Saturday, August 12, 2006

Shirkers unite!

The Feminist Majority are complaining because "progress toward gender equality in domestic work has stalled". You see the "shirkers" really picked up their act until 1985 but now they've slacked off and refuse to do more.

Never mind that here in New Zealand the labour force participation rate for men is 75.7 percent - 13.2 points higher than for women.

And 35 percent of working women have part-time jobs compared to only 9 percent of men.

The feminists still want men to do half the housework.

Come to think of it where's that useless husband of mine. Damn.....just left for his weekend job. He's gonna have to quit that and start pulling his weight around the house. Yeah.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Civvies know best

Campaign Against - These are the guys who keep pushing Police Association boss Greg O'Connors blood pressure through the roof.

Well-known (?) artists speak out against tasers.

“To agree to the use of Tasers is to agree to the use of torture as police policy in NZ”. Michael Smither (Artist)

“The gradual dispersal of a torture device throughout our police force in the name of efficiency is degrading to all New Zealanders”. Nigel Brown (Artist)

The vulnerability of Maori to the taser has been pointed to by another artist.

“Maori will be the major victims of this weapon. Even so more for young Maori Men! Fact!” Mika (Artist)

Perhaps we should ask these guys to protect us from the crims with their paint brushes! Nobody asked me so....

"Let the police get on with their job and I'll get on with mine." Lindsay Mitchell (Artist)

Tariana puts her trotter down

It has never been clear to me what exactly the Maori Party and ACT have in common.

Tariana Turia would slot right in with the Greens...except.... here she is telling the Greens off for watering down their anti-free trade initiative, Buy Kiwi Made.

Let me see if I understand this. The Greens get $11 million for their campaign to promote NZ made products. Now companies who design their stuff here but get it made offshore want a slice of the pie too. They all want to get their piggy noses in the trough. But Tariana only wants NZ manufacturers to have their piggy noses in the trough.

Here's a thought. Take away the $11 million trough and there won't be any fighting and politicking and lobbying and oinking. Think of all the extra productivity that could be achieved if people just got on with it.


The Constable Exhibition at Te Papa is well worth a look. For a painter the opportunity to see his works up close is fascinating. Because he painted many scenes more than once comparisons between various approaches can be made. For instance he might scumble a passage (drag paint quickly over a surface leaving a broken stroke) in one painting and in the next painstakingly paint every little dot or dash. His style ranged from very tight to incredibly broad - well before the French impressionists. Often he would add an extra strip of panel or paper to correct his composition. He was a very patient man. And he must have dearly loved the countryside he recorded.

One of the other interesting things on offer is small facsimile reproductions of his tiny sketchbooks. They look like the real thing but you can pick them up and thumb through the pages. It's a great pleasure stepping back in time.

The saga of the signs

Yesterday I posted the Hutt City Council sign which basically sticks it to Eastbourne. This one has now appeared at Pt Howard. Cost considerably less than $200,000 but gets the message through.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Contradiction in terms?

This struck me as funny. Remember the No Rubba, No Hubba Hubba campaign? I had cause to visit the website where I found this;

Got It Covered?
Play the Hubba Hubba challenge (requires Flash player)

Maori "Warrior" gene now "Moa" gene?

Confused? This report is calling the warrior gene the MOA gene. The correct abbreviation for monoamine oxidase is MAO.

That pesky Eastbourne crowd

Erected on Jervois Quay this large Hutt City-produced billboard has a lot of Eastbourne residents hopping mad.

Me too. Probably not for the same reasons though. It made me laugh. And I don't like laughing at money being spent where it shouldn't. It isn't local government's role to drive economic growth through the "arts" (which the Mayor is off to study in Santa Fe) or any other means, beyond keeping the infrastructure up to scratch and rates low.

Competing for economic growth through inflow of people is the job of the private sector. Why? Because they raise money through a voluntary process which in the main keeps them honest and efficient - unlike governments.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What's the gain?

An man who claimed he sold cannabis tinnies to provide for his 10 children has been jailed.

The High Court at Whangarei was told that Jason Tiri Nahi, 33, was in a long-standing relationship with his partner with eight of their 10 children under 10.

Assuming the partner goes on welfare she'll get around $47 per child, $285 DPB and probably $200-250 in accommodation allowance with such a large family.

He goes away at $50,000 a year.

Suddenly the taxpayer is forking out $100,000 for a family that was supported by cannabis sales!

Yes, this is simplistic and the costings are conservative but what have we gained here?

10 kids with no Dad around. A load of customers looking for a new supplier.
And the loss of whatever $100,000 might have bought elsewhere.

No dole for Dad

Here's an interesting proposal from the Family Edge newsletter.


A German politician has stirred up controversy with a proposal to extend children's financial responsibility for their unemployed parents. Currently the German government reduces unemployment payments to parents who have children living at home and earning, where there is no clear separation of finances. The law even applies to unemployed siblings, uncles, aunts and non-relatives living in the same household.

