Debate on cannabis law reform

Debate on cannabis law reform continues to crank up.

Bob McCoskrie (Family First) has been prominent in opposing liberalisation.

But that has been quickly addressed:

German Lopez (Vox): What Alex Berenson’s new book gets wrong about marijuana, psychosis, and violence

The result is the book in which that conversation is now being retold — a book that’s gotten widespread favorable coverage in CNBC, the New YorkerMother Jones, and the Marshall Project, and landed op-eds from Berenson about his findings in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

His central argument is best summarized in a few brief lines later in the book: “Marijuana causes psychosis. Psychosis causes violence. The obvious implication is that marijuana causes violence.”

I could have found this argument persuasive. I’ve become increasingly skeptical of drug legalization over the years, as I’ve reported on the opioid epidemic (caused by legal opioid painkillers), alcohol, and tobacco. I’ve written about how there are risks to marijuana that are worth taking seriously, even if one thinks that legalization is ultimately a better policy than prohibition. I’ve stopped using marijuana myself, in part because my husband had multiple experiences in which pot seemed to make his anxiety disorder flare up.

But as I read Berenson’s book, it was impossible to escape that, while a compelling read written by an experienced journalist, it is essentially an exercise in cherry-picking data and presenting correlation as causation. Observations and anecdotes, not rigorous scientific analysis, are at the core of the book’s claim that legal marijuana will cause — and, in fact, is causing — a huge rise in psychosis and violence in America.

Berenson leverages these anecdotes and limited data to argue that heavy marijuana use, spurred by the legalization of pot in several US states, is already leading to a “black tide of psychosis” and “red tide of violence.” He warns that things will only get worse as the legal pot industry grows bigger, with an incentive to stifle heavy regulations on cannabis.

In one example, he cites a recent, massive review of the evidence on marijuana’s benefits and harms from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, claiming the report, on the link between marijuana and psychosis, “declared the issue settled.”

But I read the report and wrote about it for Vox when it came out. Far from declaring this issue “settled,” the National Academies’ report was extremely careful, cautioning that marijuana’s — and marijuana addiction’s — link to psychosis “may be multidirectional and complex.” Marijuana may not cause psychosis; something else may cause both psychosis and pot use. Or the causation could go the other way: Psychotic disorders may lead to marijuana use, perhaps in an attempt to self-medicate.

Berenson’s book, with its sensationalist claims and shoddy analysis of the evidence, doesn’t genuinely address those concerns. Tell Your Childrenclaims to inform its readers of the “truth” about marijuana, but it instead repeatedly misleads them.

Russell Brown has posted Cannabis reform is a serious matter – so be serious about it

The Listener ushered in the new year with an editorial that seemed to lean heavily on Bob McCoskrie’s talking points. What factual claims the editorial makes are both ominous and vague  and it appears that the author has not made any attempt to read source research.

Part of the problem is that there’s so much epidemiological data that it’s easy to cherry-pick in service of a belief. We’re all guilty of motivated reasoning – and I don’t exclude myself. But I think anyone writing a major editorial has a duty to do more than simply copy someone else’s bullet points.

The next contribution doesn’t have that problem – because it doesn’t bother itself with facts at all. It’s by Karl du Fresne on Stuff and it is absolutely fucking execrable. Du Fresne isn’t really writing (let alone thinking) about cannabis reform so much as firing off another of his wearisome dispatches from the culture war.

He witters on, repeatedly confusing legalisation and decriminalisation and objecting to the recent medicinal cannabis bill which which “essentially legalises the use of cannabis by people with a terminal illness”, something he says a few lines later can be  ”justified on grounds of common sense or compassion”. Then:

But there should be no doubt that what we’re observing is decriminalisation by stealth, which was why the National Party withdrew its support for the medicinal cannabis bill.

It really isn’t, and it makes no more sense for du Fresne to say so than it did when Simon Bridges said it. As framed, the law offers a statutory defence for people in palliative care who possess cannabis without a prescription, as a transitional measure until the new regulations that give the bill meaning are written over the next year. It doesn’t protect anyone who sells the cannabis, or even acquires it for a dying relative. But it suits du Fresne’s conspiratorial mindset to declare otherwise.

