Red Alert

A Big Ask

Posted by on February 12th, 2012

I knew it was a big ask.

Simon Collins’ provocative Herald series on inequality was closing with “Bridging the Wealth Gap“.  Would it rail against the changes to our tax and workplace laws that have driven the widening gap?  Would cry from the heart like “Ill Fares The Land”?

Would it call for a fundamental change of direction? Would it unpick the platitudes around “equality of opportunity”?

Ah, no.

Instead it levers off the new Auckland Council’s Spatial Plan, including targets to reduce inequality.  Worthy, sure.  Right track? Undoubtedly.   Sufficient condition for change?   No way.

Collins explains ” how we got there” by condensing modern economic history into one sentence:

“The driving forces have been both technological changes, which have strengthened the power of the skilled at the expense of the unskilled; and policy changes, which have weakened unions, opened markets to free trade, cut taxes on the rich and imposed new taxes on spending that bear most heavily on the poor.”

Although the outcome is “not immutable”, neoliberalism dodges the bullet.

The genial Michael Barnett and the earnest Allan Johnston represent the “competitiveness” vs “compassion” debate.

But has Collins not read The Spirit Level?  There is a strong case that more equal societies do better. Including economically.  If so, fairness ain’t just compassion, it’s common sense.

The bottom line is that rampant inequality is driven by the combination of unfettered capitalism and neoliberal government policy.

So if Kiwis want a change they will need to vote for it at national as well as council levels.

Yet voter turnout was the lowest in decades this last election, despite inequality being at its worst.

We have more to do to make a reasoned case for a clear alternative.

We have made a good start: capital gains tax, tax free zone at the bottom (which could be abated over a certain income level like Working for Families), raising the top tax rate, decile weighted education  investment, and public health and housing programmes to promote healthy families and kids.  There will be more to come.

We have to balance this with a clear narrative, based on sound strategy, for growing the pie for all.  That means encouraging Kiwi businesses.  Helping markets when they work well.  And sorting out the mess when they don’t.  I will be blogging more about economic growth, as it must partner efforts to reducing inequality by raising income levels for all.

And we need to expose the tricks this Government uses to lull hard working Kiwis into apathy or submission; the smile and wave routine; their dog whistles that turn Kiwis against their neighbours; their sly deals and cronyism to maintain control.

So reversing inequality will take more than a newspaper series, it will take winning the country for a new direction for us all.

91 Responses to “A Big Ask”

  1. Sailor Sam says:

    Personal. Deleted. Clare

  2. Pat says:

    Please stop referring to the Spirit Level as if it were received truth. It has been so thoroughly discredited that it is an embarrassment to the Left

  3. Joel says:

    I agree with Pat. I don’t know if it has been thoroughly discredited, as stated, but it is certainly not definitive proof of anything. There are plenty of case studies proving different to the findings in that book.

  4. Colonial Viper says:

    The Spirit Level is an excellent synopsis of the state of the art in the social and health consequences of extreme societal inequality. Righties always run scared from it because they can’t seem to understand a very simple idea – the more that people are left out and disempowered from full participation in their society, the more shit they (and their kids) do.

    Not really rocket science, boys.

  5. Jack Ramaka says:

    The problem is we have a PM who has no idea of how to run a country, with gathering storm clouds on the horizon he gave his wealthy mates tax cuts and now wants to sell the Family Silver to further enrich his cronies who have been parasiting off the NZ State for too long. He has no loyalty to NZ just his Merrill Lynch buddies in New York and his State sponsored gangster mates in China and his own back pocket.

    The sooner he gets on the plane back to Hawaii the better,

    Aloha John take Double Dipper English and Billie Pies Brownlee with you.

  6. Jack Ramaka says:

    The Liberal Government in NZ from 1921-1912 were considered one of the great hallmarks of our historical landscape.

    Liberal legislation helped to transform New Zealand society from a condition of poverty and misery to one of prosperity and fairly general contentment.

