What Would the Average Hourly Wage Be in New Zealand If Wages Had Kept Up With House Prices?

New Zealand is torn by inter-generational tension right now. The young have no hope of finding houses they can afford and the old simply blame them for being too lazy to work hard enough to afford one. However, the numbers show that workers today get a much worse deal than they did 30 years ago. This article looks at what the average wage in New Zealand would be if it had kept pace with the price of houses since the late 1980s.

This graph from the Trading Economics website tracks the increase in the New Zealand Average Hourly Wage over the past 30 years. We can see that the average hourly wage in New Zealand, as of the beginning of 2018, is $31.03. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand website contains many interesting statistics and graphs, many of which can be downloaded from this link. This article will combine both sources.

In March of 2001, the House Price Index (from the RBNZ link above) stood at 700.2. At this time, the average hourly wage was $17.70. So if a person wished to purchase a $300,000 house, suitable for a growing family, they would have to have capital equal to 16,949 hours of work at the average wage.

According to this article by Human Resources Director, Kiwis work an average of 1,762 hours a year (this figure was for 2014, but for cultural reasons this figure does not change much over time). This means that, in March of 2001, buying a house suitable for raising a family in required capital equal to 9.62 years of full-time work at the average wage.

How does that compare to today?

After seventeen years of red-hot growth, the House Price Index now stands at 2480.8. This represents an increase of 254% over those seventeen years, and it means that a $300,000 house in March 2001 now costs $1,062,000 (all growth factors assumed equal). As mentioned above, the average hourly wage in New Zealand has increased from $17.70 in that time to $31.03, which represents an increase of 75%.

In other words, in January of 2018, buying a $1,062,000 house, suitable for raising a family in, requires capital equal to 34,224 hours of working at the average hourly wage. This is equivalent to 19.42 years of work at the average hourly wage.

We can see, then, that when measured in terms of a person’s ability to purchase a house suitable for raising a family in, the average New Zealander is less than half as wealthy as they were only 17 years ago. To have the same house buying power that it had in 2001, an average wage in New Zealand would now have to be $62.65 per hour.

People working in 1989 – when the majority of Baby Boomers would have been in the workforce – had it even better still. In December of 1989 the House Price Index stood at 453.5; the average hourly wage stood at $13.07 in the first quarter of that year.

So our standard family home that cost $300,000 in 2001 cost a mere 64.8% of that price in 1989, whereas the average wage in 1989 was 73.8% of what it was in 2001. Put another way, the average house suitable for raising a family in cost $194,400 in 1989, which represented capital equal to 14,873 hours of labour at the average wage. This was equivalent to a mere 8.44 years of saved labour.

The average house price has gone up 447% over the past 30 years in New Zealand; the average hourly wage has gone up 137% in that time. So to have the same house-buying power as the average New Zealand worker in 1989, a Kiwi in 2018 would have to get paid $71.50 an hour. This would allow them to buy a decent house after saving around 14,000 hours of the average wage, which is the standard of living that the average worker had in 1989.

In summary, the average New Zealand worker has lost almost 60% of the house-buying power of their wage over the past 30 years.

Buying a decent house in 2018 costs savings equal to 19.42 years of work at the average wage; 30 years ago buying an equivalent quality of housing cost savings equal to 8.44 years of work. So if a Kiwi left home at age 18 in 1970 and saved half of their income on the average wage they could own a house by age 35; a Kiwi who left home at age 18 in the year 2000 and saved half of their income on the average wage can’t expect to own one before they turn 57.

Despite tiny relative savings on consumer electronics, it’s obvious that the standard of living for young people is much lower nowadays than it was 30 years ago. The fact that wages haven’t come close to keeping up with housing costs is the main culprit.

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Dan McGlashan is the man with his finger on the statistical pulse of New Zealand. His magnum opus, Understanding New Zealand, is the complete demographic analysis of the Kiwi people. Available on TradeMe for $35.60.

Who Owns The New Zealand Media?

Whoever owns the New Zealand media sets the public narrative in this country – do we know who that is?

In more sophisticated countries, informed citizens go to considerable lengths to detect any biases among the people reporting the news. This is necessary to make sure that one develops a balanced, nuanced and independent opinion. Kiwis don’t generally bother with such things, preferring instead to believe everything we’re told like the good little lambs we are – except for this article.

It’s often remarked upon, by foreign visitors, that New Zealanders blindly believe everything they hear in the news. Conditioned into obedience by a brutal state education system that encourages bullying, social and emotional abuse, Kiwis are too afraid to question anything even vaguely resembling an authority, such as a television.

Given that we don’t question what the media is trying to tell us, it’s worthwhile figuring out who owns our media, because these same people effectively own our beliefs and opinions. In other words, let’s find out who own our minds.

We can find a ranked list of the major players in New Zealand cyberspace from Alexa. The two major internet portals in New Zealand are the New Zealand Herald and Stuff. You could confidently argue that the New Zealand online mediascape was an effective duopoly, with NZH and Stuff the only real players.

New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) controls the New Zealand Herald brand, ranked by Alexa as the 9th biggest website in New Zealand. NZME is a large media conglomerate (by NZ standards, anyway), as can be seen from the list of newspapers they own at the bottom of their company page.

