Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Some people

I was tipped to a post written by someone who’s not normally a political blogger. It was, shall we say, rather uninformed, but it was also illustrative of a problem with politics: Inattention.

The person* was commenting on last night’s leaders’ debate on TV One and, after admitting to feeling that politics is "so boring,” declared “I don’t think National are perfect but I am glad John Key has been at the helm over the last 3 years.” The writer said that Labour has “a better Arts policy” (one of the writer’s subject areas) and was “possibly more socially aware”. So far, not much to quibble about—and then it changed. “…but we are all partly responsible for our more dependant population. They just need to start helping themselves.” This followed on, as a non sequitur, from the comment about Labour being “possibly more socially aware”.

The writer said:
“Isn’t it better to be working than going on the dole, even if it is a minimal amount? You need to start somewhere. All the best people I have employed were prepared to work for free to prove their worth.”
So… the solution to welfare dependency is to force people to work for little—or for free?! The writer then asks how many additional unemployed people there will be with a “mandatory 10% employer contribution to Kiwi saver [sic]”. Guess facts are too boring, too.

The facts, directly from the Labour Party: “Labour’s compulsory KiwiSaver will see the employer contributions gradually increase by 0.5% a year from 3% in 2014 to 7% in 2022.” It took me less than five seconds to find that; call me crazy, but I prefer getting my facts directly rather than using someone else’s made-up talking points. I have no idea where this person got that imaginary “10%” figure from, but every time Tories mention it, the figure goes up—before you know it they’ll say it’s 75%!

Here’s the thing about this that really annoys me: The employer contribution will be rising by .5% per year over a decade, and that 3% won’t even start until 2014—two years from now. Do these nattering nabobs of negativism REALLY mean to say that employees won’t get more than .5% pay rise per year for the next decade? Because if these elites are saying they can’t afford to pay an additional .5% per year per employee, they’re saying they’re not going to be growing at all over the next decade, and if that’s the case, then they have far more to worry about than KiwiSaver contributions!

The irony, of course, is that these same business people complain about tight credit and lack of capital, both of which are a direct result of New Zealanders’ low savings rate. Mandatory KiwiSaver is an important step in fixing the savings problem, thereby increasing available credit and capital here in New Zealand.

There’s also a popular myth that folks are on the dole because they want to be. First, the single biggest piece of the welfare pie is New Zealand Superannuation (retirement), which consumes over 41% of total spending on welfare. That spending will soar over the coming decades—both facts are strong arguments for Labour’s plans for KiwiSaver and raising the retirement age.

But the other side of that is that none of the things that Tories constantly whinge about are even in double digits: Sickness Benefit (3.4%), Unemployment Benefit: (4.4%) or the Domestic Purposes Benefit (8.2%), as examples. So, most of New Zealand’s welfare goes to retired people, not to people who aren’t working.

Tory myths aside, there’s a very important thing that’s needed for the welfare situation to improve: Jobs. New Zealand’s unemployment rate continues to be stubbornly high, so there are fewer jobs, particularly in the less-skilled or semi-skilled end of the job market. “Getting tough” on those on welfare won’t fix that.

So, that blogger was rather uninformed about the subjects; as I often say, people are entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own facts. Personally, I think it’s every citizen’s duty to become informed, “boring” politics or not. However, I know there are some people who simply won’t care, no matter what, and that’s why I oppose mandatory voting: I’d rather not have bored, rather uninformed people saddling me with their choices on election day. It’s bad enough reading about it.

*I’m not linking to the post or saying who wrote it because neither is the point here, and because I don’t want to give search juice to the post.


Roger Owen Green said...

Sounds like Michelle Bachmann (and probably others, but I heard her most recently) say that that everyone should be be paying something for taxes so that everyone has a sense of ownership in the issues of the US.
Of course, they almost certainly do pay taxes, in gas taxes, sales taxes, and a myriad of other levies.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Those same people keep saying that illegal immigrants "pay no taxes", which absurd for precisely the reason you mentioned.

here in NZ, the current cut income taxes for the wealthiest people, and raised GST (like a sales tax) from 12.5% to 15%, which hits people hardest the poorer they are.

When it comes to taxes, I really don't think conservatives know what they're talking about.