances you can imagine the same outcry.

'Maori are being denied access to loans. That's racism.'

Maori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says:

"It's just scary, it is really, really frightening. The Minister ... we demand she take charge of this and explains to those and the rest of Aotearoa, what this government is going to do to take this burden off these whānau, off these wāhine and their tamariki." 

What a bind the Left has gotten itself into with their intractable refusal to blame individuals for problems of their own making.

The result is they are now pointing fingers at each other with the Greens and beneficiary advocates blaming the Minister for refusing to instigate a debt amnesty. It's her fault!

The other aspect of this business is very cynical. Politicians are using Maori to push their own barrows. Ricardo Menendez March is a non-Maori socialist but it suits his purposes to yell 'discrimination' at every opportunity. Accusations of racism not only shut detractors down but demand some sort of redress and recompense.

No matter that the redress is wrongful given no actual case of racism has occurred.

That's just how New Zealand rolls right now.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Maori demand for state housing surpasses every other ethnicity by a long shot

 New numbers released today show the inexorable growth in demand for state housing continues:

Someone clever enough might depict Dame Whina Cooper climbing the tops of the columns with her walking stick  given more than half on the list are Maori:

From a left-wing perspective Labour is failing Maori miserably.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Brand new episode in 'Govt War on Family Violence' launches today

The elimination of family and sexual violence. Expect a big announcement today about how government is going to achieve its elimination within a generation!

That's amazing.

In 1985 - forty six years ago - the Family Violence Prevention Coordinating Committe was created. More funding for services, far more inter-agency action required. Problem persists.

Move on another eleven years to 1996.  The next holy grail is a brand new Government Statement of Policy on Family Violence. Greater early intervention and support to the at-risk.

Still no joy.

In 2005 a Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families was established which carried the 'it's not OK' message.

It's still not OK but it still proliferates.

So today government will roll out another grand plan. A  " 'whole of government plan' for a $2 billion-a-year sector."

Launch to be held at Te Papa this morning. How exciting. I wonder if there's a red carpet?

Expect the next in the series of  'Govt War on Family Violence' to be ready around 2030.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Luxon is a "big fan" of state control

That's what he said.

He's a big fan of increasing the minimum wage so long as the economy is growing.

Most of the time the economy is growing. So most of the time he's a big fan of the minimum wage.

I'm not. Why?

I go for a part-time job after being out of the work force for 30 years so am happy to accept less than the minimum wage.  Or I go for a job as a sole parent with no work experience whatsoever happy to accept below the minimum wage. Either way I probably won't get the chance/advantage to show my value because the employer must pay what the GOVERNMENT has decided my labour is worth with no UNIQUE KNOWLEDGE of the situation.

It's one thing for a large company like Air New Zealand to absorb minimum wage increases, but this is a country of small to medium enterprises. People trying to get businesses off the ground need to be able to offer work based on remuneration that reflects early-days risk.

I've heard leftists say, if employers can't pay the minimum wage they shouldn't be in business. Come to think of it, that might be their argument for paying the living wage! Everyone in business is 'rich'. Everyone who just started a doggy daycare centre or nail salon.

What New Zealand badly needs from Luxon and National is a freeing-up of laws around employment.

Not an endorsement of state control of the labour market.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Today's protest in Newmarket

Today's protest in Newmarket was described as "anti-vaxx" by Radio New Zealand.

On NewstalkZB the same protest was called "anti-mandate".

There is a world of difference.

I wouldn't join the first but I'd eagerly join the second.

Note which news outlet is paid by the state.

Friday, December 03, 2021

Latest poll


Stand-out result, at 30% ACT is the most popular party among 18-49 year-old males.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Kids crying out for their mothers

Oranga Tamariki released two companion research papers on the last day of November. The topic is Making sense of being in care, adopted, or whāngai.

The first canvasses the available literature on the subject; the second canvasses the views of young people and their caregivers.

The first contains this observation:

    "Within the Māori world view, children do not just belong solely to their parents, but belong to their wider whānau. Therefore, whāngai does not undermine a child’s sense of belonging if they come to live with other relatives."

Let's take that at face value. A Maori child's connection to their wider whanau is just as important as their connection to their parents.

Says who?

I ask because the second 'qualitative' paper contains quotes from Maori children (and caregivers) that would indicate their connection to their mother, especially, is of utmost importance. Apparently, "Almost all said ... they’ve struggled in some way with feeling unwanted, unloved and abandoned by their birth parents. This happened across the board – whether they were adopted, whāngai or being raised by whānau or non-whānau caregivers."

Each of the examples below is a distinct case.

