Archive

Archive for May, 2014

A music moment: I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)

.

 

.

Dedicated to certain Labour Party candidates…

.

.

= fs =

Categories: On A Lighter Note Tags: ,

National spins BS to undermine Labour’s Capital Gains Tax

.

bull shit

.

The Nats have been at it again; spinning their misleading bullshit to discredit Labour policy.

This time, Revenue Minister Todd McClay, has been busy issuing media statements that there is no need for Labour’s proposed Capital Gains Tax because, well, evidently, we already have one.

On Sunday 25 May, McClay was quoted as stating,

“Where somebody buys a property or buys shares with an intention of the capital gains being accrued … if their intention is to make a gain from the capital, their normal income tax rules apply, and therefore there is a capital gain.”

Earlier in the month, McClay had made the same assertion,

“When people say New Zealand doesn’t have a capital gains tax on property it’s not true – we do have a capital gains tax, and it applies to speculators.”

Which is strange, because when Labour first released it’s CGT (capital gains tax) policy in  2011,  the following were in favour;

The Dominion Post
NBR
Herald on Sunday
Gisborne Herald
Waikato Times
The Greens
The IMF
The OECD
and columnists and commentators,

Paul Little
Mike Hosking
Gordon Campbell
Anthony Hubbard
Patrick Smellie
Vernon Small
Corin Dann
Andrea Vance
John Hartvell
Matthew Hooten
John Roughan
Duncan Garner
John Armstrong
Bernard Hickey
Gareth Morgan

plus 
Academics,  tax experts, economists, and Treasury.

Those opposed to a CGT were National, ACT, and Landlords.  Unsurprisingly, really, when you think about it. National, ACT, and Landlords represent the capitalists and speculators in our society and they would welcome a tax on capital gains like turkeys look forward to Christmas.

So if we already have a Capital Gains Tax – why were so many in favour of introducing a law specifically for it?

This blogger would  hazard a guess that National and ACT oppose a CGT because it would make up for the seven tax cuts since 1986. These seven tax cuts have seriously reduced government revenue and constrained center-left governments from implementing social policies that would return this country to being a decent social democracy.

Imagine if a CGT in five or ten years would deliver sufficient revenue to fully fund a free tertiary education system in this country. It would drive another nail into the coffin of the neo-liberal policy of user-pays.

Hence why National and ACT absolutely loathe Labour’s policy.

If a CGT was introduced, the catch-cry of right wingers – “but where will the money come from!?!?” – will be muted – if not silenced forever.

But is McClay correct? Do we currently have a Capital Gains Tax?

The answer is, ‘Yes’. And ‘No’.

The current taxation policy on capital gains is haphazard; ill-defined; and open to interpretation. This IRD web-page  illustrates how vague the law is on this issue,

.

 

Residential property Whare nohoanga

.

Mistaking property dealing for property investment

Property investor is a collective term for property speculators, dealers and investors. However, they are each treated very differently under tax law.

  • Factors to consider when determining your status
  • What is an investor, a speculator and a dealer?
  • If you are not clear on your intentions for buying a property
  • How long do I need to hold the property to make it a capital gain?
  • How many properties can I sell before it is considered taxable?

Factors to consider when determining your status

Three main factors can determine your status as a property buyer for tax purposes:

  • your intention when you buy a property
  • the patterns of your previous property transactions
  • your association to a builder, property dealer or developer.

The category you fall into isn’t determined by what the property is called or how the activity is described. For example, it may be marketed as a “rental investment” with strong “capital gain” potential, but your firm intention or prior pattern is the factor that determines its tax treatment or if you’re involved in or associated with someone in the business of building, dealing, developing or dealing with land.

If you’re an investor you buy a property to use it to generate ongoing rental income and not with any firm intent of resale. The property is a capital asset and any later profit or loss from selling the property is capital and isn’t taxable (apart from clawing back any depreciation, which is now recoverable).

The rules may be different if you’ve been associated with a person or entity involved in the business of building, dealing, developing or sub-dividing land.  

If you buy a property intending to:

  • resell it, or
  • you intend to sell it after making improvements to it

you’re likely to be a speculator or a dealer. Renting your property temporarily doesn’t change your tax treatment either – you’re still a speculator or a dealer.

What is an investor, a speculator and a dealer?

Investor

If you’re an investor you buy a property to use it to generate ongoing rental income and not with any firm intent of resale. The property is a capital asset and any later profit or loss from selling the property is capital and isn’t taxable (apart from clawing back any depreciation, which is now recoverable).

Property investors sometimes refer to a “buy and hold” strategy. This approach is most likely to mean you are a property investor for tax purposes.

Investors will investigate and analyse future revenue streams, and any gain made on the sale of the property is incidental. Their investment is soundly based on a return from the rental income.

Investors pay income tax on their net rental income but generally not on the eventual sale proceeds of the property.

Note

The rules may be different if you’ve been associated with a person or entity involved in the business of building, dealing, developing or sub-dividing land.

Find out about special tax rules for associated persons.

Speculator

You might think profits from selling property are always capital gains so you don’t have to pay tax on them.  But, this isn’t always true. If one of your reasons for buying a property is to resell it, whether you live in it or rent it out, you’re speculating in property and your profit is likely to be taxable. And, if you sell that property at a loss, the loss may be tax-deductible.

If you’re a speculator you buy a property always intending to sell it. The property is treated like “trading stock” and your profit or loss from selling the property is taxable. Speculating can be a one-off purchase and sale of a property.  Speculators may also receive rental income from the property before they sell it.  

Property dealers or speculators will try to determine and analyse the property’s future price movements because that’s what the deal rests on. Any rental income is secondary.

To be a speculator, you need buy only one property with the firm intent of resale.
Dealers and speculators must pay income tax on any gain they make from reselling their property. If they declare a loss, it may be tax-deductible. They must also pay tax on rental income they may earn from the properties.

Dealer

If you’re a dealer you are similar to a speculator buying properties for resale, but you have established a regular pattern of buying and selling. This includes rental properties.

Some property buyers refer to a “buy and flick” strategy. This approach is most likely to mean you are a property speculator or dealer for tax purposes.

Dealers and speculators must pay income tax on any gain they make from reselling their property. If they declare a loss, it may be tax-deductible. They must also pay tax on rental income they may earn from the properties.

If you are not clear on your intentions for buying a property

Read our guide Buying and selling residential property (IR313)

If you’re buying and selling property other than a private family home, we recommend you get advice from a tax advisor with expertise in this area.

How long do I need to hold the property to make it a capital gain?

There is no time limit. If you buy a property with the firm intention of resale, it doesn’t matter how long you hold it – the gain on resale will be taxable (and any loss may be tax-deductible).

Example

You buy a property with a firm plan to resell it for a profit. The property market falls and you decide to hold onto it instead. You rent it out for 15 years and then sell it when the prices are again rising rapidly. Any gain on that sale 15 years later is likely to be taxable.

How many properties can I sell before it is considered taxable?

There is no set number of properties you can have before they become taxable. In some cases the first property bought and sold may be taxable if you bought it for resale. In other cases there could be a number of factors to take into consideration, such as having a regular pattern of buying and selling property, before a property is taxable.

The factors that may be looked at will vary because each taxpayer’s circumstances are different. For example, buying one property every two years may be considered a regular pattern for one individual and not another.

Find out more about what tax you should be paying

 

Date published: 30 Jul 2010

.

Note the difference between Investor, Speculator, and Dealer;

  • Speculators and Dealers  are liable to pay tax on gains made from selling property.
  • But an Investor is not liable to pay tax on realised gains.

The difference is open to interpretation, behaviour, and intent. Though how an IRD official can know the intent of someone purchasing a  property remains a mystery. Telepathy? Time travel? A hot-line to one of our gods?

The issue is not made any clearer on another IRD web page;

.

Selling property

.

The things you need to consider when selling your investment property, selling your rental property or selling the family home.

What happens when you sell your family home

Selling a family/private home usually has no tax consequence. However there are some circumstances where you may have to pay tax.

What happens when you sell your investment property

Generally, you don’t need to pay tax when you sell your investment property except for any depreciation recovered. However, each time you sell a property it is important to consider if you are still a residential investor or are now a dealer.

What happens when you sell your rental property

Generally, you don’t need to pay tax when you sell your rental property except for any depreciation recovered. However, each time you sell a rental property it is important to consider if you are still a residential rental investor or are now a dealer.

.

Obviously, there is no one-law-for-all.  (Something which the ACT Party might like to consider, in it’s “one-law-for-all” policy, as it insists on dumping  Treaty of Waitangi  settlement claims.)

When John Key gave justification to amend statutes governing the GCSB, and extended the spy agency’s powers so it could spy on all New Zealanders and Permanent residents, he claimed that the original  Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 was “not fit for purpose“.

When a tax law is so ill-defined that it is open to interpretation of “behaviour” and “intent”, then I submit that the current law on capital gains is “not fit for purpose”.

The National government can squeal all it likes, but the time has come for a capital gains tax and to close the Homer Tunnel-sized loop-holes that bedevil  the current law.

After all, if we already have a Capital Gains Tax as Revenue Minister Todd McClay insists – then he won’t mind terribly much if the law is tightened up. We’d be formalising what McClay says already exists.

Right?

That’s making it “fit for purpose”.

.


