366 days of gratitude

May 31, 2016

Farmers are generally pretty good at running repairs but the return valve that was causing the motor running our heater system to stop required an expert.

He came, he saw, he ordered a part, it arrived, he came back and the motor is working as it should again.

Today I’m grateful for our plumber.


Word of the day

May 31, 2016

Blimpery  – an attitude or outlook that pompously and peremptorily rejects social change or new ideas in the manner of Colonel Blimp; behaviour or speech expressive of this outlook; blimpishness.


Rural round-up

May 31, 2016

Japanese visit source of their wool – Sally Rae:

Delegates from Japanese suit maker Konaka were treated to a Kiwi farm experience and more when they visited Closeburn Station this week.

Gimmerburn farmer Tony Clarke gave a karate demonstration, a passion of his and one of the reasons he is so interested in Japanese culture.

His family’s relationship with the Tokyo stock exchange listed company has been “going from strength to strength” since initial contact in 2012, he said. . . 

Demonstration farm turning to dairying:

Southland Demonstration Farm (SDF) at Wallacetown, near Invercargill, is changing from operating a leased farm to establishing the Southern Dairy Hub.

SDF chairman Maurice Hardie commended the vision of Pam Brock and her late husband Stephen for the provision of their farm, which had contributed immensely to raising the profile and productivity of dairy farming in Southland.

“Nine years ago, farm owners Stephen and Pam Brock made their Wallacetown dairy farm available to the southern dairy industry to showcase dairy farming in Southland. . . 

Farming through drought easier with software:

A farmer struck by two years of drought says farm management software is helping him make timely decisions and get better results.

Rob Lawson farms with his brother Willie and father Jim on the 2300ha family farm Moana, just north of Dunedin.

While many parts of the East Coast seem to have dodged the predicted El Nino, Rob says it has been “very typical” in their area over the past two years. In fact the rainfall has even been lower this year than the worst drought his father has experienced before now – in 1998 and 1999. “That’s East Coast farming, and that’s what we’ve got to contend with,” Rob says.

Despite the severity of the drought, so far they have not lowered their capital stock numbers at all. Rob puts that down to close monitoring of stock. .  .

Bank of China NZ unit funds Chinese-NZ mission to boost tradeBy Tina Morrison

 (BusinessDesk) – Bank of China, one of the country’s biggest lenders, funded 55 of its Chinese company clients to meet with 120 Kiwi agricultural businesses in a bid to grow trade and help meet its goal of becoming the largest Chinese bank in New Zealand.

The bank flew over two to three representatives from each Chinese company and hosted 348 matchmaking sessions, which have so far resulted in at least four Memorandums of Understanding between firms to work together. A similar venture for 20 second-tier e-commerce companies in November last year helped local manufacturers export US$3 million in the first quarter of this year, it said. . . 

Don’t let velvetleaf hitch a ride on Gypsy Day:

This Gypsy Day, farmers are being urged to avoid moving the invasive pest weed velvetleaf along with their stock.

June 1 marks the first day of the new dairying season where thousands of sharemilkers load their cows into stock trucks or herd stock on roads and move equipment and families to new farms.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) cautions that the mass movement of stock and equipment could also move velvetleaf seed to other properties. . . 


State poor substitute for families

May 31, 2016

When I read that New Zealand marriage rates continue to decline I wondered if that had any influence on poverty and housing shortages.

A report from Family First authored by Lindsay Mitchel  says it does.

The executive summary says:

Despite families being much smaller, parents being older, mothers being better educated and having much higher employment rates, child poverty has risen significantly since the 1960s.

In 1961, 95 percent of children were born to married couples; by 2015 the proportion had fallen to 53 percent.

For Maori, 72 percent of births were to married parents in 1968; by 2015 the proportion had fallen to just 21 percent.

In 2015, 27 percent of registered births were to cohabiting parents. The risk of parental separation by the time the child is aged five is, however, 4-6 times greater than for married parents.

Cohabiting relationships are becoming less stable over time.

Cohabiting parents are financially poorer than married parents. They form an interim group between married and single parent families.

Single parent families make up 28 percent of all families with dependent children. These families are the poorest in New Zealand.

