Saturday, February 18, 2006

Two completely different wars

If I understand this editorial correctly, the need to share intelligence justifies the Australian Federal Police tipping off the Indonesian authorities to the activities of the Bali Nine.

The international nature of terrorism, and indeed drug smuggling and other criminal activity, means that countries must co-operate with each other. In this region, a strong relationship with Indonesia is vital.

But if the Bali Nine had been allowed to reach Australia would the Indonesians have been any the wiser? What is the author of this piece saying? That the AFP would then have to answer to the Indonesians for thwarting any drug intelligence they might otherwise have gathered from the Nine? But if intelligence was the aim wouldn't the drug smugglers be far more likely to disclose information under the promise of a return to Australian authorities? That wasn't on offer.

So, the Indonesian authorities want a few Aussie heads before they would provide terrorist intelligence that might save many more Aussie lives?

I don't believe it. The AFP shouldn't have shopped those kids to the Indonesians. A genuine war on terrorism cannot be used to justify the false war on drugs.

Spoilt monkey

That's me. My husband decided, as I was spending so much time at the computer, I needed a new chair. Here it is;

The picture doesn't really do it justice. It's "Buffalo leather" , height adjustable, swivel, with arm rests and being quite small, I can rest my head back and find it perfectly cushioned. Geez. I feel like I've been upgraded to business class. I'll just swivel around to the bookcase to my glass of wine (experience has taught me never to leave it within cooey of the keyboard). Aaaah.

Two years ago the same husband told me he was giving me a "desk" for Xmas. I sulked. A piece of furniture HE wants for MY xmas present I grizzled to myself.

Well, it took him hours and hours to assemble it but again, it's just wonderful. In a small space it fits into the corner with all sorts of compartments, drawers and cupboards at my fingertips.

Both of these additions to the home came from the Warehouse Stationary. The chair cost $125. The desk unit was around $400. Isn't the free market a fantastic thing?

Oh and my faithful companion by the chair came from the SPCA.
Cost? The price of a spaying operation.

What should WINZ do?

35 people lost their jobs when an Otaki plastics recycling factory burnt down. Initially it looked like WINZ would subsidise a clean-up, which will take about six months and keep staff employed.

Now WINZ have said they can't financially help the employer.

So 27 will now have be made redundant.

Well, they will have to go and find new jobs, like anybody else who gets made redundant. And, if they wish to, return to their old jobs when the factory reopens. There will be plenty of other employers looking for staff in the region.

I just hope WINZ are as staunch in not allowing those made redundant to sit on a benefit for the next six months. Unfortunately I suspect this is exactly what will happen.

And from boycotts to blogs...

A much more uplifting subject, a lengthy but fascinating read just published in the Financial Times;

"At the close of 2002, there were some 15,000 blogs. By 2005, 56 new blogs were starting every minute. As I type this sentence, there are, according to, 27.2 million blogs. By the time you read this sentence, there surely will be many more."

From Bans to Boycotts

If I am not mistaken this was the lead item on TV3 News last night;

Canterbury Health Board wants staff to boycott Christchurch's city-to-surf run, because of the events sponsor - Powerade.

The health board is "putting its foot down." The idea that sugary drinks are appropriate is not the message we want out there, said a spokeswoman.

At last years City to Surf 12km run around 600 health workers participated. Hundred's of CHB staff have been told to stay away from the event.

You can watch the video (if you can stand to) at TV3's website.

"National Velvet - The coming of John Key"

For goodness sake. What an overblown title for the fairly lightweight North & South article about John Key which I've just finished reading. Mostly it's an advertisement for National's economic prescription. There's a couple of descriptions of tough conversations Key had with prospective employers on his way up. Quite impressive until you picture him telling the story himself (which is how I imagine the writer got the information).

John Key seems to be Mr Nice and he may well be. His wife of 21 years, looks surprisingly yet pleasantly nice and ordinary which (perversely) improves my opinion of him. So why am I not singing his praises in tune with the writer?

My mistrust of National. Gareth Morgan is quoted in the article so I will let him say it for me;

(Morgan says) "Key is better than Cullen," adding he doesn't consider that a particularly high hurdle...... the challenge for National is to demonstrate principles, not simply follow populist policies as he believes they did in the election run-up."Remember the only true reformer of the past 30 years, Roger Douglas, was from Labour, not one of a bunch of conservative also-rans."

