Friday, March 06, 2015

Housing NZ stock doesn't match the need

MSD has published data pertaining to Housing NZ stock and tenancies.

I've done some analysis:

- only 9 percent of properties are bedsits or one bedroom, but 29 percent of tenants are one person households. That means 12,829 tenants have a 'spare bedroom'.

- Almost 80 percent of the properties are 2  and 3 bedroom

- Almost two thirds of tenancies are to people aged 45 plus; just over a fifth are to Superannuitants. It would appear that a lot of people remain in 2 and 3 bedroom properties after their children have grown up.

- the most common type of tenant is one parent with children (33%). A state house tenant is more than  twice as likely to be a sole parent than a couple with children.

It's only common sense to adjust the stock to fit the need. That would solve a good deal of the low-income housing shortage. A couple of rough graphs showing 1/ the number of tenancies by number of bedrooms and 2/ the number of tenancies by age group

Another feature adding to 'homelessness' is the number of properties described as 'vacant' - 2,226 or 3.4% of the total (66,215).  Properties being sold or moved may need to stand vacant for a short period though my own  local observations are some properties stand vacant for months.

(State housing is just another form of income redistribution riddled with inefficiencies, bad incentives and injustices. But it isn't going away. Not under this government.)

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Wealth and IQ in NZ

The following is compiled from the well-known Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study and applies to cohort members at age 38.

I was most surprised to see the IQ variable included.

"The childhood IQ model also explains a low amount of wealth variation: again less than 2%. But IQ is also statistically significant, with each extra IQ point gaining a person $5,600 more wealth at age 38."

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

If you believe in end- of- life choice, do something about it

This debate is going to get messy when people don't tell the truth.

Just recently TV3 reported:

Nearly half of Kiwi doctors are in favour of euthanasia, or physician-assisted dying (PAD), according to a survey covered in the New Zealand Medical Journal today.

Yesterday, a report appeared on Stuff which contained the following statement:

Feedback from NZMA members on the issue showed universal opposition to voluntary euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.

If you favour voluntary euthanasia, and this kind of politicking frustrates you,  there is now something you can do about it.

Petition launched Thursday, 19 February 2015, 12:03 pm

Press Release: Voluntary Euthanasia Society Press Release from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of NZ

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand has launched a petition urging Parliament to debate a law change that would allow doctors to help terminally ill patients end their suffering. “Unfortunately, even with over 80 per cent of New Zealanders wanting legalisation, politicians still sit on their hands, agonising and arguing about much less important issues,” VESNZ President Dr Jack Havill, of Hamilton, said in a statement today (Thursday).

Dr Havill, a retired intensive care specialist, said: “The petition will give New Zealanders a chance to get the issues discussed before a select committee. The case is excellent and the public want an honest and informed discussion."

The petition was formally launched on the eve of Friday’s arrival of one of the world’s leading experts on voluntary euthanasia, Dutchman Dr Rob Jonquière, for a nationwide 19-day speaking tour. Dr Jonquière, who helped draft the pioneering Dutch euthanasia legislation, is Communications Director of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, which comprises 49 organisations committed to allowing people to make choices for a dignified death in 24 countries. He has been invited by VESNZ, which campaigns under the title End-of-Life Choice.

The petition reads: “The undersigned respectfully request that the New Zealand House of Representatives investigate fully the public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable."

Former Labour MP Maryan Street, who proposed a private member’s Bill for a law change in the last Parliament, said: “We want MPs to see that there is a great deal of public support for this bill. It is a compassionate and closely prescribed bill, applying only to New Zealand residents aged 18 or over who have terminal illnesses or conditions which make their lives, by their own definition, unbearable. “We would like the petition to be heard by the Health select committee. It could prepare the way for an MP to put the End-of-Life Choice Bill back in the ballot. At the very least, it would present MPs with the opportunity to hear from a range of people about this important and enduring issue."

