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Having us squabble over the welfare pie

Written By: - Date published: 10:40 am, December 18th, 2019 - 34 comments
Categories: benefits, child welfare, disability, poverty, welfare - Tags: , , , ,

Yet another report was released this month, by the Children’s Commissioner, showing the dire state of children’s poverty in NZ. Along with various commentary across the MSM on the situation and what should be done, was the idea of a child ‘pension’.

Unfortunately, economist Shamubeel Eaqub was quoted in a Stuff business article with this,

But Eaqub said politicians had to convince the voting public, who were reluctant to make sacrifices.

“If I had my way you’d take it away from the decrepit old folk and give it to the young ones. Make super means-tested and a benefit for children unconditional. Older people don’t need it, they have money.”

Decrepit? Elderly people are all well off?

One hopes this was taken out of context, but even so it’s an extraordinary statement from an influential economist apparently advocating for the wellbeing of a vulnerable group of NZ citizens but taking such an ageist and ableist approach. 

New Zealand’s child poverty rates are a disgrace – 26% of children live in low income households. Our elder poverty rate isn’t flash either, at 14%. There are 93,000 permanent or long term disabled people whose income is a benefit set below what is livable (more disabled live on an even lower rate). None of these groups should be having to vie with each other for the voting public’s beneficence.

Even allowing for Eaqub’s probable point that wealthy people shouldn’t be getting Super when children are going hungry, it’s highly irresponsible to drop such quotes into the MSM in a country that routinely practices beneficiary bashing, elder ageism, and often simply ignores the plight of disabled people living in poverty.

I’m also concerned at the casual mentioning of means testing Super (rather than say income testing), when we already have another high profile economist, Gareth Morgan, promoting an annual housing tax that would require low income home owners to either take out a mortgage to pay the  tax each year, or sell up and move into a cheaper house, with all the social disruption to community that causes.

We should be mindful that Work and Income have an appalling culture of making non-Super beneficiaries hoop jump in unconscionable ways and denying them entitlements, I hate to think how elderly people would fare in such a system.

Which isn’t to say a discussion about universal Super is an inherently bad idea, but that pitting one group against another to do it is a really bad frame to have the conversation.

Squabbling over the welfare pie is part of ‘deserving poor’ narrative. A familiar narrative in right wing positions, it has been more deeply entrenched in the past decade by the left’s focus on child poverty. Hence we talk about families living in poverty but rarely hear about those not living in a family structure, and we have a Prime Minister who wants to end child poverty but can’t bring herself to talk about the poverty of the disabled. We should of course have policies designed to address the urgent needs of children and parents living in poverty. Likewise, disabled people need their own set of policies, and so do the elderly.

Worse is the mix here of deserving poor with ageism. When we hear supposedly progressive economists talking about elderly people as decrepit, or rendering the elderly poor invisible, it’s time to revisit our moral compass. Needless to say, all the Ok Boomer shit needs to stop, because whatever people think they are doing with that, ‘Boomer’ is fast being turned into a stick to beat old people with, and every time someone says it’s about attitude not age they’re doing the same disappearing of the elderly poor as Eaqub.

We now have a degree of support from progressives for policies that are a dangerous mix of this selective compassion and neoliberalism. Not surprisingly Eaqub wants The Opportunities Party in parliament. TOP’s history of policy development around welfare is dodgy (see Morgan’s pre-TOP attitudes towards welfare recipients).

In the 2017 election one of TOP’s showcased policies was a UBI for 18 – 23 year olds. Sounds good right? Until we understand that it’s not universal and the people that would be excluded included disabled youth on welfare. If you were earning income (eg a teacher’s salary) you would get an extra $200/wk, untaxed and unabated, but if you were on a benefit and unable to work you would get nothing.

Policy development with inbuilt collateral damage isn’t fair and the left should be highly critical where that is happening. If all this raises the issue of universality vs fair targeting, and how NZ might afford it, I don’t know if we are at a point of having to accept we can’t afford to be just, or if we are simply acquiescing to the resistance of NZ to give a shit and distribute wealth more fairly.

If we are to have a conversation about removing the universality of Superannuation, then we must first centre the realities and voices of the people already most badly affected.  Not the people tossing around bigoted rhetoric or proposing discriminatory policy.

34 comments on “Having us squabble over the welfare pie”

  1. dv 1

    UBI, with tax as claw back on the higher incomes.

     

    • weka 1.1

      UBIs, as commonly discussed in NZ, help the precariat work force. They don't help people who cannot work or shouldn't be expected to work. UBI with welfare bolted on (an expression from Chloe Ann-King) *might work, but I'd need to see some serious work from the left about how it would be tory-proofed.

