Wrong comparison misses real story

You’d be forgiven if you imagined our MPs lived in a different world, writes Rob Stock.

That’s the opening statement of a Sunday Star Times story (not online) headlined A peek at how the other half lives.

It looks at likely policy initiatives this year and then says:

Examples of that kind of whack in the wallet came last year when working parents of young chidlren were told they would have to absorb the rising costs of pre-school childcare after the government cut funding to the sector by $449 million, and many feel that GST hikes left them worse off.

Whack in the wallet is a wonderfully emotive term and Stock makes no mention of the tax cuts and one-off increases to benefits which offset the GST increase.

While it would be foolish to expect the average MP to be on a par financially with the average person, the average man or woman in the street could be forgiven for thinking the parliamentarians making the decisions that hit their wallets live in a different world when it comes to personal finances.

And certainly, the 122 men and women occupying seats in parliament have a different financial profile from the average man or woman.

Stock then takes the 2010 register of parliamentarians pecuniary interests as a guide and says:

Though the register is now dated, it provides a view into the personal wealth themes among MPs, and allows readers to contrast parliamentarians fortunes with their own.

Passing over wealth themes whatever they might be, the inference from all this is that there is something wrong, on the contrary it shows there is something right.

It indicates that many of the people who govern us had successful careers before entering parliament and that they invested wisely. Rather than being something to envy, it’s something which ought to give us reassurance. If they know how to earn, and look after, their own money they are more likely to take a responsible attitude to policies which impact on ours.

It is meaningless to compare MPs’ salaries and assets with those of the average working-age person because the average person doesn’t have the work load and responsibilities of most MPs. (I say most because there could be the odd list MP who does little to earn his/her salary and I specify list because any electorate MP who doesn’t more than earn his/her salary loses his/her seat).

Stock has made the wrong comparison and missed the real story.

A more meaningful comparison would be between MPs and people who run their own businesses or have senior management or governance roles.

A much more interesting, and useful, story would compare what MPs earned before they got into parliament with what they get as an MP.

An even more fascinating story would show how many, and  from which party, took an income hit when they entered parliament; how many earn more as an MP than they did before and how many earn more afterwards.

Those comparisons would give us the real story.

16 Responses to Wrong comparison misses real story

  1. robertguyton says:

    Stock says,
    ” the average man or woman in the street could be forgiven for thinking the parliamentarians making the decisions that hit their wallets live in a different world when it comes to personal finances.”

    He’s right. They could.

    Why are you so keen to defend MPs Ele?
    Bill English, for example, needs no defending from anyone. He’s carefully carved out a nice little financial niche for himself. Let him defend himself when people criticise his various self-enriching activities.

  2. robertguyton says:

    Oh, and are working parents of young chidlren having to absorb the rising costs of pre-school childcare after the government cut funding to the sector by $449 million?

  3. Tired Farmer says:

    Right on Target this time Robert!

  4. homepaddock says:

    Why am I defending MPs?

    Because this was sloppy journalism designed to lead readers to think ill of MPs. Most of them more than earn the money they’re paid and I’d include Bill among them.

    You’re welcome to disagree with policies, but if you want to make personal attacks do it somewhere else.

    I don’t know the answer to your question on pre-school care. But given the constraints on finances I wouldn’t make taxpayer funding for middle and upper income families’ child care a priority.

  5. pdm says:

    RG – of course Phillida Bunkle, Marian Hobbs and Phil Goff didn’t rort the system. In Goffs case he continues to do so.

  6. robertguyton says:

    pdm – rot in both the Red and Blue camps!
    That’s why I support the Green – they’re clean!

  7. Linda Reid says:

    I would prefer to see people like John Key in parliament – people who have been successful in the real world, and see being an MP as ‘service’ in the true sense of the word – not as a career option.

    So I’d prefer that MPs were paid the average wage. For people who truly want to ‘serve’ this would not be a deterrent; they would have already set themselves up in life and be ready, like John Key, to serve for free even.

    What I don’t like are people who follow the university – union job – mp – route into power, or those that follow the university – professor – mp route. I feel that they would have little or no real understanding of private enterprise – and it is private enterprise that creates real wealth for all New Zealanders.

