Crampton fisks Latta

In case you had the misfortune to see the show on inequality, Eric Crampton has the data about inequality that Latta was told about, but refused to include on the show as it didn’t fit the narrative he had decided on.

Crampton quotes the MSD:

Overall, there is no evidence of any sustained rise or fall in inequality in the last two decades. The level of household disposable income inequality in New Zealand is a little above the OECD median. The share of total income received by the top 1% of individuals is at the low end of the OECD rankings.

Crampton notes:

Latta focused a lot on wages at different levels rather than the kinds of numbers above. We do have a reasonably progressive tax system with substantial transfers to the working poor. The numbers above reflect the after-tax-and-transfers income at the different deciles. The tax and redistribution system has worked to maintain pretty stable levels of inequality over the last couple decades on a wide variety of measures of inequality. It is a substantial mistake or deliberately misleading to portray things instead as a rising trend in inequality. And since I’m told that the Treasury Chief Executive told Latta, on footage left on the cutting room floor, that inequality was flat, Latta seems to have been wilfully seeking to mislead the public about the basic facts around inequality during and election campaign on a publicly funded television station. 

Yep, our taxes used to promote misleading coverage.

This is not right. Public broadcasting is supposed to at least give everybody the correct basic facts so that voters can then deliberate about how to interpret and deal with those facts in policy choices. When it instead deliberately misleads the public into taking the narrative pushed by the Labour Party, I start wondering why we have a state broadcaster. Public broadcasting isn’t supposed to make people dumber.

Globally there is a tendency for state owned broadcasters to favour the policies of the left, as bigger Government means potentially more money for them. In NZ, they are funded by NZ on Air, so documentaries that conclude taxes should be higher, and the Government more controlling, always get funded. I can’t recall them ever funding a documentary on the need for RMA reform, lower taxes or the like.

The proportion of low-income households is higher than it was in the 80s but the trend since the mid 90s is basically flat or declining. Is this just me cherry-picking measures? No. You get the same thing on the relative income lines. If you don’t like current poverty or inequality rates, that’s fine. But they’re a “it’s been like this for about 20 years” thing, not a “John Key is Evil” thing. The current state of affairs is roughly the same as it’s been through many terms of both National and Labour. 

Yet these documentaries only appear when National is in office.

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