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Ounce of prevention, pound of cure etc etc

Written By: - Date published: 9:11 am, April 12th, 2012 - 43 comments
Categories: Economy, Parliament - Tags: ,

The government (at least, the National and Act parts of it) have signalled they’ll veto Sue Moroney’s bill to extend paid parental leave on the grounds that it would cost too much. (May I just say as an aside, GO SUE!)

Zetetic has shown that in the first place, compared to such fucking trainwrecks as the “Roads of National Significance” (coming soon to a negative-cost-to-benefit-ratio near you!) extended paid parental leave is fucking chump change.

But I’d like to address a second point: the rightwingers’ basic lack of understanding as to how this stuff works.

One of the arguments for things like paid parental leave (and early childhood education, and early intervention and rehabilitation of youth offenders, etc etc) is that, beyond just being a sign that your society is caring, compassionate, and supportive of not-traditionally-valued non-income-generating work (piff, socialism), it pays itself off. No, not in the current financial year, nor even in the current term of government, but within a generation (no long time if you actually care about things beyond your own net wealth balance sheet).

You pay parents to spend more time with their infants now, you get smarter, more connected, more caring, more “productive” adults later.

But the right don’t get that (and to an extent, I might argue Labour doesn’t get it either, given their usual willingness to fight battles on a right-determined field).

And given the right like to make stupid analogies about governmental budgets being like household budgets (wherein households can print their own money) etc, here’s one back at them:

Refusing to extend paid parental leave, ignoring the longterm benefits, on a household scale, is like crying “But I can’t afford to buy flour, sugar, and butter for $10 now! I have to cut my spending so I can buy a $30 cake on Saturday!”

Of course, to extend the analogy further, on Saturday they’ll no longer be running the household, having fucked off to the Wairarapa for a wine-tasting weekend, so why the fuck do they care if someone else has to buy $30 cake because there’s no ingredients in the cupboard? That $10 now could get them <5L of petrol!


Note – for more QoT goodness head over to her blog: Ideologically Impure

43 comments on “Ounce of prevention, pound of cure etc etc ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Of course, to extend the analogy further, on Saturday they’ll no longer be running the household…

    And, given the way that they are managing the “household budget”, that $30 will actually be -$30 due to them giving away the money to “special” people – the rich, consultants, etc.

  2. tsmithfield 2

    Claiming something is affordable but not knowing at what level it is unaffordable is illogical. Otherwise, claims about affordability can be made to infinity if there is no known boundary between affordability and unaffordability.

    I made this point yesterday, but got no satisfactory response. How can any claim be made about affordability if we don’t know where the unaffodability boundary is?

    • insider 2.1

      Sue Moroney said she doesn’t know how much it will cost and refused to put a number on it when asked on RNZ yesterday. Bizarre.

      • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1

        yeah, she should have followed the Min.Finance’s lead and just pulled a ‘guess’ out and claimed it was gospel.

        Doesn’t even have to be a ‘best guess’ for this government.

        But the cost is complicated, it’s pretty rough to expect her to have a number right now.

        You need to take into account the lower ECE costs, and the dole payments that would otherwise be paid to temp workers, and that’s just the short term immediate stuff.

        • insider

          If you’re putting forward a policy I think you look politically suspect if not able or unwilling to put some number around it, especially in these times. To have got a bill drafted you have to have put in some thought. If you don’t, it imediately leaves you open to attack that it is a blank cheque, out of touch blah blah. To pass it off to the select committee seemed naive and slightly shifty.

          • Colonial Viper

            If you’re putting forward a policy I think you look politically suspect if not able or unwilling to put some number around it, especially in these times.

            So pull a number out of your ass like English did?

            Or pull numbers out of thin air and have them be way out almost every single time, like Treasury does?

      • Dv 2.1.2

        Bit like guessing how much you will get from asset sales.
        Beat me to it pb

    • Pascal's bookie 2.2

      How long is a piece of string?


      The way we usually decide, as a nation, that something is worth doing, ie, affordable, is through parliament.

      Obvioulsy folks are going to have different opinions. Which again, is why we have parliament.

      It appears though that the National Party is going to veto parliament on teh gopunds that thisthing is not affordable.

      It’s them doing the veto, it’s them pre-empting the debate, it’s them saying they know better than parliament; so it’s them that has to define the barrier they are using. Surely?

      Personally, I think they should stop subsidising certain groups for their ETS credits so much.

