Saturday, May 06, 2006

Taxpayer foots another market failure

What was it Steve Maharey told us in March, when figures showed New Zealand music accounted for a record 20.8% of music played on commercial radio in 2005 - up from 18.6% in 2004?

"This is a fantastic result for the music industry, and it demonstrates what we've known all along - that New Zealanders want to tune into more of their own music," Steve Maharey said.

But the result was boosted by Kiwi FM which played 100 percent NZ music that hardly anyone was listening to!

Kiwi FM was launched on Waitangi Day last year and attracted just 0.7 per cent of the Auckland audience with a national listenership of about 43,000.

This week, with CanWest about to shut the station, the Government granted the company three FM frequencies to keep it going ...

So Maharey is basing his claim on the number of hours played - not the number of ears listening. Anybody operating in the real market would know the danger of that fallacy - basing your decisions on what you produce and not what was purchased. You go bust.

But even worse than the taxpayer being forced to subsidise the station, is Maharey's use of a "rigged" result to bully other stations into upping their own quotas because that's what we - you and I - want.

Move over Keith......

I love Chuck Berry and I love the free market. This morning I found a DVD of his 1969 Toronto stadium performance for $9.99 at the big red shed.

Berry is still peforming, next appearance at a jazz and blues festival in Duluth in July.

He's only 79.

Growing gap between rich and poor women

This US research backs up what I have been saying for a while; that the economic polarisation of women is greater than for men. And much of it is due to the welfare state.

When you consider the 70's expansion of the welfare state was largely driven by feminists they haven't done their "poor sisters" much good.

In the past eight years, unplanned pregnancies, births and abortions have risen among the nation's poorest women, while these rates have fallen for more affluent women......The Washington Post reports that 50 percent more poor women gave birth to babies in 2001 than in 1994, while the birth rate decreased in affluent women...

I am unaware of research confirming a similar trend in NZ but I believe it's happening, possibly at a greater rate. Why? Because our overall abortion rate is still climbing whereas in the US it is dropping.

In the forseeable future the likelihood of poorer women reproducing will be stronger than for the more affluent. In fact if you look at NZ regional fertility rates they are already highest in Gisborne (2.64 births per woman) and Northland (2.51) compared to the lowest Otago (1.61) and Canterbury (1.72).

Interesting that the researchers are calling for more publicly funded contraception and abortion, with equal access for all. NZ policy is closer to what they want but the results aren't. As Michael Bassett recently commented, it is a mystery why the growing availability and choice in contraception hasn't impacted on the incidence of births into poor families.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Naenae - breeding ground for trouble

Only a couple of weeks back Naenae, north of Wellington, made the national news headlines. I blogged about it then. Tonight, another horrid story about the beating of a twenty-one year-old female. The twist is, this time the attackers were women.

Forget beer goggles......

A man died, but there'd been too many sins so he found himself in hell. A guide met him at the entrance. "You have a choice; you can go to Capitalist Hell or Communist Hell."
Being a shrewd chap, he decided to survey both before deciding. He met the Capitalist Devil first, all suited up, hair greased back, and asked: "So what goes on inside Capitalist Hell?"
"Ahh, well we like to boil people in oil, ram them with spikes and flail them alive."
"What?! Right, that's it - I'm off to Communist Hell."
Once there, he met a Karl Marx type devil, ushering him towards the gates...
"Hey, I'm not in yet - tell me, what goes on in Communist Hell?"
The Marx Devil scratched his beard and said: "Well, we like to boil people in oil, ram spikes through their bodies and flail them alive."
"What?! But that's just the same as Capitalist Hell?! Wait, though....why is there a queue?"
"Ah,'ve run out of oil, there's no more spikes and the flail's broken."

(Lifted from Adam Smith blog)

A Washington perspective

Came across this Washington Post list of ten things American tourists should know about Aoteroa. Here's number four ;

4. Nuclear Free

You might want to be prepared if a New Zealander comes at you with this one: "Why doesn't America want us to be nuclear free?" Here are the basics as they apply to the U.S. and as we understand them: New Zealanders overwhelming want their country to be 100 percent nuclear free and they've elected governments who have passed legislation to ensure that. This extended to a ban on nuclear powered/armed ships, which inevitably caused problems for the U.S. and N.Z.'s mutual defense treaty (Anzus Treaty).

