Sunday, May 23, 2010

Some Sunday morning 'big picture' thoughts

How often are you reading about the growing inequality in NZ? The phenomenon is blamed for social ills, crime and poor health. Labour wanted NZ to become a version of a Scandinavian country where people pay high taxes and receive many benefits and that would tend towards equalising incomes. Working for Families was part of the plan to become the natural party of government by locking in the franchise. And it looked like their plan had almost succeeded with National morphing into Labour anyway. However....

The budget did reinforce that National, to a point, are prepared to accept that inequality goes hand in hand with economic growth (as Matt McCarten points out today).

So why can't NZ be like those countries where there is a greater degree of economic equality?

Because it is peopled by very diverse individuals and groups, with diverse values (which ironically Labour encouraged). And rapid social change like the sexual revolution hit NZ when it was still very young. So NZ does not have a long history of shared values, or even common religion, and there is certainly a 'them and us' class mentality afoot fostered by the left and very pervasive. This results in people treating the redistributive social policies with disdain instead of appreciation. Instead of understanding that social insurance can only operate successfully when it isn't gamed, too many see it as a right or a way of getting back what the nasty capitalists took or kept from them. Or even what the government took from them.

It is fruitless to hanker after the European style social security philosophies and systems, which are coming undone anyway with immigration and changing demographics.

Inequality is NZ's future. The trick is to lift everyone up a few notches rather than force everyone down. And as the country gets older, values will probably become more homogeneous which should act as a counter-balance to extremes of wealth and poverty.


Anonymous said...

Inequality is NZ's future.

Which is absolutely excellent news!

The trick is to lift everyone up a few notches rather than force everyone down.

No - the trick is to lift up the productive and push down the bludgers

As McCarten says - Key's budget has been a start in this direction. Of course he underestimates:

Bill English's Budget, which gives our rich another five-cent-in-the-dollar cut in their taxes and replaces it with more regressive income-tax scales that will proportionately hit the less well-off, largely completes the Rogernomics agenda.

No, that agenda won't be complete until there is one flat tax rate, that is capped at say 200K (so zero rather after that threshold);
until corporate taxes are removed (or at least no more than 5%),;
until all benefits are privatised or removed;
until the state health and education systems are similarly privatised or abandoned.

We have a long way to go - but it's great to be moving, and, hopefully gathering speed!

bez said...

"And as the country gets older, values will probably become more homogeneous"

I disagree with that proposition as long as we actively use differences to pursue social objectives, i.e. influence value systems on the basis of for instance race.
The crux is is not equality on outcomes but equality in opportunity. Values then become part of individual choices, rather than part of choices that have been pre-conditioned on social differences.

James said...

To get an equal society as the left envision,meaning one where evryone gets roughly the same outcomes materially reagardless of each persons level of productivity,must mean the destruction of individual rights,liberty and choice.If equalitys your goal then you just can't allow those pesky individuals to do their own thing in spite of you.

Thats why all calls for equality of outcome are calls for dictatorship and slavery.

Free men are never equal and equal men are never free.

No thanks.

Mo said...

equality of poverty and misery.