Friday, November 09, 2012

Why the unemployment rate rose

John Key is very surprised that the unemployment rate jumped to 7.3 percent yesterday because he says other economic indicators are looking more positive.

Here's a possible explanation but I don't have time right now to thoroughly test it.

Well-publicised welfare reforms cause what I call an anticipatory effect. Many current beneficiaries know that they are going to be work-tested in the near future eg people on the DPB had their requirements tightened in October when those with a youngest child aged 5 were brought into the equation. Many know that next year they will be moved onto the new Jobseeker benefit.

People aren't helpless. They think about what having to take any job offered by WINZ might mean and they start looking for themselves. Hence, if they're part of the HLFS survey - the source for the official unemployment rate - they begin to describe themselves differently.

Two groups who have experienced significant increases are Maori and single parents, both disproportionately beneficiaries, so that supports my theory.

There were only 8,000 fewer jobs between the June and September quarters.

So the higher rate is not so much about people losing jobs but more about people becoming available for and seeking work.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Blacklisting 'nutters' and 'menaces' - me

According to Karl du Fresne writing in the Nelson Mail:
I recently had what might be termed a difference of professional opinion with some of my fellow journalists. It was touched off by a newspaper editorial that took a whack at "enthusiastic amateurs" sounding off on such issues as climate change and fluoridation.
Everyone was entitled to their opinion, the editorial writer loftily pronounced, but not all views should be accorded equal weight. The views of people with years of study and experience behind them were worth more than those of non-experts.
"Everyone is free to disagree but ignorance does not have an equal right to be heard," the editorial concluded.
A member of an internet journalism discussion group to which I belong applauded the editorial, saying she couldn't agree more. "These amateur know-it-alls are a menace," she declared.
I thought this a peculiar position for a journalist for take. I mean, aren't we supposed to believe in freedom of speech?
Another member chimed in that the Sensible Sentencing Trust's Garth McVicar should be added to the "list of nutters". Then someone else suggested a couple of other names for what was shaping up as a blacklist: David Round and Lindsay Mitchell.

It makes me cringe when people describe me as an expert. But it makes me cringe even more when they suggest I am a nutter. I cringe on their behalf. Because ostracising  is the lazy resort of the blinkered mind. There is nothing I like more than a debate over what a set of statistics might mean; the clear or cloudy distinction between cause and correlation. It's embarrassing and humbling when I get it wrong but error and correction is one pathway to understanding.

To get beyond "amateur" status would require, I suppose, an expensive university education in the social sciences, saturated  in doctrinaire leftist thinking. No thanks.

Kudos to Karl for defending the right to be heard of those who don't dance to the beat of the dominant drum.

Major defeat for Greens

Yesterday the Greens were desperately seeking Peter Dunne's support:

The Greens and United Future are at odds over moves to change in-work tax credit entitlements. Parliament will debate tonight the Member's Bill of Green co-leader Metiria Turei that would extend the credit to beneficiaries.
United Future MP Peter Dunne says the bill destroys the incentive of Working for Families to get beneficiary families into work.
"I don't really see there's much to be gained from having a discussion at a select committee, when there's such a fundamental difference of view."
But Metiria Turei says she's offered major compromises to Mr Dunne to get his support and he's turned them all down.
"Peter Dunne committed himself at the last election to a campaign to reduce inequality. Now is the chance for him to have the discussion on how we can do that and he's refusing to."

Dunne hung tough against this stupid idea to reverse what was originally a Labour- implemented policy to build a margin between benefits and earned income.

Looks like it died a death.

The first reading of the Income Tax (Universalisation of In-work Tax Credit) Amendment Bill was not agreed to.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Someone is knowingly lying here. Is it Red Alert?

This is from the last published NZ Yearbook - 2010. Not fully up-to-date but it'll suffice.

Between 2004 and 2009 there was an average of 8.5 construction-related deaths (investigated by OSH).

In a post about "unsafe building practices", Red Alert says:

The NZ Herald reported on November 2nd that since July, more than 400 actions have been taken against 760 construction sites for not complying with guidelines on safe working at height. Inspectors shut down 215 of the sites, and issued more than 160 written warnings requiring immediate remedial action.
While Construction Minister Maurice Williamson finally admits there is a problem, this Government has had four years in office, and in the meantime, we’ve had an average of 100 deaths a year, with workplace injuries and fatalities reportedly costing New Zealand about $3.5 billion annually.
Better check out what the NZ Herald said:

Workplace injuries and fatalities cost New Zealand about $3.5 billion annually and 100 people on average die each year.

100 workplace fatalities. That means 'construction' and every and any other industry. This is a classic case of conflation.

Each of these deaths  represents untold grief and it's unpleasant to discuss them in the context of controversial statistics. But I cannot believe that in 2010 and 2011 deaths due to building accidents increased twelve-fold.

I heard a caller to talkback pushing this so-called building fatality rate. His position was that if they all happened at once it would be a national disaster but because they happened in a staggered fashion they went under the radar. He said he was a building safety officer so no excuse for getting it so wrong. Perhaps he was a  Labour propagandist.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Seven years for encouraging a pitbull-puppy attack

A seven year prison sentence for setting a pitbull on another person seems steep. Not because it's a trivial crime. I'm not uncomfortable with the sentence per se but how other sentences for arguably worse crimes compare. The judge is certainly making a statement.


A man who rammed an ambulance, used a car as a weapon, drove recklessly, and assaulted people was jailed for three years with a non-parole term of 18 months, in the Christchurch District Court today.

A teen, described in court as "a law unto himself", who used his car to ram a man sitting in a car in Greymouth has been jailed.Nineteen-year-old Jed Wilson-Calver was appearing in Christchurch District Court for sentence after pleading guilty to the charge of assault using a car as a weapon. Judge Erber said he could not consider home detention because of Wilson-Calver's attitude to community sentences.He jailed him for a total of eight months.

And just for good measure:

Attacks using dogs on Asian people walking in the streets of Christchurch have brought eight month jail terms for the owners and death for the dogs.Those jailed were 18-year-old Phillipa Ann Parker and her ex-boyfriend Steven Brian Donaldson, 25, who both admitted the attacks had racial overtones. Donaldson had admitted two charges of assault, and Parker admitted one charge of assault, and two charges of assault using dogs as weapons.