Saturday, July 05, 2008

What a wonderful shot and amazing story of recovery.

Why they go

A letter from the Dominion Post today. Miss you Tina.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Hey Big Spender

The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, 'Herself', spent a whopping 41.5 percent more last year.

In the year to May 2008 expenditure slid in at just under a $ billion (999 million to be exact). In the prior year she spent $706 million.

It's pretty damn disgusting when there are people unable to access life-saving surgery and pharmaceuticals, schools that are in a state of disrepair, businesses being broken by increasing taxes.

The plebeians are expected to prioritise their budgets wisely while government Ministers continue to act like the "rich pricks" they so despise.

Getting rid of the DPB

Yes. The government is going to get rid of the DPB. From April 2009 it will simply be known as income support. As will the problematic incapacity benefits.

Ms Dyson announced plans to scrap "stereotyped" names such as the dpb, and invalid and sickness benefits when the Government moves to a single core benefit next year - a change that will require the ministry to drop the names from all its brochures, letters, websites and training material from April.

This move, originally Steve I-know-of-no-social-science-that-says-the-nuclear-family-is-more-successful-than-other-kinds Maharey's big idea, has been heralded for a long time. The government's plan to introduce one single core benefit is par for the course - if you can't solve a problem, bury it. Minister Ruth Dyson says she wants to get rid of stereotypical names. What that means is she wants to destroy any stigma attached to being on a benefit instead of self-supporting. This has always been Labour's aim. The more people that receive state support the more 'normal' it becomes. So they are equalising everyone on benefits and overlapping them with people working but receiving income support.

A report from 2004 said, The Cabinet papers suggest the move to a single benefit is designed to break down entrenched attitudes and stereotypes about benefits and their purpose. The Cabinet papers: "Too much of the system is still inherited from a past in which jobs were scarce and it was assumed categories of people, and particularly people with health conditions or disabilities, couldn't work and didn't want to work."

So there it is again. This change is primarily about altering non-beneficiary attitudes. More psycho-social engineering. The politically correct process of changing the language to change how people think.

In practice this move will reduce transparency. It will be far more difficult to identify trends and problems. Under the present system we are able to quickly and easily identify that while unemployment has dropped, more individuals are now on other benefits.

At the moment there are a quarter of a million working-age people on various benefits and we can identify where the problems remain; which groups have longer durations dependent on welfare; which groups have dependent children; which groups present the biggest challenge.

National and ACT should both be strongly opposing this move.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Great Expectations

I was just thinking. What a revelation. One which had completely passed me by.


They are wrong. The next National government will be as dissimilar to the early nineties National administration as the current Labour government is to the late eighties Labour administration. They were both aberrations.

Anyone who wants anything resembling the government actions of late 80s/ early 90s needs to vote ACT. Don't take risks. Don't court disappointment. Don't waste another three years. We don't have time to throw away.

Hutt News coverage

(left click on image to read)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

New work

Here's a recent effort. I saw this photo of the late Syd Jackson, or I should say, the black and white version used in the Dominion Post obituary. I discovered the internet version more latterly. It was one of those instances when I felt compelled to paint an image. Now I just need to find the right home for him.

Responding to Russel

Excerpt from Russel Norman's maiden speech;

The first item on the agenda of Savage’s first cabinet meeting in December 1935 was a Christmas bonus for the unemployed. This was not popular amongst the bankers in London – it was an act of compassion.

When was the last time we did that for beneficiaries? We punish the children of the poorest by refusing them the in-work payment of $60 per week. The truth is that we have yet to restore Jenny Shipley’s benefit cuts of 1991.

There is another memorial in Auckland. One dedicated to those who turned their backs on ordinary New Zealanders. In the Auckland CBD there is a memorial to Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson, it is a casino in the shape of a syringe. They created a society in which desperate people’s only hopes are pokies and drugs.

You’re gonna reap just what ya sow. And we are reaping in South Auckland and Bridge Pa.

Last month the Child Poverty Action Group said New Zealand had the fastest growth in income and wealth inequality in the OECD. And I’ll repeat that, because I didn’t say fastest GDP growth. I said that New Zealand had the fastest growth in income and wealth inequality. We are becoming more divided.

The latest figures show about 150,000 children in benefit families in significant or severe hardship.