 

References

Radio NZ:  Parties at odds over capital gains tax

MSN News: IRD targets `high end’ tax dodgers

Tumeke: John Key’s dagger and his 4 Horsemen of the Capital Gains Tax

IRD: Residential Property – Mistaking property dealing for property investment

IRD: Residential Property – Selling property

National Party: Draft intelligence community legislation released

 

Previous related blogpost

A Capital Gains Tax?  (14 July 2011)

ACT intending a “serious assault”?  (17 July 2011)

 


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 May 2014.

.

.

= fs =

Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 30 May 2014 – the Mana Internet Party Alliance

.

– Focus on Politics –

.

– Friday 30 May 2014  –

.

– Demelza Leslie –

.

A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

The contest for votes on the left is heating up with the announcement this week of an alliance between the Mana and Internet parties and the reappearance of former Alliance Party MP Laila Harre.

 

.

Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

.

Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 30 May 2014 ( 16′  57″ )

  • Mana Party, Internet Party, Laila Harre
  • MMP, “coat-tailing” rule
  • Sue Bradford
  • Kelvin Davis
  • Hone Harawira
  • David Cunliffe
  • John Key, Epsom, Ohariu
  • Winston Peters
  • Gerry Brownlee

John Key;

@ 10.49

“If you look at those places like Epsom and Ohariu, those people actually won their seats outright, in their own right…”

@ 12.28

“He can go on and on and on all he likes that there isn’t some deal and there isn’t something going on. But you just take a step back and you say well what sort of person puts up three or four million dollars, has absolutely nothing in common with the party that’s there, has actually no interest in politics, lives in a twentyfive million dollar house and is arguing he’s there for the poorest New Zealanders which is what, you know, Hone Harawira talks about and Laila Harre talk about. It’s not really a plausible or believable story…”

 
Additional

Power Play, by Chris Bramwell

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

 

 

 

.

.

= fs =

Letter to the Editor: The ‘Darth Vader’ of Deal Making! (v.3)

 

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

.

FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Fri, 30 May 2014 12:37:12 +1200
TO:     "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

.

The Editor
Dominion Post


.

How does one define panic?

Answer: when a Prime Minister launches into stinging attacks
on two tiny political parties that, between the two of them,
barely register at 2% in every poll conducted.

I refer to John Key bagging the recent alliance of Mana and
the Internet Party, asserting;

"You've got a guy who can't buy a house in New Zealand, but
he can buy a political party."

Realising that people will draw comparisons between between
his criticism of the  Mana-Internet Party Alliance and
National's stitch-ups in Epsom and Ohariu, Key lamely added;

 "Those people win their seats outright, in their own right.
Their motivations are the beliefs of those parties. That's
not the case here."

What garbage.

With talk of a National-Conservative Party stitch-up before
the election, the 'Darth Vader' of deal-making - John Key -
is drawing attention to his own party's shonkey
"arrangements".

How else to explain the Nats freaking out at Mana and the
Internet Party working strategically together? They must
feel very threatened by a party with a combined poll rating
of only 2%.

The 1% fearing the 2%? Appropriate.

-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

 

.


 

References

NZ Herald: PM accuses Dotcom of trying to ‘buy influence’

 

 


 

.

john key is scared of your vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

 

Letter to the Editor: The ‘Darth Vader’ of Deal Making! (v.2)

 

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

.

FROM: "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE: Fri, 30 May 2014 11:02:22 +1200
TO: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>

.

The Editor
NZ Herald

.

John Key must be panicking.

How else does one explain his bizarre statements about the
recent Mana Internet Party Alliance;

"You've got a guy who can't buy a house in New Zealand, but
he can buy a political party. I think most New Zealanders
would look at that and be pretty cynical about it. No one
should be under any illusion."

No, Mr Key, we are not "under any illusion".

Especially when the Prime Minister lamely insists that the
National-Peter Dunne stitch-up and the National-John Banks
stitch-up in 2011 were obvious examples of deal-making from
the Right.

And coming soon, for this election, as well as stitch-ups in
Ohariu and Epsom, voters can now look forward to a deal
between John Key and the Conservative Party. But according
to the Prime Minister, deal-making between Right Wing
parties is ok;

"Those people win their seats outright, in their own right.
Their motivations are the beliefs of those parties. "

Yeah, right.

Well, I have a deal for John Key, the 'Darth Vader of
deal-making'; how about he stops trying to influence voters
and leave those decisions to us? In return, we won't call
him a hypocrite.


-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

 

.


 

References

NZ Herald: PM accuses Dotcom of trying to ‘buy influence’

 

 


 

.

john key is scared of your vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

 

Letter to the Editor: The ‘Darth Vader’ of Deal Making!

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

.

FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Letters to the editor
DATE:     Fri, 30 May 2014 10:28:19 +1200
TO:      "Sunday Star Times" <letters@star-times.co.nz>

.

The editor
Sunday Star Times

.


One can tell when the Right are in a panic - they start
making silly noises about parties on the Left.

Take for example John Key's recent silly utterances about
the strategic alliance between the Internet Party and Mana
that "You've got a guy who can't buy a house in New Zealand,
but he can buy a political party. I think most New
Zealanders would look at that and be pretty cynical about
it. No one should be under any illusion" - is laughable.

I take it that Key excludes the Epsom deal between himself
and John  Banks in 2011?

On the Epsom cup-of-tea deal, Key says, "Those people win
their seats outright, in their own right. Their motivations
are the beliefs of those parties".

Really? So why the need for the "cup of tea" arrangement
with John Banks if ACT could  "win their seats outright, in
their own right"?

One would think the Right would be fine with this kind of
“arrangement” because it validates the Epsom stich-up;
the Ohariu stitch-up; and the coming Conservative Party
stitch-up…

When it comes to stitch-up deal-making, the Left have
learned their lessons from National - especially from John
Key, the 'Darth Vader' of deal-making.


-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

 

.


 

References

NZ Herald: PM accuses Dotcom of trying to ‘buy influence’

 


 

.

20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

National-ACT supporters – not the brightest lights in the night sky, eh?

.

The-Republican-Revolt

.

Reading some comments on the Campbell Live Facebook page, soon after the investigative story on the  GCSB was aired on 20 May, I was struck by the sheer lack of informed comment by some right-wing Facebook users. Take for example, this statement was a user identifying himself as “Jack Peters“;

.

Facebook user - Jack Peters

.

(Note: the profile appears to be fictitious and nothing more than a right-wing troll. According to his Profile, “Jack Peters” has ‘Liked” the Green Party, a somewhat clumsy attempt to smear the Greens by association with his blatant trolling.)

“Jack Peters” made a reference to the GCSB was created under Helen’s [Clark’s] watch“.

This reminded me immediately of a story back in 2012, which linked right-wing/conservative/racist beliefs with low intelligence;

.

Right-wingers are less intelligent than left wingers, says study

.

Following up on this story last year, Goal Auzeen Saedi (Ph.D), wrote in Psychology Today,

Hodson and Busseri (2012) found in a correlational study that lower intelligence in childhood is predictive of greater racism in adulthood, with this effect being mediated (partially explained) through conservative ideology. They also found poor abstract reasoning skills were related to homophobic attitudes which was mediated through authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact.

What this study and those before it suggest is not necessarily that all liberals are geniuses and all conservatives are ignorant. Rather, it makes conclusions based off of averages of groups. The idea is that for those who lack a cognitive ability to grasp complexities of our world, strict-right wing ideologies may be more appealing. Dr. Brian Nosek explained it for the Huffington Post as follows, “ideologies get rid of the messiness and impose a simple solution. So, it may not be surprising that people with less cognitive capacity will be attracted to simplifying ideologies.”

.

Why do I raise this point?

Because right-wing troll “Jack Peters” slammed critics of the Key government by stating that the GCSB was created under Helen’s [Clark’s] watch.

In fact, the GCSB was created by then-National Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, in 1977, as the GCSB itself pointed out on it’s own website,

.

history of the GCSB Government communications security bureau

.

Created by a National government.

Powers increased by a National government.

Misinformed beliefs from National supporters.

Who then vote in the next National Government.

That, people, is what is commonly known as a vicious circle.

.

***

.

To view the Campbell Live story on the GCSB and the murky goings-on behind the scenes, I present a link here (click on the image to take you to the TV3 website);

.

Campbell Live - GCSB - John Key

.

It is, quite simply, one of the best bits of investigative journalism this blogger has witnessed for some time. Campbell Live and Maori TV’s  Native Affairs are simply Must Watch tv.

.

***

 

 

References

Facebook: Campbell Live – Jack Peters

TV3: Key’s meeting with GCSB boss revealed

Facebook: “Jack Peters”

Daily Mail Online: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left wingers, says study

Psychology Today:  Do Racism, Conservatism, and Low I.Q. Go Hand in Hand?

Government Communications Security Bureau: History of the GCSB

TV3: Campbell Live – Key’s meeting with GCSB boss revealed

Previous related blogposts

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

 

 


.

 

1496189_1409071792672271_1235209203_o

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 May 2014.

.

.

= fs =

Letter to the Editor: Mana, Internet Party, Judith Collins, and “coat-tailing”

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

.

Oh, the height of irony as various National MPs bleat on about Mana-Internet Party “coat-tailing” on Hone Harawira’s electorate…

.
FROM: "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE: Thu, 29 May 2014 12:51:49 +1200
TO: "NZ Herald" <letters@herald.co.nz> 

.