There’s actually a straightforward and well-founded argument against handing the market to big companies (and especially publicly-held companies, which du Fresne asserts would to the best job): in order to generate profitable growth, such companies need to do two things: recruit new users, and sell hard to problem users. That’s what happens  in the liquor industry, where there’s a classic 80/20 rule and most profit comes from dependent users.

The Drug Foundation goes through this in the model drug policy it released last year, proposing regulation in favour of “small-scale community development” which would help “avoid developing a powerful industry lobby” that could influence future policy choices. I think the idea of having these enterprises distributed among, and bringing revenue into, local communities is worth looking at. It’s also likely to be important to Māori.

I did find one fan of du Fresne’s column. Former Act MP Stephen Franks declared it “sensible” and insisted that the slew of errors in the column were mere “technical” points that a columnist could hardly be expected to recognise.

A couple of days later, Franks was was back recommending a New Yorker article in which, he declared, ”Malcolm Gladwell deftly questions the woke consensus in fashionable support for cannabis legalisation”. Why, one must ask, do these guys have to turn everything into the culture war?

The short New Yorker piece consisted of Gladwell looking at a new book by former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence and saying “hey, maybe this guy’s got a point.” Similar promotional pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalMother Jones and elsewhere. A sensible person could certainly be forgiven for thinking that perhaps Berenson’s dire warnings about cannabis should be taken seriously.

Unfortunately, as the headline over a frustrated piece on The Stranger put it, East Coast Media Is Grounded From Writing About Weed. The author, Lester Black, writes:

But almost as soon as journalists started jumping on Berenson’s bandwagon, the actual scientists behind the research Berenson cited distanced themselves from his book. Those scientists say he is distorting their research, mistaking correlation for causation, or he is just outright drawing incorrect conclusions.

Black also looks at the increase in homicide rates in Colorado and Washington State that Berenson repeatedly highlights. Here’s the thing. Those rates are below what pre-legalisation trends in both states suggested. Can we say that legal weed reduced the murder rate? Hell no. It’s way too complex an issue for that sort of claim. But we really can’t say that cannabis increased the number of murders.

Black isn’t the only one to take to the internet in frustration at the ready reception of Berenson’s arguments. Jesse Singal in The Intelligencernoted that Berenson’s claim that cannabis has led to higher murder rates in legal states is ”a case study in how to misleadingly use statistics to make oversimplified arguments about human behavior and public policy.”

The most detailed rebuttal I’ve seen comes from the excellent Maia Szalavitz. She cites a lot of data that don’t support various claims by Berenson, from his embrace of the “gateway hypothesis” to assumptions about cananbis potency and international trends in cannabis use and mental illness.

There are real things to focus and and talk about here. By its nature, legalisation is an experiment. But how many of the harms that can reasonably be attributed to cannabis are effectively addressed by criminalising people who use it? Is the world due a better, smarter form of legalisation than it currently has? I think we can do better. But we don’t get there via idle editorialising, blowhard culture wars or misleading use of evidence. If you’re going to declare cannabis reform a serious matter, then for god’s sake be serious about it.

More here:

No doubt this debate will continue through to the referendum (probably later next year alongside the general election).

 

Q+A: Should NZ legalise recreational cannabis?

Last night Q+A had a debate between Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and head of Family First Bob McCroskie on whether New Zealand should legalise the recreational use of cannabis (separate to allowing the use of medicinal cannabis).

To Swarbrick: What is it you want here, are you after legalisation, which would effectively allow people to grow marijuana, for it to be sold, to be regulated, the Canadian model, is that what you’re pushing for?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah, so I think you’ve kind of hit the nail on the head there. We currently have a state of play whereby illegal drugs are unregulated drugs. people don’t necessarily know the compounds that they are purchasing or consuming.

So in the Green-Labour confidence and supply line 19 of that says that we want to see drugs treated as a health issue.

From the Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement:

19. Increase funding for alcohol and drug addiction services and ensure drug use is treated as a
health issue, and have a referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis at, or by, the
2020 general election.

Q+A:

Chlöe Swarbrick: Part of that is the referendum on the recreational personal use…

Corin Dann: So Kiwis would be able to go to some sort of a store and buy cannabis for personal use?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah. So we have the option of looking around the world. Obviously Canada is going to be doing this on Wednesday this coming week. I think they have a really robust set of regulations that they’re looking at.

