Tuesday, April 26, 2022


Aotearoa has an inequality problem. The top 1% own 20% of the wealth, and nearly half our total wealth is owned by the top 5% (and as that paper notes, it likely understates the problem, as wealthy individuals are poorly captured by the Household Economic Survey on which it is based). This creates all the usual problems of inequality - crime, poor health and education, loss of social trust - and is fast turning us into a society of peasants and landlords.

So what's Labour going to do about it? Introduce more progressive taxes, on high incomes, capital gains, land, or wealth? Of course not! Instead, we're getting another meaningless statement of principles:

Revenue Minister David Parker will introduce a bill which would set out principles of fairness in the tax system.

Speaking at the Victoria University in Wellington, Parker said authorities had “virtually no idea what rate of tax is paid by the very wealthy”.


The new bill, to be called the Tax Principles Act, was part of Parker’s work over the past few years looking into the wealth levels of the richest New Zealanders and how much tax they pay.

He said the research would inform future tax policy advice and development.

Which is rather underwhelming. And its not as if we don't know what the problem is - obscene wealth - or are short of solutions. Instead, as with climate change, it just looks like Labour is foot-dragging and engaging in predatory delay to avoid having to do anything. The charitable explanation for this is that they're afraid of offending the rich (which seems odd for a "centre-left" party). The less charitable one is to point out that many of them are rich themselves, and so part of the problem and inherently conflicted on any issue which might affect their wealth. Whatever the answer is, it would be nice to have a government which actually tried to do something about the problem, rather than endlessly making excuses.