Finding out who owns NZME is not straightforward, because they are a publicly traded company on both the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges. Helpfully, their own investor relations page lists their top 20 shareholders, but this doesn’t lead very far. All of the major shareholders are banks or holding companies for banks.

Number one on the list is Citicorp Nominees Pty Ltd, which is based in Sydney. According to Bloomberg, this company is a subsidiary of Citicorp Pty Ltd, which has been incorporated since 1954 and “provides a range of banking and financial products and services to retail, small business, corporate, and institutional clients primarily in Australia.”

One would think that this would surely be the end of the trail, but no. Citicorp Pty Ltd is itself a subsidiary, this time of Citigroup Holding (Singapore) Private Limited. This too, is a subsidiary: of Citigroup Asia Pacific Holding LLC, itself a subsidiary of Citi International Investments Bahamas Limited, itself a subsidiary of Citi Overseas Holdings Bahamas Limited, a child entity of Citigroup Inc.

Citigroup is a gigantic American bank, one large enough to be considered “too big to fail”, with its origins in the City Bank of New York, chartered in 1812. The closest Citigroup has to an owner, at 7.06% of the shareholding, is Vanguard Inc., “One of the world’s largest investment management companies” (as per their company page). In second place, at 4.76% of the shareholding, is State Street Corporation, another investment management bank. Third, with 4.51%, is BlackRock Inc., yet another global investment management corporation.

So that line of investigation doesn’t lead to any specific names, but neither is it any easier trying to figure out who is behind any of the other of New Zealand Media and Entertainment’s major shareholders.

J P Morgan Nominees Australia Ltd is at third place on the NZME shareholder’s list, with 12.69%. Finding out out who owns JP Morgan Nominees Australia Ltd is no easy task, as the article linked here demonstrates. One passage from the linked article reads “Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to track down the identities of those underlying shareholders through the various financial structures that hold shares for each other and on behalf of each other.”

If it’s practically impossible to find out who owns NZME, what about finding out who owns Stuff, the 3rd largest website in New Zealand?

Investigating this is just a shorter path to the same place. The Stuff brand is owned by Fairfax New Zealand Limited, a subsidiary of Fairfax Media Ltd., which is also publicly traded on the ASX. As it turns out, the second-largest shareholder of Fairfax Media Ltd. is none other than Vanguard Inc.

They only own 2.26% of the shares, however, so can only give us a clue as to the ownership of Fairfax Media Ltd. Looking down the list of funds and institutions that own shares in Fairfax, there’s little more than a pile of asset management companies, wealth funds and banks. As with Vanguard, BlackRock also appears on the list of major owners of both Citigroup and Fairfax Media Ltd.

The story with television media is little different to the story just described with print and online media. The New Zealand television market is, like the print and online media markets, an effective duopoly between Television New Zealand (TVNZ) and MediaWorks New Zealand.

TVNZ is Government-owned, but is almost entirely funded by commercials and is therefore little different to any other commercial broadcaster. MediaWorks New Zealand, for its part, is entirely owned by Oaktree Capital Management, which is (you guessed it) another global investment and wealth management fund.

In summary, no-one has any fucking idea who owns the New Zealand media, apart from the small niche carved out by TVNZ and the independents. Trying to pin it down to any one person is like trying to catch shadows in a jar. The best one can say is that the New Zealand media is ultimately controlled by global wealth management funds and corporations and their nominated representatives.

Being owned by such institutions tells us that the New Zealand media is run for profit and probably has little agenda other than commercial. In other words, there is little in the way of direct political propaganda or slanted editorial content, but one can expect the quality of the journalism to degrade to that which appeals to the lowest common denominator in society. Indeed, it has.

The astute reader will have drawn a connection between all of this bank ownership and the never-ending series of “I became a homeowner at age 21”-style stories. The reason for this is the banks benefit directly from a shallow, consumerist, disposable culture in which it’s considered normal for people move away from their parents and get a massive mortgage so that they can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of interest to a gigantic, parasitic investment corporation.

In other words, the owners of the New Zealand media directly make money from consumerist culture, in particular from people taking out loans to buy shit that they don’t need. This is why all manner of wasteful, extravagant and unnecessary consumer purchases are advertised, and normalised, by the New Zealand media.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

The 2017 New Zealand Political Whores Index

A bar chart of the Political Whores Index, calculated as votes received in the 2017 General Election per $1,000 spent

The New Zealand Electoral Commission has now returned its list of party expenses for the 2017 General Election. This enables us here at VJM Publishing to update 2014’s Political Whores Index. 2017’s Political Whores Index tells us who tried to earn a place in Parliament, and who tried to buy one.

The logic of the Political Whores Index works like this. Political parties spend money at election time to get media exposure, because the more media exposure a party gets, the more votes it gets. This is usually easier and cheaper than actually talking to people and hearing their concerns. Effectively, parties just turn on the media funding tap and votes come out.

The correlation between dollars spent on campaign expenses for the 2017 General Election and votes received is 0.95, which pretty much tells us that our democracy is for sale. The more money you can spend, the more votes, is the hard and fast rule.

So all of our political parties are whores, but it can be said that the more money a party spends and the fewer votes they get, the more of a whore they are. This can be considered whoring because the parties that do it try to buy votes by transmitting a manufactured impression through the media, rather than honestly trying to build goodwill among the people by meeting and talking to them so that they can form their own impression.

