Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ministry's ongoing incompetence

I am tired of the Ministry of Social Development. Tired of their excuses for not providing information and tired of their incompetence. I receive letters with my name on them but addressing someone else and their questions, they provide incorrect data to the media and MPs, they routinely make cock-ups at their website in respect of links. Today is no exception.

The 2006/07 Annual Report has been posted. However they have inadvertently linked to the Part One Word document that reveals material edited out of the final document. Hence we can see how they 'sanitise' their publications. Interesting statistics and statements have been carved out. In the section on CYFS for example the editor has removed this;

"Sputnik is 11 years old, but already an established car thief. He's one of nine other residents at Child, Youth and Family's Epuni Care and Protection centre locked up for their safety and the safety of others. He has Oppositional Defiance Disorder. "It means I don't listen to anything if I'm angry," he says.

Um. That won't do. Scrub it and go straight to the bit about how a lot of the time he's a smiling bubbly 11 year-old boy.

Then there is an entire section about a Work and Income whiteware pilot deleted.

"People can select their whiteware from a catalogue and obtain a quote on the spot getting immediate assistance right down to having their case manager organise delivery."

We don't really want to advertise this do we?? Delete.

While there is nothing particularly sensitive (or I wouldn't link to it) this error highlights their ongoing incompetence. And let's not forget the report is signed by a man earning nearly $500,000 a year.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Don't tell me what to think, Erin

I do not like being told what to think at the best of times.

Mental note to self - never buy another product from Noel Leeming or Bond and Bond. Ever.

GST bites

This hasn't reproduced very well but you can go here or right click for easier viewing.

It shows NZ's general consumption tax as a percentage of GDP is much higher than the OECD average. The OECD average is 6.9, ours is 9 and Australia's is 4.1. High consumption tax disadvantages the poorest people the most because they spend a larger proportion of their income. While consumption taxes are generally fair, set too high, they are not.

'But everyone does it'

One for Oswald who has a thing about swimming pools....understandably

A boy was at a public swimming pool.
The lifeguard blew his whistle at the boy and yelled, "Hey! Don't urinate in the pool!"
The boy replied, "But everyone does it!"
"Not from the diving board!" shouted the lifeguard.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Zap! Kapow! Holy cow! We gotta new mayor!"

Whatever I think of his politics I do enjoy Hone's style;

Hone Harawira's Ae Marika

Zap! Kapow! Holy cow! We gotta new mayor!

Wayne Brown, slayer of bureaucracy, doyen of the slash and burn brigade, arch-enemy of the unions and upsetter of the blue-rinse brigade, has just hacked his way through the jungles of local government administration, and taken top prize in the top district, in the top country in the whole world!!!

So watch out folks, ‘cause the next few years are going to be wild (hopefully).

Brownie’s a surfing nut, and if there’s an analogy for how our next few years are gonna be, then it’s this - we’re about to take a ride on one of the wildest waves we’ve ever seen in local politics, with our new mayor cutting us back into the wave and squeezing out just before it all comes crashing down on us (possibly), then cutting back again (definitely), then out again (with a little bit of luck).

It’s going to be wild, and I’m kinda lookin’ forward to it actually. The bureaucracy in the Far North needs a good kick up the arse, and if anyone’s gonna do it, then it’s Brownie.

No offense to our outgoing mayor, Yvonne Sharp. She was always going out of her way to attend things, she was always positive (even when she was telling me off for something), helpful of the many communities in her fiefdom, and an excellent representative of our area. But for all her good intentions, it’s hard to have faith in an operation that takes your rates, then subcontracts most of its work out to somebody else, then denies any obligation to the ratepayer.

But now we got a new mayor, let me make a few predictions. (1) Brownie’s going to piss a lot of people off. (2) Some council staff will get the chop. (3) Other council staff will leave. (4) Some councillors will have already had meetings about how they’re going to put Brownie in his place. (5) Other councillors think they’re happy he’s got the job, but aren’t too sure about it. (6) I will certainly get upset with something Brownie does, although I’m not quite sure what that’s going to be just yet. (7) Brownie could care less about any or all of the above.

Hang on tight folks! I can see the wave coming!

Almost three quarters of single parents still rely on welfare

Thursday, 18 October, 2007

The number of one parent families with dependent children rose between 2001 and 2006 but made up a slightly smaller percentage of all families when compared to five years ago.

