Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's going to take more than a razor gang to fix this! [updated]

Around sixty years before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed midst great hope and expectation, and New Zealand began working towards the "modern democracy" it is now, Alexander Tytler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh , had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.
How far are we from that time? Well, consider some figures from a Bernard Hickey column that has attracted little comment, but shows we're now at the cusp of a historic turning point:
[From 1999 to today] both local and central governments grew consistently and faster than the rest of the economy [as did] the number of people receiving benefits, Working for Families payments and/or working for local and central governments...
This means that now we have 1.85 million people working and paying taxes to 1.75 million who receive benefits or work for the government. This near 1 to 1 ratio compares with a near 1.5 workers to 1 beneficiary in 1999.
Let me repeat that: in New Zealand's modern democracy1.75 million adults now rely on income taxes paid by 1.85 million working adults. [You can see here how those figures are made up.]

It's going to take more than a razor gang and a bubbly personality to fix that.

UPDATE 1: Speaking of democracy, what would Alexander Tytler say about this: How Obama was Elected.

I know for sure what Bill Weddell would have said: "Democracy is the counting of heads regardless of content."

UPDATE 2: Yes, I've been corrected by Redbaiter. It's Tytler, not Tyler.

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16 Comments:

Anonymous LGM said...

Interesting the way the press playing up the credentials of the new social welfare mistress. The line seems to be that here is a young woman who started out as a DPB beneficiary and look how well she's done...

Well, let' see. She dumped a sprog and went on the welfare. Presently she's on the welfare (in receipt of a far larger benefit handout than previously) and now she's appointed the figurehead of the outfit that doles out the largess to beneficiaries. Wow! From welfare beneficiary to welfare beneficiary. What a great achievement! Such progress! Big deal.

Shit oh dear! Only in this blighted outfit could something so banal and twisted as that be promoted without irony.

LGM

11/19/2008 09:37:00 am  
Anonymous Ann said...

Why is the Working-For-Families scheme lumped in with benefits? I was under the impression it was a tax-rebate.

11/19/2008 09:57:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

Actually, I disagree with that last paragraph, LG. I reckon Paula Bennett's story would be regarded similarly in most western countries today, they're so socialist.

I heard a Sally Army chap from West Auck yesterday on the radio. He was saying that it was "inspirational" that a young woman who'd been on the DPB at 17 could end up in her current position.

While I'm pleased that she's made a success of herself - no comment, please! - my initial thought was along the lines of .. "That's funny. I think it would be inspirational to *not* be on state welfare at 17".

Guess it all depends on your "world view", eh. ;)

11/19/2008 10:00:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

If Paula Bennett's three years on the DPB is her chief qualification for being Social welfare supremo, then would the ideal Minister for Corrections be someone who's spent three years in jail?

11/19/2008 10:10:00 am  
Anonymous Ann said...

I have to take issue with the figures in the statement 1.75 million adults now rely on income taxes paid by 1.85 million working adults., as those employed by various government departments pay income tax as well.

Obviously it is correct to say that 1.75 million adults rely on government income for their wages or benefits, but it s misleading to infer that it's purely taxes from the other 1.85m that are paying for them.

11/19/2008 10:22:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

Hi Ann .. I'm enjoying your comments here of late.

I've always believed the mantra that "public servants and beneficiaries 'pay tax', too" is something of a red herring.

Because they are all paid directly from the tax-take, (ie, they do not produce wealth), they are not tax-payers, per se. They just take home less than they would. Am I being picky?

(And having said that, I hate to think of useful defence personnel & police officers being lumped in with the likes of useless health dept pen-pushers or life-long welfare beneficiaries, in that reckoning).

Collectivism, anyone? ;)

11/19/2008 11:19:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"I have to take issue with the figures ... as those employed by various government departments pay income tax as well..."

Well, yes they do. But no, since the money used to pay them comes from other taxpayers they're not nett taxpayers at`all.

The idea that they're genuine taxpayers is just a modern fiction.

It's just as Hickey said: 1.75 million adults now rely on income taxes paid by 1.85 million working adults.

