Saturday, February 09, 2013

Homeless with $70K

This guy's problem isn't really unemployment - it's mental illness.

If he was able to think straight he'd have worked out that he could buy a small property in rural NZ, claim more in dole payments as a result, and get the taxpayer to pay his mortgage through the accommodation supplement. By 65 it'd be paid off and he'd be collecting Super. Having learned to live off the smell of an oily rag he'd then be able to save and travel on his Super as well as keep his house as his nest egg for "a rainy day."

May as well go down that track because the way he looks after himself - or fails to - he's not going to work again.

Friday, February 08, 2013

"Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis"

A new book about NZ's rising inequality is due to be published in May this year. It's by Wellington journalist Max Rashbrooke. He wrote an article for an international project known as Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) which is here. Gives you an idea of how the book will pan out.

In New Zealand, a widening gap between the rich and the rest threatens many of the country's greatest strengths, writes Max Rashbrooke, who argues for a new settlement of welfare...
New Zealand's recent history has been marked by an increasingly punitive approach towards beneficiaries, despite evidence of their strong work ethic and desire to fill jobs if they are available.
A more humane – and ultimately more productive – approach would be to invest in them as well, by increasing benefits to enable them to participate better in society, and by matching that with greater investment in personalised retraining and job placement programmes, in order to tackle the low skills that prevent many from rejoining the workforce. This could be funded by higher – and thus fairer – taxes on those who have done well while enjoying the benefits of our common investment in roads, healthcare, education and other public services.

(Hat-tip Gordon Campbell)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Beneficiary discrimination

I'm certain beneficiaries are discriminated against. But it isn't usually the state doing the discriminating because the law makes that almost impossible. It's employers, landlords, retailers, service providers etc discriminating.

But here's another angle to consider. Aren't beneficiaries sometimes discriminated in favour of?

Landlords who prioritise guaranteed rent payments may prefer someone receiving a rent subsidy every week. A secondhand goods dealer may prefer a beneficiary buyer who qualifies for a WINZ grant. A youth employer may prefer a young candidate who has been through one of Work and Income's training courses or mentored by a contracted organisation.

It's conceivable that some employers may even prefer to employ someone on a benefit because of their particular type of social conscience eg the beneficiary needs a job more than the already employed applicant.

Some beneficiaries have been able to jump public waiting lists for surgery to enable them to regain capacity to work. Beneficiaries with children will take priority on Housing NZ waiting lists.

And here's an uncomfortable but feasible stretch. Female beneficiaries in the market for a partner might find potential mates discriminate in their favour because they have a secure income and home (after a fashion).

There's always more ways to look at circumstances than the one stuck under your nose by a self-interested party.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

ACT Conference 2013

I was sent a a book of columns by Jamie Whyte, who is guest speaker at ACT's conference in a couple of weeks. The first few columns (all I've read so far) are very entertaining. For instance, in The Good Life With David Cameron, published in the Wall St Journal, he questions the idea of using divorce statistics as a factor in the calculation of Gross National Happiness (the newfangled alternative to GDP) when his own divorce contributed to his  personal happiness. Ultimately, what business does government have trying to measure such things anyway? Along with economist Eric Crampton of the unusually sane Offsetting Behaviour blog, two very apt speakers for an ACT Conference:

Media Advisory

ACT’s Line of Speakers to the Annual Conference on Saturday 23 February at Gibbs Farm, Kaukapakapa

Keynote addresses:

Jamie Whyte - Head of Research and Publishing at the management consultancy firm Oliver Wyman, a fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs and a senior fellow of the Adam Smith Institute.

Mr Whyte will speak at 12.05pm

Hon John Banks - Leader - ACT New Zealand,

Mr Banks’ Leader’s address is at 2.15pm

Hon John Boscawen - Incoming ACT President, Former ACT MP and Minister of Consumer Affairs

Mr Boscawen’s Presidential address is at 12.40pm

Other speakers:

Alan Gibbs - Businessman, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
Cameron Brewer - Auckland Council member, Publicist
Greg Fleming - CEO, Maxim Institute
Hon Rodney Hide - Former ACT Leader, Economist and Founding Chairman of ACT
Catherine Isaac - Chair of the Partnership Schools / Kura Hourua Working Group
Dr Eric Crampton - Senior Economics Lecturer, Canterbury University
....any enquiries should go to Or 09 523 0470.Lunch is provided in the rego price and there will be a shuttle leaving Newmarket to the Farm and return also. That will save people having to drive there if they don’t want to do that.

Monday, February 04, 2013

'Life' is a lie

Pardon my naivety but 'life' imprisonment sounds like a very long sentence. One that should encompass the remainder of one's life.

Gwenda Sloane has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Michelle Hoffman-Tamm in Rotorua last November.
The judge has also imposed a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

Many women could fit 5 such  'lives' into their natural term of existence.

AAAP on contraception for beneficiaries

The Auckland Action Against Poverty group is all mouth and ... no trousers:
Low MSD uptake figures confirm that the contraception programme instigated as part of National’s welfare reforms is all about stigmatising woman on benefits, rather than any genuine kind of support, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sarah Thompson.
“This policy is simply another weapon in the war against women on benefits, implemented as a way of garnering the beneficiary bashing vote in time for the next election.
“It's a deep irony that the outright misogyny of recent welfare reforms, including this one, has been lead by two women- Paula Bennett and Paula Rebstock.

Can we also have a companion press release calling the offer of free vasectomies to male beneficiaries "war against men on benefits" and "misandry"?

“This blaming and shaming tactic can be seen in other proposed policies which attempt to paint beneficiaries as drug users and criminals who don't care for their children."

Thousands of beneficiaries are drug users and criminals. Whether they care for their children, who knows. And whether their idea of 'care' is the same as my idea of care is another point to ponder.