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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stuff raising the retirement age, tax the rich instead!

Last week student protesters in Auckland called for education to be funded by taxing the rich.  Taxing the rich can fund national superannuation for all as well.

The recent headlines tell the story, 'Pressure for John Key to raise retirement age', 'Shearer: Superannuation 'status quo is unsustainable'' and 'Labour challenges National on retirement age'.

The Labour Party has spotted the gap between Government income and expenditure which will occur in decades as New Zealand's population ages. Desperate to appear in the media as financially sensible and prepared to manage the Government's budgets once again the Labour Party want to raise the retirement age to 67. The debate is couched in hysterical terms by some pundits, 'New Zealand's superannuation bill last year was $8.8 billion. Fastforward four years and this bill will be about $12.3b.'

Yet the wealth to pay for retirement is there. Despite the rhetoric of hard times and squeezed books the rich are doing better than ever.
  • Mana Movement Vice President, John Minto points out, 'The richest 150 New Zealanders (Prime Minister John Key included) last year increased their collective wealth by $7 billion – and most of that was untaxed.
  • The big Australian banks took $3 billion in profits out of this country last year as their profits increased a massive 18% on last year! 
  • CAFCA points out $10.3 billion net left NZ in the year to September 2011 - 'Their profits are NZ's biggest invisible export.'

The rich, the corporations and the banks have all enriched themselves at workers expense. The Talley's family have a wealth of $300 million which was created by workers in industries like fish processing, vegetable processing and the AFFCO meatworks. The Aussie banks make their profits through extortionate mortgages that many working people will spend their lifetime paying off and by paying low wages to bank workers. The transnational corporations like the supermarket giant Progressives make their profit from the labour of thousands of low paid New Zealanders.  The local super rich, the Aussie banks and the transnational corporations all get rich off the labour of workers as sociology lecturer at the University of Auckland Campbell Jones points out,

Wealth is not created out of nothing. Wealth is not produced merely by the ideas or actions of isolated individuals. We produce things of value through our action on the material world and through the application of science and technology and the skill of social cooperation to that action. And as anyone who works knows, we work with others and for others in order to produce things of value.

At the same time as the Labour Party talks tough about wanting to put up the retirement age for workers it says nothing about taxing the rich and redistributing wealth more fairly in society. The wealth is available to pay for pensions for all but it is being stolen by the local super rich, giant offshore corporations and the Aussie banks. As Hone Harawira said in his budget speech, Tax the rich and free the poor, 'Rich people pay a lower tax rate here than in France, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK & even the USA';
MANA’s response is to say tax the rich and free the poor.
1 Reverse National’s $2 billion of tax cuts to wealthy New Zealanders.
2 Lift the tax rate for the super rich from 33% to 45% like in Australia.
3 Establish a proper capital gains tax where all income, regardless of where it comes from, is taxed at the personal tax rate.
4 Replace GST with a financial transactions tax, which will put money straight into the hands of the poor, reduce speculation on the Kiwi dollar, and increase our export earnings.
The silence of Labour MPs on their parties policy of raising the retirement age show that their MPs do not think nor care about the working people, young and old, whose support they rely on at election time. Raising the retirement age will mean more unemployment for young workers as older workers are forced to keep working. The raising of the retirement age will also hurt Maori more than anyone else. Last election Mana's policy was that the retirement age for Maori should be lowered to 60 until such time as statistics prove Maori live as long as non-Maori. Currently Maori life expectancy is ten years shorter than it is for Pakeha. As Hone Harawira said,
On current trends, 19 out of every 20 Maori will pay taxes all their lives and then die before they get the pension, That’s a criminal bloody outrage that no society should accept, and yet by raising the retirement age from 65 to 67, Labour will ensure that even fewer Maori would live to get superannuation.
As the retirement debate continues we need to call as socialists for the solution to be found not in raising the eligibility age for national superannuation but in taxing the ultrarich, the banks, the corporations. Raising the retirement age means more youth unemployment, more workers who die before they get to retire and is part of the post-1984 consensus between Labour and National that workers should pay for the regular economic crises that upset the Government's budgets.

Stuff that! It's time to tax the rich!

-Socialist Aotearoa

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