Video: Dr Cullen at Drinking Liberally

Written By: - Date published: 7:13 am, June 7th, 2008 - 70 comments
Categories: activism, labour, youtube - Tags: ,

We just received a video of Michael Cullen’s speech to Drinking Liberally on Wednesday from one of the attendees.

It’s well worth a look. Everyone who was there that I have spoken to since was hugely impressed because Cullen spoke from his roots, from his political soul. He would do well to speak like this more often.

70 comments on “Video: Dr Cullen at Drinking Liberally”

  1. lprent 1

    Very good. Wish I was there..

  2. dave 2

    Why not some comparison of Dr Cullen with Dr Sutch?
    Somehow I don’t think Dr Sutch would have been Drinking Liberally at this time when Labour is looking down the barrel of a Key/Douglas home invasion.
    Isnt it time for Labour to take a giant leap left instead of picking over leftovers of the last privatisation fiesta?
    I few good lessons from Dr Sutch’s handbook on state socialism would do the country a world of good. You could start with ‘Takeover NZ’ written in 1971 before anyone else had woken up to the neo-liberal onslaught.

  3. randal 3

    why not some comparison of dave with dave 1025 from tm ops. then we see a nasty thing looking for immediate extirpation. some creatures should just be put out of their misery.

  4. higherstandard 4

    randal

    I think Dave is taking the p*** although one can never tell these days.

  5. G 5

    I think Dr Cullen makes a good point, that we should take as self-evident that we are all innately equal. But according to his principles, tax breaks should only go to the hard-working low income employees and not the hard-working employees who hold down two jobs or spend their spare time up-skilling, who, on the back of their extra effort, creep into a higher bracket.

    Where’s the equality in that?

  6. Draco TB 6

    tax breaks should only go to the hard-working low income employees and not the hard-working employees who hold down two jobs or spend their spare time up-skilling, who, on the back of their extra effort, creep into a higher bracket.

    You may not have noticed but that’s the people he’s trying to help. The people who actually work rather than the people who are well off already who do SFA. It’s a balancing act as he can’t make everyone better off just by waving a pen. Cut taxes too much, don’t target the tax credits correctly and society will be worse off and that won’t help anyone.

  7. NX 7

    I listened to what Dr Cullen had to say in the videos posted (thx for that).

    I’m not a Cullen fan, so my appraisal goes like this:

    I liked what he had to say about all people being equal how there shouldn’t be a hierarchical system in life.

    But his intellectual waffle belies his moralistic preachings. That is he’s an academic elitist which in itself is hierarchical.

    The other point I’d like to make is that I don’t see how centralised control favoured by his left ideology can possibility advance his value of human equality.

    The libertarian concept of low tax, minimal government, is the best way to ensure people live how they want too.

  8. r0b 8

    But his intellectual waffle belies his moralistic preachings. That is he’s an academic elitist which in itself is hierarchical.

    Ummm – what? Cullen talks about issues intelligently at that makes him an academic elitist? Have you considered the possibility that when you look at Cullen what you see is a vehicle for loading up with your own prejudices?

    The libertarian concept of low tax, minimal government, is the best way to ensure people live how they want too.

    Which is proved time and time again in countries like, ummm – countries like …. ahhhh – help me out here – what actual countries work like this again?

  9. G 9

    But Draco, he’s not helping those who’ve crept into the top 39%. By his own admission he says, pointing up, he couldn’t justify giving one to those “at the other end.”

    Whichever way you look at it, his system of equality seems anything but equitable.

  10. “The other point I’d like to make is that I don’t see how centralised control favoured by his left ideology can possibility advance his value of human equality.”

    Generally if you misrepresent any ideology to its extreme like you just did then it wont work, see your next paragraph for example.

  11. G 11

    For starters, Rob, there’s Estonia. They instituted a flat tax of 26% (company and personal) back in ’94, and have since lowered it to 24% – with plans to get it down to a modest 20%. For some time now it’s been one of the most dynamic economies in the E.U. last year posting 11.3% growth. Their tax system is so simple it takes 15 minutes to complete, and like most things in Estonia, you can do it online.

    But it is having it’s growing pains: unemployment. At just 4% the biggest problem Estonia is facing today is a shortage of workers.

    Sten Tamkivi, Skype’s Estonian operations manager (a company borne out of the Estonian boom) says they’re enjoying one of the greatest boosts in their national standard of living: “This is is the best time in our history.”

    Their flat-tax system has proved so successful it’s been adopted by the rest of Eastern Europe, with an average flat tax of just 19%: http://www.cato.org/pubs/tbb/tbb-0511-28.pdf

    Flat tax works. For everyone. Every one.

