According to a recent Colmar Brunton poll child poverty and education (which is another policy around the opportunities of the child) are major issues of interest to the public. Recognition of this had led Labour to announce their Best Start policy a few weeks ago. But does the policy make much sense? Gareth Kiernan has his reservations (Infometrics link):
Best Start is a typical case of a policy solution being developed to an inadequately defined problem, mixed up with a dose of admirable sentiments and a sizable helping of realpolitik. We don’t have a robust definition of poverty, and for children who are not being adequately provided for, it is difficult to arrive at a fair apportionment of responsibility between the family and society.
What are your thoughts?
Update: Anyone that is waiting for this, I’m sorry but I am massively swamped with work. I will do this – I need to look at this for other work of my own – however, a post may not appear until mid-March.
Just as a pointer, I see that there were some measurement errors in the income data used by Treasury, Stats NZ, and MSD. That implies that some of the work mentioned at the start of this post (the recent stuff, not the longer term research papers) will be off. (ht Rates Blog). MSD goes through matters here, I will read through what they said on the weekend.
Given how much discussion there is about these issues at the moment, this is a touchy subject – understandably. A couple of points I’ll make are that:
- Given how careful these departments are, this will be upsetting for them. I respect the fact they’ve owned up and not made any excuses. Maybe it is my recent dealings with Vodafone, where they just kept blaming other people for the fact I have to repeatedly cancel an order I made six weeks ago, but it is nice to see organisations owning up and not making any excuses.
- It is important we all try to figure out what these error mean for our understanding of the issues, and policy trade-offs.
I will try to have a post up discussing what is going on next week – and what it means for some of the things I have discussed on the blog over the past year.
I’m current reading a paper discussing the different ways of measuring Gini mean difference (a statistical measure which you in turn use to get the Gini coefficient) and writing summary articles on HES expenditure, NIIP (including post-2009 revisions) in NZ and Aussie, and expenditure GDP factor shares for clients. As a result, I’m not brimming with insightful commentary, although I am having fun.
However, there is a question I’d love to hear your views on. Should we be restarting contributions to the “Cullen Fund” pretty soon? Here are some reasons that may support it:
- We are nearing surplus/concerns about the government fiscal position are less significant.
- We are experiencing a high high terms of trade. In some ways, the boost in prices for dairy products could be seen as a natural resource “boom”. In that case, could the Cullen Fund be seen as an appropriate sovereign wealth fund?
- The Cullen Fund was put in place because of concerns about the affordability of universal superannuation, these concerns still exist and if we are completely unwilling to increase the retirement age …
I do not have a comprehensively thought out view on this, I haven’t look at relevant data and fiscal accounts are my area of interest. Hence why I thought I’d ask some of you fine people who have no doubt put more consideration into these issues
There has been a bit of discussion about Countdown hurting wholesalers to get prices down, flexing their muscle shall we say (here and here). The Commerce Commission is concerned about this and is investigating.
Via Twitter I noticed that the concerns about supermarkets being bullies has led to an increasing desire to do something about supermarkets in general in our papers.
— Ali Ikram (@AliIkram) February 20, 2014
Now having a government run supermarket enter and then arbitrarily mess around with the price and availability of goods and services “for our own good” makes me throw up in my mouth a little – honestly the anti-obesity rhetoric thrown in the piece is beside the point, and shows how a desire to “do something” can be taken too far. Note: A lot of the suggested policies such as “removing GST” or “adding vouchers” exist without randomly owning a supermarket, the point should be actually asking if they are a good idea in the first place – a point that seems to escape our columnist, unless she believes the analysis is well covered off by merely going ‘obesity is bad man’.
But there is a broader point here. Read more