"According to the Social Report 2007, released today, last year there were 145,032 one parent families with dependent children, up from 140,178 in 2001." Welfare commentator, Lindsay Mitchell added, " The bad news is around 74 percent still relied on a welfare benefit of some sort."

"The report also states that New Zealand has a relatively high proportion of families with children under 18 headed by sole parents, second only to the United States at 33 percent in 2006 and higher than the United Kingdom (25% in 2004), Australia (21% in 2005) and Canada (21% in 2001)."

"While the government is patting itself on the back for a drop in DPB numbers the sad fact is single parents are still heavily reliant on the state for their livelihood."

Hard to believe

The story. A mother ran inside to get an umbrella, and left her car running. A thief stole the car and the baby in the back. The mother is being charged with a third degree felony, child neglect. I suppose the thief would be praised for quickly abandoning the car when he realised it contained a baby.

OK. She was slightly careless. But let's assume it had started to rain. The alternative was to unstrap the baby, sometimes a lengthy exercise with yourself half in and half out of the rain, lock the car and run with him in his carrier, through the rain. At the moment he is dry. After a trip to and from the house he will be damp at best. You know I could very well have made the same decision as the mother. To dash to the house and grab the umbrella. If it had been very cold I may even have left the car running to get some heat going. In her case it may have been very warm so the opposite applies re air conditioning.

What is going on in this topsy turvy world where decent people are prosecuted when the bad caused the problem?

(Hat tip Reason)

"Crime and rhetoric"

"Crime and rhetoric" is a brief piece by Thomas Sowell. Brief pieces make generalisations by necessity.

Having declined for decades on end, the murder rate suddenly doubled between 1961 and 1974. The rate at which citizens became victims of violent crimes in general tripled.

Such trends began at different times in different countries but the patterns remained very similar. As the rates of imprisonment declined, crime rates soared — whether in England, Australia, New Zealand or the United States.

After a whole generation of crime victims were sacrificed on the altar to the theories of the left, a political backlash produced higher rates of imprisonment — and lower rates of crime — in all these countries in the late 20th century.

In New Zealand overall recorded crime peaked in the early nineties. Violent crime has continued to increase however. Maybe this is partly an effect of our justice system still being dominated by the leftist ideology and rhetoric Sowell describes, that the root cause of crime is injustices and inequalities. Certainly the left-driven welfare mentality is playing a part.

Controversy courted

Embarking on a UK speaking tour here's a man not afraid to court controversy. He claims black people are less intelligent. But it was this repugnant view that caught my eye and I briefly wondered how the anti-abortion and anti-gay fundamentalists would square it.

Dr Watson is no stranger to controversy. He has been reported in the past saying that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual.

Of course they would reject the idea because they believe sexual orientation can be changed. Although if a gene exists who created it?

This sort of idea highlights what an ethical nightmare gene technology can present.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Anti-poverty Day

Today we are being encouraged to speak out about poverty, so I will.

There is no need for poverty in New Zealand. The main reason we have people who claim to be poor, or, more often, are claimed to be poor by others, is the welfare system. It doesn't alleviate need - it creates it. By a long margin single parents make up the poorest sector of society. Nobody forced them to become single parents though some are relatively blameless when compared to an abandoning or abusive partner. They made a bad choice somewhere along the line but it needn't consign them to a future of benefit dependence.

There is an interesting opinion piece in the Dominion Post today which highlights the difference between the approach of private international charities (the author represents Childfund) and the domestic social welfare approach. The first intends to make communities self sufficient whereas the second deals with individuals by giving them handouts on an ongoing basis.

This is demonstrated by the fact that 127,894 people - or 4.9 percent of the working age population - have been on welfare continuously for four or more years.

In this country there is an approach that guarantees avoidance of poverty. It's called individual responsibility. If successfully instilled in children there is no reason they can't look forward to a more prosperous and far more satisfying future than might otherwise be the case.

The politics of global warming explained


Dr. William Gray, a top climate scientist and professor emeritus of the atmospheric department at Colorado State University calls the theory that won Al Gore an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize "ridiculous." Others, he says, would speak out if they didn't fear retribution from those who put ideology over science.

According to Gray:

* A natural cycle of ocean temperatures related to the amount of salt in ocean water was responsible for global warming, which he acknowledges has taken place.
* As part of this natural cycle, global temperatures will eventually cool again.
* Fluctuations in hurricane intensity and frequency, Exhibit A in Gore's inquisition, have nothing to do with carbon dioxide levels or human activity, but with changing ocean currents.
* There were 101 hurricanes from 1900 to 1949, in a period of cooler global temperatures, compared with 83 from 1957 to 2006, when the earth warmed.

