Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mike Butler: Half-truths and shallow thinking

The recently concocted New Zealand Maori Council water rights claim has turned up the heat on the Maori issues debate. Two comments lifted from the blogosphere show the half-truths and shallow thinking that has allowed the “free money for Maori” industry to grow into the monster that it is.
You don’t want Maori looking after their own affairs with money they have invested around the country, employing thousands of Kiwis? So if Maori aren’t allowed to look after their own, then who will? That then falls on the state. What do you fear from Maori or anyone having their own systems? Will they cause you to turn Maori, will they take your firstborn, will they stop you watching your favourite rugby team? No no they won’t so what the bloody hell do you have against people looking after their own affairs. And no that’s not called separatism, it’s called neo-liberalism or even libertarianism, something apparently praised by many on this site.
This commentator blurs the distinction between the rights and responsibilities that everyone has to spend, save, or invest, their own hard-earned money, with the rights and responsibilities of tribal trusts handling free money from the government that came via treaty settlements and the special, separate deals via race-based affirmative action, and devolved social services.

If we are we talking about separate provision of social services, the first point to make is that New Zealand has an extensive and elaborate welfare system that delivers social services to everyone. On top of this there are more than 54 Maori-run social service providers around the country, as well as the Whanau Ora one-stop social services shop that seems to have discovered (years after everyone else) that whanau have become fragmented so have created a new “whanau integration” business.

Separate social service provision duplicates services and costs. It’s like running a hospital and setting up a parallel Maori department to provide Maori doctors, nurses, cleaners, supplies etc for Maori patients. The next logical step would be to have Maori hospitals and non-Maori hospitals. This means double the cost for the same service.

There is nothing to stop Maori, like anyone else, working, accumulating, investing, getting rich. Anyone in New Zealand can start off poor and become wealthy, if they are willing to work hard chasing a goal.

But if we are talking about the government handing out anything from $43,000 to $170-million of taxpayer money to a newly created tribal corporation to play capitalist, the problem is that they are playing with public money, and the public will always have an interest in what is being done with that money.

An immediate problem is that these government-backed newbie entrepreneurs start up with large amounts of free money in competition with other businesses that have built up from scratch with borrowed money that they must pay back plus interest. This is a widespread competitive advantage that extends from one end of the country to the other.

These tribal corporations receive police stations, court houses, train stations, farms, forest plantations, and so on, often with leases running for years. This constitutes a guaranteed and on-going cash income, a further competitive advantage.

These businesses are permitted to operate as charities and pay either no or greatly reduced tax. The competitive advantage is entrenched.

An on-going problem is that treaty settlements foster a new form of Maori business that centres on free stuff from the government as of right. Claimants develop personal relationships with government power-and-privilege brokers, get a taste for being first in line for good stuff with the right of first refusal, expect gold-plated government contracts, as well as an ongoing supply of free stuff, such as the latest claim of “shares plus” in state-owned power companies.

Another commentator rejected the claim that there is institutional racism in New Zealand favouring Maori over Pakeha, saying it would be laughable if it wasn’t so embarrassing and sad. This commentator went on to cite an array of negative social indicators to argue that race-based affirmative action could not exist.
It’s sad that our education system has failed you to such an extent that you can believe something like this, when, just, y’know, for example: between 2007 and 2011, on average, 1 in 6 Pakeha children lived in poor households, while during the same period, 1 in 3 Maori children lived in poor households; 51.3% of the prison population is Maori; Maori have the poorest health status of any ethnic group in New Zealand; a larger proportion of Maori youth are out of work or not in education than any other ethnic group; the Maori unemployment rate in the year to June 2012 was more than double that of all other people; according to the Encyclopedia of NZ, in 2001 47% of Māori households owned their homes, while 72.8% of European households did so; the incidence of cancer between 2002-2006 was 20% higher for Maori than non-Maori, while cancer mortality was 80% higher for Maori; Rates of admission for infectious diseases in Pacific Islander and Maori populations are respectively 2.35 and 2.15 times higher than the for NZ Europeans and other ethnic groups; Māori children are nearly 30% more likely to be admitted to hospital and twice as likely to die from “avoidable conditions”; Māori women under 25 years have almost double the unemployment rate of European women; Māori women are at three times higher risk of partner violence than women overall. Yeah, institutional racism: it sure is tough being Pakeha.
This “negative social indicators argument” is widely used to argue for more handouts to alleviate poverty. But the commentator’s use of intentionally sad or frightening social indicators to draw attention to issues or to get a political advantage is simply known as “shroud-waving”.

