14 October 2013 Book ‘Inequality a NZ Crisis’: Chapt 1 “Why Inequality Matters” by Max Rashbrooke

We started by watching a 10 mins video of the Q&A session which followed the ‘Forums for the Future between Rich and Poor’ seminar at Soundings Theatre.  (See this page entry for 16 Sept 2013.)  Points addressed: globalism and international connectedness have gone ‘too far’ for NZ to go alone by adopting strong socialist policies, general support by speakers  for universal child support and for access to other services, need to raise involvement of fathers in estranged relationships with their children, more bi-cultural emphasis – as this is the essence of ‘being a kiwi’.

Chapter 1 of the book ‘Inequality’ provides a general summary of the critical situation NZ is in.  This engendered considerable discussion including the following points: we need to value ‘service’ jobs more so that they are paid what the job is actually worth (to society as a whole); prices for services eg electricity have increased along with company profitability but this has not been reflected in wages; the trickle-down benefit touted in the 80s has proved to be a lie; when lower paid people earn more they tend to spend more – assisting local economic activity for others; the racial divide evident in the statistics is a major concern as a source of divisiveness in NZ society; those on minimal income are caught in a poverty trap not of their own making.

We could not accept that nothing can be done and while others eg Treasury, Reserve Bank, Unions, and large/international businesses all have a role to play, the Government can still exert considerably influence and pressure should it choose the do so.  In Australia, the Union movement is much stronger than in NZ which by keeping wages higher, has taken the country on a different path than our low labour cost alternative.

Ian Harris