The U.S. Navy has a keep-your-cards-hidden policy of neither confirming nor denying nuclear material aboard its vessels and so they are unwelcome in N.Z. ports. The U.S. sees it as a betrayal of commitment and a slap in the face, whereas N.Z. sees it as a point of morality and national pride.

The result is that (a) no American military ship has docked in a New Zealand port for over 20 years, (b) no free trade agreement can be established between the two countries, and strangest of all (c) unsuspecting American tourists will occasionally be confronted by Kiwi tour guides bearing a grudge. This diplomatic standoff was big news in the States during the Cold War, but it mostly just makes headlines in N.Z. these days. Well, thank goodness for the Web because if you attempt to shyly profess ignorance that just makes your civic-minded guide angrier as he mounts his soapbox.

You can study up more about it here and here. (Unfortunately, no links to an American point of view could be found, which probably reflects the general level of interest on this side of the Pacific. After all, N.Z. is 45th on the list of U.S. trading partners. Love their movies though!)

Crime snapshot

Here's some interesting statistics from Richard Worth's Newsworthy;

In 2004 there were: - 167 arrests for every 10,000 Asians in New Zealand - 320 arrests for every 10,000 Europeans, and - 1,448 arrests for every 10,000 Maori.

Having caught my attention I thought I'd find out what the arrests were for. Unfortunately I had to settle for a 2003 breakdown.

For all three, the major offence was Dishonesty, the respective percentages were Asian 31, European 31, Maori 36.5

For Maori and European the second biggest category was Drugs and Anti-social offences with Maori 24 percent and European 30.

The second biggest reason for Asian apprehensions was Violence at 23 percent

The third for Maori and European was Violence at 18 and 16 percent respectively,

Third for Asians was Drugs and Anti-social offences at 18 percent.

The other offences were Property Damage and Abuse and lastly, Administrative offences, where Asians were prominent at 14 percent compared to Maori 7 and European 5 percent....

...bearing in mind, of the total apprehensions for these three groups, Asians made up 2 percent, Maori 45 and Europeans 53 percent. I think Worth's intention was to dispel the impression that Asian crime is high. It isn't. Not when they make up about 7 percent of the population.

There should be a law against it....

Just kidding. And there is anyway, but not in Italy.

The Guardian reports, Psychiatrist to become UK's oldest mother at 63.

Does anybody have any strong feelings about this? My natural inclination is to say it's up to the individual and legislation has no place. But it doesn't stop me wondering, what the hell are these people thinking of?? My youngest was born just before I turned 39. Plenty old enough. Putting aside the arguments about financial security, what about the child's emotional future?

This one will grow up as an "only child" and the statistical probability is she will lose both of her parents by twenty. Maybe one of the doctor's adult children will be very much involved. We don't know. Perhaps I should just butt out.

Update. I hadn't seen the NZ Herald report. She didn't have the IVF treatment in Italy which has tightened its laws.

"Rock Bottom"

It pains me to say so but I find it easier to think of examples of bad Kiwi music than good. The DomPost journalist who got this job was the least challenged. Tom Cardy has kicked off New Zealand Music Month with his 10 worst Kiwi songs in today's edition. Here they are;

1 Sailing Away - All of us 1986 (mercifully I was out of the country)

2 Join Together - Steve Allen 1972 (1972? the best thing to come out of the 1974 Commonwealth games was the official blue and red striped HQ holdens - my brother bought one)

3 Life begins a Forty - Dave and the Dynamos 1983 (just the worst images are conjured up of perenniel party twerps)

4 Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop Cumma Cumma Wang Dang - Monte Video 1982 (what was I doing in 1982? Looking at the picture, what was Michael Laws doing in 1982?)

5 Liverpool to America - The Knobz 1981 (never heard of it but if it's as good as the band's name I'm not missing much)

6 The Blue Monkey - Suzanne Paul 1994 (again, new to me. Is there no end to that woman's talents?)

7 They Can't Take That Away - Ben Lummis 2004 (trail-blazing the way for one-hit-wonder NZ Idols)

8 Destiny in Motion - Satellite Spies 1985 (I confess to being responsible for selling this one as a record rep. Dreadful. Around the same time I was trying get people to listen to Bruce Hornsby. Brilliant. Not Kiwi.)