The Editor
NZ Herald

.

Gerry Brownlee, other National MPs, supporters, and assorted
hangers-on have accused the Mana and Internet Party Alliance
of "stitching" up a deal and "coat-tailing" on Hone
Harawira's electorate of Te Tai Tokerau.

I might remind Mr Brownlee and National's fellow-travellers
that, after taking hundreds of public submissions, the
Electoral Commission recommended in May last year to do away
with the "coat tailing" provision in MMP, as well as
reducing the Party threshold from 5% to 4%.

Justice Minister, Judith Collins - perhaps too busy with
trips to China and milk issues - refused to implement the
Electoral Commission's recommendations. She cited "lack of
consensus" from MPs.

Translated into plain english, Collins' reference to a "lack
of consensus" meant ACT and Peter Dunne opposed removing the
"coat tailing" provision because it would impact on a slim 
chance to bring additional MPs into Parliament on their
"coat tails".

John Key had the chance to remove this unpopular provision
from MMP and failed to do so for their own self interest.
Now the chooks have come home to roost for National.

-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

.


 

References

NZ Herald: Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

 


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

Review: TV3’s The Nation – “Let them eat ice cream!”

.

TV3 - The-Nation - poverty - inequality

.

In the last three years I have been truly outraged and sickened only twice when watching a current affairs/documentary programme. The first was Bryan Bruce’s “Inside Child Poverty“, broadcast back on 22 November 2011.

Bryan presented the viewer with a country of increasing child poverty, disease, low-quality housing; and growing inequality that few of us (except hardcore ACT and National supporters) would have believed possible in a wealthy country like New Zealand. Especially a country which once prided itself on egalitarianism, fairness, and looking after those less fortunate than the privileged Middle Classes.

The second time was just recent – watching TV3’s current affairs programme,  The Nation, on 24 May. The one word that came to mind as I watched the episode was: revulsion. Not revulsion at the fact that our once proud egalitarian nation is now one of the most unequal on the face of this planet – but revulsion at the injection of humour in interviews; panel discussion, and levity between the hosts, Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower.

.

Hosts for TV3's "The Nation", Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower

Hosts for TV3’s “The Nation”, Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower

.

I am not even referring to Patrick Gower “interviewing” Ben Uffindell, editor of the satirical blogsite, The Citizen. Though one certainly has to question why this segment was deemed worthy of insertion? What was the point of suggesting that children living in poverty – many of whom go to school without food (or  are given “food” that is of dubious nutritional value); no shoes; no rain coats; or lacking other items which Middle Class families take for granted – would find it funny to be given ice cream or a South American animal?

.

 

TV3 - The Nation - Ben Uffindell

.

I recall a legend of someone else trying to “make light” of the plight of the poor. That person suggested cake, in lieu of ice cream.

The highly talented Mr Uffindell has never been  invited to comment on other pressing issues and problems confronting our country. So why start with inequality and associated problems with child poverty? A question I posed to The Nation, via Twitter;

.

TV3 - The Nation - inequality -  Twitter feed 24 May 2014

.

So why is levity suddenly the order-of-the-day when poverty and inequality is under the media microscope?

Because we are “just laughing at ourselves” some might say?

No. We are not “laughing at ourselves”. We are laughing at the thought  of children, living in  poverty, being given free ice cream and llamas.

We are not “laughing at ourselves”.  We are laughing at children and families living in poverty – at their expense.

That is the difference.

Funnily enough, there was certainly no humour on  The Nation (10 may) when ACT’s Jamie Whyte proposed a  flat tax policy. Where was the mirth? The satirical hilarity? Where was the wink-wink-nudge-nudge repartee between The Nation’s hosts?

Any humour must have been lost amongst the rustling sound of $100 bills been eagerly counted…

TV3 - The Nation - Torben Akel

Bill English stated in the above video,

“Income inequality has not got worse. In fact we’re one of two developed countries where the OECD has recently as yesterday have said it’s stable since 1994. And in fact in the last few years there’s some indications it’s fallen slightly.”

Torben Akel asked for evidence to back up English’s claims;

“What we got was a page lifted from a new OECD report with a graph showing income inequality here in 2010 was less than it was in the mid nineties.”

So the “new” OECD report was based on  data, taken in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis and resulting Recession?! Data that was four years old?!

Akel continued with this – and here is the relevant bit;

“As for what had happened in the last few years, we were directed to the Ministry of Social Development’s household incomes report, released last July. And specifically, this graph, which shows why the Beehive [is] so sure our income gap isn’t growing.”

A cover of the Report flashed on our television screens;

.

TV3 - The Nation - inequality -  household incomes in New Zealand - Bryan Perry

.

 

The document above is Bryan Perry’s Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2011. It used data from Treasury to assess child poverty in this country;

“To calculate disposable income Statistics New Zealand uses the Treasury’s tax-benefit microsimulation model (Taxwell1) to estimate tax liabilities for individuals and benefit units. The resulting personal disposable incomes are summed to give disposable household income. Disposable household income is sometimes referred to as net income or after-tax cash income.”

– p25

“The Treasury has also developed a set of weights for use with its HES-based tax-benefit microsimulation model, Taxwell. The Taxwell weights include the number of beneficiaries as one of the key benchmarks, in accordance with Treasury’s primary use for the HES in the Taxwell model. Treasury’s Taxwell weights therefore provide a better estimate, for example, of the number of children in beneficiary families, although to achieve this there has been a trade-off with achieving other benchmarks…”

-p33

“We know that the estimates using Statistics New Zealand’s weights consistently under-estimate the number of beneficiaries compared with the administrative data. Generally, the estimates using the Treasury’s Taxwell weights are closer to the administrative data, but the sampling error from the HES can still lead to either or both weighting regimes under- or over-estimating the population numbers. “

-p128

The relevance of all this?

As reported back in February, Treasury had under-estimated the level of children living in poverty, as Bernard Hickey wrote on the 28th,

“Treasury and Statistics said in a joint statement they had double counted accommodation supplements in estimates of household disposable income between 2009 and 2012, which meant incomes were over-estimated by NZ$1.2 billion and the number of children in families earning less than 50% of the median income was under-estimated by 25,000.”

For those who want to read the actual Media Statement from Treasury,  can be found here: Media Statement: Data error prompts process improvements. Refer to the table headed “Miscalculation – Scale – Key statistics affected”.

Bryan Perry’s revised report can be found here: Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2012 Revised Tables and Figures
27 February 2014. In it, he states,

“The revised trend-line figure is 32.9 compared with 32.7 [Gini Co-efficient] before the corrections. The trend line is still flat.”

.

TV3 - The Nation - inequality -GINI inequality 1992 - 2012 - Bryan Perry

.

(The Gini Co-efficient measures inequality, with the higher the value, the lower the equality in income.)

The”trend line” may still be “flat”, but I submit to the reader that for a family on low income; paying exorbitant rent; in a cold, damp house, with very little food in the pantry and fridge – it matters very little.

What does matter is that since 1984, before the Neo-Liberal “revolution”, the Gini Coefficient was only 28.

It is now 37.7.

We are going in the wrong direction.

So not only are National’s claims not backed up by evidence; not only has data been found to be incorrect; but also Torben Akel and The Nation’s research team missed the obvious; inequality has worsened since 1984.

Falling home ownership rates are another indicator which confirm increasing inequality in this country (and throughout the rest of the world).

The Nation’s comedic episode continued with this exchange between hosts Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower, and panellists, author Max Rashbrooke, and right-wing commentator and National Party cadre, Matthew Hooton;

Lisa Owen: “Let’s change to a lighter note. The Civilian Party. Let’s be clear. That was a bit of fun. It was tongue in cheek, if anyone’s confused about that out there. Do we need this in an election year. Do we need some humour?”

Max Rashbrooke: “Oh I think, absolutely. I mean it’s great to see Ben do his thing with the Civilian [Party].

If there’s a problem though, it’s that some of his policies which he puts out as satire, are actually quite close to reality. I mean he talks about we should tax the poor, more. Well actually, if you add up income tax and gst, people on low incomes are paying pretty much the same proportion of their income in tax as people at the top half. If you added capital gains into that story, the poor are probably paying a bigger chunk of their income than the rich are.”

Patrick Gower: “And, and, I, I agree with you there. Because llamas, in my opinion have been dodging tax for years and years, and until someone moves on that loophole, um…”

[general hilarity ensues]

Then Matthew Hooton had to go spoil it all by getting All Serious again, and witter on about Paradise in Scandinavia with more of his skewed ‘spin’ on those country’s taxation system.

Yup. Poverty and rising inequality. A laugh a minute.

What next on The Nation – point and laugh at people with disabilities?

“Jolly good fun”!

Postscript

TVNZ’s Q+A on  25 May also had Ben Uffindell as a guest. As usual, his wit was on form. The big, big difference between Q+A and The Nation? On the former, he satirised and poked fun at politicians. On the latter, the targets for laughter were children in poverty.

Draw your own conclusions.

 

 

.