They’re focussed on harm reduction. They’re focussed on education. They’re focussed on taking it out of the hands of kids.

I think that’s quite different to the rules we’ve seen perhaps in the likes of Colorado which are more free market type models, where advertising is abundant and you have door to door delivery services.

But what we’re proposing, as we’ve been quite strong on for a while now, is…providing the legislation first so it is black and white what we are going to be voting on at that referendum come 2019 or 2020. So we remove all grey from the debate.

So make it clear in proposed legislation what would happen, and leave it to us the people to decide.

Corin Dann: Alright Bob you have been in Colorado I understand, it’s been in place for five years there, very liberal cannabis law. What did you make of it there. It seems to be going all right doesn’t it?

Bob McCoskrie: No it doesn’t, it’s ah the statistics are quite concerning, I mean for example a hundred and fifty percent increase in hospitalisations for marijuana, increase in road deaths with marijuana related to them, they’ve also got the highest teenage use across all states, eighty five percent above the national average for the United States.

Chlöe Swarbrick: Where are those figures from?

Bob McCoskrie: From the Rocky mountain High report…

Chlöe Swarbrick: I don’t think in any way shape or form that is they way we should be doing things.

McCoskrie argued that we shouldn’t be liberalising smoking cannabis while trying to become smoke free with tobacco. He also seems to be against a referendum.

Arguing the Colorado model seems pointless if that’s not the model proposed here.

McCoskrie says there is no war on drugs.

He says that regulation isn’t possible.

Lack of regulation isn’t working here.

McCoskrie claims that the aim is the legalisation of all drugs.

“If we want to be smoke free, lets be drug free”. On what planet?

He argues against what has happened with the Portugal approach, arguing against success there.

McCoskrie says we need to reduce supply and reduce demand, as per tobacco, which is highly regulated. Swarbrick is arguing for regulation.

I’ll transcribe more later if I have time.

On Twitter afterwards:

 

 

Family First loses charitable status but not ‘muzzled’

Family First has been removed fromn the charities register “because it does not advance exclusively charitable purposes”

Update on Family First New Zealand from the Independent Charities Registration Board

Published 21 August 2017

In its decision dated 21 August 2017 the independent Charities Registration Board has decided to remove Family First New Zealand from the Charities Register because it does not qualify for registration.

The role of the independent Charities Registration Board (“the Board”) is to maintain the integrity of the Charities Register by ensuring that entities on the Charities Register qualify for registration.

The Board can direct charities to be removed from the Charities Register when they do not advance a charitable purpose for the public benefit and it is in the public interest to remove them.

The Board’s decision is to remove Family First New Zealand (“Family First”) from the Charities Register because it does not advance exclusively charitable purposes.

The Board considers that Family First has a purpose to promote its own particular views about marriage and the traditional family that cannot be determined to be for the public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable. Family First has the freedom to continue to communicate its views and influence policy and legislation but the Board has found that Family First’s pursuit of those activities do not qualify as being for the public benefit in a charitable sense.

In April 2013 the Board previously made the decision to remove Family First from the Charities Register because it did not advance exclusively charitable purposes. That decision was appealed to the High Court by Family First. In June 2015 the High Court directed the Board to reconsider its decision in light of the 2014 Supreme Court Greenpeace judgment and its own judgment.

This decision represents the Board’s reconsideration of Family First’s eligibility for registration.

Roger Holmes Miller
Chair, Charities Registration Board

View the decision here /

But Family First will fight the decision.

Stuff:  Charities Commission strips Family First of charitable status

But the group is not going down without a fight, saying it will argue the decision in the High Court.

The decision by the Charities Registration Board was made public on Monday. It is the second time the board has tried to deregister the group.

In 2013, the board made the decision to remove Family First from the Charities Register because it did not advance exclusively charitable purposes.

Family First appealed that decision to the High Court.

In June 2015, the High Court directed the board to reconsider its decision in light of the 2014 Supreme Court Greenpeace judgment and its own judgment.

The latest decision represented the board’s reconsideration of Family First’s eligibility for registration.

Family First have responded:

Family First To Charities Board – See You Back In Court

Family First NZ has instructed its lawyer to file an immediate Notice of Appeal in the Wellington High Court against the Charities Board’s formal decision to deregister Family First NZ.