  12. G 12

    Correction: Estonia’s flat tax is currently sitting at 21% and they plan to lower it to 18% by 2011.

    It’s a shame, that despite their unprecedented growth, some in the Estonian government are calling for a reintroduction of progressive taxes. It seems they may have to go through the inevitable reversal of fortune before flat tax is proved beyond reasonable doubt.

  13. r0b 13

    G or NK For starters, Rob, there’s Estonia.

    Estonia! Of course, why didn’t I think of Estonia! Oh that’s right, because it’s neither low tax nor low government.

    Estonia’s 24% is flat tax but it is not low tax, it’s about double our lowest rate.

    Estonia is not low government, its government (for a population of only 1.3 Million) is every bit as complex and hands on as our own, including mandating compulsory military service for males, and “PC gone mad” laws like “Cultural Autonomy for National Minorities”.

    Nope, not a Libertarian paradise at all. What else ya got?

    Flat tax works. For everyone. Every one.

    Everyone except those whose taxes would go up under that system. You know – the lowest wage earners…

  14. NX 14

    Cullen talks about issues intelligently at that makes him an academic elitist?

    I don’t know why Dr Cullen would bother with a thick person like me. Expecting Dr Cullen to dumb down his language for us commoners is just soooo beneath him. We should just stick with watching the V8s leave the complex issues to the upper echelons of the Labour caucus.

    ^I know my sarcasm is about as appealing as a bucket of sick, but Dr Cullen does nothing to dispel the perception that Labour is a bunch of academic elites who can only talk amongst themselves – which is in total contrast to their rhetoric on ‘class-less societies’.

    Dr Cullen almost ties himself in knots as he describes how he moved from working class, to middle class (private school), to rich-prick class. He’s gilt ridden.

    But he doesn’t need to be. Dr Cullen fully deserve to be where he is & the money he earns. I’m not envious of his intellect or his wealth because he works hard – even though I may not agree with him.

    Dr Cullen needs to get over his obsession with class & realise that drive & ambition are the ingredients to success.

  15. r0b 15

    NX, you clearly have issues, but they are your issues, not Cullen’s. Good luck on your journey.

  16. higherstandard 16

    Oh I don’t know r0B leaving Dr Cullen aside I quite like NX’s couple of points that

    ‘not envious of his intellect or his wealth because he works hard – even though I may not agree with him’

    ‘drive & ambition are the ingredients to success.’

    I think more support of those views throughout NZ wouldn’t go amiss.

  17. G 17

    The average Estonian is paying half as much tax as the average Kiwi, so on that basis I’d say it’s extremely low.

    But that’s not my original point.

    Dr Cullen talks of equality for all and yet promotes a tax system that is anything but equal; it’s a very low tax for some hard workers and a very high tax for others.

    It seems in Dr Cullen’s eyes, we’re all equal – but some are more equal than others.

  18. Matthew Pilott 18

    The average Estonian is paying half as much tax than the average Kiwi, so on that basis I’d say it’s extremely low.

    G – it’s lucky that that is not your point, because it is wrong. You need to be earning well over $50,000 here to be paying an equivalent 24% flat tax.

    As to your actual point – you are taking a typical right wing view that equality is paying the same amount of tax. There’s more to life than the tax rate you pay! If you were able to explore your exact same train of thought with less of a narrow view you might be surprised.

    Here’s a hint – what do you think really matters to people – opportiunities and quality of life, or a progressive marginal tax system?

    HS, on NX’s points. It is lovely rhetoric, and a false sentiment fuelled by the right that the left doesn’t support this type of sentiment. For example, nothing Cullen says is in conflict with NX’s points you highlighted.

  19. r0b 19

    Well G, Cullen is in some pretty good company there:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_tax

    “In most western European countries and the United States, advocates of progressive taxation include the vast majority of economists and social scientists.[8][9][10] In the U.S., the vast majority of economists (81%) support progressive taxation.[8][9][10]”

  20. G 20

    I think opportunities and quality of life are very important – two things which are being hindered by our pitiful growth rate, which is less than a third of Estonia’s. A flat-tax regime clearly worked for them: ever since Estonia introduced it their quality of life has gone through the roof, and as indicated by their massive worker shortage, so have their opportunities.

    But what I’m more interested in, Matthew, is how you reconcile ‘equality for all’ with a tax system that is anything but equitable.

  21. G 21

    Thanks, Rob, I know all that; doesn’t make the those systems any fairer. 🙂

  22. NX 22

    NX, you clearly have issues, but they are your issues, not Cullen’s. Good luck on your journey.