Besides ignoring the free money from the government via treaty settlements and the special, separate deals that come with race-based affirmative action, and devolved social services, this argument overlooks the fact that 71 percent of Maori do not receive a benefit and largely don’t contribute to negative social indicators. In 2006, 88,500 or 29 percent of working-age Maori (18–64 years) were receiving a benefit.

Ministry of Social Development fact sheets for June 2012 revealed that of the 50,000 working-age people receiving an unemployment benefit, 36.5 percent or 18,250 were Maori and 9.3 percent were Pacifika. Of the 59,000 working-age people receiving a sickness benefit, 28 percent, or 16,520, were Maori, and 7 percent were Pacifika. Of the 84,000 working-age people receiving an invalid’s benefit, 22.4 percent, or 18,816, were Maori and 5.1 percent were Pacifika. And of the 112,000 working-age people receiving a domestic purposes benefit, 42.7 percent, or 47,824, were Maori, and 10.2 percent were Pacifika. (1)

Anyone who chooses to live on welfare will not have much money, will be idle, bored, inactive, and have low self-esteem. If they have children, non-working parents, or in most cases, the solo parent, may pass this all on to them, unless of course, their children hate it and do everything in their power to get away from it all.

For our discussion, the most significant benefit statistic is the high proportion of 42.7 percent, or 47,824, of the 112,000 working-age people receiving a domestic purposes benefit, being Maori. The figure of 42.7 percent is a high proportion considering Maori only made up 15 percent of the population in 2006.

A high proportion of Maori solo parents will lead to a high proportion of Maori children being born into deprivation where there is insufficient money, poor parenting, partner violence, child neglect, child abuse, poor health, low or no commitment to schooling, low literacy, unsupervised children getting into mischief, that mischief leading to jail, children becoming parents at a young age, and the cycle being repeated.

The fact that one in three Maori children lived in poor households while one in six New Zealand European children lived in poor households reflects the higher rate of benefit dependency of Maori.(2) The total prison population in March 2012 was 8698. With 51.3 percent, or 4462, Maori, how many of these would have come from the 47,824 Maori sole parent households? (3)

The negative social indicators cited above shows the perverse effects of welfare, where people are paid to be idle, rather than ethnic under-achievement. Giving money to the poor reduces their incentive to enter the workforce, acquire experience, and eventually join the middle class. Providing welfare support for children born out-of-wedlock encourages teen pregnancy and discourages marriage, two serious impediments to escaping poverty. Non-Maori on welfare display the similar characteristic welfare issues.

Maori Party MPs are in denial over the high rate of Maori on the DPB and the flow-on effects. Four of its five MPs did not support the Government's crackdown on welfare, in 2010, by sending parents on the DPB back to work. Co-leader Tariana Turia supported it because she'd lose her job otherwise. The lack of leadership on this issue by Maori Party MPs disadvantages the people they claim to support.

Sources 1. Ministry of Social Development fact sheets

2. P125 Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2011.

3. Prison facts and statistics - March 2012.


Peter Bullick said...

Spot-on Mike. This lethal cocktail of racial and financial favour will, if we continue to swallow it, consign New Zealand to the status of a dangerous two Nation State - Maori and "Visitors".
Naturally, the expectation from Maori will be that the "Visitors" continue to fund both Nations.
The elitist leaders of so-called "juggernaut" tribes like Tainui and Ngai Tahu would struggle to spell the word recession: "What recession?" At a time when the Government is (via Inland Revenue) pulling up floorboards and peering over Grandma's fence in an attempt to increase the Corporate tax take, those tribes - sheltered by their charity status umbrella - are blithely bowling along paying no income tax on their business profits and/or retained (non-distibuted) earnings.
Further, the imminent triggering of the unfathomable relativity clause gifted to Tainui and Ngai Tahu by (Sir) Douglas Graham will fling the two tribes even further into clover.
Clearly, this is only a snapshot.Searching for a modicum of logic in the contrived casserole of Disney-esque claims, massive sense of entitlement and misty-eyed political patronage leaves one feeling, well, bewildered. Like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there.

