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On poverty, parenting, and Paula

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, March 24th, 2015 - 67 comments
Categories: paula bennett, poverty, wages, welfare - Tags: , , , ,

Originally posted at Boots Theory.

Of course it would be Paula Bennett, the government’s most infamous ladder-retracting Minister, getting headlines about irresponsible parenting being the real cause of children going to school with no lunches.

“[Voting down the “Feed the Kids” Bill] is absolutely is the right thing to do. We provide breakfast into any school that wants it and this is being taken up which is great, but we believe in parental responsibility and I stand by the decision we made,” Bennett says.

This despite OECD figures showing that 17% of respondents report that they do not have money to buy sufficient food.

The average household income in 2014 was $42,600. And remember the statisticians’ (or rather, politicians’) trick: that’s a mean average. It gets dragged up by all those comfortable MP pay raises and CEOs on millions of dollars per year.

The average income for the bottom 10% of households? $13,200. There’s no hiding from reality: for many people, there simply isn’t enough money to cover expenses.

But the National Party has always hid behind a faux moral outrage on child poverty: “Parental responsibility!” they cry. “Make better choices!” they plead. “Stop breeding for a business!” they sneer. As though even Paula Bennett – or John Key, whose state house upbringing is so often used to lend him “just like normal people!” cred – have any understanding of what it’s like struggling to make ends meet in a post-GFC world.

To the bulk of people – comfortably well-off people who like to consider themselves to be the real battlers, but don’t really appreciate how little some people are “getting by” on – those seem like fair comments. After all, they think (and I could think too, given a completely different set of values) I’m not that wealthy; I have to make budgeting decisions sometimes; I could certainly afford to spend less on luxuries. Therefore, all those people who are complaining must just be choosing the wrong things!

Yet, the average income for the bottom 10% of households is $13,200. Even the mean household income – that one dragged upwards by the cushy pay rises of senior managers – is only $42,600. That’s not a lot to pay the rent, and the bills, and cover transport, and put food on the table.

It’s often very difficult to see just how much our own lives aren’t really “normal” or representative of the lives of others.

I don’t know what the answer is to getting people to understand that. So for now I’ll settle for calling out Paula Bennett and her government’s rhetoric as heartless bullshit, designed to dehumanize and vilify poor people so no one asks questions about why we’re pursuing nasty and ultimately-disastrous policies to benefit the people at the top and grind the people at the bottom into the dirt.

67 comments on “On poverty, parenting, and Paula ”

  1. Wensleydale 1

    Good old reliable Paula, eh? She’s like Key’s pus-encrusted band-aid to be whipped out and slapped on anytime there’s a risk of serious political laceration.

    “Don’t worry about election bribes in Northland, or appalling revelations of mass surveillance to preserve our ‘economic well-being!’ No! Look over here! Bludgers and scroungers, living the high life on your hard-earned tax dollar! It’s all a ghastly nightmare, I tell you!”

  2. The lost sheep 2

    “This despite OECD figures showing that 17% of respondents report that they do not have money to buy sufficient food.”

    The 17% figure is for a yes answer to the following… “Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed”

    • Oh, well in that case there must not be any poverty in New Zealand after all. /sarcasm

      • The lost sheep 2.1.1

        Who said there wasn’t Stephanie?

        I was just pointing out that the statement “17% of respondents report they do not have enough money for food” could easily be read as a much stronger claim than ‘times in the last 12 months etc’.
        Just thought it fair to clarify what the OECD report was actually stating.

  3. adam 3

    I’m sick of the authoritarian, self-righteous national party.

    A bunch of sycophants to wealth theology.

    Odd form, from a godless bunch.

    Do you have freewill?

    Did not Jesus, turn over the tables of the money lenders?

    What is your responsibility – to authority of man – or to a higher authority?

    National are the party of sin and sinners. If you don’t believe me – look around. Look who they have as MPs or former MPs.

    Liars’, cheats and bestial creations who have let their debased nature, govern their desires – a debased lust of hate, manipulation and villainy.

    Even a simple task – to liberate children from the yoke of a system corrupted by cupidity – they fail.

    Authoritarian and self-righteous dilettantes – this is the national party. May god have mercy on their souls. For they have no humanity left.

    • In Vino 3.1

      Interesting. I am an atheist, but I agree.

      • aerobubble 3.1.1

        The GFC was caused by the ideology of revolutionary conservatism that throwout the econoic text book, deciding to give mortgages to poor Americans. Instead of foreclosing they then collectivized the debt tranches. So today in parliament was it any surprise that Bennett and National love citing the GFC to defend themselves and blames Labour. Labour who brought into the same cool aid, for the different reason, that standing up and raising wages, benefits, building homes for the poor while Neo-liberal media, sorry MSM, contended debt wad good, markets would sort the mess out, govt was in control, was electoral death. Neolibs excell at ecomonics 101 says everyone. National still lying.

        WE have such poor outcomes because the richest use their wealth to frame the debate and lock in their positions, thats what conservatism is. With the rise of Thatcherism, off cheap oil, cheap money gave the right clear space to be both conservative and revolutionaries, beating off poverty by indebting our kids, our culture, our society, our environment, our economy, hiding inflation and capping growth now for six years. As global we are forced to unwind the con revolution.

        Never have so many be conned by so few. Lucky there is no God waiting for them.

  4. Olwyn 4

    Anyone without the wherewithal to defend themselves is the variable in this society, while for them food is the variable. What is most sickening is that this government refuses even a band aid solution to a situation they are perpetuating, with their labour law changes, their constraints on benefits and their attack on state housing. Bennett is openly triumphalist about it – the people who can’t defend themselves are simply the enemy and it is OK to kick them. And if she thinks she has sailed a bit close to the wind it’s, “of course we’re “doing what we can for them” without modifying their enemy status. The sooner we are rid of this toxic lot the better.

  5. Michael 5

    Interesting that that OECD report has shown the number of households struggling to pay for food has increased from 10% to 17% since the crisis.

  6. Nick 6

    I walk Lambton Quay most days. It requires a shrapnel supply to be able to reach my destination without having to question the prayer of St Francis. The people on the street begging I have heard accused by the well heeled as bludgers, untermechen. One day recently I found a $5 note whilst walking, I kept it for a Lambton Quay person, and was rewarded with a broad smile. Unfortunately I was in the company of a well fed colleague who criticised me mercilessly…”bludgers, undeserving of our support”…”we have a welfare system etc etc.” The bugger is a “Christian”, I’m not but it did not stop me reminding him of “eyes of needles”. I’m certain he votes for Genghis Khan or ACT, my parting shot was, “There but for the grace of God go we”. We must do what we can even if it is little, please be generous.

    • Colonial Rawshark 6.1

      Your colleague needs to be reminded about what Christ taught about “the least of these.”

    • Delia 6.2

      Interesting christian there, I am a christian and the one thing I was taught was that social justice was to be uppermost in my mind daily…if not well better get to confession fast.

  7. Michael 7

    Now, I could of got this totally wrong but per the New Zealand Income Survey: June 2014 quarter, the median weekly income from all sources at the time was: $1,422 or annually something like $74,000. This is substantially different from the mere $42,600 represented in the post. One parent with dependent child(ren) only have a median income of $663 a week or about $34,500 annually. The jobseeker benefit with W4F top up would give a solo parent with one child an income of about $20,000 a year. So in short the numbers do appear to be all wrong but the ratio between median and lowest quartile appears rational, though I have not tested that.

    [lprent: This comment appears to be trash left by a idiot spinner trolling. There is no link to a source, so we can’t see things like if it is pre or post taxation, household or individual, with or without children, working or non-working. The disclaimer on the first line is absolutely characteristic of a spinner troll.

    I’d suggest that until this fool and others like him start providing links that they are treated as just being Paula Bennett lying again.

    In the absence of a relevant link (you will be able to add one as a reply to this comment), this troll is banned for 2 months. Link to facts you present or lose the right to comment.

    I see that he has elsewhere… Ban rescinded

    I liked Puddlegum’s dissection of his assumptions ]

    • Is that individual, or household? It’s also median, not mean. It would help if you link to your sources, as I have in the post.

    • Hi Michael,

      To clarify …

      This is from the New Zealand Income Survey, June quarter (p. 2; ‘Overview’ – downloadable from the link):

      Income from all sources: Median weekly income from all sources, for all people, increased by $25 (4.3 percent) to $600. This was partially due to more people receiving income from wages and salaries and fewer receiving income from government transfers.

