Monday, January 16, 2017

This is why we need wealth taxes

How unequal is New Zealand? SO unequal that the two richest men control as much wealth as a third of all kiwis:

Two New Zealanders are worth the same as the poorest 30 per cent of the adult Kiwi population, Oxfam research says.

Research also says the richest one per cent of New Zealanders own one fifth of the nation's wealth, while 90 per cent of the population owns less than half of the country's wealth.

The findings are included in a study of inequality in a global Oxfam report to be released on Monday and it cites the two wealthiest Kiwis, Richard Chandler and Graeme Hart.

They have an estimated wealth of $3.8 billion and $9b respectively - equal to the bottom 30 per cent of the adult population.

This level of inequality is simply obscene. Fortunately, there's a way of fixing it: taxes. Currently we tax income, but we don't tax wealth (e.g. land and financial instruments). Or rather, we don't tax it anymore. We used to, back in the C19th, when we used a land tax to prevent the establishment of a rural aristocracy and ensure that we became a more equal society than the one (some of) our ancestors had fled. But then it fell out of use. With the return of British levels of inequality, its time we revived that solution, and taxed it out of existence.