Now, the secretary general of the Christian Democrats -- Chancellor Angela Merkel's party -- wants to extend the law to children and parents not sharing the same house. Ronald Pofalla said that, just as a working father supports his son under 25, so should a "30-something son support his unemployed father over 50 if he is financially able to do so."

Fellow CDU members are among critics of Pofalla's proposal, saying it will make young people think twice about whether it is worth trying to make a living in Germany. Others say 30-year-olds cannot begin their careers, start families, support their parents and still save for retirement. The president of the German Association for Social Affairs says the social welfare system, not the family, is responsible for supporting the unemployed. ~ Deutsche Welle, August 8
Media Release
Wednesday, August 9, 2006

One of the 20 year comparisons from the Ministry of Social Development Social Report 2006 found a widening gap between the "rich" and the "poor".

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell says, "A major reason for the growing percentage of people experiencing hardship is the growth in benefit numbers."

"Twenty years ago 136,485 people were on one of the main benefits - unemployment, invalid, sickness or domestic purposes."

"At June this year the number had grown to 263,814 or 93 percent."

"To put that into context, over the same period the population increased by 25 percent."

"As Maori and Pacific people are over-represented amongst beneficiaries they are disproportionately experiencing hardship."

"There are also over 200,000 children relying on welfare."

"Until the incentives are changed and we stop encouraging people to have and add to their families on welfare, expect inequality to grow."

Rodney on telly

Paul Holmes has been plugging his Prime Show at 7.30 tonight. He is interviewing Rodney Hide who he says talks "movingly and intimately" about his dancing experience and how it changed his life.

Fill in the gap

Supporters often claim that ______ has a comparatively high employment rate, but this is based on deceptive employment statistics that count as employed many who are on long-term sick leave or who don't actually work.

Clue; It isn't New Zealand but it is a country our leaders wish to emulate.

"Warrior gene"

Researchers are claiming Maori men have an over-representation of the gene that expresses monoamine oxidase. This predisposes to aggression, risk-taking and violence.

Fascinating. Not just the claim but the responses to it. Tariana isn't happy because she hates anything she perceives as negative criticism of Maori. Blinkered. Alan Duff suggests how the claim may be repudiated. Sensible. And John Tamihere says he will keep an open mind. Intelligent.

Read the link to Wikipedia before you dismiss this research.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Good on Sir Roger

There is a long way to go for a section of New Zealand society but what will the Roger Douglas critics have to say about this from the Ministry of Social Development;

“This year’s report for the first time also looks at how New Zealanders’ wellbeing has changed over the last 20 years. Of the 18 indicators we can track from the mid-1980s, the majority have improved. New Zealanders are better educated, they’re healthier and more of them are in paid work.

“Since the mid-1980s, life expectancy has increased, suicide rates have reduced, and cigarette smoking has decreased. However, obesity has doubled for men and almost doubled for women, reflecting changes in diet and physical activity.

“There have been substantial increases in participation in early childhood and tertiary education, and more school leavers have higher qualifications. The unemployment rate has fallen steadily since it peaked at over 10 percent in 1992, and employment has risen."

So the economic reforms didn't ruin the country afterall.

Making choices

Freakonomics, by Steven D Levitt put forward a theory that legalised abortion (US 1973) led to a dramatic drop in crime in the 90s. The theory has been very controversial. Here's a lay criticism which makes for compelling reading;

(Posted at Steve Sailer's blog)

A reader with experience as an inner city social worker points out that Steven D. Levitt is the Elvis of Economics in more ways than one:

A couple of further observations on abortion and crime:

First, it's fascinating to see Conventional Wisdom taking shape right before my eyes. Usually the process is not nearly so obvious, and has to be pieced together after the fact.

Second, reading about Levitt's theory that abortion cuts crime by culling unwanted babies reminds me of that old Elvis Presley song called "In the Ghetto." It went:

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago morn
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama cries
Cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need
It’s another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto

Remember that one? It's the one where The King showed how sensitive and politically aware and stuff he was.

What the fans of Elvis and Levitt fail to get is that poor women don’t necessarily see their situation the same way middle class folks do. They may actually love their little bastard babies!

Middle class types see poor unwed teenage mothers as Scum of the Earth and a Terrible Social Problem. But poor women don’t see themselves that way. Instead, they think of themselves as human beings facing the age-old challenge of getting along in the world -- and, if they're lucky, passing their genes on to the next generation.

Unbelievable, I know. But bear with me for just a minute and try to see it from their point of view.

If you're a young underclass woman, one of the first things you notice is that there are not many marriage-worthy men in your social milieu. A whole lot of them are unemployed or in prison or dead.

So even though you may want to get married, you figure your prospects are pretty dim. If you wait to marry before having children, you probably won't have children.

You might as well have them now because, well, why wait? You're not getting any younger. More to the point, your mother and other female relatives are not getting any younger. And since they're the ones you'll have to rely on for child care and support, it's important to have your kids before they develop Type II diabetes and kidney failure and all the other health problems that tend to afflict black underclass folks more than white privileged types.

Will having kids hold back your career? Well, if you have an IQ of 80 and are looking for a reason to drop out of high school anyway, then no.