51% of children in poverty live in single parent families.

Single parents have the lowest home ownership rates and the highest debt ratios.

Children in sole parent families are often exposed to persistent poverty and constrained upward mobility.

Of registered births in 2015, 5% had no recorded father details and a further 15% had fathers living at a different home address to the mother.

Of all babies born in 2015, 17.5% (10,697) were reliant on a main benefit by the end of their birth year, over two thirds on a single parent benefit. Over half had Maori parents/caregivers.

The higher poverty rates for Maori and Pasifika children are reflected in the greater number of sole parent and cohabiting families.

Rapidly changing family structure has contributed significantly to increasing income inequality.

Child poverty is consistently blamed on unemployment, low wages, high housing costs and inadequate social security benefits. Little attention has been given to family structure.

Despite marriage being the best protector against child poverty it has become politically unfashionable – some argue insensitive – to express such a view.

But if there is to be any political will to solve child poverty the issue has to be confronted.

It is no coincidence that the increase in sole parenting and the educational, financial, health and other social problems associated with it, started with the increase of benefit dependence:

While child poverty also occurs among two parent families, its severity and longevity tend to differ, primarily because two parent families generally derive their income from the market which is subject to fluctuations; single parents are more likely to derive their income from a benefit 17 which is reasonably static and not subject to market fluctuations. Ironically, while benefit income is more secure, market income is more likely to improve over time. . . 

Benefits for most people are supposed to provide temporary support until they are able to look after themselves. Most people in paid work are able to earn more through pay increases and as they gain more experience, better qualifications.

Before the Domestic Purposes Benefit, people were trapped in abusive, dysfunctional and desperately unhappy marriages.

The DPB enabled people, usually but not always mothers, to get out of those relationships and most don’t stay dependent on it for long. But it also enabled people, again usually but not always women, to have children without supportive partners- in both the emotional and financial sense.

. . . a trend towards the formation of de facto relationships began, as did the increasing incidence of un-partnered mothers keeping and raising their children alone. Separating the two patterns poses substantial difficulties but was attempted by Kaye Goodger in 1998 (see graph below). 34 Of particular interest are the lines labelled “ex-nuptial children retained by single mothers” and “ex-nuptial births with no resident father”. The number grew from a few hundred in the early 1960s to around 13,000 by 1996, representing more than half of all ex-nuptial births.  . .

It takes two people to make a baby but too often one is left to bring the child up without the help of a spouse and ex

Frequently, young un-partnered mothers fall into what MSD research describes as the “early starter” group of sole parents who, “…appeared to be particularly disadvantaged. Half of them lived in high deprivation areas with a New Zealand Deprivation Index (NZDep) rating of 9 or 10. Levels of debt to the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Special Needs Grant use suggest that many struggled to cope financially.” 46

In 2005, this group accounted for 45 percent of all the children dependent on the DPB.These particular children will often be subject to the long-term deprivation associated with sole parents who are chronically or repeatedly single.47 Their mothers may view a benefit as more reliable than, and preferable to, a partner. Yet being ‘without a current partner’ has been classified as a risk factor for child vulnerability by the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) study.48 It is also associated with other low socio-economic risk factors. . . 

But too often, adding a partner to the mix endangers the children.

At November 2011, 26,000 women receiving the DPB had included additional new-born children: 20 percent had added 1 more child; 6 percent added two; 2 percent had added 3 subsequent children and 1 percent had added four or more.49 Each percentage point equates to almost 900 mothers. Between 2006 and 2010 this amounted to an annual average of 4,190 subsequent children (or 7% of average annual total births over same period) added to a sole parent benefit. Only 610 were added to other main benefits.  . . 

In conclusion, an extended explanation of this particular pathway into sole parenthood has been provided because children who appear in the benefit system from birth – or shortly thereafter – form a particularly disadvantaged group. The rate of early child benefit-dependence through un-partnered birth appears to have been declining very slowly since the early 1990s. This coincides with general child poverty rates (see p 7). The exposure of these children to low income is prolonged because their mothers became dependent very young without educational qualifications or work experience and leaving welfare poses numerous challenges. . . 

