Saturday, February 27, 2021

Reverting to failed policies

 The following is the United States' historical experience and mirrors New Zealand's:

Giving parents money with no strings attached in order to reduce child poverty is an idea that has been tried before. The results are hardly ancient history. These policies became part of the federal government’s scope as a way to support the children of mostly widowed mothers, and successfully prevented severe destitution for many children. But these successes faded in the second half of the 20th century as the programs expanded and societal behaviors around marriage and childbearing began to change. Unconditional cash aid to poor families led to government dependency and non-contributing absent fathers, eventually becoming widely unpopular among policymakers on both the right and the left.

Unfortunately the policy never became unpopular with New Zealand's left, which has been traditionally far more inclined to socialism than America's, and far more in thrall to feminists. 

Clark's government had an inkling though and must have watched Bill Clinton's reforms to turn assistance into the result of work effort. Clark's government did attempt to keep liable fathers responsible and ran the line that the best way out of poverty was work.

But Ardern's government rushed back to the failed policy of  'no strings attached' and let fathers of children reliant on the taxpayer for their upkeep completely off the hook.

Now the US is faced again with debating policies that will set back all that was achieved after 1996 (broadly speaking because many states experimented earlier and achieved earlier.)

Here Labour has been and is working hard to undo Bill English' reforms.

In the States some Republicans want to wreck Bill Clinton's achievement.

But it's all government no matter the hue. All unrestrained power to take the hairbrained failed path yet again.

(If you have the time and interest read the linked article which actually contains practical free market ways to reduce poverty which are all adaptable to this country.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

PM stretching it on child poverty improvements

The Prime Minister announced today, "Government action has seen child poverty reduce against all nine official measures compared to the baseline year." 

The survey from which the statistics are sourced stopped at March 2020. The June 2020 results reported have therefore been calculated on an incomplete annual survey - a smaller sample size.  

Statistics NZ  says, “We are confident in the data’s ability to report on child poverty in New Zealand before the COVID lockdown in March 2020.” (My emphasis). Yet they report up to June 2020 to make trend observations. Implied is that they do not have confidence in the June data. The very data the Prime Minister is talking about.

Just days ago the Salvation Army's annual State of the Nation report was released with data compiled from OIA requests:


The number of children in households relying on government income support, as reported by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), has been rising over the past four years, and the Covid-19 crisis has seen the number leap by more than 23,000 (13%) to over 211,000 in December 2020, a similar level to 2013.

Children living in benefit-dependent households are more likely to live in households with incomes below the official poverty lines, and the large increase in numbers this year will mean more children living in poverty unless there is significant increase to main welfare benefits and other income support. (again my emphasis)

Since Labour became government the number of children living on benefits had risen steadily.

The PM never addresses this issue, because she has staked everything on measuring incomes despite knowing (surely) that the source of income matters more than the level.

She can continue to redistribute income through the Families Package and Best Start but if this leads to more children on benefits then poorer social outcomes will follow - as sure as night follows day.