• Duh!

    We may soon be paying more ACC levies on older cars. It’s all about safety, apparently. Never mind it’s penalising people who a) choose to drive older cars, and put the rest of their money to use elsewhere and b) simply cannot afford anything newer.

    “If there’s a greater risk associated with it then that’s just what goes with it. People are making choices every day as to the risks they choose to take and if they choose to be in an older, less safe car, then is it fair that the rest of the community meets the cost of that risk?”

    Uh, no. Some of us make choices to buy cars that we can AFFORD.

    We choose cars that we don’t have to go into debt to finance. That may mean being in an older or less safe car. It means driving carefully and safely, as everyone should be anyway. Again, this is penalising the less well off, who can’t afford to purchase near new cars.

    Dog and Lemon Guide editor (great resource – a must have book if you’re car-hunting):

    “It’s not going to change the behaviour of the people most likely to cause accidents and it’s simply rewarding rich people and punishing poor people.

    “The simplest way to ensure that poor people drive safer cars is to ensure that government departments buy the safest cars in their class.

    Thank god. Someone with a brain.

  • Should political journos vote?

    Should political journalists vote?

    TVNZ politics reporter Guyon Espiner doesn’t.

    And I guess I can see why. I understand they need to maintain their objectivity as much as they can. And simply not voting is one way to do that.

    I just find it hard to swallow – these are some of the most politically aware and informed people in the COUNTRY. And everyone has the right to vote (and you might say RESPONSIBILITY to vote). Shouldn’t they cast a vote? It seems a waste not to, considering how many people out there simply rock up to the booth,  tick a box more or less at random, and carry on happy as Larry.

    (And here’s a random link to a really interesting informal survey on Kiwiblog on how some MPs rate various media outlets. Really, it’s fascinating! National go pretty much the other way from everyone else.)

  • I’ve had around $35 sitting on my rewards card for awhile, and haven’t been sure what to do with it. The smart thing would be to prepay my Visa fee for the next six months, but that’s so…boring. By the time that fee is due I should have accumulated enough dollars again to pay for that.

    Anyway, last night BF wanted to go to a movie, and I figured, why not put some of those dollars to good use? So he got a good night out for free, and found out that he also has a free movie on his movie club member card for next time.

    There’s still $22 on it which I think I’ll use towards groceries (Countdown accepts the card) given how tight things are.

    We’re still waiting to hear back from Work and Income. I’ll be grateful with whatever measly amount they qualify him for. As for helping with the job hunt – ha! Unlikely. They are so disorganised; the times he’s been in and gone through the database, the staff null and void most of the jobs as they’ve already been filled. Well, hello, take them OFF the list then! Apparently it’s not that particular lady’s job. RIGHT. Whatever, SOMEONE should be doing it, cause it’s a waste of time for jobhunters, as well as the case managers who have to go through and turn them down because nobody bothered to keep the database up to date. He’s also been advised to go to another branch office as their job hunting facilities are better, but I really don’t see how that can be.

    Also, we sold that car service voucher (the $40 one we got for $20) to a friend, for $30. And with any luck he’ll let us use anything on it he doesn’t.

  • School zones

    Rich families are kicking up a big fuss about school zoning. Poor little children, can’t attend their parent’s alma maters because they don’t live “in zone” (although you would think that they would already be living in zone anyway, right? If you went to Grammar or SPC isn’t it highly likely that you now still live in Epsom/Mt Eden/Remmers etc?)

    The right wingers are all “it’s about merit” and if you’re good enough/talented enough/work hard enough you should be able to go wherever you want. And of course, it YOUR parents attended a prestigious school like the Providence Classical School in Katy Texas, you should AUTOMATICALLY get to go there right? Apparently these great, meaningful ties are being eroded by school zoning.

    Our school system is under enough pressure as it is. If everyone clamours to go to the inner city schools, traffic is going to be heinous, and what’s going to happen to the rest of the schools? The best ones will get to pick and choose, but where will those who don’t get in go? How many times are families going to have to apply to schools in the hope of getting their kids in somewhere?

    Although zoning isn’t perfect – house prices in the zones for the best public schools are beyond insane – I think as long as you live within the catchment area for your local school you should be entitled to attend it. Why should you have to trek halfway across town everyday to a gritty school because your parents didn’t go to a posh school or can’t afford private school?

    I guess only a certain class dominates the best schools because of the property prices in-zone, but how much worse would it be if we gave preference to old boys/girls kids, and those who can afford to make large “donations” to schools for pools and buildings and labs and wings?

    Do we really want our ghetto schools to get worse, and be entirely made up of disadvantaged kids? Do we really want an even worse divide between rich and poor? It’s well and good to say that the best should be among the best, but that’s a very narrow minded view. Diversity it not a bad thing. I don’t want my kids to be pushed out of our local school and sent to one out of the way because we have no other choice. I don’t want the best schools to have all the best teachers, facilities, scholarships, academics and sports. I don’t want an underclass of schools. The rich can’t just live in their insulated little bubbles while the rest of society rots. Bloody National.