These 150 000 are the children of the poor that have been forgotten. These are the children of the poor Michael Cullen’s last nine Budgets should have focussed on. These are the children of the poor John Key should stop posing with and start telling us how he’s going to offer hope to - assuming he wants to be more than a breathing replacement to a struggling Government.

And these may well become the teenagers and young adults who feature on our TV screens at 6 o’clock in a decade’s time.

We’re gonna reap what we sow.

I fear that the people in this room have forgotten their history. Is this the future Micky Savage had in mind? Is this his ‘applied Christianity’?

Dear Russel,

The benefits instigated in 1938 were paid for by a dedicated social security tax, not general taxation, and included unemployment, sickness and invalid benefits.

Mickey Savage did not give us the DPB. The children you refer to are almost entirely from single parent homes. I doubt very much that Savage's vision for New Zealand included mass separation, unpartnered childbrith and kids having kids.

The only answer your party has to this problem is greater transfer of wealth and more collective responsibility whereas the only real and lasting solution will be for people to take individual responsibility for their lives and those of any children they create. People will not make good decisions, people will continue to act in self-destructive ways, as long as society picks up after them.

Your brand of 'compassion' can only cause more harm to future generations of children. Children of beneficiaries are not being punished by Labour refusing them the In Work payment. They are being punished by a system that encourages their parents to live apart; that encourages entitlement and victimhood mentalities; and that makes meal tickets of them.

The 'last time' we did something for beneficiaries was when we eased abatement rates and introduced the In Work payment which allows them to earn more from work than from income support. You would turn that on its head.

And we would end up reaping what you have sown. More benefit dependence and more discontent on all sides. Widespread welfarism hasn't brought members of society together. It has divided them. Look a little deeper than mere income levels. The greatest inequalities lie in degrees of personal commitment, conscientiousness and caring. You cannot bridge those gaps with benefit money.

Lindsay Mitchell

We want equality - but not here

This is a good example of feminist inconsistency. It's a piece from The Times opining that women are particularly hurt by being imprisoned.

Women are not, on the whole, members of the criminal classes. They are basically law-abiding. Prison is certainly not one of the places where women aspire to equal treatment. The family is central to their world view and their lives revolve round it.

Men are not, on the whole, members of the criminal classes either. Family not being central to a man or a woman is at the core of their criminality.

First and foremost, women bear and look after children. That makes it essential that they serve their sentences within reach of their families.

And men are less entitled to receive visits from their children?

Women's crimes are most often - 36 per cent - theft and handling stolen goods, crimes that may go hand in hand with the men they know who are doing the thieving and asking for a bit of help: “Pop this in the back of the wardrobe, love, until I come and get it.”

All his fault again.

But it is interesting that the worst of all (criminals) - even Myra Hindley and Rosemary West - committed their appalling crimes as the sidekicks of men.

And again.

The attached comments are for the most-part interesting. Here are two.

This article states that women wish to choose where they are equal and where they are not. Several (women) commentators clearly agree with this. It is interesting that the wider world doesn't notice. Proof that you can, in fact, fool all of the people all of the time?

Here we go again. Special pleading for women.So it's equality when it's convenient, and privilege when it ain't.

Equal opportunity in Dannevirke

Dannevirke, a small nothing-to-do Manawatu town was often laughingly referred to as Dannevegas. And with recent meatworks lay-offs things weren't looking too bright. But there is good news. Dannevirke is about to get its first brothel. However it would appear there aren't enough "promiscuous girlz" available in the town as the proprietor is having to go to the nearby mega-tropolis of Palmerston North to recruit staff. But this is interesting. There are going to dannegirls and danneboys available (did she miss a great naming opportunity there or what?)

"I think I am a service provider like most people down the main street of town. If you don't want to use the service, you don't have to."


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Switching from NannyRed to NannyBlue

Just as the Wellington High School children wouldn't eat the healthy food mandated by government, neither will they pick up a bat and ball if they don't want to, which is the assumption underlying John Key's new big idea - spending more on sports equipment and sports clubs.

What this observation illustrates is that New Zealand under National will differ little from New Zealand under Labour. All National is promising is better management.

But as National have spent as much time in government as Labour for the past forty years of steady decline in personal responsibility and prosperity, the prospect fills me with little joy. All we are going to get is a switch from Nanny Red to Nanny Blue.

