Saturday soapbox

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse.


True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

36 Responses to Saturday soapbox

  1. Name Withheld says:

    Lindsay Mitchell. once again discovers some reality in the child poverty myth.


  2. Name Withheld says:

    ….once again discovers some reality in the child poverty myth. hype.


  3. Dave Kennedy says:

    If child poverty is a myth then the Children’s Commissioner’s research and experience as a Paediatrician would have to be fraudulent.

    If child poverty is a myth then Kidscan exists under false pretenses and the tens of thousands of children they are directly helping with food and clothing is not necessary and we should stop supporting them.

    If child poverty is a myth then the NZ Statistics data on median incomes from all sources must be false. Half of all income earners are supposed to be earning less than 32,000.


  4. Name Withheld says:

    Your reading skills are as bad as you comprehension, or lack of it.


  5. Dave Kennedy says:

    If child poverty is a myth then the Salvation Army are telling lies:

    If child poverty is a myth then food banks are having the wool pulled over their eyes and the growth of working families needing support is a fabrication.

    If child poverty is a myth then the skyrocketing numbers of families seeking budgeting support must be just because people have suddenly forgotten how to manage their money.


  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    If Child poverty is a myth then so must be the housing shortage and the growing number of homeless in Auckland.

    Lindsay Mitchell has exposed the Children’s Commissioner, the Salvation Army, Kidscan, the City Mission and Food banks as a bunch of liars. John Key was able to explain that one of the main causes of poverty is drug addiction too.

    I can find heaps of links and news reports describing growing levels of poverty, increased homelessness, increasing family violence and more demands on charities. I could not find many reports saying the opposite.

    NW can you find me three credible links (not Lindsay Mitchell) that support you views that contradict my 7. If the Children’s Commissioner is full of hype produce some people who are experts in this field who are not. Let’s have the evidence 😉


  7. Name Withheld says:

    No I’ll not feed the troll today.
    My posting was a link. I happen to agree with the author(s). Your rant would be more honest and productive directed to them.
    But of course you won’t, will you.
    Trolls don’t go far from their own bridge.


  8. Dave Kennedy says:

    NW, You really do need learn the meaning of a troll as I clearly don’t fit it. You mainly object to me because I have a different view and political perspective.

    I have debated with Lindsay before. She is just one blogger who provides one perspective on poverty and incomes and there are aspects of her arguments and links that I agree with, including this one that you linked to:

    “They lump the poor into one amorphous caste. They make no allowance for the black market economy or the ability to harvest free food.”

    I agree that we do have a large number of families on low ‘official’ incomes and many are now using alternative income sources and support to survive. There is now wide acceptance that we no longer need to pay living wages because families can survive on food banks and other “free food” and the black economy (drugs and under the table payments for services). However I don’t want to live in a third world economy where this is common place.

    In an affluent, resource rich country like NZ we should be able to pay good wages and not be reliant on overseas workers who are being paid well below the minimum wage. We shouldn’t force low income families to degrade themselves by having to use charities to feed their kids or be forced into the black market economy.

    Amongst poor families we do not have starvation, but we do have high rates of obesity from eating cheap unhealthy food and we do have very poor health statistics do to poor diet and housing. Poor housing is actually another indicator of poverty and I would be happy to drive you around invercargill and show you the slum housing a large number of families are forced to live in. the standard of housing for lower income earners has been degrading since the 90s.


  9. Andrei says:

    The Poverty that New Zealand’s children face Dave Kennedy is not material – it is a cultural and spiritual poverty of such depths it is depressing to behold


  10. Name Withheld says:

    Sigh….One more go….

    Sometimes when trying to explain things to a slow learner such as a child an idiot, it is sometimes helpful fruitless to repeat them.
    Your rant would be more honest and productive directed to them.


  11. JC says:

    DK.. congratulations! Your conclusions are reasonably close to the truth.. a bit exaggerated of course but you show a promising understanding of the poverty industry.



  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    Andrei, how do you explain how real incomes have dropped over the years. When i was a kid a family could survive comfortably and buy a house on one income. Now at least two incomes are needed to support a family and many will not be able to buy a home. Most sole parents, even when working, are reduced to needing support to survive. If you believe that society lacks values then perhaps you would advocate for our National Curriculum to be properly implemented, especially the values:
    Students will be encouraged to value:
    excellence, by aiming high and by persevering in the face of difficulties
    innovation, inquiry, and curiosity, by thinking critically, creatively, and reflectively
    diversity, as found in our different cultures, languages, and heritages
    equity, through fairness and social justice
    community and participation for the common good
    ecological sustainability, which includes care for the environment
    integrity, which involves being honest, responsible, and accountable and acting ethically

    NW, It doesn’t matter what the evidence shows regarding climate change or child poverty, your ideology is able to carry you through.

