Many New Zealand politicians give away a large portion of their salaries to needy causes but they don’t make a song and dance about it because a) lots of MPs do it b) boasting about charity donations is a rich man’s game, and the reason we have decent salaries for MPs is to prevent politics being the preserve of the wealthy c) it’s just crass to give to a needy cause and then ask to be deified for it. None of that has stopped John Key humbly informing New Zealanders of his big wallet twice in recent weeks saying he gives away most of his current MP’s salary and would do the same as PM (a drop in the bucket to a man worth $50 mil plus, of course). It reminds me of this:
It also annoys me on a more fundamental level. If you acknowledge there is poverty and need in society and that redistribution of wealth from the wealthy to the poor needs to take place to ease that problem there are two basic options. Charity, which is great for its flexibility and the direct sense of giving the donor receives but is often reliant on the personal whims of wealthy individuals like Key, meaning only the â€˜deserving poor’ get help, and social welfare programmes which are comprehensive and impartial, if also behemoths. In unison, the two do much good and both could use more money. So, it’s disappointing, indeed flabbergasting, to see Key extolling his personal charity one day and attacking social welfare, which helps far more people, the next. Does he really care about helping those in poverty or is he more interested in his public image?
[In response to Key’s boosting, Ruth Dyson is asked about her charitable giving here, 3/4 of the way through]