Maybe Lyons should stand for Labour?

June 13th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Economics teacher has a regular column in the NZ Herald. His latest column is far more politics than economics, and seems to just repeat Labour talking points. First he says:

In 2009 the Government cut funding for adult community education classes. It was an easy target, as adult community education lacks the lobbying power of the tobacco, alcohol and gambling industries. As a result there was little organised public opposition.

Tobacco, alcohol and gambling do not get taxpayer funding. On the contrary they pay huge amounts of tax to fund stuff such as, well, adult community education.

So presumably Lyons wrote this just to try and paint the Government as captured by special interests (in fact it has agreed to tobacco plain packaging and a 50% increase in tobacco excise tax – far more than any previous Government has done).

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report said the benefit of adult education to the New Zealand economy was about $4.8 billion. The report concluded that every direct dollar spent produced a $16 gain to our economy. 

As Mr Lyons teaches economics perhaps he should read the PWC report and the critiques of it by professional economists. It’s nonsensical conclusions are based on an assumption that if you do a pottery clause, you magically become half as likely to ever commit a crime.

In 1996, I was teaching in Warkworth. At the start of the year I was rung by the evening class co-ordinator at Orewa College. She desperately needed an accounting tutor for an evening class starting that week. I reluctantly agreed to take the class for the first term until a permanent replacement was found.

There were 10 students. They included several single mothers on the DPB eager to learn a new skill. There was a guy with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair. I ended up taking the class for the entire year.

By the end of the year the number had dwindled to seven students, which was not a bad attrition rate given my skills as an accounting teacher. All passed the final exam. For most of them it was their first success in an external exam.

It is not difficult to do the maths on the potential wider economic benefits of one of these students furthering their study in accounting. If one of those ladies on the DPB carried on to complete an accounting degree she would have an earning capacity of at least $70,000 per year. Over a 30-year working life, this would total an extra $2.1 million in GDP for the economy.

And these are the courses still funded by the Government – English language, literacy and numeracy. It is the basket weaving courses that lost funding.

A further factor overlooked in the demise of community education is the benefits to civic society. It gets people out of their houses and mixing with others. They are also acquiring skills and developing talents in the process. It adds to what is referred to as social capital.

I bet you that the vast majority of those attending were well off middle class people. I’d far rather we spent more on literacy and numeracy for disadvantaged families than millions on pottery and cooking courses.

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38 Responses to “Maybe Lyons should stand for Labour?”

  1. Dead Earnest (159 comments) says:

    Of course poor South Auckland tax payers should be paying for crochet classes for Remuera housewives!

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  2. OneTrack (2,954 comments) says:

    “A PricewaterhouseCoopers report said the benefit of adult education to the New Zealand economy was about $4.8 billion. The report concluded that every direct dollar spent produced a $16 gain to our economy”

    So why aren’t PWC investing in adult education then?

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  3. OneTrack (2,954 comments) says:

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    “If one of those ladies on the DPB carried on to complete an accounting degree she would have an earning capacity of at least $70,000 per year”.

    And what is the probability of that actually happening (yes, I have just read a book). 1 in 100?, 1 in 1000? 1 in 1000000? 1 in 10 million?

    nb Strangely, I think the country actually has more than enough accountants anyway.

    But did he have an estimate of the future earning capacity of crochet and basket weaving students? Oh, wait…

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  4. J Bloggs (193 comments) says:

    ” I’d far rather we spent more on literacy and numeracy for disadvantaged families than millions on pottery and cooking courses.”

    I’ll agree with respect to pottery. However, opportunities to teach people how to cook healthy and nutritious meals wouldn’t go amiss for many of those disadvantaged families either.

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  5. Ed Snack (1,826 comments) says:

    It’s election time ! Time to put in your bids for all that free money that flows around at election time. Free Money, Yay.

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  6. Steve Wrathall (278 comments) says:

    “It gets people out of their houses and mixing with others…”
    Using this logic we should subsidise drinks in pubs & clubs. You know, get people out mixing rather than sitting at home preloading. Makes as much sense

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  7. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    He is just another taxpayer-funded left-wing leech, following the directions of his Labour mates like the usual good-for-nothing lackey.

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  8. J Bloggs (193 comments) says:

    “But did he have an estimate of the future earning capacity of crochet and basket weaving students?”

