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Salvation Army report finds poverty in Godzone

Written By: - Date published: 4:23 pm, February 11th, 2008 - 53 comments
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salvation-army-report-feb-2008.jpgA report out today from the Salvation Army acts as a reminder that despite a suite of policies designed to improve the lives of those most in need there’s still work to be done.

Major Campbell Roberts says: “As a country we have invested hugely in core social spending, from $23b 10 years ago to $39b this year, but with very little increase in social progress. In fact, the gap between rich and poor appears to be widening.

If we are to make real social progress then we need as a country to reflect on the relative priority we give to economic issues versus social concerns. We have a duty to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are not left behind.”

53 comments on “Salvation Army report finds poverty in Godzone”

  1. Billy 1

    “…from $23b 10 years ago to $39b this year, but with very little increase in social progress.”

    $16b more a year for no benefit. Time to kick the middle class welfare in the guts? Time to accept that there are some problems governments are incapable of solving?

    Nah. Let’s try spending another $16b. That’ll work.

  2. East Wellington Superhero 2

    I like your selective cut and paste.

    Why didn’t you include this bit?

    “In addressing this important issue of our social priorities, we need perhaps to focus on two quite compelling moral questions what priority have we given to families and to the poor? In particular how have our personal behaviours and public policies nurtured family life and the ability of families to care for themselves?”

    Because socialism is hostile to the family. Watch the response to this question to prove my point.

    Do you folk at thestandard.org believe that traditional family of mum, dad and kids is the building block of a society and that when you damage that you damage society? And if you do believe that, should the goverment support such a traditional view? And if you do, then why hasn’t Labour supported it?

  3. Matthew Pilott 3

    EWS, I believe you are hostile to “the family” by taking a narrow perspective of a family and implying that it is the only good, decent or “right” type.

    Socialists are generally far more inclusive that the Conservative Christian Right.

    The hostility is from them, not the Left 🙂

  4. dancer 4

    ews – my understanding of the Working for Families policy was to boost incomes to those families most in need – along with other programmes like income related rents, paid parental leave, a 4th week annual leave – and the list could continue. if i had started my family under the National government there would have been no 14 weeks paid leave for me. spending time with a new baby is about as family friendly as you can get!
    i also think it’s healthy to keep asking ourselves “Can we do better”. if you’re not allowed to acknowledge some of the weaknesses how can you strive to improve?

  5. Daveo 5

    what priority have we given to families and to the poor? In particular how have our personal behaviours and public policies nurtured family life and the ability of families to care for themselves?’

    Because socialism is hostile to the family. Watch the response to this question to prove my point.

    You want to know what’s bad for families? Low wages that mean both parents have to work several jobs just to make ends meet, and the stresses that poverty and unemployment can put on a family.

    This is the fallacy of the conservative right – their own policies cause societal breakdown, and their answer is to do more of the same while moralising about gays, anti-smackers and solo parents.

    You want something tangible to help stop family breakdown? Lift wages, mandate decent overtime pay and keep unemployment low.

    What will the Right do to ensure decent incomes, low unemployment and an end to families having to work three jobs? From what we’ve seen today the answer is to scrap Working For Families and give tax cuts to the rich.

  6. r0b 6

    $16b more a year for no benefit. Time to kick the middle class welfare in the guts? Time to accept that there are some problems governments are incapable of solving?

    Billy, please tell me how market forces would solve this problem? I assume that you have a carefully thought out free market alternative to social welfare that you support, so I’d be keen to hear about it. Thanks…

  7. Tane 7

    Do you folk at thestandard.org believe that traditional family of mum, dad and kids is the building block of a society and that when you damage that you damage society? And if you do believe that, should the goverment support such a traditional view? And if you do, then why hasn’t Labour supported it?

    Supporting families is not about privileging a peculiar model of the family that arose out of 19th Century economic conditions. Like others have pointed out, it’s about making sure families have decent wages and enough work/life balance to spend some quality time together.

