Sunday, February 14, 2016

Some religion on Sunday

My sentiments exactly, but expressed by Rodney Hide in today's Herald on Sunday. On the govt's attempt to tax smokers out of existence

"Taylor's proposal would see a packet of cigarettes priced at a $100 by 2025.
I suspect that would achieve the Government's target. New Zealand would be smoke free. Taylor would not be seeing any smokers. The job would be done.
That would be because we smokers would be holed-up, out of sight, hidden in the hills, puffing furiously on our home-grown weed - bandits and outlaws, but free.
I hope I would be with them. I would prefer the fun and the freedom compared to the prissy lot we have become."

Risk-free living is a relatively new most unwelcome religion.

After the tragic recent spate of drownings we are being told

"Never swim alone and only ever swim at patrolled beaches."

How realistic or desirable is that?

Alcohol causes cancer. Take the law into your own hands and refuse to serve a pregnant women.

Meat causes cancer. Don't barbecue.

Speed kills.  Fine the bejesus out of minor offenders. And again wrest keys of suspect drivers if you like.

Gambling is an insidious addiction further encouraged by alcohol sponsorship. Ban it like we banned tobacco sponsorship.

And while you are at it ban it from all sports. Young minds are too impressionable.

Facebook is a fiendish scourge on young minds too. It drives people to suicide.

Quad bikes. More dangerous than a loaded gun. Guns!! A horrible symbol of animal exploitation and male dominance. Ban them.

I could go on and on. But in the interests of my own safety and sanity ...well it's just too risky or  I'll end up in Them Thar Hills too, swinging off the branches of some nasty non-native tree. Or holed up in my non-consented tree house.



Saturday, February 13, 2016

"...their problems are therefore those of the Maori people..."

It has been clear for a long time that a disproportionate number of children who are reported to CYF, have a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect against their parent or caregiver, or end up in state care are Maori. But I haven't seen the statistics put in these terms before (or if I have I've forgotten):


 "...35 per cent of all Maori children are notified to CYF before age 5, compared with 11 per cent of non-Maori children."
This is from the 'interim' report by the group led by Paula Rebstock tasked with examining CYF.

Statistics relating to ethnicity are increasingly redundant as more and more New Zealand-born children report (or their parents report) more than 1, 2, or even 3 ethnicities.

The above finding is particularly intriguing because many Maori children who  also have Pacific Island, NZ European, Asian, etc parentage will be counted as Maori because of the hierarchical system government uses.


From a Families Commission report 2004:


"...if a person reports more than one ethnic identity they will be counted only once, in the following priority order: Māori, Pacific peoples, Asian, other, European." 

(Yes, some reporting  systems take account of multiple ethnicities leading to annoying and meaningless totals for the purposes of research, and  reliance on self-identification produces Maori as the overriding ethnicity anyway.) 

I came across a passage (not on-line) the other day that crystallizes the problem.


The children of a mixed marriage are also usually very readily accepted by their grandparents, both Maori and Pakeha. In the wider community such children are nearly always looked on as Maori if their ancestry is at all obvious (the term ‘half-caste’ seems to be used less now than formerly), and their problems are therefore those of the Maori people… Harre 1968

I have been reading up on mixed marriages/partnerships and the rate of partnering between Maori and non-Maori is very high especially when compared to other races in other countries.

Personally I think it's a good thing but when it comes to problems with offspring it has to be said the contributing ethnicity who is not Maori gets of scot free when it comes to the reporting of ethnic contribution.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Anti-smacking law is bad law


The anti-smacking law has failed to reduce the abuse and neglect of children. It was never going to make a difference because lawless people don't give a damn. In fact normally law-abiding people don't give a fig for it either. On a recent plane trip, the row in front of me contained a mother and two youngsters one of whom was being stroppy. I didn't see what the child did (to her sibling I think) but what I did hear was the mother, having handled the situation saying to the daughter, "I'm sorry if I tapped you too hard but...." She followed the law by changing the language.

Many people think we should just get over it and get on with it. But this report highlights that the anti-smacking law, which is being policed, may actually be making the situation worse.

It's bad law. I've listened to people speak who have been criminalised by it and their experiences have been harrowing.

