Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, January 8th, 2019 - 81 comments
Categories: business, class war, Economy, health and safety, jobs, tax, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
The CTU has released the results of its recent cost of living and income survey and the results are crystal clear.
The results are in for the CTU Together 2019 cost of living and income survey and it is clear that urgent change is needed with more than 70% of respondents reporting their incomes are not keeping up with the cost of living despite more than 55% reporting their workload has got worse.
The survey, run by the CTU’s online arm, Together, was completed by 1195 respondents over the period of January 2-5 and focused on their incomes, cost of living, and conditions of work.
CTU President Richard Wagstaff says the results are an eye-opener. “We’ve known for a long time that work in New Zealand and our employment law aren’t up to scratch but on every single metric we surveyed on we’ve found that many more people think it’s getting worse than better.
“While Kiwis’ low incomes and their high cost of living are standout issues, people are also reporting concerning levels of workload increase, loss of work/life balance and low job satisfaction.
“Our work is one of the biggest parts of our lives, it’s an indictment on us as a nation that for too many people, it has become so unfulfilling. It’s hard to see how people or the economy can do well when working people’s mood is so low.
“Last year’s employment law changes will have made a small difference to working people, but we need much larger systemic change to fix this problem. This needs to be a top priority for Government in 2019.”
Together is New Zealand’s largest online community focused on employment and rights at work.
The full survey results are available here
And some of the individual responses are very sobering. Comments such as these:
And a couple of stories from overseas highlight the absurdity of the current situation.
In the United Kingdom Fat Cat Friday was recently celebrated. This is the day that the average UK chief executive earns the annual average salary and this year it took four days, yes four days, for this to occur.
Please raise a glass – if you’re not doing Dry January, of course – to our nation’s exceptionally talented CEOs and their superhuman work ethic and skills. For the average executive to have earned the equivalent of a worker’s average annual salary by 4 January is surely testament to an unimaginable amount of hard work and graft. They must truly deserve the 11% hike in their salaries since last year, unlike millions of good-for-nothing slackers like nurses and teachers who have endured years of stagnating pay.
It is worth taking a moment to absorb how great the gap now is between the worker and the boss. Top executives now earn 133 times more than the average worker; in 1998, the ratio was 47. The salary of the average FTSE chief executive is the same as that of 386 Britons on minimum wage combined. This in a country where workers have suffered the worst squeeze in wages for generations, where most Britons languishing in poverty are actually in work, where child poverty has increased at its fastest rate for three decades, and where one in every 200 people are classed as homeless or in inadequate homes. It is not a trend restricted to Britain, of course: US top bosses earn 312 times the average worker’s wage.
We are indoctrinated to believe that the booming paypackets of the boss class are down to their get-up-and-go, their innovation, their phenomenal hard work. This is used to justify and rationalise the explosion of inequality, not as evidence of an utterly broken social and economic model, but as just desserts. It is a pernicious myth. This is the wealth collectively produced by the hard effort of millions of people, who labour by hand or by brain. All of these CEOs depend on lavish state largesse: whether it be an education system (and its teachers) who train their workers, the nation’s expensive infrastructure, a law and order system to protect their property, research and development whose products they can commodify, a social security system to top up their workers’ low wages – I could go on. That is why we should snap out of thinking that they somehow deserve these vast sums: they don’t. And that forms the basis for arguing that far more of that money should end up in the paypackets of their workforce, reinvested in their companies and invested in the nation’s public services and infrastructure.
The arrogance, the hubris of Britain’s booming boss class – living it up in a seemingly never-ending party as millions struggle – is so flagrant, so obscene, it is worth asking – are they inviting a peaceful social revolution? They must realise that this is not sustainable.
And in America Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has announced her arrival at the House of Representatives by calling for a top marginal tax rate of 70c in the dollar on annual income over $10 million.
Jon Queally at Common Dreams has some of the details:
As many historians, economists, and informed citizens were forced to point out in the wake of the freak-out over a proposal by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to raise the current tax rate on the very wealthiest Americans to 70 percent, such a rate is not at all unprecedented and higher rates were the norm for a large portion of last century.
And one of the reasons that much higher rates were once very popular was because they were able to generate lots of revenue that was then put to good use. And, since most people are not extremely rich, there was popular support for such progressive taxation.
What Ocasio-Cortez is actually suggesting, said economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, is “what top public finance economists have been saying for some time” and “not at all outlandish.”
So while the newly-seat New York Democrat embraced the idea that “radical” ideas might be needed to help pay for essential policies like the Green New Deal or Medicare for All, many of her allies pointed out that there’s nothing necessarily radical about much higher tax rates on the rich and powerful.
Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal has caused much incoherent anguish as well as showing that very few right wing commentators know what a marginal tax rate is.
The proposal is not that radical. It would not even affect all of the top 1%.
And the Republicans and their mates are struggling to work out how to respond to her.
She has started a public discussion that should have occurred years ago.
The bottom line is that wages and salaries are too low and the flow of resources to the wealthy is a major cause. Addressing top tax rates and top salaries is a start. The least the wealthy could do is pay their fair share of tax.
Something for this Government to consider this year.