Category Archives: Social Policy

ACC: an Accident Waiting to Happen

Meddling ministers and overzealous case managers are undermining ACC. Listener: 10 November,  2012. Once upon a time, accident victims had to go through a long, complicated legal process to obtain compensation, with the possibility of an arbitrary and unfair outcome. In 1967 a Royal Commission chaired by Owen Woodhouse recommended an alternative that focused on…
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The Poverty Trap

We need a child-focused approach to dealing with poverty. Listener: 13 October, 2012. Around 40 years ago, social scientists estimated that well over half of New Zealand’s poor were children and their parents, and pointed out the lack of sufficient income would stifle the development of these children. To this day, children and their parents…
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Projecting Government Spending

Presentation to a Treasury Workshop on the Long-Term Fiscal Projections; 26 September, 2012. I am writing a history of New Zealand from an economic perspective. The manuscript – 250,000 words and I am only up to the 1970s – includes a number of appendices looking at the data. One is on government spending. The Treasury…
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Leaky Legislation

Listener: 15 September, 2012. Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich coined the expression “iatrogenic medicine” to describe illness generated by the actions of physicians. An example is when the doctors prescribe some medicine, with resultant side effects, which are treated by further medication. The cycle repeats until a specialist reviews the patient’s entire record and stops all…
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A Background to Our Understanding of Child Poverty in New Zealand

Anglican Chaplaincy Seminar, VUW, 8 August, 2012 I have been asked to talk about the history of child poverty. Social scientist don’t have much of a systematic account before the 1970s, although there is plenty of anecdote. It was the 1972 Royal Commission on Social Security which precipitated the upwelling in research and thinking about children, together with the…
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Fairness and Community

Presentation to ‘Spirited Conversations’, Nelson, July 25, 2012. At a public meeting of the Tax Working Group, whose recommendations were the basis of the 2010 tax changes when GST was raised to the benefit of those on higher incomes, a member of the public raised the question of the role of fairness in their thinking….
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Dealing with No Ordinary Commodity: Alcohol

Global Alcohol Policy Conference: Thailand, 14-16 February as Honorary Research Fellow at SHORE, Massey University. Keywords: Health; Regulation & Taxation; Social Policy; The theme of this presentation is that alcohol is no ordinary commodity; economic policy has to think about it differently. The alcoholic beverages industry, of course, produces jobs and profits for investors, just like any…
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The Too Hard Basket

THE TOO HARD BASKET Listener: 19 January, 2012. Keywords: Environment & Resources; Distributional Economics;  Macroeconomics & Money; Political Economy & History;  Regulation & Taxation;  Social Policy; Every government has issues it hopes will go away. They don’t. Here are some for our one. Our Emissions Trading Scheme is looking like a dog’s breakfast, and/or something…
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Treasury Improving

Listener: 23 November, 2011. Keywords: History of Ideas, Methodology & Philosophy; Social Policy; Economists always knew income was just one contributor to total well-being, but it was the only bit they could study. Later, as the databases became more comprehensive, new research enabled them to turn their minds to what else matters and to look…
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Nz Child Welfare a Disgrace

Listener: 28 October, 2011. Keywords: Social Policy; Is New Zealand the best place in the world to bring up children? A report from economist David Grimmond, The Effectiveness of Public Investment in New Zealand Children, suggests not. After combining 26 indicators of children’s welfare from 30 OECD countries – ranging from drunkenness, bullying and suicide…
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The Foundations Of Social Welfare in New Zealand

Paper to a Student Group from Carleton University, 10 February 2011. Keywords: History of Ideas, Methodology & Philosophy; Political Economy & History; Social Policy; Europeans were greatly puzzled by the American debate over President Obama’s health reforms, for almost everyone there assumes the public sector should actively promote universal health care. Clearly that is not…
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Public Spending and Home Health Services

New Zealand Home Health National Conference, 2 September, Auckland Keywords: Macroeconomics & Money;  Social Policy; I have been asked to present an account of the economic context in which the home health services industry will function. I am not going to talk about the rising demand for its services because of population shifts taking that…
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The Benefits and Costs Of Gambling: Some Policy Implications

Commissioned Report: April 2010 Keywords: Health; Regulation & Taxation; Social Policy; Executive Summary The following is not the usual executive summary. Rather it draws out the policy implications of the known costs and benefits of gambling, thereby summarising the main report, which consists of two parts. Appendix I is a general account about how economists…
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The Complete Package

Sue Bradford’s departure leaves a huge gap in the Greens, and Parliament. Listener: 12 December, 2009. Keywords: Regulation & Taxation; Social Policy; To work properly, the market must be “complete” – that is, all possible transactions must be able to be carried out. For example, those who invested in finance firms such as Bridgecorp should…
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