Real Issues Blog

What is the number?

Alex Penk
30 September 16

Anyone advocating for euthanasia or assisted suicide should have to answer this question: How many wrongful deaths is Parliament prepared to risk if these practices are legalised? What is the number? What is the acceptable error rate, where error means wrongful death?+ more

Between risk and reality

Kieran Madden
19 September 16

The annual release of MSD’s suite of income and material well-being reports usually spark a statistical squabble about the number of children or families in poverty (and who is to blame, of course). Much of the debate this year, however, was rightly focused on the rising impact of a lack of housing affordability, as most poverty and hardship trends were considered to be “flat or falling.” This doesn’t make for attention-grabbing headlines.+ more

"Beautiful as heaven, lonely as hell"

Julian Wood
12 September 16

I have heard New Zealand being described as “as beautiful as heaven and as lonely as hell.” If that's so, it doesn’t bode well for us all - as a 2010 study by Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton highlights that the long-term effects of loneliness brought on by social exclusion is “equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day and to drinking six units of alcohol a day.” + more

Working hard, still struggling

Danielle van Dalen
05 September 16

Traditionally, it is those relying on the social welfare system that come to mind when we think of New Zealanders struggling to get by. However, an OECD report claimed that “on average 7 percent of individuals living in households with at least one worker are poor in the OECD area.” For poor children in New Zealand, that number is around 40 percent. Recent findings from Otago University also support this, suggesting that half of New Zealand’s homeless adults are either working or studying. Astonishing.+ more

Life consistent with our identity

Jeremy Vargo
29 August 16

In this debate we’re discussing whether or not we want our government to allow certain people who meet certain criteria to kill themselves with the assistance of another person. To reduce the threshold for such an act down to 'a debilitating illness that is inconsistent with my identity'—or, the way I saw life turning out for me—is irresponsible, and would prove impossible to define in any legally meaningful way. + more

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