This is why the government is  putting so much effort, and money, into working with young single parents. Helping them look after their babies, gain qualifications and get work is the best way out of poverty.

With the decline in marriage has come an increase in cohabitation. Some of these relationships lead to marriage and some last longer than some marriages, but:

In 1995, New Zealand research found:

“About 46 percent of cohabiting first unions aged 20-59 were converted into a marriage, and 44 percent were dissolved (11 percent were still intact at the time of survey). Of those that were either dissolved or converted into a marriage, over 90 percent did so in the first five years.” 61

In line with this, the Christchurch Child Development Study found that cohabitation is a foremost risk factor for breakdown of a child’s family in its first five years with 43.9 percent of de facto couples separating compared to 10.9 percent of married parents.62 Not dissimilar statistics were produced by the Jubilee Centre which analysed data from the United Kingdom Longitudinal Study63 and showed:

“For cohabiting parents, the child’s earliest years are a time of disproportionate risk, with 37 percent of couples separating by the time the child is five compared with less than 6 percent of married couples – more than a six-fold difference. By the time the child is 16, 16 percent of married couples will have separated, compared to 66 percent of cohabiting couples – a four-fold difference.” . . 

The report quotes research which shows families where the parents are in a defacto relationship are poorer than those with married parents.

In New Zealand, according to MSD, “A Household Savings Survey (HSS) carried out in 2001 revealed clear relationships between savings, in the form of net assets, and legal marital status, family size, family type, and age. The net worth of couples living in the same household varied considerably according to whether they were legally married or not. The median net worth of all married couples was $201,400 compared with $49,500 for all unmarried couples (age-standardised data are unavailable).” 73 . . .

Higher annual before tax incomes (from all sources) for married couples are evident. Larger proportions of de facto people appear in the low income groups, while in the higher income groups de facto numbers drop away quite sharply.

The income differences for New Zealand couples are not as stark as in the US. This may be, at least partially, a result of Working for Families (WFF). Income redistribution through the tax/benefit system reduces the difference between rich and poor – so to some extent, between married and unmarried couples. WFF is a substantial transfer. The New Zealand Initiative describes how “…cash benefits exceeded direct tax paid on average for each of these [lowest] five deciles.” 74

There is another important point to be made. Not only are cohabiting parents generally poorer, given their greater propensity for separation, financial resources available for children post-dissolution are also more limited. Again the risk of child poverty is heightened. . .

The report goes on to look at ethnic breakdown and the role of unemployment.

It then notes:

Just as family structure plays a significant role in the incidence and degree of child poverty, so it does in levels of inequality of income and wealth across New Zealand society. The two go hand-in-hand. In the matter of inequality, most attention is paid to unemployment, market forces, so-called “neoliberal” policies, labour market deregulation and the shortcomings of capitalism in general. In New Zealand at least, little interest has been taken in the role of family structure. The closest to acknowledging the role of family structure was a 2013 report from the NZ Institute for Economic Research (NZIER) which claimed: “The distribution of income in New Zealand and around the OECD became more unequal after the 1960s as societies became more liberal and households changed.” 102 . . 

Then it concludes:

This paper has demonstrated the clear differences between incomes in married, de facto and sole parent families with children. Though child poverty has more dimensions than income alone, the links between household finances and material deprivation are important. Yet, in the very many discussions and reports about child poverty, the elephant in the room – family structure – is constantly ignored. Unemployment, low wages, high housing costs and insufficient social security benefits are consistently blamed for child poverty yet a major culprit (if not the major culprit) is family malformation, that is, a lack of two married committed parents.

There are at least three belief systems which have heavily influenced social science thinking, which in turn influences policy-making, which in turn influences public behaviours. The direction in which these influences operate may be fluid and certainly there is something of the ‘chicken and egg’ phenomenon at work. For instance, unmarried childbirth began to rise prior to the advent of the DPB. But it accelerated rapidly in its wake.

The three relevant ideologies at work since 1961 have been feminism; socialism and moral relativism.

Feminism sought to increase the choices and freedoms of women (but may have inadvertently overlooked those of their children). The ‘feminisation of poverty’, the idea that women are the disproportionately poor gender – and not just in developing countries – is sound and has led directly to greater child poverty. Replacing reliance on a male partner with reliance on the state ‘partner’ has not enriched those mothers.