Anonymous said...

In a free society, each individual citizen enjoys equality in citizenship.

This is so whether some of a person's ancestors arrived here centuries ago, or whether the individual concerned put their hand up 30 seconds ago at a citizenship ceremony.

The notion that anyone should enjoy separate, different, or superior rights because some of their ancestors arrived here in a waka rather than a sailing ship, steamship, or aeroplane is arrant nonsense.

Group rights, whereby minority groups enjoy special privileges at the expense of the majority, are anathema to a free society. A free society requires individual citizens to be treated equally.

Group rights require the intervention of an activist government forcibly taking rights from one group to bestow upon another. One group’s “positive” discrimination becomes another group’s negative discrimination

I'm with Ronald Reagan: "As Government expands, freedom contracts."

Racism (not to be confused with simple prejudice) comes about when a group (which could be monolithic or made up of people with a range of different drivers) creates or colonises a political system in order to institutionalise their prejudices.

In “Preferential Policies: An International Perspective” Black American academic, Thomas Sowell records the downstream effect of government-sponsored identity politics.

Touted as promoting inter-group harmony, Sowell found that wherever such policies had been tried, they invariably expanded over time in scale and scope, benefited already advantaged members of the preference group (those with the smarts to work the system), and led to increased rather than decreased inter-group polarisation. In many places they have brought about decades-long civil wars.

The Treaty Industry is a great case in point. It has beneficiaries of two kinds: [1] Those who work the system for financial gain, the psychic reward of belonging to a supposedly 'oppressed' people, and in order to bignote with other people's money; and [2] sickly white liberals who want to look in the mirror every morning and give themselves a big hug for 'saving' the Maori.

Both are filth on the face of my country!

Barry said...

key's had 31/2 years to put a stop to all of this ugly garbage but all he's done is make it worse!

Anonymous said...

sickly white liberals who want to look in the mirror every morning and give themselves a big hug for 'saving' the Maori.

Congratulations, you have described Chris topher Findlayson to perfection.

Anonymous said...

I would like to relay to your readers my a recent experience that I had with regard to our children and the propaganda that is taught to them at publicly funded schools.
My primary aged children had the opportunity to visit the local marae, great I thought I will accompany them. I was discouraged by the school from attending and in fact had to argue quite strongly to be allowed to attend. I had to provide my own transport , which I did. The children were marched in to the marae and a couple of grey-haired people greeted them. I was amazed at how the teachers behaved, almost worshiping their hosts.
One of the hosts then proceeded to tell the most outrageous story of how New Zealand was created by someone who fished the place up with his grandmothers jaw bone and how the Europeans had conceeded defeat against the great maori warriors of the day and agreed to sign the Treaty of Waitangi, My God am I in the right country I thought to myself. After twenty minutes or so of his version of the history of New Zealand I was beginning to feel uneasy and wondering whether what I had learned in school was possibly wrong, as it was certaily completely different. I had by this stage enough of all his rubbish and as a smoker I decided to head out the back for a cigarette.
I headed outside to the back of the marae and to my suprise (not) was the real picture and the people that I beleive that the school children should have met, about a dozen young single mothers with their snotty nosed half dressed pre-school children, smoking cigarettes and drinking cups of tea.
Don't get me wrong they were nice enough to me but I was not allowed to go back into the marae after talking to them.
How bizzare is it that this could occur in my homeland New Zealand?
I now have a very real and deep concern as to the lies and burden of guilt that is being taught (force fed) to our children - the future of this once great country.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Barry, but he does not have the strength of chracter to stand up to p[eople who threaten to withdraw their parliamentary support. Anything to hang onto the strings of power, even if it means destroying our country ion the meantime. Apartheid? Civil unrest? Definitely, and not far away!

Anonymous said...

Mark, thank you very much for sharing your story.

It is utterly unbelievable what you witnessed - but I do not question that it happened.