There was only one other paragraph that raised my eyebrows and turned the corners of my mouth upward.

John Key is not Parliament's only state house kid made good, although former ACT party leader Richard Prebble was maybe inadvertently perspicacious when he described him as "the candidate from central casting" - in Key's case, a nod to the perennial Hollywood theme of working class hero triumphs over adversity, with a touch of Mr Smith Goes To Washington.

Mr Smith Goes To Washington? Now that is taking things too far.

Friday, February 17, 2006

When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the speaker's circuit, he usually found himself eagerly longing to get back to his laboratory work. One night as they were driving to yet another lecture, Einstein mentioned to his chauffeur that he was tired of speechmaking.

"I have an idea," his chauffeur said. "I've heard you give this speech so many times. I'll bet I could give it for you." Einstein laughed loudly and said, "Why not? Let's do it!"

When they arrived, Einstein wore the chauffeur's cap and jacket and sat at the back of the room. The chauffeur gave a beautiful rendition of Einstein's speech and even answered a few questions.

Then a pompous professor asked an esoteric question about anti-matter formation, digressing here and there to show off his expertise. Without missing a beat, the chauffeur fixed the professor with a steely stare and said, "Sir, the answer to that question is so simple that I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back, answer it for me."

Prison sentencing

As prisons have been topical I've dug out some relevant statistics (just what I have to hand).

We hear that “crime is a young man’s game”. If we call young anything up to 30 years-old, fifty three percent of prison sentences imposed in 2003 were on young people.

BUT of all inmates 76 percent had FIRST been imprisoned as a young person. The most common age for first imprisonment is 17.

Of the 8,536 sentences 10 percent went to females. Up from 7 percent in 1999.

Exactly half of the sentences were imposed on Maori.

Going back to 1960;

3,057 sentences were imposed. The percentage of the population under 30 was fifty three; now it is only 43 percent. Despite today's population being considerably older the rate of sentencing per 10,000 of mean population, has increased by around fifty percent.

Bouquet or brickbat?

A caller to a radio programme awarded a bouquet to all those "patriotic" New Zealanders for supporting Kiwibank. Naturally I had to ring in and give the same people a brickbat. Kiwibank continues to grow on the back of NZ Post. People who use it are self-serving opportunists - happy to be subsidised by the taxpayer.

More state intervention on the way

This is from the Maxim newsletter. One of the more concise descriptions of the consequences of repealing section 59.

Supporters of repeal say that their intention is not to criminalise parents for what they call "trivial" smacking. Their intentions however are, to put it bluntly, irrelevant.

What matters is what the law will say.

Currently, section 59 gives parents, or those in the place of parents, a defence to charges that could result from a parent's use of physical force to discipline their child. The defence is a limited one; any force used must be "reasonable in the circumstances" and used "by way of correction". If section 59 is repealed, the law will say that ordinary smacking constitutes an assault to which parents will have no defence. The Police have confirmed that this will be the case. This is because the law defines "assault" very widely. Assault is a criminal offence for which parents could be charged if they do not have the protection of section 59. Other occasions in which parents touch their children for disciplinary reasons, such as putting an unwilling child into a chair for a five minute "time-out", will also constitute assault.

Many of those supporting repeal also say that the defence needs to be removed to prevent child abuse. However, child abuse is already illegal and is not protected by section 59. An analysis of cases involving section 59 shows that in the vast majority of cases, the limits of the defence are applied sensibly.

Hobson's choice

Researchers ask are we medicating away romantic love? Anti-depressents alter brain chemicals which blunt the emotions and interfere with the abiltity to feel romantic love and sustain long-term attachments. But if you are depressed, do you have the capacity anyway?

John Plewes, a medical adviser to Eli Lilly -- which manufactures Prozac -- says, "Patients who suffer from depression aren't in a position to make decisions about partners and life choices." Plewes added that antidepressants "allow the person to experience normal emotions when they get better from depression."

More bad behaviour at select committee

National MP, Nick Smith got rather excited at the Local Government and Environment select committee yesterday, when questioning officials about the costs of the Oceans Policy. Marion Hobbs is complaining about his "aggressive" questioning. Not to the chairperson but to the speaker. Now, will Margaret Wilson take a leaf out of Shane Jones book and rip up the complaint?

