Saturday, May 27, 2006

Subsidies create greater need

We have a community constable in Eastbourne who writes a monthly column in our local Herald. Today he explains that because Wainuiomata is short-staffed, unbeknown to us, he has been working over there. And will be until further notice.

For decades we've sudsidised education, health and welfare in our poorer neighbouring community, for no great social gain, because their law and order needs still take precedence.

There is a small bonus. He has promised to give us some "insight" into life "over the hill". It will be superfluous to my needs but a few people who read his column could do with some enlightenment.

Here is his first installment;

One thing I saw while working in Wainui was four very young kids, one a near newborn, who slept in the same room as their parents with the telly blaring. It was around midnight and not all were asleep. The other bedroom couldn't be used. They were all living in very sparse conditions to say the least, and I did'nt see much food about either.

What astounded me was the most expensive item in the house - a late model and flash Playstation with stereo etc., for the father to spend his days on. No, he did not have a job.

News for Sue Bradford

Whether or not minimum wages (and increases to them) affect employment is reasonably controversial. The question is also highly topical given Sue Bradford's push to scrap the minimum youth rate. The following is from this week's Featherston and Molesworth and worth a read.

Minimum wage and unemployment
Nobel laureate in economics and author of the best-selling economics text in hiostory Paul Samuelson once reputedly commented, “When the economic theorist turns to the general problem of wage determination and labour economics, his voice becomes muted and his speech halting. If he is honest with himself, he must confess to a tremendous amount of uncertainty and self-doubt concerning even the most basic and elementary parts of the subject.”
No such halting speech or uncertainty from the Auckland ‘University’ of Technology, which announced Maori would be most adversely affected by a rise in the minimum wage. The claim is based on a study by economics lecturer Gail Pacheco.
“There are high numbers of Maori and Pacific Island people on minimum wage. Together they account for more than a fifth of minimum and sub-minimum wage workers, therefore they’ll attract more negative impact if the wage rise drives employers to reassess their options,” she argued.
“My study found for Maori who find the minimum wage binding, a ten percent rise in the real minimum wage would see a 15.8 percentage point fall in employment propensity, a drop of 13.5 hours usually worked each week, a 5.7 percentage point increase in unemployment propensity and a 10.9 percentage point increase in inactivity, that is, not working or studying.”
These are dramatic findings: A substantial fall in numbers who have jobs and a staggering one third drop in average hours worked if the minimum wage increases by around a dollar.
The study is all the more dramatic because its certainty conflicts with the weight of international academic evidence on the topic. A 1998 International Labour Organisation study (Minimum Wages and Youth Unemployment, ILO Employment and Training Papers) found the relationship between minimum wages and the employment of youth can’t be usefully considered in isolation from other influences on the labour market - elasticity of labour supply, wages and demand for labour along with “reservation wages” (that is, the availability of welfare).
The ILO noted the key question is productivity.
Obviously, at some level a minimum wage would cause unemployment; and if there were no minimum wage and no welfare payments, there might be no unemployment because anyone could find employment for a dollar a day. But cartoonish examples do not tell us much about what happens when the minimum wage is a modest fraction of the average wage and it increases mildly.
Increases in the minimum wage entice some low skilled workers to join the workforce. They also increase purchasing power (by consumers who are most likely to spend their entire income) and therefore stimulate economic activity. It’s also clear that low value jobs can be destroyed (it’s hard to get your shoes shined in countries with a realistic minimum wage).
The AUT study goes further in attributing the employment effects not just to youth, but to Maori.
Claims a higher minimum wage affects racial groups differently were investigated and rejected in a major 1983 study published in the peer reviewed Journal of Human Resources.
“Minimum wage effects differ very little by sex, and there is no strong evidence that the effects vary by race,” it found. [Time-Series Evidence of the Effect of the Minimum Wage on Youth Employment and Unemployment; Brown, Gilroy & Kohen, Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Winter, 1983) , pp. 3-31.] That study, found a ten percent increase in the US minimum wage would reduce teenage employment by about 1 percent. But it also found the unemployment effects would be negligible because low-skilled workers would withdraw from the labour force.
A 2003 survey reports only 46 percent of academic economists in the US agree with the statement, “a minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers”.
Another 28 percent partly agreed and 27 percent disagreed.

