Thursday, July 20, 2017

Overt media bias

From today's DomPost (though the on-line version differs from the hard copy offering I have responded to, you'll get the gist):

Kiwi baby death rates not improving as experts blame poverty

"New Zealand's high rates of infant deaths places it near the bottom of the OECD, with opposition parties blaming inequality and poverty for the country's poor record compared to the rest of the developed world.

Poor healthcare; poor housing; lack of access to a midwife or maternity carer; and poor health in the mother have all been blamed by experts for the poor statistics."

My response:

Dear Editor

The DomPost ran a headline on July 20, "Poverty cited as baby death rates get worse."

While not strictly 'fake news' it is outdated news, drawing on OECD data from 2012/13. Since then the infant mortality rate has dropped to its lowest number ever in 2016 - 3.58 deaths per 1,000 infants.

How difficult would it have been for your reporter to access this data from Statistics New Zealand? I could.

Instead the article was peppered with quotes about poverty, family violence and poor housing. Undoubtedly these factors contribute but the trend is positive - not negative.

Lindsay Mitchell

"Society is not a family, Government is not a parent."

Here's a thoughtful offering. It's from an Economics Professor. Imagine if we had academics in New Zealand who prescribed to these views.

"...when the government takes on the role of “parent” or ‘big brother” and takes responsibility for all such things, it weakens the personal and familial senses of duty and obligation most people in a free society would ethically and voluntarily feel “the right thing to do” to help, handle and work out with others in the narrower or wider circle of actual relatives."

There was however a time in NZ when the law forced sometimes even distant family members to take financial responsibility for indigent relatives. Not sure I am comfortable with that either. But the pendulum has certainly swung way too far towards state involvement in matters they should keep out of.

People in the interventionist-welfare state soon are desensitized and even dehumanized to these matters. After all, “isn’t that what government is for?” Besides, “I’ve paid my taxes” to pay for those “social services.” And, in addition, “shouldn’t that be left up to the qualified experts in the government who know how to handle these things?”

Now that rings a bell.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Clearly a lifestyle choice

Doesn't Meteria Turei provide clear evidence that living on a benefit is a lifestyle choice? Whenever I call having a baby/ies and staying on welfare long-term (National's definition is over one year) a lifestyle choice, people scoff. "Do you know what a struggle being on a benefit is?" they say. "Who would choose to live like that? Give me a break."

Meteria did. She made it her 'job' to be the rent collector in each house so she could charge flatmates. She knew how long her degree would take and that she would use this arrangement - living off the taxpayer and her fellow flatmates - for the duration.

It was cynical and illegal.

That so many people are prepared to not only excuse her, but deify her, is bewildering to me.

After a period in the UK, I returned to NZ in 1992. At the height of the 1990's recession unemployment. I had worked since aged 18 (1978)  full time. Unemployment was foreign to me. Months passed and I was unable to find a job. Luckily I was living back home with mum and dad. By chance I ran into an old work mate now employed by WINZ. She was adamant that I should apply for the dole. I distinctly remember her saying, "You worked for years and paid your taxes." I was reluctant, but starting to get a bit despondent and desperate. I am sure I didn't go into the local office (or have wiped the memory of it) but equally sure I received the dole for two weeks - about $60 a week because I wasn't living independently. Then I found work.

This is related only to illustrate the contrasting attitudes that people have to welfare - the chasm that has kept this story hot for 3 days now.

I would suggest that if Turei's attitude prevailed, the country would grind to a halt.  Whether she is right or wrong there is only so much of her morality the country's coffers can finance.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Politician commits benefit fraud ... in UK

A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate has been sentenced to 40 hours of unpaid community work after pleading guilty to two counts of benefit fraud which resulted in overpayments of more than £10,000.

Hanna Toms, Cornwall Councillor for the Falmouth Penwerris Ward, made monetary gain after failing to tell local authorities about an increase in income between 2008 and 2014.

The 40-year-old came clean about a "genuine mistake" two years ago and says that she will not be stepping down from her role as councillor.

She was sentenced at Truro Magistrates' Court.

Cllr Toms was set to stand as Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Truro and Falmouth in 2015 before withdrawing just months before the election.

In a statement, she told the BBC: "I was under the impression that as I had advised Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs of changes in my personal circumstances, this information would be passed on to Cornwall Council. I was wrong.

"I would like to publicly apologise to my family and friends, my constituents, my fellow councillors and to people in Cornwall for letting them down in this way."

The money has since been repaid using a bank loan.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Which Minister said this?

"The Minister said that the ministry takes a zero tolerance approach to benefit fraud for the same reasons it takes a zero tolerance approach to staff fraud. Benefit fraud is unacceptable because it undermines people’s confidence in the benefit system. If taxpayers suspect that some people are defrauding the ministry, this could cause a backlash against beneficiaries."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Green's shot at outbidding Labour

The Greens have announced their latest bid to achieve government:

"It includes a big overhaul of social welfare, with all benefit payments increasing by 20 percent and all sanctions and obligations for beneficiaries removed.

It means those receiving welfare won't have their benefits cut if they don't search for jobs or fail drug tests, or if mothers don't name the father of their child.

Working for Families also gets beefed up under the policy, with weekly payments increasing by at least $72. However, the threshold of eligibility won't be changed.

Ms Turei has also made the bold move of introducing a new top tax bracket of 40 percent, which kicks in for all income over $150,000.

The tax rate in the lowest bracket, presently 10.5 percent, will reduce to 9 percent.

Minimum wage will also go up immediately by $2, from $15.75 to $17.75."

Turei went on to admit defrauding the welfare system when she was a beneficiary. I wonder if she ever paid it back when able to?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Baby Bribes

Labour is promising to pay the poorest  people in NZ over $3,000 a year to have a baby. That's the essential upshot of their Best Start package. Catch is, the payment only lasts till the child is two. What then ? Simple answer: have another baby. Stupid answer but simple.

Their next bribe - which will have Winston downing doubles - is extra cash towards electricity costs for ALL superannuitants (and beneficiaries). Yes, that surprised me, even for Labour.

They expect 80 percent take-up among pensioners. Who knows what that is based on but even at 80 percent there will be a truckload of people applying who do not need the money.

Will this get a good chunk of the usual non-voters out? Because that is surely their overarching game plan.

(If my response is harsh, even those I generally disagree with - the CPAG - don't like the package.)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Assisted dying polls

From ACT's Free Press:
"The End-of-Life Choice Society have released a Horizon Poll showing 75 per cent of New Zealanders want assisted dying legalised. Taking out don’t-knows, only 11 per cent are opposed. This is extraordinary support, and is consistent with previous polls from Reid Research (71-24) Colmar Brunton (75-20) and Curia (66-20). It is time for opponents to concede that, whatever other arguments they may have, public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of change."
As previously stated, I'll not try and persuade or argue with detractors. Each is entitled to their view and they can express it here. Just don't tell me that there is some 'greater good' reason for ceding autonomy over my ending (within the context of this bill).

Friday, June 09, 2017

Do you own my life?

This is the question to be put to all of the anti voluntary euthanasia  stalwarts who will emerge over the coming months.

Thank goodness David Seymour's bill has been pulled from the ballot.

That's all from me.