On the death of a mother:

“It was hard for everyone losing Mum. It was bad enough for me trying to deal with it let alone her losing Mum. Mum was her soulmate; Mum was her everything…She wouldn’t talk to me, even though I’d sit on her bed and ask her things or take her out shopping or to the beach. She’d just sit there in silence.” Whāngai sister/caregiver

On abandonment by a mother:

“I was definitely a mum’s girl and my mum had left me. It was hard. When your best friend leaves you, you just don’t understand…. You want to be loved and feel loved from the people you thought loved you but at times I haven’t felt that. I felt that love from my whāngai whānau, and it was just hard you know – people that weren’t my own whānau loved me more than my own.” Rangatahi whāngai

Another case described by an adoptive parent:

“There’s been a few traumas with his mother along the way… with each new relationship, she’d just disappear so it was like no one else existed. He’d ask, ‘where is she, what’s she doing? She doesn’t care about me’…. He’d see her with a new baby and it’d be like, ‘she cares about that baby, why doesn’t she care about me like that?’.” Whāngai parent

The paper continues, "For some children and young people who are in care, it’s meant struggling with being separated from their birth parents and missing and wanting to see them. Whānau and non-whānau caregivers told us they’ll sometimes get extremely upset when their parents leave after visits, kicking and screaming, or will come back from visits with them angry and churned up."

“They love their mum…. I said to their mother the other day when she rang, ‘Look, pull your head out of your backside. These kids miss you. They want you to look after them, not us.’ They keep asking for their mother, even their father, and they get all upset. But they come right.” Whānau caregiver


“I’ll never forget the time when she was nine; it was some photo on Facebook or something. She saw her other siblings having fun with their mum, some trip somewhere and she felt like she was missing out and just cried and cried.” Whāngai parent


“I stopped the mother from ringing him without me being there because she would make promises to him and not follow through…. He’d get really, really excited and then it doesn’t happen…and I’d have to pick up the pieces.” Whānau caregiver


“I started off with the ‘of course she loves and cares about you’ and then I changed tack because I could see he was getting emotionally upset over what she was doing and the inconsistencies…. I switched to, ‘this is how she is; it doesn’t mean we can’t love her, it’s just how she is’. It felt like pouring a bucket of cold water on him every time but I actually think it was helpful for him ’cause it shifted him off a fantasy mum.”Whāngai parent

My point?

I wonder if the lesser importance the Maori world-view places on biological parents - mothers in particular - is actually an adult world-view? The world through the Maori child's lens may be quite different.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Lazy thinking

Regarding National's leadership crisis, Tracy Watkins extensively quotes a "frustrated former MP" presumably National.

“Most of Act’s vote is National, if they get their s....t together, it'll go back to National. And as long as (Act) are sitting at about 10%, that's actually good for National, it gets them across the line. So, ignore them.”

This assumes the voting bloc is static which it certainly isn't. But it is characteristic lazy thinking from a conceited Nat. 

The voting bloc is all the time refreshing with new voters via demographics and, to a lesser extent, immigration. Every election around 100,000 of the most reliable voters disappear and around 180,000 potential voters arrive. By my observation  ACT events are well-attended by the young. They may have only ever voted ACT.

There are oldies like me who went from Labour to ACT and never changed back, and the 'blue rinse' brigade are falling off their perches.

There are immigrants from countries which have drilled into them a true understanding of democracy and appreciation of free markets. ACT actually knows what it stands for; National doesn't.

But most importantly, in an undeniable and unavoidable age of personality politics  ACT has never had such a young, engaged, and even charismatic leader whose keen nose for publicity is balanced with judgement and conviction. He also has a sense of humour.

So it is lazy to just assume if National picks the 'right' leader ACT's polling will plummet.

Those desperate for a change of government will get it voting either National or ACT, but given the worsening economic and social situation in New Zealand, they may want an insurance policy for real change and opt for ACT.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Woke feminist BS

I am sick to death of women crying victim because of so-called offensive comments. 

I am not sick to death of women who have genuine, almost or non-recoverable experience of male sexual violence.

But Jacqui Dean shouldn't be a representative of the people if she takes offence at something only a tiny minority would. 

She certainly needs a head-check if she thinks her dealt-with complaint should be revisited and escalated five years down the line.

For Judith Collins to comandeer such a lame duck, limp, poster girl for 'safe' workplaces is an abuse in and of  itself. What was going on in her head?

Men and women have co-existed, and procreated together forever. 

Can't we all grow up and learn to deal with each other one on one without the government telling us how?

Monday, November 22, 2021

Are you ready for Air Aotearoa?

A Stuff reporter writes

"Air New Zealand says it is cancelling more than 1000 flights between Aotearoa and Australia from now to the end of the year due to border uncertainty."

Cancellations aside, it makes no sense for a country increasingly called Aotearoa to have its airline cling to the old name of New Zealand.

Is it time to get ready for another major re-branding?

I don't know about you but Air Aotearoa doesn't conjure up that warm sense of familiarity felt from near and afar, and pride in the airline's quirky professionalism.

But my reluctance is probably just a facet of subconscious racism. I should succumb to the educators.