    As Dancer points out, there’s more to be done. I haven’t been happy with Labour’s progress. But if you think John Key and his mates at the Roundtable are going to relieve poverty you’ve got another thing coming. You strike me as someone who would benefit a lot from reading some history. Go look at the 1990s – unemployment, suicide, wages and overtime rates would be good topics to start with – then come back and tell me neoliberalism is the answer to family breakdown.

  8. outofbed 8

    that traditional family of mum, dad and kids
    Sounds like Conservative Christian Right speak

    You know, the ones the misogynistic child beaters
    Happy now EWS I said it

  9. Billy 9

    “Go look at the 1990s – unemployment, suicide, wages and overtime rates would be good topics to start with – then come back and tell me neoliberalism is the answer to family breakdown.”

    How are we going with explaining how Labour gets to blame all social problems of the ‘failed policies of the 1990s’ yet contemporaneously claim all the credit for the strong economy?

    Surely, they either have to accept the blame for social problems or admit they’ve got nothing to do with the economy. Which?

    And R0b, I’m not suggesting the market can fix these problems. But at least we’d have saved ourselves $16b for the “very little increase in social progress”.

  10. outofbed 10

    “Surely, they either have to accept the blame for social problems or admit they’ve got nothing to do with the economy. Which?”

    I guess one looks at the data one can see that the 1990’s the social problems caused by the “rights policies” is there to see
    and the data showing that under Cullens management the economy is very strong, is there to see
    Simple really

  11. r0b 11

    And R0b, I’m not suggesting the market can fix these problems. But at least we’d have saved ourselves $16b for the “very little increase in social progress’

    Billy, if you launch in with a vitriolic attack on social welfare (and the impotence of government), then you damn well better have a sensible alternative to propose. Otherwise, you’re just frothing.

    So what is it Billy, what’s your free market alternative? Just slash social welfare and screw the poor? Bring back workhouses? Is that what you want?

  12. James Kearney 12

    So Helen = Fidel?

    Your extremism is commendable Santi, nice job of internalising the Free Speech Coalition’s billboards and becoming a fully paid up member of the kiwiblog right.

  13. James Kearney 13

    Sorry, wrong thread.

  14. Archon 14

    “In fact, the gap between rich and poor appears to be widening.”

    I’m interested in how the the authors of the standard view the gap between the “rich and the poor” in terms of incomes. One of the culprits seems to be maths.

    As an example, Person A earns $25,000. Person B earns $75,000. A gap of $50,000. If you exclude all factors except for general growth and inflation, you’ve got a losing battle.

    At 4% wage growth and inflation, person A will earn around $37,000 after ten years (this assumes this person is doing the same job after 10 years i.e – no promotions). Person B will earn around $111,000 for their same job. Both people are equally better off (in % terms), but the gap has grown from $50,000 to $74,000.

    To “close” gap over 10 year, wages have to grow at 9% for person A, and 4% for person B.

    Should that be our aim?

  15. Dean 15

    “Billy, if you launch in with a vitriolic attack on social welfare (and the impotence of government), then you damn well better have a sensible alternative to propose. Otherwise, you’re just frothing.”

    r0b, if you can suggest why spending so much extra money has had very little impact then you’d better have a sensible excuse as to why the government spending money on our behalves constitutes a more equitable path for those still left wanting.

    Otherwise, you’re just reciting the party line.

  16. Billy 16

    outofbed,

    You claim it is simple. And I know all us righties are thick. So you’ll have to indulge me. Labour is presently in charge of both the economy and (if one believes governments control that sort of thing) the social environment. So they claim they’re running one brilliantly (the one that’s going well) and blame the one that’s going badly on soemone else.

    R0b, if that passes for vitriol where you come from you’d better get out more. Your policies don’t work and cost $39b a year. Get crowing I say. I once went to a lawyer who said he was shit but at least he was expensive.