 This is where you need to go to  download the petition form to sign and/or collect other signatures. I'll be doing both.

Show us the "systemic discrimination"

A recent Amnesty International report made the following observation about New Zealand:

The 2013 Technical report on Child Poverty found that 27% of New Zealand children remained in poverty. Maori and Pacific island children were disproportionately represented in child poverty statistics, highlighting systemic discrimination.

Really? Which system is discriminating against Maori and Pacific Island children?

With free GP visits and prescriptions – recently extended to all under 13′s – it’s not the health system. With community service cards and medical centres like the  Petone Union Health Centre which provides “comprehensive primary health services to Maori, Pacific, Refugee and low income families”  free to patients 18 and under, the case could be made that Maori and Pacific Island children are the subject of positive discrimination though that is unlikely what Amnesty International intended. Immunisation rates are steadily increasing (PI rates are now higher than NZ European). School nurses are a feature in low decile schools and of course, whanau ora services are specifically aimed at improving the health of Maori families. Oral health services are free to all children and adolescents. Maternity services are targeted at low income vulnerable mothers-to-be dominated by Maori and Pacific Island females.

Is it the education system they refer to?  The targeted funding to low decile schools is well-known. Charter schools are being established in some of the poorest neighbourhoods to meet the challenge of the under-achieving tail. Free hours of early childhood education have been steadily  expanded.  Again a case could be made for positive discrimination as opposed to negative.

Perhaps Amnesty International meant that the labour market discriminates against Maori and Pacific Island and, by proxy, their children. Yet it is unavoidable that low or no educational qualifications will predict future employability. Which takes us back to the education system that, as alluded to earlier, has, for the most recent decades, operated in a manner that exercises positive rather than negative discrimination towards ethnic minorities. Targeted funding of  low income schools is synonymous with targeted funding of Maori and Pasifika.

Is the social assistance system stacked against them? Are Maori and Pacific Island children being denied benefits that NZ European children access? Again, the opposite is nearer the truth. Maori children, in particular, disproportionately receive social assistance, especially by way of  Sole Parent Support.

A recent New Zealand Statistics report into the employment rates of NZ females featured the following graph:
It reveals that 40 percent of Maori mothers, and 29 percent of Pacific Island mothers  are unpartnered. This has a direct bearing on child poverty.

The official source of child poverty statistics is the Household Incomes Report published by the Ministry of Social Development. It finds:

 …the poverty rate for children in sole-parent families living on their own is high at 60%…the poverty rate for children in two-parent families is much lower at 14%…

Is there some systemic discriminatory force that prevents Maori and Pacific Island parents from forming stable partnerships?

I don’t know what it is.

There is validity to the theory that welfare benefits have undermined marriage. If the state is prepared to financially replace fathers, especially low income fathers, then there will be inevitable repercussions. When the universal, non-means-tested  family benefit – paid directly to mothers – was  introduced in the 1940s, Maori marriage rates climbed. Only married mothers qualified to receive them.

In The New Zealand family from 1946, Treasury comments:

Legal marriage is now less common among Maori than among non-Maori …The estimates for people aged 60 and over are, however, an exception. Maori in this age group—who would have been entering the main marriage ages during the baby boom—appear to have just as high a probability of ever marrying as other New Zealanders of the same age. Maori in earlier periods had not seen any great need to ask non-Maori officials to provide legal sanction for their marriages (Pool 1991: 109) so the baby boom may well have been the high water mark for legal marriage among Maori.

After the 1973 Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) guaranteed eligibility to a relatively generous benefits for single parents regardless of the reason for their circumstance,  the Maori marriage rate plummeted.

Welfare had a more devastating effect on Maori families because their incomes were lower and Maori men couldn’t compete with the DPB as easily. Pacific Island  families have withstood the sole- parent- subsidisation assault better due to other cultural and Christian traditions which uphold and protect  marriage and intact families. Even Pacific Island single mums are more likely to reside with their extended family.