As for the rest of the world, international customers, private and commercial, they'll be left to wonder where Air New Zealand disappeared to.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Something rotten in the state of New Zealand

There's a feeling afoot, backed with evidence, that the state is increasingly on the side of wrong-doers. 

Take the issue of forcing blameless people to live next to anti-social, criminal neighbours.

In 2018 the HNZ chief operating officer said:

"We measure our success by not having any evictions. Every eviction is a failure [so] the lower the number, the better."

Evictions fell from over a hundred during the last National government's term to zero in the last 3 years.

Yet HNZ 'success' is leading to social cohesion failure highlighted by a number of recent nightmare cases which we read about and quietly murmur to ourselves, "There but for the grace..."

When challenged about gangs Stuart Nash says there is nothing to fear. In May:

“In terms of feeling unsafe, unless you’re a gang member, you have no reason to feel unsafe."

Tell that to the poor pensioner in Northland who was told by a gang member neighbour he would cut the old man's throat. Stop and think for a moment how you would feel if that was your father.

I grew up in a time when we took for granted that actually the police - or other authorities - would act to safeguard innocent people. I now think that trust is a faded memory.

If it was merely a matter of inadequate resourcing it would be fixable.

But the application of inverted thinking is far more difficult to confront.

It wouldn't surpprise if  some on the left, some of academia, some of the brain-washed graduates secretly think the 'privileged' are on their own. Suck it up as punishment for what your colonial ancestors did.

That is a very dangerous rejection of a system of laws, and consequences for breaking those laws, that must treat all citizens equally. Yes, there are systemic failures but the principle must still hold fast. The alternative is unthinkable.

This soft-on-crime attitude must have preceded the current government because I well recall then ACT MP Stephen Franks' observation about the naivety which expressed as "If we just keep being kind to crims for long enough they'll start being kind back."

Unfortunately I now think the proliferating philosophy is under-pinned, at least in part, by more sinister motivations.

Friday, November 19, 2021

NEWSFLASH: Huge drop in Jobseeker numbers!


Net Jobseeker numbers dropped by nearly 5,000 in the week to November 12. That's fantastic. 

The number of people cancelling their Jobseeker benefit  numbered 8,280 - an increase of 5,535 on the prior week. The economy must really be picking up!

Too good to be true?

It is.

What happened is around 5,000 Jobseekers were transferred to Sole Parent Support on November 8.

Because of a policy change, sole parents with babies and toddlers added to an existing benefit no longer have work obligations. The government has told them not to worry their heads about looking for a job. 'The taxpayer will keep on funding you for as long as you keep on having babies.'

What looks like a great news graph is actually a very bad news graph. People who keep having children when they are already reliant on welfare have a habit of staying on benefits for years.

But thanks all you hard working young couples who are either delaying starting a family or putting your children in daycare everyday to go to work to pay your taxes. 

Without you the government wouldn't be able to be so kind and compassionate.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Ardern's untenable position

The Prime Minister's cause du jour, reducing child poverty, is a cover for communistic cravings. Left-wing governments always want to tax the rich to give to the poor in the name of greater equality. Do this under the pretext of alleviating child poverty and sympathetic voters will support you. If redistribution was advocated for the reduction of drug-addicted poverty it might find less appeal. That some children in poverty have parents burning money on their addictions remains a fact ... but never mind.

There is no excuse for taking money off productive people to encourage bad decision-making. Many of the welfare reforms instigated under Ardern will encourage people without independent means to start or grow families. The obvious error is to pay new mothers substantially more - $3,120 annually to rise to $3,380 next year; to increase existing child payments, benefit rates and tie them to wage inflation.Then remove work obligations from mothers of young children EVEN if they have been added to an existing benefit, add in the removal of financial penalties for not naming the father/s of the child/ren, thereby letting him off the hook, and, in a certain sector of society, any sense of personal responsibility around producing children is suspended.

Fortunately it maintains in the majority who are waiting longer, to have fewer children or none at all. The average age of first time mothers is climbing steadily and recourse to fertility assistance is increasing.

Meantime other mothers start young and stay on welfare as a 'career' exposing their children to the greatest level of hardship (red):

Under Ardern's leadership the number of children in benefit households has risen from 172,299 to 208,347 - 21 percent. Most are in sole parent families.

In 2013 Ardern railed against the rise in benefit numbers (particularly the DPB) in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis describing the increase as an "epic fail" by the National government. So clearly she doesn't think being on a benefit is a great thing.

Yet, as outlined above, the actions taken by her government are resulting in the same outcome.

The cake is not finite.One person's piece does not have to be cut smaller so the next's can be cut bigger. Ever increasing redistribution will not reduce the material hardship too many New Zealand children experience. If NZ stays on the higher welfare = decreasing inequality track, we will all end up poorer.

What is most needed right now is for more people to take ownership of their actions. To create children responsibly, as part of a family unit able to care for and nurture them. With an attitude that their needs are an absolute priority.