Socialism sought to equalise incomes of people through state redistribution of wealth (yet would appear to have increased child poverty). Welfare payments that were generous relative to unskilled wages have undermined the formation and maintenance of parental relationships and trapped generations of families on benefits.

Moral relativism sought to suspend moral judgments about people’s decisions and behaviours regardless of contribution to poor personal and societal outcomes, especially for children.

The political left – though the left/right divide has become less distinct in New Zealand – tends to most strongly adhere to these belief systems and resists evidence that their application is failing.

To identify marriage as beneficial for the outcomes of children necessarily criticises other forms of partnerships so, in the eyes of many, must be avoided. Offence to any group or class seems undesirable no matter how much the negative impact might be on children.

There may be a legitimate fear of discrimination among bureaucrats constrained by human rights legislation? There may be a resistance to recognising the positive economic role of marriage in a secular country? . . 

For politicians there’s a fear of expressing support for marriage because it just sounds fusty and unfashionable (excepting same-sex marriage). Accusations of ‘social engineering’ might be levelled.

Examples of the US promoting marriage through government policy could be raised as a distinctly unwelcome spectre. Many New Zealanders harbour anti-American sentiments.

It is not the intention of this paper to explore at length why marriage has fallen out of favour with most social science academics and policy-makers.

The aim has been to show that marriage provides the best economic environment for raising children. The evidence is overwhelming and incontrovertible.

The paper doesn’t go into why families with married parents have better outcomes nor show if other factors are relevant. Are there, for examples, differences in the education, employment and family support of people who choose to marry and those who don’t which could influence outcomes?

Marriage doesn’t guarantee successful outcomes for the couple and their children, nor do de facto relationships and solo parenting guarantee failure.

However, this paper shows that families with married parents are more likely to succeed than the others. They also need only one house.

The media has been full of stories of homeless people.

Among them have been the mother of eight children facing huge debts and at-risk youth engaging in sex to get somewhere to sleep.

These reports only ever tell a very small part of the story and rarely ask, let alone answer, how the people got into these dire situations and where are the children’s father or fathers and extended families.

As Martin van Beynen says:

The current weeping, wailing and gross over-simplification of the problems at the root of violence and dysfunction will not achieve anything. . .

We have tried everything and all we have created is a culture of dependence, entitlement, helplessness and irresponsibility. . . 

The state is a very poor substitute for families and many, though not all, of the examples that reach the media demonstrate what happens when people claim their rights without accepting responsibility.


Quote of the day

May 31, 2016

Oh, the illusion of choice in the modern world – don’t get me started. But don’t you agree that the Internet has softened our brains and made us forget that ‘choice’ used to mean something different from selecting options from menus? – Lynne Truss who celebrates her 63rd birthday today.


May 31 in history

May 31, 2016

1279 BC – Rameses II (The Great) (19th dynasty) became pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.

526  A an earthquake in Antioch, Turkey, killed 250,000.

1223 Mongol invasion of the Cumans: Battle of the Kalka River – Mongol armies of Genghis Khan led by Subutai defeated Kievan Rus and Cumans.

1578  Martin Frobisher sailed from Harwich,  to Frobisher Bay, Canada, eventually to mine fool’s gold, used to pave streets in London.

1669   Samuel Pepys recorded the last event in his diary.

1678  The Godiva procession through Coventry began.

1759  The Province of Pennsylvania banned all theatre productions.

1775  American Revolution: The Mecklenburg Resolutions adopted in the Province of North Carolina.

1790 Alferez Manuel Quimper explored the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

1790 – The United States enacted its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.

1813  Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth, reached Mount Blaxland, effectively marking the end of a route across the Blue Mountains.

1819 Walt Whitman, American poet, was born (d. 1892).

1859  The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, started keeping time.

1862  American Civil War Peninsula Campaign: Battle of Seven Pines or (Battle of Fair Oaks) – Confederate forces under Joseph E. Johnston & G. W. Smith engaged Union forces under George B. McClellan outside Richmond, Virginia.

