Saturday, July 31, 2010

Harawira - confirmed racist

Blair Mulholland hits the nail on the head. Hone Harawira is an utter creep and crank. If Maori and Pakeha are so repulsive to each other why has there been widespread inter-marriage? Like Blair I would be more than happy to have Maori (or Asian or Indian) grandchildren if one of my children found someone who was good for them. Yes there can be problems when cultures meet but people can and do work through those differences. Good Lord. This is the clearest evidence yet of how racist Harawira is. Let's hope there is greater enlightenment and tolerance amongst the rest of his party. Because Harawira represents the sort of bigotry that ultimately fuels wars.

No-one will be normal

From today's NCPA news digest (highly recommended for subscription)

An updated edition of a mental health reference for doctors may include diagnoses for "disorders" such as toddler tantrums and binge eating, and could mean that soon no one will be classed as normal, says Reuters.

Leading mental health experts warn that the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is being revised now for publication in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), could devalue the seriousness of mental illness and label almost everyone as having some kind of disorder. Citing examples of new additions like "mild anxiety depression," "psychosis risk syndrome," and "temper dysregulation disorder," they said many people previously seen as perfectly healthy could be told they are ill.

According to Wykes and colleagues Felicity Callard, also of Kings' Institute of Psychiatry, and Nick Craddock of Cardiff University's department of psychological medicine and neurology, many in the psychiatric community are worried that the further the guidelines are expanded, the more likely it will become that nobody will be classed as normal anymore:

* Technically, with the classification of so many new disorders, we will all have disorders.
* This may lead to the belief that many more of us "need" drugs to treat our "conditions," and many of these drugs will have unpleasant or dangerous side effects.
* The "psychosis risk syndrome" diagnosis is particularly worrying, since it could falsely label young people who may only have a small risk of developing an illness.

I suspect that this development is, in fact, further widening and is part of an ongoing process.

This may lead to the belief that many more of us "need" drugs...

...or benefits.

Which is exactly what is happening. With psychiatric and psychological conditions the fastest growing category for qualification for disability benefits in this country. A trend which is probably mirrored internationally.

Stopping work many be the worst course of action for someone suffering a mild disorder. At least (and at last) there seems to be a growing concern about this amongst health professionals.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bits and bobs and bulbs

And the Lord said "Let there be light," and the energy-saving lightbulb manufacturer said, " All in good time". God I hate these bloody things. I rise early and in the dark. This morning I slipped in a pile of chunder left by one or other of my obliging animals. Cursing I reach for the light switch to inspect the damage and begin the clean-up and I can barely see what I am doing. This is not progress. It is literally a step back to the dark ages.

And spell-checkers aren't much better. Why doesn't it recognise "chunder"? And have they been programmed by near-illiterates? Their offerings when I hit the wrong keys rarely include the word I actually want. And on that subject I frequently hit the wrong keys because the white letters on my black keyboard have nearly all disappeared with use. So perhaps some solace after all. When the lights won't come on it doesn't really matter because the letters are invisible anyway.

Why is it that it often takes an insane person to say the sanest thing? Labour can't win the next election under Phi Goff. Phil Goff is nice. But John Key does 'nice' better. Now if ACT had stayed out of government, someone like Rodney Hide would have been a much better foil for the Prime Mr Nice. ACT could have been ripping shreds off National instead of contributing to the economic malaise the government is prolonging.

So what is there of cheer in the literal gloom. Yesterday, remedial reading with a school child, we came across the word 'ecstasy'. Needless to say the young lady could not pronounce said word. After supplying the sound for her I asked, Do you know what it means? A drug, she answered. Correct I replied. No, not really. I laughed and said if you were in 'ecstasy' you would be very happy, very excited. That's what it means but there is a drug called ecstasy too. I suppose I will not be asked back if she goes home and tells her parents that I said if you took ecstasy it would make you very happy and very excited. Geeez. Now I am worried again.

But I did provide some happiness and excitement to one very young child visiting the Academy Galleries on Wednesday. I was sketching and the picture caught his fancy big time "Cut! Cut! Cut!" he exclaimed repeatedly. Indeed it was a "cut".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another infant death and another out-pouring

I was working yesterday and when eventually got free to call, couldn't get through. Danny Watson, NewstalkZB, was putting two and two together and calling for an end to the "free money" that has created the dysfunction culminating in what was then another child assault.