This willingness to whore oneself out instead of honestly building a positive reputation among the New Zealand people can be expressed as a ratio of dollars spent on election expenses to votes returned by the populace. As was true of our effort in 2014, which saw the ACT party crowned the whoriest party in New Zealand and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party the most honest one, we will present those ratios in an ordered list.

In the following table, PWI stands for ‘Political Whores Index’ and is calculated by dividing the number of votes each party received in the 2017 General Election by the declared party expenses for each party contesting the 2017 General Election (in dollars), multiplying the remainder by 1,000, then rounding to the nearest whole number.

In other words, it represents the number of votes won per $1,000 spent.

PARTY $ SPENT VOTES PWI
ALCP 1696 8075 4761
National 2546742 1152075 452
Ban1080 7749 3005 388
Labour 2580523 956184 371
NZ First 679095 186706 275
Internet 2322 499 215
MANA 17921 3642 203
Greens 818525 162443 198
United Future 12963 1782 137
Maori 225552 30580 136
Conservative 71764 6253 87
TOP 1013714 63261 62
Democrats 13761 806 59
NZ Outdoors Party 43508 1620 37
ACT 601487 13075 22
NZ People’s Party 274541 1890 7

For the second election running, the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party was, by far, the least whoriest of all the parties that contested in 2017. They returned a staggering 4,761 votes for every $1,000 spent – unarguable evidence that cannabis law reform is an issue that the New Zealand people are demanding. As shown elsewhere, cannabis law reform is the issue that unites real Kiwis.

No other party achieved so much as 10% of this ratio. Many will be surprised to hear that the National Party was second, with 452 votes for every $1,000 spent. In short, the electorate wasn’t particularly displeased with how National was running things, despite that National lost power. Yes, there was widespread misery among the poor and we have the highest youth suicide rate in the world, but people who vote don’t care much about that.

The Ban 1010 Party was 3rd, just edging out Labour, who won 371 votes for every $1,000 spent. It’s curious, perhaps, that Labour and National are both doing quite well by this measure, as they are both mainstream parties. But this simply speaks further to how there was no real appetite for change among Kiwis. People weren’t particularly interested in upsetting the apple cart.

The New Zealand First Party did moderately well, gathering 271 votes per $1,000 spent. Unlike 2014, this was considerably poorer than the National and Labour parties, probably reflecting Winston Peters’s decline as a public speaker, as many of their votes in 2014 were gained through town hall meetings.

The Green Party were the whoriest of the four major parties. They only got 198 votes per $1,000 spent. So they spent about as third as much as National for about one-seventh of the votes. This tells us that the electorate has partially turned against the Green Party message, despite their strong support of the cannabis law reform issue. It may have been that the Green proposal to raise the refugee quota drove a lot of Maori and working class voters to Labour and New Zealand First.

The Opportunities Party was a poor return on investment, although as it was essentially a vanity project it could not be said to have failed simply on that basis. With wall-to-wall saturation coverage on FaceBook and other Internet portals, they spent over a million dollars for a little over 60,000 votes, thereby achieving a PWI of 62 votes for every $1,000 spent.

It’s illuminating to compare the PWI of The Opportunities Party with that of the ALCP. The Opportunities Party spent almost 600 times as much as the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, and won less than 8 times the number of voters. Considering that most TOP voters were voting for legal cannabis anyway, this figure shows that TOP was really a joke party that tried to buy its way into Parliament.

Speaking of joke parties that try to buy their way into Parliament, the Conservative Party scored a PWI of 87, only slightly better than TOP. This tells us that the 5% threshold is really an outstanding idea, because it prevents wealthy, narcissistic freaks from assembling a coterie of arselickers and simply spending so much money on media exposure that they can brainwash the mentally weakest twenty thousand of the population into casting a vote for them.

Worst of all, however, was the New Zealand People’s Party. Also the vanity project of a rich Baby Boomer, they pissed away over quarter of a million dollars for a paltry 1,890 votes. This left them with a PWI of 7, which means that their message was 660 times less appealing to the New Zealand people (all factors equalised) than that of the ALCP.

MANA (203), United Future (137) and the Maori Party (136) all had reasonably poor PWIs, but were still significantly higher than the “fuckwit” parties.

Ultimately, the Political Whores Index suggests that the New Zealand people are quite happy with our current arrangement of two major parties and two minor ones, because none of the more radical parties were able to gain any particularly high level of traction for their amount of electoral spending. It was mostly dollars in, votes out.

Just give us some real cannabis law reform.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Should There Be A Ministry of Men’s Affairs?

Life is so much harder for men in New Zealand that they kill themselves at almost three times the rate of women

Many people were shocked, and many were not, by Julie Anne Genter’s comments this week about old white men. Speaking to Cobham Intermediate School pupils, Genter made the point that some of these old white men “need to move on and allow for diversity and new talent.” These statements were made in her capacity as Minister for Women, but if you look at the statistics, it seems like there’s more need for a Minister for Men.

The reason for a Ministry of Women’s Affairs was ostensibly to close the gaps between the well-being of women and men. Since the advent of Abrahamic religion in the West, women have been forced into a subservient role, being forced to take the blame for the fall of man as well as for invoking the horror of Nature. Biblical passages such as Timothy 2:12 instructed Christendom that “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet.”

