Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Central Problem from Which all Else Stems

I got an e-mail from the Prime Minister's team. It read:

Today marks six months until the General Election.I’m privileged to have taken the reins of a party and Government that has worked hard to grow the economy, get Kiwis into work, lift their incomes and tackle devastating natural disasters.
Our challenge now is to sustain that growth, build on the success of the last few years and ensure those who need the most help get it.As a country, we also need to be ready to adapt to a still fragile and uncertain world.
We’ve started the year with real momentum - announcing 1125 new Police, rolling out broadband to 151 new towns and moving to ensure NZ Super is secure and sustainable into the future.We’re heading into the election with a clear plan for long-term prosperity and a strong, united team - a team committed to getting out on the road and continuing to inspire your confidence in the economy and in the direction of our country.
If you’re as committed as we are to seeing New Zealand succeed as a confident, forward-looking country, please make a donation to National's 2017 campaign now,  Bill. 
I emailed back:

I really like Bill calling himself "Bill" instead of "Prime Minister".

But can Bill - who sounds like Bill (or Bob) the Builder - please fix the red tape stuff. It takes too long and costs far too much to get stuff done in this country.

New Zealand is amazingly positioned right now to make hay while the sun shines. Please make hay-making easier.

Lindsay Mitchell

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why I am out of here

You might have noticed I'm not blogging. Much.

Here's why.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Have we forgotten Greece?

Published in today's Dominion Post:


Dear Editor

Owen Dance (Letters, March 13) writes, "[W]hat we now call New Zealand Superannuation was originally introduced as a benefit for the 'indigent elderly'. " I assume he refers to the 1898 Old Age Pension. The word 'benefit' did not come into common parlance until late 1930s when the Labour government introduced a range of new assistance. It was adopted after the American social security terminology in preference to the increasingly stigma-attached term, 'pension'.

Now the word 'benefit' has become similarly stigmatized, the government has once more changed labels. The Unemployment Benefit has become Jobseeker Support; the Invalid's Benefit is now the  Supported Living Payment and the Domestic Purposes Benefit is Sole Parent Support. This is mere window dressing, a move with only slightly less substance than the proposed increase in Super age to 67 a full generation away.

The point is, too large a proportion of the population (of any age) unnecessarily depends on the rest of society to fund their needs. The aim should be to reasonably reduce the dependent proportion - for everybody's economic and social well being.

Lindsay Mitchell

I should have added, have we all forgotten Greece so quickly?


Monday, March 06, 2017

Start contemplating Anne

A parliamentary question exchange from less than a year ago:

David Seymour: How long after the current Prime Minister’s retirement will the Government raise the age of entitlement to New Zealand superannuation?
Mr SPEAKER: No. Oh, I will let the Minister address it. It is a marginal question, I have to accept.
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: That is so far in the future I could not even contemplate it.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Quote of the Day

Regarding a guaranteed basic income, which has been mooted in various guises for decades, and more recently adopted as a favourite by Gareth Morgan in his book, The Big Kahuna:

When income is procured through the threat system of taxation and redistribution, no wealth is created … The unproductive consumers are merely a conduit for funneling what was taken back to those who produced it in the first place. It is like trying to increase your bank account by writing yourself a check. And unless the receivers are required to spend 100 percent of the BIG [Basic Income Guarantee], the result will not even be zero-sum. It will be negative-sum.      Dylan Pahman

Source

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reality on the front-line

Politics and reality not infrequently bear little relation to each other.

My last two posts have been about the Maori Party's determination to retain the CYF whanau first policy.

The new boss of CYF was recently at the Otara office facing questions from front-line staff. For example:

Will you solve the foster-parent drought that makes it impossible to find placements for our mokopuna?

Note the questioner wasn't asking for specifically Maori placements. More importantly, the question implies that they aren't enough whanau carers available anyway.

The main difficulty in recruiting foster parents, I expect, is the temporary nature of placements which is very unsettling for the children and, in turn, the carer. The vetting processes may also be off-putting or rule out potential carers for possibly trivial reasons. But more 'foster parents' will step up as the home-for-life rules become better known. I hope.

Friday, February 17, 2017

More on whanau first and "assimilationist policy"

Radio NZ reports quite clearly today about the legislation the Maori Party is threatening to draw its support for the National Government over:

The current law gives priority to placing a child with a member of their family or wider hapū and, if that was not possible, then to someone with the same tribal, racial or cultural background as the child.....But new legislation removes that priority, and instead puts emphasis on the child's safety.
It is particular troublesome to identify "tribal, racial or cultural background" as a priority for placement. Why?

Because thousands of Maori children have mixed cultural backgrounds.


More Maori partner with Europeans than their own ethnicity.

Meteria Turei can blather on about the new legislation being state-forced assimilation but people are making their own choices about blending their ethnicities and will make their own decisions about making it work. Maori and Europeans are integrating rapidly. Voluntarily. Legislation needs to reflect this fact.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Falling out over whanau first

Maori Party MP Marama Fox is threatening to pull support from the government over legislation that removes cultural priority when placing a Maori child in care. But her choice of words would lead you to believe she supported the change:

"Just because we want to provide a safe and loving home doesn't make it mutually exclusive to a Maori home," Fox said.
What she actually wants is the status quo - whanau first.

Winston Peters disagrees. Unusually I am completely in accordance with him:
"I've known of too many children thrown from pillar to post between whanau members. I also know of hundreds of Maori who have been massively successful because they were lucky to have relations who would look after them.
"But to apply a blanket whanau-first principle just does not in the circumstances make any sense," Peters said.
The government is currently recruiting people who can effectively adopt children under their Home For Life programme.

The most crucial thing for a child is that they have a 'parent' that puts their needs and well-being foremost. Whether they are kin or not must be a secondary consideration.

Fox says:
History has already resulted in a "stolen generation," said Fox.
"Children who were put into state care immediately went to the bottom of every disparaging statistic in this country. They immediately are more likely to offend, more likely to be in prison, more likely to fall out of education."
That ignores the current push to find permanent and stable homes for children.

For too long there have been hundreds of couples wanting to adopt and thanks to CYF's antipathy for removing children from their whanau, very few children can take advantage.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says:
 “The fundamental provision in this bill in the deliberate intention to remove Māori children from Māori whānau for good! It is an assimilationist policy!”
Bunkum. It's long overdue policy to keep children safe. To give them the best chance of leading happy and fulfilling lives. If anything it's about ignoring (or at least de-proritising) race and culture and seeing the child as an individual foremost.

There has also been extensive consultation with children - and that's ongoing.

The [Expert Panel review of CYF] found children and young people said they crave nurturing and love, and feel the stigma of being in care. They feel powerless in the face of a system which is perceived to hold all the power and have no voice in important decisions being made about their future.

Anne Tolley can have the last word:
Minister Anne Tolley says that the goal of this bill, is to bring the focus squarely on the children.
“The bill makes changes to the purposes and the principles of the act, to imbed a truly child centric approach and ensure children's and young people's participation.”