More on benefit levels

Written By: - Date published: 1:20 pm, May 12th, 2008 - 60 comments
Categories: labour - Tags:

It was disappointing to hear National Radio this morning summarise the recent debate over benefit levels as ‘benefits are not keeping up with the cost of living’. Benefits are keeping up with the cost of living they are adjusted every year to keep them in line with the cost of living (that’s what the Consumer Price Index or ‘inflation’ is). What benefits are not keeping up with is incomes, because wages are rising faster than the cost of living. In fact, real incomes are up 15% since Labour came to power. Beneficiaries are not worse off, but everyone else is better off.

That’s not an argument against raising benefits though. Benefit levels are shockingly low, $184 a week on the unemployment benefit is simply not enough to support a decent life for yourself, let alone a family, in most of New Zealand. The Government could and should increase benefits to a more decent level, say, the 28% of the average wage they were before the 1991 benefit cuts (they’re 21% now), and should be indexed to the average wage like superannuation is, rather than inflation. That would carry a cost but a relatively small one because so many people have come off benefits under Labour. The cost of the benefit system has fallen 36% under Labour because fewer people are using it, some of those savings should be directed towards remaining beneficiaries.

There is some basis to the idea that benefits can’t be too close to wage levels otherwise they will act as a disincentive to work but there’s a simple solution to that keep raising the minimum wage.

60 comments on “More on benefit levels”

  1. roger nome 1

    A few extracts from my thesis that should help to give a little context.

    The 1991 benefit reforms involved tighter eligibility criteria and the cutting of almost all social security benefits for adults (Easton, 1997a: 52). The cutting of unemployment benefits during this period was particularly severe. For instance, in 1987 the weekly unemployment benefit rate for a single person (25 and over) stood at 36 percent of the average wage. However, this figure fell throughout the neoliberal to be to 27 percent in 1999. To aid the efficacy of these measures a case management approach was introduced, further discouraging ‘welfare dependency’, and increasing the self-sufficiency of beneficiaries (McLaughlin, 1997). The distress caused by these reforms was further compounded by a sharp rise in unemployment (see Appendix 1) that occurred at the same time (Easton, 1997a: 52). Also contributing to the increase in poverty was a growing class of working poor who were caught by a combination of real wage reduction or stagnation associated with the ECA, and higher rents for state and private housing (McLaughlin, 2000: 36). Unfortunately the government’s only answer to these issues was an appeal to workers, urging the tightening of belts in anticipation of an economic recovery (Kelsey, 1998: 10).

    In total from 1987 to 2002 the level of assistance offered by the government in unemployment benefit as a percentage of the average wage slipped by 9.9 percentage points. Similarly the eligibility cut off point for income assistance for a single worker, living alone declined from 56.1 per cent in 1991 to be just 54.3 in 2002.

  2. AncientGeek 2

    Steve: looking at the graph you should probably stack-bar it with the major types of benefits. Only the dole really impacts on wage disincentives.

    DPB and sickness don’t in any significant way IMHO.

  3. Instead of increasing the benefit, why not keep it the same rate but also hand out food vouchers/stamps?

    By the way, Steve how much do you think someone on the unemployment benefit should get, $258 a week?

    28% of the average wage?

    Why would anyone want a part time job then?

  4. yeah, but do you know how much work that would be? and I’m ever so lazy 😛

  5. I agree Brett $258 a week would be a bloody good start. Especially when 40 hours on the minimum wage gets you $480. You’d spend a little under half of it to rent an average room in a flat though, but I guess an accommodation benefit would top that up.

  6. It didn’t stop people working when it was 28% of the average wage in 1990 (or 36% of the average wage in 1987), why would it now?

    I’m imagining 25%, indexed to average wage, would be a goer.

  7. roger nome 7

    I would also add that the Employment Contracts Act increased wage disparity between low-skilled and high-skilled workers (the average wage in the retail industry is only 64% of the average wage, whereas it used to be 75% prior to the ECA), meaning further hardship for low-skilled workers, who often experience periods of unemployment.

    In Australia most workers are still covered by a union-negotiated collective agreement (“work choices” didn’t apply to most workers because most people work in a work-place of over 100 employees).

    As a result income low-skilled work is still relitively well paid compared to high skilled work (i.e. you hear of Aus $16 and hour for regular labouring work). As a result, low-income people are better off, and they have a lower level of incomew inequality – and consequently less of the social problems that are associated with high levels of income inquality (crime/imprisonment rates, low social mobilty and poverty-related health problems.

