Do We Want the Stability of Our Society to Be Dependent of the Random Generosity of a Few Mega-Rich?

Do we want the stability of our society to be dependent on the random generosity of a few mega-rich? This was the question posed in a letter to the editor in this week’s Otago Daily Times. It is an excellent question.

The Alliance Party would like to see it as the defining question in the 2014 election. Rather than the squabbling to date about such trivial things as which politician lives in the flashest house, and whether they should live there. That’s not important in the big picture.

The big picture is about the distribution of wealth. Do we want a largely hands-off government – a low tax economy with few social services? This scenario will see a few very wealthy people and a lot of people with very little wealth and little in the way of reserves if something goes wrong such as unemployment, illness, or accident. Social services will depend not so much on government funding as on charity – the random generosity of the mega-rich. If this is not forthcoming, there will be no services.

The alternative is a more equitable distribution of wealth. This relies on a more hands-on government to set the rules. These would take the form of progressive taxation, legislation setting realistic minimum and perhaps even maximum wage rates, and using government funding to put in place safety nets such as free health care, education, and a liveable income for those who find themselves out of work, unable to work, or doing unpaid work.

We must consider the possibility that with new technology and a greatly expanded workforce in New Zealand and globally, there will never be enough well paid work for everyone, especially if we factor in the need to reduce consumption to stave off potentially catastrophic climate change. How should we deal with that?

Voters need to know where all political parties stand. As our ODT letter writer says, the future stability of our society depends on it.

The Alliance makes no secret of where we stand. The Alliance is all about the common good. We believe it is the role of the government to facilitate everyone working together to look after people and the planet. We do not believe that this can be delegated to a few very wealthy individuals or corporations… and history is proving us right.

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