That's daring

The Scotsman reports, the pensions revolution is here;

"The message is this: if you want anything more than the basic pension in retirement, the state isn't going to do that any more. You have to do it yourself." - LORD TURNER

The British government have bitten the bullet and announced a raise in the pension age to 68. When? Wait for it.....2044!!

Some perspective

Expert says,"The social cost of alcohol is huge, and P pales in comparison to the danger alcohol causes."

This is bald fact yet we get constant hysteria about P from various sources unable to see the forest for the trees.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Hawkes Bay Today rates

The tenor and quality of the various regional editorials is fairly predictable - in this case, fortunately. Here's another well-written and well-informed offering from the Hawkes Bay Today. My response follows;

EDITORIAL: Bradford smacks of UN humbug


One of the most frustrating aspects of MP Sue Bradford's intention to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act (1961) is the extraordinary claim made of it that it will "end the abuse of children".

Add to that the implicit assumption that anyone opposed to repealing the law is far less concerned with preventing child abuse than with the retaining right to beat kids and it is not hard to see why the bill, which would criminalise smacking, has had such a rocky road.

Apart from an irresistible urge to supplant parents by deciding what's best for everyone, motivation for the change has come from United Nations criticism of Section 59 (sufficient reason, one would have thought, not to repeal it).

The UN says our law violates its Convention on the Rights of the Child because parents are justified in "using force by way of correction of a child if the force used is reasonable in the circumstance".

Those who inveigh against Ms Bradford's amendment bill are not a creepy regiment of child abusers but people who worry that the law could define any parent who smacks a child as a criminal.

Unlike its sponsor, many of the bill's opponents probably recognise that while any smacking is regrettable, most of it is not abuse, that in an imperfect world parents do smack (though they may have cause to regret it) and that one simply cannot hope to prescribe in detail how people can, and should, behave.

Most, one hopes, would regard with extreme abhorrence the reality that violence can be found in many homes but would resist the childlike assumption that repealing section 59 of the crimes Act will cure it.

Ms Bradford has now taken a step back, saying her amendment bill should not outlaw "light smacking". Just how that concession might be made is anybody's guess.

She suggested a rewording of the bill or a commentary. How will a commentary assist? The police have already indicated that with the removal of Section 59 they will still be required to investigate complaints about smacking. Neither should any comfort be found in airy assurances that police are far too busy with more important crime than wanting to chase up petty smacking incidents.

Repealing section 59 so that the law echoes the pious sentiments of those who condemn any smacker as a child abuser is not the answer. The bill deserves to wither on the vine; not because nothing should be done about the abuse of children, but for the opposite reason: It will do nothing to make them safer.

It would be more useful (but grab fewer headlines) if Ms Bradford et all directed their energies where they might hope to make a difference.

The complexity of the causes of violence in the home will continue to elude lawmakers for as long as they seize on gestures to maintain the illusion that something's being done.

Ignorant, brutal parents who understand discipline only as beating children will continue to do so ... and allowances will continue to be made for them.

Dear Editor

Your editorial, May 26, re Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill suggested, "It would be more useful (but grab fewer headlines) if Ms Bradford et all directed their energies where they might hope to make a difference."

NZ research has shown that children from benefit-dependent homes were four times more likely to become subjects of Care and Protection notifications to CYF. Yet Ms Bradford is an advocate of welfare expansion and an avid proponent of the DPB. Politicians should confine themselves to reform of damaging social policies.

Meanwhile, volunteer work in these homes is probably one of the most effective ways of reducing the chance or severity of child abuse. In many cases parents are mistrustful of state agencies. Giving those agencies even more discretionary power, the effect of passing Bradford's bill, would only exacerbate this.

