Why inequality needs to be on the political agenda

By   /   May 13, 2014  /   15 Comments

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Poverty denial is very important to the right. Denial of a problem means you aren’t responsible for fixing it. Beyond rewarding the wealthy, National have little else to offer except small business self reliance pop psychology ZB talking points which is why it will be so important to attend these inequality lectures…


Poverty denial is very important to the right. Denial of a problem means you aren’t responsible for fixing it. Beyond rewarding the wealthy, National have little else to offer except small business self reliance pop psychology ZB talking points which is why it will be so important to attend these inequality lectures…

The equality debate: Inequality in NZ under spotlight
Two British health researchers are gearing up to challenge New Zealanders’ unusually high tolerance of what many countries consider a social evil – inequality.

Professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, whose book The Spirit Level was subtitled “Why more equal societies almost always do better”, will present this year’s Sir Douglas Robb Lectures at the University of Auckland from May 19-23.

Economist Tim Hazledine says the book “has made a huge impact on just about every field of social science and policy analysis” since it appeared in 2009.

…cutting through the Right wing denial, here are the FACTS on inequality in NZ…

-The gap between high and low incomes has widened faster in recent decades in NZ than in most other developed nations

-Across all adults. the top 1% owns three times as much wealth as the poorest 50%.

-NZ now has the widest income gaps since detailed records began in the early 1980s.

-The average household in the top 10% of NZ has nine times the income of one in the bottom 10%

-Between 170 000 – 270 000 children living in poverty (depending on the measures used)

-One of the world’s worst worst records of child health and well-being

-One major report on children’s welfare ranked NZ twenty-eighth out of 30 developed countries.

-There are more Pakeha in poverty then Maori, but poverty impacts Maori & Pacifica more acutely. 1 in every 10 Pakeha households live in poverty, 1 in every 5 Maori and Pacific households live in poverty.

-Maori had 95% of their land appropriated and alienated between 19th Century and 20th Century. (Compensation for the almost complete loss of an economic base in just over a century? A mere $1.4Billion in Treaty settlements. A steal at twice the price you might say. Not only have Maori been ripped off, but they are also forced to live in poverty with the reality of generations worth of being ripped off. Insult to injury, jowl by blistered jowl.)

-Women earn 13% less than men and are under represented in senior positions within almost every occupation. Many are forced to take low income part time work.

-Subsidies for Kiwisaver contributions and some Working for Families tax credits, are available only to those in paid work or, sometimes, in full-time paid work. A lower proportion of Women are in full time work so they are more likely to be excluded from these initiatives and more reliant on inadequate state benefits.

-Pacific Islanders are 3 times more likely to be unemployed than the general population’s rate, they also, like recent immigrants, struggle alongside Maori against structural discrimination.

-These groups represent the 800 000 NZers living below the poverty line.

-Against that number, 29 000 people own 16% of NZs wealth, and 13 000 NZers have incomes over $250 000.

-Wages and benefits are too low for people to live on, it isn’t an issue of budgeting, it’s an issue of income.

-Poverty erodes voice and citizenship which generates inequality.

-People’s ability to participate fully in their society and enjoy a sense of belonging is vital for a Democracy to flourish.



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  1. Mistery Mistery says:

    This inequality is by design of this government.

    Putting everyone in their ‘place’ (even if that means on the street, or sleeping in cars or garages) so they can take care of themselves.

    The UN are looking into some of these points in September. The cat is out of the bag.


  2. countryboy says:

    Poverty is a numbers game to those who understand that process .
    If one wants to be financially wealthy , perhaps beyond the ability to spend all the money , one MUST take advantage of those who could care less for accumulating vast financial wealth . Those who instead see ‘ wealth ‘ other than financial in other areas of life . I call it the Blind Hen with the Fat Worm syndrome .
    Wealth to most of us is happiness for example . Or a dog to hang with . Or close friends and a lover who loves you , warts and all . Or perhaps it’s nothing more than just being alive and healthy . Ask any cancer sufferer ?
    That’s not how those whom seek vast financial wealth see it at all . They see an opportunity and they believe it’s their right to exploit that opportunity . That opportunity is a population of the financially poor and are thus easily exploited .
    My ponderings go to just how much further are the financially poor going to be pushed , before they push back .
    The finically poor , and that’s most of us , have had all those hard earned safety mechanisms stolen from us by those who saw an opportunity to make their financial wealth at our expense . We poor old blind hens just sat back and hardly gave a cluck .
    Jonky is a good enough example of that . How did jonky , a relatively young man , accumulate somewhere between 50 and 200 million dollars ? Well , I’m not sure , but I can tell you this much . It wasn’t at $20.00 an hour with three kids and a mortgage .
    How did Michael Fay become financially worth $ 790 million dollars NET and yet ? Where are our assets and infrastructure ?
    We need a Fred Hollows for us chickens man .
    I saw on tha tee vee last night on Aunty Johns Love-in that cunliffe gets along with jonky as a person . How could that be , given the damage the little man’s doing to our society ? How can he say that about that flaccid little jonky creature , who has suicides , hunger , disease and societal dysfunction that’ll echo down through the ages staining the front of his best barbecue t shirt ?
    Cunliffe ? This is no fucking game . This is our lives you snuggle past with a giggle . And for the record ? I think john campbell needs testosterone injections .

  3. countryboy says:

    How ironic ? A close friend has just sent me this .


    • Mistery Mistery says:

      Yes ironic.

      Good to see professional folk are onto this social inequalities situation too.

      I liked this part from the interview/article link – talking about the top 1%:

      “So it looks like it’s just that they are taking the money because they can,” he says. “There is a lack of governance at this level that is striking.”

      So apt right now.