  17. r0b 17

    Dean: If I agreed that the extra spending had “very little impact” – and without seeing the methodology of the study I don’t necessarily agree – then that’s what it costs. Some impact over a lot of people is still expensive. And, a more equitable path than what? I am still waiting to hear the alternative.

    Billy: To summarise. You don’t think governments can solve this problem. You want to kick the welfare system in the guts. But you haven’t a clue what to offer instead. Well Billy, criticism is easy, creating solutions is hard. If all you have to offer is easy sarcasm, well fine, carry on.

    Archon: You’re not one of Charlie’s Archons are you?

  18. lprent 18

    Sorry about the glitch.

    The database had a problem while it was running a backup. Seems to have broken an index. Now fixed after I fixed the offending file, ran a database check looking for inconsistencies and rebooted for luck.

  19. Billy 19

    And all you’ve got, R0b, is spending more of other people’s money for no real return. I know I don’t need to tell you to carry on. Still, pretend that’s compassion and I’m an arsehole if it helps.

  20. r0b 20

    And all you’ve got, R0b, is spending more of other people’s money for no real return.

    Who are you to judge real return Billy? Small improvements to the quality of life for a lot of people – who can say what that’s worth? Can you?

    Still, pretend that’s compassion and I’m an arsehole if it helps.

    I’m not claiming you’re an arsehole Billy, I’ve never met you. But I am suggesting that when dealing with real world problems, cheap sarcasm doesn’t cut it.

  21. AncientGeek 21

    EWS: the name says it all – compensating for something? Probably the lack of family by the sound of it.

    Do you folk at thestandard.org believe that traditional family of mum, dad and kids is the building block of a society and that when you damage that you damage society?

    Thats your idea of a traditional family?

    Weird – still I suppose that is the typical immigrant style. By the way, I regard immigrants as anyone whose family wasn’t here for the NZ Wars. At that I’m regarded as a radical by my extended family (who measure in the thousands). They generally put the cutoff date in the 1850’s or 1860’s. There are a few branches that considers it to be 1840.

    What I’m saying is that you have zero idea of what a family is or has been over the centuries in NZ or everywhere else. Any family that has been here for a while considers family to be far large than your minuscule definition. The type of family you are describing is an immigrant one fleeing from europe and hopelessly alienated from reality.

  22. Billy 22

    Not me judging, R0b. It was those evil right wingers at the Salvation Army working with the poor all day who said “from $23b 10 years ago to $39b this year, but with very little increase in social progress”. Sarcastic bastards.

  23. AncientGeek 23

    For the various people referring to Working For Families.

    There is a very simple rationale. What do you want, increased immigration or a better birth rate? The superannuation system has to be funded by taxpayers. At present we have a reducing birth rate.

    WWF is an attempt to at least maintain the birthrate. Anyone who has raised a family will tell you that it is a very expensive exercise. The government is trying to make it more economic for working families. We want them to carry on working to pay for the super, we also want them to have kids. Hence WWF. Looks like it is working – be a few years before we know if it works.

  24. r0b 24

    Sarcastic bastards.

    Billy, when you’re in a hole, stop digging. The first post in this thread is yours, it is a cheap sarcastic throwaway response. You have no alternatives propose. End of story.

  25. Billy 25

    Alright, R0b. You accept there’s a problem I take it. What is your solution? Does it involve pouring another $16b of other people’s money into a black hole and hoping this time it works? Or is it something else?

    Catchpa: Grand gland. Interesting, no?

  26. AncientGeek 26

    Billy: you have have a myopia problem. Basically you are short-sighted. Government is all about a 20 year timeframe (I wish the Nats would learn that).

    This government has been in for a bit over 8 years. You’d only expect that the earliest policies put in place 8 years ago should be showing progress now. Like unemployment and workforce participation for instance. And geewhiz – the report says that they are…. What was it 68.8% or the population are working – second highest in the OECD.

    This is in a country the size of the UK with 10% of its population. If we want to maintain a first world standard of living, we bloody well have to get everyone participating.