Unsustainable lightbulbs ? Unsustainable logic

Having recently spent a small amount of time with Heather Simpson, Act on Campus President, I was impressed with her style, her affability and her mind. She stands in for Heather Roy this week (another in a very good series of proxies) with a column which, amongst other things, points out the absurdity and hypocrisy of students urging the government to ban unsustainable light bulbs.

It's only a matter of time

Voluntary euthanasia is an issue which is not going away. Lesley Martin is still very busy and you can read about her activities here. I'm not sure she is the right person for the job. But I was pleased to see Peter Brown's Death with Dignity Bill is back in the ballot box.

Another Hobson's choice

Lung cancer or diabetes? Many people worry that if they give up smoking they will gain weight. One of the target groups for anti-smoking campaigners is teenage girls. Appearance is often top of their priority list.

Some US economic research into the growth of obesity has found, "The rapid increase in obesity in the 1980s is partly an 'unintended consequence of the campaign to reduce smoking'." But the most important link the researchers found was between BMI and the number of restaurants in a given area.

Which reminds me, the US is the only place I have been where they sell anti-acids in restaurants.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"They wouldn't have been microchipped "

A herd of sheep were killed on a lifestyle block north of Hamilton. The owners had videoed the destruction and it appeared on TV3 tonight. The owner shot the two pig dogs responsible. Neither had collars. Labour MP, Nanaia "One law for all dogs" Mahuta was on the scene saying microchipping would have meant the dogs could have been identified. The owner disagreed. He said the dog's owners would not have bothered to microchip the dogs as they weren't even registered. We all know this (except for our learned politicians). But it was sobering to see the obvious shortcomings of this proposal so graphically illustrated. Some of the sheep had to be destroyed after the attacks due to the degree of mutilation.


The multi-million dollar Families Commission was the price government paid to keep United Future sweet after the 2002 election. Of course it was always going to be hyjacked by the Left so the government wasn't too bothered. Remember the first hassles over the definition of a "family"?

United Future created the exact opposite of what they envisaged. This was once again obvious today with Families Commissioner, Rajen Prasad backing Sue Bradford's bill at a select committee submission.

How the right-wing christians were hoodwinked.

United Future position; New Zealand families will lose their children to CYFS zealots if Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking Bill passes into law, United Future deputy leader Judy Turner said today.

United Future policy; Give the Families Commission responsibility for co-ordinating and promoting parenting education programmes, as well as initiating public education campaigns promoting parenting skills.

United Future achievements; secured $28 million of funding over four years and the passage of legislation to establish the Families Commission, which will ensure that all government legislation will be tested for its impact on families (as per the supply and confidence agreement)

Russia grapples with low fertility

Russia is planning large subsidies to women who bear a second child but the Wall Steet Journal thinks it will be difficult to halt their population decline. According to the CIA World Factbook Russia's fertility rate is 1.28. (I am a bit hesitant about their information because they give New Zealand's as 1.79 which in not correct).

Nice Quote

Just as centralized economic planning has failed, centralized ecological planning will fail. The solution to our environmental problems will not be found in more government agencies, bureaucrats, and arbitrary regulations. Rather, we need an approach which relies on individual responsibility and its concomitants, individual liberty and private-property rights.

— Chuck Olson, The Stanford Review [November 1, 1992]

(Thanks FFF)

What is National's policy?

Was it your impression that National's policy was to spend based on need, not race?

Yesterday a shouting match erupted over the Minister of Maori Affairs' apparent negligence in not bidding for more money for Maori in the Budget. I'd expect strong criticism from the Maori Party but look who was most upset.

National MP Georgina te Heuheu said Mr Horomia's admission made him a laughing stock and her colleague Tau Henare, a former Maori Affairs Minister, called it "reprehensible".....Mr Horomia and Mr Henare shouted at each other during the Maori Affairs committee hearing.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Shooting galleries "

The United Kingdom are having another look at introducing hygenic environments for addicts to inject themselves. Have a read before you dismiss the idea. We already dispense methadone to thousands of NZ addicts daily.

