Saturday, December 22, 2012

UK Immigration Explosion

Even an astounded Daily Express can't get the increase in Polish immigrants to the UK right. It wasn't an 89% increase from 2001 to 2011, it was a truly astounding 890% increase, to well over half-a-million. That is an almost nine-fold increase in just ten years, in fact, more like six years, as Poland was only admitted to the EU in 2004.

Overall, 7.5 million migrants live in the UK, up from 4.6 million ten years ago - a 63% increase. And in 2014, the EU will open up the UK's borders to twenty million more people, as Bulgaria and Romania fully enter the union.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Unemployment Rate vs Unemployment Benefit Rate

New Zealand Government performs miracles, raising the unemployment rate while lowering the benefit rate. Is that why we have more beggars on the streets?


Saturday, December 15, 2012


Nice title eh?

This is the lovely language used under the UK's new Universal Credit scheme:

"Mandatory Work Activity

"17. Mandatory Work Activity will be part of the toolkit that Jobcentre Plus advisers will have available to them. Where advisers believe a jobseeker will benefit from experiencing the habits and routines of working life, they will have the power to refer the recipient to Mandatory Work Activity. The placement will be for up to four weeks and aimed at helping the recipient develop the labour-market discipline associated with full-time employment such as attending on time and regularly, carrying out specific tasks and working under supervision.

"18. Requiring a small group of recipients to engage in full-time activity will give them the opportunity to demonstrate their compliance with the Jobseeker’s regime. If a recipient fails without good cause to attend or complete the placement, then we will impose a significant financial sanction. This could be, for example, withholding Jobseeker’s Allowance for at least three months."

Universal Credit - Welfare That Works, Chapter 3 - Conditions and Sanctions, p29

And you thought it was too late for Nineteen Eighty-Four.


Be Very Afraid: UK's 'Universal Credit' Scheme

This is quoted directly from the Department of Work and Pensions' paper on Universal Credit - Welfare That Works, Chapter 3 - Conditionality and Sanctions:

"Our current proposals for financial sanctions are:

"a. Failure to meet a requirement to prepare for work will lead to 100 percent of payments ceasing until the recipient re-complies with requirements and for a fixed period after re-compliance.

"b. Failure to actively seek employment or be available for work will lead to payment ceasing for four weeks for a first failure and up to three months for a second.

"c. The most serious failures that apply only to jobseekers will lead to Jobseeker’s Allowance payment ceasing for a fixed period of at least three months (longer for repeat offences). Actions that could trigger this level of penalty include failure to accept a reasonable job offer, failure to apply for a job or failure to attend Mandatory Work Activity."

Be very afraid. And expect a good deal less young or not so young entrepreneurs, authors, actors, musicians, thinkers and artists having the time to do anything creative any more.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NZIER - Lifting Export Performance

Apparently, "in New Zealand, the quality of the business environment has deteriorated through some big steps on the part of government to increase its activity in the business sector through, for example, buying assets and engaging in businesses in sectors such as rail or banking." p16

Or so say the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), our largest and most influential economic think tank, in their report on Lifting Export Performance published last month.

And apparently, "Growth in social spending also has the unintended consequence of biasing production in favour of domestic-focussed industries. An additional dollar of social welfare spending typically ends up in increased consumption of locally-based non-tradable products and services. This is precisely what social welfare programmes are designed to do - to support costs of living which are mostly local in nature. Nonetheless, it means that an additional dollar of spending goes to consumption, rather than investment, and then to industries which do not export." p18

Hmm, a fair bit of social spending assists families to buy forms of agricultural produce (that is food), and that's New Zealand's number one export, so the argument is at least partially, if not substantially, flawed.

Problem is, NZIER then go on to to make further claims based upon it, including the following:

"These biases in favour of consumption (rather than saving) and domestically focussed enterprise go on to put upward pressure on the exchange rate, downward pressure on the prices that exporters receive on international markets and thus there is less incentive to export. This is essentially a tax on exports." p18

Wow, so social spending is a "tax on exports".