 

References

TV3: Inside Child Poverty

TV3: Child poverty doco ‘apolitical’ – filmmaker

TV3: Party calls for free ice-cream and llamas

Twitter: Frank Macskasy/The Nation

TV3: ACT leader steals thunder in minor party debate

TV3: New Zealand’s record on inequality

Ministry of Social Development: Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2011

Hive News: Inequality data error revealed

NZ Treasury: Media Statement: Data error prompts process improvements

Ministry of Social Development: Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2012 Revised Tables and Figures
27 February 2014

Wikipedia: Gini Coefficient

Statistics NZ: 2013 Census – Trend of lower home ownership continues

TV3: Panel – Patrick Gower, Max Rashbrooke and Matthew Hooton

Other blogs

The Standard: Snapshot of a nation: inequality

 

 


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 May 2014.

.

.

= fs =

Key – “I wouldn’t be here…”

.

From a TVNZ news report on 27 May;

.

Key - I wouldn't be here

.

At 1.11, Key remarks, without any hint of irony,

“My mother was Austrian, my father was English. You know, my wife’s parents came from Ireland. So under David Cunliffe, I wouldn’t be here…”

… Nah. Too easy.


 

References

TVNZ News: Pressure on Labour to reveal immigration policy


 

.

Kirk

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

Letter to the Editor: Sure, why not let the poor starve, Ms Mitchell?

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

.

A letter-writer to the Dominion Post, Silvio Famularo, recently suggested that increasing benefits for the poor would be a positive move. Rightwing blogger; failed ex-ACT candidate; and self-proclaimed welfare “expert”, Lindsay Mitchell, would have none of it. She responded on 27 May with her own letter to the editor;

.

letter to editor - dominion post - Lindsay Mitchell

.

This was my response,

 

.

FROM: "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE: Tue, 27 May 2014 23:59:18 +1200
TO: "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

.

The Editor
Dominion Post


.

In replying to Silvio Famularo, who advocated for raising
benefits for the poor because they spend more, rightwing
blogger and ex-ACT candidate, Lindsay Mitchell derided the
suggestion by asserting that "to increase benefit
expenditure the government would have to increase taxation".
(27 May)

Since 1986, successive governments have cut taxes seven
times. Eight, if one includes Working for Families
tax-rebates.

Which would explain why we have high user-pays such as
tertiary education, prescription charges, "voluntary school
donations", etc, and GST rising from 10% in 1986 to the
current 15%.

Mitchell claims - without any evidence - "that means taking
more money off people who will in turn have less to spend on
the same goods and services".

If  National can provide million dollar subsidies to Warner
Bros, Rio Tinto, Charter Schools, et al, then perhaps it is
not so much a matter of "taking more money off people" - but
re-directing resources to those who need it most.

Raising progressive taxation on high income earners would
not take bread of their table - but would certainly put food
on the tables who are least well off.

Or have we totally abandoned any notion of being an
egalitarian society where we only look out for ourselves,
and devil take the hindmost?


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

.


 

References

Dominion Post: Letter – Benefit boost has direct effect

 


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

Who will be the new leader of the Internet Party?

.

Internet_Party_NZ_logo

.

Internet Party chief executive, Vikram Kumar, says that the new Leader of Internet Party will be announced on Thursday – 29 May.

My ‘pick’ is that it will be Thomas Beagle, tech expert; blogger of  Tech Liberty; sworn critic of State surveillance; and public speaker on internet and privacy-related issues.

His appointment would make perfect sense.

.


 

References

NZ Herald: Mana confirms election year deal with Internet Party

 

 


 

.

Internet Party

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

National – self-censoring embarrassing statements?

.

ministry of truth update

.

There is  disturbing activity taking place on National’s website.  The Party is self-censoring itself and quietly, without fuss, removing certain embarrassing information from it’s website.

In the last few weeks, this blogger has been referencing quotes from Dear Leader Key on various issues.

One such quote was from John Key, who admitted that Labour left the country in a positive economic state to weather the oncoming 2007/08 Global Financial crisis;

“The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008. It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016. Without selling minority shares in five companies, it would rise to $78 billion. Our total investment liabilities, which cover both public and private liabilities, are $150 billion – one of the worst in the world because of the high levels of private debt in New Zealand.”

The original URL – http://www.national.org.nz/mixed-ownership.aspx – no longer links to the original page  on National’s website, and instead automatically refers the User to a general page on the website;

.

website - our programme

 

.

An alternative URL – http://old.national.org.nz/mixed-ownership.aspx – leads to a page on the National website that is mostly blank;

.

website - government share offer

.

An empty page signifying empty promises? Appropriate.

Whilst this blogger has no screen-shot captured from the original article, entitled “Mixed Ownership”, Google’s webcache has retained a copy of the deleted page;

.

Selling shares in five companies so we can invest in areas of need.

Responsibly managing the Government’s finances is one of National’s four priorities for this term in office.

We plan to offer minority shares in four energy companies and Air New Zealand to New Zealander investors, while retaining at least 51 per cent Government ownership.  This will help ensure the Government can spend money in areas of need – such as upgrading our hospitals and schools – without loading more debt on to our economy.

What is the Government’s share offer?

We’re going to change the ownership structure of five companies over the next three to five years, by offering shares to Kiwi investors.

This ownership structure is called mixed ownership, and we’re going to apply it to:

– Mighty River Power
– Meridian Energy
– Genesis Energy
– Solid Energy
– Air New Zealand, which is already successfully operating under mixed ownership.

The Government will maintain majority control of each company – at least 51 per cent – and New Zealanders will be at the front of the queue for the remaining shares.  In fact, we’ve made it law that no shareholder other than the Government can own more than 10 per cent of each company.

We expect selling minority stakes in the five companies will return between $5 billion and $7 billion to the Government.  In addition, the Government will continue to receive dividends on at least 51 per cent of each company.

This will broaden the pool of investments for New Zealand savers and deepen capital markets, helping Kiwi companies access the funds they need to grow.

Listing on the stock exchange will also provide stronger commercial discipline, transparency, and greater external oversight for these companies.  And it will give each company access to an alternative pool of capital for growth, other than the Government.

Mixed ownership is a win-win for New Zealanders and for the companies involved.  Our decision not to pursue “shares plus” provides certainty to investors about the future of the share programme.

New Zealanders will be at the front of the queue
We’ve always said that Kiwis will be at the front of the queue for shares in each company.  The Government will make buying shares easier for New Zealanders, while encouraging long-term share ownership.

To find out more about how we will achieve this, visit: www.governmentshareoffers.govt.nz 

Why partial share sales are important

More assets
Government assets are forecast to grow over the next four years, from $244 billion to $258 billion.  By selling less than 3 per cent of the Government’s total assets, we can inject between $5 billion and $7 billion into priority assets like schools, hospitals and other critical infrastructure New Zealanders need.  And we’ll be able to do this without loading more debt on to our economy.

Selling shares in these companies is not about reducing assets, it’s about finding a solution to help pay for their growth in coming years, while getting on top of debt.

We’ve established the Future Investment Fund, which will allow us to invest every single dollar raised through partial asset sales, in new assets.

In Budget 2012, we allocated the first $558.8 million from the Future Investment Fund for:

• Modernising schools – $33.8 million (of $1 billion total)
• Health sector needs, including redeveloping hospitals – $88.1 million
• Helping KiwiRail become commercially viable – $250 million
• Creation of the Advanced Technology Institute, to help New Zealand’s high-tech firms grow • $76 million for capital costs.

Controlling debt
Getting on top of debt – by responsibly managing the Government’s finances – is one of our priorities for this term in office.  Our economy is growing, new jobs are being created, and our public finances are improving. 

The Government’s partial share offers will free up between $5 billion and $7 billion that we can reinvest in taxpayers’ large and growing asset base, while reducing our need to take on extra debt to provide the important services New Zealanders need.

The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008.  It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016.  Without selling minority shares in five companies, it would rise to $78 billion.  Our total investment liabilities, which cover both public and private liabilities, are $150 billion – one of the worst in the world because of the high levels of private debt in New Zealand.

Like every household in New Zealand, we know how important it is to live within our means by budgeting carefully and deciding on our priorities.

Our programme of minority share offers means more assets with less debt.

More information

What effect will this have on power prices?
In the nine years Labour was in government, power prices went up 72 per cent – or an average of 8 per cent a year – and the Government owned 100 per cent of the assets. 

We believe it’s not who owns the energy companies that influences prices, but the regulatory environment, which the National-led Government changed to increase competition.

In our last term of government, we reformed electricity industry regulation, removed inefficiencies and brought rising generation costs under control.  Prices only increased by 14 per cent in National’s first term.

In addition, the very effective “What’s my number” campaign by the Electricity Authority has made it easier for Kiwis to understand the choices they have, and the savings they can make by shopping around for electricity. 

As a result, in the 12 months from May 2011 to April 2012, 422,256 customers changed electricity retailers (or an average of 35,188 each month).

We’re helping keep pressure on the companies to retain customers by offering competitive pricing.

Labour would load our economy with more debt
The opposition has resisted this policy at every stage, yet when they were last in office, Labour applied a mixed ownership model to Air New Zealand.

In addition, between 1984 and 1990 they sold off 100 per cent of $9 billion worth of state assets, including Telecom and the Post Office Bank.

By opposing the partial sale of shares in these companies, Labour is opposing investment in much-needed infrastructure and assets.  Their plans would see the Government borrowing $5 billion to $7 billion more from overseas lenders at a time when the world is awash with debt and consequent risk.  This is just another example of their irresponsible big-spending ways.