    Real wages aren’t likely to go up over the whole economy until there is effective unemployment. Now we have it and gee-whiz the wages are rising…

    After everyone starts getting a respectable income, gee-whiz wouldn’t you expect to see the problems from kids raised in deprived households 10-20 years earlier to go down… please watch this space…

    Maybe you should use that organ inside your skull and think past your so far limited lifetime… Otherwise wait until you’re ancient like me, and can see longer distance

    cap: combat pending
    ok – who said dat?

  27. r0b 27

    You accept there’s a problem I take it.

    Nope. I’m concerned to see the welfare state run effectively of course, but I’m not flipping it off with throwaway lines like you are.

  28. AncientGeek 28

    Dean:

    if you can suggest why spending so much extra money has had very little impact

    Same answer – social problems are very slow to change. Figure it, initially you wind pouring money into a very large population with limited effectiveness. As you start sorting out the problems, the population gets smaller, and the resources get larger per person. It starts getting a snowball effect and the process accelerates. But it all takes time.

    Besides that 39b figure is pretty bogus. They haven’t removed the superannuation from it. It probably accounts for more than half of the increase

  29. Billy 29

    AncientGeek, I tried reading that, but you seemed to use “gee-whiz” more than once. I am sorry, but I am just not able to take in anything containing phrases last used by 14 year olds in 1958.

    I did get as far as government is all about 20 year time frame, though. Does that mean that we have to thank the government of 1988 for the excellent economic conditions we are now enjoying? Gee wilikers, maybe you are on to something.

  30. AncientGeek 30

    Yes – it was labour.
    The restructure of the economy they did managed to survive the Nats and does constitute the major reason for the economy being the say it is now.

    Hell 1958 was before I was born… I blame it all on my parents..

  31. AncientGeek 31

    And Billy – it is good to see that you were paying attention in NZ History classes…

    cap: attire committees
    bloody fashion police

  32. Billy 32

    “Yes – it was labour.”

    Yes. I know. Just in case you are under any illusions, I consider the government we had from 1984 to November 1987 as the best in my lifetime. Doubt the authors of the Standard (diverse collective though they are, blah, blah, blah) would agree.

  33. Billy 33

    Actually, I think it was ’88.

  34. AncientGeek 34

    1984-1990. So do I. It was a hell of a time to be around NZ, and they made a hell of a lot of mistakes, but they did more things correctly than not. But I think that the results speak for themselves, 20 years later.

    On the other hand, I’ve never seen the Nats make anything apart from mistakes, when you look backwards. Short-term thinkers

  35. AncientGeek 35

    This government is doing the second part of the fix after a failure of policy from the nats in the 90’s. Having fixed the economy, they are fixing society so it is even more efficient – moving people back into being productive is a lot harder. Looks like it is slowly working as well.

  36. Archon 36

    “Archon: You’re not one of Charlie’s Archons are you?”

    R0b, no.

    …and after a Google, oh dear.

    My observation remains, that growth and inflation leads to the “gap” between “rich” and “poor” widening, even though, in percentage terms both can be equally better off.

    When is the “gap” deemed to be “closed”?

  37. Murray 37

    I think the lower socioeconomic families would be a hell of a lot better off if they stopped spending thier “free” money on pokies, piss, and pot.

  38. Phil 38

    Thansk Murray, great contribution to the debate.

  39. East Wellington Superhero 39

    By and large your responses confirmed my point. That socialism is hostile to the traditions family. And actually I meant the intergenerational family. And yes I have read history and those who harped on about 19th century industrialisation as the root of modern social breakdown is silly. The intergenerational family is pretty versatile when it comes to challenging conditions – to suggest that humanity had it easy up until industrialisation is a load of horse-poop and shows a selective reading of human history, not an appreciation of history which you claim to have.

    What the intergeneration family cannot withstand is the challenges from within – the dismantling of its natural shape and place within human society. Kids need mothers and family. Adults’ fortunes are generally better within the marriage relationship and having children tends to make human-beings more outward looking and less self-serving. Of course there will be exceptions to this – however, the exceptions to not invalidate the natural order of the family. Yet socialism is at complete odds with this order.

