The Jackal

26 Jul 2017

Government doesn't care about kids teeth

With New Zealand having some of the worst oral health in the world, you would think that the government would be doing all in its power to improve things.

Unfortunately that doesn't appear to be the case, with children from lower socioeconomic areas who have less access to dental health services being disproportionately affected by rotten teeth.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

More than 6600 Kiwi kids admitted to hospital with rotten teeth in one year

More than 6600 children under 12 wound up in hospital in the 2015-16 year to have one or more rotten teeth pulled under general anaesthetic.

After respiratory conditions, dental treatments were the second-biggest cause of hospital admissions that year, the latest for which figures are available. The rate was highest among under-10s.

The deteriorating state of our children's teeth is being called a slow-burning health epidemic, mainly caused by sugary drinks, and is costing the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars.

Terrible! So what's the National led government doing about it?

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said oral health was generally improving, with more children recorded as caries-free than ever before.

This is technically untrue. Based on the high numbers of 1-14 year olds having teeth removed due to decay, dental health for young people has stayed the same since 2011/12. There has been no statistically significant change.

"What we are seeing is not a health crisis, but more people being identified and getting treatment. While it is disappointing to see children with this level of decay and discomfort, it is pleasing to see that they are getting the help needed."

The Government's decision to shift responsibility for decisions on fluoridating water supplies to district health boards would also have a long-term positive effect on oral health, he said.

Dunne did not support a sugar tax, but said if clear evidence emerged showing a tax would make a "tangible" difference to the health of Kiwis, rather than being used as a "revenue-gathering exercise in disguise", he would be open to it.

Once again a government Minister is arguing against his own ministry.

The latest New Zealand Health Survey (DOC) shows that tooth decay and extractions remain very high for young people aged 14 and under, while for those aged 15 and above oral health has worsened since 2006/07. A whopping 55% now visit a dental health care worker only when they have a dental problem or never visit at all.

As for Peter Dunne’s assertion that there's no evidence, the Ministry of Health states:

There is increasing evidence that intake of free sugars leads to weight gain and tooth decay (WHO 2015). Sugary drinks, including fizzy drinks, are the main source of sugars in the diets of New Zealand children (Ministry of Health 2003). In addition, fizzy drinks contain acids that can dissolve tooth enamel, contributing to poor oral health (Ministry of Health 2015d).

The government has used tax as a way to reduce the use of cigarettes precisely because of the negative health effects they cause the general population. The cost on the health system was determined to be too excessive.

So why can’t the government use tax to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and thereby improve the oral health of New Zealanders?

If Dunne doesn’t support government intervention in one of New Zealand’s worst health crisis, then it’s time to vote the rotten bastard out.

About those fake elective surgery stats

The National led government has once again been caught misrepresenting statistics in order to make themselves look good… this time on the numbers of people getting elective surgery.

Statistics on elective surgery are Nationals go to when they’re trying to make themselves look good. Now we find out that their claims of huge increases is just more bluff and bluster.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

Is the Government misleading Kiwis over its elective surgery target?

Since 2008 the Government has been consistently hitting or exceeding its target of 4000 extra elective surgeries per year, but it's getting there with one surgery - an eye injection.

The overall increase in electives in 2016 was 4119, and the increase in Avastin eye injections was 2565. In the same year, the number of extra orthopaedic surgeries - that's things like hips and knees - was just 284.

Other surgeries decreased, including ear nose and throat surgery, paediatrics and general surgery.

So the number of cheaper surgeries have increased while the more expensive life changing surgeries have likely decreased.

You’ve really got to wonder then where the extra $304 million over the last three years for elective surgery has gone? Eye injections, which aren't really a surgical procedure at all, will be relatively cheap.

The additional funding is despite the Government not fully paying DHBs for all their elective surgery and other procedures to the tune of $160 last year.

Why is there such a failure to properly fund health you might ask? Well the government wants it all privatised of course. Even Jonathan Coleman's own Ministry has assessed that the current government routinely underfunds elective surgery. Despite this fact, National still claim that they're doing more than enough.

Read more about how the current government is being a bunch of tightwads for elective surgery and other health areas in the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions’ Working Paper on Health (PDF).

25 Jul 2017

Who is advising the National party?

Traditionally, the National led government and their propagandists have blamed the Labour party for any problems it’s faced over the last nine years. Obviously they’re just passing the buck... but their brain-dead supporters seem to love it.

However heading into this election that excuse hasn't washed as well, so we’re seeing National try a new type of obfuscation. Instead of simply passing the buck or not being available for comment on tricky issues, they’re claiming complete ignorance.

On Friday, Newshub reported:

Govt admits it had 'no idea' of emergency housing costs 
Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has admitted "in hindsight" the Government's response to the housing crisis has been too slow.

At current spending rates, $50 million of taxpayer money will go to motel owners and other emergency housing providers in just a year.

"We had no idea how much it was going to cost," Ms Bennett told The AM Show on Friday morning.

"We had no idea it would ever be this big. No Government had ever picked up the bill for this. No Government has ever funded emergency housing."