    It is obvious when I visit Auckland the the numbers of homeless has increased dramatically. At night in the CBD one can come across a homeless person every 5-10 metres. How do you explain that? Why would The Children’s Commissioner lie?

    JC, I would love to know who profits from the poverty industry, it certainly isn’t the taxpayer because child poverty costs us around $5 billion a year.


  13. homepaddock says:

    Dave @ 10:04 “If Child poverty is a myth . . .” Lindsay quoted Martin van Beynen, a journalist who is no apologist for the right. He was not denying the existence of poverty he was crticising the Child Poverty Monitor and it being based on 60% of the median income. He says “we need robust measures to give an accurate picture of who really needs help but the figures are starting to seem meaningless. . . ”

    He is right. The easiest way to reduce the number of people on 60% of the median income is to make the wealthier poorer. That would make the CPM look better but do nothing at all for those in genuine need.


  14. JC says:

    “JC, I would love to know who profits from the poverty industry,”

    Why ask me? I was just agreeing with your conclusions.



  15. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ele, I did realise that Lindsay was quoting van Beynen and referred to her own conclusions and those she linked to.

    Even the Government now agrees that we already have multiple measures and I do accept that different people will use the measure that suits their argument best. Some measures are more robust than others and the income one, while the most robust does not necessarily capture those suffering from material hardship. 60% of the the median income is easy to define and even when housing costs are considered some families may be more resilient than others.

    There is also the level of debt that some may have (on a restricted income a health issue or an unexpected cost can force many into a spiral of debt) that may effect those not within the 60%. Others below that income that may be comfortable because of a large garden and an undisclosed extra income.

    Housing can also impact and again those above the 60% may be having to live in unsatisfactory housing.

    No measure is truly accurate but from the range of data and reporting from a variety of sources (many i linked to) there is evidence that too many children and families struggle financially, have poor housing, poor diets, experience domestic violence and have poor health.

    To question the data and the extent of poverty can be useful if it leads to more accurate information that will lead to solutions and target support, but if it is used to delay action and question the very existence of any poverty, then it is counter-productive. That is what I believe is happening here, the extent of poverty is being questioned to question the need to do anything at all. There is also the concerning element of blaming all poor for their circumstances by claiming they are making life-style choices and that many are drug addicts.


  16. homepaddock says:

    Dave – the government and its agencies are only too aware of poverty and its consequences. That is why they are, for example, working one on one with teen mothers to help them and their children; ensuring teenagers can’t get benefits unless they’re in education or training; helping those who could work get work-ready. . .

    It’s also why the government places such importance on economic management and growth because that’ts he only way to ensure sustainable provision of assistance to those in need.


  17. Mr E says:

    You are looking at the issue with a seemingly tainted view.

    Incorrect data could lead to a lot of very bad outcomes. Included in those actions are, inefficient use of tax payers money (some of which comes from those in poverty), pointless use of taxpayers money (some of which comes from those in poverty), and the elimination of successful taxpayer funded programmes, (some of which comes from those in poverty), to name just a few.

    Nobody is suggesting that nothing should be done about poverty.

    My view is that the issue needs to be properly understood recorded and reported on before radical changes can be made.

    We owe it to those in poverty to spend their money appropriately. That can only be done when the opportunities to make improvements can be properly identified, and progress can be properly identified.

    Having silly measures of poverty shows the desperate need for better reporting of poverty. It is very hard however to direct poverty funds towards recording/reporting, when we suppose these funds could directly help those in need.


  18. Gravedodger says:

    Ahh HP what you and the current governement suggest, is going to lift more people into a better lifestyle through motivation and successful work.
    Such aspirational policy will always be assaulted by those who politically see an electoral advantage in having sufficient voters beholden to policies that reward enough seeing where there bread is buttered and vulnerable to a fear campaign that their income stream could be at risk
    Such voters probably do not have sufficient understanding of economic reality to see that they are condemned to being a captive voter base always at or near the edge of being placed in an crisis by some major unforeseen disaster such as their uninsured flat screen TV being stolen.