1864 American Civil War Overland Campaign: Battle of Cold Harbor – The Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee engaged the Army of the Potomac under Ulysses S. Grant & George G. Meade.

1866  In the Fenian Invasion of Canada, John O’Neill led 850 Fenian raiders across the Niagara Riveras part of an effort to  free Ireland from the English.

1872 Heath Robinson, English cartoonist, was born (d. 1944).

1884 Arrival at Plymouth of Tawhiao,  Maori king, to claim protection of Queen Victoria.

TawhiaoNLA.jpg

1889 – Johnstown Flood: Over 2,200 people died after a dam break sent a 60-foot (18-meter) wall of water over the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

1898 Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, American clergyman, was born (d. 1993).

1902 The Treaty of Vereeniging ended the second Boer War war and ensured British control of South Africa.

1910 Creation of the Union of South Africa.

1911  The ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic was launched.

1916  World War I: Battle of Jutland – The British Grand Fleet under the command of Sir John Jellicoe & Sir David Beatty engaged the Kaiserliche Marine under the command of Reinhard Scheer & Franz von Hipper in the largest naval battle of the war, which proved indecisive.

1921 Tulsa Race Riot: A civil unrest in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the official death toll was 39, but recent investigations suggest the actual toll was much higher.

1923 Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, was born (d. 2005).

1924  The Soviet Union signed an agreement with the Peking government, referring to Outer Mongolia as an “integral part of the Republic of China”, whose “sovereignty” therein the Soviet Union promised to respect.

1927  The last Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.

1930 Clint Eastwood, American film director and actor, was born.

1935  A 7.7 Mw earthquake destroyed Quetta, Pakistan,: 40,000 dead.

1935 Jim Bolger, 35th Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.

1938 Peter Yarrow, American folk singer (Peter, Paul and Mary), was born.

1939 Terry Waite, British humanitarian, was born.

1941  A Luftwaffe air raid in Dublin claimed 38 lives.

1942 World War II: Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines began a series of attacks on Sydney.

1943  Zoot Suit Riots began.

1953 – Lynne Truss, English journalist and author.

1961 Republic of South Africa created.

1962 The West Indies Federation dissolved.

1962  Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel.

1965 Brooke Shields, American actress and supermodel, was born.

1967 Phil Keoghan, New Zealand-born US television personality, was born.

1970  The Ancash earthquake caused a landslide that buried the town of Yungay, Peru; more than 47,000 people were killed.

1971  In accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1968, observation of Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May for the first time, rather than on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30.

1973  The United States Senate voted to cut off funding for the bombing of Khmer Rouge targets within Cambodia, hastening the end of theCambodian Civil War.

1975 Mona Blades, an 18 year-old htich hiker disappeared, after last being seen in an orange Datsun.

Mona Blades vanishes

1977  The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System completed.

1981  Burning of Jaffna library, Sri Lanka.

1985 Forty-one tornadoes hit Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, leaving 76 dead.

1989 – A group of six members of the guerrilla group Revolutionary Movement Tupac Amaru (MRTA) of Peru, shot dead eight transsexuals, in the city of Tarapoto

1991 – Bicesse Accords in Angola laid out a transition to multi-party democracy under the supervision of the United Nations’ UNAVEM IImission.

2005 – Vanity Fair revealed that Mark Felt was Deep Throat

2010 – In international waters, armed Shayetet 13 commandos, intending to force the flotilla to anchor at the Ashdod port, boarded ships trying to break the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, resulting in 9 civilian deaths.

2013 – The asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon made their closest approach to Earth for the next two centuries.

2013 – An EF5 tornado devastated El Reno, Oklahoma, killing nine people, becoming the widest tornado in recorded history, with an astounding diameter of 2.6 miles (4.2 km).

2013 – The asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon made their closest approach to Earth for the next two centuries.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


366 days of gratitude

May 30, 2016

Fashion favors men in many ways.

They don’t have to wear high heels nor  usually have to wear tights and worry about whether they’ve developed runs.

Unless they wear a kilt, they aren’t troubled by showing more leg than decorum dictates.

They can also get by with a smaller wardrobe to take them from casual through to formal.

But one item of apparel women aren’t expected to wear, unless it’s with a school uniform, is a tie and I’m grateful for that.


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