Thursday, March 09, 2023

Labour is governing for the Boomers

In 2019 the Tax Working Group recommended that Aotearoa adopt a capital gains tax to plug a hole in the tax system, which sees the rich's income go mostly untaxed, while the rest of us pay on every cent we earn. Sadly, Labour chickenshitted out, as usual, with then-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promising that she would not introduce a capital gains tax, or anything else which might upset rich Boomers, while she was in office. She then backed that up by ruling out land taxes or wealth taxes whenever they were raised.

It was typical Labour chickenshittery, with the usual side dose of gaslighting (Arden blamed us for her cowardice, rather than accept responsibility for her decision). It was a betrayal of Labour's supporters, and the vision of a more equal Aotearoa. But it was also stupid, because it turns out that taxing the rich is quite popular. And that's been reinforced again this week, with a survey for the Ministry of Transport finding that people would like to tax wealth to pay for roads:

A Government-commissioned paper into replacing petrol taxes and road user charges has thrown up some politically awkward suggestions: wealth taxes, pollution levies, and charging malls and airports.

The reason for this awkwardness is that the Government has ruled out nearly all of these new taxes to various extents - and the Opposition doesn’t want to implement them either.

More awkward still is that the research paper shows that those new taxes, even the wealth tax, were widely supported by people questioned - although the sample used for the survey is small (436) and is not representative of the wider population like a poll, making it less useful as a measure of what the country thinks.

Bernard Hickey has more on this on The Spinoff, where he talks about the strong generational divide in the results. Which actually seems like a long-term problem for Labour, in that they're systematically painting themselves as an enemy of everyone under 50, and turning off generations of voters. Which isn't good if the party wants to have a future, or paint itself as a party of progress.

Hickey also notes that the mere mention of this survey and that it mentioned wealth taxes "was enough to light up the third rails of Aotearoa’s political economy". Those are of course the Boomers' "third rails", reflecting their generational wealth and entitlement and dominance of the political conversation (not to mention their use of utterly foreign rail metaphors - we use overhead wires here). The rest of us seem far more interested in those ideas. And it would be nice if politicians listened to us, rather than the selfish olds.