Hardly front page news...

...but the DomPost thinks so.

Wellington High School present kids who have a 100 percent attendence record with a $50 prize at the end of the year. Good idea. But some think not.

One parent said she was angry the school was spending money, including parents' $300 donations, on "bribes".

"I will be deducting the $50 that the school seems to think it can afford from my kids' school fees...It is outrageous."

What a whinger.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sick of state worshippers

That's it. I'm laying a complaint. Hearing about Sweden is definitely bad for my health and I want a ban on the word - NOW.

Here are three references in the last couple of days alone.

1 Some countries, such as Sweden, had put a total ban on all advertising during children's television viewing times, while other countries had placed restrictions on the promotion of unhealthy foods.

2 ....Joan Durrant, a child clinical psychologist from the University of Manitoba, .... cited the example of Sweden, which removed the criminal defence in 1957 - nearly 50 years ago - and followed that up in 1978 with an explicit statement in the Civil Code to say children should not be hit.

So far 17 countries - including the Pitcairn Islands (infamous for a massive historic abuse case, which ended in the conviction of six men last year) - have followed Sweden's lead in explicitly banning physical discipline in their civil codes.

3 Sweden hopes to end its oil dependency within 15 years according to a new government initiative.

With oil prices fluctuating and the resource dwindling, the Scandinavian country plans to develop a range of bio fuels so that, according to government minister Mona Sahlin; 'No driver should need to use only gasoline' by 2020.

So has the Swedish state delivered nirvana?

Newsweek investigates; "An increasing number of Swedes do not recognize the socialist paradise-cum-economic wunderkind of Guardian headlines. The model is showing "visible cracks," says Klas Eklund, the Stockholm-based chief economist of SEB bank. Among them: the lack of incentive to work, resulting in a real unemployment rate roughly three times the official 6.3 percent; the failure to foster entrepreneurship (Swedes are the Europeans least likely to consider starting businesses), and the "total inability to handle the integration of immigrants," who face an unemployment rate one third higher than native Swedes. The disparity is among the widest in Europe."

Counting the hidden unemployed, including those on disability, paid leaves or "perpetual students" at tuition-free universities, more than 20 percent of the working-age population is out of work, according to some estimates.

However, Newsweek concludes, "Right now the Swedish model, for all its shortcomings and no matter how heavily questioned at home, looks about as good as it gets."

Aaaah. Definitely ban the mere mention of this place. It reminds me too much of New Zealand

Is this Maori Party policy?

Hone Harawira wants the manufacture and sale of tobacco made illegal.

That will make all the difference. We will then be able to control tobacco as effectively as we control cannabis.

It's not about Rodney Hide

New Labour MP, Shane Jone's treatment of Rodney Hide's letter of complaint is worthy of more than the flippancy Jane Clifton accords it in today's DomPost. I always read Jane Clifton. She's more astute and talented than most journalists. And given the undeniable antipathy some people feel towards Rodney Hide it's a piece of writing that won't go unappreciated.

But it's not about Rodney. This issue is about not just avoidance of process but a voluble contempt for it. Going before a select committee is tough. Members who don't like the content of your submission make it abundantly clear in a variety of ways. From direct personal attack through to an exaggerated display of boredom or indifference.

But I go knowing what to expect. Nobody can make me go - unlike Mr Fraser.

So there needs to be some constraints on the behaviour of committee members and submitters. If the chairman himself steps beyond the limits, and what Shane Jones said about Ian Fraser was extremely denigrating and highly public, then we have a problem.

Jane Clifton suggests that "ripping up" Rodney's letter of complaint is the way most New Zealanders deal with politics. She is probably right. And the more evidence they see of a process that is presided over by people who are a law unto themselves, the more they will keep well away.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hone Harawira's challenge to all Maori MPs

"My challenge to you is to recognise that you were Maori before you were a parliamentarian, and that you will be Maori after parliament has no further use for you.

That is what should determine your position. Not the politics of your Party."

This, in a nutshell, is what shackles many Maori. Being Maori is more important than anything, anything, else. Even honesty. Watch Maori, at many levels and in different situations, draw in around a wrong-doer because whatever the misdemeanour, being Maori takes precedence. Loyalty to race is transcendent.

Think of the implications.