Family First is going back to the same court to challenge again the belief of the Trust Board that our views about marriage and the traditional family “cannot be determined to be for the public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable”.

“This is a less-than-satisfactory procedure of trudging back to the same court. It seems that the Charities Board are simply hoping for a different judge and a more favourable decision. It is a highly politicised and inconsistent decision by the Board and will have a chilling effect for many not-for-profit charitable groups – both registered, deregistered and wanting to be registered – who advocate for causes, beliefs, and on behalf of their supporters, and often have to engage in advocacy at a political level, not always through choice but through necessity,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Justice Collins in the earlier decision in the Wellington High Court in 2015 recognised the strength of Family First’s argument that its advocacy for the concept “…of the traditional family is analogous to organisations that have advocated for the ‘mental and moral improvement’ of society.…” The Charities Board was also scolded by Justice Collins who said “…Members of the Charities Board may personally disagree with the views of Family First, but at the same time recognise there is a legitimate analogy between its role and those organisations that have been recognised as charities.”

It appears that certain views of marriage and family are now deemed out-of-bounds by the State. We’ll fight that political correctness and muzzling of free speech,” says Mr McCoskrie.

That’s nonsense. McCoskrie is not muzzled, he speaking out here unhindered.

“Family First will appeal this decision as far as we need to, not because we have to have charitable status to exist, but because of the threat it places on other charities and their freedom to speak and advocate on behalf of their supporters in a civil society.”

It doesn’t stop Family First from speaking and advocating, it just removes their charity status.

Who wants to re-visit the ‘anti-smacking’ law?

NZ First wants to repeal the ‘anti-smacking’ law.

Or probably more accurately, they want to attract some votes from people who strongly opposed the law change. It’s hard to imagine either National or Labour (or Greens) wanting to go through another smacking debate.

This morning NZ Q+A will look at this with Tracey Martin and Sue Bradford.

It’s 10 years this month since the so-called “anti-smacking” law passed. NZ First wants to repeal the law. We’ll debate the issues with New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin and Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the bill.

It’s curious that Tracey Martin is representing NZ First here.

I can’t see NZ First spokesperson roles on the NZ First website, but the last Justice news is from Darroch Ball (although Denis O’Rourke feature’s on their Justice policy page),  and the last Law and Order news is from Winston Peters. Martin features in Education news and policy.

In March Peters stated in  a speech at Waipu (and repeated in ‘We Will Return NZ To: Crime Doesn’t Pay’):

We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.

I think that claim is highly debatable, albeit typically vague. I call it button pushing bull.

Peters followed up a few days later in New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wants referendum on anti-smacking law

“From the word go, we said this matter should go to a referendum with New Zealand people who are far more reliable and trustworthy on these matters, rather than a bunch of temporarily empowered parliamentarians,” he told Newstalk ZB.

“I said very clearly that we’ve got young people running amok up here and around the country. They can’t be touched. There’s a hundred reasons given by sociologists and apologists for what’s happening, but these people know what’s wrong, know what they’re doing is wrong, know they can’t be touched, know there’s no consequences.”

“What’s happened since then has been an explosion in violence towards children, the very antithesis of what these people argued would happen,” Peters said.

Without any evidence supplied I call bullshit on this.

The party’s policy was to put the matter to the people and repeal the law, he said.

I can’t find any mention of the anti-smacking law in NZ First’s policies.

Family First praised Peters’ commitment:  NZ First Repeal Of Anti-Smacking Law Welcomed

Family First NZ is welcoming NZ First’s pledge to repeal the anti-smacking law, and will be clarifying with the party as to whether it is a non-negotiable bottom line for any coalition agreement after the election.

In a speech on Friday in Northland, leader Winston Peters said; “We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.”

In 2014, NZ First said “NZ First policy is to repeal the anti-smacking law passed by the last parliament despite overwhelming public opposition. Accordingly, we will not enter any coalition or confidence and supply agreement with a party that wishes to ignore the public’s clearly stated view in a referendum on that issue.”

But Bob McCoskrie has linked a commitment made by Peters in March this year to a bottom line made for the last election. perhaps Martin will say whether this bottom line will also be in place this election.

