Thursday, December 08, 2011

English bullshits on inequality

On Tuesday, the OECD pointed out that we are a world leader in inequality, and recommended higher taxes on the rich as the core of a solution. Bill English disagees, saying its not the answer. So what is?

In one sense, English is right. There is more than one way to curb inequality. Japan, for example, has a strong social contract, with jobs for life and social restrictions against runaway earnings at the top. But somehow, I don't think that's on the table (English wouldn't stop rorting his housing allowance simply because it was immoral, so he's hardly going to take a pay cut for the sake of social cohesion). High-paid jobs and low unemployment are another part of the solution, but National isn't interested in that either (their policy of high unemployment, insecure employment, eroding employment rights and sub-inflation increases to the minimum wage is all about preserving a low-wage economy and allowing employers to make higher profits by short-changing their workers). Then there's benefits to top up the incomes of those at the bottom. But National is cutting those, and is unwilling to ensure a tax base which can fund them. Which brings us back to the need for higher taxes on the rich, and especially on wealth...

So, when Bill English says "higher taxes are not a solution", he's actually saying "we are not interested in inequality". His interviewers should call him on that bullshit, and hold him to account for it.