New Zealanders let them know what they thought of this at the last election.  Support for National, which campaigned on selling minority shares in five companies, increased at the 2011 election, while Labour received the worst party vote in its history.

.

Was the “Mixed Ownership” article removed from National’s website because it contained an embarrassing, inconvenient truth? Namely, that Key had acknowledged Labour’s capable stewardship of the country’s economy when he said,

“The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008.  It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016.  Without selling minority shares in five companies, it would rise to $78 billion…” 

Which was probably not helped when Key basically shafted his own government’s track record in debt when he added;

“Like every household in New Zealand, we know how important it is to live within our means by budgeting carefully and deciding on our priorities…”

No wonder the page was removed from National’s website. It had inadvertently  become a de facto election advertisement for the Labour Party.

The statement regarding “the level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008″ was already ‘making the rounds’ on the internet, as blogger after blogger was picking up on the statement and republishing it, as this Google search showed;

.

google - The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008.  It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016

.

So whoever decided to removed the page is too late. The cyber horse has well and truly ‘bolted’ and John Key’s comments will remain for a very long time. And very useful comments they are, to disprove the misleading, deceitful rubbish that certain fanatic National/ACT supporters bandy about.

Other items have also been removed from National’s website.

The URL – https://www.national.org.nz/files/2008/ECONOMY/Kiwisaver_Policy_Paper.pdf – leads to;

.

Kiwisaver_Policy_Paper

.

The URL – https://www.national.org.nz/files/2008/ECONOMY/Tax_Policy_Paper.pdf – leads to;

.

tax_Policy_Paper

.

Curiously though, Key’s 2006 speech to the  Shore National Party luncheon was seemingly so historically worthy of preservation, that it remains intact on the National Party website;

.

Speech to North Shore National Party luncheon screencap

 

.

Finally (?) the URL – http://www.national.org.nz/OOF/flyer.pdf – is  also a dead link;

.

national org flyer 170000 new jobs

 

.

It was an election flyer  bearing the promise that “National’s Brighter Future Plan will help businesses create 170,000 new jobs over the next four years“.

Now why would the Nats delete that page, I wonder?

.


 

References

Google cache: Mixed Ownership

Google Search: The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008. It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016

National Party: Kiwisaver Policy Paper

National Party: Tax Policy Paper

National Party: Speech to North Shore National Party luncheon

National Party: 170,000 New Jobs flyer

 


 

.

Kirk

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 22 May 2014.

.

.

= fs =

Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 27 May 2014

.

– Politics on Nine To Noon –

.

– Monday 27 May 2014 –

.

– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

.

Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Our political commentators speak about the recent boost in National’s polling, the strengthening New Zealand economy, and the upcoming elections.

.

radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

.

Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (21′ 30″ )

  • Budget 2014, Family Package
  • Polls
  • Election 2014, voting, Labour-Green Bloc, “Missing Million” voters
  • David Shearer
  • Environment, rivers, genetic engineering, nitrate pollution, Ruataniwha Dam
  • Resource Management Act reforms, Amy Adams, Peter Dunne
  • Mana Party, Internet Party
  • Green Party list
  • Winston Peters, Parliament

.

= fs =

A fair go in New Zealand?

.

equality - inequality

.

A very insightful piece by Dr Deborah Russell, lecturer in taxation at Massey University, and Labour candidate for Rangitikei, raised  a clear picture of the difference between equality and inequality;

.

Deborah Russell - We all deserve to get a fair go

.

There is little doubt that inequality has increased over the last thirty years. In  February this year, a bungle by Treasury resulted in  child poverty numbers being  underestimated by twenty thousand. Income inequality  was also underestimated.

Part of the reason has been one aspect of the neo-liberal “revolution”: tax cuts and increased user pays.

New Zealanders could do well to reflect that, since 1986, we have had no less than seven tax cuts;

1 October 1986 – Labour

1 October 1988 – Labour

1 July 1996 – National

1 July 1998 – National

1 October 2008 – Labour

1 April 2009 – National

1 October 2010 – National

At the same time we have had less revenue from SOEs as they were privatised or partially-sold off.

So it’s little wonder that more and more User Pays has crept into our economy/society, such as $357 million in “voluntary” donations for ‘free’ schooling, that parents have to cough up each year. That’s on top of school uniforms, text books, shoes, personal equipment, etc.

The neo-liberal revolution of the 1980s and 1990s didn’t stop, it just became more covert, with incremental increases, so we barely noticed. And when we did notice – such as the increase of prescriptions from $3 to $5 – public opposition was muted. Yet, once upon a time, prescriptions cost 50 cents each, and before that, were free.

An indicator of growing inequality is the level of home ownership in this country. This is a core statistic that cannot be fudged by National’s spin-doctors and their right-wing wannabes/sycophants.

According to the 1986 Census, home ownerships rates in New Zealand was  74.1%, with 23.1% renting.

By 2013, according to last year’s census, the figures had changed radically;

» 49.9% owned their own home  (54.5% in 2006)

» 14.8% homes were owned by a Trust (12.3% in 2006)

» A total of 64.8% of households owned their home or held it in a family trust (66.9% in 2006)

» 35.2% were renting/did not own their own home (33.1% in 2006)

As the Census 2006 Housing in New Zealand report stated,

“Over the 2001 to 2006 period the incomes of the majority of private-renter households have for the first time since 1986 increased more quickly than owner-occupier households. This supports the contention that an increasing number of working households on what would previously be considered ‘reasonable’ incomes can no longer access home ownership.

The decline in home ownership rates over the 1991 to 2001 period was significantly greater for younger households than it was for older households. This trend would appear to have continued over the 2001 to 2006 period. The gap between the home ownership rates of couple-with-children households, who have historically had the highest home ownership rates, and other types of households, narrowed over the 1991 and 2001 period, and has continued to narrow over the 2001 to 2006 period. Conversely, the home ownership rate gap between couple-only households and other types of households has widened over both periods, in favour of couple-only households. Home ownership rates as would be expected increase with household income. There are, however, differences between regions, based we suspect, on differences in average house prices by region.”

The upshot is that whilst home ownership rates are in free-fall –  unsurprisingly renting is steadily increasing.

National’s response to address our critical housing? To reduce demand – not by building more houses – but  by restricting first home owners with a 20% Loan To Value Ratio (LVR). This measure forced a sizeable chunk of house-buyers from the market, whilst local and offshore speculators were allowed free reign.

This is most definitely not what was promised to this nation in the late 1980s, when “trickle down” was supposed to increase our wealth. To the contrary, as the decades slide by, it is more and more apparent that we’ve been cruelly hoaxed.

I am reminded of something John Key said in a speech, when he scathingly condemned the previous Labour government in an election speech on 29 January 2008;

 

 

.

John Key wanking on about some crap
“Well, I’ve got a challenge for the Prime Minister. Before she asks for another three years, why doesn’t she answer the questions Kiwis are really asking, like: […] Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?”

.

Good question, Dear Leader. Good question.

.

*

.

Postscript – A tale of denial

.

#1 – Crisis

NZ housing market most overpriced - report

 

#2 – Denial

PM denies OECD figures reflect housing crisis

.

#3 – Blame others

Housing crisis worse under Clark's Government - Key

.

 

#4 – Revelation

Key 'out of touch' over housing crisis

.

#5 – Toughlove

You’re wrong John, there is a housing crisis in NZ

.

# 6 – Acceptance?

 

.


 

References

NZ Herald: Deborah Russell: We all deserve to get a fair go

Radio NZ: Govt disappointed by stats bungle

Fairfax media: Children in poverty vastly underestimated

NZ Herald: Parents fundraise $357m for ‘free’ schooling

NZ 1987-88 Official Yearbook: Table 6.4. TENURE OF DWELLINGS (6.1 Households and dwellings)

Statistics NZ: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights – Home ownership continues to fall

Statistics NZ: 2006 Census – Dwelling ownership

Centre for Housing Research:  Census 2006 Housing in New Zealand

John  Key.co.nz: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Radio NZ: NZ housing market most overpriced – report

Radio NZ: PM denies OECD figures reflect housing crisis

NZ Herald: Housing crisis worse under Clark’s Government – Key

TV3: Key ‘out of touch’ over housing crisis

Scoop media: You’re wrong John, there is a housing crisis in NZ

Additional

Fairfax media: Housing affordability getting worse

Closer Together-Whakatata Mai: New Zealand’s income inequality problem

 


 

.

selling housing

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 May 2014.

= fs =

A Very Short Collection of John Key’s Lies

.

lying politician

.

This is doing the rounds on the internet…

.

 

.

… and if anything, this short video has under-stated Key’s track record in mis-information, half-truths, and outright lies.

Watch and share.

.

.

= fs =

Michael Moore on yet more shootings in the USA…

.

The latest bout of insanity from the USA,

.

Shooter kills at least six people in rampage near UC Santa Barbara

.

The article above contained this chilling information;

“Police said they were examining a video posted on YouTube in which a man, sitting in a car, said he had planned an attack in Isla Vista because he was sexually frustrated and had been snubbed by women. The young man, who said he was 22, described himself as a virgin and said he planned an act of retribution because women had not found him attractive.”

If true, then those Americans who support the right for people to own deadly weapons are allowing crazed, frustrated, young men to vent their anger by using their guns on their fellow citizens.

