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Labour needs a wealth tax

The Editor,  The Dominion Post,  Wellington

10/07/2020

The work of French economist Thomas Piketty, author of “Capital in the 21st Century”, has shown that to reduce inequality requires taxing high wealth (assets).  This is now mainstream thinking.  The Greens proposed tax on wealth in excess of 1M$ is a modest attempt to take advantage of this new realization.  There is still work to be done to determine what $$ thresholds should apply.

The description of this modest tax as a ‘far-left’ policy is laughable, but also provides a chance to look at an important indicator of “who we are” here in Aotearoa New Zealand.  A wealth tax is so main stream today that not to adopt this kind of tax indicates intent to increase inequality.  Is Labour still intending to characterize its government as ‘well-being’?  The adoption or not of some form of a wealth tax will be the main indicator of ‘who they are’ this election.

Sincerely,

Richard Keller

published Mon, 13/07


Dave Armstrong on the Green’s wealth tax proposal hits the mark

The Editor,  The Dominion Post,  Wellington

02/07/2020

Another on the mark observation from Dave Armstrong Tuesday, highlighted and not distracted, by his usual satirical brilliance.  The reduction of inequality as an economic consequence of taxing high wealth (assets) has become mainstream knowledge today, especially from the work of French economist Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the 21st Century.

The description of the Greens modest tax on wealth in excess of 1M$ as a ‘far-left’ policy is laughable.  A wealth tax is so main stream today that to not adopt this tax indicates an intent to increase inequality.  The adoption of that policy or not by Labour will be the main indicator of ‘who they are’ this election.

Sincerely,

Richard Keller

 


Karl du Fresne seems to instinctivley and nervously understand capitalism is challenged fundamentally

The Editor,  The Dom Post,  Wellington
12/11/ 2019

Dear Editor:

Russell Armitage (11/11) and others have generally been pointing out to columnist Karl du Fresne that Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century recommends reforming capitalism not replacing it. Read the rest of this entry »


Submission to Tax Inquiry

What is the future of Tax?

The world is changing. The Post Truth Era is main stream here in New Zealand and around the civilized world.  Forty years ago there was a rising understanding that human cultures were destroying the ‘environment’ (‘ecosystem’ is a new and better word).  It became understood that human culture must recognize that it was part of the ecosystem, not separate and superior to it.  The changes required to reconnect with the planet also came to be seen as fundamental and terrifying.  Those four decades have been dedicated to trying to ignore that.  In fact, those who’s ideology was that human’s proper role was domination realized this was their last chance.   Those persons or constructs (e.g. corporation) most capable of accumulating vast wealth would be encouraged and inequality would be increased.  Neoliberalism became the preferred system to accomplish that and its tax workings need to be examined in that light.  Piketty more recently did the analysis of what was actually happening.

We must be careful about comparisons with other countries. There is disconnect widely across the globe about human culture’s place in the planetary ecosystem.  Tax systems must be seen in a new light.  Money systems must be seen is a new light.  It seems incredible to me that such a fundamental thing as money creation is left to large private profit making organizations (banks).   Money should be kept as a medium of exchange and not be something that can be owned, traded, and rented (interest).

Tax then needs to focus on controlling impulses to accumulate and dominate and on encouraging health of the ecosphere.

 

What is the Purpose of Tax?

As wealth has been used to further the ideology of dominance (planetary ecosystem, class in human relationships, etc) and increased inequality, wealth must be a strong focus of tax. (Capital gain could be a part of that, focusing on difference from a norm which is based on balancing negative impacts and enhancing impacts on the planet.)

Tax cannot be separated from other aspects of human relationships, government, etc. Once those fundamental changes are accomplished then the tax environment will look different.

 

Can housing affordability be increased through tax?

Housing has become a primary means to increase inequality in New Zealand.   Progress will come from a change in attitude toward productive soils and land use as that reflects the most primary exploitative attitude.  (see previous comments)  More modest housing models could result. Fewer people would be desirable. The whole philosophy of exploitation in human relationships must be rejected and resulting changes in attitude toward money would take power from the profiteer approach of banks.

Wealth in the form of land ownership and assets needs to be taxed, especially idle housing properties. Capital gains tax would work in this context.

 

My most important ?

The phrase “protecting the environment” doesn’t really capture it. Living realistically and healthily within the ecosphere does it better.  See my earlier comments to see how this needs to be seen.  Many other impacts would flow on to the other priorities you mention here.

The approach to retirement is another crucial factor. Kiwi Saver has primarily been an attempt to discredit National Super while creating winners and losers through the ‘market’, thus increasing inequality.

Wealth in the form of shares is a way to use productive activities to produce wealth which is not productive and should be heavily taxed.


‘Enormous excess’, GDP, and sustainability

The Editor, The Sunday Star-Times, Auckland

27 June, 2014

Dear Editor:

Greed and the ‘excess’ it generates has been evident for centuries, accompanied by the debate about whether economic systems accepting greed generate useful incentive.  But Colin Espiner’s column (22 June, ‘The problem with greed’) acknowledges that today is not characterized so much by excess as by ‘enormous excess’.  This has been universally recognized ever since the finance crisis of 07-08 produced fewer and larger ‘too big to fail’ financial institutions in the USA. Read the rest of this entry »


Piketty, Stiglitz, GDP, and The Listener

The Editor, The Listener, Auckland

08 June, 2014

Dear Editor:

Thomas Piketty’s book, “Capital in the 21st Century”, is getting lots of attention these days. The Listener quotes New Zealand economist Brian Easton claim that the book describes an idea whose time has come.  But no, today it is more a theory whose time has come and gone.  Read the rest of this entry »