    Thx r0b, but somehow I suspect your words of encouragement are disingenuous.

    Yeah I know I’m tying my own arguments in knots, but the heart of what I’m trying to say is; how can Dr Cullen call others ‘rich-pricks’ without belittling his own accomplishments in life?

    And then how can he try to explain away this inherit contradiction by preaching about class equality using academic jargon that not everyone can understand?? I mean… HELLOO… is Dr Cullen bipolar or something. But then again… he did say he was recovering from a cold.

  23. outofbed 23

    Quality of life hindered by our pitiful growth rate????
    I would like to know how one measures QOL ? A larger Plama screen perhaps ?
    The world and environment cannot withstand unlimited growth as all growth is based on the explosion of non renewable finite resources.
    and anyway

    the 2006 Mercer Quality of Living survey of 215 world cities, Auckland and Wellington ranked 5th and 12th respectively for quality of life. The top five were: Zurich, Geneva, Vancouver, Vienna and Auckland. Sydney stayed at 9th. Paris ranked 33rd. Baghdad ranked last.

    The analysis was based on an evaluation of 39 criteria, including political, social, economic, and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport, and other public services. The scores for personal safety and security were based on relationships with other countries, as well as internal stability and crime, including terrorism. Law enforcement, censorship, and limitations on personal freedom were also taken into account.

    A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. The bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth.

    What the fuck more do people in New Zealand want?

  24. G 24

    BTW, Matthew, you’re right of course, it’s not the average hard worker paying twice as much tax here: it’s the hard worker in the 39% bracket. However, I think once you’ve applied GST you’ll find even the average kiwi is paying more tax than the average Estonian.

    [No-one pays 39% tax in NZ, it’s brackets, eh? so even on $100K you’re only paying 30% tax. No-one in NZ pays double what an Estonian pays in tax %. You should live in Estonia for a while and see if that’s preferable. Some nice bars but you wouldn’t want to get sick, or have to raise a kid, or be old, or have low skills. Estonia still has net emigration, we can pick and choose our immgrants. And the Government budget is subsidised by the EU. Estonia’s growth rate is high because it is a small country with a well-educated workforce in Europe, in the EU, with rich cousins in Finland that use it has a manufacturing base and tourism destination. It was always destined to be a first-world country but wasn’t rich for the last 70 years because of the USSR. Now, it is rapidly making up ground, but only because it got left so far behind. Oh and there is GST [VAT] in Estonia. SP]

  25. Pascal's bookie 25

    NX I think there is only a contradiction there if you assume that all rich people are smart and all non rich people are stupid.

    I’m not saying you assume that. I’m pretty sure Cullen rejects it. I’m just saying that if you don’t assume that, the contradiction fades away.

    Likewise I am sure that Cullen does not believe that all weathy people are rich pricks, or that all poor people are blameless victims.

    Cullen obviously knows that he has himself done well.

    He knows that much of this success was of his own doing, but that his own efforts were (while necessary) not sufficient.

    In other words, he had help from society just as other success stories do. It is those that do not recognise this help that I think Cullen puts into the ‘prick’ column, rich or not.

  26. G 26

    OOB, this is what more I want: I want our people to stop dying on hospital waiting lists; I want violent crime stats to drop, not rise; I want more kids coming out of school being able to read and write; I want a growth rate that takes us up the OECD – not down; and I want more of my money back in my pocket.

    But back to my point: how do you reconcile ‘equality for all’ and a tax regime that is anything but equitable?

    [G. Those are things we all want. The question of politics is how to achieve society’s aims given the economic and other constraints. I don’t see any answers from National. I do see progress from Labour and the Greens. SP]

  27. Matthew Pilott 27

    G, we may be paying more tax here, but I suspect we’re earning a lot more too. I think this is where the comparisons can’t continue. Comparisons of proportions of income tax paid may be a useful measure, but even then there is a statistical limitation – it depends on the number of people in each country at each level, and a wealthier country should have a higher percentage of people paying higher levels of tax – this doesn’t necessarily show any advantages of a flat tax system.

    To state the obvious – Bhutan isn’t a better country than NZ to live in, despite the tiny amount of tax paid by the inhabitants. You need to keep a lot of things in mind when trying to make a valid country-to-country comparison, and i don’t think the Estonia example does this, especially if you’re going to try to factor in GST.

    To your point how do you reconcile ‘equality for all’ and a tax regime that is anything but equitable? You are equating ‘equitable’ with tax and nothing else. In the end this is absurd – the government looks after a great deal of things, so any discussion cannot simply be framed around the level of income tax paid.

