With the government shackled into a coalition arrangement which forces them to go right more often than left, I sometimes wonder what the point of having a "Labour" government is. Today, they reminded me why, with the largest increase to the minimum wage since 1999. Labour has raised the minimum wage every year since coming into office, and boosted it by almost 60% over that period - about three times the rate of inflation. This hasn't just boosted incomes at the bottom of the heap; it has also helped raise them higher up as well - and with no adverse effects on employment. The net effect has been to redistribute income down the pyramid, from the greedy to the needy, in the process helping to counteract some of the inequality that had opened up during the Revolution. The vast majority of New Zealanders gain from this process; the only ones who don't are the selfish at the top who want to ensure that they alone capture the fruits of economic growth. And boy do they squeal loudly when forced to share.
The Employers' and Manufacturers' Association is making the usual claims about how this will lead to job losses and price some jobs out of the market due to "insufficient productivity". But somehow I don't think our local rich will be willing to clean their own toilets or make their own coffee. And I don't think they'll be willing to do that when it goes up to $12 an hour in 2008 either.