    I don’t give a rip if you want to label me as this or that because all it does is prove your hostility to the family. And therein lies the failure of Labour’s social policy to help Kiwi families.

  40. Sam Dixon 40

    Isn’t it a bit disingenious of the Sallies to state just the nominal increase in social spending and totally ignore inflation? In ten years, inflation has been about 30-35%. That acounts for 7-8 billion of the 14 billion increase in social spending straight off.

  41. As someone pointed out, Math will keep the gap between rich and poor widening, in pure dollar terms anyway. So long as we have inflation then the pure numerical difference will keep increasing.

    We need to look at what classifies as poor: Unable to afford Sky TV? No microwave? Using toilet paper instead of tissues? Living two families to a house? Living in a Sth American style favela (haven’t seen any of them here), living in a corner of a mudhut (none of those either).

    And this from EWS:
    Do you folk at thestandard.org believe that traditional family of mum, dad and kids is the building block of a society and that when you damage that you damage society?

    My ‘religion’ involves the individual being the building block of society. The well-being of the individual comes before the well being of the family. While that may seem me-generational, it is just as able to produce a strong society as one based on the family and is the one for which the modern post-feminist children’s-rights state is set up for. While feminism and children’s rights do tear apart the fabric of the traditional family they set the foundation for individuals to be stronger than they were previously. The losers are the previous male heads of house who lament the passing of family tradition as much as teary eyed nostalgiaics mourned the passing of the Queen Mother and all that she represented.

    So, EWS, I mourn with you. There is counselling available and I am sure you will get over it.

  42. East Wellington Superhero 42

    Kent,
    That’s the whole scandal! It isn’t the male heads of family who are mourning. You just think it is because you think they are the enemy.
    The reality is that it’s the kids who don’t have fathers that get the raw deal. It’s the mothers who are left in the position of being told that the state will look after them and their kids. They are the losers.
    Individuals as the basic unit of a society doesn’t work because kids need parents. Therefore, logically, the family must be the basic unit.

    Unless of course you think kids don’t need parents.
    Kent, do you think kids need parents or can the state be an equal substitute?

  43. Horisthebear 43

    When will people realise that the 1990s were one of the worst economic decades for New Zealand due to global circumstances, nothing to do with National Policies. Without the policies National introduced NZ Inc would have been bankrupted. Tell me this. How many of the so called failed 1990s economic policies have Labour unwound? A bit of tinkering around Labour relations and nothing else. Labour is very quick to take credit for the economic position it inheirted due to tough decisions to deregulate and reduce debt. The last 8 years globally have been the best in 50 years – this is nothing to do with Labour policies, but has been good for NZ. Has Helen Clark ever reversed the so called “Benefit cuts”? She certaintly moans about it and blames people for it. How long do I have to hear that todays youth criminals are Nationals causing – what rubbish. She has had 8 years to do something about it! Has Helen Clark stopped poverty? No it has got worse. Has she had the chance yes. Do we have the resources and money to do it. Yes. Does Labour have the will. no. And not everyone in National are neocons. Some of us have grown up in poverty.

    Putting up wages will simply mean businesses lose money and pack up and leave NZ. Don’t you think it is stupid to tax someone on $40k, and then IF they have kids give it back to them so they pay no taxes and in the meantime employ a bunch of people to unproductivitely adminstrate the lot?

  44. East Wellington Superhero 44

    Horis,
    Nice comments.

  45. Steve Pierson 45

    Horis.

    “so-called benefit cuts”. There goes your crediblity.

    and don’t call a society of 4 million individuals “NZ Inc”. This is not a company, its goal is not simply to maximise profits for its owners.

  46. East Wellington Superhero 46

    Steve,
    If NZ is not a company (and for the record I don’t think it is) then why does Dr. Cullen keeping talking about a ‘dividend’ for tax-payers?!
    What a joke.