The term “mass insanity” does not begin to cover what ails that country.

I thought this response,  from Michael Moore’s Facebook page, was worth re-posting*…

.

With due respect to those who are asking me to comment on last night’s tragic mass shooting at UCSB in Isla Vista, CA — I no longer have anything to say about what is now part of normal American life.

Everything I have to say about this, I said it 12 years ago: We are a people easily manipulated by fear which causes us to arm ourselves with a quarter BILLION guns in our homes that are often easily accessible to young people, burglars, the mentally ill and anyone who momentarily snaps.

We are a nation founded in violence, grew our borders through violence, and allow men in power to use violence around the world to further our so-called American (corporate) “interests.”

The gun, not the eagle, is our true national symbol. While other countries have more violent pasts (Germany, Japan), more guns per capita in their homes (Canada [mostly hunting guns]), and the kids in most other countries watch the same violent movies and play the same violent video games that our kids play, no one even comes close to killing as many of its own citizens on a daily basis as we do — and yet we don’t seem to want to ask ourselves this simple question: “Why us? What is it about US?”

Nearly all of our mass shootings are by angry or disturbed white males. None of them are committed by the majority gender, women. Hmmm, why is that?

Even when 90% of the American public calls for stronger gun laws, Congress refuses — and then we the people refuse to remove them from office.

So the onus is on us, all of us. We won’t pass the necessary laws, but more importantly we won’t consider why this happens here all the time. When the NRA says, “Guns don’t kill people — people kill people,” they’ve got it half-right.

Except I would amend it to this: “Guns don’t kill people — Americans kill people.”

Enjoy the rest of your day, and rest assured this will all happen again very soon.

[* Paragraphs added to break up text.]

The scary thing?

Moore is right. It will all happen again, very soon.

Facts

  1. There are 32,000 gun-related deaths in the United States, per year.
  2. In 2001, there were a total of 29,573 gun-related deaths.
  3. The September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, in 2001, killed 2,977 victims.

 

.


 

References

Washington Post: Shooter kills at least six people in rampage near UC Santa Barbara

Facebook: Michael Moore

Policmic: There Are 32,000+ Gun Deaths A Year in the U.S. — Here is How We Get That Number to Zero

Gun Policy: United States — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law

Wikipedia: September 11 attacks

 

 

 


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

 

 

Categories: Global Tags: , ,

Budget 2014 – Why we will soon owe $70 billion under this government…

.

NZ Government overseas debt 1993 to 2012

Graphic courtesy of The Daily Blog

.

A few reasons why our debt skyrocketed from 2008 onwards…

1. The Global Financial Crisis, which reduced corporate turnover and export receipts, thereby lowering the company tax take;

2. Two tax cuts (2009 and 2010) reduced government revenue, thereby necessitating borrowing more from offshore  to make up the difference. In essence, we borrowed from other peoples’ saving to put more money in our (mostly top incomer earners) pockets.

Using Parliament Library information, the Greens have estimated that this involved borrowing an extra couple of billion each year.

3. National could have kept Debt down by investing in job creation. Key’s cycleway project was promised to create 4,500 new jobs  – it failed spectacularly.

Instead, job creation was largely left to “the market”, which itself was having to engage in mass redundancies for businesses to survive the economic downturn.

This meant more expenditure on unemployed which went from 3.4% in 2008 to 7.3% by 2012 (currently sitting at 6% for the last two Quarters).

Ironically, part of our current economic “boom” is predicated on the Christchurch re-build – evidence that had National engaged in a mass housing construction programme in 2009, after it held it’s mostly ineffectual “Jobs Summit”, we would have;

A. Maintained higher employment,

B. Paid out less in welfare,

C. Persuaded more New Zealanders to stay home and not go to Australia to find work,

D. Addressed the current housing crisis we now have.

As usual, National’s short-sightedness; irresponsible 2008 election year tax-cut bribes; and misguided reliance on market forces resulted in New Zealand borrowing more than we really needed to.

.


 

References

NZ Herald: Govt borrowing $380m a week

Scoop media: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

NZ Parliament: Government Proposals—Cycleway and Nine-day Working Fortnight

NZ Herald: Cycleway jobs fall short

Statistics NZ: Employment and Unemployment – March 2008 Quarter

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2012 quarter

Fairfax NZ: Jobs summit ‘fails to deliver’

TVNZ News: OECD report shows housing crisis in NZ – Labour

TVNZ News: Christchurch rental crisis ‘best left to market’ – Govt

Additional

Fairfax media: Public debt climbs by $27m a day

Fairfax media: Budget 2014: The essential guide

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

 

 


 

.

The Cost of Living

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

Budget 2014 – What deceits lie in this document?

.

Putting voters to sleep through the budget

.

Looking through the on-line Budget document on Treasury’s website, I happened to notice something… peculiar.

The following page is entitled  Responsibly managing the Government’s finances and is part of Finance Minister Bill English’s summary. As such, it is a political document and not a Treasury report.

.

1. Responsibly managing the Government's finances

.

Note the five graphs on this page. Notice anything about them?

Any… inconsistencies?

Let me “lump” them together, so they can be better compared;

.

1. Responsibly managing the Government's finances - graphs isolated

.

Note the starting dates on each graph. They differ in nearly each case;

  1. 2012/13
  2. 2006/07
  3. 2009/2010
  4. 2004
  5. 2004

At first glance, there appears no reason for the difference start-dates of each graph.

That is, until you look at what each graph represents.

Graphs number 2, 4, and five show the previous Labour government in an unfavourable fiscal light.

#2: Shows “Core Crown Revenue” falling from 2006, and “Core Crown Expenses” rising from around the same time.

#4: Shows “Budget Operating Allowances” much higher under Labour – highlighted by the use of red and blue column lines – than National. The 2008 red-bar is erroneous.

#5: Shows “90 Day Interest Rates” higher under Labour than National – again highlighted by the use of red and blue graph lines.

Meanwhile, graphs 1 and 3 show National in a more positive position;

#1: Shows  “Total Crown operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL)” starting from 2012/13, and reducing. There is no prior context depicted for any previous years. The overall impression is a favourable one to the viewer.

#3: Shows “Net Core Crown Debt” rising from 2009; peaking at 2013/14; and dropping thereafter. Again, there is no prior context depicted for any previous years.

If we replace the mis-leading charts with more accurate representations, the picture is unsurprisingly different. A verticle red line on the right hand, accurate graph, pinpoints where Bill English’s graph (on the left) starts.

1. Total Crown operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL)

.

Bill English's misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

Bill English’s misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

.

The more accurate  version on the right gives a more complete picture of successive government’s Total Crown operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL), and put’s National’s record in context.

2. Core Crown revenue and expenses

.

    Bill English's misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

Bill English’s misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

 

.

The more accurate  version on the right gives a more complete picture of successive government’s Core Crown revenue and expenses, and put’s National’s record in context.

This next one is a personal favourite of mine, and National/ACT supporters hate it with a passion.

3. Net core Crown debt

.

Bill English's misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

Bill English’s misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

.

The more accurate version on the right gives a more complete picture of successive government’s Net core crown debt, and put’s National’s record in context. It also happens to highlight Labour’s track record in reducing the country’s sovereign debt – something that jars with Right Wing historical revisionism that attempts to depict Labour as an incompetent fiscal manager.

4. Budget operating allowances

.

1. Responsibly managing the Government's finances - Budget operating allowances corrected version

Bill English’s misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

 

.

Whilst English’s graph (on the left) has a start point in 2004, it is highly inaccurate. Note the red bar for 2008, showing Labour having a Budget operating allowance of around $7 billion. This is false. As the blue bar on the graph on the right shows, the Budget operating allowance for 2008 was just under $2.5 billion – one third of what English’s chart depicts.

Note: the chart on the right, with the blue bars is taken from Budget 2013 – Bill English’s own document from last year. The correct data (blue graph) is supported by a 2010  Treasury working-paper,  Fiscal Institutions in New Zealand and the Question of a Spending Cap.

Either the red bar for 2008 is an error – or a deliberate attempt to further portray the previous Labour government in a bad light. Considering that three out five graphs appear to have been selectively presented, the possibility that the 2008 red-bar was deliberately fudged cannot be excluded.

5. 90-day interest rates

.

 

Bill English's misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

Bill English’s misleading version on left; More accurate version on right.

.

English writes that “Future Budget allowances are set at sustainable levels… [graph inserted] ...which is helping to take pressure off interest rates“.

Actually, the reason that the OCR and 90 Day Rates are currently at a historic low has little to do with “future budget allowances“. The Reserve Bank does not set current OCR/90 Day Bill Rates against “futurebudget allowances.

Indeed, the RBNZ dropped the OCR to 2.5% in April 2009, the following year from recession hitting our economy.

There is next to no reason for English to have included the 90 Day Interest Rate in his Budget document, except to attempt to take credit for historically low interest rates that were the result of a global financial crisis and not because of any actions his government took in 2007/08.

Not unless he, John Key, and the rest of the National caucus were sitting in Board Rooms across Wall Street?

Not unless he, John Key, and the rest of the National Party were in government a full year before the 2008 general election?

And not unless Bill English also wants to also claim responsibility for high interest rates in the 1990s, when the National Party governed under the leadership of Jim Bolger, with finance ministers Ruth Richardson and Bill Birch? When interest rates peaked at over 15% in 1990 and were consistently high throughout the 1990s.