Read the  report summary here.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

US politics - contrasting views

I noticed two editorials that related this morning. First the DomPost lamenting the bizarrenness of US politics but citing Republican candidates only. Not a  Democrat in sight. (Oh, and typically the writer manages to have a crack at ACT in the process).

 American politics may seem grotesque to New Zealanders. We have reckless demagogue politicians; but we don't have anyone as bizarrely irrational as Donald Trump.
We have narrow and fanatical politicians, but no-one as bigoted or as nasty as Ted Cruz. We have ignorant and foolish politicians, but none as breathtakingly weird as Ben Carson. 

Then a piece by a very angry American taking extreme umbrage at front-running Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is not qualified to be president of the United States of America, because she doesn’t know what the United States of America are. Terry Shumaker, former U.S. ambassador to Trinidad (I wonder what that gig cost him) and current abject minion in the service of Mrs. Clinton, quotes Herself telling an audience in New Hampshire: “Service is the rent we pay for living in this great country.” There is a very old English word for people who are required to perform service as a rent for their existence, and that word is serf. Serfdom is a form of bondage.
Agree or not, at least the second writer has zest for his topic. And note he identifies himself thereby owning his thoughts unlike the DomPost editorialist.

I wonder if the US political process is considered "grotesque" simply because too many commentators in this country have become overwhelmed by political correctness allowing it too censor and comfortably numb their intellects?

Monday, February 08, 2016

Quite different pictures

The NZ Hearld has a headline, New Zealand now much safer for children as injury cases plunge.

There must have been data availability restraints for the black and blue lines on the graph below because the writer could have taken the red line to 2012 showing even greater overall improvement.

Below the NZ Herald graph is the result of querying the NZ Injury Query System. The death rate per 100,000 children from 'unintentional injury' dropped to 6.5 by 2012. I went on to query fatalities from 'all intents'  and have graphed the difference. That produces a slightly different picture.



 


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Seymour vs Ardern is going to be entertaining

At the supermarket checkout this afternoon I spotted the header on the Sunday Star Times heralding two new columnists - David Seymour and Jacinda Ardern. Very nice. I expect they'll be given (or agree together) a subject each week.

Then I got an e-mail alert that Ardern had tweeted the link so took a look.

Interesting. It appears David has taken  on the subject and Jacinda has responded. I assume next week it'll reverse.

This format will make for much more entertainment.

Here's the first installment .



OPINION: Like almost all Kiwis I have always avoided Waitangi on the big day. Images of protesters, crying prime ministers, and actual mud-slinging are enough to put most people off.  If you've ever been in Sydney for Australia Day, you'll know how much better our national day could be.

But Parliament obliges me to be here, so I'm writing this from an old Paihia motel (my parliamentary colleagues had booked out the Waitangi Copthorne, but that's another story).

The trouble this time is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, or TPPA. People oppose it for the same reason people used to have mullets – fashion, not logic. Being of Ngāpuhi descent myself, it's been a real struggle to understand why local Maori are protesting a trade agreement. 

If an iwi is going to host representatives of the Crown to symbolise this 176-year-old relationship, why not rotate the host iwi and location?

The fact is, many colonial-era Maori were very entrepreneurial, and took ready advantage of the more secure property rights provided by the Treaty – more secure than being invaded by nearby tribes as happened through the musket war period around 1820 to 1840. One of the many important rights the Treaty gave was access to sea lanes protected by the most powerful navy on the planet.

I've been reading Hazel Petrie's Chiefs of Industry. It tells the story of colonial-era Maori such as Te Hemara Tauhia. In the 1850s he built a sawmill in the north and charged Pakeha to mill their timber.

Then he realised they were making money off the shipping so he commissioned a 20-tonne ship to move it, too. That guy would have favoured signing the TPPA.

He was not unusual. As another author summed up, colonial Maori "were able to leverage European technologies to build remarkable trading relationships around the world as well as forcing the world's most powerful empire into a stalemate."

Back up here at Waitangi Day 2016 the usual suspects (about 0.01 per cent of the population) have made the elected prime minister of New Zealand stay away and denied all of us a national day we can enjoy because they don't like the TPPA. It got me thinking.

The Treaty was not signed just at Waitangi. It went on tour and was signed by Chiefs all over the country.  Waitangi is just the place it was signed first.