  47. Horisthebear 47

    Steve – for the record THERE WERE BENEFIT CUTS. NATIONAL DID THEM. No argument but it was nearly 15 years ago…Helen calls them the Benefits Cuts. Hence “the so called benefit cuts”. No dispute.

    Sure the reference to NZ Inc was meant to be a reference to NZ as an entity – including the 1 million kiwis that live overseas, not as a company, it is commonly used by Mr Cullen. Clearly our collective goal is to maximise not profits but our standard of living.

  48. EWS,

    You are fighting for the past, but you are welcome to it. Clearly you are a male, perhaps with kids, perhaps not. There is nothing new about kids being brought up without fathers. Major wars during 20th century left some generations fatherless. Previously, Victorian traditions ensured that fathers were so distant that the only benefit children got was the material comforts they provided. Men have always been travelling salesmen, sailors, soldiers etc. vocations which ensure that their children are brought up by solo mothers.

    No, I’m wrong, you are fighting for something that you only imagined existed, but never did. Meanwhile, amongst all the clamouring that kids are messed up because of ‘absent fathers’, the real reasons why kids are messed up are being overlooked.

    If the young men only see male ‘role models’ like you complaining bitterly that kids are messed up because of lack of fathering, what kind of an impact is that going to have on them? History has proven over and over and over and over that fathering can be successfully achieved from a distance. The child does not have to be living with the father. The father does need to have a good relationship with the kid, which includes, as just pointed out, an absence of self-deprecatory ideas such as your complaint. If you are a father, I suggest you stop complaining and just get on with doing the job properly.

    Removing the family as prime economic unit does not remove the importance of parent child relationships.

  49. Matthew Pilott 49

    Horisthebear – I’m intrigued. Do you think Labour could have stopped poverty? I hold them in high regard, but clearly not as highly as you do!

    BTW, do Helen Clark’s tears cure cancer?

    On a serious note, it’s refreshing to hear someone anti-Labour (or so it seems) who doesn’t seem to think the main goal in life and government should be to maximise profits, but our standard of living. What would you have Labour do different?

    Given our current record employment rate, and family-targeted assistance such as WFF, child care, changes to maternity leave, annual leave, doctor subsidies and such, I’m intrigued as to your comments – surely these policies have targeted living standards, and not wealth alone?

    Also, when you say ‘putting wages up’ – is this a reference to minimum wages, or the current debate around workforce productivity and our low-wage economy? I don’t think the government will force businesses to pay workers more, but labour’s grants to R & D in NZ can only help – I’d expect to see more policy along those lines – they’re not going to demand a 10% pay rise for everyone as you imply!

  50. East Wellington Superhero 50

    Kent,
    The ideas you seem to support are folly.

    As far as ‘fathers being distant in the Victorian Age’ – are you serious? Is that the best you’ve got? Sure, some men in the past were soldiers/sailors/travelling labourers but people like my grandfather came home, so your claim hardly covers a majority of men (anyway, don’t marxist argue that all these men were trapped in factories, rather than sailing around the world?). Moreover, in such cases at least they knew they had a father that cared for them and loved them, rather than the kids I’ve worked with who only know their father as someone who impregnated their mother and then did a runner. This has a traumatic effect on these kids self-worth and their ability to live a normal life.

    Do you know many poor single mothers? Have you worked with single-parent kids? Judging by your comments I doubt you have. Forgive me if I’m wrong but in my experience people that say things like you, haven’t. Sure, they might have kids of their but they’ve never dealt with the nitty-gritty of lower socio-economic families. Most are middle-class uni grads you don’t know shit about kids in Porirua or Otara. And most don’t even have kids.