Unsurprisingly, this is one graph that did not find it’s way into Bill English’s 2014 Budget document;

.

mortgage interest rates since 1990

.

As for Budget 2014 – I suspect it is a document that will soon reveal more hidden surprises for us all.

.


 

References

NZ Treasury: Budget 2014 – 1. Responsibly managing the Government’s finances

NZ Treasury: Operating Balance (2002-2011)

NZ Treasury: Core Crown revenue and expenses (2000-2014)

NZ Treasury: Net core Crown debt (2002-2012)

NZ Treasury: Operating Allowances

NZ Treasury: Fiscal Institutions in New Zealand and the Question of a Spending Cap

Reserve Bank NZ: 90-day rate

Reserve Bank NZ: Mortgage interest rates — since 1990

 


 

.

Norm Kirk

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 May 2014.

.

.

= fs =

Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 23 May 2014

.

– Focus on Politics –

.

– Friday 23 May 2014  –

.

– Brent Edwards –

.

A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

Youth unemployment has decreased since the last election but that still leaves 75 thousand young people in New Zealand who are not doing any kind of work, training or education.

 

.

Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

.

Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 23 May 2014 ( 17′  5″ )

  • Budget 2014, Paid Parental Leave, Free medical care for Under 13s
  • Income inequality & child poverty
  • Youth unemployment (NEETs)
  • wage growth, jobs
  • external deficit, exports, China, dairy industry, tourism
  • housing, capital gains tax
  • government surplus, research and science, innovation
  • health spending, education spending, superannuation spending
  • superannuation age of eligibility, Bill English
  • tax cuts

.

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

.

.

= fs =

Budget 2014 – How has National exposed itself in Election Year?

.

2014 election

.

Right Wing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, wrote in the Dominion Post on the day after the Budget,

“By contrast I expect debate on the New Zealand Budget to be over by Monday morning.”

Really?!

Don’t you believe it, sunshine.

National’s sixth budget contained spending on;

  • $171.8 million to extend paid parental leave (PPL):
    • Additional four weeks, starting with a two-week extension from 1 April 2015, and another two weeks from 1 April 2016.
    • Extend eligibility of paid parental leave to caregivers other than parents (for example, “Home for Life” caregivers), and to extend parental leave payments to people in less-regular jobs or who recently changed jobs.
  • $42.3 million to increase the parental tax credit (PTC) from $150 a week to $220 a week, and increase the payment period from eight to 10 weeks, from 1 April 2015.
  • $155.7 million to help early childhood centres remain affordable and increase participation towards the 98 per cent target.
  • $33.2 million in 2014/15 to help vulnerable children, including eight new Children’s Teams to identify and work with at-risk children, screening of people who work with children, and additional resources to support children in care.
  • $90 million to provide free GP visits and prescriptions for children aged under 13, starting on 1 July 2015.

(Source: Treasury)

 

It was perhaps the last item – free healthcare for Under 13s – that took the media, public, and Opposition by surprise. As others have stated, it was a policy lifted straight from the policy pages of Labour, Greens, or Mana.

Other increases in  funding included increased funding ($10.4 million) for sexual violence services

Sexual violence services have been critically under-funded since 2012 and many were forced to cut back on staffing as funding dried up in Wellington, Auckland, and elsewhere. It is fairly evident that funding increases for child healthcare, parental leave,  and sexual violence services have all been left for 2014.

Which conveniently also happens to be election year.

As far as cynical self-interest goes, these Budget funding-measures are an obvious – if utterly crude – attempt at  currying public favour as Election Day bears down on this government.

Why was funding for sexual violence community groups not made available earlier, so that full staffing levels and services for survivors could be maintained? $10.4 million dollars out of a Government revenue of $64.1 billion is not massive by any standard. In fact, it is just a shade under one year’s worth of Ministerial travel, at $11 million.

By comparison, National gave a  tax-payer funded bail-out of $30 million to the Rio Tinto  aluminium smelter last August – three times what was eventually budgetted for sexual violence services.

Even the $2 million of taxpayer’s money paid  by National to a Golf Tournament over the last three years would have assisted these much-needed groups  keep their services intact and skilled counsellors employed,  until this month’s Budget.

Leaving critical funding till Election Year is tantamount to abusing the victims of sexual violence all over again.

The same could be said of funding free healthcare for Under 13s. If it is a good idea now – why was it not a good idea two years ago?

It’s not as if John Key did not acknowledge the growing under-class in this country only three years ago;

.

Key admits underclass still growing

.

And a year later, this staggering headline appeared in the media – a story few of us would ever believe would happen here, in Gods Own;

.

Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

.

Little wonder then, that Dr Nikki Turner, from the  Child Poverty Action Group, was less than impressed by National’s sudden transformation into a quasi-social democratic party with a newly-cloned heart, and a belated attempt to improve children’s health;

A child lobby group says free doctors’ visits and prescriptions will make little difference to reducing child poverty without also improving the incomes and the housing conditions of the very poor.

“Without adequate income, without adequate warmth and housing, we’re not going to (make) a lot of difference at this stage to our children’s health.”

Indeed. Without addressing the core causes of poverty-related diseases, National’s free health-care plan is simply a  multi-million dollar band-aid. The root causes of those diseases will still be present in many households up and down the country.

If Key and English thought that their band-aid solutions would be gratefully accepted by an uncritical, compliant media and public, they were mistaken.

An un-named author of an editorial in the Dominion Post on 16 May stated,

“This is a deliberately bland and even boring Budget. The Government has clearly decided that grey and safe is its best hope in election year. The only surprise was free doctors’ visits for under-13-year-olds. Middle New Zealand will welcome it, as it will many of the other, carefully telegraphed, handouts. More paid parental leave: who could object? A bit more help with childcare costs: why not?”

The same editorial went on,

“The other glaring black hole in the Budget is the housing crisis. More and more New Zealanders cannot afford a house, and the Government’s response is muted and inadequate. The Budget promises to remove tariffs on building supplies, a sensible step following revelations about the high price of such materials here compared with Australia. But the change will cut only a few thousand dollars from the price of a house.

Much bolder moves will be needed, including a capital gains tax. But National’s caution here is a drawback, not an advantage. Sometimes problems are serious and need action. National seems to believe it will be enough to cut red tape and remove some of the planning obstacles in the way of housing. It won’t.”

This is where John Key and Bill English have mis-calculated badly, and which no one (?) has picked up.

After all, if a problem with children’s health was not critical, why would a fiscally conservative government fund free doctor’s visits to the tune of $90 million? Indeed, as Trevor McGlinchey for the NZ Council of  Christian Social Services said, on 16 May,

“In providing $500 million of support for children and families over four years the Government has recognised many of our families are suffering.”

The key-word here is “recognised“.

In funding free healthcare, National has admitted to anyone who will take notice that a problem of some magnitude exists in this country. They can no longer hide behind platitudes.

As the above editorial went on to state,

“At present there is little rage about poverty, inequality and the housing crisis. These problems are raw and real but voters are patient and only a minority of voters now seem to actually hate National. It will probably take another term before a majority is truly fed up with Key and his band. In the meantime, this bland document may be a document for the times.”

The author of that piece is being optimistic. By acknowledging that a problem exists; by acknowledging that state funding is required; and by acknowledging that a “radical” (for National, this is radical stuff) solution is required – they have left themselves wide open in this election campaign.

A campaign manager with a posse of motivated, clued-up, and capable strategists, will be able to use this in the up-coming election campaign. Like a game of chess, in trying to show how “clever” they were in manipulating public perception, National have left their “social policy flank” exposed and vulnerable.

So much for Kiwiblogger Mr Farrar’s misplaced optimism that “I expect debate on the New Zealand Budget to be over by Monday morning”.

Quite the contrary, David.

By shining a bright, $90 million spotlight on this problem, they can no longer deny that it exists or is “improving”.

It’s only just begun.

*

Postscript #1

The cost of financing this country’s $59 billion debt is shown in this Dominion Post graphic;

.

Revenue and expenses 2014 budget new zealand government

.

The cost of financing our debt is shown to to $3.9 billion, per year.

Two years ago, the Green Party used Parliamentary Library information to estimate the cost of the 2009 and 2010 tax cuts;

“The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6–$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.”

The cost of those tax cuts is  roughly the equivalent of what we are now paying to service our overall debt.

So much for National’s “prudent fiscal managing” of the government’s books.

Postscript#2

Someone at the Dominion Post seems to have a rather shocking memory. At the bottom of Page A4, in their 16 May edition, this item was published;

.

Past budgets 2009 - Dominion Post - 16 May 2014

.

Promised tax-cuts in 2009 were not “axed”. As this IRD page explained;

.

IRD technical tax area 2009 

.

Key even made this helpful suggestion to those who did not want their tax cuts to donate them to charity,

“I am just as sure there are many who are in a position to donate some of that extra income”.

Which would make it hard to donate non-existent tax cuts, as the author of the Dominion Post article claimed.

Postscript #3

This graph from Treasury (with a minor enhancement by this blogger) shows our borrowings from 2003 to 2013, with subsequent estimations.

.

Treasury New Zealand debt

.