All Ardern does is encourage the worst impulses in people. Perhaps she needs to start acting a bit more responsibly too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Why the ideological attachment to state housing?

The latest MSD report measuring material hardship shows that among children aged 0-17 those in social housing have much higher hardship rates.

Rates of hardship are measured by items lacking such as a, "meal with meat, fish or chicken (or vegetarian equivalent) at least each 2nd day" or shortfalls like "could not pay an unexpected and unavoidable bill of $500 within a month without borrowing." (See p14 for full list)

But a state house tenant should have more money left over after accommodation costs due to lower income-related rents.

Many state house occupants are young. According to Kainga Ora, with around 68,000 properties: "Approximately 82,000 of our household occupants are under the age of 20, and 39,000 are under the age of ten: a critical time in child development. More than 30% of our tenancies belong to sole parents." 

The next graph depicts under 65s with the red bars representing greatest hardship, dark green, the least.

Again, the worst hardship is in social housing, followed by private rental with accommodation supplement.

If social/state housing does such a poor job of alleviating material hardship, why the continued ideological attachment to it? At least subsidised private rental housing does a slightly better job bearing in mind those percentage differences represent thousands of individuals.

From the report, one final related graph for you. 

Of all the household type profiles below, which most closely resembles social housing/ private rent with AS?

Sole parent families - many in subsidised state or private rentals - continue to harbour the greatest hardship.  Coincidentally the high incidence of these families is another result of a failed ideological fervour - the rejection of nuclear families.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Only 8,800 Kiwis unemployed for a year or more

The NZ Initiative this week released a paper arguing against introducing unemployment insurance. One reason advanced is that relative to other countries  NZ doesn't have a problem with long-term unemployment:

"Perhaps more importantly, long-term unemployment, that is, people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more, is also relatively low in New Zealand ... In 2020, long-term unemployed was only 8.9% of total unemployed in New Zealand."

Is that a surprise to you?

Their statistic comes from the OECD which in turn derives its data from the NZ Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS).

According to the latest September HLFS quarter supplementary tables (Table 4) only 8,800 individuals had been unemployed for over a year.

I summed the final row which shows a total lower than the reported 98,000 unemployed. The explanation is, "These categories will not sum to total unemployed due to the exclusion of unemployment durations not specific enough to fit into one of the stated categories." I take that to mean if  the respondent had been unemployed for 4.5 weeks for instance they couldn't be categroised. But 'over 1 year' is very specific so we can stick with 8,800.

Yet according to MSD Sept quarter benefit data tables, of 193,635 Job Seeker recipients 121,110 had been dependent for more than a year. 

Yes it is possble to be getting Job Seeker and working part-time. The following table is unfortunately a little dated but at the end of 2019 only 6.8 percent of Job Seekers were working part-time:

That leaves 93.2 percent not working.

The Job Seeker benefit is obviously ill-named as so many of its recipients are not actually seeking jobs. 98,000 officially unemployed versus over 193,000 Job Seeker beneficiaries (I  blogged earlier that many have no work obligations because they are too ill to work and would have previously been on the old Sickness Benefit).

But this latest anomaly regarding duration of unemployment is both baffling and absurd.

Furthermore the mismatch between Statistics NZ and MSD data is getting worse.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Ardern dead wrong

The Prime Minister says the thousands that descended on Parliament today are "not representative"  citing vaccination rates to support her claim.

Bollocks. Getting vaccinated does not indicate support for the government and their approach to Covid.

The march was an anti-government protest. It was anti lock downs and vaccination mandates, and whatever else each participant is holding against Ardern and her ministers. Look at the signs and listen to the chants.

If she truly believes that crowd isn't representative of a much bigger group she has lost touch with reality.

Monday, November 08, 2021

"Don't divide"

 This is a great initiative. While double-vaccinated I am deeply uncomfortable with coercion to comply and this presents a "middle ground" solution:

“Vaccine OR Testing” Campaign Launched

A family advocate and an educational leader (also a registered nurse with a PhD in aged care) are making a joint application to get a rapid COVID test authorised in New Zealand so that thousands of kiwis don’t lose their jobs on the 16th November under the Government’s proposed ‘no jab no job’ mandate.


A joint application has been made to import, distribute and use The Sienna Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Test on behalf of workplaces, community groups, places of faith, and families who have workers or family members who with good conscience do not want to take the vaccine.


The rapid antigen test has been approved by the FDA. It is a self-contained Naso-pharyngeal test, needing no machine, is up to 99% accurate, takes 10 minutes to get the result, and affordable for those who don’t want to take the vaccine.


It will be the obligation of those not jabbed to provide proof of regular testing. This alternative approach will – as the FDA recently said - help meet the public health needs as we respond to COVID.


While both applicants have chosen to be double-jabbed and support the vaccination programme, they are justifiably concerned that New Zealanders may be excluded from their teaching or nursing job, or sporting career, or going to their marae, going to church or the mosque or the gym or hair salon, university to study, weddings, visiting family members in prison, attending events – and there are many other examples – because they have chosen out of good conscience not to be vaccinated.


