Brian Edwards Media

$50 Million PM Counsels Poor Not To Envy Rich

johnkey11In what can only be described as an egregious piece of bloody cheek, the $50 million man, our Prime Minister John Key, has told those who can expect to be better off by between 85c and $5 a week after Thursday’s budget,  that they should not be envious of the rich because the rich are crucial to the economy.

‘We can be envious about these things but without those people in our economy all the rest of us will either have less people paying tax or fundamentally less services that they provide… But those who pay the top personal rate fit into some core and critical categories for our economy. They include doctors, entrepreneurs often, scientists, engineers, lawyers, accountants, school principals, nurses…’

This will come as distressing news to the nation’s wage and salary earners, whose median annual income is $30,200 but who may nonetheless have considered themselves as fitting into ‘some core and critical category for our economy’. They now know better.

Nor are they likely to be impressed by Mr Key’s rationale that a tax package favouring the rich is justified because the rich consume more and therefore pay more GST.  Who knows, those on low and middle incomes might also like to consume more,  perhaps by buying a new washing machine or a car that doesn’t cost them a fortune in repairs or a decent holiday for themselves and the kids. They will have trouble accepting the idea that someone on a hundred grand a year is going to be between five and 30 times better off than them after Thursday. They may think that consumption is not an equitable standard by which to judge social, or for that matter, economic worth.

But then social equity does not appear to be a concern for Mr Key or his government. The budget will simply extend the gap between rich and poor in this country, a significant cause of so many of our social ills, not least violent offending, ironically a vote winner for politicians at election time.

So is it reasonable for anyone on a parliamentary salary, let alone Ministers of the Crown or a Prime Minister who made millions as a foreign exchange trader, to counsel those on low and middle incomes not to be envious of the rich who are about to be handsomely rewarded for their wealth, while they are to receive a pittance? I would have thought not. Such advice not only requires a degree of selflessness enjoyed only by saints but a willingness to approach and accept social and economic injustice with equanimity.  It is both unreasonable and offensive.

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52 Comments:

  1. I certainly found this offensive. And not that many nurses get over 50k

    • I certainly found this offensive. And not that many nurses get over 50k
      Yes, the inclusion of nurses was strange.

  2. Can you start writing Phil Goff’s speeches please? I want to hear more fire and brimstone like this and less about fruit and vegetables.

    • Can you start writing Phil Goff’s speeches please?

      I hate writing speeches. More importantly, I don’t think Phil would be interested.

  3. My understanding is that the median income is actually around $28,000 and the most common individual income is around $15,000. The average wage is dragged up to the high $40,000s by the few people on very high incomes.

    • My understanding is that the median income is actually around $28,000 and the most common individual income is around $15,000. The average wage is dragged up to the high $40,000s by the few people on very high incomes.

      You’re right. A mistake on my part. I’ve altered the figure to the correct and updated $30,200

  4. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be one of the rich, telling the poor how important we are and they shouldn’t be envious! Talk about patronising sh……

  5. I believe we need to do more to ensure we all pay our fair share of taxes.
    Lets close down more loopholes that don’t pay for themselves.
    Those that earn more money probably do consume more, so probably will pay more GST now that its increasing to 15%.
    I agree with him, don’t envy others, what’s the use?

    • I agree with him, don’t envy others, what’s the use?

      Well, you may be right that little will be gained by envy. But I’m astonished if you can’t see how inappropriate it is for someone who made $50 million paper-shuffling on Wall Street and is now about to increase the gap between rich and poor in this country sees fit to lecture those on lower incomes on how they should feel about it.

  6. Now who would’ve thought that a personal fortune of $50 million and the power of Prime Ministerial Office might make a person out of touch?

  7. All wage and salary workers need to stop work immediately.Lets see if their input is of any value once this has been achieved.
    John Key is exactly as I pictured him a business psychopath with few if any moral virtues.The emperor is almost naked .Again !

  8. John Key, probably argues that the top-earning 10% pay 76% of the taxes. They deserve respect and rightful recognition, for their contribution to the State’s coffers.

    • John Key probably argues that the top-earning 10% pay 76% of the taxes. They deserve respect and rightful recognition, for their contribution to the State’s coffers.

      Well, I’ve no idea where that figure comes from and I’d be totally sceptical about its validity. Tax avoidance is largely the prerogative of the wealthy and an option not open to salary and wage earners. Then you would have to ask how that 10 percent got to be the top earners. From the sweat of their brows, from market speculation, as employers, property owners, finance company directors, bankers… There doesn’t seem to be widespread ‘respect’ for any of these top earners either in New Zealand or internationally. The idea that the rich deserve respect because of their wealth is simply preposterous. In any event, it’s not wealth I’m objecting to, it’s Key rewarding the wealthy for being wealthy while telling the poor that they ought not to be envious.