But again, the welfare system didn’t discriminate against Maori and Pacific Island children. It sought to relieve their poverty by replacing incomes lost to unemployment or a missing partner. That it achieved the opposite – grew the incidence of relative poverty -  is an appalling result.

Amnesty International makes pronouncements about every country in the world (in this particular report, 160 countries) but cannot intimately understand the development of child poverty locally. The only purpose this report serves is to provide headline fodder for the political Left.

Consequently this sort of claim soon has the silent majority’s eyes glazing over. It reads like a statement about minority rights in the 1930s or earlier. It doesn’t reflect the reality of New Zealand in 2015.

(Published at NZCPR, March 1)

Monday, March 02, 2015

One government agency sues another

According to the NZ Herald:
WorkSafe has filed a charge against the Ministry of Social Development following the Ashburton Work and Income shootings last September.
The charge under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act alleges the ministry failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees while at work.
The mind boggles over what future "practicable" steps will entail.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

"Honestly, Mum, chances are he WON'T stay with you."

Jack Tame reports from New York:

For a while, subway cars were plastered end-to-end with photos of crying babies and the line: "Honestly, Mum, chances are he WON'T stay with you."
That one was an ad for family planning services. What cheerier way to start the morning commute?
Now that's the sort of ad MSD/WINZ should be funding and running in New Zealand trains and buses. (I was going to say on the backs of buses but the targeted demographic is more likely to be inside. Then again best put them everywhere lest the politically correct take offence.)

Strictly speaking the odds are with the mother in the first year. But with one in five NZ babies ending up on welfare - usually Sole Parent Support - by the end of their birth year, the chances he won't stay are pretty high. And they increase with time.

 According to the Families Commission, nearly one in two mothers in New Zealand will experience solo parenthood and up to 40 per cent of children will live in a sole-parent family for a period of time.
And if you don't believe the poor need targeting have a look at this just-published report from the Brookings Institute:

 A poor woman is about five times as likely as an affluent woman to have an unintended birth, which further deepens the divides in income, family stability, and child outcomes.

Quote of the Day

How many kings have abdicated their thrones after becoming convinced that monarchy did not truly serve the downtrodden masses? Will politicians cede power after social scientists document how their favorite programs do more harm than good?
- James Bovard, "The Absurdity of 'Reform' in DC" [February 13, 2015]

(Hat tip FFF)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The anonymous replacement for Carmel Sepuloni

With Carmel Sepuloni suspended from her spokes role in the social development portfolio I wondered who had replaced her. No clues here:

Home For Life review called for

Home For Life review called for
As Foster care awareness week kicks off, Labour is calling for a review of Home for Life – National’s policy for the permanent care of foster children
“Children’s Day (tomorrow) and Foster Care Awareness week offer the perfect opportunity to consider whether we are doing the best we can by kids.
“Our foster carers do an amazing, but often thankless, job and taking the next step to becoming a home for life carer can be daunting. We need to ensure families are well supported.
“I have heard countless stories of families who transition from being foster carers - especially those who are caring for children with high and complex needs – not receiving the support they still need.
“The sad reality is that many families will also often have to contend with legal battles – an expensive and draining experience for caregivers who are trying to do their best by their foster child.
“While the Government has tried to remedy some of these issues through the Vulnerable Children’s Act, it doesn’t go far enough for many Home For Life families.
“And if they don’t have the necessary support their work may end up having the opposite effect. Every child deserves to grow up in a stable and secure environment, with carers who are well placed to care for them and their needs.
“A family that takes on Home For Life responsibility will have their plan reviewed after three years.
“It’s time we did the same to the policy to make sure it’s giving families, and most importantly our children, everything it promised.”

  Who is "I"?


Murray Deaker, who I enjoy listening to occasionally though I've little interest in sports beyond the turf, writes 'exclusively' in today's NZ Herald:

It is apparent that the Government, John Key and Steven Joyce particularly, have not realised the depth of feeling against Team New Zealand. If the Government funds Team New Zealand under its present leadership and structure, it will pay for it at the polling booths. I could not bring myself to vote for any party supporting the current bunch.
But he will vote for a government that backs the team he wants?