McCoskrie also  implied links between the law change and increased violence.

“the smacking law has failed to convince anybody of its benefits or its effectiveness”

It’s certain that that claim can’t be substantiated, as I expect we will hear from Bradford.

If it had any merit, it would have proved itself by now.

Proving something like that – or the opposite – is very difficult with such a complex issue.

“A report at the beginning of last year analysing the 2007 anti-smacking law, “Defying Human Nature: An Analysis of New Zealand’s 2007 Anti-Smacking Law”, found that there was not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that had shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law, and that the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents,” says Mr McCoskrie.

That report was done by Family First, who are about as biased as you could get on smacking law. The author was Bob McCoskrie, so he is quoting himself.

While he links the law and “significant or sustained improvement” and “the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents” he makes no claim about a verifiable link between the law change and levels of violence.

Police statistics show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007. CYF have had more than 1 million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found by CYF since 2007.

That proves nothing about the impact of the anti-smacking law. McCoskrie is linking the two by association but not with facts.

Sue Bradford also responded:  Winston Peters a ‘dangerous old man’ – Sue Bradford

Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the law, told The AM Show on Monday she was “horrified” by his recent comments.

“What he’s advocating is the return of the legalising of assault on our children, which is the last thing our kids need and the last thing the kids of Northland need.”

“He’s talking about this on the back of the incident up in Kaikohe recently with the young people rampaging.

“Those kids probably see far too much violence I’d suggest in their lives already, far too much poverty, unemployment, a lack of opportunities for their families in their part of the country.”

The 2007 law change removed the defence of “reasonable force” in cases where parents and caregivers were being prosecuted for assault on children.

“It’s helped massively to change the idea that actually parents and other adults responsible for children are legally entitled to use physical punishment on their kids, that sometimes led to quite serious assaults,” said Ms Bradford.

Repealing the law would send the wrong message, she believes.

“We’ve got ‘it’s not okay’ campaigns about beating our partners, our wives, but on the other hand, children don’t matter?”

So it could be an interesting discussion this morning between Bradford and Martin.

It will be especially interesting to see if either of them produce any evidence of impact of the law change.

 

Family First losing charity status

NZ Herald reports: Exclusive: Family First to lose charitable status

Family First is set to lose its charitable status, the Herald has exclusively learned.

The group was first notified by the Charities Registration Board in 2013 that its charitable status was in danger.

That was because the group advocated a controversial point of view, that was seen as lobbying for a political purpose.

The decision was challenged in court, and in 2015 the High Court ordered the Board to reconsider its decision.

The High Court decision did not rule on whether or not Family First was a charity.

The Herald understands that decision has now been reconsidered, and that the formal notification process is underway to tell Family First it is being deregistered as a charity.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said they’d be going straight to their legal team and instructing them to take the matter back to court.

“It may go as high as Supreme Court, because we’re not going to lie down on this one.

That may not be cheap, but neither will losing their charity status.

The Charities Registration Board has been more active over the last few years in reassessing the status of charities that also operate as political advocates or activists.

Claim that talk of euthanasia encourages suicides

Bob McCoskrie has made an odd claim about the euthanasia Parliamentary select committee discussions – he has suggested it is encouraging suicides, but he says there is no scientific basis for this.

NZ Herald: Talk of euthanasia encouraging suicides, conservative lobby group says

Bob McCoskrie, the national director for Family First, said today that suicides and attempted suicides appeared to peak every time Parliament debated a law change around assisted dying.

He acknowledged there was no scientific basis for his theory and that other factors could have contributed to the rise in suicides in 1995, 2003 and 2012, when Parliament considered bills or proposed bills on euthanasia.

“But it cannot ruled out that there is risk related to the increased publicity given to the idea of euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

Many things “can’t be ruled out” but making claims like this with nothing to substantiate it is poor in a submission from Family First.

It also can’t be ruled out that openly talking about euthanasia, and openly talking about suicide, helps lead to prevention of suicides.

McCoskrie made the comments to a select committee which is investigating public attitudes to voluntary euthanasia and deciding whether it should be legalised in New Zealand.

McCoskrie said any discussion of suicide should focus on prevention.

“In complete contrast, this inquiry is initiated and is driven by a desire to promote assisted suicide. You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide.”