  9. National being National, surprised?

  10. In the USA the Republicans also believe that the poor have only their own silly lazy selves to blame. Serves them right to be without health insurance, a decent roof, a decent education, or a decent holiday. Why we rich folk are entitled and are of course superior etc etc…. Funny how the Key chap seems to think the same way. Maybe the Republicans could buy him as a consultant? A good NZ export perhaps?

  11. @BE So much emotive language from you, I expect more from a man of words…

    @paper-shuffling on Wall Street, BE do you really think they just shuffle paper? Whether the financial system is decent and ethical should be discussed however I have no doubt that successful Wall street types work very hard.

    The top 10% of earners in this country earn $120k plus, so I’d suggest that may are salary earners. Not all are bankers, directors and other fancy pants.
    Take it down a notch or two is my suggestion and use your experience and intellect to construct a decent argument

    • John Key, probably argues that the top-earning 10% pay 76% of the taxes. They deserve respect and rightful recognition, for their contribution to the State’s coffers.

      I will, if you agree to stop writing condescending drivel. With the median at $30,200 very few wage and salary earners will be on $120K plus. As for successful Wall Street types, I would have thought we had their measure after the recent financial crisis. Respect for them would be a scarce commodity. You might also look at the site recommended by Brewer. And actually, Steve. I thought my post was entirely reasonable and quite restrained.

  12. Speaking of Key’s personal fortune, I came across this the other day:

    http://aotearoaawiderperspective.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/would-you-have-voted-john-key5.pdf

    Haven’t yet checked out its origins or veracity but looks interesting despite the poor grammar. Be interested in what others think.

  13. The rich may well include doctors, scientists and school principals (although I am not sure they would agree). However none of these ‘rich pricks’ would be able to function if it were not for the people who clean up the crap, stoke the boilers, wash the laundry, cook the food, keep the sewers clear, etc, all of whom earn less than the median income.

    Those of us who may have comfortable white collar jobs, with comfortable salaries, depend for our comfort on those prepared to carry out low paid unpleasant work, which we are ill equipped to do ourselves and for that they are not allowed to envy us.

    “Egregious piece of bloody cheek” is far too mild; monstraous, uncaring, insensitive arrogance from a real ‘rich prick’ with the emphasis on the second word.

  14. @BE I didn’t say that that many people were on $120k plus, I merely stated that not all folk $120k were bankers etc and may in fact be salary earners who pay their share of tax.
    My intention was not to condescend.

    …..and I certainly we hope we have the measure of the Wall Street folk resulting in a fair and robust financial system. I have my doubts.

  15. “I have no doubt that successful Wall street types work very hard.”

    This hard-work line is getting very tired. Do you think cleaners don’t work hard enough and therefore deserve their minimum wage? One always has to factor-in the moral value of the work, when discussing who deserves what.

    Otherwise we might end up praising the misunderstood guards who worked “very hard” at Auschwitz. (Frankly, I don’t rate the Wall Street types who have flamed the world economy as much better than war criminals.)

  16. This really pi**es me off.

    Lord John telling us peasants we should bow and scrape and doff our caps to those that have more money than us.

    Our forefathers were supposed to have left this crap back in Britian when they sailed over here.

  17. and just remember that if the top 10% of earners pay 76% of the tax…what does that tell you about hoe much that top 10% earn!?

    UN statistics if i recall show that in the past 60 years the inequality of income has blown out from 20% of people owning 80%, so these figures are pretty much in keeping with global trends.

    The other point I’d make is that the nats have this idea that if we all just work hard we too can earn a $100,000 income. Well sorry society does not work that way. We can’t just all earn $100K. We need care workers, teachers, nurses , office clerks, mall staff, security guards, bus drivers, retail assistants, taxi drivers, movie theatre staff, supermarket checkout people etc etc .

    When the vast majority are on less than $45K and are finding it hard to live comfortably then we as a society pay the costs in social, educational, health and crime statistics. Is not a decent society judged by how we look after everyone?

  18. It harks back to the old British “respect your betters” class system really. These people have more money than you so they must perforce be better people. Do we have to start doffing our caps and stepping off the pavement next?

  19. And on the other hand, the same man tells us we should all be “aspirational”. Isn’t aspiration connected to envy somehow? I might be envious of someone’s lifestyle, and so I aspire to be like them.

    So, isn’t aspiration (a good thing, according to Key—indeed the main plank of his election campaign I recall) driven to some extent by envy?