We are looking for a reasonable and workable middle ground that doesn’t divide the country and set family members against each other.


A divided society with a ‘no jab no job’ mandate does not sit well with many New Zealanders – even those who support the vaccine programme. Unfortunately, under the current proposal by the Government, thousands and thousands of kiwis are going to lose their jobs in the next couple of weeks. It’s just not the kiwi way.


With new developments on treatments, the approach to COVID is constantly evolving. We need a cautious approach - but also flexibility as we learn more about the disease and treatment.


We have received support from teachers, education leaders, medical professionals, politicians, and church leaders from a number of faiths for this middle-ground approach.


An accompanying petition“Don’t Divide” has also been launched – “We oppose the ‘no jab no job’ policy, which will create a divided New Zealand. We call on the Government to allow the use of COVID rapid antigen testing as an alternative for unvaccinated kiwis to access workplaces, schools, maraes, large gatherings, and places of worship.


We call for an approach to COVID that targets the disease without dividing the country.



For More Information and Media Interviews, contact:

Dr Christine Clark

Mob. 027 499 0142    

Bob McCoskrie

Mob. 027 55 555 42 

Saturday, November 06, 2021

PM digging herself into a horrid hole

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern entered parliament vowing to reduce child poverty. She even made herself Minister of Child Poverty Reduction. A popular call.

But the PM is in trouble. Her halo is slipping. The country has turned on her covid response and  increasingly mistrusts her motives.

So today she went back to basics and promised more money for the poor children: increased Family Tax Credits and Best Start payments.

This mirrors the US where Biden has increased child benefits against a great deal of evidenced opposition. A typical critic says:

While money can help in the short run, the truth is that no country ever got out of poverty because of income redistribution (a point economist Thomas Sowell took great pains to demonstrate in his work). If such ‘redistribution’ could deliver such a happy outcome, the U.S. should have no child poverty at all.  ~ Veronique de Rugy

The thrust of US opposition is that more 'free' money into poor families with children reduces work effort. That could run the gamut of none-at-all to less. Workless families and children don't mix well when risks of health, education, and safety outcomes are weighed up.

Since Labour took office the number of children dependent on a benefit has risen by 21 percent or 36,000.

It's a dereliction of duty to simply keep upping benefit incomes with no thought to how children in workless families fare. Many are at the bottom of the heap and will face lifelong struggles. How do parents with no work responsibilities integrate their children into that world?

But the PM is hostage to her promises and hellbent on delivering measurable income increases unrelated to work effort, while simultaneously and steadfastedly ignoring the unwanted side effects. 

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Relationship between unemployment rate and unemployment benefits

Graphs are great tools for getting the big picture. Here I have plotted the unemployment rate against 'unemployment' benefits:

The heavy blue line is a combination of unemployment and sickness benefits. In 2013 the two benefits were combined into the single Jobseeker benefit (heavy brown line) but still with two categories - JS Work Ready and JS Health Condition and Disability.

The broken line is the official unemployment rate BUT expressed as a percentage of 18-64 year-olds, not 15+. Thats why in Sept 2021 it's 4.4% - a point higher than the rate announced yesterday of 3.4%

The vertical lines mark the changes of government.

Points of note:

1/ The bottom line shows sickness is increasing. This is being driven primarily by increasing  psychiatric and psychological conditions. When National became government they believed not enough attention was being paid to those people on a sickness benefit. So they abolished it, intending case managers would put as much employment effort into that group if they were part of the overall jobseeker group. It appears that the line was arrested for a time but after Labour came back in in 2017 the line started to trend up again.

2/ During Labour's 1999-2008 term the heavy blue line is thereabouts the unemployment rate. During National's term 2008-2017 the heavy blue/brown line is consistently under the unemployment rate. This probably reflects at tougher, more effective approach to benefits (which some would describe as 'punitive').

3/ Covid is largely responsible for the late steep upward trajectory of the heavy brown line BUT is was trending up before March 2020. My last post explained why the line has crossed the unemployment rate line and there is now a large gap between the two.

4/ The covid upturn is very similar to the GFC onset in magnitude. Lockdowns (policy within control of government) caused as much job loss as the global financial crisis (outside of government control).

5/ Another observation some would make is the gap between the unemployment rate and unemployment benefit lines during National's term is now being corrected by Labour. Labour is more generous with benefits. The gap right now is a reversal of the period 2011-17.

There's another line.

It's the very fine line between being generous with benefits and entrenching dependency and all the misery that entails.

Unemployment rate: treat with caution

The New Zealand Herald ran this chart from a private research company called Sense Partners. The chart depicts Maori numbers in the North Island and highlights that the officially unemployed and Jobseeker claimants are trending in opposite directions:

To be officially unemployed a person needs to be available for and seeking work. Just over  30,000 Maori in the North Island are officially unemployed. 