    The Liberal Government felt it had a duty to to take positive steps to promote the welfare of the community as a whole, and particularly of the weaker members, the poor, the sick and the old and the young.

    John Key and his cronies are looking after the top end of town, look how quickly they bailed out South Canterbury Finance, all white South Island Old Family Money, and right in John Key and Bill English’s back door.

    How much damage is Key going to do to the NZ Economy before people realise we have given this ex Merchant Banker the keys to to the henhouse.

    Selling State Assets to pay for consumption is a no brainer, look at BNZ what other sovereign nation would sell it’s main bank and then have it’s Director’s lending to themselves backed up with Government Guarantees.

    Wakey Wakey New Zealand we are being conned.

    Colonistion now Corporatisation, it is purely a wealth transfer from the have not’s to the haves.

    Just look at the political appointments Hekia Parata, Wira Gardiner etc Kaupapa Maori.

  7. softstarter says:

    @Jack, how can you transfer wealth from the have-nots to the haves when the have-nots don’t have the wealth to transfer?

    Re your comment: “State sponsored gangster mates in China and his own back pocket.” – I refer you to the latest post from Raymond –

    Apart from your hatred of foreigners (Americans, Chinese, Mainlanders) is there anything else you should be sharing?

  8. WaihekeMark says:

    Jack, as far as I know, the Finance Co. guarantee scheme was implemented by Labour, to protect the savings of the vulnerable. How many Directors etc of Finance Companies are facing prosecution and or jail currently.. quite a few.Yes, sadly, lots of people (individually or via the State) have lost considerable funds, they were often seeking returns that carried considerable risk.
    CV, “the more that people are left out and disempowered from full participation in their society, the more shit they (and their kids) do” Do you not accept that many people are opting themselves out.. with free education, State Subsidies for Housing, Breeding, WFF etc no one in NZ is unable to “opt in” There may be not as many unskilled jobs out there, we have known that for years.. apparently our teachers are world class, are all of them preparing students for a productive life, or working with parents to inform them how johnny is doing against his peers and how they can help? Or shall we just blame it all on JK’s mythical rich mates (does that include Clark, Cullen, Mallard, Goff etc, are they rich pricks?) What are you doing personally for the oppressed CV? .. apart of course trying to convince them that they have no part to play in productive society..

  9. Nick says:

    Cactus Kates asserts, “Can you ever see a solution other than higher taxes and more government intervention and spending?”.

    It’s the stereotypical bollock brained pious unthinking platitude of her ilk. Stand the comment on its head, “Can you ever see a solution other than lower taxes and less government intervention and spending?”

    Time to challenge these nutbars to prove their point. That particular prickly type wastes an otherwise good brain on unfounded and extreme assertions. Pathetic really.

  10. SJW says:

    +1 Jack Ramaka
    +1 Nick

  11. Jack Ramaka says:

    Soft Starter 3.18pm

    Wrong my ancestors are Scottish from South Otago, settled there in the 1860’s, farmers, builders, and all fought in WW1. Father educated at Chicago University and uncle who fought in Korea with the US Navy Airforce and had involvement in the US Base in Antarctic hence met my aunty in Christchurch, and I am married to an Asian.

    Jack Ramaka = 3 Soft Starter = 0

    Sorry I meant transfer of State Wealth ie BNZ, State Forests, Tranz Rail, Telecom, AIR NZ which are owned by the State transferred to the likes of Michael Fay, Ron Brierley,Fletchers, and Alan Gibbs primary beneficaries of State Asset Sales, which have destroyed NZ’s net worth.

    Nick 10.25pm
    Cactus Kate the name reflects the personality.

    You need the ability to read between the lines.

  12. Dion_makes_a_good_point says:

    “The problem is we have a PM who has no idea of how to run a country, with gathering storm clouds on the horizon he gave his wealthy mates tax cuts and now wants to sell the Family Silver to further enrich his cronies who have been parasiting off the NZ State for too long. He has no loyalty to NZ just his Merrill Lynch buddies in New York and his State sponsored gangster mates in China and his own back pocket.”