"(Being Maori) is what should determine your position. Not the politics of your Party. "

The Maori Party said they were a party for everybody. That's not true. They cannot be because their politics are based on race. No more, no less.

Harawira was bemoaning the poor Maori stats - higher unemployment, half the prison population, 25 percent of the drop-out rate. The quickest way to reduce those numbers is to stop the separatism. Stop the tribalism. Stop the excuses. Stop blaming racism one day and promoting it the next.

If Parliament is to be no more than an arena for fighting over group interests (who can get the most out of the state) then why not an Asian Party, a Muslim Party, a Gay Party, a Feminists Party (which many would say we already have.)

All the law needs to do is protect individuals, all with the same and equal rights. Think how much smaller the government would be. Think how much freer we would all be.

Indian giver

Looks like I won't get to open my packet of chewing gum afterall.

The Government's widely mocked plan to increase tax thresholds might not be implemented at all, Finance Minister Michael Cullen hinted today.

Crime is a growth industry

Astonishing. Some rehab programmes are making inmates more likely to reoffend.

WFF drives WINZ Crisis

Oh those unintended consequences. Government policies always throw them up yet nobody ever seeks to anticipate them. This one is the perfect example of the self-perpetuating welfare state. Where do you think some of those staff will end up? (I had a friend who worked for WINZ. She had a debilitating physical condition which required treatment. Her employer told her to go on a sickness benefit because they couldn't accommodate the treatment she needed to keep her on her feet. Go figure.)

The Government's Working for Families benefit scheme has resulted in heavy workloads for Work and Income staff, who are seeking counselling and resigning in droves, workers claim.

Almost two dozen Canterbury staff have undergone counselling in the space of five months, figures provided by Work and Income show.

"Frustrated and overworked" Canterbury staff have sent a letter to management saying the department is in crisis and staff morale at an all-time low.

Easy-to-understand economics

Good article here explaining the virtues of, indeed the necessity of self-interest.

It is fashionable to decry selfishness as responsible for every societal ill. But without the natural motivation for personal gain our economic system might fall down around us, or at the least produce much less prosperity for all.

This constant effort by everyone to get the best deal they can creates the productivity that fuels the economy. And that explains why people can both dislike Wal-Mart yet shop there.

Remember, those societies that have sought to ban such normal human impulses have been the worse for it. Just ask the billions of Russians, Chinese and Indians who have only relatively recently forsaken various forms of socialism, which sees self-interest as evil.

TV turn off

A group of influential grey power elites want a fully-funded public telly channel. One that would be advertising free and run quality programmes like "Close to Home" and "McPhail and Gadsby."

The group is led by former broadcaster Ian Johnstone.

There was a feeling of regret at the loss of such programmes as Close to Home, McPhail & Gadsby, Gallery and scores of other local programmes.

"I realise we are a bunch of old men and women saying it used to be better. But it was," Mr Johnstone said.

I'd rather watch the ads over that line-up.

Another signatory, Sir Douglas Graham, said the hours might be up, but quality was down.

New Zealand television seemed "designed for the lowest common denominator" and the news was too focused on crime and court stories.

TV designed for the great unwashed, the masses. Horrors!

Author Dame Fiona Kidman said public broadcasting "is an act of service to the viewers in this country" and should fund relevant programmes.

"A lot of the content now is cheap and easy. Quality drama requires quite a commitment of funding, and if everything is a commercial imperative to make money to keep the Crown-owned company afloat, it makes it much more difficult."

Somebody who knows what "quality" is wants to put their hand even deeper into your pocket.

National's state-owned enterprises spokeswoman, Katherine Rich, said New Zealand could not continue to look backwards to the "television experience" of the 1970s when there was first one channel, and then two.

"People are getting their media fix from a wide range of sources, not just Television One. It is unfair to burden a state broadcaster with meeting the needs of everyone."

It is unfair to burden the taxpayer with meeting the needs of a few. Which is exactly what these highbrows want.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Delusions of grandeur

Belusconi compares himself to Jesus
14 February 2006

ROME: First it was Napoleon. Now it is Jesus Christ.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Belusconi has compared himself to both, prompting the open scorn of his political opponents and even the quietly raised eyebrows of his coalition partners.

"I am the Jesus Christ of politics," Italian media quoted him as saying at a dinner with supporters on Saturday night. "I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone."