    Hence employers here in the Village of the Damned are struggling to maintain a workforce while the unemployed number stays stubbornly close to the national average.
    However it would be very unfair in this season of goodwill to suggest some are suffering a work phobia that requires long lie ins and evenings of indulgence.

    On a somewhat unrelated matter I recount a local legend from an ex Christchurch City Councilor, on who might attend the City Mission Xmas Mid-day Meal.
    An American couple came upon the festivities a few years ago and inquired what was the go. When told it was a charity funded festive meal for the poor, the lonely and the maybe just lost souls they took part and handed, on leaving the now ex CC, a check.
    Being of a sanguine reputation said person pocketed it without perusal and imagine his total astonishment later to find it was for $5000.

    I know of others who for various reasons attend that function, many who assist the delivery but others who just take part and make an anonymous donation for much more than its value.

    Seasons Greetings HP, to you and yours and to the many who visit this remarkable niche Blog that even with your reduced commitment still has a value that requires a daily visit.

    Many smiles M.

    ps pardon this rather off topic missive but my ether access will be very fraught for the Christmas break. M


  19. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ele, I believe the Government has done some useful things to ease some poverty and that should be recognised. However the root causes of poverty have yet to be addressed in more meaningful ways. Housing, health and low wages are the areas that have been seriously neglected.

    In Invercargill there has been no new social housing built since the 90s and the condition of those that remain has deteriorated through lack of maintenance. Rather than lifting the quality of housing for low income families by upgrading and building more, a housing supplement has been provided to be spent in the private market. This has artificially lifted private rental costs and families have been forced to accept low quality houses for inflated rates. For many low income families rental costs can be up to 2/3 of their budget.

    It is also clear that having the economy running well isn’t useful just in itself. Since the GFC New Zealand’s recovery was more rapid than most but when our country’s income increased the benefits were not well shared. At the high point of the recovery the increases to wages were at the lowest levels and inequity grew alarmingly. Wage rises have not progressed at nearly the same rate as increases in productivity. The trickle down has never occurred.

    Too much has been ambulance at the bottom of the cliff stuff, surely we should have working families not dependent on the state for their survival. The fact that a growing percentage of our poor are in work shows that the government’s solution to end poverty through work is failing.

    “We owe it to those in poverty to spend their money appropriately.”

    Mr E, that is a shocking statement that effectively blames the poor for their circumstances. While I’m sure there are families who don’t manage their money well it is a huge insult to all those who work hard and do all the right things but still struggle, as is the situation today and the reason for Working for Families.


  20. TraceyS says:

    The other day Andrei wrote a comment about how things change when they are measured. I believe that he may of been referring to the “observer effect”:

    This is relevant insofar as a scientific method is being applied to understanding poverty.

    If the study of poverty isn’t scientific then there is probably no observer effect. But then it’s not scientific. A case of not being able to have your cake and eat it too. If the study is scientific then there will be observer effects.

    Science is littered with good examples. The Hawthorne experiments being my favourite:


  21. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, this could indeed be a useful idea. If the Government was more strictly observed regarding their processes and actions then perhaps we may have more robust decisions. When information is sought regarding the process and information used to make decisions around child poverty there has been nothing. Paula Bennett used to continually state that rather than assess the extent and causes of poverty her Government would just do stuff:

    “Ms Bennett said the Government was focusing on addressing poverty rather than measuring it, and so was putting its efforts into other areas.”

    The problem with this approach is that if you don’t fully understand the extent of a problem then you can’t properly address it and you can’t measure any progress.

    Interestingly the opposite approach was used in Education where the use of measurement through National Standards was deemed important to properly target resources.

    I agree with many here that poverty is a complex beast, but it does exist, it isn’t just the fault of those who are poor (those thousands of CYFs kids abandoned at 17 years for example) and e already have multiple measure that provide knowledge of different aspects.

    The observations and data of the City Mission, Children’s Commissioner, Salvation Army, Kidscan and CYFs add detail to the blunt instrument of the 60% tool.


  22. TraceyS says:

    Dave, your response is telling, or else you are deliberately twisting the concept of the observer effect to suit your purpose.

    What your response says is that you see the subject being studied as the Government rather than poverty itself (in the observer effect measurement affects the subject). But the Government is not the subject, in this case, poverty is.

    You don’t like the Government so you want us to believe that the Government and poverty are synonymous. But they are not and believing so will be to the detriment of progress on poverty issues.

