greg clydesdale is afraid people will call him racist because he's prepared a report apparently stating that pasifika migrants are a "drain on the economy". let me say that i haven't read the report, as i can't find a copy on the internet. it's not even mentioned on his massey webpage, so i'll have to rely on what's been reported in the media.
i'll quite happily call the report racist. not because of the statistics he's reported. i'm pretty sure they will be factual. i agree with him that pacific islanders have higher rates of unemployment than other groups, have higher representation in the crime stats, and are probably weaker than other groups when it comes to educational qualifications. but that is about as much as i can agree with.
it's not the data that i have a problem with. it's what he does with it. if, for example, pacific islanders have poor health problems, did dr clydesdale investigate the health system to see if there were any endemic problems that might have contributed? i can think of some interactions with health professionals that some of my friends have had. their concerns have been ignored, and one woman was told to her face "oh, these people are so stupid" by a hospital administrative worker. would you feel like going back to such a place? i wish i had the time to find it, but i'm sure i've read about research showing that you are less likely to be referred to a specialist if you are unfortunate enough to be of the wrong ethnicity.
perhaps dr clydesdale could have looked at their diets, which would be determined by their income levels. those on lower incomes can't afford healthy foods, which in turn leads to health problems.
does dr clydedale look at the types of jobs they're working in, and how that employment is structured? as an example, this experience is really worth a read. could it be that some improvement is needed in work conditions, and that the problem of pasifika migrants is more about poverty than it is about race?
could it be that coloured migrants are kept out of the well-paid jobs because they don't have the networks; because when there is a choice, they are the ones whose CVs get tossed in the bin first? it's very much harder to move yourself up the ladder and move out of poverty when you have fewer opportunities. it's very much harder to achieve when you have few positive role models. it's only in recent times that the contributions of pacific islanders have been valued; that their culture has been celebrated. if you're in a society that treats you like a failure, then guess what? you're likely to be a failure.
i wonder if dr clydesdale's report considers research (again, don't have time to find the links, would appreciate it if anyone has some for me) that shows coloured offenders, particularly maori or pacific islanders, are likely to face harsher penalties for the same crime. they are likely to receive longer sentences, and they are much more likely to go to jail rather than get a non-custodial sentence. that may be part of the reason why they have higher conviction rates, and if it's true, surely we should be looking at improving the justice system.
i'd call dr clydesdale's report racist because he is not interested in improving the lot of pasifika NEW ZEALANDERS. not all of those included in his statistics will be migrants, remember. i wonder if his research looks at the long-term trends on the key indicators. are they going up or going down? if they are improving, do we really have a problem here? i would rather we continued to work on removing poverty and investing in our human capital, rather than bashing particular groups with their apparent failures.
i'd also like to question mr clydesdale's notions of what a valuable contribution is. having looked briefly over one of his papers, he seems to have a narrow and very economic definition of what is valuable. according to his measures, i wonder how he would the productivity and economic impact of cleaners? i'd rate them quite highly. what about fruit-pickers, or taxi drivers that do the graveyard shift?
working as an accountant, i'm accutely aware that what is measured is what is considered important. yet it's usually the things that are measured which are crucial. for example, which company balance sheet measures the strength of it's human resource? what information do they give you regarding training levels, work ethic, loyalty etc of their staff? probably very little, yet anyone in business knows that the most important ingredient for a successful business is a highly committed team of employees.
and so it is when we try to measure the contribution of coloured migrants. there's so much we fail to value, yet these things may be the most important - the colour, the languages, the vibrancy.
mr clydesdale does not appear to have looked into the whole range of issues i've outlined above, and instead decides (or so it appears) that there are no problems with discrimination in nz, that there are no entrenched or institutionalised systems that impact the lives of these people. neither does he choose to consider the many high-achievers in the pasifika community.
he has already slammed people criticising his report as "pc bullies". so instead of engaging in debate, and proving his point through reasoned argument and rebuttal, he resorts to name-calling. it's hardly the level of intellectual debate that he appears to be calling for.
finally, something that may or may not be related. hatred towards immigrants has lead to 22 deaths in south africa. there are reports of people hiding in police stations, fearing for their lives. demonising a group is easy, especially when neither you nor yours have to face the consequences.
UPDATE: richard pamatatau informed us on AEN that dr clydesdale "would grant an interview in return for Radio New Zealand newspromoting his CD Legacy.We were unable to offer him that exchange." the reason i raise this is because it does make one think that this particular report may be just a publicity stunt to improve his out-of-work income. if that is the case, it's pretty abhorrent. also found this BSA complaint quite interesting, and i'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.