      In any case. 150M is a rounding error. If treasury got within 150M on a budget estimate they’d probably reward themselves a large chunk of it as a bonus.

      • tsmithfield 2.2.1

        OK. Still haven’t really answered the question. However, I will put on a socialist hat for a moment. Lets say that the government followed some of the suggestions I saw yesterday, and scrapped the roads of National significance, reversed tax cuts to the wealthy etc. They would then have a larger, but finite, pool of money. Presumably there would be sufficient cash to fund the extra paid parental leave out of that.

        However, the question should not be “is it affordable?”, but “is the best bang for the buck achieved in social results by spending in that area?” Why, for instance, should this extra funding not be spent on more state housing for low income families for example.

        • Colonial Viper

          cancel a RON or two and you can have 10,000 new state houses AND paid parental leave for years.

          Thats just how wasteful laying down that frakking bitumen is.

        • Pascal's bookie

          Dude, I explained why your question was retarded. Given its retardation, it’s about as good an answer as it’s going to get.

          There are no absolute answers to value based questions. People have different opinions on what the answer is. That’s natural, and correct, and human, and why we have parliament. It’s parliament that gets to decide which particular answer that we will put in place.

          National have said they are going to pre-empt parliament having a say.

          • tsmithfield

            National are the ones who actually have to spend the money, and take responsibility for the decisions. Labour et al. don’t. Thats the difference.

            • Pascal's bookie

              You spelt ‘parliament’ wrong.

              • prism

                And the word parliament is significant. It dates back to Old French parlement which comes from parler to speak (dictionary connects also to parley). In other words in our democracy we are supposed to talk about things not make regal decisions.

                Such as, no we can’t support families and our economic drive to build a strong, working NZ with support spending for the people, but yes we can pay for troops to Afghanistan and to play at deadly military games with the USA which will cost us money and lives for sure. But dying for a rich country’s machinations gives more esteem to the politicians who organise it than advancing people’s opportunities for a worthy, productive and happy life in our own country.

              • tsmithfield

                And National would be applying parliamentary rules by vetoing the proposal. So, where is your problem?

                • Draco T Bastard

                  It’s undemocratic and their reason for vetoing the bill is fictitious.

                  • tsmithfield

                    According to you.

                    Was the rule allowing them to veto the bill established undemocratically?
                    No one here has come up with any evidence of a level at what the change would become unaffordable. National says the proposed level is unaffordable. That gives them more credibility.

                    • felix

                      The onus is on National to say when it becomes unaffordable.

                      Not that it matters, because Bill English said the veto was going ahead “regardless” of the amount of money involved.

                      So it’s not about affordability, as any fool can see. It’s just the policy they don’t like.

                    • tsmithfield


                  • tsmithfield

                    Well, they did say it is unaffordable.

                    Given there is a finite sum and an almost infinite ways it could be spent, and given you seem to think this is something the government should be spending on, am I right to assume that you rate putting money into extending the parental leave scheme as more meritorious than putting that money into more housing for the poor and homeless?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      this will be fun, tsmith trying to come up with a list of 100 more meritorious priorities now.

                    • tsmithfield

                      CV “This will be fun, tsmith trying to come up with a list of 100 more meritorious priorities now.”

                      Well, from a socialist point of view, there probably are. Which is why I am a little bemused as to why Labour is pushing this barrow rather than something else.

                      Or do you believe Maslov’s hierarchy of needs have been so well met at the most basic level by the current government that we can now go up a few steps to something that is a “nice to have” rather than an essential?

                      Then again, the weird sense of priorities from the left shouldn’t surprise me given all that extra funding HC gave to the arts a few years ago, rather than using that funding to help the impoverished.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Well, they did say it is unaffordable.

                      NACT said it but that doesn’t make it true.

                      No, you’re not right to think that as there’s, as you point out, “an almost infinite ways it could be spent” which means that it’s not an either/or between PPL and state housing. Stopping the RoNS which have no economic viability would easily pay for PPL and more state housing. There is, of course, a hell of a lot more wasteful spending being done by this government as well that could be cut back to help pay for PPL. On top of that we could also put the tax brackets back to the way they were before NACT got into power and that would easily pay for them as well.

                      In other words, you’re full of shit as per usual as you try to defend NACTs incompetence through BS.

                    • tsmithfield

                      “which means that it’s not an either/or between PPL and state housing.”

