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Maxim Institute real issues - No. 142

Fri, 4 Feb 2005

Maxim Institute real issues. ============ this week: No. 142, 3 FEBRUARY 2005

Contents: --------- * A new vision for mothers?

* Welfare starts at home

* History exam scam

* Euthanasia third time lucky?

* 3,500 youth at political debate

A new vision for mothers? ------------------------------------------------------------------------ The Prime Minister's state of the nation speech opening Parliament was full of praise for new state collectivism. The government will cement its role as the main player in shaping social order.

Its actions will, she believes, improve productivity and lift participation in the workforce (mainly by increasing the number of mothers in it). It will help us save, give Maori new significance, improve trade and infrastructure, build national identity and pride and give us more new laws.

While some of these economic goals may be worthy, an assumption throughout the speech is that the state should administer families and all families are incapable of self-regulation. The question is how government best goes about this, never whether it is entitled to, or why.

Can we really compete with Scandinavian levels of childcare as the Prime Minister suggests, and should we? Should the state fund other people to raise our children - when parents are most qualified to do this job? The government believes a mother's time is more valuable in the workforce than raising her own children. To enhance real choice and improve the status and care of children, a better way is to encourage marriage and the two-parent family. The government should be making it easier for mothers who want to stay at home to do so. Civil Society would benefit, as would voluntary agencies, and the proper status of motherhood would be restored.

Welfare starts at home ------------------------------------------------------------------------ National leader Don Brash started the year by turning attention to social welfare policy with his Orewa 2 speech. The DPB in particular is a major issue for our nation, numbers having increased from 17,000 in 1976 to 110,000 today - a 650 percent increase in the context of a population increase of only 30 percent. The cost has risen from $50 million to $1.56 billion.

It is right and just to provide for the needy; however, current social policy is creating a culture that is simply killing the family. The connection between welfare policy and the family is often misunderstood or overlooked. Some forms of family are better than others and policy can either encourage or discourage them. It is in the state's and society's best interest to protect the natural family unit. We must ensure that welfare policy is a genuine hand-up rather than a means of escape from personal responsibility.

In an article published in the NZ Herald today, Maxim director Bruce Logan argues that morality is at the heart of welfare policy, which must be informed by three self-evident principles of the family. To read the article visit: http://maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/welfaremoral.php

History exam scam ------------------------------------------------------------------------ The New Zealand Qualifications Authority will hold an inquiry following allegations of political bias in a Level 1 NCEA exam last year. The history exam question can be seen as a natural consequence of decades of politicised curricula in New Zealand. The exam presents views that uncritically equate politically loaded positions with commonsense neutrality.

In the race relations topic, students were asked to write about the opinions and actions of two (from a list of three) persons shown in photographs or drawings. Person 1 was a drawing of 'National Party Member of Parliament not sympathetic to Maori concerns'; Person 2 was Whina Cooper, and Person 3, Eva Rickard. Person 1 was meant to be anonymous. The other two figures - both smiling - are shown in photographs. Intentional or not, the unsmiling, bespectacled, balding MP bears a resemblance to the current National leader Don Brash.

Good history teaching and robust examinations transcend both left and right-wing interpretations. Students may reasonably come to favour one worldview over another, but this should follow a balanced inquiry, not from an approach that is so strongly biased to begin with.

To read an article on the implications of the examination question by Maxim researcher and former history teacher Dr Michael Reid, please visit: http//www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/nceahistory.php

Euthanasia third time lucky? ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Voluntary euthanasia could be on the agenda again following the next election. Successful campaigner for Prostitution Reform and Civil Unions, Labour MP Tim Barnett, has this week indicated his support for the voluntary euthanasia campaign by Lesley Martin. In 2003, Parliament rejected a private member's Death with Dignity Bill by 60 votes to 57. The first attempt to introduce euthanasia legislation was defeated by 61 to 29 votes in 1995. As the election draws closer, Maxim Institute will be profiling at www.nzvotes.org the policies and manifestos of all contending parties and the personal views of candidates on issues such as euthanasia.

3,500 youth at political debate ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Over 3,500 young people attending the Parachute '05 music festival spent last Sunday morning listening to MPs from Labour, National, Greens, Act and New Zealand First parties answer questions on the role of government in education, family and freedom of expression. Emerging parties United Future, The Maori Party, Destiny New Zealand and Christian Heritage also shared the stage, focusing on issues such as coalitions. The political forum hosted by Maxim Institute was an election year initiative for the Parachute festival.

The audience, including many first time voters, enthusiastically engaged with the issues. If the overwhelming interest in this first live political debate of election year is anything to go by, we can expect young people to take this election seriously.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Barry Goldwater ------------------------------------------------------------------------ A government that's big enough to give you all you want it is big enough to take it all away.


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