What an absurd basis for deciding who should be government in 2017.

Then John Minto, on the subject of the acquisition of state houses minus double garages and beautiful views, tells Simon Collins:

 "Why shouldn't families on low incomes, who have the highest needs ... They are the very people who would benefit from beautiful views, why should they be reserved just for the wealthy? It's all wrong."
Is the man completely devoid of capacity for logic?

As Paula Bennett points out:

 "We can help more people in need by making smart purchasing decisions, rather than diverting taxpayer dollars towards properties with higher prices due to extraneous features," she said.
(They could help even more people out if they left the taxpayer dollars in the private sector.)

Then in Dompost according to the director of the City Gallery in which the ratepayer will fund an exhibition of Mongrel Mob portraits:

She urged ratepayers concerned about a public gallery hosting the show to remember that City Gallery returned $3 for every dollar of ratepayer funds spent.
"We're helping the ratepayer triple their investment in us."

Good lord. When can the ratepayer expect to receive a tangible cash dividend on their "investment"?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Getting to the crux of welfare dependence

Quick cut and paste of, for me anyway, quite exciting analysis.

New Insights

Age of Entry and Intergenerational Benefit Receipt
·         75% of the liability is attributable to clients that first entered benefits under the age of 20. A key finding of this valuation is the extent to which early entry is co-related with intergenerational benefit receipt.
·         For Youth benefit clients as at 30 June 2014:
§  88% (9 in 10) were from beneficiary families, the majority of whom received a main benefit for most of their teen years. 
§  51% were in beneficiary families for 80% or more of their teen years.

·         The correlation is striking enough to believe that early entry may be a proxy for intergenerational benefit receipt (with the notable exception of teen-aged SLP entrants).
·         The evaluation looked specifically at the share of beneficiaries up to age 25 that can be matched to a record of parental benefit receipt - a “benefit match”. We also looked at the extent of their family’s exposure to benefits, during each matched beneficiary’s teenage years (13-18).
·         These figures show that inter-generational correlations are very strong – most young clients in the benefit system had some exposure to the benefit system through a parent or guardian.
·         Nearly three quarters (74%) of all beneficiaries up to age 25 had a parent on benefit while they were a child, and just over a third (35%) had a parent on benefit throughout their teenage years.
·         The greater the family benefit history the longer the client tended to stay on a benefit, particularly for the Jobseeker benefit.
·         For instance, a client whose parent was intensively in the system during ages 13-18 was then 48% more likely to remain on JS-WR after a year compared to those clients matched to a non-beneficiary parent. Their exits were also less sustainable; on leaving the system, they were 11% more likely to be back on benefits within two years.

To summarise, three quarters of the forward cost of welfare rests with those who go on welfare under twenty. The inter-generational  "notable exception" of supported living payment beneficiaries (SLP) is due to intellectual and other disability affecting young people transitioning into adulthood .

This emphatically highlights the last Labour government's folly of concentrating all their efforts on the unemployment benefit (albeit successfully reducing numbers).

On Carmel Sepuloni's "conflict of interest"

On one hand I can agree with the Whale that Carmel Sepuloni should not be punished for the (alleged) sins of her mother. Andrew Little has stood her down from the welfare portfolio because her mother is facing numerous benefit fraud charges, citing a "conflict of interests".

On the other, Sepuloni has a history of getting directly involved with WINZ staff and interfering in their decisions.

In her own words, after intervening to get a benefit reinstated when someone volunteering in her office missed a WINZ seminar thereby breaking the rules of entitlement:

Get it together WINZ! Not all of these poor young people are going to have an MP on their case, who can ring up and leave rather firm voice messages for you when these mistakes happen.

She set a precedent that has bearing on the current circumstances.