    You make some very sweeping statements here Jack with no support whatsoever. A few points:

    1. The general public disagrees with your statement that he has no idea how to run a country. It is for this reason that they overwhelmingly voted to keep him for his strong leadership and unparalleled abilities. If there was someone else better, they would now be in his office. Recent history (i.e. election) suggests that any response you have to this is completely without informed opinion or general mandate / support.

    2. Asset sales are not for any particular individuals to own (i.e. wealthy individuals). Your comments about selling the family silver are populist and also misinformed. Regardless however, a mandate has been obtained through campaigning on the sale of state assets and subsequent election. Just as you do not wish for state assets to be sold, the majority of New Zealanders have voted in favour of this. These state assets are not your personal property to be sold. They are the property of all New Zealand citizens. For you to tell myself, or any other voter, that their vote should not count (i.e. to oppose asset sales after a clear mandate has been obtained) is an attempt at subjugating my, and other voters, rights to exercise our democratic rights. We voted in favour, a majority was found through a coalition government, and those principles on which the officials were elected should be upheld. If you don’t like democracy, there are other places to go.

    3. How is John Key acting in his own interests? He gives his yearly salary away to charity. Did Helen Clark ever do that? I don’t remember seeing any other politician make such a gesture. If he was only interested in clipping his ticket (much like many present in parliament) then he would do just that.

    I believe that your comments demonstrate an ignorance to how democracy works, and a misinformed opinion about those in government. During Labours 9 years of government, I bitched and moaned much like you are now. However, I never attempted to belittle their work as they were acting in the interests of their constituents as elected officials.

    A little decorum and research into your sweeping statements would go a long way to making your points appear valid, reasonable, and without bias.

  13. Colonial Viper says:

    Pointless Dion busy spreading right wing memes.

    1) You say Key donates his yearly salary to charity? Lie. Unless of course you have seen his tax receipts because no one else has.

    2) You say the public overwhelmingly voted Key back in for his “unparalleled” abilities? Like playing the donkey on a law breaking radio show? Oh by the way, Key’s coalition government is down 4 seats on 2008. So much for “overwhelming” support for his leadership abilities.

    3) The rich will end up owning the strategic power assets which today every NZ owns an equal share of.

  14. Jack Ramaka says:

    I think Dion should go back to KiwiBlog and preach to the converted he does not understand John Key’s MO.

  15. Tim G says:

    Sorry Dion, did JK did not campaign on asset sales, but he did try to couche the issue in the furry language of a non-specific ‘mixed ownership model’.

    All polls post-election show that a strong majority of all new zealanders still oppose asset sales. The reason that nearly a majority of nz voters still voted national can be found in the painting of goff as some kind of charmless pariah with no ideas, while JK continued (for reasons I don’t want to get into) to be portrayed as a relaxed, friendly, blue-sky kinda guy.

  16. SJW says:


    “a mandate has been obtained through campaigning on the sale of state assets and subsequent election. … the majority of New Zealanders have voted in favour of this”

    This is simply untrue.

    51% of voters voted for parties that OPPOSED asset sales.

    You are simply repeating the rubbish we are fed by mainstream media and our PM. Similar to the rubbish people were fed prior to voting in this last election.

    A little decorum and research into your sweeping statements would go a long way to making your points appear valid, reasonable, and without bias

  17. Gregor W says:

    Tim G.

    Very true. The sad thing is, apart from briefs sparks of energy when he was up against it, poor PG was essentially a charmless pariah bereft of ideas, as much as JK is a charming empty suit also bereft of ideas.

    That’s modern politics I guess. Selling the sizzle, not the steak.

  18. Colonial Viper says:

    Yeah well the steak is nasty like old worn gumboot. And the sizzle sounds nice but doesn’t help fill the gap any.

