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Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 31

Maxim Institute

real issues.

this week: No. Thirty-One 29 AUGUST 2002



OUR YOUNGEST KILLER - 'something must be done' The role of a 12 year old in the killing of Michael Choy is one of a wave of serious youth crime. 428 under 20 years olds are now in prison. Once again the failure of family and inept parenting are to blame.

NCEA LEVEL 2 - Minister makes it optional Level two of NCEA will now not be forced on schools next year, they are free to choose. The change to give schools autonomy is ironic given this is the opposite of what we have recently seen. It's a case of 'when you can't figure out how to control people, let them do it for themselves'.

JOHANNESBURG ENVIRONMENT SUMMIT - Darwin is dead South African President Thabo Mbeki said at the environment summit survival of the fittest has no part in a modern world. But this is not necessarily part of a economic growth, which is not bad in itself nor need it be environmentally destructive.

WHAT IS CIVIL SOCIETY? - Series No.4: The Market In Civil Society wealth creation is the result of entrepreneurship, capital and risk taking. Government's role is to pass laws which understand and respect what the market is and how it best operates. Good commerce also needs ethics, learnt primarily in the family.

ESSAY COMPETITION - 'Civil Society or Civil War' Maxim's essay competition for tertiary students on 'Civil War or Civil Society' is offering $3,500 in prizes and summer internships. Entries close 20th September.

OUR YOUNGEST KILLER - 'something must be done'

Almost everything about Bailey Junior ('BJ') Kurariki's life to date is tragic. Coming from a broken home he was shoplifting at 9, banned from school by 10 and by 12 he'd helped kill Michael Choy. In his father's custody for the last two years he exploited the lack of communication between his parents after their separation. His mother, Lorraine Hart, said she did her best to raise her children; "I made sure they had a shower every day and changed their clothes".

The Choy killing is the latest in a wave of youth crime. The day before the Choy verdicts were announced, 17 year-old Daniel Luff pleaded guilty to the murder of Feilding policeman Duncan Taylor, and a 14 year-old girl, Kararaina Te Rauna, admitted her part in the killing of Kenneth Pigott. According to Corrections Department figures, 428 under 20 year-olds were in jail in the week ending August 16, and of these, nineteen were under 17. This latter figure represents a massive 40 percent increase in one year.

Amidst despairing pleas that 'something must be done', it's time to get real. We can blame Child Youth and Family (CYF) but the time for that is long past. Perhaps CYF could have intervened more effectively, but the opportunity to make real change was lost early on. 'BJ' needed more than a shower and clothes; he needed nurture, boundaries, love and to be accountable. Once again the failure of the family and incompetent parenting are to blame.

In each of the above cases, family dysfunction was a major contributing variable. The question is, how can this be prevented? We need to value parenting and see its connection to good order and as a preventative. We also need to be weaned-off reliance on government and state agencies and laws as the primary solution. The state's role could focus on providing initiatives (and even subsidies) to encourage good parenting and make laws that protect, preserve and promote the two parent family as the best context for raising children.

To view a published article by Bruce Logan on this issue click on: www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/morals.html

NCEA LEVEL 2 - Minister makes it optional

Secondary schools not adequately prepared to introduce Level 2 (Year 12/Form 6) of the new NCEA qualification will now not be forced to do so next year. Making the announcement earlier this week, beleaguered Education Minister Trevor Mallard said it would be a 'school by school, or even department by department decision whether or not to proceed.' This is all very different to his previous statement that Level 2 was proceeding in 2003 as per government policy.

Shifting responsibility to individual schools is deeply ironic. Isn't this what Tomorrow's Schools was meant to be all about? What we've seen though, has been the exact opposite of autonomous schools-state control and direction has never been more apparent. But there's no rationale underpinning Mr Mallard's latest decision. It's a case of 'when you can't figure out how to control people, let them do it for themselves'.

The likely acceptance of the new pay deal for secondary teachers will placate the sector for a while, but the problems with NCEA will continue. And deeper issues will remain as well. There is deep confusion in education and the result is ad hoc decision making all the time. As one Auckland principal has said, it will cause a 'dog's breakfast of confusion in an already confused situation'. But for Mr Mallard admitting failure would not be politically expedient.


At least, according to South African President Thabo Mbeki, he is. 'Survival of the fittest' has no place in the modern world according to Mr Mbeki. He's also called for an end to 'global apartheid'. The summit, attended by a number of New Zealand officials, including Marian Hobbs, will address global warming and strategies to end poverty.

Mr Mbeki continued: 'A global human society based on poverty for many and prosperity for a few, characterised by islands of wealth, surrounded by a sea of poverty, is unsustainable. There is every need for us to demonstrate to the billions of people we lead that…we do not accept that human society should be constructed on the basis of a savage principle of the survival of the fittest.'

We can appreciate Mr Mbeki's sentiments. But the savage principle of the survival of the fittest is not a necessary component of economic growth, which is not in itself 'bad' nor need it be environmentally destructive. Genuine growth expands the economic 'cake' and allows people to express their creativity, which is so essential to being human. There needs to be a strong ethical basis lest greed abounds, but this ingrained assumption that money making is inherently destructive needs to be challenged. What we're likely to end up with is a ten-day talk fest with plenty of rhetoric but not much else.

WHAT IS CIVIL SOCIETY? - Series No.4: The Market

We've been talking about wealth creation which includes making money and quality of life. In a Civil Society this is the result of entrepreneurship (skills and knowledge), capital and risk-taking. These activities occur outside direct government intervention. Government's role is to pass laws which understand and respect what the market is and how it best operates. We are accustomed to hearing about government-driven economic development, 'partnership', and 'lightly steering' the economy, but when the state is involved at this level, it has a conflict of interest: it would appear to support growth but it is really interested in addressing the very 'inequality' that is perceived to be the by-product of this growth. Hence the confusion and suspicion that governments, particularly Left-leaning governments, have with growth.

The intergenerational family is critical in creating a moral market. Here's how: since good commerce needs ethics, the essential qualities of trust, reliability and accountability are learnt primarily in the functioning family. When these variables are absent from business, we know what happens, e.g. Enron, 'creative accounting', fraud, white collar crime and so on. These qualities cannot be taught just in MBA courses - they are learned first and foremost in the context of relational stability which is the natural intergenerational family.

ESSAY COMPETITION - 'Civil Society or Civil War'

A Maxim essay competition for tertiary students offering $3,500 in prize money closes in three weeks on 20th September. Major sponsor North and South magazine will publish the winning essay on the topic of 'Civil War or Civil Society' and up to four finalists will be offered summer internships at Maxim Institute in Auckland or Christchurch. The competition and internships are a key part of Maxim's strategy in training and equipping principled leadership. For more info visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/essay.html

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Theodore Dalrymple

The idea that human relationships can be freed of all social and contractual obligations is romantic drivel.

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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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