    I want successful people being MPs, not people who need the money.

  8. gravedodger says:

    How conveniently RG totally ignores the rort that his nice green party mates perpetrated with paying rent to their superannuation fund owned housing with taxpayer funding, all under the rules of course.
    Clean, my gluteus maximus, the Green Party can be just as grubby and grasping as the rest. Why else the messing about with Mike Ward and their original list they had sold to the electorate at the election, so they could parachute their desired person into the parliament and make him leader to maximise their entitlement to state funding.
    Total BS Robert, you can paint a pig any color you like but it is still a pig.

  9. robertguyton says:

    Linda – John Key serves for free???
    Can you link to where that’s shown to be a fact, not just a carefully nurtured myth?
    Thanks.

  10. robertguyton says:

    Grave Dodger – I’d wager my entire Sea Shepherd flag collection that the Greens are the cleanest party in the house by a factor of ‘a lot’. You can hope and pray that they are not, you can dig and snuffle for dirt on the Green MPs but you’ll not find anything worthy of mention. If I did the same for National – goodness me!!! Shooting ducks in a barrel. Likewise Labour. The Maori Party, not so sure but Hone’s dealing with that right now.

  11. gravedodger says:

    Utopia is just around the corner then.

    The value of a collection of discredited SS flags would be?
    But then some of our more distinguished citizens drape the swastika around themselves don’t they.

  12. robertguyton says:

    Vote Green GD.
    You’ll feel so much better in the morning.

  13. gravedodger says:

    Call me old, robert, that is an established fact of a chronological nature, but do not yet call me stupid.
    I would put my “green creds” up for scrutiny any time if you are talking about caring for, enhancing, preserving and protecting the environment. My native species existing and planted, my exotic plantings, waterways, effluent disposal, composting and water conservation activity would pass muster with most but not at the exclusion of creating a richer and sustainable future for all. I do not subscribe to the mentality that would ignore avenues that will provide for the basic needs of people by exploiting what is seen as current best practise by a majority of citizens.
    I am very comfortable that my 16 acres is a diverse, enhanced, sustainable ecology better able to provide shelter, sanctuary and sustenance for any creature that chooses to co-habit with me except for silver eyes that threaten my grapes, mildew spores, possums, gorse and broome and thrushes, blackbirds etc that will not make do with the abundance I have established and apparently cannot work out that if I net something, I have further plans for that produce and wish them to respect that fact.
    The mere observable fact that many of the welfare ridden species listed above have exploded in numbers here tells me they mistakenly think they have opportunities unlimited.

    However if you should in error think that because a group of arrant socialists, communists, feminists and other assorted unelectable individuals shrouding themselves with a tiriti o waitangi cloak should get my electoral support by adopting, entirely fraudulently imo, the green brand as an umbrella, then your judgement is badly flawed.
    Sue Bradford, Kieth Locke, Catherine Delahunty, Russel Norman, Nandor Tanczos et el are just opportunists whose environmental concerns do not impress as their core belief. Jeanette Fitzsimons, Rod Donald and many at grassroots,possibly including yourself yes but do not think for a single moment that the gang of five above fool many, hence the 5% hover.

    ps Hugh Wilson who I have known for nearly sixty years has pretty good green creds but even Hugh saw the irony when two fire appliances, an ambulance, the rescue helicopter and many other resources were in action to come to his aid when he had the misfortune to get trapped under a rock on his conservation estate as night closed in.
    Rant ends.

  14. robertguyton says:

    So …I should sign you up then GD?

    When next in your patch, I’d love to visit. You and I face similar avian challenges (I’ve just come in from a netting session – blueberries and plums – stupid birds!)
    If you are neaby to Hugh, you’ll be able to keep an eye on the Bluegreens for me at the end of the month and perhaps report back on their antics. I’ve included a link to my post on their ‘summer jam’ for your possible comment (hope that’s not your place they’ve featured!)

    http://robertguyton.blogspot.com/2011/01/bluegreens-summer-forum.html

    Have you thoughts about the proposed/declined marine reserve for the harbour? Something on Lake Ellesmere perhaps?
    Biodynamics might assist you in your war on mildew 🙂

  15. robertguyton says:

    btw – you have Nandor in the wrong list.

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