But over 70,000 are on a Jobseeker benefit.


1/ You can be on the Jobseeker benefit with no immediate work obligation, so not officially unemployed.

For instance the old Sickness Benefit was rolled into the new Jobseeker benefit. So now 38 percent of all Jobseeker claimants are classified as having a Health Condition or Disability which excuses them from immediate work requirements. Not officially unemployed.

2/ You can be on the Jobseeker benefit with part-time or seasonal work so not officially unemployed. With work becoming more tenuous and interrupted more people will be claiming a Jobseeker benefit while having some attachment to the workforce. 

In addition, under a Labour government implementing reforms recommended by the now Governor General Cindy Kiro as head of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, the softening of WINZ approach towards requiring people to look for work (sanctions and employment focus have both reduced) releases more from the official  definition of unemployed. 

Back to the Maori stats highlighted in the chart, in Northland, a region with a high Maori population the unemployment rate is 3.9% yet the Jobseeker rate is 10.5 percent.

In the general population the figures are:

Unemployment rate     3.4% 

Jobseeker rate     6.1%

 All benefit-dependent rate   11.3% 

Important numbers to remember whenever you hear Grant Robertson, the Finance Minister, waxing lyrical about the wonderfully low unemployment rate.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Downward trajectory of prison population continues

 The latest prison stats came out yesterday. The downward trend continues:

Looking at a broader view the pink area would now be at the horizontal axis:

Out of interest I have graphed individual prison musters at Sept 2017 compared to Sept 2021 and a couple stand out as having very large reductions:

I was volunteering up at Rimutaka during 2017 and it was pretty chocker, also housing overflow from Arohata. Their roll has since dropped from 1,067 to 623 - a 42% reduction. Waikeria has reduced by 45 percent. Arohata's population has reduced by a massive 64 pecent.

On the other hand Mt Eden has only shed 4%. But Mt Eden is primarily a remand prison. Which might say something about reduced offending not being a driver of shrinking musters.

The total NZ prison population has fallen from 10,470 to 8,034 - a 23 percent reduction.

Which made me wonder if the staffing levels are still the same?

The most recent data source is the Annual Report 2019/20 which says, "Our frontline team includes 4,103 corrections officers..." In 2016/17 there were approximately 3,800 corrections officers. Not a perfect match for the graph timeline but the trend in corrections officer numbers would appear slightly upward.

The vast majority of the staff I interacted with were good people.  I hope having a better officer- to- prisoner ratio is making their job a bit easier. 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

"A petition that keeps growing"

 Not normally a petition signer I have added my name to this one calling for:

"A petition that keeps growing" is how Kiwiblog describes it.

People say it will make no difference BUT if it gets to the point where  mainstream media can't ignore it, I would be satisfied.

Friday, October 22, 2021

MSD stocktake: "...not yet following the desired direction of travel..."

The Ministry of Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni's portfolio, has just released its annual report. Here are some of the indicators of their 'progress':

Average future years on a benefit:

Median time to house clients on the housing register:

Percentage of clients exiting main benefit who return to main benefit (within one year):

Client net trust score:

The official word on this failure is:
Results, in general, indicate that performance is not yet following the desired direction of travel for all indicators.

The Chief Executive's forward should reassure us all though. Never fear - the waka is turning!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

No jab, no unemployment benefit

 As this country inches closer to a 'no vaccination, no job' scenario, the question on my mind - one I'm sure must have crossed others - is, will vaccinations be mandated for receipt of an unemployment (or other) benefit?

The 2011 welfare working group set up under National (not to be confused with the Labour's WEAG headed by Cindy Kiro, about to be sworn in as new GG) considered whether benefits could be used to compel parents to immunise their children. The idea was never implemented. A condition of receiving the Young Parent Payment for 16-19 year-olds stopped at, "you must also enrol your child (or children) at a medical centre or with a doctor."

Australia financially penalises parents who fail to immunse their child through reducing family benefit. That began under the Howard government. So there is a sort of precedent for linking vaccination to benefit receipt.

I've had a look around the world to see what other countries are doing in this area. Not much. Most are still grappling with mandating vaccines for certain employment sectors.

In the US unemployment benefits (which are distinct from other  Social Security benefits):

If an employer terminates you because you don’t follow its policies, it has “cause” to fire you. And if you’re fired “for cause,” you may be ineligible to claim unemployment benefits.

“Every state defines ‘for cause’ differently,” Mariel Smith, partner at law firm Hall Booth Smith, PC. “Most states have similar statutes that indicate if an employee is terminated for breaking company policy, the employee would be denied unemployment benefits.”


 Some states have made it clear that people terminated for not adhering to vaccination policies are likely precluded from receiving benefits. Oregon is one example of a state that has mandated health care, education, and government workers to get vaccinated. The head of the state Employment Department has said eligibility will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but those terminated by public or private employers for refusing to get vaccinated probably won’t be eligible.