    And in practicality, there is no way to have an “equitable” tax system a you see it. Consider the minimum costs of living – with a flat tax and no labour market distortions, there will be some people earning below the poverty line – not an imagined line, or anything like that – they will not be earning enough to clothe, feed and shelter themseleves.

    I don’t imagine you would be advocating this, G, unless you are an extreme libertarian.

    So we obviously need some intervention – minimum wages, a social safety net, and so on. But how can we do this? it’s not “equitable” right? Someone earning money and paying tax is not getting money from the Government, but vice versa.

    You can’t frame a debate around equality purely around tax paid, as if it is in a vaccuum. You’re forgetting that taxation is a means to an end, and raising it on a pedestal until it becomes an end in of itself.

    Let me put it another way: Do you think the government’s main measure of “equality’ should be the amount of tax paid? Do you think the main OECD/UN/international measure of a country’s quality of living should be the percentage of tax paid?

    When does one stop treating tax as the be-all and end-all and look at the greater picture, G?

  28. Matthew Pilott 28

    G, we may be paying more tax here, but I suspect we’re earning a lot more too. I think this is where the comparisons can’t continue. Comparisons of proportions of income tax paid may be a useful measure, but even then there is a statistical limitation – it depends on the number of people in each country at each level, and a wealthier country should have a higher percentage of people paying higher levels of tax – this doesn’t necessarily show any advantages of a flat tax system.

    To state the obvious – Bhutan isn’t a better country than NZ to live in, despite the tiny amount of tax paid by the inhabitants. You need to keep a lot of things in mind when trying to make a valid country-to-country comparison, and i don’t think the Estonia example does this, especially if you’re going to try to factor in GST.

    To your point how do you reconcile ‘equality for all’ and a tax regime that is anything but equitable? You are equating ‘equitable’ with tax and nothing else. In the end this is absurd – the government looks after a great deal of things, so any discussion cannot simply be framed around the level of income tax paid.

    And in practicality, there is no way to have an “equitable” tax system a you see it. Consider the minimum costs of living – with a flat tax and no labour market distortions, there will be some people earning below the poverty line – not an imagined line, or anything like that – they will not be earning enough to clothe, feed and shelter themseleves.

    I don’t imagine you would be advocating this, G, unless you are an extreme libertarian.

    So we obviously need some intervention – minimum wages, a social safety net, and so on. But how can we do this? it’s not “equitable” right? Someone earning money and paying tax is not getting money from the Government, but vice versa.

    You can’t frame a debate around equality purely around tax paid, as if it is in a vaccuum. You’re forgetting that taxation is a means to an end, and raising it on a pedestal until it becomes an end in of itself.

    Let me put it another way: Do you think the government’s one & only measure of “equality” should be the amount of tax paid? Do you think the main OECD/UN/international measure of a country’s quality of living should be the percentage of tax paid?

    When does one stop treating tax as the be-all and end-all and look at the greater picture, G?

  29. outofbed 29

    I want to stop people dying on Hospital waiting lists
    what emotive crap for a small country ,we have an amazing public health system
    New Zealand is a fabulous place to live we have all have enough to eat ( judging by the obesity epidemic way too much),
    Everyone seems to have access to consumer electronics, affordable and accessible Doctors and other health professionals. a well resourced and uncorrupted police force , fantastic climate . great roading network with cheap petrol (in comparison to Europe ) and honest and accessible government with a fair electoral process.

    This place is fucking paradise believe me
    an all we get is people moaning that they don’t have enough
    Fuck if everybody in the world had the same amount of wealth that we have in New Zealand we would need half a dozen planets
    and still you moan moan moan fucking moan
    This IS a great place to be, sure we could do better particularly in regards to the environment but netherthe less a really great place to live.
    And I am so grateful to have the opportunity to move here and have my family grow up in NZ.
    Its a fantastic place

  30. Matthew Pilott 30

    Test

  31. outofbed 31

    Test ?
    no good at them though

  32. r0b 32

    Naughty of me to comment with nothing to add except – right on OOB!

    Captcha – Steve elaborate – he often does.

  33. Matthew Pilott 33

    how do you reconcile ‘equality for all’ and a tax regime that is anything but equitable?

    You are equating ‘equitable’ with tax and nothing else. In the end this is absurd – the government looks after a great deal of things, so any discussion cannot simply be framed around the level of income tax paid.

    And in practicality, there is no way to have an “equitable” tax system a you see it. Consider the minimum costs of living – with a flat tax and no labour market distortions, there will be some people earning below the poverty line – not an imagined line, or anything like that – they will not be earning enough to clothe, feed and shelter themseleves.

