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Maxim Real Issues: No. 162, 24 JUNE 2005


No. 162, 24 JUNE 2005

Who should pay and how much?

Hardly cricket

A high risk of prison

Maxim to host Harvard professor

Levin Change Agent workshop this Saturday, 25 June


Who should pay and how much?

There has been much debate around scandals at the United Nations in recent years - the "oil for food" programme is one such example. The US House of Representatives is now considering a bill which may cut the United States financial contribution to the UN in half.

One of the Congressmen sponsoring the Bill, Henry Hyde, highlighted a key principle behind it: that the government is responsible to ensure that taxpayers' money is used wisely. The Bill sets out that the UN must be reformed in several key areas and implement changes including spending cuts in specific projects, or the United States will cut its funding. The US is estimated to contribute 25 percent of the UN's total budget - something which has itself been the subject of controversy. The move highlights that when people contribute money, they expect to have a say over how it is spent.

A similar situation arose at the European Union last week. The UK Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted changes to the current farm subsidies, arguing that the way they were allocated meant France gained unfairly from them.

These rows over funding of international organisations such as the EU and the UN remind us that it is reasonable to hold stewards of public money accountable.


Hardly cricket

The announcement yesterday that New Zealand Cricket has confirmed the Black Caps' tour of Zimbabwe in August was understandably greeted with disappointment. Many readers will recall the near state of civil war that accompanied the Springbok rugby tour to New Zealand in 1981. The issue then was the same: the foreign government concerned has an appalling record of inflicting suffering and misery on its own people.

President Robert Mugabe's crimes are well-documented - adding to the farce is the fact that he is also the patron of Zimbabwe cricket. New Zealand Cricket warned withdrawal would cost it a penalty of USD 2 million (NZD 2.8 million) under International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations.

The New Zealand government is taking a responsible position on the decision. While few New Zealanders would favour the tour going ahead, it is not the government's role to dictate whether sporting tours can or cannot occur. Irrespective of the corruption and hardship in Zimbabwe, the government has acted rightly in not getting involved. New Zealand citizens must be free to travel and conduct their business overseas, and Helen Clark and Phil Goff are right in reiterating this important principle of our democracy.

This in no way condones the decision of New Zealand Cricket, but it does respect the freedom of that body. Concerned New Zealanders, rightfully upset at the decision, should consider writing to New Zealand Cricket, newspapers and other media expressing their views.


A high risk of prison

Boys from broken families have a far higher risk of winding up in prison, a study recently released by researchers from Princeton University and the University of California, San Francisco shows. Tracking the histories of nearly 3,000 young men throughout the 1980s and '90s, the team found that even taking into account factors such as a parent's low level of education, urban residence, racial inequalities and poverty, boys from mother-only families were 73 percent more likely to go to prison than peers from two-parent families.

Boys living apart from their fathers from birth were more than three times as likely to do time in prison as those from intact families and those whose fathers leave home when they are 10 to 14 years old are 2.4 times as likely.

The researchers were surprised to find, however, that remarriage of a divorced mother did not lessen risk but increased it: "Youths in step-parent households faced incarceration odds almost three times as high as those in mother-father families, and significantly higher than those in single-parent households, even though step families were relatively well-off on average."

Despite the constant advocacy for policies embracing "family diversity", studies such as this continually show that "diversity" often comes at a high social and economic cost. Fathers matter to their children, and their commitment to their child's mother must be encouraged in both policy and in culture.

To read the full Father Absence and Youth Incarceration report, click here:
http://www.aboutdads.org/reports/Father_Absence_and_Youth_Incarceration.pdf
(To view .pdf's, download and install Adobe Reader:http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html)


Maxim to host Harvard professor

One of America's leading education academics is visiting New Zealand to share her experiences and knowledge of different education models. The Education Forum and Maxim Institute are delighted to host Caroline Hoxby, professor of economics at Harvard University, director of the Economics of Education Program at the National Bureau of Economics Research and a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institute.

Few issues are more important for parents than their child's schooling. Currently in New Zealand, most parents have little or no choice over the school their child attends. Many states in America have implemented different models of education reform, and extensive research exists on the success of these schemes.

Caroline Hoxby was nominated by President Bush to serve on the National Board of Education Sciences. She is the editor of The Economics of School Choice and a forthcoming book, College Choices.

To read some of Professor Caroline Hoxby's papers, visit:
http://post.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/hoxby/papers.html


Levin Change Agent workshop this Saturday, 25 June

For details of this and other events, visit:
http://www.maxim.org.nz/events

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Seneca (A.D. 65)

Laws do not persuade just because they threaten.


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