A very insightful piece by Dr Deborah Russell, lecturer in taxation at Massey University, and Labour candidate for Rangitikei, raised a clear picture of the difference between equality and inequality;
There is little doubt that inequality has increased over the last thirty years. In February this year, a bungle by Treasury resulted in child poverty numbers being underestimated by twenty thousand. Income inequality was also underestimated.
Part of the reason has been one aspect of the neo-liberal “revolution”: tax cuts and increased user pays.
New Zealanders could do well to reflect that, since 1986, we have had no less than seven tax cuts;
1 October 1986 – Labour
1 October 1988 – Labour
1 July 1996 – National
1 July 1998 – National
1 October 2008 – Labour
1 April 2009 – National
1 October 2010 – National
At the same time we have had less revenue from SOEs as they were privatised or partially-sold off.
So it’s little wonder that more and more User Pays has crept into our economy/society, such as $357 million in “voluntary” donations for ‘free’ schooling, that parents have to cough up each year. That’s on top of school uniforms, text books, shoes, personal equipment, etc.
The neo-liberal revolution of the 1980s and 1990s didn’t stop, it just became more covert, with incremental increases, so we barely noticed. And when we did notice – such as the increase of prescriptions from $3 to $5 – public opposition was muted. Yet, once upon a time, prescriptions cost 50 cents each, and before that, were free.
An indicator of growing inequality is the level of home ownership in this country. This is a core statistic that cannot be fudged by National’s spin-doctors and their right-wing, One Percenter wannabes/sycophants.
According to the 1986 Census, home ownerships rates in New Zealand was 74.1%, with 23.1% renting.
By 2013, according to last year’s census, the figures had changed radically;
» 49.9% owned their own home (54.5% in 2006)
» 14.8% homes were owned by a Trust (12.3% in 2006)
» A total of 64.8% of households owned their home or held it in a family trust (66.9% in 2006)
» 35.2% were renting/did not own their own home (33.1% in 2006)
As the Census 2006 Housing in New Zealand report stated,
“Over the 2001 to 2006 period the incomes of the majority of private-renter households have for the first time since 1986 increased more quickly than owner-occupier households. This supports the contention that an increasing number of working households on what would previously be considered ‘reasonable’ incomes can no longer access home ownership.
The decline in home ownership rates over the 1991 to 2001 period was significantly greater for younger households than it was for older households. This trend would appear to have continued over the 2001 to 2006 period. The gap between the home ownership rates of couple-with-children households, who have historically had the highest home ownership rates, and other types of households, narrowed over the 1991 and 2001 period, and has continued to narrow over the 2001 to 2006 period. Conversely, the home ownership rate gap between couple-only households and other types of households has widened over both periods, in favour of couple-only households. Home ownership rates as would be expected increase with household income. There are, however, differences between regions, based we suspect, on differences in average house prices by region.”
The upshot is that whilst home ownership rates are in free-fall – unsurprisingly renting is steadily increasing.
National’s response to address our critical housing? To reduce demand – not by building more houses – but by restricting first home owners with a 20% Loan To Value Ratio (LVR). This measure forced a sizeable chunk of house-buyers from the market, whilst local and offshore speculators were allowed free reign.
This is most definitely not what was promised to this nation in the late 1980s, when “trickle down” was supposed to increase our wealth. To the contrary, as the decades slide by, it is more and more apparent that we’ve been cruelly hoaxed.
Good question, Dear Leader. Good question.
Postscript – A tale of denial
# 6 – Acceptance?
Radio NZ: Govt disappointed by stats bungle
Fairfax media: Children in poverty vastly underestimated
NZ Herald: Parents fundraise $357m for ‘free’ schooling
NZ 1987-88 Official Yearbook: Table 6.4. TENURE OF DWELLINGS (6.1 Households and dwellings)
Statistics NZ: 2006 Census – Dwelling ownership
Centre for Housing Research: Census 2006 Housing in New Zealand
John Key.co.nz: A Fresh Start for New Zealand
Scoop media: You’re wrong John, there is a housing crisis in NZ
Fairfax media: Housing affordability getting worse
Closer Together-Whakatata Mai: New Zealand’s income inequality problem
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