      The UBI scheme promoted by Gareth Morgan is highly discriminatory.

  2. Rosemary McDonald 2

    Oh dear.  Weka, mate, I have held off from sharing this here but as from a month or so ago MSD docked our Super as it transpires that a previous concession of a year's  grace upon the sale of the family home before abatements are made with respect to interest supposedly being earned on funds prior to repurchase has gone.  Those with a non qualifying partner (such as myself providing full time unpaid advanced level care) to the qualifying partner are means/ asset tested. The attendant fact that it will take us much longer, and very possibly cost more, than the able bodied to house ourselves cuts no ice.  A phone call, made when I was very calm and resigned, to find out if there was any flexibility in the system for those in our circumstances led to the call taker hanging up because it was 'too much of an emotional issue' for them.  Swear on my life I was completely calm and rational.

    The end of the call left us demoralized and dispirited.

    Yes we have $$$$ in the  bank, but our only home is our Bus currently parked on the side of the road.

    And every day we draw on our sacred house money to make up the shortfall due to the abatement for $$$ we're not actually earning in interest puts our home aspirations further away.

    So.  Shamubeel.  There are mechanisms available for MSD to penalize Superannuitants living of the fat of the land….

    Merry fucking Christmas.

    • weka 2.1

      Didn't quite follow that sorry (I think because rules for Super are different than for non-Super benefits?). Super is being abated because of the (interest) income test? Or the asset test?

      For non-Super benes at least, afaik the year time period is still policy not law, and is discretionary. You can argue special circumstances due to disability that you need longer (am thinking in your situation this is because of finding disability appropriate housing, higher needs regards location, as well as the extra time in completing such a task because of your situation as a couple re disability and care).

      Whether that is worth it is another matter if WINZ are being bastards about it. Usual advice of doing everything in writing from this point on, even just to keep review option open.

      • Rosemary McDonald 2.1.1

        Don't blame you for not getting it…we don't.

        We are supposed to invest our house sale money and the interest earned is income and abatements are made as is appropriate. 

        We have our house sale money  on call so we can, should the opportunity  arise, readily access it to secure an appropriately accessible property.

        We are being treated as if we are earning interest on this amount even though we aren't.

        Told it is 'our choice' that we are not earning interest.

        Very difficult if not impossible to discuss it with MSD if call taker has hung up on you because they find your situation too fraught for them to cope with.

        I'd find the irony side -splittingly  hilarious if it wasn't so deeply depressing.

        Seems we're  constantly being forced into the margins.

        I've always had some respect for Shamubeel…but he needs to pull his whatever from out of his aft crevasse …

         

        • weka 2.1.1.1

          ah yes, I have come across this too. Godforbid that beneficiaries made decisions based on their own wellbeing rather than the penny-pinching agenda of the state.

          I may need to look at Eaqub's work more indepth. The whole generation rent stuff originally seemed to have the same disapppearing issue, in that it ignored all the people across all generations who had always had to rent. I have this developing theory around the liberal left in NZ and how it favours stars such as Eaqub without doing deeper analysis. My curiosity is how progressives rationalise this in their own minds and value system.

          • Rosemary McDonald 2.1.1.1.1

            If the Current Incumbents had kept their pre-election promises and allowed payment of spouses who are providing the assessed care of an MOH very high needs disabled person then there would be no problem. 

            Peter could happily claim his full whack of Super and I'd be earning  a wage. Whatever we were lucky enough to have in the bank would be none of their goddamn beeswax.

            What gets me is that they're all supposed to be lovey-dovey kindness with the Nation's Wellbeing foremost at heart.

            Bullshit to that when there is seemingly no discussion allowed because it will upset the MSD staff.

            Double bullshit when this Mob continue to ignore the advice of the WEAG and refuse to raise benefits to even slightly above punitive levels.

            We have been there on the SLP and having to borrow to bring the ends together…we are more than conscious of the fact that having $$$ in the bank makes us privileged in comparison.

            It is clear to us that the attitude of those working for MSD has not changed….the Lovingkindness is certainly not trickling down.

            My heart goes out to those stilL on the SLP.

             

             

  3. pat 3

    Increase the tax take and redistribute

  4. greywarshark 4

    'One hopes this was taken out of context, but even so it’s an extraordinary statement from an influential economist apparently advocating for the wellbeing of a vulnerable group of NZ citizens but taking such an ageist and ableist approach. '

    The economist is taking a neolib view.     People are secondary to the big business interests that have established their stranglehold on our world.  As secondary people can be moved around to whatever strategic economic base is chosen.    Old people have value for business in purchasing aids such as small motorised vehicles and also for housing, but in the end they fall apart and require intensive nursing which is costly.    

