Monday, June 18, 2012

Stupid sugar hit ecomonics--stupid Government!

How short-sighted, how stupid is it to sell our State-owned assets at a time when the world is at a crossroads. Anything could happen if the Greek, Spanish and Italian problems enter an even more dangerous phase. What will these assets be worth if this uncertainty stays with us?
I watched the Labour, Green and NZ Fists Parties trying to hold up the bill going through Parliament. We all know that this won’t work in the end because national has the numbers. They probably know that each of their utterances on this bill is yet another nail in their coffin.
The National Party rightly claims that they have been upfront about their intention to carry through with this policy. The sad fact remains that we allowed them to win and set loose tier plans on a now angry nation. They say to requests to hold a referendum on the Asset Sales programme----NO! ---it was voted in. Ok----- our fault for being so disengaged with the political process.
Any party true to its belief in doing the best for its people should be big enough to see that things change; that sometime a reversal of policy best suits the needs of a country. They backed down over the class-size issue and will probably do the same for their ‘League Tables’ so why not bite the bullet and steer away from this crazy policy of selling the family jewels. Once sold they are gone forever unless we see the same scenarios we witnessed re the buy-back of Kiwi Rail and Air New Zealand. Do they ever learn?
The holy grail of privatisation is one fraught with the hooks of market reality. The only groups who gain are the vested interests of big businesses, many of them based overseas. Come on National--- see the light, before it’s too late! Don’t sell our birth right!

Could you live in an apartment in Auckland City?

About 50,000 people live in apartments in the central Auckland area. Could you do that? I guess there are advantages and more negative aspects to inner-city living, especially the sort suspended high above the streets.
Not surprisingly the median age is around 26, indicating high student (part-time and fulltime) occupancy rates. The proximity of their choices for study are an obvious draw-card and the buzz of inner-city attractions another.
A recent study has found that many of the residents (29%) are Chinese. We know that language-study students have chosen to study in Auckland in high numbers and they like to be at the centre of things. New Zealand born residents are also at the high 20% level.
A feature of the apartment dwellers is the very high level of transiency. The average occupancy time is barely two years, indicating a massive turn-around. Any sense of community would be very hard to develop and maintain.
I can see a few more hooks too. I love to keep my feet on the ground. The idea of being unable to have anything more than a few pots containing flowers and herbs would just not do. Then there is the question of leaving a dog alone all day. Even when one did return home, a doggie-off-the-lease area would be quite some distance away. I doubt that letting a Jack Russell run loose in Albert Park would gain me any friends.
I have often wondered what the noise levels are for living in an apartment. Some of those buildings have hundreds of tenants. I suppose with the majority of them being young, tolerance levels are also high. The very idea of one of those thumping ‘drive you mad’ base woofers would change me into a maniacal Ninja. I cannot abide loud ‘bassy’ music, when I am trying to sleep.
The only features that would attract me would be the closeness of fabulous restaurants and the waterfront, with its gateway to the Hauraki Gulf and islands. But apart from that, I will keep my feet firmly grounded somewhere on Dominion Road.

The complex issue of 'white flight' in our schools.

The issue of ‘white flight’ in our schools is a complex and somewhat emotive one. It would be easy to say it is a racist response and I notice the commentators on TV so far have avoided that label. They point to a parent’s desire to have their child in a school where they will be able to connect with the outside world form a base that ‘has connections.’
If that is correct then the flight could be put down to parents just wanting the best for their children. The question then has to be asked---‘why is it that the local school is often not perceived as being able to fill that need?’
The fact is--- the vast majority of schools do a good job and there are many examples of decile one schools sending their students on to university and the said students are doing well. If we looked at the figures a little more stringently, we would see a difference in the proportion of students achieving so well though. There are several good reasons for this.
It is pretty obvious that students in decile 10 schools are going to come from families where there is already a tradition of high achievement, both in educational outcomes and career success. The term ‘cultural capital‘ comes to mind. That means that if a young person is raised in a family where books, access to media, computers and where successful role models abound, then the link between success and CP is going to be high.
Many families in lower decile schools struggle just to get their kids to school, in uniform, pay the fees and provide a lunch---basics I know--- but not so easy if the income for the family is way below the national average. Most families want the best for their children, but the act of proving it is a task that many NZers are finding increasingly difficult. The act of sending their kids (at great cost, re transport etc.) is their attempt to gain a ‘foot in the door.’
I mentioned the possibility of ‘white flight’ being a racist response. Most commentators are reluctant to even discuss that possibility, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is a factor. I am not sure to what extent that parents are avoiding the ‘browner schools of South Auckland and other area, but we need to at least accept that it is a possibility. What can we do about it?
We have to fight the ‘perception’ that lower decile schools are not good and challenge the misinformed beliefs about such schools that are based on racial makeup. I have spent many years in these so-called lower decile schools and I know them to offer wonderful opportunities to their students. The ‘extra funding’ they receive is well spent on increasing the possibilities for their students. The bigger question of deprivation in these communities and the accompanying social issues is one that the schools cannot fight alone. Any debate on ‘white flight (and middle class brown flight) must be seen in the wider context of what is happening in many areas of NZ society. It does not help that we have a government that is intent on taking the fiscal scissors to programme that address some of the issue I have described.
Let’s take up the challenge to work for a ‘fairer NZ.