- Date published:
11:32 am, January 16th, 2017 - 36 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, poverty - Tags: inequality, oxfam, wealth
Most measures of inequality focus on income, so its great to see this study of wealth inequality in NZ by Oxfam:
Top 1% of NZers own 20% of wealth
The country’s two wealthiest people own the same amount as the poorest 30 percent in New Zealand.
And the richest 1 percent of New Zealanders own 20 percent of wealth, while 90 percent of the population owns less than half of the nation’s wealth.
The findings are contained in a study by Oxfam, which forms part of a global report the aid agency plans to release later today.
The Oxfam research highlighted the gap between the wealth of individuals, rather than disposable incomes.
The number of wealthy New Zealanders worth more than $50 million also grew from 212 in October 2015 to 252 in June 2016 – an increase of almost 20 percent.
Yet figures from Inland Revenue’s high wealth individuals unit found more than a third of this group declared income less than $70,000 in 2015. The 252 individuals were linked to 7500 entities, some of whom are in dispute with the agency over nearly $111 million in tax.
Those are staggering numbers.
Finance Minister Steven Joyce said it was inevitable some people would be more successful than others.
There would always be inequality, but what was important was that everyone had the opportunity to get ahead in life, he said.
Of course not everyone does have that opportunity, as the effects of growing up in poverty are broad and damaging.
Oxfam said New Zealand’s findings were consistent with other countries where the gap between rich and poor was greater than previously thought.
It blamed big business and the extremely wealthy for the growing discrepancy, saying they fuelled the inequality crisis by avoiding taxes, driving down wages for their workers and the prices paid to producers and investing less in their businesses. …
And there you have it.
Are these millionaires with $50m who are earning less than $70k annually over 700 years old, or are they simply tax cheats?
Because basic maths suggests you would need several human lifetimes never spending any of your income to make it to $50m that way. However, I suppose tax fraud helps!
Or perhaps they are very successful people who pay more in income tax than the bottom 50% do.
Or not. Remember, they are rich because of the wealth traveling upward from the poorer half – by way of low wages, and rent on capital.
Or perhaps they are wealthy because they offer something that people desire as it makes their life better and/or easier. Bill Gates is one of the most wealthy people on the planet. What has he done to make poor people poorer?
Or because they are offering and providing nothing but their investments in stock-markets and property and what not deliver large returns.
And they get their original monies to invest (often) from inheritance.
And when they invest in housing, they artificially inflate house prices (they don’t have to care too much about the asking price, it’s the return in a ‘rising’ housing market they’re looking at)
And when the company you work for has shareholders demanding shareholder returns and those returns take precedence over re-investment in plant or over increasing wages…
And when companies (as happens) squeeze themselves to satisfy shareholders or wind up producing less and eventually shutting down, or relocating overseas, or being bought over and down sized because shareholders…
For the life of me I can’t see how any of that would drive up levels of poverty.
How has any of the individuals in question done those things?
[Nah Gosman. Looking at your comments on both threads today, all you’re doing is running dumb interference. Come back tomorrow and try engaging properly] – Bill
From what I can tell one of the individuals they used actually invests in areas that are socially beneficial to the nation involved in the investment
“Richard Chandler’s business ventures have been tinged with themes of contrarian investment, corporate governance and social responsibility, especially by investing in and managing companies with national socio-economic implications. He once told Institutional Investor, “We do have altruistic motives that some investors who are looking for a path of least resistance find hard to understand, but we don’t want to be defined by our corporate governance battles. We are value investors with a sense of responsibility, not activists.””
“In Britain, Microsoft reported revenues of £1.7bn in a single year for online sales on which it paid no corporation tax.”
Gates likes to go around doing good charitable deeds to make up for the obscenity of his wealth. Better than zero charitable deeds of course, (better than spending money collected for ‘charity’ on self-portraits for your casino too, or that time that John Key admitted that the charity he was donating his golf money too might be the National Party), but he could liquidate all his assets and use 98% of them to become a not for profit organisation that helps lots of people, and still personally be a billionaire. Let some other corporate whore have Microsoft. But nah, why quit now when he could make it to $100bn net worth? Just keep on throwing a few bones from the table till then. Maybe he’s got a particular country he wants to buy that he’s saving up for.
He also likes to be a corporate tax warrior, maintaining that corporations need tougher tax compliance laws. I guess he just feels terrible that he is currently forced to base UK Microsoft in a six man office in Luxembourg where it is sadly forced to pay zero corporation tax on billions of revenue. Stand strong Bill!
To Gosman at 220.127.116.11 It’s not only because they make other peoples lives better and/or easier. If that were true rubbish collectors, toilet cleaners, home helpers and care givers (to name a few) would be wealthier.
Gosman, if they are claiming to earn less that $70 000 a year, then they are conveniently avoiding the top tax rate – you know that. If that’s the case, then this group making such a convenient but unconvincing claim about their income are certainly NOT paying more in income tax than the bottom 20% do.
And guess what? People who earn huge amounts SHOULD pay more than people who earn very little. Income tax is a percentage, not an equal levy.
First off we were specifically mentioning two high net individuals. I believe that you have little evidence about what rate of income tax they pay.
You’re a professional apologist for the robber barons, Gosman. I hope you feel good about yourself.
Actually, Gosman, we were discussing this group:
“The number of wealthy New Zealanders worth more than $50 million also grew from 212 in October 2015 to 252 in June 2016 – an increase of almost 20 percent.