Ever since these male supremacist religious cults invaded the West, our women have been forced to endure structural abuse. Divorce was banned, forcing women to endure permanent relationships with violent men. Prostitution was banned, denying women natural opportunity for economic advancement. Abortion was banned, forcing women to carry unwanted children to term or else risk a back-alley abortion from a “doctor” with no licence.

By any objective measurement, women had the worst of it for a very long time, and, when we realised this, we tried to make up for it with things like feminism and Ministries for Women’s Affairs. What we’ve been slow to realise is that, now that advantage is mostly a matter of obedience to the political, educational and commerical authorities, women have it better than men in many regards.

Most obviously, women have a much easier time of things in academic settings. Page 38 of the document linked in this paragraph demonstrates that women get better grades in literacy, and page 42 shows that they also get better grades in numeracy. This disparity is even worse for men at university level, which New Zealand women are 40% more likely to participate in.

When men had higher university participation rates than women, the media couldn’t keep quiet about how sexist and evil this state of affairs was. Indeed, this was one of the stated reasons for bringing in a Ministry of Women’s Affairs in the first place. An inequality of outcome in terms of education and gender was simply impermissible, immoral, outrageous.

In 2015, 527 New Zealanders killed themselves, of who 384 were men (72.8%). That means for every Kiwi woman who feels so rejected by society that she is compelled to take her own life, there are almost three Kiwi men who feel the same way. This is greater than the gap between Maori and non-Maori suicide rates, which is itself considered a large enough gap to be a national tragedy that demands immediate action (indeed, there is a Ministry of Maori Development).

So if society is so bad for Maori people that they need their own Ministry, as evidenced by suicide rates, and if society was so bad for women that they needed their own Ministry, as evidenced by tertiary participation rates, then surely there is sufficient cause to say that New Zealand men need someone looking out for them as well?

It’s absurd to claim that women are disadvantaged compared to men because men earn 20% more, when at the same time men are killing themselves at almost 300% the rate of women. It’s doubly absurd when it’s considered that women are benefitting immensely from the way that the pension system is set up, at the expense of predominantly male workers.

If the experience of being a man in New Zealand is so much less pleasant than the experience of being a woman that it carries triple the risk of suicide, it’s time to take steps to redress the balance by instituting a Ministry of Men’s Affairs to make up for all the privilege that women hold.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Henry Nicholls is Legitimately Good – Time to Accept It

Hammerin’ Hank Nicholls is inviting comparisons to Andrew Jones with his bulldog tenacity, scoring solid runs despite an ungainly style

Fewer Black Caps players in recent times have come in for more stick than Henry Nicholls. Frequently derided as a passenger, many commentators have been calling for Hesson to get rid of him for good. This article will argue that not only is Nicholls a legitimately good batsman already, but we ought to accept that he’ll be in the Black Caps for a very long time.

Black Caps supporters have been spoiled rotten in recent years. We have Kane Williamson averaging 51, Ross Taylor averaging 47, and a bunch of players like Tom Latham, Jeet Raval and BJ Watling averaging around 40. It’s probably our best ever batting lineup, even surpassing the Wright-Jones-Crowe one of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

It’s so good that we’ve failed to appreciate the quality record that’s slowly being established by our incumbent No. 5, Canterbury’s Henry Nicholls. After 17 Tests, Nicholls has 837 runs at 38.04 – not spectacular on the face of things, but if we look deeper there are some very encouraging trends in those numbers, not least an average of 49.25 over his last ten Tests.

The vast majority of quality international batsmen don’t hit the ground running, as it takes a while to adapt to the top level of the game. Let’s contrast Nicholls’s returns after 17 Tests to the great Kiwi batsmen: Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Martin Crowe et al. After 17 Tests, Williamson averaged a mere 29.80; Crowe 24.88. Taylor did not get thrown in the deep end as young as Williamson and Crowe, but after 17 Tests he was barely ahead of Nicholls, at 39.46.

Tom Latham’s average after 17 Tests was also 39. All this tells us that, even by way of comparison to New Zealand’s best, Nicholls stacks up pretty good. Some might criticise his style, but he’s scoring the runs. Leaving aside the overall numbers, Nicholls has succeeded in playing a number of excellent innings in tough conditions.

His first excellent innings may have been the 116 he scored in the Second Test of South Africa’s 2017 tour to New Zealand. Nicholls came in at 21/3 after the dismissal of Neil Broom and scored a counter-attacking 116. The Black Caps still lost, but Nicholls’s maiden Test century came against incredibly skilled bowling that had already done early damage.

Less heralded is Nicholls’s 76 in this Test against South Africa in South Africa. The Black Caps lost heavily – the reason why Nicholls’s effort is not feted – but it would have been a humiliating loss were it not for the 76 he scored in the Black Caps’ second innings, coming in at 7/4 after Williamson had edged a cut to slip. 76 runs might not be many, but coming in on a tricky wicket against superb bowling when his team’s top order had been obliterated, it was an innings of exquisite skill.

The crowning work was of course this week’s 145* against James Anderson and Stuart Broad, on a pitch where England had been dismissed for 58 and no other batsman had passed 33 aside from Kane Williamson. Anderson came into the match as the world’s No. 1 Test bowler and with conditions expected to suit him, but neither he nor Stuart Broad succeeded in dismissing the Black Caps No. 5.