    Without envy, would we be aspirational?

  20. looks like an open invitation for a ‘steal from the rich and give to the poor’ project…

    cheers,
    Robyn Hood

  21. And on the other hand, the same man tells us we should all be “aspirational”

    Come, come SVR, surely tyou realise he simply wants people to “aspire” to better things without actually achieving their goals. After all, one wouldn’t want oiks coming into the Northern Club and demanding jugs of draught…

  22. Standing to be corrected, is it really the case that the top 10% of earners pay most of ‘the tax’? They may well pay most of the income tax, but surely not most of the tax intake at large. Isn’t that why GST was invented? A brief web hunt indicates GST is about 20% of crown revenue.

  23. To offer some facts, the median income for wage and salary earners is $38,000 (add in beneficiaries and of course it’s lower). And the top 10% of earners? That’s anyone earning over $67,000.
    That last figure shows just what a scandalously low wage economy we live in.

    • To offer some facts, the median income for wage and salary earners is $38,000 (add in beneficiaries and of course it’s lower). And the top 10% of earners? That’s anyone earning over $67,000.

      Both these figures differ from the figures I received from the CTU

  24. reminds me of that famous sketch john cleese and the two ronnies did for The Frost Report….nothing changes much

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mYY1QGK0jQ

    • reminds me of that famous sketch john cleese and the two ronnies did for The Frost Report….nothing changes much

      Thanks for that, Denise. Great fun.

  25. I wonder what John Key was saying when that photograph was taken – ‘let them eat cake’ springs to mind.

  26. I’m not sure who are “those who can expect to be better off by between 85c and $5 a week after Thursday’s budget,..” – if the total change in tax is neutral, and so much is going to the rich, won’t a lot of people be worse off?

    Perhaps you are referring to an expected reduction in income tax which will be available to meet a 2% or more increase in the costs of everything that we buy – leaving most in a net position of being worse off. I guess there will be a very small number of people that get a cut in income tax that is between 85c and $5 a week more than the additional GST cost, but I suspect they are not in the group earning less than the median wage.

    • I’m not sure who are “those who can expect to be better off by between 85c and $5 a week after Thursday’s budget,..” – if the total change in tax is neutral, and so much is going to the rich, won’t a lot of people be worse off?

      Stats published by the Dom Post: The figures refer to Annual pay; Weekly tax cut; Likely extra GST; Extra per week

      $10,000 $3.85 $3.00 85c

      $26,520 $10.20 $6.00 $4.20

      $50,000 $18.50 $12.00 $6.50

      $70,000 $18.50 $18.00 50c

      $100,000 $48.65 $24.00 $24.65

      $500,000 $481.00 $120–180 $300–$360

  27. Let’s just all go and find a rich person to hug – and thank them for being so rich and helping our country. Remember to kick a few beggars,sneer at some single parents and adopt a supercilious air when you check the change the taxi driver gives you.

  28. I agree with John Key, I really don’t think we should envy the rich. Let us simply nationalise their assets.

  29. The evidence accumulated by Wilkinson & Picket – The Spirit Level – http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/
    shows clearly that most social ills – physical health, mental health, violence, crime, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, etc etc, are all driven by the growing gap between the haves and have nots. John Key and his cabinet appear to be generating more costs for NZ society than revenue generated to pay for them. Can he be called to account for this?

    kno1

  30. the median income may well be 30k, but it is pretty well skewed by the 300,000 or so people aged 15-19 who are at school or Uni and only work part time. they represent 10% of the workforce, but shouldn’t really be included in discussions about living wages. Exclude those people and the median will increase quite a bit

  31. Facts and figures aside, isn’t it obvious to all that a decrease in income tax and an increase in GST punishes those who do not earn enough to save, while rewarding those that can. If you spend your entire weekly wage on living costs then this obviously attracts additional GST on your entire earnings, negating any savings from a income tax cut. If on the other hand you are only spending half of your wage on living and the the other half is surplus you have a clear net gain. In other words those on the bread line eat your bread, those who are not…have some Bill’n’John cake?

    The move may well be to an attempt to limit consumption of luxury goods (as stated by John Key if I recall) and encourage saving, but this is of little solice to those who can’t afford food for the table let alone entertain the notion of luxury goods or savings.

    If this is really your intention John Key, How about putting GST up to 25% on luxury goods and removing it completely from core products and services. In the UK there 0% VAT on basic food products and only 5% on heating fuel and electricity. Just a thought.

    • Facts and figures aside, isn’t it obvious to all that a decrease in income tax and an increase in GST punishes those who do not earn enough to save, while rewarding those that can.

