Friday, April 02, 2021

Sense out of Britain which seems to be re-gaining its wits faster than some other countries

 According to today's Economist

A commission in Britain that was created after last year’s Black Lives Matter protests to investigate racial disparities concluded that race is less important than social class and family structure in explaining inequality. On schooling, the report found that most children from ethnic-minority groups did as well or better than their white peers. It added that the catch-all term BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) was not very useful. The report contradicted the claims of critical race theorists, some of whom claim that white privilege is the prime cause of most disparities.

It's lengthy and I have only scanned through it but the conclusion, which I've reproduced here in full gives some idea of the clarity of thought and open-mindedness demonstrated by the commissioners. You can download the report from:

"We have tried in this report to present a new race agenda for the country, relevant to people from all backgrounds.

Rather than just highlighting minority disparities and demanding the government takes action, we have tried to understand why they exist in the first place.

That has meant some challenging conversations about today’s complex reality of ethnic advantage and disadvantage, a reality no longer captured by the old idea of BAME versus White Britain.

We have focused not just on persistent race-based discrimination but on the role of cultural traditions, including family, within different minority groups, the overlap between ethnic and socio-economic disadvantage, and the agency we have as individuals and groups.

And we believe that perhaps more than previous reports on these issues a degree of optimism is justified. Our agenda is rooted in the significant progress we have made as well as the challenges that remain.

We were established as a response to the upsurge of concern about race issues instigated by the BLM movement. And we owe the mainly young people behind that movement a debt of gratitude for focusing our attention once again on these issues.

But most of us come from an older generation whose views were formed by growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. And our experience has taught us that you do not pass on the baton of progress by cleaving to a fatalistic account that insists nothing has changed.

And nor do you move forward by importing bleak new theories about race that insist on accentuating our differences. It is closer contact, mutual understanding across ethnic groups and a shared commitment to equal opportunities that has contributed to the progress we have made.

Too many people in the progressive and anti-racism movements seem reluctant to acknowledge their own past achievements, and they offer solutions based on the binary divides of the past which often misses the point of today’s world.

We have paid close attention to the data and tried to avoid sweeping statements or over-ambitious targets and recommendations. Instead, our recommendations have tried to account for the messy reality of life and have been aimed, where possible, at everyone who is disadvantaged, not just those from specific ethnic groups.

Many of our recommendations, on Class B drugs or extending school hours for example, are aimed especially at the COVID-blighted generation of young people. Others focus on better use of data and the development of digital tools to promote fairness at work or for keeping young people out of trouble.

We have also acknowledged where we do not know enough and called for further research on what works in promoting fairness at work, and the role of the family and the reasons behind the success of those minority groups that have been surging forward into the middle class and the elite.

We focused our recommendations on the 4 broad categories of change that the Commission wishes to affect – build trust, promote fairness, create agency, and achieve inclusivity – and never assumed that minorities are inert victims of circumstance. As mentioned in the foreword the fact that most of us are successful minority professionals has no doubt shaped this thinking. And our experience of ethnic minority Britain from the inside makes it obvious to us that different groups are distinguished in part by their different cultural patterns and expectations, after all that is what multiculturalism was supposed to be about. It is hardly shocking to suggest that some of those traditions can help individuals succeed more than others.

Beneath the headlines that often show egregious acts of discrimination, the Windrush scandal most recently, incremental progress is being made as our report has shown beyond doubt. Through focusing on what matters now, rather than refighting the battles of the past, we want to build on that progress.

Finally, a thanks to all those individuals and organisations from across the country who gave us their time to to share their perspectives and evidence, and explain how their inspiring projects are helping to build a fairer Britain.

The year 2022 promises to be a special one: a new energy as we are fully released from COVID captivity, The Queen’s 70th Jubilee and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. And we hope it will be infused with the spirit of British optimism, fairness and national purpose that was captured by that 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, and has animated this report."

Thursday, April 01, 2021

April 1 marks another egregious error by this government

Indexing benefits to wages last year set a precedent. They've been indexed to inflation since 2001 but indexing to wages had always been resisted.

For many people the margin between income from a benefit and income from work is a cost they are prepared to pay. Fix that margin and they will always be prepared to pay it. Increase the margin and work becomes attractive.

Covid highlighted NZ's heavy reliance on imported workers in areas where benefit dependence is also high. With benefits linked to wages, that's the way it will stay.

The previous Labour government (a godsend compared to this lot) understood the importance of keeping a margin:

 " is desirable to create a margin between being dependent on a benefit and being in employment....

The Labour Party isn’t the party that says living on a benefit is a preferred lifestyle. Its position has always been that the benefit system is a safety net for those who are unavoidably unable to participate in employment. From its history, the Labour Party has always been about people in employment."

Michael Cullen, 2008

Not Jacinda's Labour Party.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Herbie in stages

 Having a bit of a tidy up when I came across these photos which show the development of one of my favourite subjects and paintings, Herbie:

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

PM's office trys to spin with non-existent data

The PM's office was trying to get data to show that rents have risen in line with wage increases apparently. PM's chief press secretary Andrew Campbell asks in an email mistakenly sent to Stuff:

“Can we get a table rent increases year on year since been in Govt year on year compared to increase in wages and house prices [sic]. My understanding rents have been in line with average wage growth and obviously a lot less than house price growth...Do we know if our rent increases have been in line with increases under National? If they have been that would be good to point out,” he said.

Well you definitely cannot point it out for Auckland or Wellington:

 The PM and her operatives don't fill you with confidence do they?

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Labour thinks landlords are pernicious cash cows

A media report yesterday talked about landlords "threatening" to hike rents in response to to Labour's closing the "loophole" of loan interest deductibility.

Both of those terms are misleading. The first is an effort to paint landlords as thugs. The second, as tax dodgers.

Landlords with mortgaged properties will have no choice but to hike rents or sell. They cannot simply absorb further expenses. For instance, the government never mentions how quickly insurance has escalated.  And rental property insurance is more expensive than owner occupied insurance. Meanwhile rates continue to grow over and above the inflation rate. Not to mention the significant property maintenance costs imposed by this government.

I can't wait to stop being a landlord. The only reason we are hanging in there is because we care about our tenants and don't want to evict them.