NZ 3rd for material living standard

July 31, 2015

Trans Tasman points out that child poverty lobbies are wrong on living standards:

Lobby groups which bleat about child poverty in NZ took a knock this week when independent research showed NZ households have the third highest material living standard in the world for households with a teenager. The research also dealt a blow to those who contend there is growing inequality in NZ society. Using a new measure for wellbeing, Researchers at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research found NZ ranks just behind the US and Canada, and ahead of Aust and all the Scandinavian countries.
Motu is a not-for-profit, non-partisan research institute and received funding for this work from the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of NZ. Dr Arthur Grimes, one of NZ’s most respected economists, says “our new measure focuses on actual consumption of households, which is a better measure of living standards than income. What we found is that we have very high material wellbeing levels. I think this should call into question the widespread negative impression of living standards in NZ compared with other developed countries.” Grimes and Motu researcher Sean Hyland worked from a dataset of household possessions for almost 800,000 households over 40 countries, including all OECD countries.
“Our results show NZ is still a great place to bring up children, at least in material terms. Not only do we have wonderful natural amenities, but contrary to what GDP statistics tell us, most kiwi families have a high standard of material wellbeing relative to our international peers” The study also looked at the degree of inequality in household material wellbeing, which fell in most countries, including NZ, over the period 2000-2012. In 2012, NZ ranked twentieth of 40 countries in terms of inequality, with levels similar to those in the US, Canada and the UK.
Grimes points out most public policy concern is with the living standards of ordinary people, especially those closer to the bottom of the wealth distribution curve, whose living standards are well captured in the data. “If we look across the Tasman, Australia’s households are not quite as wealthy as their NZ counterparts but inequality in Aust. is lower than that in NZ. Overall, these figures suggest we may need to reassess how we look at this country’s economic performance.”

This doesn’t mean everyone has enough nor that we can ignore the needs of those who don’t.

But it does contradict the people who keep trying to tell us that inequality is growing and that up to one in four children are living in poverty.


Quote of the day

July 23, 2015

What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?

It isn’t the sleepless nights, or the endless fights. It isn’t the constant worrying about every last little thing, or the constant pestering about every last little thing. It isn’t the impact on your work life, your love life, or your social life. It isn’t the lack of money, the lack of time, or even the lack of anything approaching a life of your own.

It feels like it’s all of those things, but it it’s none of them.

In the end, the hardest thing about being a parent is truly understanding that everything comes with a number. You get a certain number of bedtime stories, and a certain number of bedtime kisses. Your get a certain number of roads they’ll cross holding your hand, and a certain number of sports matches on a Saturday morning. You get a certain number of bike rides, and a certain number of bad jokes with no real punchline. Most of all… you get a certain number of hours.

One day you’ll go to the bucket, and it will be empty.

So–and I’m saying this as much to myself as to anyone else–get as much as you can, of all that you can, for as long as you possibly can. It’s the only score you’ll get that will ever truly mean anything, and it’s also the hardest one to keep track of.Nigel Latta


Tell tale tit

July 22, 2015

Tell tale tit/your tongue will be slit/ and all the dogs in the town/ will have a little bit.

This schoolyard chant has come to mind often as I watch the mainstream media report breathlessly on something someone has posted on the internet.

The latest is Max Key’s video of his family holiday.

If it wasn’t that his father is the Prime Minister would anyone but his friends know about this? Even when he is the PM’s son, some other than his friends might want to know but does anyone but them need to know?

It’s been viewed more than 116,000 times. But how many times would it have been viewed had it not been broadcast by the MSM?

Other political leaders have, rightly, said that politician’s families should be off-limits.

I only knew about it because I read a post on Facebook referring to Barry Soper’s soapbox saying the PM’s son’s lifestyle was a liability to him.

. . . Key’s always been seen as a regular bloke, and regardless of his super wealth, he is. But perhaps he should have a word to his son Max who’s been with the family at their Hawaiian hideaway over the past couple of weeks, along with his model girlfriend who’s soon to become a Miss Auckland contestant, we’re told. . .

Now that isn’t the privilege of the vast majority 20 year old’s who’re struggling to make ends meet in this country.

It’s not an image that should be flaunted when the number of homeless here is growing and when the economy’s beginning to waiver, and it’s not the image that Key’s so carefully cultivated.

To those who like and admire him the PM comes across as who he is, someone who has the rare ability to engage with a wide spectrum of people and who hides neither his humble background nor the wealth he earned through hard work and careful investment.