    According to the Careers.govt.nz website – between $45-65K/year

    http://www.careers.govt.nz/jobs/health/occupational-therapist/

    :P

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  9. redqueen (546 comments) says:

    @Steve Wrathall

    Can we? That would be bloody awesome and even I’d vote for that kind of government spending… ;)

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  10. Hamish_NZ (46 comments) says:

    My wife teaches economics, and she refuses to buy or use Peter Lyons textbooks in her classes. She describes them as rubbish and poorly written. There’s a lot better texts and exemplars out there, especially some of the online ones. There’s a site that tests economics students and ranks them on a leader board, her students love it and are ultra competitive over it. Even bragging how many tests they completed each weekend before going partying.
    Sadly apparently he is also a marker and moderator for NZQA. Meaning he has the ability to fail students who unlike him actually understand economics.

    But then again I hated Ben Bernankes second year macro economics text book at uni because he didn’t make much sense. The proof of this is in his handling of the US economy.
    Proved to me not all experts are actually experts. Those that rate themselves the most are usually the most wrong.

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  11. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,861 comments) says:

    Are there any school teachers who are not socialists arc welded to Labour or the Greens?

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  12. flipper (3,905 comments) says:

    It is adult education week for Labour. Even candidates like the TAB bookie in Wairarapa, and in other areas, are taking the party line. So Lyons is simply following the party line. A little too obvious, don’t you think?

    And that brings to mind the political bias of the Herald’s contributors.
    It is about time you did an analysis on their leanings David.
    My bet is that it has a 45 degree list to port.

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  13. JC (940 comments) says:

    I’m not sure how much you learn on these courses when a survey of nearly 500 such students showed classe attendences of 1-10 hours per week with an average course duration of just 10 weeks.

    JC

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  14. ross001 (176 comments) says:

    Who has more credibility – an economist who’s been there done that, or a party political blogger with an axe to grind?

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  15. mara (757 comments) says:

    Hamish NZ, he sounds like an excellent Labour candidate then.

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  16. OneTrack (2,954 comments) says:

    “Are there any school teachers who are not socialists arc welded to Labour or the Greens?”

    There are one or two but they have to keep their heads down.

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  17. OneTrack (2,954 comments) says:

    “I’m not sure how much you learn on these courses when a survey of nearly 500 such students showed classe attendences of 1-10 hours per week with an average course duration of just 10 weeks.”

    Surely you would be better off with a copy of Cooking for Dummies or Accounting for Dummies.

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  18. OneTrack (2,954 comments) says:

    ross001 – “Who has more credibility – an economist who’s been there done that, or a party political blogger with an axe to grind?”

    Who has more credibility – a left-wing economist who’s been there done that and failed so is now a teacher (maybe the real world didn’t work that same way as his ideology told him it should), or a political blogger who points out hypocrisy wherever it appears, and can see the machinations and strings of the Labour party in the background (or in this case the foreground)?

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  19. Brian Smaller (4,036 comments) says:

    I’ll agree with respect to pottery. However, opportunities to teach people how to cook healthy and nutritious meals wouldn’t go amiss for many of those disadvantaged families either.

    I read of a cook who tried to teach a class like this for beneficiaries – done through some sort of WINZ referral. I guess the attendees got some payment for going. About twenty the first class, ten the next, 2 the next and then none. The cooking classes usually taught at these things are ethnic cooking classes – I have done a few over the years. Hobby stuff. There wasn’t one person in any of the cooking classes I did who didn’t know about healthy cooking and eating – they were, like me, extending their culinary repertoire.

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  20. JamesBlake (62 comments) says:

    Thats Funny Onetrack you you didn’t challange Hamishes nice story of his wifes critique. In the end who the hell is she and why should we think any thing of her assesment compared to the people who appoint moderators for teh NZQA? Of course if you listen to every one here his wife must be a died in the wool screaming communist because she is a teacher.

    As to the orignal post you made a minor error by saying Government doesn’t fund gambling DPF. They are wanting to subsidise Sky City building a waste of space convention centre and allowing more Pokies in the deal. Tax payers then have to fund the treatment of increased numbers of addicts who give all their cash to Sky City. Sounds like Government subsidising Gambling to me.

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  21. RightNow (6,959 comments) says:

    You’re living in a fact free fantasy JamesBlake:
    “Tax payers then have to fund the treatment of increased numbers of addicts who give all their cash to Sky City.”