      Wage and salary income: Median weekly income from wages and salaries (for people receiving income from this source) increased by $19 (2.3 percent) to $863, while average weekly income from this source increased by $29 (3.0 percent) to $991 due to more people being in full-time employment.

      Then, on page 3:

      These changes were also seen at the household level, with more households receiving income from wages and salaries and fewer households receiving income from government transfers. This resulted in median weekly household income from all sources increasing by $64 (4.7 percent) to $1,422.

      Notice that the median household income (50% of households above and below this level) excludes beneficiaries, minimum wage worker households, etc.. In discussions of poverty, what is important is the distribution below the median.

      [Edit: ‘excludes’ in the above paragraph should actually read ‘is above the level of’]

      That is, if everyone below the median is only just below then things aren’t too bad. However, if most people below the median are well below that median level, then things can be very bad.

      I suspect that the distribution for household incomes in New Zealand is more like the latter than the former.

      There is some data in that report (page 4) that relate to distributions of individual incomes from wage and salaries which reveals a greater increase in the number of people in the top three quintiles (fifths) than the increase in the number of people in the bottom two quintiles:

      Contributing to the increase in median and average weekly wage and salary income (for those receiving income from this source) was a change in the distribution of this income. Compared with the June 2013 quarter, the number of people earning above $720 a week increased more than the number of people earning less than $720 a week.

      Note that there were increases in total numbers both above and below the median.

      That suggests that the number of people below the individual median income from wages and salaries (i.e., not including those on a benefit) have remained roughly the same between 2013 and 2014 with a small increase in the lowest quintile (to about 390,000 people by my eyes looking at the graph on page 4.

      You’ll notice from that graph that the lowest quintile (bottom fifth) is larger than the second lowest quintile (second fifth). And, it doesn’t include beneficiaries.

      It’s also interesting to note, in passing, that by far the greatest increase in wages and salaries [Edit: i.e., in numbers of people in each quintile] between 2013 and 2014 occurred for those in the top quintile (top fifth of wage and salary earners). The number in that group increased by just over 50,000 people by my eyes.

      So, in summary, there are a significant number of people (and households) adrift at the bottom of the income distribution. They have a much harder time than those even at the median income (individual or household).

    • Michael 7.3

      Ouch.. do see my second comment, with the links. Yes I am a fool but please treat me kindly

  8. Sans Cle 8

    Nice article Stephanie. My take on the state of NZ civic society is that we have lost empathy. We have lost the ability to see what it is like in other people’s shoes. Perhaps that is a lack of creativity, a ‘blinkered’ way of living, that has somehow been taken away from the populace, and lets people stand back and fight their own struggles only.

    • Rosie 8.1

      +1 Sans Cle. It feels like we have become quite a divided nation, and those that don’t care, the kick em’ when they’re down types have become almost proud of their sanctimonious judgements on those who are in different circumstances than themselves. It helps keep them distant perhaps.

      As for Pullya Benefit (+1 to whoever it was that coined that name) she has gone full Thatcher.

  9. Colonial Rawshark 9

    I haven’t seen a thing from Labour designed to significantly increase the incomes of those households in the bottom 10%. Maybe they can get a cheap Labour $450,000 house and wait two extra years to get Labour’s Super at 67? And a Mondayised long weekend would be nice for them too.

  10. Michael 10

    http://statlinks.oecdcode.org/812013171P1G022.XLS This is the underlying source. Where NZ figures are stated as being from: Annual median equivalised disposable household income in USD at current prices and current PPPs in 2010 (rounded at nearest 100)

    Mine:
    http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/income-and-work/Income/NZIncomeSurvey_HOTPJun14qtr.aspx

    [lprent: Learn to leave replies. ]

  11. Tracey 11

    are mike sabin’s parents alive?

  12. Grim 12

    It’s like reading newspaper headlines and not reading the article
    take into account the CPI for the same period (which doesn’t include an accomodation component) and the situation is clear,

    “The survey reported that the median weekly income of New Zealanders increased by $25 (4.3 percent) to $600 between June 2013 and June 2014. This is the largest annual increase since June 2007.
    The increase in median income reflects more New Zealanders earning wages and salaries, and fewer receiving government transfers. There was little change in median hourly earnings, with the 1.7 per cent increase over the year not being statistically significant. “[edit: didn’t see puddleglums reply]