If one considers these innings in tough conditions alongside Nicholls’s generally excellent shot selection, it seems like he has all the tools, including the most important one – the right mind for the game. His numbers might not be outstanding, and no-one’s claiming that he’s going to be another Williamson, but if he keeps improving at this rate he could fashion an excellent career.

It’s time for Black Caps fans to accept that Henry Nicholls belongs alongside Williamson, Taylor, Latham and BJ Watling as an established batsman in this Black Caps Test side.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Tim Southee, Mike Hesson and the Sunk Cost Fallacy

Matt Henry has a better ODI strike rate with the ball than even Shane Bond, but can’t make the current Black Caps ODI side over players with much worse numbers

A sunk cost is an economic concept that refers to an expense that has been already paid for, so that this expense is irrecoverable. It sounds unremarkable, but sunk costs do funny things to the human brain. The Sunk Cost Fallacy, and a little game theory, may help explain why Mike Hesson refuses to make the hard call and drop Tim Southee for Matt Henry in the Black Caps ODI playing XI.

The Sunk Cost Fallacy is an example of a reasoning error that is commonly made when sunk costs are involved. It refers to when people do something irrational because they have sunk costs (in the form of money, time or energy) into a line of reasoning already.

The common example given is the Concorde project, during which the French and British governments realised that the project would never make economic sense, but which they continued with anyway on the grounds that they didn’t want to waste their sunk cost.

This is a well-known phenomenon in economics because it often leads to horrific waste, particularly when people throw good money after bad in the hope that their initial investment will be recouped (it’s also a well-known phenomenon in poker when players go broke). As far as Mike Hesson is concerned, the same psychological process may be occurring with his obstinate refusal to elevate Matt Henry to the opening bowler’s position alongside Trent Boult.

Southee is only 29 years old, but he has been playing for ages. He debuted as a teenager, and looked incredibly promising with a five-wicket haul and a run-a-ball 77 in a Test against England. Since then, New Zealand Cricket have invested substantial resources in him, giving him every opportunity to take the new ball against all comers. No less an authority than Allen Donald touted Southee as potentially a great swing bowler, but it’s hard to deny the raw numbers.

The numbers argue confidently that Southee is not as good as Henry (in ODIs at least), and probably never has been.

Since the loss to Australia in the final of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, Southee has averaged 42.77 with the ball. He has taken 45 wickets in this time frame at an economy rate of 5.72. Henry has taken 44 wickets at an economy rate of 5.81, which is similar, but has an average of 28.13 thanks to a strike rate of 29.

This is, amazingly, a better strike rate than Shane Bond managed over his career (29.2), and means that Henry has been 50% more likely to take a wicket on any given ball than Southee during this time.

Southee is striking at 44.8 since the last Cricket World Cup, and has not taken four wickets in an innings since then, despite playing in 38 games. Henry has only played in 25 matches since the final loss but has already managed three four-wicket bags and one five-wicket bag in that time – only one of each fewer than Southee has managed in a 132-match career.

In fact, Southee has not managed to get four wickets in an innings one time in the last three years, whereas Henry took four wickets in his last match.

Mike Hesson might be thinking here in terms of potential, in that, theoretically, Southee has the potential to be another Jimmy Anderson. Like Southee, Anderson is also tall, bowls with an open stance and relies on swinging the ball to nick batsmen out. Also like Southee, the Englishman didn’t achieve anything particularly special in his first 132 ODIs, returning an average of 30.18 for his 179 wickets.

But in 43 matches since the start of 2012, Anderson has taken 65 wickets at an average of 23.97. Hesson might be expecting a similar transformation to come over Southee, but it’s also very possible that he has invested so much time and energy in Southee that he sees this investment as a sunk cost that he is compelled to recoup.

A solution that would save everyone’s face would be to demote Southee to third seamer. This would be the best of all worlds for everyone except for Lockie Ferguson, who would then struggle for a starting berth.

The positives are that it would allow Boult and Henry, with the best strike rates, to bowl with the new ball when they are the most effective, and it would allow Southee to utilise his skill set of varied deliveries at the death while minimising his weaknesses of being slow and inaccurate. Southee also has 33 wickets as third seamer, averaging an entirely acceptable 28.18 (compared to over 35 while opening). It seems like a solution whose time has come.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Understanding New Zealand: Turnout Rate in 2017

The turnout rate in the 2014 General Election was 77.9%, and at the time of the 2017 General Election this had climbed to 79.3%. This is not a huge change, but care must be taken not to be misled. Just because the overall turnout rate was about the same does not mean that the turnout rates of the various demographics within New Zealand society all remained the same. This article examines the deeper trends.

The most striking thing about the turnout rates in the 2017 General Election is that, despite the alarm about the huge numbers of immigrants New Zealand has absorbed in recent years, the election marked a sharp increase in turnout rate among the New Zealand-born.

The correlation between being New Zealand-born and turnout rate became much more positive from 2014 to 2017, from a significantly negative -0.24 to -0.10. This is arguably the story of the election and explains how we ended up with a nationalist party holding the balance of power.

Among the four major parties, the correlation with turnout rate and voting for a particular party remained very similar from 2014 to 2017 for National (0.76 to 0.75), Labour (-0.70 to -0.72) and the Greens (0.28 to 0.27). These slight falls were balanced by a fairly strong increase for New Zealand First (-0.09 to -0.02).

