Debate on having children

February 8th, 2012 at 4:39 pm by David Farrar

Danyl at Dim post blogs in response:

But the point here is that having a couple of children shouldn’t be a ‘bad personal choice’ for everyone not earning a high income. 

It’s not a couple of children. I don’t disagree that a couple of children shouldn’t be a bad personal choice. This was four children though. One from a previous relationship, and three from this one. I stand by my view that if your household income is $42,000 a year, then it is not a good time to have a fourth child.

This used to be a country in which a family could be comfortably supported on a single, average income.

$42,000 a year is below the average personal income (for a FT employee) and well below the average household income for a couple. And four children is twice as much as two children.

That’s because our median wages remain stagnant while our living costs continue to rise.

Untrue. Our median after tax wage has increased in real terms.

Choosing your family size to meet your budget is nothing new. It is what the vast majority of couples do. Many well off couples decide to say limit their family to two or three kids, as a third or fourth kid would be too expensive.

I have a lot of sympathy for families with children, who fall on hard times, say with one or both parents losing their job. That is why we have a multi-billion dollar welfare state with welfare benefits and Working for Families.

But if a family is already finding it tough to make ends meet, and chooses to have further children, then I have less sympathy.

Change for Labour

December 29th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Jordan Carter blogs:

Here’s my short list for starters, of a few problems we really need to face.

  • a record low vote, lowest since the 1920s
  • low and static membership in the past three years
  • over centralisation of control over policy and strategy, with too little power for members
  • an inward focused ‘divide the pie’ approach by too many party units
  • a cultural acceptance of low to no organisation in too many places, and a related culture of federalism divided between electorates rather than a sense of a nation-wide, cooperating organisation
  • too much belief that our connections with a wide range of Kiwis are strong, when they are weak
  • a sense that we ‘own’ the voters that went to the greens and nzf, and that they are bound to return to us
  • a perception among some parts of the electorate that we are out of touch with their hopes and dreams
  • a structure that incentivises our inward focus

It’s a long list to which I am sure you can add things, friend or foe.

The main thing I would add is killing off the culture of the ends justify the means. Some will say there is no such culture, but it has been shown time after time again. There is the belief that they are inherently good, and that those from the centre-right are inherently bad, so hence anything which helps deliver Labour to victory is culturally acceptable.

Danyl at Dim Post has his own key thing to change:

I’d narrow almost all of this down to the problem of candidate selection. The primary goal of a candidate is to win votes for themselves and the party, but Labour doesn’t seem to value this quality in any of their candidates or MPs. They’re chosen for attributes that seem mysterious to the rest of the country, usually from a small pool of parliamentary staffers, unionists and activists and then farmed out to electorates to which they pretend some spurious connection (‘whanau in the region’).

I’ve just been doing an analysis of which Labour candidates did best at getting people who party vote National to vote for them – ie those who can attract support from across the spectrum.  The three best are Ross Robertson, Lianne Dalziel and Clayton Cosgrove who attracted 27%, 24% and 21% of National voters respectively.

The three worse were Jeremy Greenbrook-Held (he was against John Key) who got 0.3%, Deborah Mahuta-Coyle who got 0.4% and the Taupo candidates whose name I can’t even recall who got 0.5% – ie less than 1 in 200 National party voters gave their candidate vote to the candidate from the second largest party. The average was 5.4%, or around 1 in 20.

Take Deborah Mahuta-Coyle, a Labour communications advisor who was given a high list position (although not high enough) and ran as a candidate in Tauranga, explaining that she grew up ‘further along State Highway One’ (SH1 does not run through, or near Tauranga). With Mahuta Coyle as a candidate Labour’s party vote in Tauranga was one of the worst in the entire country, declining by 33% (Labour’s nationwide decline was 20%).

And as I mentioned failed to attract even 1 in 200 of those who did vote National on the party vote. This is not to say that Mahuta-Coyle would not be a very good MP, but different qualities can be needed to also be a good candidate who can attract both party and electorate votes.

Nationals’ backbench electorate MPs drive the party’s Wellington based political staffers crazy, because they’re always running off to the Prime Minister and complaining about ‘some trivial little rural issue that no one in Wellington cares about’. Labour’s MPs are, increasingly, former political staffers who share the same elite background and Wellington-centric focus.

This is basically true, and it is important to have this tension. I’ve been a Wellington based staffer and certain MPs did drive you batty over issues you just knew were of no importance to the press gallery, the leadership etc. However those backbench MPs would go on to win massive majorities as they were in touch with their communities and helping stop their party from getting too out of touch with life outside Wellington. Parties need those backbench electorate MPs to keep raising those local issues.