  19. Dion_makes_a_good_point says:

    SJW, as informed voters the public would be aware that on the balance of probabilities a coalition government would be formed with Act, United First, and the Maori Party. Without the Maori Party in this government, numbers are still sufficient to pass legislation in this respect.
    By extension, voters in these parties are voting for the same principles held by the National Party. If they didn’t, and felt so strongly about it, they would exercise their democratic right in a different fashion. But they didn’t. Therefore, mandate obtained.

    I’m sure however you would like to instead argue the public is not made up of a body of informed voters?

  20. David Cunliffe says:

    @all: Quick comments – 1. I have not asserted The Spirit Lvel is gospel, but that it makes a strong case towards the win win between equality and economic wellbeing. There will always be some debate over correlation vs causation. BUt perhaps the greatest compliment is the massive counter-invective from the Right?

    On relative equality vs absolulte living standards, it is hard to look past the exmaple of the US Health Care system: costs roughly twice the % of GDP as our own, leaves around a quarter of the poulation un-covered and a big chunk more financially stressed, is technologically advanced at the top end but incredibly wasteful. Equality low, total “GDP” of sector high; social impact poor fort he level of investment.

    The Spirit Level is replete with many more examples. New Zealand’s paediatric health stats also correlate highly with social deprivation, particulalry skin and respiratory disease.

    The countercase has not in my view been established by the defenders of the Right in this thread – there is no probable cause that extreme wealth coupled with extreme deprivation is somehow going to be a self-correcting system.

    But these debates will no doubt continue. Lets try to preserve some space for evidence based policy amongst the invective…


  21. SJW says:


    I don’t think you ‘got’ my point: more people voted for parties that opposed asset sales. Full stop. No ‘yes buts’, no obfuscation: 51% of voters voted for parties that opposed asset sales. (0.something under 51%)

    Yes, the results of this election were paradoxical, National got a remarkable number voting for them, yet at the same time the election results were very close to being a hung govt, however ALL politicians, including Mr Key and Mr Dunne should know by now that the numbers indicated opposition to asset sales by the majority of voters and if they really respected democratic process, one would hope they were more than a little concerned by the anomalies arising from the election results.

    Rather than expressing concern, Mr Key chooses to tell the nation that he has a mandate “by the people” to sell assets, I am afraid he is confusing a mandate to govern with a mandate over a particular issue. I am witness to the fact that he presented a vote for him I mean, his party, as being for asset sales, however only something like 47% of voters voted for him, I mean National.

    United Future state on their website that the issue of asset sales ‘needed further discussion’ and ‘there were some no-go areas’. Had I voted for the UF party I would expect they were going to at least slow the process down and take a considered approach, I may even have thought a referendum was being implied.

    Rather than deal with the problem: that the people have spoken against asset sales, effort has already been put into convincing us all that we have ‘uctually” told government this is what we want.

    This is simply untrue and doesn’t inspire me with confidence that those governing this country have any real regard for democracy.

  22. Mikes76 says:

    February 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    “@Jack, how can you transfer wealth from the have-nots to the haves when the have-nots don’t have the wealth to transfer?”

    Here’s a blindingly obvious example. A group of Haves and Have-Nots own equal shares in some assets which provide excellent dividends each year which can be used for the benefit of all. The government who are very Have friendly decide they want to sell off these assets, their reason being to pay off some of some of their debts from irresponsible borrowing.(although some think it’s more to help themselves and their Have mates to some cheap safe investments) They happily announce that shares in the assets will be available to all. Of course the Haves are the only ones who can afford to buy shares so they snap up some bargain shares which will net them some tidy returns in the future. Meanwhile the Have-Nots who have no money to buy shares are stripped with no comeback of half of their only productive assets which go into the pockets of the Haves to make future dividends on.Thus the Haves go from their share of 100% of the assets to owning 49% of the assets outright plus their share of the remaining 51% whilst the Have-Nots go from their share of 100% of the assets to their share of 51% of the assets. = Wealth transfer from Have-Nots to Haves.