But it doesn't work the other way around -- no matter how hard they work (and I sure as hell wish they wouldn't) if those 1.85 million working adults stopped producing the wealth, they couldn't rely on the taxes paid by the parasites since all those parasites would have to go out and find a real job.

11/19/2008 11:29:00 am  
Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

And to answer Ann's first question:

Why is the Working-For-Families scheme lumped in with benefits? I was under the impression it was a tax-rebate.

Well, technically it's actually known as a 'tax credit'.

But all this is semantic bullshit really. Sometimes the best way to answer a question is to ask one in return.

Given a the net result of a benefit and a tax credit (and rebate for that matter) is the same: to redistribute the wealth taken from one taxpayer, giving it to another taxpayer, based on an arbitrary set of criteria, in this case, the number of children in a family, then what distinction are you trying to draw, Ann, between this tax credit and 'this' welfare benefit?

As for Working for Families itself, it is a particularly insidious 'benefit', for the reasons I gave here.

11/19/2008 11:51:00 am  
Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

Again, without the typos:

Given the net result of a benefit and a tax credit (and rebate for that matter) is the same - that is, to redistribute the wealth taken from one taxpayer, giving it to another taxpayer, based on an arbitrary set of criteria, in this case, the number of children in a family - then what distinction are you trying to draw, Ann, between this tax credit and 'this' welfare benefit?

11/19/2008 12:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Redbaiter said...

Its Tytler actually. Not Tyler.

11/19/2008 01:12:00 pm  
Blogger Luke H said...

would the ideal Minister for Corrections be someone who's spent three years in jail?

This is an intriguing idea. I suspect a Minister of Drug Legalisation who had been arrested/jailed for possessing or selling illegal drugs would make quite enlightened decisions about legalisation.

11/19/2008 03:22:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its Tytler actually. Not Tyler.
And it's falsely attributed to him, to boot!

11/20/2008 12:26:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

So what you are all saying is that far less than 1.85 million people are productively working to support far more than 1.75 million.

What about all the indirect suckling of the state tit? Surely that needs to be counted as well? There are consultants of all sorts. Then there are various practitioners one needs to retain to calculate taxes and undertake to comply with various regs and legislation and so forth.

How much less than 1.85 million is the actual population of productive workers?

LGM

11/20/2008 06:50:00 am  
Anonymous Ann said...

Mark, I draw a huge distinction between a family getting a tax credit (essentially having some of their taxes returned to them) and someone on a benefit receiving money from taxpayers to sit on their butts and do nothing productive, neither for themselves nor society. Working for Families is a return of taxes, benefits are redistribution.

11/20/2008 07:56:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

Ann, I've disagreed on more than one occasion with a leftie over at 'No Minister' on this issue. Like you, he also believes that WFF is a 'tax credit'.

With respect, I think it's a case of the Labour party being disingenuous.

Getting to keep more of what you earn, ie paying *less* tax, does not involve your money being funnelled through a bureaucracy, (keeping a portion for itself in the process), before giving you your abitrary slice, in this case, for having kids.

Which is why I (and the Libz) call it "Welfare for Families".

If it involves a bureaucracy, it's just welfare by any other name.

Cheers.

11/20/2008 10:03:00 am  
Anonymous Ann said...

Good points Sus - simply having less taxation to begin with would of course be preferable. People would far prefer to simply have less taxation, but are so conditioned to seeing their money taken, that they will take what they can get whenever they can.

On a side note, one of the more interesting things to come out of the initiation of WFF was that ludicrous complaint that was going to be made to the Human Rights commission that WFF was unfair as it discriminated against people who weren't working.

No mention that it discriminated against people without kids though. This is mostly because they're not as likely to be bludging on the dole or DBP. As such they have virtually nobody to 'go in to bat for them'. Even worse, it's a widely accepted view that it's OK for them to not pay more tax, simply because they don't have to spend money on bringing up children.

This is where I point out that bureaucratic schemes like WFF and the DHBs seem to have formed the backbone of Labour's strategy to lower employment - obviously at further expense to the tax payers.

11/20/2008 11:44:00 am  

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