Dear Danny

Yesterday you called for an end to "free money". People rang in and said "enough is enough". Now the assaulted baby is another infant death statistic. The outpouring yesterday was a replay of the outrage we heard after the death of Lillybing and too many others. After that particular case I got mobilised and started up a petition calling for a parliamentary review into the DPB. I wrote to every newspaper , advertised, called talkback, knocked on doors, as did many others. What happened? We collected 1400 signatures. A hugely disappointing result. Time and time again people wrote to me that they were having difficulty getting others to sign because everybody knew somebody - a friend or family member - on the benefit. Or that they supported the DPB system. Personally it was a very difficult time with a good deal of the opposition to my petition getting nasty via threats and public ridicule. I have continued to do what I can through articles, submissions to select committee, standing for parliament twice and working in the community with needy families. My point is this Dan;

There is not enough political support to stop the "free money" and all of the devastation it visits on children. You will find no support for ending or substantially reforming the DPB from the Maori Party , Labour, the Greens or even National. In fact, the formation of the unofficial Welfare Working Group comprising Sue Bradford, the Child Poverty Action Group, academics and the mainstream churches is gearing up to fight for the status quo, or even higher benefit levels. Your listeners seem to want the sort of change you were advocating yesterday yet at election time they vote for parties that refuse to form policies that would see an end to the cash for babies programme.

It doesn't have to be the way it is in NZ. The only other countries that have DPB-like benefits are England, Ireland and Australia. Elsewhere support is temporary and conditional. In the US teenage mothers must stay at school to be eligible for financial assistance and they must live at home or in an adult supervised setting. Their teenage birthrate, which is high like New Zealand's, has been falling steadily along with the abortion rate and dare I say it, their child abuse and general crime rates. They have a long way to go but at least they are going in the right direction.

Meantime our politicians are too afraid to grab the bit between their teeth and do something decisive despite many knowing that the level of child abuse and neglect New Zealand is experiencing has everything to do with incentivised and casualised child-bearing. Because the state will provide on an indefinite and no-questions- asked basis, mothers are abandoned by or get rid of the fathers of their babies, and are then latched onto by new males who want sex and a roof over their head with no obligation to be a breadwinner. They do not make wonderful step-fathers. It's just dreadful what we have let develop under the guise of a 'caring, compassionate' welfare state.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sometimes your number is just up

Sometimes your number is just up. This morning, when I saw a photo of the student pilot killed near Feilding on Monday I remembered her as a woman I sat next to when I sat my Aviation Law paper a few weeks ago. Then I thought, but what would she be doing sitting an exam in Wellington? Read on to find she has recently being training in Wellington and lived in Waikanae. We only exchanged smiles, both focussed on exams. She was sitting navigation, evident from the map and instruments in use. My recollection of her is she looked about my age but was with a man who looked quite a bit older who waited in the visitor area during the exam. The first crash report told of a woman "about 50" so others also thought she was younger than 64. I thought when I heard the initial report, how many women "about 50" are aviation students flying around the Kapiti Coast/ Manawatu area? Can't be many. There aren't even that many female students full stop. We were the only two in that exam room....

I haven't been flying since I passed the biannual flight review mainly because during the school holidays I couldn't book the plane I wanted. For some reason most of the Cessna 152 fleet was out for maintenance. Perhaps as the organisation is orientated around being a commercial school for mainly international students term-time applies and holidays present the best opportunity for maintenance, required every 100 hours of flight time. But the two air crashes during that short space in time since have served to remind me that flying requires immense vigilance and diligence and every pilot wants to avoid that sick sensation of knowing there is terrain or another plane in close proximity but can't sight it. And even close to home, within landing distance of the runway, the danger can be elevated by higher density of traffic. RIP Pat Smallman and Jessica Neeson. They both had the aviation bug and died for it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Getting sicker

Trends in proportion of the working-age population receiving Sickness Benefits at the end of June, between 2000 and 2010

31,944 in 2000 up to 58,465 in 2010 - an 83 percent increase.

Currently 41 percent of recipients have a psychiatric or psychological disorder. Looking back, in 1971 there around 6,000 people on a sickness benefit at any given time and "mental, psycho-neurotic and personality disorders" accounted for 10.3 percent of "disease suffered by the beneficiary."