Welcoming the report, chief executive of drugs education charity DrugScope Martin Barnes said: "This carefully-considered report will test the extent to which we are able to have an informed, rational and calm debate about drugs policy and reducing drug-related harms."

Finnish and French state-lovers

A group of Finns have founded the Happy Taxpayers Association and the French have banned vending machines in shools (the French vice-President was in NZ today recommending we do the same.)

Go away!

Give us facts, not feel-good fabrications

Why does David Benson-Pope constantly play us for fools?

Minister: Family support telephone pilot helping one in four families

Mr Benson-Pope says actual Family Helpline calls over the past year have confirmed this: In the period of 20 March 2005 to 15 May 2006, the 211 Helpline answered 15,918 calls. Given that there are approximately 64,000 families in the region this is equivalent to one call from every four families.

It might also be that one in sixteen families called the line four times.

Either he doesn't have the information or he isn't saying. Either is bad.

UPDATE; And here's another couple of things. The period he quotes is not a year and there are 75,100 families in the Bay of Plenty region. Why does it matter? Because based on the "success" of this trial he will roll it out right around the country.
Thank YOU very much for your kind donation.

Hobson's Choice

In a church hall 34 years ago political candidates gathered for an election meeting. Parties represented were Social Credit, Values, Labour and National. The hot issue was housing rents.

Mrs Harvey, the Social Credit candidate, said rent racketeering in the Hutt was very bad. She had had the experience of house hunting and soon found people were not there to make friends, but to make money. Social Credit would help by offering money for houses at only 3 percent interest.

Mr Colman, one of two Labour candidates, said his party would match that AND would impose rent control under a body of people who would serve at no cost.

Mr Overton, speaking on behalf of the Values Party said the problem was population growth. The more people you have, the more houses you will want. Half of the babies being born were unplanned. If people would just plan their families New Zealand could achieve zero population growth.

Finally Mr Fowler, the National nominee, said local and central government should acquire land and sell it, not to make a profit but to offer it cheaper. He said that speculators were the problem, purchasing land to their own advantage.

This was reported in the Hutt News on the eve of the 1972 general election.

Good God. What a choice. Where's Bob Jones when you need him?

Good on the Clutha District Council

A rare bouquet to local government;

The Clutha District Council plans to largely ignore legislation requiring dog owners to microchip all pups being registered for the first time after July 1.

Staff would not insist dog owners had their pups microchipped. Instead, they would only enforce microchipping if dogs were impounded or classified as dangerous and menacing, planning and environment manager Murray Brass said yesterday.

I wouldn’t say we are defying the law. I would say we are giving enforcement a low priority, he said.

The real story

There is outrage at the plight of a Christchurch grandmother, who cares for an eight year-old grand daughter, who was sent home after major cancer surgery without any home help. I'm appalled too but would direct my outrage elsewhere, in the first instance.
Where are her family and friends for goodness sake?
This is a classic example of civil society missing-in-action.

Chilling contrast

Experts believe that if someone on their way to the top of Everest had been prepared to forgo success to help a distressed climber who had run out of oxygen, he might not have died. When I read this I couldn't help but think about the Tasmanian miners who risked their lives each day to rescue their trapped workmates.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bradford should check her priorities

Sue Bradford now maintains that her bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act was never intended to ban smacking. It is about preventing child abuse.

Since 1990 only 1.4 court cases per year have involved the use of section 59 as a defence.

Statistically, children from DPB homes are four times more likely to be the subject of a CYFS care and protection notification.

Yet you will never hear Bradford say a word against the DPB.

Crime - NZ versus UK

Nottingham, England is now apparently the most dangerous city in the UK.

Nottingham is the most dangerous city in England and Wales with a crime rate four times greater than the safest towns such as Southend and Poole, according to a study released today.

