Category Archives: Social Policy

Launch of “But Is it Fair?”

But is it Fair? Faith Communities and Social Justice edited by Neil Darragh and published by Accent Publications (Launched at Connolly Hall, 6.00 4 April, 2014).   Keywords: Political Economy & History;  Social Policy;   I am not sure an economist should be launching this book. While economists are often treated as today’s secular theologians…
Continue reading this entry »

Child Poverty

Listener:  8 February, 2014.   Keywords: Distributional Economics; Social Policy;   I hope Brian Easton (Economy, January 25) is right that child poverty is at last accepted by the conventional wisdom. He made an early contribution to the debate.   However, I fundamentally disagree with him that there has been a lack of quality research….
Continue reading this entry »

Poor Show

Why it has taken so long for child poverty to become part of the conventional wisdom.   Listener: 16th January, 2014   Keywords: Distributional Economics; History of Ideas, Methodology & Philosophy; Social Policy;   Corso, the Council of Organisations for Relief Services Overseas, decided in 1979 that it was wrong to ignore poverty in New…
Continue reading this entry »

Market Daze

Can the property companies that run rest homes provide effective care?   Listener: 14 November, 2013   Keywords: Regulation & Taxation; Retirement Policy; Social Policy;   I have had to visit a number of rest homes for the elderly. Such visits can be pretty draining. The one positive is the caring and concerned staff –…
Continue reading this entry »

“Inequality: a New Zealand Crisis’, Max Rashbrooke (ed)

Max Rashbrooke and his contributors have begun a valuable discussion about wealth distribution in New Zealand – but it is no more than a starting point, and one with huge gaps.   Listener:10 October, 2013   Keywords: Distributional Economics;  Social Policy;   In recent years, debates about income inequality in rich countries have become prominent…
Continue reading this entry »

On Capital Gains Tax

It’s time to stop subsidising speculation on housing.   Listener: 19 September, 2013.   Keywords: Regulation & Taxation; Social Policy;   Scared by finance company failure, you decide to invest some of your savings in a rental property. You borrow just enough so the tenant’s payments cover the interest, rates and other outgoings. The return…
Continue reading this entry »

Future Pressures and Caring for the Elderly

How to live with the Treasury’s Long Term Financial Projections.   Listener: 11 August, 2013.   Keywords: Regulation & Taxation; Retirement Policy; Social Policy;   I was on the external panel advising the team from the Treasury that put together its Long Term Fiscal Projections, required every four years and looking half a century forward. A…
Continue reading this entry »

The Fathers’ Incomes Premium in the Postwar Era

Draft for discussion; this version completed 24 May 2103.   Keywords: Political Economy & History; Social Policy; Statistics;   This note disinters a result I found in the 1970s and subsequently buried in Income Distribution in New Zealand. Years later it may have some relevance to some puzzles I am working on about the changing…
Continue reading this entry »

Seismic Shift

Canterbury earthquake victims might have received quite different help but for a 1990 change in the political landscape. Listener: 15 November,  2012. In 1988, a ministerial paper proposed reforms to New Zealand’s earthquake insurance. It came 44 years after the Government had established the Earthquake and War Damage Commission that would pay out for damages…
Continue reading this entry »

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…
Continue reading this entry »

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…
Continue reading this entry »

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…
Continue reading this entry »

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…
Continue reading this entry »

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…
Continue reading this entry »

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….
Continue reading this entry »

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…
Continue reading this entry »

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…
Continue reading this entry »