I always knew NZIER focussed only on economics rather than on a more holistic view of life and living standards, but I also thought it was somewhat objective. Now I realise it's become a campaigning arm for the right wing economic viewpoint that spouts ever lower taxes on corporates, less regulation and less income sharing.

These NZIER methods aren't going to grow anything other than harm and inequality. If we want growth, we should encourage sharing, because if everyone benefits from growth, then everyone will contribute to it. And what the Hell is wrong with Government investment in "rail or banking"? If the government hadn't invested we wouldn't have a rail network, airline or highly successful New Zealand bank.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Silly MBIE

What’s the point of the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment? What sense is there in squeezing together the disparate organisations of Building & Housing, Science and Innovation, Health & Safety, Employment Relations, Immigration, and Economic Development into one ‘super’ ministry?

Joyce says that, “the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will help the Government’s business growth agenda by implementing integrated policies to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy”, but if we want joined up policy across government and industry sectors, let’s create a central policy think tank that can operate across government and sectors, like the private think tanks do; let’s not unify the operational arms of disparate organisations to make a super organisation – that’s just plain dumb.

Joyce says that, “at present when businesses engage with government they work with multiple government agencies, which takes away valuable time, as well as incurring unnecessary duplication of effort.” But this is rubbish. New Zealand has the greatest ease of doing business of anywhere in the world. The idea that we don’t, and that this needs to be corrected, is a myth, a straw man that Joyce has erected as another excuse to proceed with his damaging pet project.

We all know that big, diverse organisations don’t work well; while small, lean organisations do. The private sector does poorly when it lumps together diverse corporations, and so does the public sector. MBIE isn’t a giant oil company, multi-national food product producer or media conglomerate, it doesn’t have the commonality of business that these large organisations need to succeed. MBIE should not be; the diverse organisations that comprise it should stay separate, and in fact should separate further to be leaner, more efficient organisations highly specialised in their fields of operation.

Joyce’s idea that MBIE will be, “a single focused business-facing government ministry,” is ludicrous - it’s not desirable to have such a single focus even for economic development, let alone science, innovation, health, safety, immigration and employment relations. The point of government is to enable the fulfilment of every member of society, and that isn’t achieved through focussing only on business.

And even if every organisation had a single, common, over-arching focus of fulfilment without harm for everyone, that still wouldn’t require merging these organisations physically into a giant one. No, specialised, separate organisations work better, even, in fact especially, when they share a common purpose. In short, the MBIE merger is unnecessary, and what's worse, a lot of people are going to be hurt because of it – just what government shouldn’t be doing.

Quotes from:


Why Is Key Right & Wrong?

He’s right because he believes everyone wants to be completely individual and independent from the state, but he’s wrong, because he believes this can happen naturally within capitalism. It can’t. Capitalism doesn’t distribute incomes equitably. It requires a shared base income so that everyone has the opportunity to make their best contribution at every stage of their lives. This doesn’t require greater government, it requires greater income sharing. There's a difference.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Doing More Than What Needs To Be Done, Before It Needs To Be Done

If government organisations only did what needs to be done, a lot less effort would be wasted, they would be far more efficient, and very many less hours would be required to get necessary and timely work done.

Instead most public sector managers focus on trying to do as much as possible to ‘prove themselves relevant’ to ministers. Most of this work never reaches the minister. Most of the work is done before it needs to be done, and when it comes time for some work to be done, it is found that the work done before it was known what was needed, is irrelevant. That is the danger of second guessing what needs to be done before it is needed and doing it immediately – this work is almost always wasted effort, but most public sector managers can’t resist doing ‘anticipatory’ work.

It’s also why most of the public sector doesn’t become more efficient on its own, because most public sector management keeps on making more and more work for itself in anticipating work, that in the end, actually never needed to be done.