Hartevelt on bashing the yoof

Written By: - Date published: 10:02 am, March 7th, 2010 - 26 comments
Categories: education, transport - Tags:

A very witty and well-written article from John Hartevelt in the Dompost yesterday that exposes some of the weird stuff in National’s current crusade against kids:

Goodness only knows what the girls were smiling about. Perhaps the prime minister’s banana-shaped smile was infectious, but that couldn’t explain the girls fainting.

No sooner had the red-blazered private school students at Lower Hutt’s Chilton Saint James School recovered their poise than John Key was declaring the 15-year-olds among them were not fit to be allowed behind the wheel.

Politically, Key is safe on this but it’s another display of National’s gift of taking a problem and imposing something that isn’t a solution but hurts a lot of people. A contact at the Ministry of Transport tells me that 15 year old drivers have been involved in only a handful of fatal crashes, 1 to 1.5% of the total, in recent years and they’re not all the 15 year old’s fault. But no, National’s solution is to prevent all 15 year olds from driving. Dumb. It’s a carpet-bombing approach to policy when surgerical strikes are possible.

Then he started maligning the 30,000 teenagers who apparently bunk school each day. Then he said it should be easier for employers to get rid of troublesome employees (many of whom would be after-school job teenagers). Then he gave autographs.

This Hartevelt guy’s got a sense of humour 🙂  . No-one geniunely thinks that removing work rights or lowering the minimum wage of youth workers helps them. It’s really about profits and power for employers.

Mr Key’s Government has been pumping the “youth issues” vein all term, but it got a special priming this week. The formula is simple. There is an intrinsic conservative appeal to policies touted as either cracking down on slovenly and/or unruly youth or taking care of vulnerable youth. Neither are particularly welcomed by young people but both are vote-winners with parents.

Take Education Minister Anne Tolley on truancy this week. Only a Tory education minister could turn otherwise nasty figures suggesting 30,000 children are off school each day into a political opportunity. “Really shocking … absolutely outrageous,” Mrs Tolley thundered. The Government would double its funding to fight truancy.

But the measures were all parent and officials-based: text messages to parents; prosecutions for the “worst” parents; and more resources to hunt the darn scamps down. So what if you were a truant child? Probably, if you cared, you would be looking to Mrs Tolley for incentives to go to school. No dice, on this occasion. But then, if you are a truant, you don’t have a vote, so what do you expect?

In fact, politically, this package was not even about the parents of the truants. It was about the tut-tutting parents of children who are not truants parents like those of the girls at Chilton Saint James, where Mr Key opened a new science and technology block on Tuesday. Core constituency. Fundamental, fertile policy ground.

That’s right. We’re not seeing solutions to the problem. We’re seeing policies that will play well in key demographics. It’s government for the sake of being in power, not for creating a ‘brighter future’.

The Government has also sniffed slovenly youth on the taxpayer bill in tertiary education. Mr Joyce evermore the Minister of Everything in his newest portfolio of tertiary education says he is “kicking the tyres” around the student loans scheme. “Are people actually using it the right way?” he asks. “Do they end up at the end of five, six years with a qualification they can use? It’s not good if you end up with a significant debt and not a qualification you can use.”

But the Government is keenly aware that this is not the youth issues free-hit the others are nearly 80 per cent of university students are aged over 20 and half a million grown-ups have a student loan. Expect more of the favoured softly-softly approach in this area.

National’s attitude is that university should just be a production line for dorks with BComs (you know the ones, the ones who wear suits to lectures even though they don’t work) to be cogs in the corporate wheel. They understand the price of everything and the value of nothing. In reality, univerisity needs to get back to providing a wider education so that graduates have the well-rounded knowledge base to be the intellectual backbone of the country.

Fortunately, National can’t afford to anything really stupid like put interest back on loans (which would just mean access to university is even more on the basis of ability to pay, not potential) because a backlash from students and their families would cost them the election.

26 comments on “Hartevelt on bashing the yoof”

  1. gitmo 1


  2. Brett 2

    Young people are annoying they need to be beaten regular basis.

  3. Lew 3

    On a similar topic, Eric Crampton critiques the recent decision to zero the permitted under-20 drink-drive limit.


  4. tsmithfield 4

    The problem with this analysis is it does not disclose the relative percentage of 15 year olds who actually have licences compared to other groups. If there are a lot less 15 year olds on the roads because a lot fewer of them have licences at that stage than other groups, then it stands to reason that their rate of accidents will be a lot lower.

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      Yes, that’s very true. What we really need is stats on the % of drivers for ages 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21-25 that have accidents. That way we will be able to see if the 15 year olds really are hugely worse than other ages. I suspect that the numbers across 15-19 will probably be fairly similar.

  5. QoT 5

    This is such a pet hate of mine. Ian Smith commentating on the cricket a few weeks back summed it up for me (to paraphrase): “Last week 180 people got arrested at the Sevens, and you don’t hear anything about it. But a dozen students in Dunedin throw a party and it’s a national outrage.”

    I just cannot comprehend this attitude of “oh shit, young people are doing dangerous things! It must be because they’re young! Pay no attention to their parents or wider society happily getting pissed and driving drunk behind the curtain!”

  6. aj 6

    I can’t kelp but imagine what the reaction would be if Labour had advanced on this in it’s last year in office. It would have been another example of nanny state interfering in our lives.

  7. aj 7

    kelp = help lol

    I have the edit option on this post but not the previous

  8. It’s not just fatal crashes though, its the general driving behaviour of 15 years old.

    • QoT 8.1

      So … we’re not actually going to stop people doing things because they might actually be causing harm to themselves or others, we’re going to stop them doing it because we just don’t like their style?

      brb, off to start petition against wearing socks with sandals.