    Wrong. It’s funded by the Problem gambling levy

    http://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/mental-health-and-addictions/problem-gambling/problem-gambling-levy

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  22. Grizz (578 comments) says:

    Again being economical with the truth in order to paint a oicture that does not exist. Classes for book keeping were not cut as it was seen as a core skill. Someone needs to get out and correct these half wits.

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  23. backster (2,135 comments) says:

    I know he is a teacher which is a major advantage to be a Labour candidate but would he survive the gender balance and sexual orientation quota to win the necessary Union approval.

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  24. greenjacket (449 comments) says:

    DPF: your first sentence is rather wordy.
    “The NZ Herald seems to just repeat Labour talking points.”

    There – fixed.

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  25. greenjacket (449 comments) says:

    Adolf Fiinkensein: “Are there any school teachers who are not socialists arc welded to Labour or the Greens?”

    My wife.
    And she hates the unions and their tools with a passion.
    Not all teachers are socialist idiots.

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  26. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    The filthy PSA-Labour slugs are demonstrating for more money. Well, if they are so good, let them join the private sector, showing their abilities. Oh, can’t do that, will lose all the perks of being a leeching PSA member, and may need to work. Get a grip Public Servants, you are doing your Labour mates no good . . . you are a despised, overprivileged, and overpaid group of losers.

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  27. Hamish_NZ (46 comments) says:

    @JamesBlake
    My wife is one of 2 teachers at her low decile school who isn’t a union memeber. I taught her how stupid education unions are. Plus she jas a brain and can’t see the point in disadvantaging her students over her contract negotiations.
    The school role is about 70% Maori, so according to the ‘experts’ they’re at a disadvantage from the start and shouldn’t achieve. She has no different expectations of her maori students to her white ones, she expects them all to achieve.
    She is one of few teachers to get a student to achieve a scholarship mark in her first year teaching, a student who achieved in the top 5 students in the country for economics. She’s on track to get more scholarship results this year.
    She has consistently grown the number of students taking economics because she genuinely cares about her students achieving, and pushes them. As well as having fun and making economics real world.
    She also takes food technology, so she knows what low goal students are like, but she even gets them to achieve something. Even if only the food hygiene standard, so they at least can get a job after school.
    She’s also an in school subject specialist teacher for trainee economics student teachers and has been asked to apply for one of those new lead teacher roles announced by national.

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  28. cha (3,914 comments) says:

    I taught her how stupid education unions are.

    Does she come when she’s called?.
    /

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  29. Hamish_NZ (46 comments) says:

    @cha

    Must be a Labour party member with a comment like that. Your next comment must be asking if I still hit her too.

    Guess thinking for yourself is still a bit thin on the ground in the Labour party gene pool.
    Commiserations on your small minded view. Hope one day you can enjoy life

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  30. cha (3,914 comments) says:

    Does she know any rope tricks?.

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  31. RightNow (6,959 comments) says:

    lol @cha, “Does she come when she’s called?.”, can’t wait to try that line on the teachers’ unions.

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  32. RightNow (6,959 comments) says:

    “Does she know any rope tricks?.”

    I’ll save that one for comebacks. Great material!

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  33. cha (3,914 comments) says:

    Did you hear the one about the hairy lasso…

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  34. RightNow (6,959 comments) says:

    sounds fishy…

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  35. Dead Earnest (159 comments) says:

    “Are there any school teachers who are not socialists arc welded to Labour or the Greens?”

    Believe it or not I know one that’s an ACT voter!

    There are many hard working honest inspiring teachers. Sadly you never hear from them. We just get the socialist soundbites from those that went into union admin because they couldn’t teach kids

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  36. burt (8,162 comments) says:

    There are many hard working honest inspiring teachers. Sadly you never hear from them. We just get the socialist soundbites from those that went into union admin because they couldn’t teach kids

    Well said !

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  37. Rightandleft (658 comments) says:

    Dead Earnest,

    Actually you may be surprised to know that a sizable number of union member teachers don’t vote for the left bloc parties either. Yes there is a slant towards the left in general but many teachers, being middle class educated professionals, lean towards National.

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  38. Paryphanta (6 comments) says:

    My recollection is that National cut Adult Community Education because about $150 million pa was being funded through polytechnics. The $13 million cut from high school Adult Community Education was so that they were consistent. But as pointed out in the original Blog post, they retained ESOL, etc. Labour appears to be promising to restore the ACE funding to schools but not to polytechnics. The argument about people taking the accounting course is nonsensical as they can do this now through the Open Polytechnic – a much higher quality course with a high level of support and high success rates.

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