    So if we’re not going to ensure that low income workers get a decent wage, we should at least have a decent benefit levels. Personally I would prefer the former over the latter (it’s nice to feel like you’re contributing to society), but as you never hear any calls for a return to centralised collective bargaining from any of the major parties, we’re stuck with the latter option.

  8. Billy 8

    Shouldn’t it be to provide an absolute minimum to keep it together until you can change your circumstances? How is what other people are earning relevant to that? Well done Labour. Indexing it to CPI increases was absolutely the right thing to do.

  9. roger nome 9

    “By the way, Steve how much do you think someone on the unemployment benefit should get, $258 a week?”

    Brett, we had less than one percent unemployment in the 1960s, and the unemployment benefit was available. People want to work. No one wants to be on the dole long-term, it’s bloody depressing (though I agree that if you put it up to say $300 a week it would significantly increase short-term unemployment). It’s a question of whether the work is available or not.

  10. deemac 10

    roger nome: “In Australia most workers are still covered by a union-negotiated collective agreement (‘work choices’ didn’t apply to most workers – most people work in a work-place of over 100 employees).” I’d like to see the stats on that. If it’s true, why was work choices such a big issue in the election?
    In most OECD countries, most workers work for SMEs and I’d be surprised if Oz were different

  11. There is work available, its just the work is not great, the local McDonald’s is hiring, but not many people want to work there, but isnt the benefit there for people who cant find any job at all, not people who are picky?

  12. Ben R 12

    “$184 a week on the unemployment benefit is simply not enough to support a decent life for yourself, let alone a family, in most of New Zealand.”

    But that’s not what you’d get if you had a family? A sole parent with a child get’s $263.78, and more if they have more children.

    And that’s not accounting for accomodation supplements, community service cards, Temporary Additional Support for people who can’t meet their essential costs from their income or other sources and the Special Needs Grant for urgent one-off payments.

    http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/get-assistance/rates-info.html
    http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/get-assistance/extra-help/index.html

  13. ghostwhowalks 13

    Ben R is right, the core benefit is $184 pw but nobody gets just that unless in unusual circumstances( paying no rent, no dependents ?)

  14. roger nome 14

    deemac – while it’s true that the majority of workplaces in most OECD countries employ below 100 people, it isn’t true that the majority of people work such places.

    I think you’re getting your stats confused.

    oh, and BTW work choices was an issue because it would have directly affected about 30% of the workforce. A not insignificant portion I think you’ll agree.

  15. roger nome 15

    Ghost, Ben R – I know a guy that does benefit advocacy. He says that most people don’t claim the accomadation suppliment, and plenty of beneficiaries don’t have children (it’s not like an extra $80 a week is going to make you living standards higher when you have to support a child anyway).

    Also, community services cards are available to most people. You even see dairy farmers with them (probably writing their new four wheel drive off as a business expenses, etc).

  16. Ben R 16

    “He says that most people don’t claim the accomadation suppliment”

    Yes, but that’s different from saying it isn’t available. Isn’t the point being made that benefits are too low?

    “plenty of beneficiaries don’t have children”

    I was just pointing out that the original post said $184 was tough to live on, esp if you had a family. If you have a family you’re eligible for a higher benefit.

    Also, I’m not sure most people would qualify for a community services card – the thresholds seem reasonably tight. If you receive a benefit you get one automatically according to the website.

    http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/get-assistance/csc/income-thresholds.html

  17. roger nome 17

    Billy:

    “Shouldn’t it be to provide an absolute minimum to keep it together until you can change your circumstances?”

    Unfortuantely it isn’t an “absolute minimum”. Many people have to go into debt while they’re on the benefit – and their health often suffers do to poor nutritian, etc.

  18. roger nome 18

    Ben R:

    “Yes, but that’s different from saying it isn’t available. Isn’t the point being made that benefits are too low?”

    If most people don’t know about it, and therefore don’t claim that isn’t it a rather academic point anyway?

    “I’m not sure most people would qualify for a community services card”

    Perhaps not “most people” but many working people I know have one.

  19. roger nome 19

    Billy:

    I also don’t accept that the benefit should be an “absolute subsistance-level minimum”. High wealth inequality causes many social problems (I listed them above). Now you can argue that you don’t care, and that would be logically valid, but my guess is that most New Zealanders would care about them.

    If you think high wealth inequality doesn’t cause those social problems of corse I’d be happy to debate you.

  20. roger nome 20

    “There is work available, its just the work is not great, the local McDonald’s is hiring, but not many people want to work there, but isnt the benefit there for people who cant find any job at all, not people who are picky?”

    Bret: I’d be surprised if McDs loses any business due to being understaffed.