National are also pretending that they aren’t really in power. This seems like a strange position to take being that journalists have been reporting otherwise for the last nine years.

The problem for National is that they’ve failed on so many social issues it’s not funny. Bill English is now appearing foolish by trying to come up with remedies to the problems their policies, in most cases, have caused.

It’s no secret that Crosby/Textor was advising John Key during many of National's major scandals over his tenure. But who is advising the National party now? Could it be this guy?

24 Jul 2017

Sean Plunket - Asshole of the Week

After this weekend you’ve really got to wonder if The Opportunities Party is trying to be the new Association of Consumers and Taxpayers party?

Not content with mansplaining Lizzie Marvelly about her latest Herald column for most of Saturday, Sean Plunket and his subordinates then moved their attention to Metiria Turei for most of Sunday, obviously jealous of the publicity the Green party received over their most excellent social welfare policy announcement.

To their detriment, TOP's director of communications, Sean Plunket, and other right-wing affiliates have been feverishly throwing every attack line they've ever developed at the Green party co-leader.

Unfortunately this has meant that the policy's attributes and Turei’s most honourable admission of a crime of necessity to highlight the plight of beneficiaries has been somewhat lost in mainstream media translation. Oh well, there's no such thing as bad publicity I guess.

Generally speaking the media didn’t really want to engage in a productive discussion about what needs to change in order to fix our broken social welfare system. Instead they adamantly tried to solely focus on an overpayment from 25 years ago. The beneficiary bashing and hypocrisy has been quit extraordinary!

Here’s churnalist Plunket implying on Twitter that Metiria Turei shouldn't have had a child.

Let’s explain how things work for the ignorant Sean Plunket then shall we. A woman has a child because it’s her body and her choice. If woman were only allowed to have children when all their circumstances were acceptable to people like the chauvinistic pigs in ACT and TOP the world would be a very lonely and mediocre place indeed.

It’s a slippery slope when bigots with a few dimes start attacking the family members of politicians they don’t like and promoting a type of eugenics based on wealth. That’s why Sean bloody Plunket wins this week’s Asshole Award. Why Bomber Bradbury is advocating for these sexist pricks is beyond me?

National - Kiwi jobseekers are drug addicts

There is no question that the National party likes a high level of immigration into New Zealand because it keeps wages artificially low. The side effect is that increasing competition through unemployment and underemployment means many Kiwi jobseekers miss out on finding gainful employment.

The government undertakes such measures to ensure businesses remain highly profitable and their all hallowed economic growth model is retained. In this respect, The National party and their business associates clearly value money over the good people of New Zealand.

In light of these facts, the current government is once again scapegoating beneficiaries in order to try and justify their socially destructive policies.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

Regional revolt prompts Government rethink on immigration

Newshub can reveal the Government is on the brink of a major backdown and it's on one of the election's big issues - immigration.

Immigration was due to be tightened on August 14 but there's been a backlash from employers and the regions.

Sources have told Newshub the Government is set to back down and keep the gates open.

Examples of the revolt include Southland, which wants 10,000 more people.

Gower has obviously mistaken revolt for status quo.

"Good Kiwis are hard to find. Guys don't want to let their good Kiwis go," farmer Hayden Nicholson told Newshub.

"I wouldn't. I wouldn't let any good Kiwi go."

Jono Breach also knows how hard it is to get a "good Kiwi". He just got an application from one, so checked his Facebook page.

"His first picture was with wads of cash and bags of drugs, and I'm like, 'Well!'," he told Newshub.

That's why farmers down in Southland have turned to immigrant labour, mainly Filipinos, like "Choco", who loves the work, and even says he likes the Southland frost.

Southland farmers claiming that they're employing immigrant labour because the Kiwi's applying for job vacancies are apparently all drug addicts and not because immigrants will work for less is obviously bullshit!

The working poor and unemployed are basically viewed by National as an expendable commodity... and often used as a political tool to justify various social experiments based on out-dated neoliberal philosophy. The unemployed are the silent victims of big business interests and free market capitalism gone awry.

Here's the evidence showing why the government shouldn't be basing its immigration policy on the heresy of a few idiot Southland farmers.

In February, Radio NZ reported:

Tens of thousands drug-tested, hundreds fail

Government figures show beneficiaries have failed only 466 pre-employment drug tests in the past three years.

So even the government is telling the government it's wrong!

The Ministry of Social Development said the 466 included those who failed and those who refused to take the test.

Some failed more than once.

The ministry did not have the total figure for how many tests were done over the three years, but said there were 32,000 pre-employment drug tests in 2015.

Today, Mr English denied he was scapegoating a few drug users to take attention off record immigration and those workers taking jobs here.

That’s less than 1.4% of jobseekers failing drug tests over a three-year period, which just goes to show that Patrick Gower’s National party propaganda piece is just absolute crap!

Next National will be claiming that anybody who wants immigration to be set at a reasonable level is somehow racist! How boringly predictable. What they won't tell you is that having a proper immigration policy will be good for immigrant workers as well as Kiwis. None of these people really want to be exploited with low wages.

When the National party has become this bereft of ideas during an election campaign, you know it's time for a change of government.