Yesterday the Nats proposed sending young offenders to military-style boot camps. Labour reacted with anger, slamming the proposal, arguing it would do nothing in terms of rehabilitation. So why do many places, like the US, feature these kinds of schemes?

The best explanation is that nations whose citizens believe success is due to hard work (rather than luck & connections) tend to view criminals as folks who chose not to take advantage of the opportunity around them, and instead rob those who were working hard to make an honest living. In the US, this belief is called the American Dream. Such a belief is associated with support for the harsh punishment of criminals, like prison & boot camp.

Is there a similar "Kiwi Dream"? Are our beliefs aligned with US beliefs in this respect? In the paper, "Free to Punish & the American Dream", on a scale from 1 to 10 (where bigger numbers reflect stronger beliefs that hard work brings success) Americans score between 7 and 7.5, a similar level to Kiwis (!) In France, the score is way lower, at just over 5.5. Moreover, around 60% of both Americans and Kiwis believe the poor are lazy. Here's the graph:


No wonder the mainstream media is driving us nuts.

The National Business Review stated today that "Māori households are getting poorer".

Newshub "helpfully" states the opposite, "Māori economy thriving, growth largely driven by increasing number of Māori women owning own business, new report finds ... The Māori economy is currently worth $70 billion and with it steadily growing at 5 percent per annum, it's expected to reach $100 billion in assets by 2030".

Yesterday the NZ Herald repeated a similar headline, "The Māori economy is booming and will be worth $100 billion by 2030, says Willie Jackson".

For the Herald and the NBR both to be right, then there would have to be sharply increasing inequality within Māori, whereby the average household is going backwards, whereas the prosperity of a small group is rising.

Another scenario is that the NBR is wrong. Its writers think that the following "fact" which they quote implies Māori households are going backwards: "In 2006, the lion’s share of Māori household income came from wages & salaries & the government contributed less than 20% to household income. Fast forward to 2018, and only 47% of Māori household income came from salaries & wages, and government contributions shot up to about 35%".

The implication the NBR draws is that welfare "dependency" amongst Māori has increased.

Could this statistic which they quote be seriously misleading?

Yes, it could well be, for the following reason. The Working-for-Families scheme, which gives income-tax credits to employed folks with children, was introduced in 2005. Working-for-families is a good scheme - it rewards folks who are in jobs by letting them off taxes - and it is not a measure of welfare dependency. Folks who are receiving such contributions from the government are going forwards, not backwards.




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Robert MacCulloch