This doesn’t necessarily mean that there was a swing towards New Zealand First – it just means that the sort of person who is a New Zealand First supporter was more likely to vote this time around. Who they actually voted for requires further analysis.

If we look at the ethnic demographics, we can see that the correlation between being of a certain race and turnout rate between 2014 and 2017 strengthened for Kiwis of European descent (from 0.71 to 0.81) and for Maoris (from -0.75 to -0.68). These are the two ethnic groups most likely to support New Zealand First.

Pacific Islanders and Asians, who were more likely to be born overseas, were less likely to turn out to vote. The correlation between being a Pacific Islander and turnout rate was -0.58 in 2017, out from -0.44 in 2014, which makes them now almost as disenfranchised as Maoris. The correlation between being Asian and turnout rate was -0.22 in 2017, out from -0.10.

One reason for this is that even though large numbers of immigrants have turned up in New Zealand recently, many of these newcomers don’t seem to feel much of a connection with the country and so are not motivated to vote.

Where it gets complicated is that the correlation between median age and turnout rate increased from 2014 to 2017, from 0.77 to 0.79. This means that the people who voted this time around were older, and older people tend to vote National – but these voters did not vote National.

The correlation between being aged 20-29 and turnout rate became a lot more negative from 2014 to 2017, from -0.21 to -0.26. The correlation between being aged 30-49 and turnout rate followed a similar pattern, weakening from 0.21 to 0.13. The predictable result of this is older people voting more, and indeed we can see that the correlation between being aged 50-64 and turnout rate increased from 0.70 in 2014 to 0.73 in 2017, while the correlation between being aged 65+ and turnout rate increased from 0.64 in 2014 to 0.67 in 2017.

Unsurprisingly, then, the correlation between being on the pension and turnout rate increased from 2014 to 2017 (from 0.50 to 0.56). In fact, all of the benefit types apart from the student allowance also strengthened. The correlation between being on the invalid’s benefit and turnout rate strengthened from -0.53 in 2014 to -0.43 in 2017, and the correlation between being on the unemployment benefit and turnout rate strengthened from -0.76 in 2014 to -0.72 in 2017.

This is supported by the fact that voters were more likely to be New Zealand-born in 2017, because there is a significant correlation between being New Zealand-born and being on a benefit.

More information comes from noting that several correlations between belonging to privileged demographic categories and turnout rate decreased from 2014 to 2017. This applied to people working in information media and telecommunications (0.06 to -0.01), financial and insurance services (0.08 to 0.01) and professional and scientific services (0.28 to 0.23). Also, the correlation between having never smoked tobacco and turnout rate fell from 0.35 in 2014 to 0.25 in 2017.

On the other hand, the correlations between more working-class occupations and turnout rate increased, most strikingly so in the occupations that involved the most personal contact. The correlation between working in a particular occupation and turnout rate increased from 2014 to 2017 in the case of education and training (-0.10 to -0.03), healthcare and social assistance (-0.04 to 0.05), arts and recreation services (0.04 to 0.09) and hospitality (-0.09 to -0.01).

A poorer cross-section of the population turned out to vote in 2017, which is another clue as to where Labour won. All of the correlations between being in an income band below $70K and turnout rate strengthened from 2014 to 2017, and all of the correlations between being in an income band above $100K and turnout rate weakened from 2014 to 2017. The correlation between being in the $70-100K income bracket and turnout rate remained exactly the same, at 0.38.

Another striking correlation is that between being part-time employed and turnout rate, which rose sharply from 0.45 to 0.58 between 2014 and 2017. This, coupled with what we know about income brackets and turnout rate, suggests that it was the people on the margins between doing well and doing poorly who shifted from National to Labour. It may be that these people saw the promise of the country being lost, or felt that they missed out on all the loot of the last nine years.

Perhaps the clearest sign of where National lost the election comes from the correlations with the flag referendum. The correlation between voting National in 2017 and voting to change the flag in the second flag referendum was an extremely strong 0.93, which tells us that it was pretty much only National voters to wanted to change the flag to the National Party version.

These National Party supporters, being generally well enfranchised, have very high turnout rates. The correlation between turnout rate in 2014 and voting to change the flag was 0.75, exactly the same as the one between turnout rate in 2017 and voting to change the flag. However, the correlation between turnout rate in the second flag referendum and turnout rate in the general election increased from 2014 (0.86) to 2017 (0.92).

This suggests that many of the new people who voted in the 2017 General Election but did not vote in the 2014 one were Labour supporters who came from generally National-supporting demographics (i.e. wealthy but not too wealthy, old but not quite a pensioner, white, employed and part-time employed, male). Had they been National supporters, the correlation between turnout rate and voting to change the flag would have increased from 2014 to 2017, because the vast bulk of people who wanted to change the flag were National supporters.

We can say that it was here that the centre, and thereby the 2017 General Election, was lost by the National Party.

*

The second edition of Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, was published by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2017/18. It contains all the analysis of Kiwi voting patterns and demographics you could ever want!

The 10 Most Uncorrelated Pairs of Things in New Zealand Society

The third part of Dan McGlashan’s Understanding New Zealand contains an index of all the 11,628 correlations considered in the writing of the first two parts of the book. There are so many of these that the index has to go to three decimal places in order to properly distinguish them from each other. Even then, there are some pairs of variables that are so perfectly uncorrelated that they go down to weaker than 0.000 – as this article examines.