    The main reason they’re always hiring is because they can never have too-much staff. i.e. the more staff they have the more labour flexibilty they have – i.e. they can call peopel to come in for a shift with two hours notice, and the more people they have on-call the more likely it is they can get the people in when they need them.

  21. roger nome 21

    BTW appologies for the poor grammar. To hasty.

  22. Billy 22

    RN:

    1. Do not purport to quote me and mendaciously get the quote wrong. I said nothing about “subsistence.”

    2. Similarly, I am not arguing that “I do not care”. Typically, that is an attempt to paint anyone who is against welfare as a lifestyle as uncaring.

    3. The purpose of welfare should not be to reduce income disparity. It should be to provide those who are unable to help themselves with the basics to sustain themselves until they are able to improve their position.

    4. Anyone on welfare is being subsidised by everyone else. This is not a right. It is a priviledge. To pretend it is is unfair on the rest of us who struggle doing jobs we hate to provide for ourselves, our dependents and to pay our tax.

  23. I quite like my work. Perhaps you should change careers Billy. It might make you less cranky.

  24. Billy 24

    What career do you suggest, ‘sod?

  25. Ben R 25

    “If most people don’t know about it, and therefore don’t claim that isn’t it a rather academic point anyway?”

    I think it’s an important distinction if you’re talking about raising benefit rates. It needs to be clear what is actually avaiable under the current scheme. Of course if people don’t know it’s available then you can target that separately.

    I think more people would support increased benefit levels if there were stricter criteria on returning to work, and using contraception while on the benefit?

    “Britain and New Zealand are the only other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with entitlements this generous. Like Australia, they too have high numbers of children growing up in jobless households. In all three countries the lesson is that if you pay parents welfare to stay out of the labour market, that is exactly what they’ll do.

    In most of continental Europe and Scandinavia, by contrast, parents on welfare are expected to find work by the time their children start school. This is why Sweden, for example, has only 2.7 per cent of children in jobless households, even though it has as many single-parent and blended families as we do. The value of welfare benefits in Sweden may be higher than here but Sweden’s eligibility rules are much stricter.” http://www.cis.org.nz/executive_highlights/EH2007/eh44607.html

  26. roger nome 26

    Billy:

    “I said nothing about “subsistence.'”

    Forgive e for thinking that “absolute minimum” equates to subsistence. It’s that language thing again.

    “Typically, that is an attempt to paint anyone who is against welfare as a lifestyle as uncaring.”

    I didn’t say that. I said that you have the possibility of two logically valid lines of argument available. That you don’t care about the social problems that high wealth inequality causes, or that it doesn’t cause them.

    “The purpose of welfare should not be to reduce income disparity.”

    Why not? It’s pretty weak to not back up your position with an argument.

    “Anyone on welfare is being subsidised by everyone else. This is not a right. It is a priviledge”

    It’s a right if a government gets voted in on that platform. It’s called democracy.

  27. Ben R 27

    “stricter criteria on returning to work”

    I’d acknowledge though that this is dependent on there being jobs available! For instance part of the reason the Clinton welfare reforms were successful was linked to the economy doing so well at the time.

  28. roger nome 29

    Ben R-

    “I think it’s an important distinction if you’re talking about raising benefit rates. It needs to be clear what is actually available under the current scheme. Of course if people don’t know it’s available then you can target that separately.”

    Fair point. If it was WINZ policy to ask every beneficiary if they want to apply for an accommodation supplement (it isn’t – in fact they’re often told to not mention it), it would be fine to take it into account. As it isn’t, and as a result, most people don’t know about it’s a rather academic point that you make.

    “”Britain and New Zealand are the only other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with entitlements this generous.”

    Firstly – I don’t trust a word that comes from the very partisan, corporate funded “CIS”. Secondly, as I said above:

    low-skilled work is still relatively well paid compared to high skilled work (i.e. you hear of Aus $16 and hour for regular labouring work). As a result, low-income people are better off, and they have a lower level of income inequality – and consequently less of the social problems that are associated with high levels of income inequality (crime/imprisonment rates, low social mobility and poverty-related health problems.

    So if we’re not going to ensure that low income workers get a decent wage, we should at least have a decent benefit levels. Personally I would prefer the former over the latter (it’s nice to feel like you’re contributing to society), but as you never hear any calls for a return to centralised collective bargaining from any of the major parties, we’re stuck with the latter option.

    I’ll also add that like NZ, Britain has a decentralised labour market – so needs higher benefit levels. Sweden, and all other countries in continental europe have centralised collective bargaining – which as I said favours low-income people.