    • Intrinsicvalue says:

      Countryboy…if my neighbour earns more than me and gets a payrise, the inequality between him and I gets bigger, yet I am no poorer. Why is this a problem?

  4. Countryboy says:

    Where’s my other comment ?? The one that gave relevancy to the one above containing the link ???

  5. Intrinsicvalue says:

    There is no poverty in NZ. None. Everyone has access to power, housing, food, drinking water and education. Not having Sky TV is not being in poverty.

    • Mistery Mistery says:

      Our child poverty, at last official count, places us at 5th worst in the world!

      Do you want to be proud of that IV?

      Opinion and belief.

      • Gosman says:

        We are not fifth worst in the world for Child poverty. You view is a completely false one hence why it is unreferenced I presume.

        • Gosman, as usual, your psycopathy makes you m,ore fixated on statistics rather than actual problems surrounding child poverty.

          Mistery was most likely referring to child abuse statistics;

          New Zealand has the fifth-worst child abuse record out of 31 OECD countries. On average, one child is killed every five weeks.


          However, before you start crowing and revelling in a simple mistake, our child poverty stats are also getting worse.


          The Unicef report also shows that in 2001 New Zealand was second only to Mexico in the proportion of children living in homes earning less than half the median income before taxes and family support were taken into account – a measure of inequality in “market” earnings.


          In that report, NZ ranked at #23 in rankings of child poverty.


          New Zealand ranks poorly for child poverty – at 25th out of 34 developed countries – and is behind countries such as Australia and Britain also for homicide rates and child health and safety, the report released on Wednesday shows.


          So we’ve fallen back even further from 23 to 25th worst.

          January 2014

          The income gap has worsened according to recent releases from Stats NZm from the 2013 census,

          Households in Christchurch’s wealthiest neighbourhoods earn three times more than those in the poorest, census data shows.


          Holmwood, a neighbourhood between Fendalton and Merivale, had the highest median household income ($128,300).

          At the other end of the list, Linwood households earned a median income of $42,100.

          Between 2006 and last year’s census, median household incomes increased across the city but some suburbs appear to have been left behind. In some of the poorest neighbourhoods, two-thirds of households bring in less than the city’s median income.

          January 2014

          In 2006, the median income for someone in the Orakei area, including Mission Bay and St Heliers, was $36,600.

          Data from last year’s census, which has just been released, shows that figure has grown to $42,700.

          But incomes for those in the poorest suburb of Mangere-Otahuhu actually fell, dropping $200 to $19,700 last year.


          This is not what was promised under the “trickle down” theory of the neo-liberal revolution in the 1980s and 1990s.

          Incomer disparity; child poverty; home ownership; wealth inequality – have all worsened.

          I’m not sure how much more evidence you require, Gosman. I guess that depends on how closely you identify with your belief in libertarian ideology.

          But it’s obvious. The evidence does not support your belief system.

    • fatty says:

      You say this all the time IV, then someone always reminds you the poverty is a relational concept, not an objective one.

      Then you say something else about personal choices.

      Your turn Noddy…

      • Intrinsicvalue says:

        Poverty is ‘relational’? No, poverty is easily defined. It is the lack of access to basic human needs, such as housing, clothing, power, clean drinking water, an adequate diet. No-one in NZ is in poverty, unless by choice.

        • fatty says:

          Classic intrinsicvalue…so stupid, but so sure of yourself. Even a simple wiki search shows you’re wrong. An objective measurement of poverty only exists in your head. For the rest of us, it’s more complex.

          Do you ever get disheartened when someone points out how stupid you are?
          Chin up buddy.

    • McChristchurch says:

      “There is no poverty in NZ. None. Everyone has access to power, housing, food, drinking water and education.”

      IV – the ACT troll again espousing the Law of the Jungle right-wing Tory values again.
      I’m surprised Swift’s :Modest Proposal” http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1080 isn’t enshrined in ACT’s manifesto, along with planned euthanasia to address the growing superannuation costs.
      Come down to Christchurch you self-righteous Tory prick and I’ll introduce you to poverty.

    • Andrea says:

      Except that some people have it all – and some people have to choose between.

      Not having the means whereby to address daily challenges such as being able to afford even a second-hand fridge – and then having no means to get it home. Not having an inside loo. Missing floor boards. Cooking over an open fire. These conditions are here, today, in NZ. And I’m not talking about a weekend ‘roughing it’ while tramping. Day to day. Month by month.

      Money from WINZ? ‘I owe my soul to the company store’. If I couldn’t afford it before I sure as can’t once they’ve stopped ‘a little bit’ from my Enormous Benefit, whatever it might be.

      No. We don’t have a huge population of abandoned street kids, or people living in squalid slums. We’re not like those Really Poverty-Afflicted places such as Haiti and Delhi and the southern USA.

      But we surely do have poverty when it comes to comprehension of how the rules keep changing to put formerly secure workers into the range of never enough. And poverty for the creation of a society that has moved on from the Industrial era.

      Simply being a rentier, and paying other people to mind your properties does not make you a job-creator. You are simply a client and, should you overstep your prudent management of affairs and lose your properties, employment, spouse and status – you will cease to be a client. It will be like taking a hand from a bucket of water. Barely a ripple left to mark your departure.

      It happens. Ask any of the Wunderkind finance people presently enjoying Her Majesty’s accommodation.

      At which point you could well enter the uncomfortable sector of society formerly known as ‘Distressed Gentlefolk’ – and there you’ll find a species of poverty. Not Calcutta. Not Mumbai. Too local to escape the pity and the gossip and the ostracising.

      Then you can talk about poverty. Personal. Close-up.

      Remember: Hubris is inevitably followed by Nemesis.