According to the public services think tank Reform, Nottingham had 115 crimes per 1000 people in 2005 compared to just 30 in Southend, Essex and 32 in Poole, Dorset.

Nottingham also had a far higher crime level than areas of similar size such as Wolverhampton (49 crimes per 1000 people) and Reading (43 per 1000).

So how do we compare. These are the 2005 recorded crimes per 1,000 for the Wellington region;

Kapiti-Mana 80
Lower Hutt 92
Upper Hutt 105
Wairarapa 103
Wellington 91

Counties Manukau region;
Central 139
East 71
South 109
West 128

Canterbury region;
Central 283 (Holy Cow!)
Mid South 74
Northern 69
Southern 67

Go here if you want to see other regions.

On paper we are looking considerably more dangerous than the UK. Then again, it is entirely possible that we are simply recording more crime or (less likely) measuring different types of crime.

Spotlight on Auckland

Remember, the country has just experienced a sustained period of low unemployment and strong economic growth.

Numbers of working aged Domestic Purposes Benefit recipients (aged 18–64 years), at the end of March 2001, at the end of March 2005, and at the end of March 2006, by service centre

Number of recipients who were registered in: Mar 2001 Mar 2005 Mar 2006
Albany and Browns Bay 666 712 748
Auckland, Queen Street and Queen Street Super Centre 254 251 305
Avondale 759 751 768
Birkenhead 864 798 783
Clendon 1,450 1,548 1,623
Glen Innes 1,106 1,021 1,046
Glenfield 891 671 637
Glenmall and Kelston 1,105 1,255 1,269
Helensville 297 330 338
Highland Park 1,057 1,086 1,125
Hunters Corner and Hunters Corner Super Centre 605 590 582
Mangere 2,725 2,785 2,724
Manukau 1,368 1,370 1,401
Manurewa 1,830 2,283 2,278
Mt Albert 601 611 632
Mt Eden 498 378 376
New Lynn 1,206 959 921
Onehunga 661 661 616
Orewa 845 824 881
Otahuhu 869 871 835
Otara 1,118 1,304 1,319
Panmure 959 889 938
Papakura 1,941 2,105 2,117
Paptoetoe 740 830 877
Pt Chevalier 306 264 256
Pukekohe 1,040 1,071 1,098
Surrey Crescent/Ponsonby 485 376 343
Takapuna and Takapuna Super Centre 679 615 587
Three Kings 910 861 881
Waiheke Island 356 294 293
Waitakere 2,643 2,809 2,728
Waiuku 324 351 331
Warkworth 418 468 459
West Gate 1,283 1,225 1,265

Number of working aged (aged 18–64 years) Domestic Purposes Benefit recipients 32,859 33,217 33,380

57 percent of recipients are Maori/ Pacific people and 46 percent have been on a benefit continuously for four or more years.

"The beast that will not die"

A very clever comic strip from Reason
Trying to stop America's seemingly unstoppable "War on Drugs" by P Bagge.

Monday, May 22, 2006

There's a turn up

Just watching the TV3 News. The Prime Minister and Speaker, Margaret Wilson were formally approaching the Maori Queen at celebrations today. Who was sitting on the Maori Queen's left? Bishop Brian Tamaki.
UPDATE: Paul Holmes this morning, Will she be brassed-off seeing Bishop Brian, the man who has denounced her as a "satanist" for imposing her homosexual agenda on the country, will she be brassed-off seeing him sitting up there, next to the Maori Queen? What do you think!!

Double standards

I took a friend to the Social Services Select Committee a couple of years back. They were taking submissions on the Care of Children Bill. He wasn't very articulate and blew all the arrangements we'd made beforehand about how we would present. He might even have come across as slightly wild-eyed. But that didn't change his story. He had fought for the custody of his three children for eight years. He feared for their safety. The court-appointed counsel for children constituted a huge barrier. Eventually he gave up. Soon after his ex appeared with the children and left them. She never returned. He still has them and they seem to be doing well.