    Here’s another simple example. A Have-Nots car dies because he couldn’t afford the latest fix on his 20 year old vehicle so he needs to buy a new used car to get to work, etc. He has to take out a ‘loan’ from the bank and has to pay interest back to the bank along with the principle. Meanwhile, a Have, who isn’t weighed down by personal loans for such small items as cars, has some spare cash so he sets up a term deposit at same bank. The Have receives interest on their money in the bank. The interest the Have-Not pays back is used by the bank to keep a percentage as profit and pay the rest to the Have as his interest on term deposit? Result = transfer of wealth by way of interest from Have-Not to Have and bank.

    Another example: A Have takes out a $10 million ‘loan’ to invest in whatever. The Have gets ‘first use’ of the new money created by the ‘loan’ so gets full value out of the new money before it’s inflationary effect on the economy. By the time the $10 million filters down through the economy to the Have-Nots who usually get last use of the money it’s inflationary effect has occurred causing a certain fraction of devaluation of the money in the money supply. This means that the Have-Nots now only have the use of say $9 million in real terms to pay for $10 million of cost of living increases. Thus the Have-Nots have to resort to loans to cover their costs, the interest of which goes to you know who and so on and so on.

    Obviously extremely simplified examples but there’s a mountain of different mechanisms. It’s not difficult to see when the blinkers are removed. We’re constantly told by the right whingers about a wealth transfer from rich to poor by way of taxes when in fact exactly the opposite i.e a wealth transfer from poor to rich has been going on for years and is getting worse and worse as a small number of people and corporations amass vast wealth at the expense of the ‘rest of us’

  23. Mikes76 says:

    And for those who say the spirit level is incorrect, etc, blah, blah. Put it aside for a second and just use your brain. Use critical thinking. Do you honestly believe a more unequal society and ever exponentially increasing inequality is more conducive to a happy, stable and prosperous society than more equality is??? If you do, you must have some bizarre justification of indefensible position processes going on in your heads….

    Remember, reducing inequality doesn’t mean communism or you’re not allowed to have lots of money. It simply means closing the gap or at least slowing down it’s increases for a start. Personally, like most who see inequality as possibly the most important issue facing our society, I’m anti poor rather than anti rich.

    There’s more productivity and wealth in the world now than there ever has been in the history of mankind. There is no excuse for poverty in this day and age. Yet poverty is increasing rapidly, violence is increasing as are child abuse, drug abuse, teen suicide, mental illness and so on and so on. The system ain’t working, anyone can see that. How can we continue to back a system that allows for example one person to amass billions upon billions of dollars whilst at the same time millions of fellow, real human beings have their health and well being severely compromised due to a lack of this human created thing called money?? That’s a sick, broken system.

  24. Mikes76 says:

    @ SJW “I don’t think you ‘got’ my point: more people voted for parties that opposed asset sales. Full stop. No ‘yes buts’, no obfuscation: 51% of voters voted for parties that opposed asset sales.”

    Yep, if you add up National – 47.31, Act – 1.07 and include Dunne 0.6%, you’ve got just under 49% of total votes going to pro asset sale parties. To me that makes another case for changes being needed to MMP to make it truly proportionally representative. I can’t believe that yes JK no JK three bags full JK fence sitting Dunne got voted back in again. The people of Belmont should be ashamed! Under a fair proportional system such as 99 mp’s, no electorate seats, he wouldn’t be an MP and we probably wouldn’t be looking at asset sales.

    All those right whingers who say they don’t want asset sales even though they voted National should get on Dunne’s case, as should his Belmont constituents and pile the pressure on him over the asset sales issue. It sux that such a tiny one man band probably has the asset sale go or no go sitting in his hands.

