Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Airbrushing out the many

Key promises tax cuts for all, says the ODT headline. The article then goes on to say:

Big personal tax cuts for middle and high-income earners are likely to be announced in the May Budget and take effect from October this year.
Note to the ODT: "middle and high-income earners" does not mean "all". It does not even mean "most". According to IRD's income data [XLS], 78% of New Zealanders earn less than $48,000, meaning they don't even pay the middle tax rate of 33% (almost a third of us don't even pay the lower middle rate of 21%). But those people have been carefully airbrushed out of the ODT's picture. And so a policy which benefits the few at the expense of the vast majority of New Zealanders is sold as benefiting "all".

The ODT can get away with this because the facts on income distribution in New Zealand aren't widely known. As a result, most people can think of themselves as "middle income earners" when they are anything but. Maybe that's something we on the left need to do something about.