Hey. At least he is still talking about himself in the first person.

What business thinks

84 percent of surveyed businesses agree with the statement that New Zealand has too many bureaucrats. The following is a breakdown of the areas considered to be the biggest offenders.

Area | Percentage saying yes |
|Social Policies | 81.0% |
|Welfare | 77.8% |
|Environment | 61.0% |
|Health | 59.5% |
|Education | 52.4% |
|Trade & Enterprise | 31.7% |

"The strong reaction against welfare bureaucracy was probably also indicative of built-up annoyance and perceptions about the number of people given welfare payments of various types."

Notice though that business was less unhappy about corporate welfare bureaucracy. Somewhat self-serving. The principle behind corporate welfare is the same one that's behind social welfare. The government redistributes taxpayers money to suit its own agenda and to buy votes.

Green agendas

Earlier this month Green MP Sue Bradford said, "...we accept the forecasts of rising unemployment over this year and the years ahead."

With that knowledge the Greens, along with UNITE, have chosen to target fast-food industry workers to agitate for higher wages. The outcome of their actions will have one of two results.

1/ A rise in minimum adult and youth rates will be forced by legislation which will lead to either fewer jobs (which they can claim was going to happen anyway); and/or reduced company profitability and/or higher prices to the consumer.

Fewer jobs won't really bother the Greens who embrace social security as a lifestyle for whoever wants it. And if Bradford can get the youth rate raised she will then move onto bringing benefit rates for 16 and 17 year-olds in line with adult rates.

Reduced profitability of any multi-national is highly desirable.

And increased prices will mean reduced consumption of fast-food. Kedgley will be delighted about this. Kedgley hates the food and Nandor hates the packaging.

2/ The campaign will fail but not without causing major disruption and agitation. Some consolation.

So ask yourself. Why the fastfood industry?

The extreme left are exploiting these particular workers to promote a number of their own agendas. Those workers need to know that if this campaign succeeds, on balance, they will find themselves no better off. Some will lose jobs, some will lose income support due to a larger pay packet, all will end up paying more as the costs of products and services goes up to meet higher wage bills across the board. They are just the meat in the sandwich - or the burger in the bun .....

Anti-feminist barred

Newly-qualified Wainuiomata father, Peter Zohrab, has been told he is not a fit and proper person to practice law. His role as a radical men's activist has provoked this criticism.

"His website also included a copy of his complaint to the United Nations human rights committee, that the body for training New Zealand judges, the Institute of Judicial Studies, indoctrinated judges against men.

The website quoted him as saying: "The law is not an ass – the law is a sexist bitch!"

Having met Mr Zohrab briefly, a couple of times, I found him extremely quiet and mild-mannered. I will watch this wrangle with interest.

Bradford finds a buddy

Canadian psychologist Joan Durrant will wade into New Zealand's sensitive smacking debate today with a Government-funded speech about the success of Sweden's anti-smacking law. She said Sweden provided education for all new parents on alternative ways of handling stress caused by children.....

When she lived in Sweden with her baby son, now aged 9, the state provided protective rings to put around the stove to stop her child getting burned.

"Parent education is universally accessible and universally accessed. It's not just for at-risk parents. The Swedes recognise that all parents are at risk because of the stresses of life."

The Herald's Simon Collins looks at both sides of the argument.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Another one bites the dust

One of the last pharmaceutical manufacturers in New Zealand has just announced its closure. Two hundred people work for Pacific Pharmaceuticals. Some administration and marketing staff will remain but up to 180 Auckland employees will lose their jobs.

In the last fifteen years thousands of jobs have been lost in NZ due to Pharmac's monopoly on pharmaceutical purchasing. I explain why in this article published in the NBR in 2003.

Sharple's split-personality

This speech, from Pita Sharples, is a real disappointment. It's back to the old "blame somebody else" business.

"The poor are not the creators of poverty, the poor do not have an investment in being poor. If the poor did not create poverty we all need to ask each other, than who did?"

People who literally create poverty are those who keep having children while on a benefit, some 5,000 a year. People who smoke, drink or gamble away their benefit money create poverty. People who won't take a low-paid job to get on the ladder create poverty. Politicians who tell them not to take "dead-end" jobs create poverty. Politicians who tell people they are not the master of their own destiny create poverty, Pita.