    You cannot help making every debate about the Government can you? This draws the focus away from the subject. So hopefully this little explanation puts you on the same page as Paula Bennett.

    Alternatively, carry on as you do, not letting a little poverty get in the way of politics.


  23. Mr E says:

    “Mr E, that is a shocking statement ”

    Dave – you think that the Govt should spend taxs from people in poverty inappropriately?

    You Greens crack me up.


  24. TraceyS says:

    “You are looking at the issue with a seemingly tainted view.”

    Respectfully, Mr E, we all are.


  25. Mr E says:


    “What your response says is that you see the subject being studied as the Government rather than poverty itself ”

    “You cannot help making every debate about the Government can you?”

    “Alternatively, carry on as you do, not letting a little poverty get in the way of politics.”

    Nailed it…..

    Wait just wait for the next distraction…. Away from poverty measures.


  26. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, please correct me if I am wrong, but I gathered that you were promoting the view that if poor people knew that they were going to being observed for measurement purposes then they may modify their behaviour and actually improve their situation. That simply implies that the poor themselves are the main problem and not the environment that they live in, the culture that created them and the kind of support they are provided with.

    Thousands of damaged youth are let down by their family and CYFs and are currently abandoned by the state at 17 years. They are left to make their way in the world largely on their own with limited coping skills and education. This group make up 80% of our younger prison population and most end up having children. This is one section of those who are poor, but I struggle to see how “being observed” is going to help them and set them up for a more positive future (for them and their kids). Lack of meaningful action when it is most important is just creating generational failure and poverty.

    So yes, expecting more from our Government to use evidence to support their actions and to identify the causes of poverty so it can be addressed at that level is critical.

    Poverty is the problem, the Government is the institution that sets policy and provides the resourcing for assistance and support. It already spends billions on dealing with the symptoms of poverty and after 7 years things have generally got worse. Also remember that when I point the finger at the Government I am also including us, they are our representatives and we elect them so that they can use our tax money for the prioritised services that we deem important. Addressing poverty and supporting the most vulnerable is part of that. Why can we, for instance, provide more support for those 17+ year olds (who never had a good start in life) until they can live independently and contribute positively to our economy and society.


  27. Dave Kennedy says:

    Sorry “why can’t we…” (last sentence)


  28. Mr E says:


    “Respectfully, Mr E, we all are.”

    We all have bias. If we didn’t have bias, experience would be a pointless exercise. It is possible to eliminate bias. That requires removing experience, and could possibly weaken the outcome.

    I probably should have used the words – ‘strongly tainted’.


  29. TraceyS says:

    “It is possible to eliminate bias. That requires removing experience”

    Not necessarily. The scientific method attempts to remove bias and it may even succeed. But careful use of the scientific method to study a subject, such as poverty, will introduce observer effects on participants. That could be good – or not.

    In any case the effects would be temporary and I would never “promote” it as a strategy for dealing with poverty.

    Isn’t it interesting the way that Dave assumes everyone has something to promote? I was merely observing and musing.

    It is much too hot today for real thinking.


  30. TraceyS says:

    “So yes, expecting more from our Government to use evidence to support their actions and to identify the causes of poverty so it can be addressed at that level is critical.”

    Like “evidence” was “used” in advising parents to administer paracetamol in order to bring down their childrens’ fevers?

    Scientific evidence should not be looked upon as something to be used.

    Can you not see the trouble that leads to?


  31. TraceyS says:

    “Also remember that when I point the finger at the Government I am also including us, they are our representatives and we elect them…”

    So you and I both helped elect the Government. Yes I agree, Dave.

    In different ways, but still true.


  32. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, I mean even more basic evidence, like the doubling of homelessness in the Auckland CBD and and the fact that Housing NZ houses failed basic maintenance assessments. This is a little hint that there are not enough houses and that as a landlord Housing NZ needs to fix their homes to stop kids dying and getting sick.

    I don’t think it is going to endanger health if more houses are built or repaired.


  33. TraceyS says:

    Operations, not policy, Dave.


  34. Dave Kennedy says:

    What was the policy for the funding of housing NZ and the level of dividends paid back to Government coffers? What policies determined the priorities for spending on housing?


  35. Dave Kennedy says:

    There is also growing evidence of migrant poverty and slave labour:
    “Widespread workplace abuse and worker exploitation has been uncovered by a taskforce looking into breaches of labour standards.”


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