    Surely there must be some sort of legal or constitutional challenge where such an issue of huge national importance is in the hands of a party which got only 13,000 votes. If most of those 13,000 voters are opposed to asset sales can’t they sack him or something?? (I know, I know) what a crap situation. And to all the people I know personally who didn’t vote. I fully understand why you didn’t vote and totally support your right to do that. But now do you understand why I pleaded with you that even if you believed none of the party’s should get your vote to just vote for any anti asset sale party solely for that one reason to try and stop asset sales?

  25. Jack Ramaka says:

    Evidently John Banks has stated publicly that he ia against Asset Sales can someone please clarify that.

  26. Tim G says:

    @Mikes76 +1
    (x 3)

  27. Pete George says:

    Mikes76, the % of vote isn’t what counts in our democracy, it’s the number of seats. It’s possible to get a majority of seats with less thann 50% due to votes that didn’t count – eg Conservatives and the other small parties that didn’t get a seat.

    National got a near majority on their own and everyone knew their asset sale policy. Peter Dunne was returned (it’s Ohariu, not Belmont) after openly campaigning on policies and clear about where he stood on National’s asset sale policies. The voters there have nothing to be ashamed of, they made their own choices, they weren’t voting on your behalf.

    Like it or not this our democracy.

    It isn’t ‘a fair proportional system’ with no electorate seats – what you prefer isn’t fair to everyone wants electorate MPs.

    The biggest complaints about our democracy are from small minorities who don’t get the result they want.

  28. Mike76 @4.06 says victimhood is an excuse for bad behavior:, “violence is increasing as are child abuse, drug abuse”.
    How is this the fault of inequality? these are the actions of losers.
    Singing Kumbaya and throwing extra money at them isn’t going to change psychopaths.
    Ever spoken to one? Someone who’d knife their neighbor for drugs and wouldn’t urinate on you if you were on fire? And there are a truckload more of these guys than there are billionaires in Aotearoa, Sweetheart.

  29. SJW says:

    Pete George,

    You say:

    “The biggest complaints about our democracy are from small minorities who don’t get the result they want.”

    Its a pity that you didn’t read the context in which Mike76 was commenting. Or are you referring to 51% as a ‘small minority’.

    As I read it Mike76’s comments referred to mine; which were with regard to asset sales, and that I consider it is inaccurate to read a mandate to sell assets into the election results and were those governing us really concerned with what The People indicated, the result of 51% of voters voting for parties that opposed asset sales should be of no small consideration in their ensuing decisions.

    You make a logical & clear argument with regard to the ‘mandate to govern’, however, the point I was making and which I believe Mike76 was responding to, was that to take the results as a ‘mandate to sell assets’ is simply a faulty conclusion to draw from the results.

    Additionally, I thought Mike76 was rather generous in including UF’s 0.6% in his equation of voters supporting asset sales, because UF was not promoting asset sales, they SORT OF indicated they MIGHT go along with them, YET they ALSO indicated they would bring a CONSIDERED approach toward the subject. (Which, as I stated before, could have indicated a call for a referendum amongst other things.) Such OBFUSCATION on the subject excludes UF to be considered a party promoting asset sales.

    This was a small point of difference I had to your comments Mike76, apart from which I wholeheartedly agree with your points.

    So, Pete George, is 51% the new definition of “small minority” these days?

    It certainly seems so.

  30. Colonial Viper says:

    So, Pete George, is 51% the new definition of “small minority” these days?

    I suspect Pete George’s definition is roughly 0.60%.

  31. Mikes76 says:

    @Pete George

    SJW summed up most of my feelings nicely, thanks SJW.

    Yes Pete I know that’s how the system works currently. But i believe that if we want a proportional representation system then it should be based upon % of the vote, which is much simpler and prevents parties manipulating the system such as in Epsom. Don’t you see that? Nobody could argue that a system based upon % of total vote isn’t a fair representation of voters wishes.