"What sort of Government puts in policies which act against the 250,000 poorest children in Aotearoa? We know that more than one in five children live in low-income families - which is nearly twice the level of the late 1980s. What do we currently have - a ‘Working for Families’ policy which discriminates against beneficiary parents....That is why the Maori Party supports the Child Poverty Action Group for their landmark case to bring legal action against the Government over its discriminatory policies."

Why did I know these guys were going to go down this path? Exactly like the Greens and Sue Bradford. While the government is at least attempting to make working pay more than being on a benefit, these guys want to subvert that.

Remind me what Pita Sharples was saying just the other day? Something about vowing to wage war against welfare dependency;

Dr Sharples said there was too much dependency on welfare in Maoridom - something Labour had not addressed.

"It's like a kid - if you keep giving your kids everything, at the end of the day they don't have the skills and knowledge to do it themselves."

This man has a different tune for each audience.

Late last year he told parliament,"I need to remind this House that Maori have always questioned the handout mentality.

I recollect a song of protest by one of my Ngati Porou whanaunga, Tuini Ngawai, who in the 1950s, wrote a song of protest at the introduction of a universal benefit.

She said at the time, 'he patu tikanga, he patu mahara, he patu mauri'; that the benefit would undermine our customs of self-help, our concern for each other, and the very essence of our lifeforce. When I look around to some of our people, I can see the wisdom of the words of Tuini Ngawai. She warned against dependency, and she would turn in her grave if she knew that what she warned against, has now happened."

Sharples, sharpen up. One day you tell Maori they are "benefit-mad" and the next you demand more money for them. Decide what it is you really believe because at the moment you aren't helping anybody.
A woman was walking down the street to work and she saw a parrot on a perch in front of a pet store. The parrot said to her, "Hey lady, you are really ugly." The woman was furious. She stormed past the store to her work. On the way home she saw the same parrot and it said to her, "Hey lady, you are really ugly." She was incredibly angry.
When next day the same parrot again said, "Hey lady, you are really ugly," the woman was so ticked off that she went into the store and said that she would sue the store and kill the bird unless it stopped. The store manager apologized profusely and promised he would make sure the parrot didn't say it again.
When she walked past the store that day after work, the parrot called to her, "Hey lady."
She paused and said menacingly, "Yes?"
The bird said, "You know."

Put your money where your mouth is, Dr Cullen

Standing in for the PM this morning, Michael Cullen was asked by Paul Holmes what he thought about the Soulan Pownceby affair. Cullen said if people have done their time, as Pownceby has, they deserve a second chance. He also said that he deplores the "growing" attitude of New Zealanders that once you have committed an offence, you are marked for life and cannot be rehabilitated.

So what are you going to do about the public transport drivers who recently lost their livelihood over historic sexual or violent offences they'd already been punished for? A number of people who heard the interview were quick to put the question. One says he is going to e-mail Dr Cullen. I think I will join him.

Training teachers to spot child abuse

The merits of this sort of suggestion are questionable. It worries me that a paranoia about abuse might be encouraged and over-zealous or imaginative types may raise false alarms. (I won't mention the case which is still the subject of much controversy today.)

Abuse meeting wants teachers' help

"Police, teachers and academics are meeting in Wellington for an Australasian conference on preventing child abuse.

The conference is particularly aimed at showing teachers ways of recognising signs that children are being abused.

Australian-based child abuse expert Professor Freda Briggs says teachers are an untapped resource when it comes to dealing with abuse. Ms Briggs says children will often give off subtle indicators of abuse and teachers need to be trained to look out for them."

Bad news masquerading as good

Wellington's economy is outgrowing others. Rah, rah.

We all know why.

"Jobs growth came from the construction, government, property and business services and retail trades - together creating an additional 8885 jobs in the year to February 2005.

Growth in the government sector has helped fuel a commercial construction boom as developers have moved to build and refurbish offices to house more workers."

More bureaucrats, administrators, policy analysts, consultants. Just what we need.

Keith Locke does it again

Keith Locke makes a habit of defending almost indefensible people. While he is justified in upholding Soulan Pownceby's right to get on with his life, having served out his sentence for the manslaughter of his 5 month-old daughter, he needn't be glowing in his support for the man.

