Saturday, November 03, 2012

For animals needing homes

We got our gorgeous Beagle Lexie from HUHA earlier this year. They do fantastic work pledging to keep any animal needing a sanctuary until it can be re-homed. One of the integral people Lisa Rawlins has set a goal to fund raise $1,500 through running the Taupo Half Ironman. Have a look at the site and pitch in if you can. I can't praise the work they do enough.

Dead babies

Nothing new to say about the latest casualty except this was better:

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Deloitte Report

Deloitte's report into the Work and Income Kiosk breach is available on-line here

I've scanned through it and my overriding reflection is that MSD staff (or contractors) were aware of the potential for security breaches via the kiosks but for whatever reason, didn't take action.

It's short on content but my post is mainly to alert interested parties that the report is publicly available.

Meerkats in my back garden

I've been clearing scrub and landscaping the steep hill behind our house. Love my meerkats! So tacky but so at home. The second view is how we see them from inside the house through the windows surrounding the back stairwell. Great to be greeted by them each morning.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

DomPost: Whale now editor at Truth

Commenting yesterday at The Standard Bomber Bradbury said he and Ross Meurant had both resigned. I didn't.

The cost of benefit fraud

According to the NZ Herald:
"Benefit fraud cost taxpayers a record $22.6 million last year, tripling from $7.5 million five years ago."
The source for the first part of the quote is here.

The second is here

 However, according to MSD:

Fraud prosecutions

The numbers of prosecutions decreased in 2010/2011
This reduction followed a slight increase between 2008/2009 and 2009/2010.
Patterns in the numbers of prosecutions may reflect patterns in the volume of cases investigated. Prosecution numbers are expected to stabilise in 2011/2012.

It's odd that prosecutions have decreased but the "cost to the taxpayer" is escalating.

2007/08 1,028
2008/09  735
2009/10 789
2010/11 690

So the assumption must be that the value of the debt per case has risen significantly. And there have been some biggies.

Anyway, my point is, telling us benefit fraud is costing the taxpayer $22.6 million is an understatement. In 2010/11 the established value of overpayments due to fraud and abuse investigations was nearly $40 million; a further (if I am interpreting the data correctly) $34 million in overpayments was established through data matching programmes and it costs around $37 million to fund integrity services.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Baby 4,444,444

Tomorrow New Zealand's 4,444,444th citizen is likely to be a new born baby according to Statistics NZ.

According to population estimates, on 1 November, somebody will become New Zealand’s 4,444,444th resident.
“While the new resident could be a New Zealander flying home after living overseas, or a new migrant, they’re most likely to be a new baby, as that’s where most of our population growth is coming from,” population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said.
“And who knows? That new boy or girl might even be born at 4.44 in the morning.”
The symmetrical milestone matches one the Australian state of Queensland reached three years ago, and puts our population very close to that of Ireland or Croatia, Mrs Blackburn said.
“These types of landmarks are quite rare. Our population hit 3,333,333 in the mid-1980s and based on our projections, we probably won’t get to 5,555,555 for another 30 years.

On the balance of probabilities I won't see it. Seems to me the country could benefit greatly from faster and smarter population growth.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The psychological health of working mothers

This graph relates to Swedish women.

The accompanying commentary, from reads:

Swedish working mothers not so happy afterall
Why is the mental health of working Swedish women among the worst in the developed world? Isn’t Sweden the Mecca of work-life balance, where heavily subsidised childcare and other family friendly policies make it a model state for women’s equality?
Maybe, but something seems to have gone wrong. Over the last two decades in many OECD countries younger workers increasingly have been exiting the workforce on disability pensions (mainly related to mental illness and back problems) but the psychiatric trend has been more pronounced among younger women, and most pronounced of all among Swedish women workers.

First, there is a trend across developed nations for people to resort to disability benefits for mental illness . I blogged about the trend in NZ just recently.

Second, as women have made up an increasing proportion of the workforce it follows more claims for work-related disability will occur. The graph cannot tell us whether the workplace or the home, or a combination of both lead to these claims.

Third, the medical profession plays a large part in the trend. GPs have been more prone to diagnosing and treating mental illness.

Fourth, where is the associated graph for men? It is quite probably similar.

Fifth, the commentary goes on to point out those most at risk are lone mothers. It isn't news that single mothers experience worse mental and physical health but it's not clear whether this predisposes them to being single parents or is a result of being a single parent.

Sixth, the rises look dramatic when depicted in this way. The sharpest increase has gone from 10 per 10,000 to 45 per 10,000 but expressed another way, the rate has  gone from 0.1 to 0.45 percent.

Seventh, the charts go to 2005 and at the latest point show drops so it'd be interesting to know if those decreases were the beginning of a reversal trend.

Eighth, for single parents, the alternative to work is welfare. As the researchers seem to be using disability pension claims as proxy for the incidence of mental illness they should also look at other indicators that would be measurable among lone non-working mothers.

The Family in America comments:

Summarizing their findings, the researchers conclude, “A considerable part of the social expenses due to DP should be attributed to lone working women with children. Their illness and decreased work capacity have implications not only for the mothers but probably also for the children.” American policymakers should recognize this study’s cautionary implications: policies that promote maternal employment while inhibiting marriage will cost the country dearly.

This is the bind we have come to.

Welfare for single parents has had an undoubted detrimental effect on relationship formation and stability. The only way to turn the tide  is to take it away. That can only be done if parents go to work, and new entrants are turned away. I wouldn't accept these findings as good reason to promote welfare over work. In fact it might be argued that those women not coping with being a parent and working are self-selecting out of the workforce by moving onto disability benefits. While the thousands of other mothers who are doing better working than on welfare remain in the workforce.

(Hat-tip Bob McCoskrie)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Violence causes poverty

 Yes. An inversion of the hackneyed NZ mantra.

"Violence is a serious cause of poverty" is a headline about  Guatemala, (or any developing world country for that matter). In the first world we generally hear, "...poverty is a cause of violence".

But thinking about it a moment, first,  second, third whatever-world status, violence will cause poverty.

In our world, violence will break relationships incurring the costs of supporting two households, family court proceedings, being on welfare or reimbursing the state for benefits.

If resulting in a criminal conviction, violence will  reduce chances of good or any employment, and travel (for employment). It may incur a fine which grows as repayments are not met.

Violence will alienate people who might otherwise be sources of support, including children in the perpetrator's old age.

It may result in a prison sentence which impedes future earning  prospects significantly. It may draw people into a circle of might-is-right and might-is-money - not easily held onto with no recourse to legal protections.

In fact any action or behaviour detrimental to harmonious, co-operative human relations is ultimately going to make people generally poorer.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Truth Column October 18

My October 18 Truth column is now on-line:

As the politicking over Kim Dotcom continues unabated other arguably more important news has gone almost unnoticed. For instance, an Otago University study into hospital admissions due to serious assaults showed that, contrary to political assurances, violent crime is probably increasing.


Other Truth columns here