Notwithstanding far more people were hospitalised (as opposed to being supported on a benefit) 30 or 40 years ago, incapacitating mental illness, or the diagnosis of it, is on the rise.

The next biggest category is musculo skeletal conditions at 15 percent.

Interestingly Maori are over-represented at 26.6 percent of all sickness beneficiaries whereas Pacific people make up only 6.3 percent - slightly under their share of the total population. I wonder if this is because when Pacific people are ill they rely more on family? They tend to have poorer health, with higher rates of diabetes and some cancers, so it would follow that more rely on sickness benefits than is the case. Their reliance on the invalid benefit is even lower at 5 percent of the total. Perhaps Pacific people keep working through illness. Whatever the reason the difference between Maori and Pacific always fascinates me because it shows that belonging to a low socio-economic community (where conditions can often cause or aggravate ill health) need not automatically lead to benefit dependence.

Well done and well said Stephen Joyce

Unusually I am pleased with the National Party and particularly Stephen Joyce. Instead of simply greasing the loudest squeaky wheel they are going to take an evidence-based approach to lowering the current blood-alcohol limit. For two years drivers involved in crashes will be tested to see if their reading is between .5 and .8. Good idea. But what Stephen Joyce says about overseas studies hits the nail on the head;

"They also tell you that if you didn't allow anyone to have any alcohol, you would save more lives, and if you actually didn't let anybody drive, it would save the lot."

The legislative balancing act between protecting lives and protecting freedom is constant. Protecting life, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, cannot top the list of priorities. If it did we would have no freedom to act or exercise our own judgement at all. All risk can never be removed but the further society attempts to move towards that unachievable goal, the less freedom individuals have.

Now if Joyce would just apply this understanding consistently he would be a very valuable and rare politician.

Monday, July 26, 2010

UN rapporteur - listen up

The indigenous rights special rapporteur from the UN is saying that the cause of the high rate of Maori incarceration is "the historical and ongoing denial of the human rights of Maori."

That is a view which I have more sympathy for than once was the case. But whatever the truth of it is, it is still a cop-out. And it undermines the chances of the situation improving by providing an extrinsic excuse for offending.

100 years ago NZ jails were not full of Maori. That came after urbanisation. It came after the alienation of males from the wider whanau. As James Belich has pointed out, in the 1800s there was a great deal of crime committed by colonial Pakeha men also alienated from their families through immigration. Having a family both relying on them and caring for them is the best protector from offending.

So I wonder if James Anaya would entertain the idea that Maori women have a great deal to do with the high rate of Maori incarceration? Because Maori women have supplanted a large number of Maori men as the head of their families. That's not to say it isn't a two-way street. Many of the men bring the alienation upon themselves by feckless and unsociable behaviour.

This then is where the state has played a damning role by supporting the alienation of Maori men from whanau. It does this through the benefit system and through the legal system (family court and CYF). The odds are stacked against too many a Maori boy from birth. Consider that;

1/ He will be raised on welfare in a workless household
2/ Most of the male role models he is exposed to are disaffected
3/ Most of the female role models he is exposed lack the capacity to 'mother' in the full sense of the word (which is possibly why so many Maori males have relationships with much older women - looking for the mother figure they never had.)
4/ He is stereotyped (rightly or wrongly) by Pakeha institutions
5/ He is failed by (or he fails - take your pick) the education system thus subjecting himself to a life of menial work which does not provide enough money to compete with the DPB.
6/ He will father children very young also subjecting himself to a life of penury being bled dry by the child support system.
7/ Crime becomes the only avenue through which he can make some real money and prove his machismo.
8/ He will grow up in an environment where going to prison is part of the wallpaper.

So forget the fading historic wrongs - land theft and racial exclusion. They are being, or have been righted. And I support that process in so much as the state should right its own wrong-doings.

What the rapporteur needs to get to grips with is that the state keeps Maori down with its benevolence-cloaked intervention. And he can add to the benefit and legal system drug prohibition, which takes a greater toll on Maori than any other ethnicity. There is no future for the group of Maori Mr Anaya claims to care about in furthering the role that the state plays in their lives; in appealing to more national and international state agencies to ensure their 'human rights' are upheld. That particular mode of action is what got many Maori into the position of 'extreme social and economic disadvantage' they now occupy. For instance it was radicalised Maori feminists who fought hard for the DPB in the name of human rights.

The Maori man has to understand that the state is not his friend. And neither is the UN.