                      But surely, from a socialist perspective, the most pressing needs should be met first. Hence, from a socialist perspective, shouldn’t you first satisfy yourself that the most pressing needs such as housing for the poor have been met before you worry about PPL?

                      “Stopping the RoNS which have no economic viability would easily pay for PPL and more state housing ”

                      You do seem to have a be in your bonnet about the RONS, don’t you.

                      I can’t speak for them all. But one of these is the Northern Corridor which will be very much needed in Christchurch given that since the earthquake many people are shifting out to satellite towns on the north such as Rangiora, Woodend, and the Pegasus development, north of Woodend. These people usually have jobs in the city, so will need the Northern Corridor to efficiently get in.

                      The current roads tend to be pretty much log-jammed at peak hour on that side already btw.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      But surely, from a socialist perspective, the most pressing needs should be met first.

                      I’m an anarchist, not a socialist. That said, it’s possible to meet more than one need at the same time due to the simple fact that they use different physical resources.

                      You do seem to have a be in your bonnet about the RONS, don’t you.

                      Yep, not a fan of stupidity.

                      These people usually have jobs in the city, so will need the Northern Corridor to efficiently get in.

                      Or they could do the more efficient thing and move the jobs out or take the train.

    • QoT 2.3

      Hey tsmith, I just want to say “thanks” for introducing a massive derail which had zip-fuck-all to do with my post, just so you could keep parrotting what you obviously think is a killer argument.

      Now, maybe your awesome point works if, say, we’re talking about a person who has $20 in their wallet and is shopping for a book. Obviously, if they only have $20 in their wallet and they only need to buy a book, a $21 book is “unaffordable”.

      Unfortunately, in the real world, there are ways to be flexible with money – credit cards, laybys, loyalty schemes – and lots of things to buy – books, shoes, cold beverages, tampons.

      So trying to bring everything down to “but when does this ONE thing, out of a gigantic government programme of dozens of things which are all interdependent and unfixed, become unaffordable? HA!” really just goes to show, once again, that it’s actually the right who have no fucking idea how budgeting works.

  3. Uturn 3

    “…You pay parents to spend more time with their infants now, you get smarter, more connected, more caring, more “productive” adults later.

    But the right don’t get that (and to an extent, I might argue Labour doesn’t get it either, given their usual willingness to fight battles on a right-determined field)…”

    I would suggest that they do get it. It’s not incompetence, or lack of interest, it’s deliberate. They do not want communities, families or connected caring adults – period. They want crime, social disintergration, division and slavery. It’s easier to rule when your people are on one hand scared and on the other locked up and it perpetuates business opportunities based in responding to the self created crisis. In a population of roughly 4 million and growing, how productive do people have to be in the future to support the wealth of the top 10%? Productive, schmoductive. Productive = “Be a good slave and keep me rich forever at your cost.”

    That is the theory. Of course, history shows us they eventually get taken down by the people. What Labour/Nats and others are banking on is that they will happily parasite a career off the population and then die before they have to face any real trouble – personal responsiblity, and all that.

    • Jackal 3.1

      Unfortunately you’re correct Uturn. People who are desperate are easier to control. It’s apparent from National’s plan to veto an extension to paid parental leave that the elitists are determined to undertake class warfare to ensure there is less opposition to their regime.

      This fits perfectly with their belief that only the wealthy should be allowed children and a proper education… they can only feel superior if there’s a deprived underclass after all.

      People who have a good education and have stability in their lives are more likely to fight for their rights. People who do not have a secure home, who do not know their rights and have already been abused are more likely to accept extortion, totalitarianism and a system that does not have everybody’s best interests at heart.

      The real stupid thing is that the capitalists actually make more money longterm when the place is run properly. The timeframe for inequality to eat into their bottom lines is now.

    • QoT 3.2

      I do agree to an extent, Uturn. Unfortunately when one actually gets blunt about these things (I did in a previous post here) suddenly it’s all “you’re just a meanie, you’re just bigoted, how dare you judge people by their actions and the obvious, repeated consequences of those actions.”

      Sometimes it’s easier to just pretend that they’re stupid.

    • rosy 3.3

      Helen Clark has a added another point about encouraging workplace participation. It will improve GDP. Something the NACT supporters should think about in terms of their opposition to PPL (and ECE) if improving outcomes for children just doesn’t make them feel all soft and gooey enough to support these policies.

