Two good Gareth Morgan columns


When we look at our social welfare regime it is full of inequity, so much so that it can be viewed as a tax on poverty. We maintain a mix of targeted benefits, including the dole, invalids, solo parent, Working for Families, and universal entitlement (NZ Superannuation) benefits.

This suggests that on the one hand the point of the welfare in New Zealand is to alleviate poverty and encourage people to make themselves available for paid work – while at the same time enabling one cohort (the baby boomers) to feather our own nest with the most generous of the benefits – with no questions asked.

Proponents of NZ Super insist it’s not a welfare benefit but rather an entitlement in recognition of the elderly’s contribution to the economy. …

How many times have you heard recipients of NZ Super argue that because they’ve paid taxes all their lives they “deserve” the dividend of super, our welfare regime’s highest single benefit? The claim sounds good but it is vacuous.

One way to test the veracity of that claim is to see if the Government has, over the years of tax contribution by the generation now receiving super, built up a cash surplus through budget surpluses or an asset base with all that tax revenue it received. The answer is neither.

I despise this sense of entitlement. Yes you may have paid your taxes for 40 years, but you know what. You also received 40 years of benefits from them, and your benefits were much more than the tax you paid. I know this because you’ve left us the debt.

In a later column Gareth writes:

The challenge facing our younger generations is how to stop my generation plundering the government accounts to an extent never seen before. We hold the votes – who ya gonna call?

One solution might be for a younger generation party to seize the balance of power and then introduce a maximum voting age.

Not a bad idea. I tongue in cheek suggested 61 on Twitter (Gareth is 62).

Why does an older person then get to exercise more influence on a young person’s future well-being than a young person has to influence the (shorter) future of an old person? That seems the wrong way round.

The real worry is as the elderly numbers grow, then they will demand more and more spending on them, at the expense of areas such as education.

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