  13. TheBlackKitten 13

    If you don’t believe mis spending is an issue then instead of writing articles that involve name calling & pointing the finger towards other parties/peoples beliefs on this issue, why you don’t instead, prove all those filthy right wingers wrong in their beliefs of irresponsible parenting.
    Since you don’t seem to have the answer on how to do this I am going to give it to you. Any child that is turning up to school with no food why don’t you put the parent/s rights aside for the sake of the child and ask for an investigation into what the parent/s are spending their limited income on that involves hard core proof such as bank statements. If this was done it would end the debate of parental responsibility vs poverty for once and for all. I would bet my bottom dollar that you will find at least one of those nasty addictive vices showing its presence in any budget where kids are turning up to school hungry in NZ. I am also guessing that you know this which is why you never, ever address the issue of mis spending and the addictive hard to give up nature of these vices, why you will never, ever do what I suggest and instead go down the track of name calling, guilt trips and denial of mis spending when ever this subject rears its ugly head. Why you do this is because you would rather see the children suffer than admit that just perhaps, just perhaps mis spending is an issue and that perhaps those filthy tori’s might actually have a point on this issue.
    If you really did have the children’s welfare at heart, you would at least support the debit card that would give a far higher guarantee that food would get to these kids. No one on this site has yet, given me a reasonable rational explanation as to why the debit card is wrong. I am now assuming that their objections are based more on political ideology rather than ‘doing what is the right thing to do’.

    • Rosie 13.1

      “No one on this site has yet, given me a reasonable rational explanation as to why the debit card is wrong.”

      Um, maybe in NZ we like to treat people like adults and with the respect they deserve, and trust that people are quite capable of budgeting their income, regardless of their vulnerability? And that providing a debit card would be a wanky authoritarian thing to do in a modern society?

      • Ennui 13.1.1

        I’m with you Rosie, its very authoritarian. Theres a social contract that goes like this..we pay our tax into the pool to provide social security for those of us who need to access it…if we do need it upon receipt we decide how to spend it ourselves because it is ours to decide.

        What Kittycatnoir wants is to have Nanny state on steroids, Big Brother state. I wonder what purrs she makes about the expenditure choices of the rich? For example some idiots recently spent court money on an injunction so that their spoilt brats could make a boat go fast. Our taxes support a court system that allows this…I see the injunction as a cost to the citizenry. Should we stop these idiots right to spend frivolously at our expense?

        • Rosie 13.1.1.1

          RWer’s seem to struggle with the concept of the social contract. It’s the phoney mantra of “personal responsibility!” or bust. And yes, the hypocrisy of the usual railing against the nanny state is quite stunning. Nanny state for the poor but not for me, I DESERVE freedom of choice!

          I was also thinking if it’s open season on the poor and the purchasing choices they make then why not open season on the choices of the wealthy? Yours is an excellent example. One for the taxpayers union eh 🙂

          • In Vino 13.1.1.1.1

            As Bomber Bradbury so often points out, people like littlepussynoir were probably the first to scream blue murder etc when under Helen Clark the dreaded Nanny State tried to bring in such terrible things as economic showerheads and light-bulbs. But now he (or she?) wants Nanny State to invade and examine all beneficiaries’ bank accounts.

            Cool. I also am a dictatorial bastard. I want to Nanny state to examine tax avoidance by the rich. Let’s get into this!

          • Tracey 13.1.1.1.2

            every beneficiary is a bludger cos in their world even when you do a bad job you get a payout to leave…

            so many kiwis with venom toward beneficiaries need to re read their contracts, look at their financial commitments and see they are a redundancy letter away from being one of those they currently sneer at and despise.

        • Tracey 13.1.1.2

          kittycatnoir

          chuckle

          kcn keeps assuming his/her premise made the other day is correct that hungry children are the result of parents spending money on what he/she called addictives… without posting proof that this is even the case for 25% of parents of hungry kids… assumes poor parenting and poir budgetting with no proof but thinks if 5 children go to school hungry and their parents smoke then debit cards and parent stasi for all beneficiaries…

          ignoring that heart rending story of the mum with 3 jobs who smokes to keep her awake enough to drive to job no.3 every day.

          • halfcrown 13.1.1.2.1

            Well said Tracey

            I hope my response is not too late.

