Sunday, September 13, 2015

A nation of inveterate moaners

New Zealanders are encouraged to moan about how hard done by they are by groups of people with political axes to grind, hobby horses to rock and incomes to generate. The strategy isn't just domestic - it is rife in the first world. Instead of righting any injustice though, it breeds bitterness, animosity and division.

Enough of the rant.

In practical terms, the dividers use statistics to support their chosen cause. But for those who can think for themselves, reference to official data (the best we have) will  always turn up a counter-balancing statistic.

For instance - and this presented itself randomly as I caught up with Statistics NZ latest - median incomes.  (Below is revised on the basis of Census data but the changes are not statistically significant so visually indiscernible).

Median incomes have risen steadily since 1997 except during the GFC.

But without inflation adjustment the graph is meaningless.

At 1998 the income level was around $300. By 2014 it had doubled. But what was $300 worth in 2014 $? Using general CPI here's what the Reserve Bank calculates:

Apart from housing, other goods and services measured -  transport, food, and clothing - cost far less in 2014. For instance, $300 in 2014 would buy double the amount of clothing it would in 1998.

But good news isn't exciting unless it's personal. Almost masochistically, people latch on to the bad news stories - inequality, poverty, disease, violence and premature death.

In reality, Fred Dagg said it best. And New Zealanders once believed it. We don't know how lucky we are.

News flash - it's still true.

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