Notice in the first sentence two incomaptible words - 'clear' followed by 'likely'. The latter negates the former. Oregon sounds more definitive. 

Three days ago:

New York state's labor department makes clear on its website that workers in health care facilities, schools and nursing homes who quit or are terminated for refusing the vaccine will be ineligible for unemployment benefits, unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption to the mandate.

 Last month in Austria:

Job seekers in Austria will risk losing some of their unemployment benefits if they turn down a job offer because it requires getting vaccinated against COVID-19, local media reported Thursday.  

Austria’s Der Standard newspaper shared a letter sent on Aug. 25 by the Austrian Labor Ministry to the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS).

It said that In the event that job hunters refuse any employment offer due to a requirement to get vaccinated, the AMS will have the right to cut their unemployment benefits.

In this case, the unemployment benefits of job seekers who do not have a medical excuse for not getting vaccinated can be blocked for up to six weeks.

This month in Canada:

 People [core public service, as well as air travel and rail employees]  who’ve had only one dose will be given 10 weeks to get their next one before they are put on unpaid leave. They won’t be allowed back at work until they’re either vaccinated or the policy is no longer in effect. Employees put on unpaid leave will generally not qualify for employment insurance benefits, say officials.

That's all a variety of phrase searches turns up presently.

For a long time New Zealanders have appeared happy to pay taxes to support people who choose not to work/ make themselves unemployable. That's the price of having a safety net they say.

But considering how bitterly and deeply divided society here and around the world  is becoming over the decision to covid vaccinate or not, this could be when intolerance of carrying others sets in.

Those who have reluctantly immunised themselves to stay employed (and for other reasons) may feel deep resentment against those who have refused and want to be financially supported as a consequence.

There will be compulsory vaccination ramifications for the welfare state. Just how significant, remains to be seen.

Monday, October 18, 2021

MSD: "What's happening to the number of sole parents on a benefit?"

Until the welfare reforms of 2013 most sole parents on a benefit relied on the DPB - not exclusively but mainly.

Since the introduction of the Sole Parent Support (SPS) benefit, which sole parents only qualify for until their youngest child turns 14, it's been harder to track how many sole parents are actually reliant on welfare. Far more are now receiving Jobseeker support.

Usefully MSD released some research in September, "What's happening to the number of sole parents on a benefit?" Numbers have been increasing - in part due to the economic effect of lock downs  - and they wanted to predict whether the growth trend will continue. More on that later.

First some facts. At January 2021 there were "around 99,000 sole parents receiving a main benefit". Yet at December 31, 2020 there were just 67,563 on SPS. That highlights the significant difference I was talking about. Almost fifty percent more than receive SPS are relying on other benefits.

Of the current total 46 percent are Maori, 28 percent NZ European and 12 percent Pacific Island. Other/ unspecified make up the remainder.

On the upside 99,000 is still fewer than  in the early 2000s. The chart below covers 1996 to the present. The decline since the GFC is due to the falling teen birth rate and increased employment rates of sole parents.

If  the trend reversal could be pinpointed it looks like the beginning of 2018 - well before covid.

As to whether the trend will continue, the authors expect the growth to be "temporary."

I am less certain.

Since Labour took over there has been a clear shift in approach to sole parents. Financial penalties for not naming the father of a child were abolished and early work obligations for mothers who add a child to an existing benefit have been removed. Benefit payment rates increased as did family tax credits, including the Best Start payment for 0-2 year-olds.

The paper itself gives clues to an attitudinal change. For instance,"A strong work focus may not be appropriate for all parents in the long-term..."

There is also a cultural tolerance, bordering on apologism, for the high rate of Maori dependence with,"Wahine Māori have higher and earlier fertility rates than other women, meaning they are more likely to require support from the benefit system as a parent."

Further to this, the following statement appears to endorse sole parenthood for Maori: "...research suggests for tamariki Māori, diverse family trajectories, including living in a sole parent household, may be associated with higher levels of cultural connectedness in some cases."

So in light of the above, including racial indulgence, I will not be surprised if the numbers of sole parents on a benefit actually continues to grow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

And now for something completely different...

From March through November 2019 I conducted weekly interviews with local composer, musician and teacher, Dorothy Buchanan. It had been a joint ambition to get Dotty's memoirs recorded and formed into a book. But I hadn't expected to personally get so much out of the process; transcribing, researching, the geneological tracing and chronological  ordering of material; visits to the Alexander Turnbull Library where the composer's ephemera is held; trawling through reference publications and microfiche material. So much pleasurable learning about a person and a process.

Dotty is an amazing individual who achieved so much so young, and simply never stopped. At just seventeen,  she was playing violin in the Christchurch Civic Orchestra,  – the forerunner to the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra; at eighteen she recorded her Mass in English and received performance royalties from the NZBC for the first time. At nineteen she was leading the Christchurch Orchestral Society, and at twenty – when long distance air travel was in its infancy - Dotty celebrated her birthday with a Pimms in a London pub whilst on tour with the Christchurch Harmonic Society.