9 I Love my Feet - Shona Laing 1975 (she should. Probably the only one out of this lot still on them)

10 Tonight - True Bliss 1999 (completely passed me by)

So nothing by Hogsnort Rupert, Ray Woolf, Prince Tui Teka, Max Cryer, Suzanne Prentice, John Hanlon, Howard Morrison, The Mockers, Bill and Boyd, Rog Guest, David Curtis, Bunny Walters, any punk band......

The Post is running a competition for challengers with a prize of ....drum roll....a CD of Kiwi music.

My most cringe-making song was How Great Thou Art by Howard Morrison. The song is bad enough but Howie's struggle to find pitch just gives it an edge over the competition. It's my No 1.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

You might be paying your nextdoor neighbour's mortgage

Nearly a quarter million NZers receive an accommodation supplement averaging $62. This is used to pay rent or a mortgage. I don't have current data for how many use it to pay a mortgage but through the nineties and early 2000's the figure was consistently around 40,000.

If these people can't afford their mortgage repayments shouldn't they reduce them and extend the payback period? Is it fair that the taxpayer tops-up their equity while struggling with his own mortgage?

Hone on the 'bear pit'

I am quick to criticise Hone Harawira and he gives me plenty to criticise but just now I want to compliment him. The Maori Party are proving a party can get plenty of attention without yelling. This is from a speech about leadership he is delivering at Victoria University today;

Tikanga and kaupapa guide our behaviour

When the idiots in parliament start shouting and hurling abuse at one another, the Maori Party does not get involved. Speaking on marae, is a great lesson for speaking in the House.

When others speak, we are silent. When we stand to speak we do so with as much preparation as possible, and we speak clearly and strongly about the issues as we see them. And both parties notice.

They call this a 'study'?

Some research is totally pointless. Take this piece of time-wasting. American company figured out what a stay-at-home mother should be earning by comparing her activities to similar paid roles.

To reach the projected pay figures, the survey calculated the earning power of the 10 jobs respondents said most closely comprise a mother's role - housekeeper, day-care teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, chief executive and psychologist.

They found a full-time at home mum should be paid $NZ212,000. A website is even available for a mum to calculate her "worth".

This is the stupidest idea. I gather I should list all my activities (right now I am a computer operator/writer) and put an equivalent dollar value on them. In a minute I'll go and get the washing out of the washing machine and make a major decision about whether or not to put most of it in the dryer (laundry machine operator/chief executive). So I reckon I'll earn anything up to $80 for the half hour.

Trouble is nobody is going to pay me because the activities weren't worth $80. I didn't add any economic value with my activities. I wasn't writing a commissioned article or working for someone who makes a business out of taking in laundry.

So beyond providing fodder for insecure feminists constantly carping about their worth and lack of recognition, I don't see the point. Though I am forced to admit some fool probably paid for it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's the 'means' you've got to watch

The government's decision to force loop unbundling will be acclaimed by many as pro-competition and progressive. Actually, the government stepped in and told the rightful owners what they will do with their property. This is one of those situations where the 'end' looks favourable to so many people that they are quite happy to overlook the 'means'.

Doesn't make it right.

Oz sends British peadophile packing

Australia is sending British paedophile packing but keeping ours. Go figure. Do they still hold a grudge against the motherland?

...and more commonsense prevailing

The judge has found against Janice Pou's family who took a landmark case against British American Tobacco and WD and HO Wills.

NZMA reverses stand on drinking age

The NZMA, New Zeland Medical Association, has reversed its position on raising the drinking age back to twenty. They now oppose it preferring tighter advertising restrictions and better policing of current laws. This from one Dr Boswell addressing the Health Select Committee today.

Tobacco Ban Poll

The Maori Party are running a poll on whether you agree with their anti-smoking legislation. Interesting that they don't call it a ban on tobacco or the criminalisation of tobacco use. 4.1 percent wanted more information, 77.2 percent support it and 18.7 don't (out of 342 votes received so far).

Maori Party reject organ donation

I'm listening to an interview with Andy Tookey who has campaigned for greater awareness of organ donation. He has just learned that the Maori Party are going to vote against Jackie Blue's bill because they "don't believe in organ donation". A few weeks ago they told him they would be voting for the bill because Maori formed a large percentage of people waiting for organ donation.


Fact or fiction?

Is it merely prejudice that makes us unsurprised when we hear or read that a crime was committed by a person on a benefit?

According to the 2001 Census of prison inmates 69 percent of female prisoners were on a benefit prior to entering prison. The equivalent figure for males was 39 percent.

