Monday, 19 December 2016

Worse Than a James Bond Martini

Child Commissioner All Shaken Up

Well, it's child poverty time again.  We think we could make a good living from ghost writing the Child Poverty reports for the next ten years now.  It would save an awful lot of money, fuss and bother.  Newspapers and other media outlets would appreciate preparing their pieces reporting on child poverty well in advance.  And we all know now how those pieces will read.

Firstly, let's review the new Children's Commissioner, Judge Becroft's reaction to the latest Child Poverty Monitor:
Children's commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft says he was "shaken" by the 2016 child poverty monitor, the first to be issued since he took the advocacy role.  Produced by the University of Otago, the annual monitor, released today, shows child poverty rates are stable, with a slight decrease. [NZ Herald]
"Shaky" presumably indicates that Becroft  was giddy with success.  OK, so the decrease was slight, but a decrease nonetheless.  First time in a long time.  Wow.  That has to be the right interpretation of "shaken"--or, if not, one would be excused for thinking that the good Judge and the NZ Herald are merely salivating at the prospect of a sensational headline.

Secondly, child poverty measures in New Zealand are of little worth because they are relative.
 Today's conditions of poverty are princely circumstances when compared to the nineteen thirties.  The number of children "living in poverty" in New Zealand is calculated off a general population distribution curve:
The report shows 28% of children live in low income homes (295,000 children), defined as the proportion in households earning less than 60% of the median income, after housing costs. This is a slight reduction from the previous year, when it was 29%. [Emphasis, ours.]
Were the median income $10 million per year around a third of children would still be defined as living in poverty.  That's why we could write the next ten years Child Poverty Reports now.  The rates of "child poverty" will be stable, always basically be the same, provided the population distribution curve is anywhere near a normal one.

We most certainly do believe that child poverty exists in New Zealand.  But the present ruling paradigm of how it is to be defined and measured is worthless.  Poor old Judge Becroft is going to be living in his own personal perpetual earthquake courtesy, of the University of Otago's Child Poverty Monitor.  He is going to be shaken, and shaken, and re-shaken . . . for as long as he holds the job.

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