Feliz cumpleaños Joaquín Sabina, 62 today.
It’s a poor reflection on Egypt when rule by the army is regarded as a cause for celebration after 30 years under ex-President Hosni Mubarak.
Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, who is now in charge, will have a period of grace while decisions are made on where-to-from-here.
But change by itself does not necessarily bring improvement and the removal of a dictator does not automatically result in democracy or stability.
Benefits aren’t designed to give recipients a very good living for a very good reason – that would be a disincentive to independence and mean low income working people were little, if any better off as wage earners than they’d be on benefits.
The ones who manage a two-year holiday on the dole are the exception and even those of us with Presbyterian upbringings who’ve had some experience of living on a very low income would find it difficult to manage on a benefit for long.
Why then do some people see benefits not as temporary assistance through a bad patch, but a long term solution?
The most compelling explanation for the marked shift in the fortunes of the poor is that they continued to respond, as they always had, to the world as they found it, but that we — meaning the not-poor and un-disadvantaged — had changed the rules of their world. Not of our world, just of theirs. The first effect of the new rules was to make it profitable for the poor to behave in the short term in ways that were destructive in the long term. Their second effect was to mask these long-term losses — to subsidize irretrievable mistakes. We tried to provide more for the poor and produced more poor instead. We tried to remove the barriers to escape from poverty, and inadvertently built a trap. – Charles Murray, Losing Ground, p. 9
This is why the government is aiming to encourage those beneficiaries who could work to do so. It is in the best long-term interests of beneficiaries and the country to have more people independent.
That doesn’t mean it will be easy.
The job market is tight and many unemployed are unskilled. Some would find it difficult to juggle child care and work and might find the cost of child care took too much of their wages.
It might well cost more in the short term to help people into work than to have them on benefits but if it can be done it will be worth it for them, and the rest of us, in the long run.
It might not feel like it to many people struggling to stretch their budgets, but after-tax wages are rising faster than prices.
“We do understand that times still remain challenging for many New Zealanders. What really matters for them is whether their wages are rising faster than the cost of living,” Finance Minister Bill English says.
“While we don’t know everyone’s individual circumstances, average after-tax wages have increased 16 per cent and consumer prices have gone up 6 per cent since September 2008.
“That means even after taking account of the one-off rise in GST on 1 October and other consumer price rises, real after-tax earnings have now grown 10 per cent in that time.
“That’s a big improvement on the meagre 4 per cent total growth over the previous nine years,” Mr English says.
This means the average wage earner has done more than twice as well under National during a recession than under Labour in nine years when the world economy was booming.
“It was quite staggering that during a time of economic prosperity around the world between 1999 and 2008, New Zealanders’ real after-tax earnings improved by just 4 per cent over that entire period.
“Growth came from all the wrong places – such as government spending, excessive debt and ballooning house prices – and hard-working Kiwi families paid the price through meagre take-home pay increases.”
We are all still paying the price for Labour’s mismanagement and will continue to do so until the economy is rebalanced towards savings and growth.
On February 12:
1429 English forces under Sir John Fastolf defended a supply convoy carrying rations to the army besieging Orleans from attack by the Comte de Clermont and John Stuart in the Battle of Rouvray (also known as the Battle of the Herrings).
1502 Vasco da Gama set sail from Lisbon on his second voyage to India.
1554 A year after claiming the throne of England for nine days, Lady Jane Grey was beheaded for treason.
1567 Thomas Campion, English composer and poet, was born (d. 1620).
1700 The Great Northern War began in Northern Europe.
1719 The Onderlinge van 1719 u.a., the oldest existing life insurance company in the Netherlands was founded.
1771 Gustav III became the King of Sweden.
1809 Charles Darwin, English naturalist, was born (d. 1882).
1809 Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, was born (d. 1865).
1816 The Teatro di San Carlo, the oldest working opera house in Europe, was destroyed by fire.
1817 An Argentine/Chilean patriotic army, after crossing the Andes, defeated Spanish troops on the Battle of Chacabuco.
1825 The Muscogee (Creek )ceded the last of their lands in Georgia to the United States government, and migrate west.
1828 George Meredith, English writer, was born (d. 1909).
1832 Ecuador annexed the Galápagos Islands.
1855 Michigan State University was established.
1870 Women gained the right to vote in the Utah Territory.
1879 The first artificial ice rink in North America opened at Gilmore’s Park in New York City.
1881 Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina, was born (d. 1931).
1894 Anarchist Émile Henry hurled a bomb into Paris’s Cafe Terminus, killing one and wounding 20.
1909 SS Penguin was wrecked in Cook Strait.
1909 The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded.
1911 Stephen H. Sholes, American recording executive, was born (d. 1968).
1914 The first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was put into place.
1915 Lorne Greene, Canadian actor, was born (d. 1987).
1923 – Franco Zeffirelli, Italian film and opera director and designer, was born.
1924 Calvin Coolidge became the first President of the United States to deliver a political speech on radio.
1934 The Austrian Civil War began.
1934 In Spain the national council of Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista was inaugurated.
1938 Judy Blume, American author, was born.
1945 David Friedman, American economist, was born.
1948 Raymond Kurzweil, American inventor and author, was born.
1949 – Joaquín Sabina, Spanish singer and songwriter, was born.
1950 Steve Hackett, English guitarist (Genesis), was born.
1961 U.S.S.R. launched Venera 1 towards Venus.
1973 The first United States prisoners of war were released by the Viet Cong.
1974 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature was exiled from the Soviet Union.
2002 The trial of former President of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milošević began.
2004 The city of San Francisco, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in response to a directive from Mayor Gavin Newsom.
2006 A powerful winter storm blanketed the Northeastern United States dumping 1 to 2 feet of snow from Washington D.C. to Boston, and a record 26.9 inches of snow in New York City.
2007 A gunman opens fire in a mall in Salt Lake City killing 5 people wounding 4 others in the Trolley Square shooting.
2009 Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed into a house near Buffalo, New York killing 50 people.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.