    The young also require intensive nursing and care and have reached in numbers a cost-benefit ratio where the problems created by their unwellness and anti-social difficulties require remediation.    So to maintain balance in welfare and not disturb the status quo, there needs to be reduction in the amount allocated for the growing numbers of elderly and make that available for the young.

    The government has sold its soul, in order to make gold out of straw, and can do little of value for the people though that was once its accepted role.    Rumplestiltzkin has come back for his next payment, and the cost is further abandonment of control over destinies, which will be masked by wild promises to those who consider themselves favoured and entitled.

    So government lacks the ability to move intelligently, wisely and compassionately to pass laws that are requested and which carried out carefully, will answer observable problems.   And we elders who wish can't choose the option of lawful managed demise, through euthanasia, but be forced to an abrupt, managed suicide or to live on with unnecessary expense of time and money and promises of clean beds and enduring care as long as our hearts keep ticking. 

    We are made vulnerable from not being allowed to decide when we will die, not just because our bodies and minds have become frail as is the common concept.   The care for the vast numbers of elderly can't be afforded under the budget allowed for this, except by underpaying the carers, and because there is a fixed welfare budget, denying the young the full care and services they need.     So rob Peter to pay Paul, is the neolib economist's answer and if he wasn't regarded as neolib, his statements belie the perception.

  5. tc 5

    Another academic think tanker 'starting the conversation' his 'influencers' want on an MSM soapbox.

    out of context sums it up nicely Weka, out of touch/reality and ignoring the sector of society not paying it's way which if they did this wouldn't even be a 'conversation'.

    • weka 5.1

      I really wish the MSM didn't do this 'blind' reporting where we are given quotes but can't see where/when/how they came about.

      I don't think Eaqub is as bad as those quotes seem, but I hope that he isn't and I have no way of knowing at the moment.

      Either way, he doesn't strike me as someone who understands the value of centreing the people most affected. In contrast with someone like Jess Berenston-Shaw how makes an effort to not pull down others while addressing the needs of specific vulnerable people. It's a very different cultural approach.

  6. Aaron 6

    Don't take it from the elderly, take it from the super rich with a financial transactions tax! Mind you, if Shamubeel Eaqub actually suggested that it would probably be the end of being sought out by the media for comment 🙂

    • Roy Cartland 6.1

      Totally agree – the 'us' and 'them' is the rest of us vs the rich. Every other category is irrelevant. (Well, except the SUPER rich of course.)

    • Blazer 6.2

      Dead right a financial transaction tax is anathema to the elite ruling class.

       

      Central banks have created so much money ,that  real productivity and the imbalance between short and long term debt has become the catalyst for low and negative interest rates .

      The capital available flows into stocks,bonds and RE and not into the hands of the rank and file to spend into the economy.

      This magic show has lasted 12 years now ,and looking at Japan could run much longer.

      Collapse the artificial markets in derivatives , tax the wealthy and reform the banking cartel system seem the only solutions.

  7. A 7

    I think msm should be interviewing Weka!   

    Nailed it on multiple points including UBI…grrrrr… 

    People just don't understand how our system works against people and ultimately itself creating welfare winners/losers.  One particularly nasty side effect of media coverage is that beneficiaries (incl those working with subsidies) who can make their budgets work and even save for retirement going into judgement against those who cannot.  After all if THEY themselves have enough clearly anyone who doesn't is a druggie/gambler/dumbass who needs to learn cooking skills, gardening and basic math.  This is so very wrong…the system design ensures severe pockets of deficiency and enforced dependency and shame.  The division of broad groups such as "pensioners" etc won't identify were the division of privilege vs poverty lie as it comes down to individual circumstances. 

    We need as many people as possible to understand this ^^ point before spouting policy concepts based on an afternoon's reading.  Hopefully then we can ensure system changes don't cause more harm.

     

  8. Sacha 8

    Decrepit? Our oldest generation now are not boomers but their parents, if that label is going to be used (which I agree is wrong and sloppy besides).

    Eaqub and other policy analysts have previously talked clearly in generalisations about economic trends across whole generations, not specific subgroups or people. Of course it won't apply to everybody. For instance,

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/property/117270716/home-ownership-at-lowest-level-in-70-years-economist-says-baby-boomers-to-blame

    Eaqub said the Baby Boomer generation had been perfectly positioned to ride a wave of favourable economic conditions.