    “This is why Sweden, for example, has only 2.7 per cent of children in jobless households”

    See this is an example of CSI’s unreliable partisan spin. Sweden has amazing gender equality legislation which makes it easy for mothers to re-enter the workforce. i.e. completely free child care – of course CIS would do away with this policy in a flash if they had the choice.

  29. Billy 30

    RN,

    “Why not?”

    Because you have to be fair to the people providing the largesse as well.

    ‘sod, I could never do real estate. I hate the overuse of exclamation marks and those pretend quotes: “Stroll to the cafes!” indeed.

  30. roger nome 31

    Ben R

    “part of the reason the Clinton welfare reforms were successful was linked to the economy doing so well at the time.”

    They weren’t succsesful. They just meant that people were kicked off welfare wthout having work available. (i.e. the employment rate was the same in 2005 as was when they were implimented)

    Result – more people without any form of income.

    http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/15/24/38335554.pdf

  31. Billy 32

    RN said: “It’s a right if a government gets voted in on that platform. It’s called democracy.”

    There are limits, RN. Laws passed to exterminate all gingas might enjoy widespread support. It would not make them right.

  32. roger nome 33

    ” Laws passed to exterminate all gingas might enjoy widespread support.”

    That’s why we have a liberal, pluralist democracy. A humane benefit system doesn’t run contrary to that.

  33. But you could keep it real – the first real estate agent to understand irony. I’d buy a house from you on that basis alone…

  34. Billy 35

    I’m all for humane RN. Providing enough to get by is humane. Making sure you can keep up with the neighbours is taking the piss.

  35. roger nome 36

    “Because you have to be fair to the people providing the largesse as well.”

    The majority of tax is paid by the minority of individuals earning over $40,000. It wouldn’t kill them to dish out an extra $10 a week in tax to provide a just society with low crime and relatively equal opportunities for rich and poor children alike. I thoroughly reject the notion that it’s a grave injustice for well-off people to be a little less well-off so that we can have a just society.

  36. roger nome 37

    Billy:

    Humane = just. Creating a poverty trap isn’t justice. Wealth inequality negatively correlates with social mobility, meaning that lack of wealth redistribution creates a poverty trap. That isn’t a just society. Your destiny shouldn’t be determined primarly by the situation that you’re accidentally borne into. Justice requires that people be treated equally/given relitively equal opportunities.

    See the graph on page 46

    http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/27/28/38335410.pdf

  37. Billy 38

    RN:

    I am just catching up with this:

    “Forgive e for thinking that “absolute minimum’ equates to subsistence. It’s that language thing again.”

    That would have been fine, RN, but for the quotes. Since you haughtily played the “language” card, allow me to explain that, when using quotation marks, it is considered good manners (at the very least) language that the words within quotation marks were actually said by the person you are purporting to quote. As you might say, it is a language thing.

    “I thoroughly reject the notion that it’s a grave injustice for well-off people to be a little less well-off so that we can have a just society.”

    If your view of a just society is that everyone has a similar level of income no matter how hard they work or how talented they are, then your suggestion is the way to go. I am just not sure that that would really be just.

  38. Lyn 39

    Ben R – “In most of continental Europe and Scandinavia, by contrast, parents on welfare are expected to find work by the time their children start school. This is why Sweden, for example, has only 2.7 per cent of children in jobless households, even though it has as many single-parent and blended families as we do. The value of welfare benefits in Sweden may be higher than here but Sweden’s eligibility rules are much stricter.”

    The reason this is workable is because Sweden has a highly comprehensive state-provided childcare system. Working parents are more common in Sweden because when children start school, welfare kicks in in a different way, a way that pays parents to go to work. New Zealand refuses to deal with the issue of childcare in a way that makes sense, and until we do we’ll face the issue of children grwoing up in jobless households.

  39. roger nome 40

    Billy:

    “If your view of a just society is that everyone has a similar level of income no matter how hard they work ”

    Strawman argument. I never said anything of the sort. Australia has something close to an acceptable level of wealth inequality, and good social mobility levels as a result. We however have a much higher inequality level than Australia. It’s because they have centralised collective bargainig and we don’t compensate for our lack of this with decent benefit levels.

  40. roger nome 41

    Oh and Billy on the topic of quotations – fair enough, I should have used single commas to indicate that I wasn’t quoting your exact words.

  41. Billy 42

    “I never said anything of the sort.”

    Well that’s rich. I suppose I should have pretended you said it by putting it in quotation marks.

    “Australia has something close to an acceptable level of wealth inequality…”

    Says you. Acceptability is in the eye of the beholder.