That equates to 1,807 prisoners or 44 percent.

If the prison population proportionately reflected the working-age population there should only be 614 prisoners who were previously on a benefit. The public perception, via the media, that people who commit crimes are frequently beneficiaries, is founded in fact.

For balance it has to be said that only o.6 percent of all working-age people on a benefit end up in prison. The percentage for the non-beneficiary working-age population (15+) is 0.07 percent.

Statistically speaking a beneficiary is nine times more likely to end up in prison.

Forced cultural awareness?

"A parliamentary inquiry will ask why 20 per cent of New Zealand school pupils fail...... That large disparity prompted the ERO to require all schools to prove they are helping struggling students - a requirement that will come into force next month...... Schools will be expected to make special efforts with literacy, numeracy and cultural awareness."

Why is the ERO making cultural awareness a priority?

The small independent school my son attends only has five teachers - more teachers than Maori pupils. This is what their ERO review says;

The board, through its charter and strategic plan, has a clear commitment to recognising the Treaty of Waitangi. It is continuing to seek a teacher of te reo and tikanga Māori. In the meantime, students wishing to learn te reo Māori are able to do so through The Correspondence School courses and students may choose to include a Māori perspective in any aspect of their studies.

Which is as it should be. The students can learn te reo Maori if they choose. I hope the school is not being "pressured" to find a further teacher but with ERO's stated priorities it wouldn't surprise.

Good on the Greens.....

...and shame on United Future. Microchipping dogs is a waste of time and money. United Future MP Gordon Copelnd is being inconsistent. Every argument he put for exempting farm dogs applies to all dogs. He recently rang talkback to put the case for farm dogs and the host had him conceding as much.

Alternative to the Welfare State

"The welfare system actively prevents our pursuit of happiness. It discourages enterprise, innovation, risk, work, marriage, and personal responsibility for procuring medical care, caring for loved ones and saving for the future. It outsources compassion and criminalizes common sense."

Anybody want to argue with that?

Read this short article. It endorses Charles Murray's latest thinking about an alternative to the welfare state; that government should redistribute money directly to all individuals over 21 ($10,000 pa) and get out of everything else - health, education and social welfare. I need to read the book to be convinced of such a scheme but, as an improvement on what we do now, I wouldn't dismiss it out-of-hand. Nothing that comes out of Charles Murray's head should ever be dismissed.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

No getting away from the Greens

Tourism New Zealand has imported 950 plants, including some rare and endangered species, for its 100 per cent Pure New Zealand Garden, angering Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Norman Baker MP and Green Party London Assembly Member Darren Johnson.

Mr Johnson said importing plants from New Zealand for a tourism promotion was "appalling".

"There are better ways of promoting tourism than flying plants out for a five-day show," he said.

I heard Mr Johnson interviewed by Paul Holmes this morning. The main thrust of his argument was his objection to jetliners. The above is dishonest because when it came down to it, he wants less air traffic period. That means less trade, less tourism and fewer NZ plants flying to Chelsea. But it is always amusing when Greens attack people with better environmental credentials than their own. I wonder if our lot will soon be jumping on the band wagon and which band wagon they will choose?

Welfare US

This illustrates the rapid decline in families on welfare in the US.

The red line is families on welfare, the majority single parent families though a surprisingly large percentage headed by an aunt or grandparent.

The green line is the number of female single parent families living in 'poverty'.

The blue line is births to unmarried mothers. Because it represents absolute numbers it continues to rise but I think if it were a percentage of all births it might be levelling or declining slightly.

There are now 1.9 million families on welfare. One-parent families make up 53.8 percent, two parent families 1.7 percent and families headed by a grandparent, aunt etc 44.5 percent

As a rough guide there are around 76 million families in the US, so 2.5 percent are on welfare.

NZ has approximately 1.1 million families with around 11 percent on welfare.

(Graph from Scientific American May 2006)

There's no pleasing some people

Despite the government making student loans interest free and broadening the eligibility for student allowances, the Otago Polytech student copresident wants more - a universal student allowance.

A century apart

My husband was reminded of a Goldie image by this photo of Keith Richards. I can see why.

Childcare controversy

This clamour over the first 24 hour childcare centre shows how conservatives want to tell people how to live their lives just as much as any other group. I confess to sometimes wondering why people have kids if they don't want to be with them as much as possible. And then I pinch myself. I remember that my parents both worked full-time to escape working-class Manchester to live in a country where they believed my brothers and I would have better lives and better futures. They worked damn hard. Let families work out their own priorities.