This data was collected from the Electorate Profiles that can be found on the Parliamentary Library website, and then entered into a Statistica database from which a correlation matrix was calculated. These ten pairs of variables represent the least correlated things in New Zealand society.

9=. 0.0007, Voting New Zealand First in 2014 and Being of European descent

New Zealand First gets much more support from Maori electorates than most people realise. Their level of support among Maoris declined in 2017 but in 2014 it was strong enough that there was no correlation between voting New Zealand First and being white.

9=. -0.0007, Voting Internet MANA in 2014 and Having an income between $60-70K

Internet MANA voters were a fair bit poorer than average, and so there is no correlation between voting for them in 2014 and having a slightly higher than average income.

8. -0.0006, Having NZQA Level 2 as a highest academic qualification and Working as a sales worker

Leaving school at the end of Sixth Form is a middling sort of academic achievement, and being a sales worker is an extremely common line of employment.

7. 0.0005, Being a Brethren and Working in public administration and safety

Brethrens are indifferent to working for the Government.

6. -0.0004, Voting Internet Party in 2017 and Being a Spiritualist or New Ager

Internet Party voters are young and mostly live in Auckland; Spiritualists and New Agers are a bit older and are distributed reasonably evenly throughout the country.

3=. 0.0003, Voting to change the flag in the second flag referendum and Being in a couple with children

Couples with children probably have more important things to think about than a flag referendum, which was only ever a vanity project for the elderly elite with leisure time.

3=. -0.0003, Being a Christian (not further defined) and Being a sales worker

Christians, when not further defined, are generally a bit poorer than average, and sales workers are moderately wealthy, hence no correlation.

3=. -0.0003, Being a Pacific Islander and Being on the invalid’s benefit

Pacific Islanders are stereotyped as being on the benefit a lot, but the truth is that the sort of Pacific Islander who wanted to go on the invalid’s benefit probably wouldn’t be motivated to immigrate to New Zealand in the first place.

1=. -0.0001, Voting Internet MANA in 2014 and Taking a bus to work

Internet MANA voters in 2014 tended to live in the Far North, and those who lived in Auckland often took a bus to work, the others not so much.

1=. -0.0001, Being a regular tobacco smoker and Being a sales worker

There are no more middle-of-the-road variables than being a regular tobacco smoker and being a sales worker. Both traits point to a very normal, standard sort of person, hence no correlation.

The Boringest T20I Is Worse Than The Boringest ODI

Scoreboard pressure in often so intense in T20s, especially at international level, that one misstep puts the chasing side in a hopeless position

In much the same way that cricket analysts were slow to catch on to the importance of strike rate in ODIs, so too have they been slow to catch on to the importance of strike rate in T20s. Everyone knows strike rate is important in limited overs; what few understand is how this can lead to extremely boring matches. This article looks at why efforts to contrive a more interesting game of cricket have only somewhat succeeded.

The advent of T20 came about when someone realised that, all other things being equal, fans liked seeing boundaries and wickets, and didn’t much care for dot balls or for contests that were over long before they technically finished because the chasing side lost early wickets. And so a form of the game was contrived to have as few dot balls as possible, and as many boundaries and wickets as possible.

But what this new fashion risks losing sight of is the fact that cricket is only interesting in the first place because it is a contest of skill, and sometimes the nature of the match situation in T20 is not conducive to playing the game skillfully.

For instance, it almost never occurs in ODIs that the chasing team, in the first five overs, falls so far behind the required strike rate that the match is effectively lost without resorting to slogging. The chasing team might lose early wickets, which makes the chase much harder, but as long as they can keep their wickets intact there are still plenty of overs in which to win through playing proper cricket and building an innings.

In T20s it’s common for the chasing team to build up enough scoreboard pressure in the first five overs that they effectively cannot win. In other words, it’s possible to lose the game with the bat in the first five overs because of scoreboard pressure – something that is near to impossible in ODIs.

This can happen if the team setting a total bats well enough that they’re close to the optimal possible run rate over the 20 overs (which is usually somewhere just above 10 an over, a rate that cannot realistically be maintained for an ODI). When the required run rate for the batting team climbs above this, it cannot be achieved without taking risks (i.e. slogging) and when this happens one is no longer playing cricket. It’s no longer a contest of skill but merely hit and hope.

This is an incredibly boring outcome from the spectator’s point of view, because the beauty of cricket is that it is a contest of skill where the batsman must find a balance between aggression and keeping his wicket intact. Removing the “keeping the wicket intact” part of the equation often reduces the game to slogging.

It has happened twice in the two matches of the T20I series between New Zealand and India so far.

In the first T20I in Delhi this week, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma both scored 80 at strike rates of 145+ opening the India innings, which allowed them to finish on 202, more than 10 runs an over. This asking rate was so high that the slightest stumble in the chase would see the match over as a contest.

And it duly was effectively over, 22 balls into the chase after Munro and Guptill had both been dismissed. At this point the equation was 185 runs off 98 balls and Kane Williamson and Tom Latham, for all their undoubted skill as batsmen, couldn’t do much about it because neither could slog at the required rate.