  9. Lanthanide 9

    Now that they are actively “kicking the tyres” around the student loan scheme, I think they are definitely going to re-introduce interest in some way. They uncharacteristically introduced the 10% early repayment bonus (a carrot), so it is likely they will bring back interest (as the stick).

    The excuse will be “too many people are going to university, slacking around for 3 years and getting no benefit out of”, eg they go to uni, get a BA and then go and work in a shop, which they could have done without the degree, but by getting the BA they stick the taxpayer with the bill and get to life a “party lifestyle” for 3 years on campus.

    Exactly what they’ll do remains to be seen, but I’d guess something like 5 years of interest free loans after you graduate, and then have to start paying interest. The general idea is to discourage people going to uni just for the sake of it.

  10. ieuan 10

    I can remember being 15 (just), I remember watching some of my school mates getting their license, I also remember the funerals. Silly accidents that were totally preventable, too much testosterone and not enough common sense.

    What is wrong with making our young people wait another year until they can get a license?

    • Marty G 10.1

      I remember getting my licence at 15. I remember attending the funeral of a 40 year old driver, silly accident.

      • ieuan 10.1.1

        Marty G, do you have any children? Honestly are you going to let them get their license at 15 (if the law still allows)?

    • Being a car nut myself, I see plenty of people doing silly things in cars at all ages. If you think about it rationally rather than through a kids-these-days point of view, driving skill is far more likely to correlate with level of driving experience than absolute age, with a few steps along the way.

      There is the whole, “well I just got my restricted license, dads not in the passenger seat, I wonder what happens when I push my foot allll the way down?”.

      Then there’s getting your full license and taking out all your friends, I don’t think this means too much more risk as anyone who caves to peer pressure and does something stupid for their mates has probably been taking them out on their restricted license anyway.

      Possibly the biggest one though is it’s not a good idea to line up receiving a full license with being able to buy booze, this is not often discussed, but in my opinion its pretty key.

      • Lanthanide 10.2.1

        “Possibly the biggest one though is it’s not a good idea to line up receiving a full license with being able to buy booze, this is not often discussed, but in my opinion its pretty key.”

        Unless you’re proposing to seriously push out the age of alcohol, say to 25 or so, then really there’s nothing you can do about this. So if someone gets their full license at 18, but needs to be 21 to buy alcohol – it is likely they will have friends that can buy it for them.

  11. Jenny 11

    I remember reading an article in New Scientist Magazine a few years ago, that reported that the number of car accidents for new drivers was the same, whether they got their licences in their early teens or later.

    I haven’t been able to relocate the article, but from memory it quoted Swedish statistics, when they raised their driving age to I8 from 16.

    I agree with Eddie that this is just more of the same shallow scapegoating by this government who have no real solutions to the real problems.

    Like the National Standards fiasco, the only purpose these things seem to have, is to make it look like National are doing something.

    • Armchair Critic 11.1

      Perhaps a fairer comparison would be of the rate of accidents in the first year of driving, both within a country (because not everyone gets their licence as soon as they can) and across countries.
      Wouldn’t take into account things like the differences in driver training (which could be a bigger factor than straight out age) or licencing schemes or road design standards, but could give an indication of how much of a factor age actually is.

  12. Adrian 12

    When Brendon Hartley as a 16 year old can drive a Formula 1 car (almost) as well as 40 year old Michael Schumacher then car control is about training not age. There has been research about how the inexperience accident rate moves out with the age profile but LTSA won’t acknowledge it. The critical point is that 15 and 16 year olds are under a lot more parental control than a lot of 17 and 18 year olds who have left school and earning their own money and possibly living elsewhere.

  13. aj 13

    I’d like to see the age remain, but with extended and increased restrictions. Don’t permit a full liscense until 17 years. Don’t permit ownership of a car until 17 years. To my mind part of the problem is the cheapness and accessibility of cars. Ownership restrictions won’t stop parents purchasing cars in their names but it puts a layer of responsibility above the young driver. Parents need to hammer home that the freedom to drive a car comes with huge responsibility.

    I can’t believe these captchas – ‘FAST”

  14. tc 14

    see how easy the clown has everyone all over this whilst he rips open our parks for some of Gerrys tourist attractions, sells out akl and generally does F all else……beware the white noise people

  15. Peter 15

    I remember very clearly being 15 yrs old and driving my own car (am 45 now), yes I made mistakes, but that is all part of life. some 15 yr olds shouldn’t drive until they are 18 or 19, and then some people of WHATEVER age should only be allowed on the road under supervision.

    This proposal is clumsy and doesn’t address the issue.. And I seem to recall that the Nat’s made a big show of NOT being a “Nanny State party”…

    Still, we get the politicians we deserve 🙂

  16. tc 16

    Peter’s got it in one….age’s a number, responsibility an individual quality. I know some 30 somethings behave like 12 year olds at the wheel and some 16 year olds who drive with more patience and experience than 40 year olds.

    Yet another pointless ‘look at us….aren’t we good’ initiative…….and annoying the farmers into the bargain…excellent. keep it up clown…..what next…..monorail to match your cycleway…..Tossers.

  17. tc 17

    tc you touch on and important point. You can learn at 15 – or 16 – or 17 but you are still a learner. Attitude on the road from my girls whom I taught at 15 & 16 was far better than many of my mates aged 40-60, the only thing that saves them is driving skill.
    Attitude = patience, good manners, knowledge of road code, respect for others.
    Young people pick up driving skills very quickly but are often far ahead in attitude right from the get-go.

  18. A Nonny Moose 18

    I was talking with a work mate about this policy and he commented that he remembered getting driver training at school (he’s now in his 50s), and where did that go? Does anyone remember when driver training was scrapped from schools?

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