    I don’t imagine you would be advocating this, G, unless you are an extreme libertarian.

    So we obviously need some intervention – minimum wages, a social safety net, and so on. But how can we do this? it’s not “equitable” right? Someone earning money and paying tax is not getting money from the Government, but vice versa.

    You can’t frame a debate around equality purely around tax paid, as if it is in a vaccuum. You’re forgetting that taxation is a means to an end, and raising it on a pedestal until it becomes an end in of itself.

    Let me put it another way: Do you think the government’s main measure of ‘equality’ should be the amount of tax paid? Do you think the main OECD/UN/international measure of a country’s quality of living should be the percentage of tax paid?

    When does one stop treating tax as the be-all and end-all and look at the greater picture, G?

    Edit: took a few attempts to get this posted. I hope all the previous attempts don’t show up!

  34. T-rex 34

    G – you’re taking one perspective of equality for all: Equal taxation. Surely you accept that this leads to inequality of real income. Progressive taxation recognises that people with significant discretionary income can afford to contribute more of it to society in general.

    I’m nowhere close to advocating equal income for all, but I do see the sense in paying more tax the more money you earn. You still get to keep some of the money you earn.

    Compare someone on 37k to you on 60k (for example)

    You have equality on all income up to 37k – 21% or whatever the rate is. Same rules for both of you.
    You, however, through good fortune, brilliance, hardwork, whatever, happen to make another 23k/year that the other guy doesn’t get at all. In order to provide healthcare, roads, education etc and generally balance the accounts the govt has decided that 33% is a good amount for you to pay in tax on that income. There’s still equality – if the other guy started creeping into the higher bracket he’d be paying higher tax as well. It’s just that he’s poorer than you.

    There’s a difference between equal and fair. Especially since you can’t actually get equality. Just consider the possible things you could “equalise” which would obviously lead to completely different outcomes.

    1) Equal discretionary income
    2) Equal tax rate
    3) Equal tax (as in, every citizen shall pay $10k/annum and gets to keep everything else they earn)

    Right now we’re slightly on the (1) side of (2). Which seems to me by far the fairest, not to mention most sustainable, region to operate in.

  35. T-rex 35

    lol, we should take turns Matt, save the doubleup on effort 🙂

  36. r0b 36

    Excellent tag team work from MP and T-Rex!

  37. NX 37

    He knows that much of this success was of his own doing, but that his own efforts were (while necessary) not sufficient.

    Okay, so for a millionaire to call another millionaire a ‘rich-prick’ without belittling their own hard work or ambition is to really call the person lazy, unintelligent therefore undeserving of their fortune.
    I’m sorry but that’s a stretch even for Cullen. Especially when you consider the person in question, John Key, is hard working, smart & from a humble background.

    The puzzle that is Dr Cullen continues when you consider his policies:
    1. Interest free student loans benefits the rich the most because they get free money when they can afford to pay the interest.
    2. Kiwisaver benefits the rich the most because they get subsidized savings.
    3. Superannuation isn’t means tested which means rich-pricks like Cullen get the new topped up amount.
    4. Cullen has reduced the bottom tax rate by only 2.5 percent (15 to 12.5%), but shifted the top tax-rate up by $10K.

    If Dr Cullen isn’t a guilt riddled socialist, then what is he?

  38. higherstandard 38

    Mat P

    I think you misunderstood me all I was saying was that a little less envy of people who have done well (tall poppy syndrome) and more appreciation of drive and ambition as key parts of success wouldn’t go amiss in NZ – I’m certain that Michael Cullen shares both of these sentiments as do most Labour MPs to suggest they didn’t would be as fatuous as suggesting that National MPs didn’t believe that all NZ’rs are equal.

    and r0b you would be disappointed if I didn’t call you on this – how can you agree with oob (Yes I agree with virtually everything he’s said) on the obesity epidemic when you railed against me when my view was that poverty wasn’t at the heart of obestity and the NIDDM growth in NZ

  39. Matthew Pilott 39

    Higherstandard – I’ve long since stopped thinking you were an angry RWNJ type, so that comment wasn’t directed at you specifically! I don’t think the Tall Poppy syndrome really exists as some claim, but is a myth typified by some on the right to try and force an agenda on tax, equality and income redustribuion and paint them in a negative light (y’see, it’s only become a big thing in the last few years right, about the same time that tax cuts bacame the big story. Very ‘conspiracy theory’ and I have little but perceptions upon which to base that assertion, but come what may, I think the whole concept has become politicised). But that’s a topic for another thread!

