Monday, June 29, 2020

The Greens' opening bid is transformational change

Over the weekend the Greens made their first election policy announcement, and promised transformational change: a more progressive tax system, with new rates applying to incomes of $100,000 and $150,000; a new wealth tax on net wealth over $1 million; and a guaranteed minimum income to eliminate poverty. Its bold, its progressive, it would make us a better, more equal society. So naturally, National is against it. As for Labour, the party that promised change at the last election, they don't want to talk about it - they're simply missing in action. Which is I guess what you'd expect from a bunch of people who own that many investment properties in Auckland.

A lot of people are quibbling the details of the wealth tax: is the $1 million threshold to low? Is the effective exemption of family homes by individualisation too complex? Will the rich find ways of giving themselves paper debt or paper partners to evade it? But these are implementation details. You can shift around thresholds and exemptions and this and that, but the core principle - that the rich should be paying tax on their hoarded wealth - is something we should all support (though really, its probably easier to implement the property part of it via a land tax, since its basicly impossible to evade). And it puts Labour in an unpleasant position: for all their left-wing talk, they're essentially a status quo party, who now oppose the more equal society they once stood for, or at least, oppose doing anything serious to get us there. But if they oppose this, they're essentially taking on their own base - and especially the young activists who provide the bulk of their electoral workforce. So hopefully, they'll be forced to respond. And while their response will no doubt be an insipid, watered-down half-measure (remember the "bright-line test"?), by accepting the principle, it will open the door to something better in future.