Ted Howard is ranked at number 36 on Act's party list, and is not standing for an electorate. His responses to our survey questions are below, and a full index of responses to date is over here.
The Questions & Answers
Question 1. What do you believe is currently the single biggest issue facing New Zealand women, and how would you like to address it if you are elected?
I am highly unlikely to be elected - too far down the list.
I see two related issues being the biggest - both relate to "culture" in the widest memetic sense, they are:
Violence (particularly family violence); and
Lack of self belief.
Neither is simple to address, and poverty is a major driver in both cases. Improving income gives individuals more options. Developing self awareness is usually about trying out options, making mistakes, and learning.
The educational tools are available to learn mostly from the mistakes already made by others - and a certain amount of making our own mistakes is inevitable. [Often cultural factors inhibit access to education.]
Question 2. New Zealand women are paid, on average, over $300 a week less than men, and the difference is worse for Maori and Pacific Island women. What do you propose as a first step towards closing the gender pay gap?
Focus on increasing awareness of contraceptive options, and ensure they are available to anyone who wants them.
It seems to me that the biggest driver of pay differentials is the interruption to career caused by childbirth and child rearing.
Raising a child is a huge commitment, and for most women (quite appropriately in my view) work comes second to the needs of the family - particularly the children.
We already have rules against discrimination on the basis of sex - I don't think any more are required.
One could ask the question - is life really about making more money ?
Perhaps, if one chooses to answer that in the negative (as I do), then it may be an indicator of higher levels of self awareness amongst women ;)
Question 3. Do you think NZ's current approach to reproductive rights (abortion, contraception etc) is correct? (Yes or No or No Answer, please) If not, what changes would you want to make?
It is fairly well balanced in most cases.
I have seen the emotional results of back street abortions on several women, and would not recommend it to anyone. I would advise any woman to seriously look at alternatives to abortion (legal or illegal), having seen the mental anguish that many carry throughout life, and I believe it is the individual woman's choice in each case.
I acknowledge several distinct levels of human life.
For me true humanity comes with language and self awareness skills displayed in language.
Gametes have no more rights in my view than hair follicles or skin cells.
Unborn children are more potentially human than gametes, yet not yet capable of language or self awareness.
So - while I do not recommend abortion, it is not my choice, I am a 53 year old male.
Question 4. The police and the courts do not work in preventing violence against women. What other government actions would you take to ensure women can live without fear.
As related in question 1 above - raising the standard of living is the most effective way of doing this.
Unlike most others in Act I have a different view on how to most effectively achieve this - see www.solnx.org.
It is a very complex topic. Arguments about raising levels of awareness go to the heart of the debate between the value of "culture"s versus the value of "individuals". I am firmly in the camp that says the emergent properties of the self awareness of individual human beings are far more interesting and valuable than the emergent properties of the complex systems that are societies of individuals.
I see individuals - male or female - as most important. Sexual difference are far less significant in the higher levels of self awareness.
Question 5. Those who do the caring work in our society, paid and unpaid, are often the least recognized and the lowest paid, and they work the longest hours. What do you see as the priority to address these issues for those caring for our sick, our elderly and our children?
Under the existing economic structure the only real option is to lift the income of all - meaning the top go up furthest, and the bottom come up some also.
If you are interested in options that alter the fundamental substructure of the economic system - then once again - take a look at http://www.solnx.org
Question 6. The Ministry of Health has recently launched a campaign to encourage breastfeeding and is now recommending that babies be breastfeed to at least one year old. What do you think the government could do to ensure that every woman who wants to breast feed can?
Simply pass a law making it illegal to discriminate against breastfeeding.
I supported my wife to breastfeed our child in all situations - including conferences and client site visits.
Question 7. What single measure do you think our political organizations could take to better encourage young women to be involved and take on leadership positions in our communities?
Simply to tell them that all humans are capable of infinite creativity.
Yes we are born into specific cultures, which teach us particular ways of being.
Yes we have specific laws, with consequences for those caught and convicted.
And, we are all capable of becoming aware that we are each capable of creativity, in the sense that we can break the chains of causality that normally rule our existence. This is the heart of both "choice" and "morality" and "creativity". How this is done is covered briefly in the human nature section of www.solnx.org.
The inherent value of the individual, and the rights and responsibilities that come with self awareness are part of the classic liberal tradition of which Act New Zealand is the strongest example in the New Zealand political scene.
Question 8. Do you see domestic violence as an issue for women, for men, or for all New Zealanders? (Women, or Men, or all New Zealanders please)
If elected, what strategies would you like to pursue to eliminate domestic violence?
Yes - and covered in Question 1
Question 9. Successive governments have effectively cut the Domestic Purposes Benefit. Do you believe people raising children alone should have sufficient financial support from the state so that they do not need to go to work until they believe that is the best choice for their family? (Yes or No or No Answer, please)
Have you stopped beating your grandmother yet - Yes or No answer please ?
There are too many assumptions in the question that most people never even consider for me to give a meaningful yes or no answer.
My mother raised my half brother in the days before the DPB - so I have some knowledge of what that was like.
In the world I would have us create - see www.solnx.org - no person would need work unless they wanted to.
Every individual would have the freedom to follow their bliss - wherever that might take them, limited only by the need to respect the lives, property and freedoms of others, and a general respect for other life forms and the environment also.
Question 10. Women do the vast majority of cooking and shopping, and increases in food prices are a burden borne disproportionately by women. What do you think our government can or should do to ensure that everyone has access to good food?
Growing the economy is probably the most effective way in the short to medium term - Act has the most effective policies to do that.
As an effective option I would encourage everyone to grow their own garden - having fresh vegetables is a start - but to really make a difference - again see www.solnx.org .
Question 11. Do you have any further comments that you wish to make about the role of women in our society? Please feel free to share your thoughts here.
I think women, as self aware, self responsible, entities - have both the freedom and responsibility to choose for themselves whatever role they want to be in society.
It is not up to me or anyone else to make that choice for them.
As a politician it is my role to create an environment that maximises the potential for development at all levels - again see www.solnx.org for details of how I would do that.
To my mind (and to that of Milton Freidman) it is aligned with classic liberal thought.