It's never been clear why one iwi gets to monopolise the celebrations, but this year's circus has made it especially unclear. The disruptors don't know much about trade or even their own history of trade.

Even the device that one protester threw at Steven Joyce probably entered the country under the China FTA.

If an iwi is going to host representatives of the Crown to symbolise this 176-year-old relationship, why not rotate the host iwi and location? It could be in a different place each year, following the actual path that the Treaty took during 1840.

Ngāpuhi have denied the whole country a proud national day just one time too many. It is time to take this show on the road. There were 20-odd signing locations so it'll come back around in 2036. Estimates are that the TPPA will be adding an extra $3 billion to our economy every year by then.

And a bit of competition among locations might also help to lift standards of behaviour, bringing some dignity and joy back to this historic occasion.

Jacinda Ardern responds

Australia Day? Are you kidding? That is the last place we should be looking for a model of race relations, let alone a national day of celebration – unless you're into drunken, casual racism. 

I am sorry you felt a sense of duty rather than any desire to be at Waitangi, David. Or that your auto lodge didn't meet your expectations.

But your interpretation of what the pilgrimage to this place symbolises is just plain wrong. It's not about the dominance of any one iwi as you claim, it's about recognising the place where the treaty - and the relationship between Maori and the crown, all began, and what that relationship means now.  
And that's what makes your argument so ironic. You believe that moving around the country every year, presumably having the talks and debate we have at Waitangi, would be a better way to mark our national day. And yet this is the very thing that caused the difficulties this year - the fact the government didn't talk, didn't debate, an agreement that they signed on behalf of New Zealand, and Maori - the TPPA. 

I hand on heart believe in free trade, and so does my party. But we also know that this agreement was about more than trade, and it was these elements of the agreement that the government should have discussed openly- they didn't. 

There is no denying that there have been ups and downs over the years at Waitangi, but it remains a place for open debate and dialogue. That's worth celebrating.

Gang children - growing the problem

"The proportion of gang members and affiliates in New Zealand’s prison population has grown. The 2003 Department of Corrections census of prison inmates showed that gang members and affiliates accounted for 11.5 percent of the sentenced inmates. Over two thirds of those inmates belonged to either the Mongrel Mob or Black Power gangs. As of April 2013, gang members and affiliates comprised over 30 percent of inmates, with over 10 percent of the prison population belonging to the Mongrel Mob. Forty-six percent of prisoners under the age of 19 have gang affiliations."




"The literature suggests that single-faceted approaches are unlikely to be effective in dealing with gang issues. Suppression in particular has been criticised as largely ineffective in reducing involvement in gangs and offending.

In 2008, the Ministry of Social Development noted that:

A sole suppression strategy is costly…and gains are short term. Suppression has proven the least successful of all interventions and can have a negative impact as members convert stigmatisation into a symbol of status. Further … a reliance on the Police as public commentators on gang issues can be problematic, as many have narrow views of gangs and criminality, which may then be perpetuated
through the media leading to simplified notions about how best to respond.

Black Power member Denis O’Reilly similarly notes: “You have got to have an integrated response. But if the only weapon you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail”.
Moreover, suppressing and imprisoning gang members can exacerbate the problem by providing gangs the opportunity to recruit new members in prisons, dominate prison culture and run criminal activities within prisons such as contraband trading. Prisons are a major recruiting ground for the largest ethnic gang in New Zealand – the Mongrel Mob – and a Mob chapter was formed in Auckland Maximum Security Prison in the late 1970s."

Source

Saturday, February 06, 2016

ACT Conference 2016


I've agreed to speak at the next ACT Party conference three weeks today. I'll cover what's been happening in welfare - the good and the bad - and  what further reform could look like.

Here's a list of speakers, all of whom I am keen to hear.


Further details

Friday, February 05, 2016

Growth in psych conditions in the welfare system

Here's a tidy illustration of a phenomenon I occasionally blog about; the growing incidence of benefit dependence due to psychiatric or psychological conditions.


The blue line is the old sickness benefit; the green line, the invalid benefit.

The total number at June 2015 was 53,611.

At March 1999 the total was 24,194.

A 121% increase compared to a total population increase of around 21%.

More sickness? More diagnosis? Whatever the driver, it's actually a problem for the Ministry of Health to address yet its MSD that bears the budgetary implications.