Her musical pedigree comes through both sides of the family and goes back generations. But her origins are West Coast and humble. The opening chapter will evoke their own memories for New Zealanders of a similar vintage.

'The Birds Began To Sing' is about to be released by Cuba Press. The first few pages can be read here by clicking on 'look inside'.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Long-term benefit dependency is growing

Long-term benefit dependency is growing, and it was growing before Covid, though the advent of the virus has obvioulsy played a role.

The blue line shows the effect of the first March 2020 lockdown and then returns to near  'normality'.

The orange line however continues to climb and the gap between the two extends.

A significant contributor to this is psychological and psychatric conditions - rising sharply after the first lock down -  keeping people on Jobseeker HCD (Health Condition and Disability). Over the same time frame:

There are also over 32,000 adults on a Supported Living Payment (ex Invalid benefit) suffering from pyschological or psychiatric disorders. That's up around 4,000 over the same period.

These numbers are very sad. It's just horrible to think of thousands of mentally unwell people unable to get treatment and live functioning lives.

Friday, October 08, 2021

If you need a lift...

Give Us Hope Jacinda update:

Monday, October 04, 2021

More weasel-wokery; more welfarism

Yesterday I wrote about a recent law change which effectively encourages adding children to an existing benefit.

Here's the next move in this government's reckless expansion of welfarism.

But first some background:

"The introduction of a statutory DPB [1973] represented a major shift towards public responsibility for the financial support of sole parents, but it did not extinguish private maintenance obligations. Applicants for the DPB continued to be required to take maintenance proceedings as a condition of being granted the statutory benefit until the introduction of the Liable Parent Contribution Scheme in 1981, when the Department of social Welfare took over this responsibility and sole parents had only to name the liable parent. This policy was continued when the Child Support Act came into effect in 1992. There is no maintenance disregard: all maintenance received is paid into the Consolidated Account to offset the cost of providing the benefit.  For almost all sole parents on benefit, therefore, receipt of maintenance makes no difference to their income."

The government that created the DPB was regarded as generous in providing a secure income regardless of whether or not the father (or sometimes non-custodial mother) paid maintenance/child support. The taxpayer would henceforth be picking up the majority of the tab for the family upkeep.

Fast forward to 2021 and reason has flown the coop.

Various advocates now want the partial reimbursement the father has been making to the taxpayer to go direct to the mother.

An Auckland professor says, "At the moment it just sends the signal that the government wants to take the money for itself."

By implication the government is no longer generous. It is greedy.

The Children's Commissioner, Andrew Becroft also says current practice 'fails the fairness test.'

But if  the $150m currently collected from non-custodial parents is not used to offset the benefit then the unseen invisible taxpayer will have to stump up with it. Because there sure as heck won't be a reduction in benefit rates. So that 'passes the fairness test'? How so?

But wait. Here's comes the inevitable weasel-wokery. According to Becroft, because more than half of sole parent beneficiaries are Maori, it's a RACIST law.

Naturally enough the Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni is acquiescing, agreeing that the law is "discriminatory," needs to change and that "the mahi on it is underway."

The upshot will be 1/ a rise in the income of sole parent beneficiaries which increases disincentive to work and 2/ a funding shortfall (one of many) inevitably leading to higher taxation.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Carte blanche to keep having kids on a benefit

 An evidence brief prepared for Oranga Tamariki and published in April 2021 contains some fascinating data.

It looks at people born 1997 to 2002. At around 60,000 each year that should be around 300,000. And so it is:

The first group is those who had interaction with both care and protection (CP) and youth justice (YJ). You can figure the rest from there.

The next shows the association with benefits at age 17:

Looking at just the first group 19% had already received their own benefit; in the past year 23% had a parent who'd received Jobseeker; 20% a parent on sole parent support and 8% with a parent receiving suported living payment.

That totals to 70 percent. (This might be an overcount because it's feasible one parent received both types of benefit in the same year but the paper doesn't spell out any overlap).

For those 17 year-olds who had never been involved with care and protection or youth justice the equivalent number was just 13 percent.

The link between long-term benefit dependence and appearing in the care and protection or youth justice systems is very strong.

On Thursday last week the government effectively sent a message that it's fine to be on a benefit and keep having kids. They passed a law to undo prior attempts to discourage this, known as the 'subsequent child policy'. Put simply, a rule to stop people avoiding work obligations by having more babies.

Why has the government done this?

Here's Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni:

The subsequent child policy has a disproportionate effect on Māori women. By removing the policy, we can further our commitment to improving outcomes for Māori and valuing the role of carers, who are predominantly women. 

Maori make up 56% of the people adding children to a benefit. 

So I leave you with one last graph from the brief:

The last Labour government swept having babies on a benefit under the carpet. That was bad enough. 

Now it's overt and encouraged.