    He said the "entire economic experiment of the last 30 years" had led to a big transfer of wealth to Boomers, or those born in the post-World War II period.

    "There was a big surge of inflation in the 1960s and 1970s that robbed older folk of their assets and transferred wealth to Baby Boomers. They then rode the wave, asset prices are now at levels that we haven't seen in any generation in the past.  

    "The ownership of assets is concentrated among older people and it's getting harder and harder for younger people to get in."

    I first saw this pattern spelled out ages ago by an NZ academic in the immediate aftermath of our first Act govt in 1984 – which looks like it's back as an ebook: https://www.bwb.co.nz/books/selfish-generations

    Policy-led advantages have followed that generation throughout its life – schooling, employment, income tax rates, housing, and now superannuation.

    What other label should we use as shorthand if not Boomer?

     

  9. pat 9

    Think the framing is unnecessarily narrow….we are not squabbling over the welfare pie, we are squabbling over the pie.full stop (or at least we should be).

    What is the one simple thing we could do that would address the myriad of groups and issues that are evident in our society?….reduce inequality.

    What is the best (and proven) method of reducing inequality?…..redistribution through taxation.

    Why do people (of all political persuasions) dislike tax?….because they dont perceive a personal benefit for the outlay.

    Theres an obvious solution, but one that takes some planning and work but most importantly the will and recognition of the requirement……and salesmanship

  10. belladonna 10

    Labour need to be doing something about rest homes for the elderly, they are beyond disgusting.  Take your assets, feed you crap, are mentally abusive, tax them why dont you.

    Dont think many elderly will be voting Labour next election, open your eyes Labour.

    • weka 10.1

      I agree. I'm hoping I die before I get to that stage.

    • John Clover 10.2

      A reason why I am keen to stay and die in my own house rather than go to a rest home smiley   So many bad story's about rest homes and so called care.

  11. Nic the NZer 11

    Unfortunately Eaqub is still a mainstream economist. This makes him convinced that tax and spend can ultimately only redistribute wealth. But the govt can today fund poverty relief programs without defunding any other programs or even collecting more tax (these two goals are not in competition for scarce resources except in Equabs mind).

    I still think a job guarantee program (in addition to better funding existing welfare) would do a lot for poverty relief via the following mechanisms,

    * providing secure income to those who want to earn it.

    * improving career prospects (due to more consistent in work history) for people who struggle to find secure work.

    * improving self image for the participants.

    * improving later work prospects of children of participants.

    • pat 11.1

      Getting the NZ left (especially the established elite) to accept progressive taxation/redistribution is far more doable than convincing them (and the electorate) of the validity of MMT, especially in the face of international opposition. 

      Western europe operates within the current paradigm on considerably higher tax to GDP rates 

      • Nic the NZer 11.1.1

        No, its just the constant framing which confuses people. This and the people like you who understand the MMT description of the economy is cogent but prefer the mainstream simplification of assuming the economy is effectively in equilibrium because then you don't need to justify that bonkers belief system.

        Once people understand that to the government, government money is just like tickets, then its pretty simple to understand.

        • pat 11.1.1.1

          you know my reservations around MMT and I suggest to you I'm far more generous than most, you are not going to convince the elite its an option, certainly not until /if a major economy or a substantial proportion of our trading partners accept and adopt it

          • Nic the NZer 11.1.1.1.1

            I may have over-estimated your fluency in MMT then. Its not something which can be adopted, its just a more coherent description of how the economy functions by incorporating the way governments spend.

            Apparently this was never clear enough in our discussions about effects on the forex markets, but simply put, when the government deficit spends today by borrowing or taxation this is accounting equivalent to what happens if the govt does the same spending without borrowing or taxation. 

            • pat 11.1.1.1.1.1

              yes stick to your accountancy and continue to ignore market reaction…I am not going to rehash old arguments as it is a pointless exercise…you promote MMT and I do not….leaving that aside do you honestly think its more likely to be accepted by the elite than progressive taxation/redistribution?

              • Nic the NZer

                If the elites understand it or not seems to be as relevant to its economic effects as understanding gravity is to its physical effects. The same things happen if you undertstand them better or worse though making predictions becomes easier/harder if you apply/don't the better understanding.

                You should also understand accounting equivalent means the equivalent transactions occur in the same markets. Why your mental model (for how the market reacts) then draws different conclusions about what happens just appears bizarre, but i guess your as welcome to hold your own personal economic belief system as anybody else is.