In your last line you made a critical point:

"I now have a very real and deep concern as to the lies and burden of guilt that is being taught (force fed) to our children - the future of this once great country."

As parents I think we have a right to object to such things being taught to our kids on those grounds.

To me, this is generational criminalisation.

Our children are being labeled as 'those bad people who will have to pay us for what their ancestors did to my ancestors' and as far as I am concerned that is abuse.

The way the Maori elders pump their kids heads full of stories of the evil pakeha is also abuse.


John said...

Nothing new in the lies being told. 20 years ago my wife(who is part maori) and I went to Whaka in Rotorua.
The guide who was talking to a group of American tourist, when asked what portion of the population was maori, replied "with out close relatives from the islands, we make up 70% of the population." How blatant a lie is that, told in public. No doubt, if told often enough, they and their children will become to believe it

Anonymous said...

To whom it may concern

After reading your post I felt compelled to comment. I would like to focus my comment on affirmative action policies and there place in New Zealand.

Affirmative action policies are those that support is affirmed for people who belong to a specified group or groups of people (The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand 2012).

In New Zealand both the Human Rights Act and New Zealand Bill of Rights Act recognise that to overcome discrimination positive action may be needed to enable particular groups to achieve equal outcomes with other groups in society. Groups of people that may be entitled to these special measures are linked by one of the grounds of unlawful discrimination in the Human Rights Act, for example sex, ethnicity, disability. (* New Zealand Human Rights Commission)

There are shortcomings that come with Affirmative Action (AA) policies, as they have the potential to create unease in the community. Groups that have been highlighted to require assistance, benefit at the cost of individuals in the so called privileged groups, who essentially are made to pay for the misgivings from previous generations.

Discrimination is not a necessary part of New Zealand and I believe a majority of New Zealand citizens feel this way. My question is when do AA policies start to become discriminating in themselves?

I believe a basic human right that we have is that we are all treated equally and fairly. Do the AA Policies in New Zealand, treat all citizens fairly? I believe there was a time when it was necessary to have AA policies for Maori and Pacific Islanders within New Zealand but these policies should never go on forever. Is it time now for these policies to be reviewed with the option to incorporate different groups, perhaps based on income rather than race, this could help with poverty, crime, single parent homes, education etc.

With reference to your first point, I agree that all New Zealanders have access to the welfare system, including financial assistance, free education, free doctors for children under 6, student loans for tertiary study. So, another question, how are Maori and Pacific Islanders, disadvantaged or discriminated against in a New Zealand society? All New Zealanders have access to enough money to live on (albeit just if you are on a benefit), free education and financial services for tertiary education. I truly believe that, if you work hard and want to achieve, change your life, irrespective of race, you can make a better life for yourself and your family, regardless of race, sex, religion or the likes.

Anonymous said...

This brings me to my point. Are non-Maori and Pacific Islanders in New Zealand in fact now discriminated against? If you are Maori for example:

1 You may be able to get into Victoria University Law School under the Maori Quota, which is where 10 percent of places available are kept for 1st and 2nd year papers for Maori. Maori students could get into this course without fulfilling the academic requirements by attending a hui at the university marae. **

2 You may be able to get into Auckland University for Medical and Health Sciences under the MAPAS scheme. Maori and Pacific Island students may be accepted if they have met the university entrance requirements but not met the guaranteed entry score. There are reserved places for such students. ***

If you are Maori or Pacific Islander in this case, you don’t necessarily have to work as hard as a Non-Maori or Pacific islander and you can still achieve the same or similar results. This does not seem at all fair or equal. This would indicate that we as a country are educating our Maori and Pacific Island youth that it is acceptable not to work as hard because you will still get what you want or need, from our government.

In conclusion, to me it seems as though the AA policies in New Zealand are failing and we are not reducing the discrimination gap at all, we are, in fact widening it, further more, we are creating a value in our youth that working hard is not necessarily required. In addition to this, the disharmony that is being created in society due to specific groups being looked after could be seen as a cause for great concern in the future. We are essentially creating two separate New Zealand’s.


* New Zealand Human Rights Commission – Positive actions to achieve equality
** Ministry of Education
*** University of Auckland