"It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong. But they also know that they'd never get any grants if they spoke out. I don't care about grants. We'll look back at this in 10 or 15 years and realize how foolish it was," says Gray.

Source: Editorial, "The Warming Debate's Gray Area," Investor's Business Daily, October 15, 2007.

(From the National Center for Policy Analysis)

White collar crime 'rife' in NZ

Published in today's Dominion Post and written up by James Weir, the above is the result of an international survey by Price-WaterhouseCoopers and included 78 NZ medium to large firms,

"The average white collar criminal in New Zealand was likely to be a man in his thirties, with a high school education, in a job for less than two years and in a post below middle many cases firms did not report crimes to police or even the executive team or almost half of the cases people involved even kept their jobs."

I have two responses to that - better the devil you know and New Zealand's employment law. Many employers know that it will cost them more to rid themselves of an employee than to simply accept the loss or come to some private agreement.

One could go a step further and speculate that the protection of employees through employment law encourages crime.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Somebody is telling porkies

Dr Cullen said there was nothing in the Australian tax cut package for those earning under $30,000 a year and just $20 a week for those earning up to $74,000 a year, but $128 a week for those on $200,000 a year.

Costello said a major change to benefit low-paid workers was an increase of the tax-free threshold from 11,000 dollars to 14,000 dollars from July 1, 2008 and 16,000 dollars from 2010.

I don't think it is Costello telling blatant fibs.

Franks on Tame Iti

Stephen Franks describes his last meeting with Tame Iti. Slightly chilly might be an understatement.

Wrong focus

Ron Mark is upset that 8.4 percent of our prison population are non-New Zealanders.

That's pretty good considering 23 percent of people normally residing in New Zealand were born overseas.

Now if we could get Maori under-represented to the same degree, 7% instead of 50%, the prison population would drop to 3,779 rather than 6,630

Thought about the would-be 'terrorists'

Just thinking about this 'group' of so-called would-be terrorists, remember Upper Hutt lawyer, John Burrett, and his nephew, who went to jail for intent to kidnap.

Burrett and Payne claimed the kidnap plot was just a game of role playing and they never intended to abduct anyone.

Are these guys for real? We may never know.

"Legalise all drugs, top British police officer says"

Top British cop calls for the legalization of all drugs.

Seems to me that Britain is leading the gathering momentum although there is support from some in the US. Which restores some of my faith in the intellectual capacity of Britons.

Remember - making an activity legal does not sanction or approve it. It simply allows any resulting problem to be handled differently.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stats show DPB a way of life

Media Release

Monday, October 15, 2007

Forty five percent of people on the DPB have been on it at least once before, a fifth have been on it twice before, nearly 5,000 have been on it three times before and a further 4,000 had been on it four or more times.

According to Lindsay Mitchell, welfare commentator, "These recent figures show that a large minority of single parents are cycling on and off the benefit. At the other extreme are those who get onto the DPB and stay there long-term, especially those who start young. The Ministry of Social Development's computer system does not provide pre-1993 information but available figures show a minimum of 40 percent first started on welfare under the age of twenty."

"Additionally nearly forty five percent have been on this benefit or another continuously for 4 or more years, 17 percent for ten or more years."

Mitchell says that the official description of the DPB's original intention was, 'temporary financial support for deserted or battered wives and unmarried mothers without partners.'

"Clearly the usage of this benefit has far exceeded expectations often, sadly, to the disadvantage of children who lead impoverished, insecure and transient lives as a consequence."

Smoke and mirrors

The table below shows the movement off the DPB in terms of how many were already partially employed. This confirms what I have been saying about the drop in DPB numbers being, in part, a smoke and mirrors exercise. Fifty eight percent of those moving off DPB were already 'attached' to the workplace.

The reports states, "The fall in numbers was most rapid for those with other income in excess of $300 per week (with a 25% fall) or between $180 and $300 per week (with a 12% fall). These groups would have been the most readily able to shift off benefit and take up the In-Work Tax Credit. Some would have already have been working sufficient hours (20 hours a week) to qualify."

Now you could respond that 42% with 'no other income' also left the DPB. Yes. But a good number move to other benefits, change their marital status, go onto super, go to prison, etc. This group is less likely to have entered the workplace.

By the way, see if you can spot the error in this table.