  42. Billy 43

    My last post was in ignorance of yours of 7:50. Apology (if that’s what it was) accepted. This is the only ignorance to which I will admit.

  43. Don’t you have some real estate to sell or something billy?

  44. Billy 45

    Yes. I have something near the Mt Eden border that may interest you, ‘sod. It is an “entertainer’s delight!” and you should “bring your paint brush!”.

  45. If it’s the same place I’m thinking off I had to sharpen the end of my paint brush the last time I stayed there…

  46. roger nome 47

    “Says you. Acceptability is in the eye of the beholder”

    Yeah, well I should have said, if you care about social mobility/equality of opportunity it’s acceptable.

  47. Billy 48

    “I had to sharpen the end of my paint brush…”

    What is this, a euphemism? For what? Only, exercise your judgement: there are some things I do not want to know.

  48. Ari 49

    Roger nome- Australia’s income inequality is acceptable?! Only if you’re not aboriginal!

  49. roger nome 50

    Ari – good point.

  50. Asher 51

    For what its worth, the Unemployment Benefit is only $184 for those 25 and over. For a 20 – 24 year old (or an under 20 living away from home), it is just $153.46 / week. Last time I checked, under 25s don’t get discounted rent, petrol, food etc, so quite why the benefit drops by 16% is beyond me. These pay rates are also the same as on the Sickness Benefit

    As someone who has lived in both Wellington and Christchurch, this is not enough. Rent within walking/biking distance of central city Wellington frequently tops $120 – $140 (and I’m not talking about a particularly flash house or big room), and living further away for cheaper rent (and I’m talking Lower Hutt, Kilbirnie/Lyall Bay sort of distance to notice any real difference in price) simply adds expensive public transport costs on top. While Christchurch is slightly better, the same problems remain.

    WINZ case managers, as a policy, do not tell beneficiaries what they are entitled to. Even when applying for additional support they are entitled to, beneficiaries are often declined. Case managers are frequently rude, cruel, patronising and unhelpful, creating (seemingly on purpose) a situation whereby beneficiaries are less and less likely to seek any help they require.

    Oh, and stop stigmatising beneficiaries. There’s nothing wrong with being on a benefit, short or long term.

  51. Asher 52

    Oh, I forgot to mention. Accommodation supplement, if you get it, certainly helps, but its no miracle fix.

    If you have rent of $115 (as I used to in 2005) in Wellington, and are on the unemployment benefit while under 25, your benefit + accomm supplement will total (from memory) $207, leaving just $92 for phone, power, potentially gas and food. If you’re lucky, you might have something left over for transport and/or internet, but you’ll be pushing it.

  52. randal 53

    well after I pay my rent phone and power I have $90 left to feed myself and enjoy this life…I want a job but somehow all the little manques on their computers going tap tap tap sneak creep peek and the creeps I use to know 30 years ago are in control at winz and I am being starved to death by creeps who think it is funny to watch someone struggling…I am not just some abstract argument on a messageboard….howzat for a brave new world?

  53. Phil 54

    “I want a job”

    If you took a writing course, it might improve the look of your CV…

  54. Phil 55

    On second thought, you’d be perfect for the Real Estate position Billy and Sod were on about.

  55. Ben R 56

    “As someone who has lived in both Wellington and Christchurch, this is not enough.”

    What about provincial centres? Why should the rate have to guarantee that a person can live in the centre of a major city? Rents in provincial areas like Palmerston North, Hawkes Bay & Bay of Plenty are significantly lower. Also horticultural centres like Hawkes Bay, Nelson etc have to bring in people from overseas to work on the orchards.

    “Wellington frequently tops $120 – $140 (and I’m not talking about a particularly flash house or big room), and living further away for cheaper rent (and I’m talking Lower Hutt, Kilbirnie/Lyall Bay sort of distance to notice any real difference in price) simply adds expensive public transport costs on top.”

    What public transport expenses is someone in Kilbirnie on a sickness benefit going to be incurring though? There is the Pak N Save (which I normally go to), Dr’s clinics etc.

    “There’s nothing wrong with being on a benefit, short or long term.”

    What about going on it long term and having several children? Isn’t that undermining the purpose of the benefit?

  56. Phil 57

    “WINZ case managers, as a policy, do not tell beneficiaries what they are entitled to. Even when applying for additional support they are entitled to, beneficiaries are often declined. Case managers are frequently rude, cruel, patronising and unhelpful, creating (seemingly on purpose) a situation whereby beneficiaries are less and less likely to seek any help they require.”

