Real Issues Blog

Ka pai, Oranga Tamariki

Kieran Madden
22 August 16

Contrary to the sticks and stones rhyme from our childhood, we all know that names can hurt. Names are not just names; they have a profound and long lasting impact. On this count, the name for the Ministry that will replace Child, Youth and Families is a missed opportunity. Last week, the Government decided to stay the course despite the dissenting of many and proceeded with the “Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki”—the Te Rēo words meaning the “health or wellbeing of children.”+ more

Clear expectations

Julian Wood
15 August 16

The Reserve Bank has done a fantastic job over the last 27 years, doing what it is supposed to do with clarity and vigour. Long gone are the heady days of 18-19 percent inflation and 20 percent interest rates that we experienced while singing along with Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream its Over,” replaced with years of stable general levels of prices (low inflation). It seems, however, that this long-term success has led to “expectation creep” from politicians and the public. + more

Seeing the person, not the problem

Danielle van Dalen
08 August 16

Politics and policies can change lives. However, policy is just an idea until people do something to enact it. For real life change to occur for people in poverty, we need to focus on the relationships they have with the people delivering government support. You’d be excused for thinking it’s impossible for government to incorporate relationship into their work. However, the British government seem to have found a solution in the Troubled Families Programme.+ more

Social insecurity

Kieran Madden
27 July 16

Declines in personal savings and fertility rates in the West are stark indicators that may help explain how economic insecurity fosters phenomena like the rise of Trump and the decline of the EU through Brexit. Both movements are driven largely by the wills of older Americans and Brits facing increasingly uncertain futures—in large part because they had fewer babies and saved less than their forebears.

Where savings and fertility decline, immigration rises to plug the growth gap—a controversial flash-point and common proclamation by demagogues in these debates. But rising immigration—whether it concerns you or not—is just a visible sign of deeper issues. + more

Productive thinking

Julian Wood
21 July 16

Everybody wants New Zealand to be a great place to work and live. High wages, high growth, high productivity, low unemployment, affordable smartphones and great weekends. The question is how to get there. Wage rises for most are low and in the order of inflation. Higher productivity is a key driver of the kind of lifestyle we want, but New Zealand’s productivity numbers are poor. + more

"Trust me" - politics can be better

Danielle van Dalen
11 July 16

A survey commissioned by Victoria University’s Institute for Governance and Policy Studies (IGPS), titled “Who Do We Trust” found that only 8% of us hold complete trust in Members of Parliament (MPs). In comparison, medical practitioners and the police hold the complete trust of 56% and 53% of New Zealanders respectively.+ more

No Bregrets

Kieran Madden
04 July 16

As the market dived and the pound sterling plummeted to a thirty-year lows following Brexit, deep despair and outrage reigned. Economists sung “I told you so” in chorus. Markets hate uncertainty, and given the circumstances, the economic shockwaves are likely to ripple for a few years (at least).+ more

Death pledge

Julian Wood
16 June 16

I went with my father the day he paid off his mortgage. Afterwards, it seemed like his back straightened a bit, he told everyone how happy he was, how liberating it felt—like a weight was gone from his shoulders. I wonder if we feel the weight of debt as acutely in our present culture. + more

Protesting democracy

Jeremy Vargo
16 June 16

It’s been an odd week. With Britain’s 52% vote to leave the EU shocking the pollsters, news websites and social media has been awash with anguish, glee, and wild conjecture. Beyond the actual events of the vote, results, and ensuing political resignations, there was the strata of expert opinions, opinion columnists, and status updates to dig through, and of course—this is the digital age after all—online petitions to sign. + more

Unrealistic safeguards

Danielle van Dalen
13 June 16

“Safeguards.” It’s an official-sounding and soothing term often used by those in favour of euthanasia, to ease concerns about the effect of physician-assisted suicide on vulnerable communities. The literature and overseas experience, however, seem to suggest that in this area, no safeguard has been safe enough. + more

Promises promises

Jeremy Vargo
06 June 16

Of course one could argue that changing the government is the core business of any opposition party—but I think there’s a chance this MoU could be a promising first step towards a serious “government-in-waiting.” This bodes well for the New Zealanders at the polls next year, as the system we have presently makes it difficult for voters to piece together a clear, coherent vision of an alternative government. + more

Budget won’t fix lack of vision

Julian Wood
30 May 16

Some are suggesting we respond to the housing crisis by throwing policy advice to the wind, building a bunch of houses and borrowing the money to do so. Debt, of course, must be paid off at some point, but they’re right to expose that there seems to be a lack of vision, with no reasonable solutions for people in need right now. + more