Delusion and hypocrisy

December 14, 2013

Mike Hosking’s award for for financial delusion using other people’s money goes to the Wellington City Council committee which voted for the living wage plan.

. . . Let’s just work through how this will unfold. Wellington City Council will pay their contractors their perception of this ‘living wage’. What then happens is two fold.

Firstly everyone else who does similar work will want the same pay rate, thus putting pressure on companies that can’t afford it given they don’t have the luxury of a fiscal well that can be drawn from at any given moment. Spending money is always easy when it isn’t your own.

After that happens, everyone will want more because you will have created a fiscal distortion in the workplace. And once everyone has stuck their hand up, all of a sudden it won’t be a living wage anymore. It will just be a wage that lots of people get. And given they’ve got it, they’ll spend it. And when they spend it, it will drive inflation up, which will lead to price increases, which will lead to the same clowns who started it saying “jeez, that wage isn’t going as far as it used to, so we’ll top it up again”. . .

 Anyway, the upshot is all this is going to do is add a cost to doing business. When you do that, the consumer ends up paying or people start losing their jobs. . .

If businesses want to adopt a living wage for their employees, that’s their business and their money.

Councils have very little of their own money. They might make a bit more from council owned companies and recover costs from some activities but most of what they have is what’s earned by and paid to them by ratepayers.

Some of them are businesses which might want to pay their own staff more but can’t afford to do so.

One of the businesses that doesn’t is owned by a councillor who voted for the policy:

It wasn’t within the rules, but new councillor Nicola Young attempted to make a point about the living wage with an amendment yesterday.

Before voting against the living wage plan, Ms Young tried to move “that all councillors who support implementation of the living wage assure us that they will pay the living wage to their employees – including cleaners, baby-sitters, gardeners – with the same implementation date as Wellington City Council”.

The move followed fellow fresh councillor Mark Peck – who supported the living wage – admitting that he did not pay all his hospitality staff $18.40 – “and I won’t”. . .

Jordan Williams of the Taxpayers Union responded:

“Some councillors supported charging ratepayers more to pay a living wage for council employees when they won’t do the same for their own staff.”
 
“In the case of Cr Mark Peck his reported comments suggest that he can afford to pay his hospitality staff a living wage but just ‘won’t’.”
 
“That is shameful. He is happy for Wellington ratepayers, including those living in poverty, to pay more for something he doesn’t see the value of.”
 
“It’s a case of hypocritical politicians spending other people’s money on something they won’t. So much for Cr Peck being a steward of ratepayers’ money.”

So there we have it the financially deluded and hypocritical are running the capital city.

Those of us who live there can only hope the delusion and hypocrisy is stopped at the full council meeting and the rest of us will hope it doesn’t spread any further.


School closure investigation overdue

March 27, 2013

Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverly waken is investigating the way in which the Ministry of Education conducts consultation on school closures and mergers.

. . . Dame Beverley will be looking in some detail at a number of closure and merger consultations carried out in recent years, including the process that is currently underway in Christchurch

“I will assess whether the consultation processes operate in a manner that adequately ensures fair and meaningful participation by affected parties and, if they do not, how they could be improved”, says Dame Beverley. . .

Such an investigation is long overdue.

School mergers and closures are always fraught and the Ministry has been handling them poorly for years.

North Otago was one of the areas into which then Minister of Education Trevor Mallard strode in clodhopper boots demanding mergers and closures nearly 10 years ago.

There was little if any consultation and very poor understanding of communities of interest and other factors which ought to have been considered.

The Minister got the blame and three MPs who lost their seats in the south – Mark Peck in Invercargill, David Parker in Otago and Jim Sutton in Aoraki – could lay some of the responsibility on this issue.

But then, as now, most of the blame ought to have been laid at the Ministry’s door.

It didn’t learn from the mistakes made before the 2005 election and repeated them with bells on in Christchurch where even more sensitivity was required.

Changes in population result in changing educational needs. New Schools will be needed in areas of growth, old ones will need to close or merge in areas of decline.

Handling that is core Ministry business for which it ought to follow best practice. Instead it appears to follow the process which didn’t work nearly a decade ago and from which it seems to have learned nothing.

I wish Dame Beverley well in her investigation and hope her findings lead to much needed improvements for the sake of schools, pupils, staff and their communities.


%d bloggers like this: