Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Business Roundtable discovers new contraceptive

I see the Business Roundtable is at it again. They've commissioned a report from one Lindsay Mitchell, who is well known for being a virulent opponent of 'welfare' in general and the DPB in particular. The best way to stop young women - especially young Maori women - getting pregnant is to axe the DPB, she says.

Now I just happen to have been looking up teenage pregnancy statistics recently. Births to teenage women (aged under 20) climbed from 5,315 in 1962 to a high of 9,150 in 1972. That's an increase of 72 percent.

The DPB wasn't introduced until 1973. That was the year teenage births started to fall. By 1982, they had more than halved, to less than 4,500 - well below the 1962 number.

Of course, the number of births is related to the number of teenagers. So let's look at this another way. In the early 1970s, before the DPB, 70 out of every 1,000 female teenagers were having a child. By the mid-1980s, this was down to 30 per 1,000. It stayed between 30 and 35 until the late 1990s, then it trended down again. By 2002, the rate was at its lowest in our recorded history, at 25.6 per 1,000 female teenagers.

That's still high compared with all other developed countries except for the USA and UK. But there's no way you can argue that the DPB is responsible - or that axing it would lower the rate.

Business Roundtable members head up major companies. If this report represents what they consider to be inteligent analysis, it's a bit of a worry, eh.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Need cash for your hobby? Hire out women for sex!

The news flabbergasts me on a daily basis, but I plumbed new depths of flabbergastry on Sunday when I read about the former Olympic featherweight boxer who has set up a brothel to earn money for his sporting career.

Logan Campbell, according to the report, did get $15,000 funding from SPARC, but lost it because he hasn't been competing. Now he has his sights set on getting $300,000 from his "high class gentlemen's club", with its "smart, attractive girls".

"Some people on the team will not think highly of me for doing this," Campbell said. "If they saw this place and how it's operated, they'd change their mind...We don't treat them like pieces of meat."

Too right - he sells the whole live female animal.

If you're short of cash too, ladies, maybe for your education or your kids, don't rush to apply. It's not exactly a safe occupation, and class has nothing to do with it.

The classiest brothel in Melbourne, the Daily Planet, has alarm buttons in the rooms that women can press to call the bouncer. Unfortunately women only press these once they have been hit (which is not uncommon). By then the damage has already been done. There's no way to prevent women being hit even in the best run (and most expensive) brothels.

Of course, there doesn't seem to be any way to prevent them being hit in their own homes, either.

(My new Letter from Elsewhere, posted 13 July on Scoop, looks at Judge Russell Johnson's comments on "family violence".)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How to destroy jobs

I see yet another bunch of public service jobs is being eliminated - 60 jobs are to go in biosecurity because the volume of work is currently down, due to recession. (Great post on this at The Standard.)

Now I've always understood that one of the very few ways the gummint can make a real difference in a recession is by (a) employing more people - so cheap insulation is a really good idea - and (b) keeping on the people they already employ.

But no, it seems Mr Key and Co know better - they believe it's more important to slash public spending by cutting programmes and axing jobs all over the show.

Quite how this helps, I'm not at all sure, because all those public servants were spending the money they earnt buying things and paying taxes will now have to stop all that and instead get by on the less-than-subsistence level income provided by their former employers (if they can get it, that is - two-income families are the norm, but if one becomes unemployed the other is pretty unlikely to get a cracker).

Isn't that exactly what helped make the Great Depression so bad???

Friday, July 3, 2009

still asking after all these years

I went to the demo in Parliament's grounds for pay equity on Tuesday. It was cold, of course, and damp rather than wet, but there was a great turn-out of angry women, and men, of all ages and stages. I enjoyed meeting up with two die-hard feminists of my vintage, with their equally staunch daughters alongside them. But we did wonder whether, in another twenty years' time, they'd be standing there again with THEIR daughters, still demanding equal pay for work of equal value.

The lack of this is the biggest reason for women getting paid less than men for similar levels of work. One woman who spoke was a teacher's aide, helping children with special needs in the classroom. She does an absolutely essential, highly skilled, demanding job - but unlike the teachers she works with, she is employed on an annual basis, gets no pay in the holidays, and gets precisely 44 cents an hour above the minimum wage. (See her whole speech here - in post for last Tuesday.)

Teacher aides were one of the groups the axed Pay and Employment Equity Unit had been working on. But just as they got to the point of proving precisely how underpaid these women were, it was all stopped. Can't raise women's wages, eh. There's a recession on. Well, as Green MP Catherine Delahunty said: recession is no excuse for oppression.

Still, it was heartening to see the Dominion Post run a photo of a protestor about my age on its front page. She was holding up a placard with a classic feminist cartoon (I wonder if the photographer was so taken with it because he'd never seen it before? Come to think of it, I haven't seen any women's by-lines under photos, ever). It shows a little girl and boy peering into their nappies, and saying, "Oh, that explains the difference in our wages!"