            I think the likes of Black Kitten should start reading some decent history books why State housing and social welfare was started, instead of reading the right wing parables they like to quote on here. It might expand their minds and get rid of the smug fat cat know all the solutions syndrome they all seem to suffer from.
            For starters I suggest three books written by Jennifer Worth, one which has been made into a television series called “Call the Midwife”. Two of her other books “Shadows of the Workhouse” something my mother lived in fear of, and one other book that reflects my childhood in the east end during the war called “Farewell to the East End.” All good reads,
            We were a fortunate family. As I suffered from TB, in 46 we were moved from the half pummeled slum to one of the then LCC council housing estates they were building just outside of London. My dear old dad was over the moon when we were chosen for one of these council (state) houses. several reasons mainly we were now living in the country and away from the slum we lived in. He was very strict on how we behaved and treated this house. If us kids damaged it in any way like marking the walls we would be for the high jump.
            This house was my home up until I went in the army at the age of 18. It had a great garden that was my parents pride and joy. No way was there any indication that after a certain number of years they would be moved on. However my parents did move in to a flat when we all had moved away.
            Like so many families at the time we were lifted out of the slums given a good education although mine was interrupted through illness and excellent health care by the then National Health Service started by no other than Loard Beaverbrook, and Beavan. What was wrong with that?
            Thatcher frowned on this and destroyed it (There is no such thing as society. One of her infamous utterings) Many a right winger comes on here with the same opinions They cannot see, or don’t want to see that if the less fortunate s are looked after then everybody wins, with a better society than this dog eat dog survival of the fittest we now have in this “Neo Liberal Paradise ” Like my family a lot of the unfortunates are bloody hard workers, and deserve our collective help through taxation. All the shit the right comes out about beneficiaries spending money on booze and drugs does happen but it is the minority not the majority. As I said earlier it is one of many a Tory parables they love to regurgitate,
            I also like your post about the two bob millionaires, How bloody true, they cannot see how close they are to it. As someone wrote a few weeks ago “a month’s wage packet away from bankruptcy.” But at least there are no workhouse’s now (yet) if you don’t class zero hours as workhouses, or debtors prisons as in Dickens time (yet) but the likes of Spiv Key and Paula Benefit are doing their utmost to move society backwards at an alarming rate.

        • Tracey 13.1.1.3

          and the cost of airport staff and security… in the usa recently when some boys did the same thing they were arrested…

  14. Ennui 14

    I will quite happily attest that you are probably wrong. .based upon my good ladies work with Pacifika children. She knows their parents and their circumstances very well. Their problem is simple. When you need $10 and you only have $9 then breakfast goes West. Usually for the parents dont eat first. Forget your crass advice about vices. It’s apocryphal crap.

    • Tracey 14.1

      that reflects my experiences with folk too. the majority of parents go without food all day before their children miss. it is about money not lack of nurturing and love…

  15. coaster 15

    how exactly are the children personally responsible for there parents not feeding them?

    schools are supplying food for students whose parents dont currently, it comes out of the bulk grant, out of the staff pockets and donations.

    it makes me sick everytime i see hungry kids, i dont blame the kids, i dont blame the parents, i dont realy blame the government, i blame the people of nz who dont beleives its happening, and worse the people who dont care.

    im sure this isnt the nz i grew up in.

    • Rosie 15.1

      im sure this isnt the nz i grew up in.”

      Not it’s not. We didn’t have dollar a day kids in NZ when I was growing up. To think there are children that rely on monthly donations programmes such as KidsCan to get by. Pullya seems to ignore this fact.

  16. Sirenia 16

    This fascinating document played on Radio NZ last night. Does money make you mean? and research from US showed it certainly does. The most generous are those with the least to give. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02ll6y1

    • In Vino 16.1

      True. I worked as barman in England for a while. In the vulgar working man’s bar charities always got a reasonable donation. In the saloon bar (collar and tie) they got stuff-all. Same thing applies here, I think.

  17. The average income for the bottom 10% of households? $13,200.

    Proportion of those households that include children? Mechanism by which households with children fall into this group, ie why they aren’t picked up by the social welfare system and provided with appropriate benefit, accommodation allowance and tax credits?

    It’s often very difficult to see just how much our own lives aren’t really “normal” or representative of the lives of others.

    I don’t know what the answer is to getting people to understand that.

    I find that information helps me understand things. Although I have no difficulty grasping that my own life isn’t the benchmark for others to be measured against, I currently lack sufficient information to understand how someone can send their kids to school without food every day in a country that provides substantial social welfare benefits and/or tax credits for prolific breeders lacking income. In the absence of information, people make assumptions.