    I was just pointing out certain things that in my opinion are faulty with the system as it is. For example when a party gets 60,000 odd votes but ends up with no representation in parliament for those people while another party gets only 13,000 votes yet ends up with a seat in parliament. To me that’s not proportional representation, it gives a smaller slice of the population more representation than a larger slice and democracy is supposed to work on the majority rules way of thinking.

    I stand by my comments about Ohariu (sorry my bad) voters though. If UF ends up being the decider as to whether asset sales go ahead, it would be an interesting exercise (obviously would never happen in reality before anybody starts jumping up and down and posting abusive comments) to get the 13,000 UF voters to vote again solely on a yes or no in regards to asset sales. I reckon a majority would vote no (based upon polls of the population in general), hence my comment that they should pile the pressure on Mr insignificant who irritatingly (grrrr) becomes Mr very significant every now and then Dunne.

    Pete, when you say “The biggest complaints about our democracy are from small minorities who don’t get the result they want.” I disagree. I seem to remember most of the complaints about MMP were coming from National Party members and right whingers in general.

    Pete, “It isn’t ‘a fair proportional system’ with no electorate seats”. Umm, I believe it might be? How is a direct (almost) distribution of seats in Parliament according to a party’s % of the total vote not proportional and not fair?? (accepting that it would still be unfair to voters supporting party’s which receive less than 1% of the total vote; they would still have no representation in parliament)

    SJW – Yeah, I know what you mean in regards to UF. I just felt that behind the scenes Dunne had probably already given Key a yes on the sales in for whatever he got/gets in return. Just a feeling I got based upon Key’s confidence in the sales go ahead and my feelings about Dunne. I don’t know why I feel that way about him, he’s probably a nice bloke and probably has good intentions, etc. I just find him sort of weak or sycophantic (my opinion only) for some unknown reason.

  32. SJW says:

    No Viper, more like 60+%, which is the approx number that results against asset sales when the public are asked for their opinion on the matter. All politicians know these are the stats. But numbers matter little, what matters is to continue to fool the public and confuse them so that the numbers fall the right way in order to continue serving large money interests. No one is brave enough to stand up to such ‘power’ that is becoming patently clear.

  33. SJW says:


  34. Mikes76 says:

    @Monique Watson

    Hi Monique. I’m pretty sure (actually 100% certain) that I didn’t say anywhere that “victimhood is an excuse for bad behavior”, so I’m not sure where you saw that statement or garnered that intention in my comment. I was stating that there must be something wrong with a system where there are unprecedented levels of wealth, prosperity and productivity; yet there are drastically increasing levels of poverty and other negative social factors. You would think it would be the other way round, i.e the greater the wealth, prosperity and productivity, the less the negative social issues; but it’s not, so there must be some underlying fault with the system. Maybe that fault is inequality? I don’t know, but I think it’s a very definite possibility.

    I’m also pretty sure I didn’t say child abuse, drug abuse are the fault of inequality. Although, indications are from both research and common sense that inequality in society is at the very least, likely a contributing factor in poor social statistics and more than likely is a very significant factor in many of our social ills.

    You speak as though you think inequality is a good thing? Apologies if I’m wrong on that, but if that is the case could you explain to me why you believe that? I like trying to think about issues from the perspective of someone whose opinion differs completely from my own but in this case, as much as I try, I can’t get any ideas or possible reasons in my head regarding why people might think such a thing?

    You also stated (somewhat bizarrely) “Ever spoken to one? Someone who’d knife their neighbor for drugs and wouldn’t urinate on you if you were on fire?” As a matter of fact yes I have, more than one and to add to that i have also spent a fair bit of time around some individuals such as you describe. The ones I can think of offhand were all abused as children. Before you throw your arms in the air and start ranting and raving, I don’t accept that as an excuse for any of their violent behavior as I also know people who were abused as children yet are caring, non violent human beings. However, it is interesting and relevant that a large majority of child abusers and violent sociopaths were themselves abused as children. By the way, I think John Key could possibly be a psychopath. According to many commentators it is a trait which is highly represented and considered advantageous amongst successful financial speculators. (When he smiles, his eyes don’t…creepy)

    Monique, “And there are a truckload more of these guys than there are billionaires in Aotearoa, Sweetheart.” Yes I don’t doubt there are. The context i was using was in regards to the unprecedented wealth, prosperity and productivity of the world in general.