  • Should you get govt. assistance if you have money in the bank?

    I was just browsing through the TradeMe message boards, in particular one thread wondering about how savings affect your eligibility for assistance.

    People were jumping all over the poor OP for scamming the system and ‘swapping tips’ on how to milk the govt, etc, etc.

    I think people have VERY different definitions of what constitutes savings.

    What’s a significant amount of savings? Should someone with $500 to their name be denied help? $1000? $2000?

    Even a few grand really doesn’t go very far. Bond for a new place, car repairs, school fees, emergency dental, visual or medical stuff.

    If we’re talking more like closer to the five figures, then that’s a bit different. And that’s why the asset limit for help with accommodation is $8000. It could probably even be lower IMO. But that seems fair to me.

    Posters on that thread also went on about getting off your ass and working, how there’s tons of jobs out there to be had if people would only take them.

    Uh, HELLO? Unemployment is rising. Most companies aren’t planning to hire, and instead are tightening their belts.

    Out of touch much? Whoever they are, they must have a steady job. Or be retired. Or something. They obviously aren’t out there jobhunting themselves.

    BF is going into Work and Income tomorrow. He’ll have to show what he’s got banked, but I hope they are not too short sighted to realise how quickly that will run out. I’m anticipating they’ll need more info, which will delay everything. They also want income details for the last year. Not really possible, and I wonder how many people actually manage that? I don’t have every single one of his payslips; at worst we’ll just bring in a year of bank statements. I also don’t get payslips at work. We sign into a site online, so I guess I’ll print some out. But again, I see no point in having a year’s work of info, as I obviously make much less during the academic year and don’t see how my extra income over the summer should have any bearing on the situation.

    Will let you know how it goes.

  • Yay – second day of work for BF today. He was super excited to actually be going off to work like a normal person again..it sounds like a dull job, and he has to stand all day (he’s used to being on his feet all day, but this job doesn’t allow for much moving around).

    Some people don’t mind sitting at home. I do. He does too.

    It’s pretty rude that HF (hellish flatmate) quit his job for no good reason and is now on the sickness benefit. This gives him much more time to create messes around the house for others (me) to clean up. He apparently gets $250 a week for nothing. He’s not impaired, hasn’t got any broken limbs, is perfectly able bodied.

    I support the welfare system, but I hate leeches. I DESPISE people who receive money they don’t deserve. I’m paying taxes and I want them to go to good use – to areas in which money’s NEEDED.

    That’s why I’m glad we won’t have to go to WINZ now that BF’s employed. Granted we probably could get a little bit from the accommodation supplement, but not enough to matter and justify him taking time off work to go in, not to mention the hassle, frustration and paperwork.

    What WAS frustrating was the fact that alone (though student allowance and PART TIME wages) I made pretty much the benefit amount for a couple under unemployment, basically disqualifying BF for any assistance. He was told he might get $70 or so. All this, for someone genuinely in need of help due to redundancy.

    Meanwhile, HF sleeps and watches TV and drinks and smokes and gets handed $250 a week.

  • Tuesday

    Jeez, we’re really getting the runaround here. I’ve called up Work and Income far too many times. The first time the girl informed me I should call Studylink and get BF added onto my allowance (apparently, despite the fact he doesn’t study). I called Studylink. A machine informed me that the contact centre was overloaded and not operating as normal. It then directed me to their website, and HUNG UP on me!!! A machine!!!

    I checked the site. Right. Of course. We’re under 23 and our relationship isn’t recognised by them anyway. OK – back to WINZ.

    This time I merely explained I was working and studying, leaving out mention of Student Allowance. For some reason, BF was asked if he had ever been in the armed forces. Don’t know if that affected anything… The guy then told him he might receive $74 a week. Better than nothing, which was what I was expecting given I make more than the unemployment rate for a couple net anyway. Isn’t that ridiculous? $305 after tax for two people.

    BF wasn’t happy. The guy had initially told him $360, but after deducting my pay from that, somehow left him with just over $70.

    He’s going to some seminar there tomorrow, so maybe by some wild stroke of luck he’ll land a random job. He’s fairly bummed to not have heard back from any of the jobs he applied for (plus the many more I applied for on his behalf…) I explained he shouldn’t feel bad at all, even at the best of times you rarely hear back from anyone. It’s certainly not a reflection on him! With the marked in the toilet, it could be awhile. I think back on all the jobs I’ve applied for in my lifetime; it’s probably in the hundreds, but you just gotta keep going. BF’s just been really lucky so far with work. Everything has been through contacts/word of mouth; he’s never got a job through responding to an ad.

  • What a day….

    what a day it’s been.

    FINALLY, got my restricted licence…passed the test with a lovely instructor, who DIDN’T make me do a three point turn, but did make me reverse round a curve (which I totally flunked) and parallel park at the end.