Monday, May 01, 2006

From the coalface

The following is a comment on the Welfare State We're In blog. James Bartholomew admits he cannot vouch for the authenticity of the commentor. But because I've had support from people at WINZ, I'd say it's genuine. My petition received around a dozen signatures from one office. Another girl told me a PSA rep was circulating my press releases around her WINZ workplace so caseworkers could see what was going on statistically.

(The DWP is the Department of Work and Pensions).

I work for the DWP on the Lone Parent section and am confronted with lone parents quite blatently fiddling the system all the time, unfortunately because the government has cut so many jobs within the sector our fraud section only deals with a minute selection of cases. I have come across people who have had sanctions imposed on their benefits for not attending appts and then a further sanction imposed for not responding to the sanction. This in my eyes would say to me that they are either working or got someone helping them out with money as surely they would've noticed 40% of money gone if on such a tight budget? Another common thing we see quite often is that as soon as the child of a lone parent is about to turn 16 the parent gets pregnant again just so as to stay on benefit. I believe that the government should bring in something so that if a lone parent has another child while on benefit they get little or no benefits with it. I'm not trying to to sound harsh but this would save the government millions and also force parents back into work when their child reaches 16 rather than just sitting back and doing nothing while us tax payers pay them for it!


"Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order."

Justice Robert H. Jackson - (1892-1954), U. S. Supreme Court Justice Source: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943 (via Information Clearing House)

A couple of 'ups' for Labour

I have it from a member of an audience that contained Sue Kedgley, the Minister of Health, Pete Hodgson, said today in his maiden "state of the health sector" speech, a fat tax was a demonstrably stupid idea. The transaction cost would be prohibitive. And I see HC was pouring cold water on Sue's proposed happy meal ban on radio this morning. Which is more than National MP Jackie Blue could muster. I've said it before. The centre is getting very mushy, very interchangeable. At this rate, come next election, it won't matter which main party wins.

Overbearing bureaucracy

The government is increasingly interfering with the early child education area. Here Early Childhood Council CE, Sue Thorn gives an example of just how stupid their rules can be.

"I know of one centre owner who has spent a large amount of money on laptops for which he has developed software programmes ... He has fitted out a van so these can be taken to all his centres," Thorne said.

"The ministry has decided that the children walking out to the van is a field trip, each time the children visit the van, (so) the centres need written permission from every parent.

"If this sort of control is happening now, we are really concerned about the future when so many more of these nonsense rules are imposed."

State housing research spin-off

A study has revealed that people on the waiting list for state houses have worse health than those already in them. So the researchers conclude we need more state housing.

I suppose it would be too politically incorrect to conduct a study which compared the health of people in state housing to that of people in private housing, controlling for income. But if they did and the second group had better health, then the researchers should logically conclude we need less state housing.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Best NZ painting

TV One arts show, Frontseat, hosted by the likeable Oliver Driver, has been running a "competition" to find the best NZ painting ever. Here is the winner, announced this evening. "Cass" by Rita Angus. I like her work but I was surprised there wasn't a Goldie in the top ten.

Dissension over Maori seats

There is clear dissension in the National Party over its policy of abolishing the Maori electorates.

National appears to be backing away from one of its major policies - abolishing the Maori seats in parliament.

The party now accepts it doesn't have enough support for the idea and that pursuing it may jeopardise a potential coalition deal with the Maori Party.


National leader Don Brash is rubbishing claims the party is softening its policy on the Maori seats.

Brash is pouring cold water on suggestions National is rethinking its plan to abolish the seats.

"I'm making it clear to you the National Party remains committed to the abolition of the Maori seats," he says.

There they go again. Pragmatism before principle.

Selective morality

The following is from a blog called Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty - so you get the gist.

"There should be no consequences for people on the sickness benefit or the DPB (or the unemployment benefit, but that's another rant) if they avoid WINZ's 'employment services'. Otherwise the state is compelling people who have a societally recognised reason not to work in paid employment at that time to do things that the state believes will help them return to work at some future time."

The glaring problem here is the writer opposes the state compelling anyone on a benefit to do something. But she must uphold the state's right to compel people to pay taxes. In her world Benefit Boulevard is a one-way street. If enough of us went down it the country would collapse.