    NX – a couple of little points – using ‘rich prick’ comment as an example doesn’t help your argument, it would take a lot to convince me that the gist of that comment was that Key was a prick because he was rich (as opposed to him being a prick that happened to be rich).

    Criticising him for using academic jargon – I’m sorry that is just a stupid comment. He was talking to an educated (or at least politically interested) audience, and it was fair enough of him to assume that he would be understood. You weren’t there right? You’re the only person complaining about him using jargon, and you weren’t part of the audience!

    T-rex – this has happened before! Spooky.

  40. r0b 40

    The puzzle that is Dr Cullen continues when you consider his policies:
    1. Interest free student loans benefits the rich the most because they get free money when they can afford to pay the interest.

    Everyone gets free money.

    2. Kiwisaver benefits the rich the most because they get subsidized savings.

    Everyone gets the same subsidy (though yes the rich are more inclined to save).

    3. Superannuation isn’t means tested which means

    Everyone the same.

    4. Cullen has reduced the bottom tax rate by only 2.5 percent (15 to 12.5%), but shifted the top tax-rate up by $10K.

    Apples and oranges (rates and thresholds). The budget tax cuts were best (in realtive terms) for those earning 47K and less.

    If Dr Cullen isn’t a guilt riddled socialist, then what is he?

    A proud and effective social democrat.

    HS and r0b you would be disappointed if I didn’t call you on this

    Sigh!

    how can you agree with oob … on the obesity epidemic

    Because nothing oob said contradicts what I believe, which started with: “At the extremes those suffering from genuine malnutrition are of course not fat. But in “rich’ countries obesity is largely a condition of the (relatively) poor, who consume food that is cheaper but unhealthy (‘energy dense’)”. Note “largely”. But let’s not re-litigate this one.

  41. 4. Cullen has reduced the bottom tax rate by only 2.5 percent (15 to 12.5%), but shifted the top tax-rate up by $10K.

    thats a pretty meaningless comparison.

  42. Pascal's bookie 42

    Okay, so for a millionaire to call another millionaire a ‘rich-prick’ without belittling their own hard work or ambition is to really call the person lazy, unintelligent therefore undeserving of their fortune.

    Nope. That’s not what I meant at all. What I am saying is that in order to get rich, you usually have to have hard work and drive, skill, patience and a whole host of other personal traits. Having these will not however always grabt you wealth. Those traits are necessary, but not sufficient.

    What you also need is luck, and a society that allows you to become rich. This includes a justice system, education and health systems, safety nets, human rights and a whole lot of other things that Cullen alludes to in his speech. It is the people that pretend that these other social things played no part in their wealth that are the pricks. It’s really not that difficult.

    He is not saying that Key doesn’t deserve his wealth, but that right wingers sometimes underate the role that society played in how that wealth came to be. And that to do so makes you a prick. Whether or not this is true in Key’s case, I don’t care. It was a throw away line in the house from Cullen, that I assume had some context to a debate.

  43. NX 43

    Everyone the same.

    Why r0b, how very right-wing of you ;).

    (as opposed to him being a prick that happened to be rich).

    Okay I get your point. So the fact that Cullen lumped an insult (prick), with a description of wealth (rich) are completely unrelated. Just like saying ‘dumb woman’, or ‘arrogant BMW driver’. Thx for clearing that up.

    Criticising him for using academic jargon – I’m sorry that is just a stupid comment. He was talking to an educated (or at least politically interested) audience

    Hello… I’ve heard Dr Cullen in parliament; he always talks like that. I have difficulty understanding his answers to English’s questions – or perhaps I’m just really thick. Shame he doesn’t cater for us simpletons. You know… equality for all.

    What you also need is luck, and a society that allows you to become rich. This includes a justice system, education and health systems, safety nets, human rights and a whole lot of other things that Cullen alludes to in his speech. It is the people that pretend that these other social things played no part in their wealth that are the pricks. It’s really not that difficult.

    ^ I agreed. One would be a prick if they didn’t take a wider view for how they became rich.

  44. G 44

    Taxation might not be the *only* important issue for kiwis, but poll after poll is telling us that it is the *most* important. Bottom-line, most of us feel we’re being taxed way too much. Successive – and enormous – budget surpluses only confirm this.

    So, on the subject of equality and the most important issue for kiwis right now, how does one adequately reconcile ‘equality for all’ and a taxation system that is utterly lop-sided?

    Why should one hard worker who holds down two jobs, or worked hard at up-skilling in their spare time, have to contribute a much bigger percentage of their earnings than someone who works hard in a single job or didn’t choose to up-skill in their spare time?