    • McFlock 17.1

      Yeah, it’s almost as if the social safety net doesn’t live up to the bumper-sticker description, eh…

      • Psycho Milt 17.1.1

        It’s possible. Who knows? We lack the information, so make assumptions. Some assume the social welfare system mustn’t provide enough to live on, others assume the parents involved must be wasters or people who really need news of the modern miracle of contraception broken to them. It’s also possible that both assumptions, or additional others, are true to greater or lesser extents.

        The only thing we can really berate the government for in this comes from the one thing we can say conclusively about it: the question of whether schools need to dish up meals to pupils is one that shouldn’t arise because no pupil should need it. The fact the issue exists is a big fat failure right there – whether it’s a failure involving under-performance of the social welfare system or under-performance of waster parents is one the government should be able to answer, and have facts to back up the answer. However, the current government has apparently decided big fat failure is the performance level it was aiming for. For that, we can berate them.

        • McFlock 17.1.1.1

          Well, while I disagree about the lack of information, I can certainly agree with the last couple of sentences…

        • In Vino 17.1.1.2

          And also blame those who voted them in.
          As a teacher I see so many good kids crippled by their past. It is clearly not their fault. I agree to some extent with right-wingers who place the blame on their parents.
          But placing the blame on their parents is not the solution that so many right-wingers seem to think it is. It is no solution at all. These kids need help – the help that their parents did not give. A lot of them are good people who would respond positively, but too many of our self-centred rednecks care only about their own children, and not about other people’s.
          These are the idiots who are going to create one hell-hole of a society for their own children.
          We learn from history that no-one learns from history. (George Bernard-Shaw)

  18. Karen 18

    Benefits are too low to live on, the minimum wage is not enough to live on and there is not enough social housing. Simple really. The household income is “household” – it doesn’t take into account how many children in the house, or the cost of housing.

    Have a read of Brian Easton’s piece about child poverty.
    http://pundit.co.nz/content/why-children-are-in-poverty

  19. Heartbleeding Liberal 19

    Let’s grant that Ms. Bennett is actually correct in what she says. The kids are going hungry because the parents are making poor spending choices. How does she get from there to “…well tough shit for the kid’s then?” without generating a massive backlash against her? That is implicitly what she is saying after all. If anything, the proposition that the parents are to blame for the kids going hungry is a justification for the bill which she voted down.

  20. Sans Cle 20

    I have had a look at the StatsNZ Total Household income, grouped by household composition, for households in private dwellings from the 2013 Census…..some of the above comments about children and poverty (and nasty comments about people breeding for the benefit gain ) and a comment I saw on open mike over last few days about high income families being able to afford to have children triggered me to look further into the data.

    What I found was: 76% of households with 3 or more children are in highest quintile/bracket of household income of $100,000 or more, 13% in $70-$100k bracket, 5% in $50-$70k, 3% in $30k-$50k income bracket, and only 1% of households with three children or more are in the lowest two brackets – 1% in $20-$30k household income and 1% in less than $20k income.
    This reconfirms the assertion that higher income households can afford to have larger families……does this confirm that larger families can now be classified as a luxury good?

    The highest proportion 64% of low income households earning under $20,000 are one person households (e.g. single people….haven’t cross-tabbed with age, but perhaps older people?).
    31% of low income households are 1 child households.
    Only 0.2% of the lowest income households (under $20k) have three or more children.

    I know you can cut data any-which-way, but I hope this gets rid of some of the myth around low income households having large numbers of children.

    • According to those figures, families with four or more children are 5% of the $25 – $30,000 bracket. That’s hardly more than the 4.4% they make up of families as a whole. Thing is, who’s likely to have problems running a family of four or more children – the people in the $70-$100k bracket who make up 4.1% of the families with four or more kids, or the the people in the sub-$30k brackets making up 5%? If you had to come to a conclusion about which bracket would be ill-advised to be turning out 4+ children, would you be pointing to the $70k+ bracket, or the sub-$30k bracket?

      • Sans Cle 20.1.1

        If that question was directed at me, my answer is that I wouldn’t advise anyone on their choice of how many children to have. It’s their personal choice, to be respected.
        I was merely observing that families in high income brackets have proportionally more kids than other lower income brackets.
        So perhaps time to rethink how we frame and discuss the issue….even to the extent of the language that you used of “turning out” children.
        That’s what contributes to negative attitudes toward lower income households, reinforcing (unfounded) stereotypes.