      PPL can be justified in terms that are all about the money:

      She spoke about her nine years as prime minister, saying the wealth gap between this country and other richer countries was largely due low levels of labour force participation of New Zealand women here… The gap between New Zealand’s GDP per capita and that of Scandinavian countries owes a great deal to the lower level of labour force participation of women in New Zealand.

      That was one of the reasons why my government pursued work-life balance policies, like implementing the extra week of annual holidays and a right to paid parental leave… The universal right to twenty hours free early childhood education was established both because of its importance for children and because it made the option of paid work for both parents a realistic one,” Clark said.

      Typically NACT knee-jerk reaction is to decry short-term costs rather than thinking about long-term value.

  4. Rusty Shackleford 4

    Who actually pays for this? Is it the employer, or the govt? If it’s the employer, all that will happen is wages for ladies will grow at a slower rate than they would have as employers transfer the costs to workers. Then you lot will be back here in a few years bleating about how unfair it is ladies wages aren’t growing fast enough.

    Statists; ever blind to the unintended consequences of their good intentions.

    • framu 4.1

      the govt pays for it – so the rest of your comment is rendered pointless in this case

      Rusty; ever coming to a conclusion based on a question he didnt know the answer to 🙂

    • QoT 4.2

      wages for ladies

      Because it’s completely unthinkable men might want to (or it may be preferable for their household to) take parental leave, of course. It’s, um, just how things are, nothing to do with sexism at all. (Also, gay parents don’t exist!)

  5. Steve Wrathall 5

    “…more connected, more caring, more “productive” adults later.”

    What observation would falsify your theory that 3 extra months of staying home with Mum produces such personality trait manifestations?

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 5.1

      If you think you can adequately debunk attachment theory that challenge would be up to you. This isn’t your night school class and you are not the teacher setting assignments.

      Looks like you’ve got a lot of reading to do: behavioural and cognitive psychology, evolutionary theory, object relations theory, etc. etc.

      …’cos I can’t see anyone doing it for you.

      • Steve Wrathall 5.1.1

        Nice attempt to reverse the burden of proof.

        I am well aware of how social research is conducted. Unlike actual science where you have controls, treatments, double-blindness etc, SS uses the researcher’s self-chosen “framing” within a race, gender or class based context, and then uses this a priori conclusion as a prism through which the research question is studied.

        Again, what observation would be inconsistent with the your theory that 3 extra months of staying home with Mum produces more “connected” adults decades later?

        • Kotahi Tane Huna

          Do your own homework.

          • QoT

            Now now, KTH, we could at least do all the hard work of googling it for him.

            That being said, since he’s already quite clearly signalled that social science doesn’t count because it doesn’t have sufficiently masculine numbers, you’re probably on the right track with not bothering …

  6. Karl Sinclair 6

    National are average…. you see where they get there BS from…. The below just adds to the list educational genocide that is going on in our country… Dull, Dull, Dull…….

    I am truely bored with them…… they can’t even be creatively evil… they need to copy off another nation. JK, you’re average.


    As millions of students prepare to go back to school, budget cuts are resulting in teacher layoffs and larger classes across the country. This comes as the drive toward more standardized testing increases despite a string of cheating scandals in New York, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and other cities. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also recently unveiled a controversial plan to use waivers to rewrite parts of the nation’s signature federal education law, No Child Left Behind. We speak to New York City public school teacher Brian Jones and Diane Ravitch, the former assistant secretary of education and counselor to Education Secretary Lamar Alexander under President George H. W. Bush, who has since this post dramatically changed her position on education policy. She is the author of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.” [includes rush transcript]

  7. DH 7

    I think it’s a shame that issues like this get hijacked with emotional blackmail. This is nonsense…..

    “You pay parents to spend more time with their infants now, you get smarter, more connected, more caring, more “productive” adults later.”

    The logical corollary to that argument is that if you don’t pay parents to spend more time with their infants now you get dumber, less connected, less caring, less productive adults later. Doesn’t take much thought to see the fallacy in that argument.

    Good parents will bring their kids up right regardless of their circumstances, indeed they’ve been doing just that for thousands of years. PPL is a worthy goal to aim for when we can afford it but IMO the real effect would be a pound of prevention for a pound (or less) of cure.

    • QoT 7.1

      … I would ask if you understood that the point is the time spent with the infants, which the payment facilitates, but that would involve buying into your pathetic strawman.

      Pray tell, O wise logician, if “good” parents will be good regardless of the circumstances, is the “logical corollary” that we should forcibly sterilise those predetermined to be “bad” parents?

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