    I couldn’t disagree more. Granted, their call centre is shit.

    Going into the office, talking to the case managers and listening to what they said, being polite, reading the information packs and brochures, taking a few seconds to make sure I’d completed the forms correctly, they then bent over backwards to help when I was on the unemployment benefit while looking for work.

    I had a pre-concieved notion of WINZ before dealing with them, but was pleasantly suprised to have it blown out of the water.

  57. Draco TB 58

    There is work available, its just the work is not great, the local McDonald’s is hiring, but not many people want to work there, but isnt the benefit there for people who cant find any job at all, not people who are picky?

    What’s wrong with people being picky about where they work? I would argue that being able to be picky about where you worked would be part and parcel of a free labour market (people are actually free to make a choice).

    I would have thought people would far prefer to hire people who actually want to be there rather than being there because they have to be so they can have bread on the table. But it seems that businesses much prefer being able to force people to work for starvation wages so that they can increase profits.

  58. Draco TB 59

    I had a pre-concieved notion of WINZ before dealing with them, but was pleasantly suprised to have it blown out of the water.

    Some are good, some are bad. I’m pretty sure you’ll find this is true of almost any place.

  59. Ben R 60

    “What’s wrong with people being picky about where they work?”

    Nothing, but they shouldn’t expect to be paid more than available jobs while they’re biding their time (taking into account we have minimum wage laws).

    “I would have thought people would far prefer to hire people who actually want to be there rather than being there because they have to be so they can have bread on the table”

    Isn’t this a little idealistic? Most people work because they need the money don’t they?