      This morning’s Herald has published a very detailed table showing precisely what people on incomes from $10,000 to $120,000 will gain, taking into account the tax cuts and GST increases. At every income step the gain increases, from (weekly/per annum) 45c/$23.25 for someone earning $10,000 to %56.08/$2916.03 for someone earning $120,000. The figures do not lie.

  32. Wow! John Key’s (reported) personal weekly tax cut (as P.M.) is more than I get each week to live on. Envious? I suppose it’s a ‘subtle’ way of giving the Old Boy’s Club a pay rise on the heels of a recession. The stinking rich spend most of their money overseas, that much should be obvious.

  33. National rewarding the rich for being rich? Are you people retarded?

    All this budget does is penalise the rich a little less than they were before.

    Someone who earns $30,200 a year pays $5,152 under the current tax rates, that’s 17.1% of their income.

    Someone who earns $75,000 a year pays $18,050, that’s 24% of their income.

    Someone who earns $200,000 a year pays $65,550, that’s 33% of their income.

    The person on the highest income earns almost 7 times as much as the lowest, but pays almost 13 times as much tax.

    The current tax system is unfair, if you really want ‘social equity’ then you’d be in favor of a flat 25% tax rate?

    • National rewarding the rich for being rich? Are you people retarded?

      One of us may be. The figures you quote are the maximum tax amounts any of these groups would pay. They take no account of legal (amd barely legal) tax avoidance through expenses claims and other mechanisms. Generally speaking, low and middle income earners, wage and salary earners have limited or no ability to make such claims. Haven’t you heard the super-rich boasting that they never pay a penny of tax? And your point would be better made without referring to people who disagree with you as ‘retards’.

  34. It’s interesting to note TV One’s Close Up poll showed that 80% liked the budget, and the Herald’s website poll, currently, shows 72% in favour.

    • It’s interesting to note TV One’s Close Up poll showed that 80% liked the budget, and the Herald’s website poll, currently, shows 72% in favour.

      Yes, I found that interesting too. By the way, how does Close Up justifying charging 75c for viewers to text in their votes?

  35. Its not about the rich being crucial to the economy , its about the qualified.
    Either we keep our best people or we don’t.

    peterquixote

  36. Hello Brian,
    John Keys seems to like “foot in mouth” disease; in accordance with most of the bolgs that I have read, this would seem to be an accurate summary.
    What I find morally and ethicly irresponsible is the whitewash statement used so often by those being interviewed, that implies an intellectual acceptance of an implied wrong doing, but accepting no responsibility for being a part of the solution; I refer to that statement oftimes quoted,”I think”.
    John Keys and others of his ilk use this statement often. I’m personally not the least bit interested in what these people “think”, I’m more concerned with what they know.
    I have never aspired to fame or riches. I am one of those lowly workers, now retired, who was bought up by my parents to accept such resposibility as my abilities and rescources permitt, to be a part of the solution, not a continuance of the ongoing problem.
    The biblical phrase, “to whom much is given, much will be required”, seems to be out of odds with regard to John Keys, “I think”.
    John Keys is paid to perform a task, just as I was. If I did’nt perform that task to my employers satisfaction, I would expect to be sacked.
    Not all tasks are “clean hands and accolades”, sometimes you have to take responsibility and risk unpopularity by getting your hands dirty.
    John Keys. Don’t tell me what you think, tell me what you know, when you are asked a question on public TV that requires a response from you, indicating a willingnes on your behalf to be a part of the solution, not an abdegnation of the problem.
    In parting Mr Keys; a poke in the eye for showing an insensitive and arrogant attitude towards those of us who perform the lowly tasks that often go un-noticed. Like Shylock, We bleed too.

    • Hello Brian, John Keys seems to like “foot in mouth” disease; in accordance with most of the bolgs that I have read, this would seem to be an accurate summary.

      Hello John. Nice to have you aboard. I’ve found your comments thought-provoking. But like thousands of other Kiwis you are giving John Key something he doesn’t deserve – an extra ”s’. Or could it be a $ sign?

  37. Hello Brian,
    Thank you for your reply.
    A very thought provoking question indeed….
    “S”; There are many like him, Lords and Masters of our nation. Should we bow and scrape, knuckle our foreheads, doff our caps, to these “Gods” of commerce and social manipulation??
    “$”; This could symbolise those “privileged” people, a caste symbol perhaps..that symbolises the dividing line between the unwashed masses and the privileged rich.
    “Let them eat cake”. History, and not so long ago, records that the mouth that uttered that sentence…lost it’s head…
    Food for thought………?