The sports culture

Here we go again. An All Black goes off the rails and the nation is spurred into red hot debate. The talkback lines are full of opinion. New Zealanders, once dubbed 'passionless', prove they can get as worked up as any other group of people. Should he stay or should he go?

Should I care or should I not? It frustrates the hell out of me listening to grown people putting so much effort and energy into thinking about an issue that is so far down my list of priorities. I mean every day they let Nanny take almost half of their income, tell them where to send their kids, how to raise them and how not to raise them, tell them when and where they can get healthcare and that they just have to put up with being burgled and .... not a squeak. But a 26 year-old acts like a complete tosser and looks like risking his job and the nation rises up in condemnation or defence!

And it doesn't even have to be an All Black. Any well-known sports celebrity behaves like thousands of other mere mortals and the tongues start.

Yes John Key has it right. We need much more of a sports culture in New Zealand. It diverts the people from those issues which actually do affect their lives. All those problems that government are primarily responsible for creating and maintaining. A sports culture provides a substitute life-of-the-mind where people can express their feelings of impotency and anger. A sports culture satisfies emotions poorly educated people have no other outlet for. It gives vicarious arm-chair living legitimacy. Let's all live for the Saturday game which, win or lose, participate or watch, will be followed by an almighty piss-up to enhance feelings of temporary fragile superiority or anaesthetise predictable pain.

What a worthy role for the state to fill. Just as Dear Leader made herself Minister for Arts, John Key should make himself Minister for Sports. How wonderfully symbolic. A Prime Minister who also has the sports culture as his major portfolio.

I can't wait.

Monday, June 30, 2008

How truly awful

Groan. More than groan.

National's latest big idea is more sport for children.

Look. Those children who want to be involved in sport already are.

Those who do not can do without the brow-beating.

This is just the worst confirmation of National being a bunch of socialists. The state owns you. You will be fit.

Really. I cannot express more my disgust with this speech. How on earth can National criticise nanny state in one breath and then make themselves the deepest embodiment of her in the next?

I am truly struck dumb by this awfulness.

In praise of mediocrity

On one hand I understand the impulse to praise children, but on the other I think we do them a great disservice by using flattering adjectives about their performance at every opportunity, warranted or not.

Last Saturday morning my girl Sam tried out for New Zealand's Got Talent, the new series screening on Prime. This was her idea and I supported it. I am not one of those mothers vicariously living through my child. But if she has talent and ambition then I'll give her all the encouragement I can. She can sing but perhaps more importantly, she has self-belief.

We turned up at Avalon at 8.30. It took around an hour to make the main entrance; another 30 minutes to register and be photographed. Another 30 minutes in the holding room. Then a wait of around half an hour in a corridor outside the auditioning room before her number was called. We were surrounded by other singers, magicians, dancers, and fools looking for their moment of fame by being tasteless but outlandish.

Not true to the tv series, at this stage the performers sing for just one judge and they appear to be neither accepted nor rejected but given an indication they will hear later in the week as to whether they will go on further.

Sam had no accompaniment and dressed simply. She's very small but has a surprisingly big voice. She was asked various questions and then the camera rolled. She sang "Tomorrow" from Annie. When she had finished the judge said to her, "You have a great talent". And to me, "Have you got her with an agency? You should get her an agent. She would rock through an audition."

Very nice. But as I began with this post, are these words to be taken with a pinch of salt or acted on? Hence my opening complaint. I hate this PC age of crap and praise for mediocrity because I am not sure I am any the wiser. Then I read this piece from the Times which sums up the new phenomenon of over-praise and molly-coddling.

A recent production of Snow White at a primary school in Japan featured 25 Snow Whites, no dwarfs and no wicked witch, as parents objected to one child being picked out for the title role. In Sweden a boy was prevented from handing out invitations to his birthday party at school because he was “discriminating” against the two classmates he did not invite.

A straw poll in Netmums’ virtual coffee house produced distinctly mixed feelings about the phenomenon. “The cushioning effect of awarding stickers and praise for inconsequential trivia masks what children really need and are looking for – guidance, consistency, self-reliance and love,” said one mother, Liz.

Anyway here we are over a week later and she (of "great talent") still hasn't heard anything and I'm telling her that she has to get used to disappointment. Because if you are an achiever that means having to risk possible disappointment all the time. Life is a rollercoaster.

Actually she doesn't seem all that bothered. A far more stoic being than myself. Which illustrates the conclusion of the article. Children are very resilient.