        • Psycho Milt 20.1.1.1

          Your observation was wrong. Families with four or more children make up 4.1% of families in the $70 – $100k bracket, but 5% of families in the $20 – $30k bracket. It’s not a big difference, but it means the exact opposite of “families in high income brackets have proportionally more kids than lower income brackets.”

          It’s fine for you personally not to care how many children other people have, but taxpayers are also voters, and if voters are told that people who keep having more kids despite having no income need more of said voters’ money put their way, voters’ reaction tends to be ‘Do Not Want’ and they look at which political party fits that reaction. That party is National. Those who want National to stop being so appealing to conservative voters are on a hiding to nothing and might as well save their energy.

          • Sans Cle 20.1.1.1.1

            Aha! Now we get to the crux of your argument. You have BIG issues with sharing. Good to clarify that……so you can understand where your argument comes from.
            Am happy that you can express that, but please do not say I am wrong……as I have carefully looked at the data. My point remains valid – no matter how you try to fudge it.
            As a start, you didn’t read my statistics correctly; you keep stating “families with four or more kids”, when I clearly had written family with three or more kids. Moot point, didn’t want to correct you before, but it shows a little sloppiness in your attack on my analysis. One I won’t let you away with in your attempt to deny what these basic numbers are saying.

            I have a question for you Psycho.
            Suppose this:
            If I go to cricket world cup officials today in Eden Park, as i want to buy The winning bat and ball from the match, and am told that to buy the bat and ball together will cost me $110,000 (given It’s actually Grant Elliott’s bat, and worth a lot), that the bat will cost $100,000 more than the ball. If I decide that’s a bit steep, and decide to buy the ball on its own, how much will that cost?

            Am interested in your answer, as it will tell me a lot about you.

            • Psycho Milt 20.1.1.1.1.1

              If you’re talking about ‘larger’ families, and Stats NZ provides figures for families with four or more children, that’s the relevant figure – not the ones for families with three or more children, even if the 3+-children figure does give you the answer you wanted to get and the 4+-children one doesn’t. It would be handy if they’d also provided figures for 5+ and 6+, but they don’t so 4+ is what we’ve got.

              Re my ‘big issues with sharing,’ most Standard commenters who respond to me on this subject indulge themselves in a pop psychology diagnosis of my personality. It’s an interesting approach to argument, but not an effective one.

              Re your question involving the hypothetical (if wildly unlikely) situation that I first, attend a cricket match and second, wish to purchase memorabilia thereof, the price of the ball is unknown. If the ‘together’ price is a simple sum of the prices of the components, the ball price would be $5000 – however, if some discount is included in pricing for the purchase of both items together, you’d have to know the discount percentage to work out the ball price.

              • Sans Cle

                Back to fudging the numbers again, with sidebar discussion of either 3 or more or 4 or more. Irrelevant to the points I made, reporting facts about the distribution of incomes in households, according to household composition.

                Thanks for answering the question I posed. Perhaps a ‘pop psychology’ of your character (apologies!), but interesting to me that I posed the question framed as I, meaning Sans Cle, but you answered as you, Psycho Milt (and divulged more detail that you don’t like the subject matter, cricket or memorabelia – for the record neither do I) and inflected it onto yourself.
                Out of interest, how long did it take you to figure out the answer? How did you go about solving it?
                The question was posed by Kahneman, based on his work of ‘Thinking fast thinking slow’, about how rational it is to make fast decisions, even if that answer is (technically) wrong. Most people (rationally) jump to a $10,000 answer….and bankers and traders have characteristics of thinking fast. Its how we process information, and get rid of the ‘noise’ surrounding data. We take shortcuts through what we read, and have to (otherwise we couldnt function in our daily activities). I was just wondering whether you were a fast thinker, as you didn’t read my statistics in detail (in previous post) but jumped to your own conclusion straightaway.

                • Not sure how long it took – was only when I wrote down $10,000 that I thought ‘Hang on a minute.’ The working out was just dividing the $10,000 in half, but I don’t recall how I know that.

                  • Sans Cle

                    I realise I am a slow thinker. When I got that puzzle, I immediately wrote down an equation to figure it out! Bit nerdy, but the way I operate.