You’ve probably already figured out that your prospects of a good job are dim, and getting dimmer by the day, especially with immigrants flooding in by the millions to take the few jobs you're qualified to do.

So for you, its not a choice of a ghastly life as a welfare mother or good life in the burbs. Fate and the immigration mavens have already decreed that you will get mostly crumbs from America's bounteous economic table. The only choice you have is between a crummy life with kids or a crummy life without kids.

Your lack of career prospects just makes having kids look that much more attractive. Children are about the only thing you can produce that people will view as being truly valuable.

Besides, if you can't count on a spouse for love and companionship, kids become doubly important because they'll be the only family you’ve got.

So becoming a single mother makes quite a bit of sense to you. You realize it’s a scary prospect and a hard life, but what are your options?

You may not exactly be looking to get pregnant, but when it happens -- well, is it really all bad? Lots of others have done it before you. In fact, in your neighborhood, girls who have babies out of wedlock are becoming the norm.

The only people who can't seem to grasp what is going on here are the Really Smart Guys. Even though it should be getting pretty obvious by now, especially since the black illegitimacy rate is close to 70 percent. Admittedly, most of these out of wedlock pregnancies may not have been "planned" or "intended" in any sense that a middle class observer could understand. But that doesn’t mean they're necessarily "unwanted."

Seen from this perspective, poor women who have abortions are likely to be the strivers and achievers. They're the ones who see some prospect of improving their lives, and realize it may hold them back if they have five kids by four fathers. They're the ones who are trying, in their own way, to make good.

Inability to grasp what is wrong with Levitt's argument seems to be a case of "I'll see it when I believe it." Maybe all the bright guys who can't believe what's going on in the underclass world should ditch Elvis and listen to Fantasia Barrino sing:

Nowadays it's like a badge of honor
To be a baby mama...
Cause we the backbone of the hood.

At least he won't make another

"This Triple M Ford Farewell Tour CD sucks."

15 is too young to drive

A visiting expert is horrified that NZ allows 15 year-olds to drive. Here is a slightly dated international comparison of traffic deaths;

The US has a driving age of 16 in most states and France,18, with an allowance for younger driving with certain conditions met. Most European countries have a limit of 18 and in the UK there is a campaign to lift the age to 21 (gleaned from a quick google search so don't take as gospel).

Personally I think our driving age is too young but am also reluctant to deny responsible 15 year-olds the opportunity.

Speed cameras with a difference

In the UK speed cameras which detect a speeding car and display its number plate on a roadside screen have been found to be more effective than fines. Name and shame. Trouble revenue....

Stick to core business 2

From the DomPost's Diary, here's another culprit off to swan around our "sister city" - some place in Arizona nobody has ever heard of. Who dreams up these concepts? Don't tell me.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Stick to core business

While people are struggling to pay outrageous rate increases we get a councillor sticking her oar into what is not a local government issue. Who pays for the time she spends lobbying other councils and government? Replication of activity has a cost.

A Porirua City councillor is calling for councils to take a stand against violence towards children, starting with her own council.

On Wednesday, Sue Dow will move a motion that the council support a bill currently before Parliament. Section 59 of the Crimes Act bans the smacking of children.

Ms Dow says Porirua has always been a trail-blazer among local authorities and it should lead the way on this issue too.

Prerequisites to change

Earlier posts have linked to articles which describe the success of the US welfare reforms. This one makes a couple of very important observations about the lessons learned and are entirely relevant to our suituation;

One lesson is that what people do for themselves often overshadows what government does for them. Since 1991, for example, the teen birthrate has dropped by a third. The mothers least capable of supporting children have had fewer of them. Welfare reform didn't single-handedly cause this. But it reinforced a broader shift in the social climate -- one emphasizing personal responsibility over victimhood.

Another lesson is the virtue of candor. Welfare's flaws were openly acknowledged. If we aren't more honest about other problems, they will simply get worse (as they already have).

The final lesson is the value of some bipartisanship. Although welfare reform was mainly a Republican project, President Clinton (who had pledged to "end welfare as we know it") provided general support, as did many Democrats who voted for the final bill. All agreed that the system was broken. Bipartisanship makes big changes in policies more acceptable to the public by signaling a broad consensus.

Idol picks

In search of some mindless frivolity, I confess Sunday nights will always see me glued to a different screen - the TV. I love talent shows, waiting for that buzz when you hear something extraordinary. Have to say I haven't heard it yet from this year's NZ Idol crop. But I was impressed enough to vote for two entrants last night. These are my first two picks to make it into the top ten;

Lenken from Iraq. I kid you not. The crew did some filming of him at home with his Dad playing some middle-eastern stringed instrument. Didn't know the song he sang but he's got a talent for performing.

Clinton. Not from Iraq. Did, "Don't let the sun go down on me" credibly. Makes a change from all the warbling we usually get.

Good luck guys.

Update; Clinton through but Shock, Horror.... the public didn't vote for Lenken. So the judges rode to the rescue making it quite clear he should have been in the top three and giving him the "second chance" wildcard.