    03-driving-us-course_l2_w728_h340

    Far cry from the douche I had the first time, who belittled me, patronised me, and said my nervousness was NOT his problem and he couldn’t do anything about it. Fair enough, but he was the one who mentioned being nervous FIRST, why bring it up to make snide, pointless comments? He also (after telling me I wasn’t allowed to wear sunglasses) rudely asked if I minded him wearing his…refused to call out my name in the waiting room, like all the other instructors – obviously didn’t even want to attempt to pronounce a ‘foreign’ sounding name, and told me “you’re trying…you’re trying hard, and you’ve got some points, but we’ll see if you can keep them, if that’s enough to get through”.

    WANKER.

    winz_232

    Anywho, after that brilliant start to the morning, popped into Work and Income with the bf. Turns out, seeing as I’ll be receiving student allowance (a whopping $183) and making maybe $150ish from work a week, Bf is INELIGIBLE for any assistance. No unemployment. Doesn’t matter, he could have nothing saved, be starving on the street, nope – my $330ish will just have to sustain us! Doesn’t matter that rent alone is $205, and the rest will just cover food – no transport, bills, clothing, emergencies, savings, debt repayments. Doesn’t matter we’ve been paying taxes. Even if I quit my measly job (which I wouldn’t, it’s an amazing foot in the door) he STILL wouldn’t be able to get unemployment. I’m sensing some disparity with their definition of unemployed here…

    What fucks me off most is that Studylink DO NOT recognise us as partners. It’s only a ‘relationship’ if you’re 24 or over (or 25?). Not so for WINZ. But wtf – they are both govt departments, why the different rules? Why such discrepancies? Get your shit together and get it straight, you can’t have it both ways. You need to align your policies. Obviously if he is to squeeze a cent out of them we’d have to break up or one of us move out and live separately. How fucked up is that?

    How am I supposed to support us on student allowance and my paltry earnings? I pointed this out, politely, to the receptionist. She shrugged. Repeated that she couldn’t help. Stopping work would not help. Jesus fecking Christ. BF’s brother and sister get money every week for their children. And they won’t give him a bleeding dollar; nevermind that he has been out there WORKING, contributing to our economy, and has now been made redundant.

    I read the other day that less that 800 people nationwide were receiving assistance under the ReStart package. I thought that was shockingly low. Not so, anymore. Not after this afternoon. And according to fellow Kiwis in strife on the TradeMe message boards, the unemployment figures are far higher than what’s been released.

    I plan to be writing to Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett. This ‘policy’ is ridiculous.

  • A parallel tax plan?

    4120850_bebc85a43a

    Roger Douglas’s brainchild

    It’s a really interesting proposal. I don’t know jack about economics – just last year I learned that the OCR is the benchmark for interest rates and when it goes up, savers benefit and when it goes down, borrowers benefit (still, at least i know what it IS, which is more than I can say for others) – but on the surface it doesn’t sound that bad. Of course, I have no idea what paying for healthcare would cost. If it’s anything like over the in States, give me high taxes any day. I figure you’re responsible for your own retirement savings anyway. I guess the biggest worry for low income earners would be the lack of a welfare net. People like me don’t have a large EF to fall back on. There’s no safety net to catch us. And that’s a scary thought.

  • Student allowance – for the last time ever!!!

    I’ve just finished the excruciating process of applying for my student allowance! YESSS!!!

    Honestly, if nothing else, the horror of dealing with Studylink is enough to deter me from ever undertaking further study. That, and the bloated fees charged for post grad.

    It might be worth it after the age of 25. I think that’s when the new limits kick in – they get over $300 per week, instead of less than $200. Why? I dunno. Maybe they think someone older will have more financial obligations. Still, isn’t that something for us to handle ourselves? It’s not Studylink’s job to cover our visa payments, car loans, HPs, etc.

    What bugs me is the sheer repetitiveness of the application process. I have to enter the same info every year. DOB, date I arrived here, date I became a citizen (I don’t know any of these dates; I just hazard a rough guess), etc. Thankfully I shouldn’t have to send in paperwork as they should have it on file from the last two years.

    I also have to enter how much I’ll be earning during the semester. Get this: I don’t even have my timetable yet. I don’t know what hours I’ll be working or how much I’ll earn. That will probably change from the $190 i entered and I’ll have to frantically call their 0800 number in the last week of Feb to recalculate my allowance entitlement. And get a letter signed by my boss to say I’m not lying.

    I really don’t have any faith in Studylink. Last year I didn’t get approved until the second week of uni (but they backpaid me, yay!). I never got the forms I needed despite calling week after week. I think it was the postman’s fault actually, but whatever. I still despise them; they’ve a govt. operated agency and the sheer bureaucracy is unbelievable!

    In 2007 about 2/3 through the year some smart alec staff member was poking around the system and noticed that I’d applied in 2006. Yes, at the END of 2006, for the 2007 year. So as to be ahead of the game.

    But they took no notice of that. No, they assumed that despite applying in December of 06, I must have been applying for the 2006 accdemic year, and therefore should not have been receiving payments for the whole of 2007. And they took it upon themselves to suspend me. The first I knew was when I checked my balance and had NOTHING in my account.

    Fuckwits.