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Climate Change: Vote for the climate
    Local body voting papers went in the post on Friday, and should be arriving over the course of this week (mine arrived today). And if you care about climate change, I urge you to vote. While local government seems irrelevant and out of touch (like a whine of old white ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 hours ago
  • Climate Change: We must do more
    Like many people, my submission on the Zero Carbon Bill urged more ambitious targets. And if the select committee was in any doubt, they're needed:An assessment backed by the world’s major climate science bodies has found commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions must be at least tripled and increased by ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 hours ago
  • Cracking down on mining
    NZ Energy and Environment Business Week reports (in Scoop) that the government is finally moving on reforming the Crown Minerals Act, including banning mining on conservation land and repealing the hated Anadarko Amendment:The Government is planning to change the Crown Minerals Act’s purpose from “promoting” mining in light of changing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 hours ago
  • Fluoridation – A new fight against scientific misinformation
    Anti-fluoride campaigners think a new Canadian fluoride IQ study is the best thing since sliced bread but the scientific critiques warn they are wrong. Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty The new Canadian ...
    8 hours ago
  • GM Strikers Are Waging a Battle on Two Fronts
    Reprinted from Jacobinmag by Jane Slaughter and Chris Brooks Almost 50,000 UAW workers are on strike against GM and a two-tier labor system that undermines worker solidarity. But members may need to wage a battle on two fronts — against the company, but also against their own union leadership. Forty-nine ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    23 hours ago
  • Who Will Be Fed Next To The Hungry Gods Of Politics?
    Before Jacingrant There Was Gracinda: Grant Robertson and his 2014 running mate, Jacinda Ardern. She stood at his side: loyal and obliging, as she had ever been. The media dubbed this duo “Gracinda” – a sort of political “Brangelina”. The other young people who worked alongside Robertson were also ambitious ...
    1 day ago
  • Simon Bridges: the 15 March Christchurch massacre and winning at any cost
    . . Just when you thought Simon Bridges couldn’t sink any lower – he has. After the March 15th  Christchurch terror attack, the (current) Leader of the National Party issued strong committments to support urgently needed gun law reform; “We will be ready and prepared to be constructive and to ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    2 days ago
  • Only the least intelligent students, with bad parents, will attend the nonsense climate strike
    We all know that bad parents simply don’t care about their children’s education. Most truants have loser parents, and grow up to be involved with crime, or in low paid employment usually like their parents. The nonsense so-called “climate strike” coming up will be attended mostly by the least intelligent ...
    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    3 days ago
  • Professional Internet Trolls being used to push manmade climate change lies
    Is the terrorist Organisation Greenpeace and the loony Green parties around the World hiring professional internet trolls? I have noticed a trend lately where if you post research, news articles or even comments that show the manmade climate change scam to be just that, you are immediately attacked, often within ...
    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: Strike!
    Today is the first day of the global climate strike. Led by schoolkids, people all around the world are going to protest to demand action on climate change. New Zealand isn't doing it till next Friday (join us!), but if you want to get active early, there's plenty to do ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: Squandering our opportunity?
    The Herald has a story today about the 400 MW of wind power currently under construction. Good news, right? Except that none of it is being driven by policy (instead, its about replacing Contact Energy's Taranaki Combined Cycle gas-fired power plant, due to shut down in 2022), and most of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Protect The King!
    To Protect and Serve: When the Prime Minister finds herself enmeshed in the coils of a full-blown political scandal, her colleagues and party comrades have only one priority: to release her as swiftly – and with as little lasting injury – as possible. Is this what Jacinda Ardern’s colleagues and ...
    3 days ago
  • The rot at the top.
    When military leaders cover up and lie to elected civilian authorities, the foundation of democratic civil-military relations is undermined because it is those authorities who are entrusted to hold the military accountable to the public that they mutually serve. But this is only true if civilian political authorities take their ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    3 days ago
  • Challenging the voting age in court
    The Make It 16 campaign to lower the voting age is launching this afternoon, and they have already announced plans to challenge the law in court:The campaign, named "Make it 16" will launch at Parliament on Friday, with plans to take their case to the High Court, testing the rights ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Israel’s elections herald a long siesta
    by Daphna Whitmore The long years of Netanyahu’s reign are drawing to an end. For years he has epitomized reactionary zionism as he oversaw hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers seize land in the West Bank. There are now 700,000 settlers, putting an end to the myth that Israel was ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • Petrol companies promise prices will come back down once peace is restored to the Middle East
    BP, Z and Mobil all insist that petrol price hikes are temporary, “in a very literal sense.” The nation’s major petrol providers are trying to allay customer fears over prices, promising that they’ll move to lower them again “immediately” when the Middle East is returned to its formerly peaceful state. ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • All Blacks unveil boat for Rugby World Cup 2019
    South African coach Rassie Erasmus says he has no idea what they’re going to do about the boat. In a highly anticipated press conference this afternoon, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has finally unveiled the team’s boat for its Rugby World Cup 2019 campaign. In a press conference that went ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • An increasingly shoddy coverup
    The Operation Burnham inquiry continued to question senior NZDF staff today, and their shoddy coverup over their knowledge of civilian casualties continue to fall apart. If you recall, first, we were asked to believe that it was all a series of "mistakes and errors": a senior officer with multiple degrees ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • If we are to avoid making the earth uninhabitable, we need to rapidly decarbonise our civilisation, and cut emissions to zero as quickly as possible. This seems like an impossible task, but its not. Pushing hard on a few technologies and trends will let us halve emissions in a decade:Greenhouse ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • A further attack on transparency
    The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) had part of its committee stage yesterday. its a generally tedious bill about the nitty-gritty of local government reorganisation. But it includes a clause making the Local Government Commission subject to the Ombudsmen Act, and hence the OIA. Great! Except of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Ihumātao and Treaty settlements
    Yesterday Ihumātao's mana whenua reached a consensus that they would like their land back, and asked the government to negotiate with Fletcher's for its return. The government's response? Try and undermine that consensus, while talking about how doing anything would undermine existing Treaty settlements. The first is just more bad ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Protecting our history