  51. Horisthebear 51

    Matthew I agree with some of what you are saying, as I think you agree a little with me – see the left and the right can debate civily. More money doesn’t stop poverty on its own – but it sure helps if done properly. My point is Labour has had 8 years to fix issues and done little for those at the bottom. The Salvation army report proves it again. sometimes listening to Helen speak you would think her tears could cure cancer and john Keys cause it! Taking from the middle classes to give back to the middle class does little for poverty at the bottom and costs the economy net net. Nearly all the policies Labour have brought in fit this. I have no problems to take from the rich to give to the poor – if it makes sense to do so and the poor can better themselves – the hand up not hand out argument. But it is stupid to tax the middle classes to give selectively back to them for social engineering the same amount less a bit. Yes I vote National and I grew up in one of the poorest places in NZ East Chch. Maybe I am a little strange – I am an economic conservative and socially liberal!

    Lets take an example, why do we have billions tied up in owning 90% of some Govt assets like air nz getting poor returns when those funds would be better spent reducing poverty there is no silver bullet – even spending decent money on getting education standards higher would be a start – half of my local schools are failing according to Ero. Clarks policy doesn’t do this it makes it worse by forcing kids who shouldn;t be in school to stay and cause trouble for the others. The issue should be to have no kids in NZ suffering from poverty. Lets us debate how we get there but some things will have be done differently as the current ideas are surely not working.

    Govt. can’t force businesses to pay more wages it can only regulate minimum wages and standards. In an economy growing at 3% if wages take more someone takes less. Or there is a switch away to capital. Normally businesses fold or move when margins are at threat as international capital is mobile and they can make more money elsewhere if costs in NZ increase relative to other places. Despite many views profit margins in most businesses in NZ outside the top 50 (many of which are in fact govt owned SOEs or regulated) are low. My employer faces a strong and agressive union who thinks 5% pa wage rises is the rule come what may.

    I do think WFF is a good idea but needs changes and I wholeheartedly support paid maternity care, but there is no point have more kids if your wife can’t even get a midwife to help or she has to go back to work when a baby is months old or can’t afford, or doesn’t have access to childcare.

  52. Phil 52

    No Horis, you’re not alone – I’m also “an economic conservative and socially liberal”…

    … Is it just me, or does that sound like the first step to recovery?

  53. Matthew Pilott 53

    Horisthebear,

    Yep, nice to not degenerate into a shouting match! I had a look at the report and thought a few things were interesting. One example is that the number of children in CYFS care is increasing.

    This can be spun two ways. One is that the Labour Government is failing children, that more are requiring full-time care and monitoring away from their parents. The other way to see it is that there is more money being spent on CYFS and on children’s welfare in general – more money to investigate referrals, more money to look after the children that most need it.

    I was also interested to see that the gap between performance of decile 1 and decile 10 schools is decreasing. Workforce participation is well up, and unemployment is down (against a growing populaion.

    While I don’t believe the government is perfect by any means, I think that it is moving in the right direction. The statement ‘Labour has had eight years to fix x is largely meaningless; there’s no defined period of time within which a problem should be seen as ‘fixed’, as long as adequate steps are being taken to properly address it.

    Your queston about SOE ownership versus cashing-up to solve contemporary issues reminds me of Norway’s Petroleum Fund. Many think that this huge fund should be cashed up to solve current social ills, whilst others maintain it should be kept for the original purpose of superannuation, and to provide a large investment fund.

    So we must ask here, what is the value of having a functional National Airline? Can the energy and transport sector be better managed (to the benefit of all New Zelaanders) privately, or publicly? If they’re sold for our benefit now, who will suffer in future? There’s always an opportunity cost, Labour believe that these assets need to be kept in state hands. Once they’re gone, they are notoriously difficult and expensive to get back.

    I support this view – we have no right to deprive future generations of valuable SOEs for our benefit.

    Quickly, on WFF – as a targeted system to those who are working and have families, to administer it through taxation would be a nightmare. I can’t think of a better way, and I haven’t heard a better suggestion – the only criticism is that it should not exist. However, if there’s been a conscious decision to target people who are working and want to have children, you’ve got to decide whether you support the policy, or don’t think it’s worth it. As you’ve probably guessed, I agree with the principle.

    Phil – ‘recovery’? What ails you? 🙂

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