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.
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1 hour ago