Maybe it doesn't matter that the two-thirds of taxpayers who earn under $40,000 (quite a bit less than the oft-quoted average wage of $50,000) will get between 9 cents and just under $10 a week after GST, while the hard-pressed top 2 per cent who've been struggling to make ends meet on $150,000-plus a year will pocket nearly half a billion in tax cuts.
Auckland University economist Dr Susan St John calls the tax package "a very significant shift from progressive taxation". More of the tax burden will now fall on the lower-paid middle and bottom ranks of taxpayers.
This means we're not likely to lose our ranking as one of the most unequal countries in the OECD any time soon.
It isn't at all clear what is intended by these numbers. One interpretation is that two thirds of tax-payers earn under $40,000.
Roughly two thirds of all the people that receive an income receive under $40,000. That is true. But all those people do not "earn" an income. It is paid to them as Super or a benefit. And yes, technically they pay tax but that only amounts to shifting some numbers on the government's ledger.
The average wage from paid employment was $48,360 in June 2009. People in paid employment pay tax on their earnings. They pay tax on their recompense for contributing directly to the economy. That thing we all rely on to keep us afloat.
Inequality, as epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett argue in their 2009 book The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, hurts us all. As well as links to higher crime, ill-health, shorter life expectancy and a range of social pathologies, inequality drives a wedge between people, corroding trust and raising levels of anxiety. Perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised then that an annual Massey University survey has found we've become more tolerant of income inequality, even as we've become more unequal.
Perhaps the reason New Zealanders have become more tolerant of inequality is because the last 30 to 40 years has shown that even as equality of opportunity has increased many have failed to take advantage. Perhaps they are more tolerant of inequality because they perceive growing numbers of people who appear to be the cause of their own misfortune.
If we lived in a country where the vast majority of people worked, and they were getting pitiful wages I too would be jumping up and down about inequality. Had I been alive in the 1930s I would have been a socialist. But we have been down that track of government intervention to give everyone a fair shake of the stick and it hasn't worked. The result has been the bedding in of a large group of permanently poor people.
325,000 working age people are on a benefit and if their children are counted the number rises to over half a million. And even during the economic boom, when NZ briefly boasted the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD, the number was only 20 percent lower. That's a major cause of New Zealand's inequality.