This story won’t influence them. It might provide some fuel for those who don’t like him or his politics but probably won’t even register with the vast majority.

If there was any flaunting, it wasn’t the original posting of the video, it was the reporting of it which brought it wider attention.

That brings me back to the schoolyard chant.

Social media is part of life now and some matters broadcast on it do have legitimate news value.

However, some which get reported on by the MSM forget the difference between what some of the pubic might be interested in and what’s in the public interest, and they’re just telling tales.

Stories about politicians families should, with very rare exceptions, be in the latter category.


Own life sentence

June 5, 2015

The woman who admitted the manslaughter of her son after she left him in her car  has been discharged without conviction.

. . . Justice France was satisfied that the consequences of a conviction would be out of proportion to her culpability. . .

This is justice showing mercy.

The bereaved parents’ club is one no-one chooses to join.

It is against the natural order to outlive our children.

It is difficult enough to lose a child through no-one’s fault, it must be so much worse for a parent who, whatever the court says, will always blame herself .

This mother will be serving her own life sentence.

I hope everyone in the family has the love and support they need as they grieve and that in time they are able to accept that the best tribute to the child who died is to live, better and happier lives because he can’t.


Addressing hardship better than measuring manufactured poverty

May 28, 2015

A few years ago a newspaper asked Oamaru clergy to comment on poverty.

One vicar said that he came from South Africa where hundreds of people shared a single cold water tap which made it difficult for him to comment on a town where people drove to the food bank.

The dictionary defines poverty as the state of being extremely poor.

The measuring class—people with tertiary education who spend all their time telling us how much misery there is in our community  have manufactured a new definition – 60% of the median income.

By that measure poverty could only be solved by taking everyone’s money and redistributing it equally and ensuring it stayed redistributed equally for ever.

While gross inequality can be a problem, making the rich poorer will not address the causes of, nor provide a longterm solution to, the problems of the very poor.

This is why Finance Minister Bill English took a swing at critics of the government on ‘poverty’:

“The term ‘poverty’ has been captured by a particular idea of how you measure poverty and a particular solution to it. That is, you measure it relative to incomes, and the solution is mass redistribution.”

Those who use the term “poverty” and “child poverty” in this way have been “admirably open” about their objectives, Mr English told the meeting but it is not a view the government shares.

“We are not addressing that phenomenon. What we are addressing is absolute levels of hardship. That is someone not having enough to live, and we don’t think that is worse just because someone else has a bit more.”

Incomes are only one part of what keeps people at the bottom of the social heap, he says, and other factors matter more.

“What we are addressing is what I think is the kind of communal or moral dimension and the worst examples of it are not purely about poverty. They are about ways of behaving, and I don’t think poverty is an excuse for serial criminality or beating up your kids. But those are parts of the ways of behaving of parts of our community, in my view sometimes made worse by the way the government deals with some of these problems.” . . .

It is not often a politician talks about the moral dimension and that should not be taken to mean that moral problems are the preserve of the poor.

But when Northland GP Lance O’Sullivan says children will be better off away from their homes and the social dysfunction in them, the problem of hardship is not just a financial one.

When National came to government it took an actuarial look at welfare and uncovered the longterm costs of it.

Those costs were both financial and social which is why reducing dependency and addressing real hardship are so important.

It doesn’t matter what you call it, the problem is whether or not people have enough which in turn begs the question how much is enough?

Regardless of the answer, the solution lies in addressing real hardship, as this government is doing, not by manufacturing poverty by redefining it in a misguided attempt to solve it through redistribution.


Whole World

May 10, 2015

Searching for mother at Story People gave me so many wonderful words, I couldn’t choose just one so here’s a bonus:

whole world StoryPeople print by Brian Andreas

 

Moms come in all shapes & sizes, but they’re pretty easy to recognize because they’re the ones who teach you stuff all the time about how to be in the world & sometimes that sounds a lot like: chew with your mouth closed, sit still. stand up straight, be polite, Look them in the eye. & sometimes it seems like that sort of thing doesn’t add up to a whole lot. Until the day you feel the soft ache of love in your heart that makes you take care with a friend who hurts or when you look in a stranger’s tired eyes & you stop & smile. Or when you listen to the ABC song for the thousandth time & you laugh & say ‘again’ & suddenly you understand that is the real thing moms do & it adds up to the whole world.

Whole World  ©2014 Brian Andreas – posted with permission.

You can sign up for a daily dose of whimsy like this at Story People.


$ value of stay at home mother

May 10, 2015

Hat tip: Utopia  from Salary.Com


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