Once a T20 match gets to this stage it gets ugly, because batsmen have no time to get used to the conditions so as to play big innings where they strike the ball skillfully and with timing into gaps in the field. So after Williamson and Latham were dismissed, Colin de Grandhomme had to come in and slog his first ball, which got him out.

In last night’s T20I at Rajkot, the contest was effectively over in the second over of the chase after Trent Boult had taken two wickets. Colin Munro clubbed his way to 109* (58) in the first innings, which meant that the slightest stumble would put the total out of reach.

And it duly was effectively over after Boult’s second, which meant they needed 10.5 an over for the remaining 18, or an individual strike rate of 175, with their two best hitters out. None of their batsman managed this, as few do.

The remaining batsmen were unable to score at the required strike rate without throwing their wickets away, and so limped to a loss, effectively throwing in the towel long before the innings concluded.

In ODIs strike rate is a major factor, but strike rate seldom destroys the chasing team’s hopes as quickly, as ruthlessly and as completely as in T20Is. Scoreboard pressure can destroy a chasing team’s chances so quickly that players can be forced into mindless slogging, and this is much less interesting to watch than a balanced contest between bat and ball.

The Black Caps T20 side already can’t find room for batsmen of the quality of Ross Taylor and Tom Latham, because they can’t (or don’t) slog enough. This means that the viewer is watching batting of a lower level of skill just because the way the T20 format is contrived promotes such. This is also not interesting from a viewer’s perspective.

The real horror scenario is this – what if it is decided that strike rate is so important in T20Is that there’s no room in the side for Kane Williamson? Because if this day ever comes, T20Is might start to be considered a joke format by cricket fans in the same way most rugby union fans consider sevens, or at least one only suited for levels below international.

If the joy of sport comes from watching skill on display then it can be argued that T20Is are objectively more boring than ODIs because they objectively give less opportunity for the batsman to display skill. The overwhelming importance of strike rate means that skillful cricketers are often pushed out of the side by sloggers, which are only fun in small amounts.

New Zealand in India ODI Series 2017, First ODI Preview

Colin Munro’s T20 form has seen him elevated to open for the ODI side in the hope that he can replicate Brendon McCullum

A lot of things are going against the Black Caps before their One Day International series against India in India starts tonight (Sunday) at 9p.m. NZT. Ominously, India sit atop the ICC ODI team rankings table, equal to South Africa with 120 ratings points, while the Black Caps are currently a mid-table side at 5th. Worse, the matches are in India, where India just demolished the world champion Australia side 4-1.

On the other hand, a lot is going in their favour. New Zealand scored 343/9 in their last warm-up match against an Indian Board President’s XI, with centuries to Ross Taylor and Tom Latham, who in all likelihood will comprise the 4-5 axis over the series. Considering that Kane Williamson will bat at three, this suggests that India might have difficulty bowling the Black Caps out.

Colin Munro is expected to open the batting with Martin Guptill, which is an experimental measure intended to fill the gap left by Brendon McCullum at the top of the order. McCullum’s explosive starts made it possible for Williamson and Taylor to build innings without risk, and Munro has a T20 strike rate of close to 150 – close to what McCullum was striking at for the last 2 years of his ODI career.

It looks as though Williamson will try and get 10 overs out of Colin de Grandhomme, who will bat 7, and with Latham at 5 doing the wicketkeeping this leaves a spot for a pure batsman at 6. This spot might get filled by Henry Nicholls, as it was during the final warm-up match, or the Black Caps might start playing hitters from there, which would probably mean Glenn Phillips.

The other question mark is whether or not Tim Southee is still good enough to command a starting spot in this ODI squad. Although he has been a first-choice seamer for a handful of years, his ODI bowling average over the past three years – which includes the great run at the 2015 Cricket World Cup – is 36.47, which is only good enough for 33rd place on the official ODI bowling rankings.

Damningly, there are four players from Afghanistan alone higher than Southee on the official rankings, which is probably not good enough for a Black Caps side that made the final of the last Cricket World Cup and is aiming to go one better in England in 2019.

It’s very possible that the Black Caps play two spinners on the slow Indian decks, which means they take both Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi. Assuming then that they still need de Grandhomme at 7 for the sake of the batting, and that Trent Boult is undroppable, that means Southee will be competing with Adam Milne and Matt Henry for that second seamer’s position.

India, for their part, have two extremely crafty bowlers. With the new ball is Jasprit Bumrah, who isn’t quick but has a Nathan Bracken-style range of subtle variations that make him hard to hit off the square, and with the older ball is Axar Patel, whose wily orthodox is also a difficult proposition on Indian surfaces.

The likely winning of the game, however, will be in India’s power-packed top order. They have four batsmen ranked in the top 14 in the world, with two of them – Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma – ranked higher than Kane Williamson. Kohli averages a monstrous 55.13 from almost 200 matches, and getting rid of him early is simply a necessity if the Black Caps are to win.

Alongside them are the silky skillful Ajinkya Rahane and the brutal Shikhar Dhawan at the top and MS Dhoni with his 50+ average down the order. India have also found a genuine allrounder in Hardik Pandya so have no obvious weaknesses anywhere.

The Black Caps are only playing three ODIs and they are paying $3.80 on BetFair to win the first one, compared to India’s $1.35. This suggests that the market is expecting a 2-1 or 3-0 win to India.