The left have done their best to make inequality the problem of the moment.
Fortunately for New Zealand, though not the left’s campaign, the OECD facts contradict their story:
New Zealand was one of only six developed economies in which both income inequality and disposable income inequality was flat or slightly better between 2007 and 2011, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
In its latest report, which looks at the impact of the global financial crisis on inequality across 33 developed economies, the OECD confirms New Zealand performed relatively well through the GFC and its aftermath, Finance Minister Bill English says.
“The domestic recession in New Zealand under the previous government in early 2008 and the global financial crisis that followed were tough on many New Zealanders and their families,” he says.
“However, this Government ran large deficits and borrowed through that period to continue its significant support programmes. At the same time, we also set a track back to surplus and supported an economic recovery that is now delivering more jobs and higher incomes.
The opposition criticise the increase in debt but give the government no credit at all for using it to protect the most vulnerable from the worst impact of the GFC.
“This latest OECD research confirms that while inequality increased in many OECD countries during the global financial crisis, this was not the case in New Zealand.”
Using data compiled for the Ministry of Social Development’s household incomes report, the OECD’s latest Income Inequality Update confirms that both income inequality and disposable income inequality were flat or slightly better in New Zealand between 2007 and 2011.
It also finds that the disposable incomes of the top 10 per cent of New Zealand’s income earners were hit harder than the bottom 10 per cent of income earners through this period.
“Across the OECD as a whole, the opposite was true,” Mr English says. “The bottom 10 per cent of disposable incomes fell by twice as much through the GFC and the top 10 per cent.
Mr English says that the Government remains focused on supporting the most vulnerable New Zealanders by improving public services, lifting education standards and supporting more New Zealanders off welfare and into work.
“It’s in these areas that we can make a real difference to the lives of New Zealanders most in need.”
The easiest way to solve inequality is to make the rich poorer – as the left want to do by taxing them more.
That might close the gap between the top and bottom but will do nothing to improve the lot of those in most need.
Addressing their problems, as the government is doing through better public services, higher achievement in education and helping those who can work to do so is the only way to get sustainable improvement in living standards for the vulnerable.
The OECD report is here.