The euthanasia discussions have only come up this year, and there are no recent statistics on suicide rates so it’s impossible to tell whether McCoskrie is right.

McCoskrie hasn’t attempted to analyse trends and patterns, but avoiding talking about suicide in public, as has been the norm in the past, has done nothing to stem the growing number of suicides in New Zealand.

When publishing items on suicide media commonly also publishes help line numbers and links to resources about suicide prevention. Trying to ignore a growing problem hasn’t worked.

And:

One of the committee’s members, Labour MP Louisa Wall, said his argument was “fundamentally flawed” because he did not differentiate between medically-assisted dying and suicide.

“I don’t see them as congruent,” she said. “There is a huge contrast between people who are facing imminent death and people who are hopeless or depressed.”

“To say that someone like [euthanasia advocate] Lecretia Seales was committing suicide is just wrong.”

But to some people, like McCoskrie, anything other than letting life and death take it’s natural course is wrong.

Except that medical interventions that prolong life seem to have become acceptable.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Marriage versus De Facto relationships

Family First claims that a drop in marriage rates is one of the main drivers of child poverty. I’m not sure they have this right.

Stuff: Lobby group Family First blames unmarried couples for child poverty

An unmarried couple with children is highly likely to be struggling in poverty, a conservative lobby group claims. 

The claim comes from a new report by researcher and artist Lindsay Mitchell, who said there was “overwhelming and incontrovertible” evidence that a drop in marriage rates was one of the main drivers of an increase in child poverty.

The glossy report, funded by conservative Christian lobby group Family First, looked at household income and family structures from the 1960s to the current day.

A heck of a lot has changed in New Zealand society since the 1960s. I have major doubts over marriage rates being such a big factor.

It states that with people having fewer children than in the past and people delaying birth until they were older, families should be better off financially, but that was not the case.

A lot of families are better off financially, especially those that have fewer children and have families when they are older.

“Despite marriage being the best protector against child poverty it has become politically unfashionable – some argue insensitive – to express such a view.

“But if there is to be any political will to solve child poverty the issue has to be confronted.”

Bollocks.

A stable family with two parents in a relationship and with a steady and reasonable level of income are certainly significant factors.

Whether the parents are married or not is largely irrelevant. Marriage is a legal document and a social custom but it has become optional and unnecessary for a good family environment.

Unsurprisingly, single-parent families were described as the poorest in New Zealand.

Single parent families are naturally going to find things tougher financially generally – although no always, a married couple with one partner an alcoholic or drug addict or in prison will tend towards being poorer.

But currently, 27 per cent of registered births were to cohabiting, or de facto, parents.

Mitchell said these relationships became less stable over time, the parents were poorer than married parents and separation by the time a child was aged five was four to six times greater than married parents.

I don’t see any reason why a de facto relationship should become more unstable over time than a marriage relationship.

A legal marriage will have little effect on the strength of a relationship.

Citing an Australian study, the report suggests married men earned a substantially higher wage than a cohabiting man and worked substantially longer hours.

But that could mean that higher earners were more likely to get married.

The cost of marriage can be a deterrent to poorer people.

I know of stable two parent families that put more priority on providing for their current needs than forking out thousands of dollars on a wedding that they would quite like but are happy to postpone.

But The Family Centre social policy researcher Charles Waldergrave said that to simply say that married people’s children were better off was a misuse of statistics.

“You can’t just correlate things and then start talking about causality, you just can’t do it that way.

“The fact that married people and people in de facto relationships earn different amounts of money doesn’t make it causal in terms of child poverty.”

That’s right.

Middle-class people were more likely to get married while de facto relationships were more common in lower-income households, but factors such as the economy affected both.

The main causes of child poverty was not a lack of marriages, but things like low incomes, the casualisation of work and the benefit system, he said.

“Poverty is essentially the access to resources and in a capitalist society that depends on income.”

And something that has changed significantly since the 1960s (fifty years ago) is we have become a far more consumerist society. This affects families whether parents are married or not.

The cost of weddings – how many people want to get married – is huge for lower income earners. Without the social pressure to get married it’s easy to postpone a spending spree that is actually unnecessary.  It’s an optional extra.

Mitchell said her aim with the research was not to ruffle feathers, but present information so it could be debated.