    Its Suffrage Day, the 126th anniversary of women winning the right to vote (but not stand in elections) in New Zealand. And to celebrate, the government has bought Kate Sheppard's house in Christchurch:The government has bought Kate Sheppard's former home in Christchurch for more than $4 million. The Ilam villa ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: Ostracising the coal-burners
    The UN climate summit is happening in new York next week, and unlike previous years, coal-burners and denier-states are not being invited to speak:Leading economies such as Japan and Australia will not be invited to speak at next week’s crunch UN climate change summit, as their continued support for coal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Jojo Tamihere Salutes Herr Goff.
    Get Back Jojo! The elation in Mayor Phil Goff’s camp may be easily imagined as they watched social media light up in indignation at challenger John Tamihere’s "Sieg Heil to that" quip. Just when JT’s notoriously right-wing, sexist and homophobic stains were beginning to fade back into his ‘colourful’ past, ...
    5 days ago
  • Hard News: A fun but flawed weed documentary
    Patrick Gower is good value when he's high. Not that I've ever, you know, got stoned with him. But in the second part of his documentary Patrick Gower on Weed, he does what you'd expect in a modern weed documentary and immerses himself – first with a doctor, then a ...
    5 days ago
  • Candidate Survey: Western Bay of Plenty – Local Body Elections 2019
    We surveyed candidates on their attitudes to issues facing the Western Bay Region, find out what they think: “Closing the Gap” Tauranga, one of the area groups of Income Equality Aotearoa NZ Inc., has surveyed all candidates in the three local body elections to discover attitudes to some basic issues ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    5 days ago
  • Project Nettie calls on scientists to defend biology
    Please spread widely, and sign, to support science and rationalism over the new irrationalism sweeping universities and institutions.  PROJECT NETTIE Sexual reproduction, the generation of offspring by fusion of genetic material from two different individuals, evolved over 1 billion years ago. It is the reproductive strategy of all higher animals ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • I’m glad I don’t live in Auckland
    Just when I was thinking that Palmerston North's mayoral race (which includes a convicted child molester / public wanker and a convicted child beater) was the worst in the country, Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere opened his mouth:Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere is being slammed for using the words "sieg ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Index of Power Update, 2018-19: China #2
    We reprint below an article from the excellent website the Economics of Imperialism by Tony Norfield This is an update of the statistics for my Index of Power, using data for 2018-19 and discussing what a country’s ranking reflects. The major change is that China’s rank has shifted up and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: A history lesson
    Why is New Zealand climate change policy so crap? The Herald this morning has a long article on the twists and turns of climate change policy in New Zealand [paywalled / depaywall script], which shows where we've been. The short version is that the government first began worrying about this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • What the All Blacks Mean to Us
    The All Blacks have been, for more than a century, arguably the most successful International sports team in the world. But they are more than that; even for those Kiwis who are immune to the charms of rugby (and there are more than a few), the All Blacks are ambassadors ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    5 days ago
  • No one is born into the wrong body
    A short and incredibly powerful speech from a young lesbian woman. No one is born in the wrong body. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Contempt
    Back in June, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that that country's continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful. So you'd expect that the UK government stopped approving them, right?Of course not:The government has apologised for breaching a court ruling against the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Covering up the cover-up
    Yesterday NZDF officials were put on the stand about the lies they had told over Operation Burnham, making implausible claims that it was all a big mistake. But along the way, we learned they had already been put on the spot about it by a previous Defence Minister, who had ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Not as important as they think they are
    Farmers have been whining a lot lately, about the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Bill, about Canterbury's proposed nitrogen limits, and about the government's new proposals to stop them from shitting in our lakes and rivers. These policies are "throwing farmers under the tractor", they will force farmers off ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Behind Every Good Woman Should Stand – Another Good Woman.
    Alone, Alone, All, All, Alone: To argue that the Prime Minister is the victim of her advisers’ failure to keep her informed may offer Jacinda some measure of exoneration – but only at the cost of casting her as a hopeless political ingénue. A star-dusted muppet, whose only purpose is to ...
    6 days ago
  • Poor quality, poorly educated kiddie ‘Journalists’ spreading fake news
    In times of hysteria about the “World coming to an end” and “rising sea levels” so-called ‘Journalists’ who can barely spell words longer than four letters are having a ball! Though the majority of the Public have worked out that manmade climate change is nothing short of pseudo-science, and the ...
    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    7 days ago
  • Chris Trotter on the BFD
    I don't want to give pblicity to certain parts of the internet that are better left to fester in their own irrelevance (I know, a bit like this place) but the listing of Chris Trotter as a 'author' on Cameron Slater's spinoff website, the BFD requires some explanation.Now, I don't ...
    7 days ago
  • Sex is not a spectrum
    The text below is a Twitter thread by Heather Heying that explains the essence of sexual reproduction and it long evolutionary history. She is an evolutionary biologist and a “professor-in-exile” after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    7 days ago
  • Climate Change: Trees, aviation, and offsets
    With crunch time for new Zealand climate policy approaching, most of the New Zealand media have got on board with a global reporting effort to cover the issue. There's one strand of stories today about polling and what it shows about changing public attitudes to the crisis, but the strand ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Pissing-Off The Israelis Is A High-Risk Strategy.
    Dangerous Foes: For those readers of Bowalley Road who feel disposed to dismiss any prospect of an Israeli destabilisation of New Zealand politics, the example of the United Kingdom repays close attention. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party, the Israelis have sanctioned, funded and ...
    1 week ago
  • Something to go to in Wellington
    Make It 16, the youth-led campaign to lower New Zealand's voting age, is holding an official campaign launch at Parliament this Friday from 16:30. If you'd like to attend, you can register using EventBrite here. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington
    by Don Franks It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • “Mistakes and errors”
    Current and former NZDF top brass are being publicly grilled this week by the hit and run inquiry over their public responses to allegations of civilian casualties. Previously, they've claimed there were no casualties, a position which led them to lie to Ministers and to the public. Now, they're saying ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    1 week ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago

No feed items found.