Cartoon by Nick Kim
Here’s a question to contemplate this morning: Just how many actual taxpayers do you think there are in New Zealand?
You know who I mean, the brave souls actually paying for the whole dog and pony show, the ones keeping their brothers in milk and cream. Let’s see if a broad brush can deduce it down to the nearest dozen or so, eh?
The Stats Department reports the estimated resident population of New Zealand at last count was 4,242,048, give or take a few who refused to be counted. So let’s say just over 4 million in total, of which just over 600,000 are over 65, and 2.7 million or so are of a working age—and of these around 300,000 are in school or courses of study.
So we’re already down to 2.4 million doing all the work.
Of these, 260,000 or so are self-employed, 1.8 million or so are working for wages, and a lucky 170,000 are living off their investments.
Some people are doing all three, and all power to them for that.
So let’s say we’ve got around 2 million in total keeping the bureaucrats and moochers fed and working (you see what I did there?). And of those, well over 800,000 are receiving government money directly. So as taxpayers, they’re not. So they’re out too.
Which leaves us just 1.2 million to feed Bill English’s ego. Except not even all of those are actual tax-payers.
You see, the ranks of those 260,000 self-employed include “consultants” working for all manner of government departments, both central and local, giving “advice,” writing reports, and selling their various shell games and motivational bullshit; and we've also got self-employed planners, arborists, Kiwisaver suits, quality assurance blowhards and the Directors and employees of Team New Zealand. All of them making a living which only exists, or is largely only paid for, by sucking off the state tit. And since we’re only looking for the number of taxpayers down to the nearest dozen, let’s say fully a third of self-employed people keep their families fed this way, and each of them has a 'support team' working for them of at least three or four. So that’s around 300,000 on the take.
Down to 900,000. And still going down.
Now, what do lawyers do all day? Take Mai Chen and Geoffrey Palmer for example: would there be a reason for their existence if they couldn’t go up the road and put their tongue in the ear of Government fairly frequently?
And what about the other large law factories that infest our city restaurants and bars? Would the law factories exist in such size and numbers if the government’s legislation factory were called to a halt? I think not.
And if tax laws were radically simpler, as they were maybe eighty years ago before the birth of the Welfare State, would we need so many accountants? I think not either.
Neither lawyers nor accountants work for government directly, but they’re no less arms of the state for all that—and they sure as hell wouldn't exist in the quantities they do without Big Government's blandishments. For the most part they're parasites, and their costs come out of our pockets. So deduct another 200,000, because their shiny suits seem to be everywhere (and what's worse, some of these people are this country's best and brightest, their efforts being expended not on producing wealth but instead on making it impossible for others to do so; but that’s another story).
So we're left with how many then? 700,000? Does that seem about right?
No, of course not. There’s at least 300,000 of them now on middle-class welfare, sucking down Welfare for Working Families like there’s no tomorrow while pretending they’re not beneficiaries.
So that’s just 400,000 hardy souls who are braving red tape, OSH, assorted government inspectorates and regulatory agencies, and the tyranny of distance (if they’re an exporter), or a small domestic market (if they're not); braving all this just so they can earn a living and carry all the rest of us on their backs. And from these few brave souls Bill English plans reaps around $80 billion every year, and pays off his quarter-of-a-billion dollar of borrowings every week.
Do the sums.
What those 400,000 are each being forced to pay to keep the welfare state running is not pretty.
You should thank them some time.