When we look at the guys currently protesting it pays to consider what they have endured. In the seventies feminists decided it was cruel to remove children from their natural mothers. Society all but dispensed with adoption. As with mothers, in most cases, it is equally cruel to remove children from their fathers.

Strange headline

The headline that accompanies this graph from NZ Statistics is "Marriages Maintain Momentum"

I wonder what the chart accompanying "Marriages Lose Momentum" would look like.

UPDATE; Stuff don't see it quite that way with their headline "Fewer Kiwis saying 'I do'".

Welfare spending budget projections

Here are welfare expenditure figures in $ million;

The first is 2005 actual, the second is 2010 forecast and finally the percentage change

Super 6,083 7,902 +30%
DPB 1,547 1,582 +2
Unemployment 831 985 +19
Accommodation Supplement 750 961 +28
Invalids Benefit 1,026 1,282 +25
(Sickness Benefit 510 682 +34
Disability allowance 267 328 +23
Income related rents 370 471 +27
Family Support 846 2,072 +144
Child Tax Credit 141 9 -936
Special benefit 175 15 -914
In Work Payment 0 526
Benefits paid in Australia 91 48 -47
Paid Parental Leave 76 160 +111
Other Benefits 613 835 +36

Total 13,326 17,858 +36

(Excluding Super 7,243 9,956 +37)

Add to these:

Departmental expenses 781 782
Non-Departmental 423 433
Rehab and compensation 152 173

Total 14,682 19,246 +31

...and I've left out the pension fund.

Put into context working-age welfare will increase by 37 percent, Health by 23 percent and Education by 20 percent.

Mania for management

It is bad enough that spending on health "managers, administrators, supervisors and clerical staff" etc has reached $500 million but don't forget the added burden as these people extract their pound of flesh from the frontliners. With extra bureaucracy comes more analysis of systems, more paperwork, more meetings, more change for the sake of change. The productive time of medical staff is reduced. No wonder the government has put 50 percent more in and got less out.

Dilemma for do-gooders

In the 60s and 70s the abiding angst was over skinny, anaemic kids who got hustled off to health camps. Skinny = bad.

By the 80s we were witnessing the beginnings of massive paranoia over the anorexia nervosa 'epidemic'. Then we had the PC backlash calling for non-judgementalism about body shape lest we create an unhealthy, even fatal, obsession.

Now that's all out of the window. Apparently "self esteem" is no longer the flavour of the day, as we unrelentingly highlight obese kids in an attempt to legislate them into 'healthy' conventionality. Fat = bad.

In the UK, "From next year, however, parents of any obese 4- or 10-year-olds can expect a letter telling them their child faces long-term health damage unless they lose weight. The about-turn came after MPs dismissed as 'drivel' claims that telling parents the results could lead to children being bullied."

Obesity campaigners say the danger to obese children's future health is so great it outweighs any fears of bullying.

What a dilemma for those who would stick their beaks into other people's lives. Which is more important. Physical or emotional health?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Redistribution NZ- Style

Did you know that;

- 12 percent of people are paying 50 percent of the income tax collected?

- 65 percent of people are paying 20 percent of the income tax collected?

Consider this:

Average family gross income: ($)
- couple with children 88,661
- couple with no children 70,184
- sole parent 27,806
- single person 27,740

(Includes benefits and other non-wage income for year ended June 2007).

Couples with children are, on average, the highest income earners. Yet this is the group current economic policy targets for increased redistribution receipt.

A family with two children qualifies for Family Support up to $65,940 and the In-Work payment up to $81,540. The highest cut-off point for family income assistance is now $109,880.

The childless have three options; have kids, pay for somebody else's or leave the country.

Police "trickery" backfires

Here's an interesting story from Scotland.

THREE men who were on trial for armed robbery walked free from court after a judge ruled that their human rights had been breached when police listened in to conversations in their cells.