    Dr Cullen is not even-handed when it comes to granting hard workers a tax break. He prefers to give them to low-income hard workers, and “gets his back up” when he’s asked to give them to high-income hard workers.

    Whichever way you look at this, there is nothing ‘innately equal’ in the way government recognises or rewards each of these worker’s respective efforts.

  45. Bottom-line, most of us feel we’re being taxed way too much.

    Bottom line most of us thought the earth was at the centre of the universe not that long ago. You would rather debate perception than fact.

  46. r0b 46

    Taxation might not be the *only* important issue for kiwis, but poll after poll is telling us that it is the *most* important. Bottom-line, most of us feel we’re being taxed way too much.

    Factually incorrect.

    Fairfax poll

    There is also surprising opposition to tax cuts – despite Labour’s move to neutralise National’s appeal with a promise to cut personal taxes.

    Asked if surpluses should fund tax cuts or be invested in public services like health and education, only 25 per cent said they wanted tax cuts, against 58 per cent who wanted the money invested.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=1501935&objectid=10511804&pnum=0

    Ms Fitzsimmons said the Budget “ignored 61 percent of New Zealanders who last month said they would rather not have tax cuts if it meant cuts to social spending like health, benefits and education.”

    Successive – and enormous – budget surpluses only confirm this.

    Read a paper lately?

  47. G 47

    Are you saying, Robinsod, that kiwis only *think* they’re being taxed too much – that the successive and excessive budget surpluses are only a figment of their imagination?

  48. randal 48

    kiwis get their moneys worth for the tax they pay. ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country!

  49. G 49

    I read the paper everyday, Rob – and the online news too:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0804/S00221.htm

    “The latest national survey of 2882 respondents, conducted between March 27 and April 8, shows 81% believe the Government can afford to cut personal income taxes this year.”

    So, yes, kiwis have their caveats – nevertheless, 81% are convinced the government *can* afford a tax break *without* cuts to essential services; that just shows you how much they really think they’re being over-taxed.

    But that doesn’t answer Dr Cullen’s contradiction of wanting ‘equality for all’ – except for the most important issue to the majority of kiwis: tax.

  50. G 50

    “But that doesn’t answer Dr Cullen’s contradiction of wanting ‘equality for all’ – except for the most important issue to the majority of kiwis: tax.”

    … but to avoid the tangent, let’s just say ‘one of the most’ important issues for most kiwis…

  51. r0b 51

    I read the paper everyday, Rob – and the online news too:

    Then you might have noticed that the big surpluses have taken a bit of a hit lately.

    So, yes, kiwis have their caveats

    Indeed they do caveats that they rate as more important than tax cuts.

    except for the most important issue to the majority of kiwis

    Nope, you still haven’t got it. Kiwis only wanted tax cuts IF they were affordable. That IF shows that there are other things that are MORE IMPORTANT. Got it now?

  52. r0b 52

    but to avoid the tangent, let’s just say ‘one of the most’ important issues for most kiwis

    It’s not a tangent, it’s a fundamentally incorrect claim on your part.

  53. G 53

    But, Rob, the survey says most kiwis believe the government *can* afford tax cuts; in other words, most believe they won’t lose anything vital because of them.

    But this *is* a tangent, because it doesn’t matter whether or not tax cuts are the number one issue – it has nothing to do with reconciling ‘equality for all’ and the massive inequality for all taxpayers.

  54. r0b 54

    You’re still ignoring the “if”. Here, this quote from your own link makes it even clearer:

    Asked how tax cuts will influence their vote at this year’s general election, the number of people for whom a tax cut will be the main influence is up 5% to 18%.

    However, 40% (down from 49%) say they will be influenced most by the party which maintains a balance between tax cuts and social spending.

    Tax cuts are NOT the most important issue, and you are completely wrong when you say “poll after poll is telling us that it is the *most* important”

  55. G 55

    According to the very same survey:

    “Asked which of six options were most important to them this year:
    30% cited a personal tax cut
    28% increased spending on social services like education, health and benefits
    23% lower mortgage interest rates
    8% maintaining social spending, and
    2% a company tax cut
    Only 3% did not know.”

    But as I said, Rob, whether or not tax is the *most* important issue is not the issue (surely you can concede it’s at least quite important to kiwis): ‘equality for all’ and the massive inequality for all taxpayers is the issue that remains unreconciled.

  56. r0b 56

    whether or not tax is the *most* important issue is not the issue (surely you can concede it’s at least quite important to kiwis)

    Well done for admitting you were wrong G. Yes of course it’s quite important. Moving on then…

    ‘equality for all’ and the massive inequality for all taxpayers is the issue that remains unreconciled.