  12. peterlepaysan 12

    I am inherently sceptical, especially about  economists.

    Eaqub was being deliberately provocative.  Choice of words was unfortunate.

    As a 77 year old peasant on 2.4 hectares shared with sheep, cattle ,horses. 

    I also drive a rural school bus run 40 weeks a year.

    Where the hell does this theoretical dreamer touch reality?

     

  13. SHG 13

    Not all women are weaker than all men. Some women will be stronger than some men.

    Doesn’t make “men are stronger than women” a nonsensical statement.

    The elderly are richer than the young.

  14. peterlepaysan 14

    An unfortunate quoted comment.

    As a natural born sceptic I  view economists with somewhat jaundiced eyes.  

    I had the misfortune to study it as well.

    Income testing is excellent, definitely needs a debate.  It will probably get mixed into the capital gains tax debate from Simon and her mates

    Telling the privileged rich list that they night have to lose a  few dollars is unmentionable.

    I am sure the intellectual heavyweights at the tax payers union will have a lot to spray about 

     

     

     

     

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    4 days ago
  • The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus
    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    5 days ago
  • After the Pandemic
    It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future. ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    5 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    5 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    6 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    6 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    6 days ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    6 days ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    6 days ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    7 days ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • GFC vs Covid-19
    It is said that generals fight the last war. In the case of the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) they had learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they fought intelligently and successfully. Later their advice would be ignored in favour of the Austerians who ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
    Solidarity Forever: All over the world, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has exposed the fragility of the walls we erect around ourselves and our loved ones. It has shattered our illusions of autonomy and revealed to us how utterly dependent we all are on other human-beings. Finally, we see ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
    Looking across the various arguments for/against the leading candidates to take the Democratic Nomination, you might honestly be very hard pressed to tell. There are a number of things that have now started happening since Amy Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both threw the towel in and immediately (and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
    by Daphna Whitmore Abortion is no longer in the Crimes Act in New Zealand. The law reform passed yesterday and now abortion is a medical matter between a woman and her doctor. Many women’s groups and progressive people have campaigned for reform for decades. The women’s liberation movement and some ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist
    Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
    Michael Baker, University of Otago and Nick Wilson, University of Otago With some of the toughest border restrictions and a newly-announced NZ$500 million boost to health services, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is also fortunate in ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
    As expected, the government has introduced a sessional order to allow Parliament to operate during the pandemic. You can read it on the Order Paper here, but the short version is that questions and motions can be filed electronicly, select committees can work remotely, and the the Business Committee can ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
    Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology; Daniel Angus, Queensland University of Technology; Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology, and Tobias R. Keller, Queensland University of Technology News and views about coronavirus has spread via social media in a way that no health emergency has done before. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • How to survive 14 days of self-isolation
    So you’ve recently returned from overseas, come into contact with someone who tested positive, got a bit of a dry cough yourself or perhaps just want to self isolate for 14 days to avoid other people who might have COVID-19. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion Legislation Bill passes third reading
    Some fave speeches:     ...
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
    2 weeks ago
  • Why Leadership Matters – More Than Anything.
    Our Good Fortune: Precisely because she has never been an ideologue (she calls herself a “pragmatic idealist”) Jacinda Ardern has a political nimbleness and spontaneity which, when infused with her exceptional emotional intelligence, produces spectacular demonstrations of leadership. Jacinda's empathic political personality contrasts sharply with the less-than-sunny ways of her ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    25 mins ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
    The Government is backing the Reserve Bank’s latest action to support the economy by reducing longer-term interest rates, meaning lower costs for businesses and mortgage holders, and a lower currency to help our exporters. The Minister of Finance has signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of indemnity with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
    The Government has asked the Commerce Commission to take account of the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19 when monitoring business behaviour in coming weeks.   “The purpose of my request to the Commerce Commission is to make sure businesses can work together in ways that will allow them to provide ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
    The New Zealand Government has temporarily closed its High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados and its Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Due to the increasing scarcity of air links in and out of Bridgetown and Yangon, and the pressure COVID-19 is placing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
    Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare has today announced the Government’s plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. “Our Government’s $12.1 billion economic package will help many Māori whānau, workers and businesses, whether it’s through wage subsidies, income support and worker redeployment, or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Guidelines for hospitality establishments released
    The Government and the hospitality industry have worked together to produce guidelines to assist with managing and reducing transmission of COVID-19, Health Minister David Clark announced today.  The guidelines developed between the Government, Hospitality New Zealand and SkyCity Entertainment Group, set out how the new restrictions on physical distancing and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2
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