Yet figures from Inland Revenue’s high wealth individuals unit found more than a third of this group declared income less than $70,000 in 2015. The 252 individuals were linked to 7500 entities, some of whom are in dispute with the agency over nearly $111 million in tax.”
Stop trying to pull the discussion sideways.
Gosman, the comment that you replied to originally began, “Are these millionaires with $50m who are earning less than $70k annually over 700 years old, or are they simply tax cheats?” The whole discussion has been about this group of people, not about two particular individuals. You tried to pull it that way (below), but nobody followed you.
Or perhaps they are very successful people who pay more in income tax than the bottom 50% do.
Perhaps. Then again, perhaps the people worth upwards of $50 mil but declaring a taxable income of less than $70,000 are lying weasels who are stiffing their fellow citizens for a shitload of unpaid taxes. I wonder which it is?
Bill Gates has extracted wealth from millions of consumers by exercising and abusing monopoly power, which has nothing to do with superior products.
Untaxed capital gain. The Morgans being a high profile example of that, since the value of TradeMe when they sold it would have been in the intellectual property and customer base, all of which would have been expensed against tax as it was being built.
Shame on this country’s corrupt neoliberal leaders and the oligarchs who have benefited from the theft of the nation’s assets.
The lot of them should have a date in court to face charges of treason.
This film documents the coup d’etat in New Zealand that saw the take over of power by the transnational neo-liberal elite.
Treason is not something you charge people with because you disagree with their politics. That is what totalitarian states do. Although I know that is generally what happens when extreme left wing people take charge. I believe it is called show trials. Leftists like Stalin, Mao and Castro were very good at them.
So McCarthy was a leftie, was he..?
Did I state that ONLY extreme left wing people engage in show trials or political witch hunts?
Well, you certainly suggested it. If that wasn’t what you intended, perhaps you should have said “extremists” or “totalitarians” rather than “Leftists”. I guess that wouldn’t have suited your slant on this discussion as well, though.
Obama likes a show trial/political witch hunt every now and then…
Then again, he’s overseen some nice growth in Wealth Inequality, so I wonder if the two things are related.
Shhhhh, he’s stuck in it now
Whatever may be said against Castro, he at least ensured health and education were well funded, even if the people did not have the latest model car or flat screen TVs. Perhaps if money was not spent on a flag referendum here that $26 million could have gone to the young doctors or towards all those health needs currently being underfunded.
You try people or treason for betraying a country’s interests.
Handing over our assets to foreign interests is treason.
Only in a colloquial sense, and only in your mind (though no doubt shared by other Standardnistas).
Some state owned assets have been privatised over the last 30 years, and some were bought by overseas owners. Many New Zealand companies (and farmland) have been bought by overseas people. But they all paid the market price, often well above what New Zealanders were prepared to pay.
All legal, no corruption, market prices (or better) paid. It is how open market based economies work.
You may not agree with it. Go and campaign on it.
Because all these things were done by democratic governments which were returned to office by the voters at the relevant time (1987, 1993, 1996, 2011 and 2014) referring to governments that undertook privatisation programmes and then were voted back in.
I watched this with my firstborn…thirty years old….now understands why Mum is such a cynic with no trust at all for any of ’em.
Whatever happened to the Great Hope of MMP?
(Thanks Paul for the push, I’d been meaning to watch this again.)
This is badly worded. Those people are not worth that much. They may own that much but that doesn’t make them worth that much.
When it really comes down to it. No person is worth any more than any other person.
The question we should be asking is if we should actually allow people to own that much.
Appalling numbers, and a risible response from Joyce.
The richest 2 people in NZ have the same wealth as the poorest 1.3 million. Therein lies most of New Zealand’s social, health and economic problems.
When will we have a political party confront this head-on?
Why are most of the social, health and economic problems of the poor in NZ the fault of someone who probably didn’t even make the majority of their money in NZ?
A healthy society is more than a collection of unconnected individuals who happen to live in the same place. There are shared resources (both physical and social) that function to help people have healthy, happy lives. This is only possible if people contribute to help fund the costs. You know this; you’re just trying to squirrel the discussion away from the issues (tax avoidance, growing inequality and their effects).
From the same report:
“Eight men now own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world. A top corporate CEO earns as much in a year as 10,000 garment factory workers in Bangladesh. And the world’s 10 biggest corporations together have revenue greater than the 180 poorest countries combined, according to a study published Sunday by Oxfam.
The report, An economy for the 99%, was released as global leaders and the business elite traveled to Davos, Switzerland, for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, a conference partly aimed at eliminating extreme income inequality. The study found that the richest eight people on the planet have net wealth of $426 billion — equivalent to what’s held by the bottom half of the world’s population.
“From Nigeria to Bangladesh, from the U.K. to Brazil, people are fed up with feeling ignored by their political leaders, and millions are mobilizing to push for change,” British-based Oxfam said in a statement. “Seven out of 10 people live in a country that has seen a rise in inequality in the last 30 years.”
The study is the latest in recent years by Oxfam, an international poverty-fighting group, to campaign for ways to reduce the growing gap between the rich and poor. ”
“Oxfam called on President-elect Donald Trump, world leaders and the international business community to “take urgent action to reduce inequality and the extreme concentration of wealth by ensuring that workers are paid a decent (salary) and by increasing taxes on both wealth and high incomes.”
Inequality? What inequality? Not a mention of it on TV1 6pm news!
Why am I not surprised?