According to the graph, we can see how Labour paid down the country’s sovereign debt, leaving New  Zealand well-placed to weather the on-coming Global Financial Crisis and resulting recession. Something even Key and English have had to admit on occasion;

“The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008. It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016. Without selling minority shares in five companies, it would rise to $78 billion. Our total investment liabilities, which cover both public and private liabilities, are $150 billion – one of the worst in the world because of the high levels of private debt in New Zealand.”

Indeed.

 

.


 

References

Dominion Post: English spreads the lolly far and wide

NZ Treasury:  Key Facts for Taxpayers (Part 1)

NZ Herald: Budget 2014 – Building products tariffs lifted temporarily

Manawatu Standard: Boost for rape crisis services welcomed

Fairfax media:  Rape crisis line forced to cut staff

Dominion Post: Wellington rape centre forced to cut hours

NZ Treasury: Government Revenue

Fairfax media: MPs’ travel costs rise

NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

NZ Herald: Golf event tots up $2m in Govt aid

NZ Herald:  Key admits underclass still growing

Fairfax media: Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

Radio NZ: Child lobby sceptical of budget moves

Dominion Post: Editorial – The crowd goes mild at Budget

Parliament: Inequality—Assets and Income

Scoop media: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

Dominion Post: Child poverty still not being corrected

IRD: [2009] Tax cuts for individuals

Otago Daily Times: Key says donate tax cuts to charity

NZ Treasury:  Net debt peaks as a share of GDP in 2014/15

National.co.nz: Mixed Ownership

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the Editor: playing politics with rape victims, National-style

Letter to the Editor: $3000 offer to the Unemployed is a joke – and not a very funny one!

Letter to Radio NZ: $3000 offer to the Unemployed is a joke – and not a very funny one (v.2)

 

 

 


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 May 2014.

.

.

= fs =

Letter to the Editor: John Campbell expose on Key and GCSB

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

.

Key's meeting with GCSB boss revealed

 

.

FROM:  "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Tue, 20 May 2014 21:29:56 +1200
TO:     "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz>

.

 

The Editor 
DOMINION POST

.
Campbell Live's story on 20 May, investigating the dubious
goings-on between Ian Fletcher and John Key in the week
leading up the Hollywood-style raid on Kim Dotcom's home in
2012, was not only the best piece of investigative
journalism seen in a decade - but may ultimately bring down
this government.

It is no longer tenable that Key was unaware of GCSB
surveillance on Kim Dotcom, prior to the  raid  or his
status as a New Zealand resident.

Key has little option but to resign or call an early
election.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

.


 

References

TV3:  Key’s meeting with GCSB boss revealed

Previous related blogpost

The real reason for the GCSB Bill.

 


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

Campbell Live on the GCSB – latest revelations – TV3 – 20 May 2014

.

 

Campbell Live - GCSB - John Key

 

 

.

.

= fs =

Bananas and RWNJs…

.

Interesting fact for the day…

.

 

bananas and right wingers

.

With right wing nut jobs, the figure can be closer to 99.9%…

 

.

.

= fs =

ACT leader, Jamie Whyte, refutes cliched stereotype of solo-mothers?

.

6a00d83451d75d69e20163022de8ed970d-450wi

 

.

One of the most enduring, irrational, and hateful myths constantly spat our by various right-wingers is that solo-mothers (but never solo-dads) are “breeding for business“. It is a cliche that rolls of the tongue easily; requires no evidence; and ignores simple realities of life such as women who escape violent relationships or are deserted by their partners for the blonde office-colleague.

Whether it is John Key referring to women as “breeding for business“, or anonymous redneck bigots parroting their cliches via on-line fora – solo-mums (but never solo-fathers) make for  easy targets. As one ignorant, right-wing bigot said on his blog,

“It seems like a good start but incentives really need to be focused on making it harder for Mums to pop out kids on the DPB and easier if one chooses to be honest with others and themselves and work for a living to support themselves and their family.”

Prejudice requires no justification. It just  panders to negative emotion rather than critical thought.

The myth of the “breeding solo mum” (but never “breeding solo dads”) is based on misogyny and enduring patriarchal punitive attitudes.

After all, when is the last time solo-fathers were targeted by right wing bloggers; beneficiariary bashers; or this government. Answer – practically never. If ever.

Equally pernicious is the right wing blogger, commentator, or self-proclaimed “expert”, who mis-uses statistics to prove their point, but which, upon closer analysis, debunks their case entirely.

The rationale for prejudice is fairly simple.

It absolves right-wing governments from adopting constructive, but costly policies such as the Training Incentive Allowance, which allow solo-parents (mums and dads) to gain an education and re-enter the workforce when family committments allow. This is how the current Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, obtained her university degree – the Training Incentive Allowance.

In July 2009, Bennett scrapped the allowance altogether. And when two solo-mothers criticised Bennett’s actions, the Social Welfare Minister reacted with the full power of the State at her finger-tips, and released their personal details to the media. It was a frightening, sickening, display of abuse of State power unseen since Rob Muldoon’s reign of fear.

Three years later, despite the Director of the Office of Human Rights Proceedings, Robert Hesketh, upholding a complaint again Bennett, the Minister was unrepentant and said she would do the same thing again after “taking advice”.

Two years ago, as the  economy stagnated and unemployment soared to 7.3%,  National ramped up it’s brutal and destructive campaign against those on welfare. Key and his cronies needed a scapegoat to deflect public attention from daily bad headlines, and welfare beneficiaries were targetted.

Bennett launched a public campaign advocating that solo-mothers and their daughters should be “encouraged” to take contraception.  National and ACT both supported this draconian, Daddy State policy.

For two erstwhile liberal parties committed to getting government out of peoples’ lives, they were very, very keen to get into the bedrooms of women.

But not middle-class women who were either  independent via employment or a part of their (male) partner’s hegemony. This was directed at women who were single, poor, abandoned, and reliant on State support. In other words, vulnerable women.

And as we all know, bullies, rapists, misogynists, etc, prefer their intended targets to be as vulnerable as possible.

That allows their bodies to be owned and controlled.

So National and it’s  lap-dogs, in the form of  serial-liar, John Banks, and “Mr Sensible”, Peter Dunne,  supported moves to control women’s bodies.

All of which was carried out with the sub-text that solo-mothers (but never solo-fathers, remember) were reckless breeders.  “Breeding for business” as John Key put it.

As unemployment skyrocketed to 7.3%, and awkward questions were being asked of National’s economic plans for growth, Bennett was lighting the torches for the mob to ferret out; hunt down; and deal to, women who were “breeding for business“.

Of course Bennett denied  that  women would be coerced to take contraception;

“It’s not compulsory, it’s just something to add to them trying to plan their family so they’ve got choices. It’s completely reasonable.”

Of course it was not compulsory. It was not meant to be. That was never the point of National’s on-going demonisation of beneficiaries – especially solo-mums (but never…) as a multitude of anti-welfare headlines hit the media in 2012, courtesy of National.

It was all part of National’s covert strategy to divert public, media, and political attention from economic problems confronting this country. National’s hands-off ideology was not working, and a very dramatic distraction was needed. A distraction that jerked all the right  visceral responses. A distraction that National’s rightwing sycophants, cronies, and malcontents could pick up and promote.

A distraction that was too much for the powerless to fight back.

Solo-mothers… Reckless “breeders for business“… Young sluts… Dropping babies for cash…

The National Government would sort out these wanton women of loose morals.

Cue; two years later, this recent editorial in the Dominion Post.  As far as editorials in a conservative newspaper went, it was quite extraordinary, as it exposed and laid bare National’s  manipulative, self-serving policy of vilification against those on welfare. I repost the entire editorial, rather than just the headline and first couple of paragraphs, as I usually do;

.

Dominion Post Editorial Dole scheme redundant from start

.

The Dominion Post – not normally renowned as the champion of the underdog when it comes to social welfare issues. So for the un-named writer to denounce National with such vehemence speaks volumes that the media was no longer buying into the “bene-bashing” narrative.

What is more, ACT’s latest leader, Philosopher/Libertarian, Jamie Whyte – in response to a point made by Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman – let slip on TV3’s The Nation on 10 May;

“Do you really think people only  have children because you flick them a few bucks?”

.Oh, really, Mr Whyte?

Do tell?

So people do not have children just “because you flick them a few bucks”?

Money is not a motivator?

Well, bugger me. Who’d’ve thought?!

Of course not. “Breeding for business” is a fiction.

But for certain right-wing politicians, it suits their agendas to demonise the poor; the powerless; and the marginalised.

Fortunately, though,  every so often the truth will out.

Thank you, Mr Whyte, for going on the record.

.


 

References

NZ Herald: National takes aim at solo parents on DPB

Political Animal: National’s Welfare “Reform” : Is that it?

Waikato Times: Furious mum rejects ‘bludger’ tag

NZ Herald: No apology from Bennett over leaked income data

NZ Herald: Unemployment up to 7.3pc – a 13 year high

Fairfax media: Beneficiary contraception plan ‘intrusive’

NZ Herald: Business NZ sees no economic plan

Dominion Post: Editorial – Dole scheme redundant from start

TV3: The Nation (11.5.14, part 3, @ 8.10)

Previous related blogposts

Of witch hunts and solo mums

Once upon a time there was a solo-mum

Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy

 

.

stone the witch!

Above image (slightly altered) acknowledgment: Kirk

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 May 2014.

.

= fs =