              • Tracey

                But you are not referring to people who have a job and supported their family and then were made redundant or whatever, and have the same number of children to support as when they had the job/s?

                Do you have the stats on the number of additional children people receiving benefits are having once they are on a benefit?

                Does your opinion change if someone is born with a disability that makes them unable to work, and therefore have nothing other than a state assisted lifestyle? Are they to not have any children at all because you and other selected taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for their children given they will never get a job?

                • I support a comprehensive social welfare system funded through taxation, and wage rates that ensure employed people can raise a family without needing government assistance. Thing is, we already have the first half of that and there’s still a lot of people sending their kids to school hungry. The left’s assumption is that this means the social welfare system isn’t generous enough, the right’s assumption is that this means we have a lot of waster parents. Quite possibly, both assumptions are true. Either way, having the government take over feeding these kids is obviously necessary but is also an open-ended flushing of money down the toilet unless some work on identifying the causes of the problem using some method other than assumptions is carried out, and the causes addressed.

                  • Sans Cle

                    I’m not sure if it’s flushing money away.
                    A big part of the problem is that the problem itself is intergenerational, and cycles of poverty are hard to break (lack of social mobility for many different reasons).
                    I think we need to invest in our youth – many of the negative stories we read about could have been addressed through early intervention; not just around poverty, but around dyslexia, mental health issues etc etc. I don’t have a solution, but as a start I think we need to treat people with respect, so they have self respect, build people, give to the next generations (even though we may feel we have had a hard fight, or whatever)….. But we (as a global society/humanity) can’t seem to plan in long term cycles. Everything has to have instantaneous results. Policy is created for election cycles. Our biggest piece of legislation that has long term thinking (and even that is not so long term, perhaps 20 years max) is the RMA, and that is about to get gutted by a government who has ad hoc short term goals.
                    Kids are the future generation of NZ, and I would prefer to gift them a life that is not ‘nasty brutish and short’. It’s the least we can do, when we benefit from and stand on the shoulders of giants and giantesses.

  21. Ray 21

    The ironic thing is, by not investing in the children and youth of today, we are setting ourselves up for some serious dysfunction in 10-20 years which will have a far higher impact on the economy than things such as Feed the Kids etc

  22. dave 22

    national on poverty are all about the 4 Ds. divert,deflect,deceive and deny

  23. Brian 23

    Hungry children in the land of milk and honey. Welcome to John Key’s brighter future. Shameful.

  24. SMILIN 24

    Where is CYFS in all this from my experience the biggest ambulance at the bottom of the cliff
    They have more power to control the lives of the poor than anyone else yet we here nothing from them as they only act on potential crime from abuse and hide under the guise of civil legislation which seems to hide their ability to act as a hit squad for the courts which produce so much paper work that the truth is lost in translation and inaction except to make the lives of the poor even more a horrendous life journey
    The social responsibility of CYFS is zilch its all to do with the millions of laws which create the BS power of people like Bennett who also sit on the fence and throw battens at the poor for being poor and a drain on society .Yet its a well known fact that its easier to have 5 to 10% of the population doing nothing in this free market economy than to actually do anything about their plight and it it is left up to the large number of voluntary social organisations to effect change
    “Their just too busy being fabulous to care about us” quote The Eagles fits this Bennett perfectly
    Stick that up your Rock Star economy National

  25. millsy 25

    It is not just about feeding hungry children, It is much more than that.

    Schools with lunch programs have better behaved children, better achievement outcomes, lower trauncy rates, more focused learning, better everything really, it also forms a sense of solidarity. Imagine, every child in the school sitting down and having the same lunch together as a group — the children of preachers and gang members, cleaners and lawyers, rich and poor together, united, not divided. Social stratification starts in the school system. When the wealthy, the middle class and everyone else started sending their kids to seperate schools, that’s when the rot set in.

  26. Mia 26

    National can say and do whatever they believe is right. Bullying those high risk and vulnerable is a coward act of selfishness. They continue to suppress what’s new. Two of the most ignorant National Party members who know full well parents working are struggling not just homemaker’s. They both failed to deliver adequate Ministries MSD Winz/Cyfs and HCNZ. A national disgrace Winston and North will pick up and soldier on with. Just stay out of the way of progress made. Neglecting MP’s are NOT OK.

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