"Soulan was very brave in carrying through his Olympic campaign two years ago, in the face of considerable hostility in New Zealand....I wish Soulan well in his efforts to bring home a gold medal from Melbourne."

Personally I have my doubts about this character. I've read the reports from his trial. But he has been punished and the chances of him staying out of trouble (not posing a danger to anybody he shouldn't) will be better if he is rehabilitated.

Residents advised to be doubly- panicked

A row has blown up in Whitby, a middle-class suburb, just north of Wellington. Unbeknownst to neighbours, a group of mental health patients have been moved into a home in a "quiet" street. Apparently similar community homes have been established in the region over the past three years without problem. But certain residents in the street are very unhappy. Here is what the Mental Health Commissioner, Mary O'Hagan, had to say to them;

"If the residents of Whitby are so concerned about their safety, why aren't they in a panic about the drunk young men, violent husbands, drug dealers and burglars who undoubtedly live in their suburb? They are far more of a threat."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Welfare Australian-style

The Australian Centre for Independent Studies has expanded its operations to encompass New Zealand. Muriel Newman's website features an article from them about Australia's latest welfare reforms and what NZ can learn.

The reforms are tame.

But maybe if CIS continues to publicise their welfare reform efforts our national fervour for beating the Aussies may be usefully provoked. Here is an excerpt from the article:

The government’s preferred answer (to single parent dependency) was to require new Parenting Payment claimants to work part-time once their youngest child turned six years of age (as with the DSP changes, the new rules would not apply retrospectively to existing claimants). However, this proposal met with predictable uproar with single parent groups, welfare groups and opposition parties all howling about the unfairness of expecting single parents to work part-time while their children are in school.

Just how unfair is it to expect single parents to work when their children are at school?

NZ and Australia have the lowest employment rates for single mothers, respectively 32 and 30 percent. The employment rates for married mothers are 53 and 48. When did you last hear welfare groups and opposition parties "howling" about the unfairness of married mothers working?

By the way, because of the protests the age of the youngest dependent child was revised to eight. And still no mention of time-limits. If the mother doesn't want to work for a living and the youngest is approaching eight, she'll know what to do.

Why we have big government

"One reason why government grows is that its programs often impose small costs on a wide population while granting substantial benefits to relatively small interest groups. This gives the beneficiaries a powerful motive to support the program, and the cost-bearers little motive to oppose it...... (but imagine that) everyone's taxes will go up by a dime. Now multiply this process by the number of potential interest groups and the capacity of members of Congress to propose laws, and you'll start to understand why we have such a large government today."

Well put by R.W.Bradford who discusses how best to get rid of big government here. His closing comment is interesting.

"The libertarian movement is too decentralized, and libertarians themselves too ornery, for all of us to choose one path. But if we let a hundred flowers bloom, some of those blossoms may well to bring us closer to liberty."

Ornery!! libertarians??

Ashraf Choudhary

OK. I've amended the previous post because the blog linked to is a spoof. But it was provoked by Ashraf Choudhary's comments on 60 Minutes last year when he refused to denounce the practise of stoning homosexuals. My point is that while Ashraf talks about setting up an agency "capable of punishing the media for attacks on minorities" (see Rodney Hide) he was prepared to peddle his own anti-gay views on TV.

Win with Willie!

Yes. That's the slogan that won the Lib Dems Scottish seat, Dunfermline - their first triumph in a Scottish by-election for nearly a century. This is a huge embarrassment to Labour and Gordon Brown in particular, who has a home in the electorate. As far as I can ascertain the Liberal Democrats are further to the left of Labour. They opposed joining the war in Iraq.

New MP Willie Rennie said the result showed the Lib Dems could challenge Labour anywhere in Scotland. "People are fed up with Labour," he said. "They've taken our country for granted for too long - there is too much spin, not enough delivery."

Sounds familiar.

Tragic event

This is an awful story that will grow legs. Yesterday morning, a 40 year-old man, walking with his 16 year-old son, was killed in a hit-and-run incident. They were earlier passengers in a vehicle driven by a young woman whose car keys were confiscated at a drink-drive checkpoint. The man and his son then proceeded to walk 7km home on a state highway in torrential rain. Lots of unanswered questions here.

Update; Relatives say the pair were refused a lift home by police. And the police put their side of the story.