Applause, please, for Paula as she puts down the leftie plonkers with our position on poverty

Do we really have to weigh her before declaring her obese?

Hurrah for Paula.

She is giving the lefties a good swerve by challenging their preoccupation with measuring poverty.

Paula Bennett banged out a media statement on the subject yesterday.

She said (here) that addressing the causes of poverty instead of debating how it’s measured is the Government’s main focus.

“The Government is committed to taking action to combat poverty. This is in stark contrast to the Labour Party which just talks about how it should be measured,’’ Mrs Bennett says.

“Following recent debate on the issue, I have been misquoted in various media as saying there is no poverty line, or it’s been reported that I don’t acknowledge that a poverty line exists.

“What I’ve actually said is that there is no official measure of poverty in New Zealand, and that is correct. The actual work to address poverty – insulating homes, getting people into work, ensuring children have access to free health care – that is the priority for this Government’’ says Mrs Bennett.

“Of course there is poverty in New Zealand. This has been acknowledged by the Government but it’s not a priority to have another measure on it.”

Good one, Paula.

You don’t have to put a fattie on the scales to get his or her weight.

You can see he or she is fat.

But this post is about poverty and as Paula points out –

“Under nine years of Labour, they did nothing about introducing an official measure of poverty, yet all they do is talk about measuring it instead of providing solutions.’’

“Alongside addressing poverty, of course, your splendid National-led Government is also working to combat child abuse and neglect through the White Paper for Vulnerable Children.

Paula mentioned that in here statement too.

She also mentioned poverty mobility, reminding the lefties – who seem to have forgotten – that research released this year by Otago University showed many New Zealanders, including low income groups, regularly moved in and out of different income bands.

Alf suspects not too many of his constituents get too excited about the issue of poverty, because it is not a condition that plagues them.

But if any of them want to spend an hour or two wading through the research, they will find it here.

It says –

Study of the distribution of incomes, and how the incomes of individuals change over time, is integral to the understanding of changes in the economic situation and poverty in the New Zealand population over time.

Research of temporal dynamics presents a more comprehensive
understanding of poverty than point‐in‐time (multiple cross‐sectional) studies. Longitudinal (dynamics) research shows that people can experience different types of poverty, that the majority of people who experience poverty move in and out of poverty, and that many more people experience poverty over a period of time than they do at any one moment in time.

If that’s too much of a mouthful, the first of the research’s “key messages” is –

There is much mobility in income, both upwards and downwards over seven years.

A bit further down we are told –

Approximately two thirds of people who were in low income at any one point in time were chronically in low income over a longer period of time (higher for Maori and children).

Alf would rather not dwell on that finding.

He is apt to suspect there might be some truth in something he read here, which said

In a sense, this cuts across the longitudinal-versus-cross-sectional argument. If we take a snapshot (which is easier than doing longitudinal work), about two-thirds of those people will have chronically low incomes. So, this suggests that focusing on the currently low income is a reasonable proxy for focusing on the long-term

Mind you, one can get into an awful tangle with all this stuff about longitudinal and cross-sectional arguments.

Having to read it six times to work out what it means is apt to have Alf wondering if maybe he might be intellectually impoverished, although – fair to say – the thought is a very fleeting one.

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