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Maxim Institute - real issues

Maxim Institute - real issues.

Contents: --------- 'Legal high' drugs - MP under fire Green MP Nandor Tanczos regularly uses cannabis and is selling drugs classified by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. The issue is that as an MP Mr Tanczos is a law maker who is also a lawbreaker which undermines parliament.

More education - the answer to poverty? If education and training could solve all our problems we'd be living in utopia by now. But with more tertiary graduates than ever and confusion on the definition poverty progress is problematic.

Sole parent numbers rise One in four NZ families is headed by a single parent. While our culture is officially inclusive more children are excluded and lack relational connections as a result.

Unhappily married - study finds hope Nearly 80% of couples whose marriages were very unhappy but stayed together were happy five years later. Only 19 percent of divorcees were happy five years after splitting.

Maxim South Island presentations Places are still available in Christchurch and Invercargill to hear Maxim's vision of building Civil Society. Register now.

'LEGAL HIGH' DRUGS - MP under fire

Green MP Nandor Tanczos is under pressure to resign. Mr Tanczos is part owner of the Hemp Store in Auckland, a shop which sells 'Exodus' and 'Frenzy', two drugs not yet classified or controlled in this country. The US Drug Enforcement Agency, however, has classified the active ingredients of these drugs under the Controlled Substances Act 'to avoid an imminent hazard to public safety'. In this country, Les Maxwell, an intelligence analyst with the national drug intelligence bureau, said the alert has been raised in New Zealand.

Mr Tanzcos has been under increasing fire from other politicians. National leader Bill English has said "It's untenable for a member of parliament to be associated with these things", while ACT leader Richard Prebble says "Tanczos and his party were sending out dangerous mixed messages about drugs." United Future leader Peter Dunne is more candid, calling for Mr Tanczos' resignation. Meanwhile NZ First MP Craig McNair has laid an official complaint with the police over Mr Tanczos' admission he smokes cannabis regularly.

Whether or not the drugs he is selling will be controlled by NZ law, an important issue remains: as an elected representative, Mr Tanzcos is a lawmaker, and a standard of behaviour and responsibility is expected by the public. He admits using cannabis, and is thus a lawbreaker. His behaviour undermines trust and confidence in elected representatives and parliament itself. "The morality of his approach to drug issues is becoming tenuous under pressure," says columnist Rosemary McLeod in today's Dominion Post. Within the context of serious drug and alcohol problems in New Zealand, this latest incident while technically 'legal' is irresponsible. Advocates of recreational drug use by 'responsible adults' often do not acknowledge the vulnerability of teenagers, long term addiction or consider the wider cultural effects of increased liberalisation.

MORE EDUCATION CALLS CONTINUE - the answer to poverty?

Last week _Real Issues_ mentioned the emphasis placed on education to solve all our problems - everything from lowering drink-driving fatalities to building the economy. This week the theme of the Rural Women's Day in Southland, 'Poverty is Everybody's Business', caught our attention. This event grew from the United Nations conference in Beijing in 1995 where it was agreed to designate a specific day each year to highlight the largely unrecognised contribution of rural women. Education and training are seen as 'the key to eradicating poverty'.

If education and training could solve all our problems we'd be living in a utopia by now. In the 1950s, for example, the then constituent colleges of the University of New Zealand annually produced around 10 000 graduates. The various state tertiary providers now include universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and wananga, and in 2000, 60 645 students graduated with a total of 63 487 awards (38 percent with degrees and 11 percent with diplomas).

But since the 1950s our social problems have escalated. We also have to be careful how we define 'poverty' some definitions previously linked it to the lack of rights to individual ownership of property. We also used to speak of 'the deserving poor' and the 'undeserving poor' in an attempt to distinguish genuine cases from those whose behaviour might have helped bring about their own plight. There was a moral language attached to understanding poverty, but not now. We can have all the education imaginable, but without a clear framework for understanding, and a belief that the non-governmental and relational institutions of our society must be strong, the eradication of poverty will remain a vain hope.

SOLE-PARENT RATE RISES - new figures released

One in four New Zealand families is now headed by a single parent, latest Census figures show. Last year, one-parent families with dependent children comprised 26.7 percent of all families. Ten years ago the rate was 21.4 percent. According to analysts, an increasing number of children born outside marriage and high divorce rates are two reasons for the increase. International research also shows that de facto relationships have higher break up rates than married people, for example a 1999 Australian government publication found that de facto couples were four time more likely to separate than married couples.

The statistics and trends reflect at least three decades of social and legal change aimed at dismantling the natural two-parent family. It is no coincidence, too, that many social statistics across that period (crime, violence, etc), have also risen markedly. All persons need relational connectedness, accountability and an identity rooted in belonging. In a culture that is officially inclusive, the irony is that when relationships are short-term and characterised by violence and other forms of abuse, many people, particularly children, are excluded, shut out, moved around and the havoc is passed from one generation to the next.

For an article by Maxim researcher Michael Reid on the importance of defining what is meant by family click on: www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/family2.html

UNHAPPILY MARRIED - study finds hope

A new study called 'Does Divorce Make People Happy?' has found that among couples who rated their marriage as 'very unhappy' but who remained together, nearly 80 percent were happily married five years later. The research based on the US National Survey of Family and Households found that two thirds of unhappy married spouses who stayed married were actually happier five years later. Interestingly, only 19 percent of those who divorced or separated were happier after five years.

These findings challenge the modern myth that someone in a troubled marriage is faced with a choice between a miserable relationship or getting a divorce in order to be happy. Dr Linda Waite, sociology professor at University of Chicago and lead author of the study, says the results suggest the benefits of divorce have been oversold. Last year in New Zealand there were 9,700 'marriage dissolutions' and a divorce rate (number of divorces per 1,000 existing marriages) of 12.3. And 46.8 percent of those divorces involved and affected children under the age of 18 years. While divorce is painful and its causes complex, the good news (backed up by credible research), is that with effort and commitment, many troubled relationships can successfully bounce back.


Maxim presentations will be held in Invercargill and Christchurch next week. These are a great opportunity for mainlanders to hear Maxim's vision and goals towards building Civil Society. For more information and registration details please click on: www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/whatson_page/whatson.html


Maxim's _Evidence_ journal is on sale in 62 shops around New Zealand. Evidence takes a closer look at culture and policy with the current edition featuring a summary of a report on values in New Zealand education. To find a shop selling Evidence near you click on: www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/publication_page/evidence_outlets.htm

QUOTE OF THE WEEK - Bill English

Liberal democracy and market economics work best for the common good when they are bound by morality.

The originators of these grand concepts did not and would not have imagined the challenge we face - personal freedom and open markets without moral constraints.


Real Issues is a weekly email newsletter from the Maxim Institute. The focus is current New Zealand events with an attempt to provide insight into critical issues beyond what is usually presented in the media. This service is provided free of charge, although a donation to Maxim is appreciated. You are encouraged to forward the newsletter to others who might be interested. Items may be used for other purposes, such as teaching, research or civic action. If items are published elsewhere, Maxim should be acknowledged.

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