Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Our political parties are owned by the rich

Stuff reports on statistics on political donations, and reports the unsurprising news that our political parties are owned by the rich:

Over half of major political donations come from wealthy individuals able to splash out $15,000 or more, new research shows.

Fully 52 percent of the money from donations over $1500 in 2011-2016 came in chunks of $15,000 or more. Donations under $1500 aren't declared, but aren't thought to make up a significant percentage of party funding given the small population of New Zealand.


Journalist and academic Max Rashbrooke put together the numbers for a report on open government being released on Tuesday. He thinks that the donations clearly buy some kind of influence.

"If parties are reliant on very wealthy people for half of their donations, then they aren't going to ignore them are they? I think it must lead to influence for at least a certain class of people," Rashbrooke said.

Rashbrooke is right. This level of funding is going to lead to influence, if not outright ownership. That's not to suggest cash-for-policies, because donors don't need to even ask. Parties want donations, so they need to keep donors happy, so they adopt pro-donor policies. Like keeping taxes on companies and the rich low and opposing capital gains taxes and regulations which would keep kiwis safe. And those are exactly the policies we see from the major, establishment parties. They're institutionally corrupt.

As for how to fix it, outlawing large donations and replacing it with public funding directly tied to votes would be a good start.