Many of those in de facto relationships were in their second and third relationships, supporting children from previous partners.

Remarriage and blended families with marriage involved are also common.

While cohabiting parents were more likely to have only one child, they were also more likely than married couples to have four or more.

Which means?

They were also much less stable than married couples, although Mitchell was unsure why.

That’s very poorly stated.

Many de facto relationships are as stable as many married relationships.

Of course some de facto relationships will be less stable than many married relationships, they can (but far from always) involve far less commitment.

If marriage was made compulsory it wouldn’t transform poor partners into reliable partners.

Poor partners are less likely to get married. It may be no more than that.

“Child poverty has become a really big issue and everyone is concerned about it…but we don’t hear anyone talking about the change in family structure.”

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie described the link between a drop in marriage and rise in child poverty as the “elephant in the room”.

“People would like to believe that there isn’t [a link] but unfortunately. the research shows de facto or cohabiting relationships are less stable.”

But in the 1960s it is very likely that shotgun weddings – or rushed marriages precipitated by pregnancy – would have had a higher proportion of  unstable relationships than carefully planned marriages and families.

As far as marriage is concerned probably all that has changed as the relationships least likely to endure never involve marriage any more.

A forced marriage with a dysfunctional relationship in which society puts pressure on for the  marriage to continue regardless of obvious problems – sometimes quite serious problems – is not a good solution.

Family First has raised some important issues – but if they really wanted debate rather than simply to promote their ideal of Marriage First then they would have presented their research without jumping to poorly supported solutions that simply fitted their last century world view.

New Zealand society has changed enormously over the last half century. Trying to force things back to some idealistic model of marriage is not a good way to address the obvious issues we currently have.

Encouraging and supporting better relationships and more responsible parenting- whether married or de facto – is surely a far better approach.

McCoskrie’s broken marriage

Bob McCoskrie thinks that marriage is broken in New Zealand.

Rejecting the State’s appointment to ‘marry’ people

Because I completely reject the definition of “marriage” which was rammed through by the politicians last year – what I call an ‘act of cultural vandalism’ – I have resigned as a State-sanctioned Marriage Celebrant.

I WILL STILL PERFORM MARRIAGE CEREMONIES FOR COUPLES. I completely believe in the purpose and sanctity of marriage – but it will be marriage as defined by culture, history and nature; not by politicians and political correctness. The couple can simply go to the local Registry Office if they wish to register their marriage in the eyes of the State and receive the State’s recognition and benefits (if there’s any benefits left!)

But it would be wrong of me – and perhaps even hypocritical of me – to allow myself to be appointed by the State to carry out that duty while rejecting the distorted definition that the State has adopted. In my view, marriage will always maintain its cultural, natural and historical definition of the lifetime commitment of one man one woman. The real meaning will never change.

I’m not against anybody. I’m simply FOR the institution of marriage which has stood the test of time – and which we ‘play with’ at our peril.
Bob McCoskrie

He doesn’t want to marry some people, fair enough. I doubt any of those people would be interested in asking him to marry them, they will find someone appropriate and willing to do that.

Everyone should be happy with that.

Perhaps even McCoskrie when he finds out how happy it makes people who are now able to get married like the rest of us.

Anti-Christian conspiracy

 

Some Christians seem to think they are being targeted and persecuted. As blogged on Blaming it on the marriage bill there are comments around social media that suggest any gay news, especially any gay complaints, are evidence of the slippery slope to moral decay and suppression of Christianity that some said the Marriage Bill would trigger.

There seems to be an anti-Christian conspiracy growing, as this blog post illustrates:

Family First is not the first NZ charity to be targeted by the state for the views it holds

McCoskrie rightly points out that: “this is evidence that groups that think differently to the prevailing politically correct view will be targeted in an attempt to shut them up”, and that your country “is in trouble when a family group speaking up, publishing research, and holding conferences on traditional family values is deemed to be of no public benefit, and is in the public interest to be punished.”

Now just in case you think that this is an isolated incident, you need to think again.

I know for a fact that another NZ charity was interrogated about its views on certain issues pertaining to abortion and homosexuality by the Charities Commission several months before the gay marriage bill was even drawn from the ballot.

Make no mistake about it, NZ has been captured by certain ideological interests which are more than willing to use the mechanisms of the state against anyone who dares to publicly dissent or express contrary views.

