Real Issues Blog
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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