Jordan endorses getting in touch with the voters, and Shearer’s said the same thing. Great. But Phil Goff spent a year ‘getting in touch with voters’ after the loss in 2008. The Labour team drove around the country in a bus singing songs and meeting with ‘real New Zealanders’ like, uh, Darren Hughes’ uncle. Goff then went back to Wellington and cheerfully went about promoting his own office staffers as electorate candidates, including Mahuta-Coyle.

The number of former political staff in the Labour caucus is large – Shearer himself, Robertson, Ardern, Hipkins for a start – three of the top four plus the Chief Whip. Then you also have Cosgrove, Faafoi, Mallard and David Clark. That’s almost a quarter of the caucus.

If Labour decided to operate selections on a one member one vote basis, it would solve Danyl’s problem, but also help solve Jordan’s problem of low and static membership, over-centralisation, low to no organisation in some places.

National’s electorate selection process is incredibly democratic. So democratic there are regular occasions when I groan at whom the locals have voted for, and I wish myself and a few mates could decide all the selections. But the reality is I would never want to give up a system where the grass-roots members decide whom their local candidate is – the benefits of having them do so are significant.

One person, one vote, is a pretty good basis for voting personally. Labour should try it some time.

Dim Post on Labour

October 6th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

If the Dim-Post is doing one for all the parties, I can’t wait to see Winston’s.

Dim Post reveals National’s election material

October 5th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This is so very well done by Danyl and Joe.

Dim-Post on Nats welfare reform

August 22nd, 2011 at 12:43 pm by David Farrar

A cracker post from Danyl:

If elected to a second term the National Government will introduce a series of harsh reforms to the welfare system targeting Toby, a twenty year old unemployment beneficiary living in New Plymouth, Prime Minister John Key announced today.

The new policies directly target Toby’s lifestyle and will prevent him from staying up late and then sleeping in, playing Call of Duty on his playstation and wearing baggy clothing, Key told a regional National Party conference.

You know there would be votes in banning baggy clothing!

A task-force led by former Treasury Secretary Murray Horn will monitor the outcomes of the reforms over an eighteen month period, and he will also try and convince Toby’s girlfriend Amanda that she is too good for him and that Toby is probably cheating on her.

The Horn Inquiry is budgeted at $1.25 million dollars, a sum that has drawn criticism from opposition MPs. Mr Key defends the cost, saying, ‘The reality is, first, that if you want someone of the calibre of Murray Horn then you have to pay an internationally competitive rate, and secondly, Amanda has beautiful eyes and her photography of cemeteries and abandoned farm buildings are amazing. Just about anyone would be better for her than that douchebag.’


Additional components of the package targetting Toby are:

  • Amendments to the Bill of Rights Act restricting Toby from wearing any non-elastic banded trousers, specifically preventing him from wearing hipsters that show off his disgusting, hairy, acne-covered buttocks.
  • A new WINZ department to enforce strict sleeping and waking schedule so that Toby is not lying around in bed when the rest of us are on our way to work, sitting in traffic or waiting for a bus in the rain. The actual enforcement of the schedule will be contracted out to community groups.
  • These groups will also replace the metalcore songs on Toby’s iPod with a selection of tunes from Tim Finn, The Feelers and Hayley Westenra

Danyl shouldn’t give the Government ideas while they are looking for new policy.

The Welfare Working Group was convened by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett to study welfare reform, and it looked into Toby in 2010, and recommended that his benefit payments be transferred to a community based private welfare provider who would receive a bonus if they drilled holes in Toby’s head and poured sulphuric acid into his brain.

Key has rejected this option, and Ms Bennett has also distanced herself from the Working Group’s findings. ‘The National Party has made a commitment not to torture any young people to death during our second term in office,’ she told reporters at a Parliamentary press conference.

Only for the second term though!

The Labour Party has been reluctant to comment on the reforms, but vetern welfare activist Sue Bradford has slammed them as mindless and doomed to fail.

Bradford has also spoken out against Nationals’ reforms. ‘They also, are mindless.’

Oh, how subtle. I almost missed that.

Toby made a brief phone statement yesterday in which he insisted he knew nothing of the new reforms but intended to vote for John Key and National in the upcoming election. ‘I saw a photo of him hanging with [All Blacks hooker] Andrew Hore, who is an awesome dude.’ Toby explained. ‘Taranaki kicks ass.’

You have to wonder if Danyl invented Toby or met him?