And if you want to blame Helen Clark’s Labour-led government for this you need to think again. The current charities commission was the brainchild of United Future’s Peter Dunne, and that both of these incidents took place during the second term of the current National-led government.

And…

If this targeting of Family First is allowed to proceed, then such acts of state persecution of those deemed to be ideological dissidents will only get worse in this country with each passing year.

And it won’t matter which political flavor of government happens to hold power, because ultimately this is about the false idea that the state or popular opinion, and not truth, should determine right from wrong, and how the state wields its authority.

Welcome to the new order NZ.

This seems to be playing the “poor us” Christian card a bit much.

The Charities Commission operates under Acts of Parliament. The laws are applied regardless of religion. Any organisation operating primarily as a political lobby group won’t qualify as a charity. Greenpeace were unregistered. That will have as much to do with homosexuality as the Family First deregistration.

A comment just posted by cossackstomper   at Kiwiblog:

Well this is what happens when you let the Poof out of the bottle. The flow of sewage is everlasting next they will say its illegal to be straight or have straight weddings in a church. There are number of very viscous gay extremists who will stop at nothing to try and prove they are normal .When the whole world know they are anything but normal

That’s more extreme than most but that general message is becoming common.

Another, by the aptly named ‘krazykiwi’:

I think we’ll find that interpretation of charitable status will be open & flexible in support of progressive/liberal causes, and rigid in blocking conservative causes.

God help them.

Family First stripped of charity status

Newstalk ZB report:

Family First no longer a charity

Disappointment from the Family First group, following news it’s about to have its charitable status taken away.

Family First says the commission is listing the group’s view of one-man, one-woman marriage as a reason for de-registering it.

The group’s national director Bob McCoskrie says it seems almost illegal to hold a viewpoint.

“Whichever side of the fence you’re on in any debate should be concerned that Charities Commission deems it to be uncharitable to speak up for a public interest issue.”

Family First doesn’t say what other reasons have been given, but they seem to have become more of a political campaign organisation than a charity. From their web page:

They also say:

Registered Charity
Our Charity Registration number is: CC10094. For further details, please click here for link to Charities Commission website.

That link doesn’t work, I don’t know if that’s due to the de-registering (it is reported to take effect from 27th May) or if it was a bad link.

The Charities Commission on Charitable purpose:

Charitable purpose has a special meaning in law. We use examples to illustrate the treatment of charitable purpose under the Charities Act.

Section 5(1) of the Charities Act 2005 says that “charitable purpose” “…includes every charitable purpose, whether it relates to the relief of poverty, the advancement of education or religion, or any other matter beneficial to the community.” The law surrounding charitable purposes is 400 years old. It has been developed over time mainly by judges’ decisions in court cases.

“Charitable purpose” has a special meaning in law. It may include some purposes the public would not consider to be charitable and it may exclude other purposes the public would consider to be charitable. We will compare the purposes and activities set out in your rules or governing document and the activities listed in your application form against the meaning of “charitable purpose” in section 5(1) of the Charities Act.

How will we know whether our organisation has a “charitable purpose”?

We assess each application we receive on a case-by-case basis, with reference to decisions made in earlier court cases, to decide whether the organisation applying has a “charitable purpose”.

In order for a purpose to be charitable, it must —

  • fall within one of the four charitable purposes set out in section 5(1) of the Charities Act and
  • provide a public benefit and
  • not be aimed at creating private financial profit.

In some cases, a specific Act of Parliament will state that the purposes of a particular organisation are charitable. See more in depth examples

Family First – ‘About Us’ :

“New Zealanders need a voice that can research and advocate for strong families and safe communities, which is why we started Family First.”

Family First will:

  • be a voice for the family in the media speaking up about issues relating to families that are in the public domain
  • promote and advance research and policy supporting marriage and family as foundational to a strong and enduring society
  • participate in social analysis and debate surrounding issues relating to and affecting the family being promoted by academics, policy makers, social service organisations and media, and to network with other like-minded groups and academics
  • produce and publish relevant and stimulating material in newspapers, magazines, and other media relating to issues affecting families
  • speak from a family friendly perspective with an emphasis on the Judeo-Christian values which have benefited New Zealand for generations.