    Awwww, I haven’t been called sweetheart in ages..Thanks babe! 😉

  35. Jack Ramaka says:

    Interesting times ahead we have a First Generation New Zealander of Hungarian Jewish extraction dictating to us how it is going to be, because he got re-elected on a very slim majority thank to his little hero worshippers John Banks and Peter Dunn this guy displays arrogance similar to the Piglet Muldoon.

  36. Lou Peters says:

    Who says that we are all ‘equal’. We do not all posess the same intellect or the earning capacity that flows from that, we do not all posess the same moral compass that prevents most from committing crimes. Inequality is a misnomer, because, other than the fringe of the left wing movement, the vast majority of people don’t want to be the same as evryone else. Inequality is a catch phrase fro those that eschew every opportunity placed in front of them. What should be the focus is equal opportunities, which we have in New Zealand already. When I think back to my school days, I recall the clump of students in some of my ‘mixed stream classes’ that refused to engage, were disrespectful, disruptive and the downright sociopathic tendencies they displayed. There lack of engagement meant a lack of knowledge which meant they were doomed to low paid unskilled work, or for a lot of them a life of crime.

    I was given some advice long ago which has served me well, the easy path is the road to stupidity and poverty, the hardest path lead to knowledge and a good life. So when a kid leaves school at 16 with no qualifications, when soemone commits a crime, when people refuse to retrain when their low skilled jobs become obsolete, when people continue to have children they can’t possibly afford these are choices they have made.

    Nothing is an ‘accident’ by an individuals action or inaction they set the path of their own lives.

  37. Lou Peters says:

    @Jack Ramaka – “Interesting times ahead we have a First Generation New Zealander of Hungarian Jewish extraction dictating to us how it is going to be…” A more racist and antisemetic statement would be hard to find. What does the race of his forebearers have to do with anything? Is it the hngarian that bothers you or the fact that his ancestors were Jewish? Whats next, are you going to have a racist crack at Russell Norman because he’s an Australian and is trying to tell us how to live our lives? Shabby stuff indeed.

  38. Waterboy says:

    On the issue of inequality, why do the media and both major parties use the average wage instead of the median wage?
    Is this a PR spin to seem we are better off than we are?

    Can anyone tell me what the median wage is as opposed to the average wage.

    The media and Politicians seem to use the Median house price instead of the average house price!

  39. Mikes76 says:


    Yep, that’s been one of my real pet bees in my bonnet for ages. The fact is that around 70% of wage and salary earners earn less than the average wage. However the public perception is (understandably) that the average represents your typical wage or salary earner and is sort of middle of the road.

    The median would be a far better figure to use, that way you know that 50% earn more than that and 50% earn less. Very high salaries drag up the average far more than low incomes drag it down so it only takes a small number of very high incomes to raise the average. It is the perception of what the average is that is the problem. I have no doubts that politicians and the media make use of this when it suits.

    From memory I think the median wage / salary was around $700 a week whereas the average was over $900. The median is always less than the average.

  40. Waterboy says:

    Thanks for those figures, there was a post recently about a Delivery man earning 42000 PA with 3 kids. There comments from Cactus kate and others that he should know better earing such a small wage and having kids. Well with those figures he is above the middle. Its a sad country we live in where intelligent people think only those at the top end of the ladder should be able to have kids.

    Personally i think the guy should go to Aus and drive trucks and earn 100k plus.

    @David Cunliffe, if you realy want people to think we have an inequal society you need to use the median wage figure and stop using (Aimed at all Labour MP’s)the average wage figure. Maybe you could come with the actual figure of people who earn the minimum wage and there demographics.