    Yes, equality for all is an excellent starting point. Let’s have the same wage and the same tax rate for everyone. Perfectly equal. Do you agree?

  57. Oh yeah and the same education and the same level of health care and the same opportunities…

  58. r0b 58

    What’s that G – did I hear you say that you think people should be paid by “merit”?

    Well sure, that seems pretty unequal but fair in some sense, so perhaps we could allow it. And while we’re at it we could tax people according to ability to pay (pretty unequal, but fair in some sense). So that those who have much can help those that have little, and somehow out of these two unequal processes the interests of equality are served.

    See how it works now?

  59. G 59

    While I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong, Rob, the survey quite clearly supports my assertion that tax is the most important issue for kiwis.

    Same tax rate? Absolutely, because that is ‘equality for all’ after all.

    Same wage? No, I don’t think a hard-working Stop-Go Man getting paid the same amount as a hard-working Minister of Finance would be an equal – or fair – reward for their respective efforts.

    Do you?

  60. G 60

    Yes, I believe in a meritocracy.

    Rob, you say, “And while we’re at it we could tax people according to ability to pay (pretty unequal, but fair in some sense).”

    How is this fair?

    Surely helping someone should be a choice.

  61. r0b 61

    While I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong, Rob, the survey quite clearly supports my assertion that tax is the most important issue for kiwis.

    No it doesn’t. And round in circles we go. Please see my post of 8:39 pm above, your claim is simply factually wrong.

    Same tax rate? Absolutely, because that is ‘equality for all’ after all.

    Same wage? No, I don’t think a hard-working Stop-Go Man getting paid the same amount as a hard-working Minister of Finance would be an equal

    Of course it would be equal, check your dictionary.

  62. G 62

    Sorry, that last comment is a potential tangent.

    The point I would like to make is this:

    Dr Cullen seems to be saying ‘equality for all’ except when it comes to your labour and the hard-earned rewards from it; he’s saying the hard-working guy who works two jobs should pay something extra in his taxes to the hard-working guy who works one.

    Why?

    Simply because he has less than him?

  63. G 63

    Apart from munting my syntax with your clumsy edit, you’ve completely miscomprehended me. The quote is: “… an equal… reward for their respective efforts.”

    Do you think, Rob, a hard-working Stop-Go Man should get paid the same amount as a hard-working Minister of Finance?

  64. r0b 64

    Yeah, gotta stay away from those tricky tangents.

    Listen to Cullen’s speech again. Listen to it three times, it’ll do you good. Cullen takes equality for all as a starting point and a guiding principle, and then goes on to talk about how principles are expressed and adapted in the context of a social democracy. There’s a considerable focus on the tradeoffs between ideals and pragmatism.

    Now you have your knickers in a bunch over progressive tax. Well, toughen up. Most of us accept unequal but fair taxes (just as we accept unequal but fair wages) as part of a fair society.

    If you want to focus on Cullen’s use of the term “equal” and take it from a pragmatic social context and apply it as an absolute mathematical rule, then expect to get yourself tied into all sorts of knots trying to defend such nonsense. Equal taxes, sure thing, equal wages too.

    Jolly good eh. Good night.

  65. r0b 65

    ” an equal reward for their respective efforts.’

    You can have equal pay and equal tax.

    Or if you want pay to be proportional effort, then have tax be proportional to wealth.

    Really goodnight!

  66. G 66

    Funnily, Rob, I already have listened to it three times… I was looking hard for the reconciliation of what appears to me a glaring contradiction.

    Rob: “Equal taxes, sure thing, equal wages too.”

    So you DO think a hard-working Stop-Go Man should get paid the same amount as a hard-working Minister of Finance…

    Wow. Given the massive downward leveling effect it would have on his wages, I think that idea would even make the good doctor break into a sweat. 🙂

    But getting back to the point: if his principle is “Equality for all” and his pragmatic adaptation in this context leads to “Equality for all EXCEPT those earning over $38,000 (soon to be those earning over $14,000)” then I’d say his principle is shot to hell.

    Unless I’m misunderstanding his definition of the word ‘principle.’

  67. G 67

    So… since there’s no argument here, I’ll assume you all concede Dr Cullen’s statement *is* a contradiction.

  68. r0b 68

    Nah G, I just got bored with you. Sorry.

  69. G 69

    Funny thing is, Rob, my 10-year-old daughter also claims she’s ‘bored’ when she’s stumped. 🙂

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