Rich and Poor in NZ

Philip Ferguson PLF13 at
Sat Jul 19 19:11:00 MDT 2003

Further to Jurriaan's posting about the state of rich and poor in NZ.
Here's the opening of another article, this one from the Dominion Post
(man paper in the capital) on NZ's ruling rich:

And the rich Kiwis are getting . . .
18 July 2003

New Zealand's rich citizens grew even richer last year.

National Business Review's annual Rich List estimates the most affluent
Kiwis increased their combined worth by more than $3.2 billion in the
past year, the biggest rise since the list began in 1986.

My comment:

There are two things I find interesting about this.

Firstly, is that the rich have gotten far richer under the current
Labour government than under the previous nine years of National.  As
the above article notes, the rise in the wealth of the rich over the
past 12 months has been bigger than in any year since the Rich List
began.  And this wasn't an unusual year under Labour - it follows
massive increases in the wealth of the richest ever since Labour got
back in power in 1999.

Contrast this with the fact that wage rises have been *lower* under
Labour than National and the massive cuts in the unemployment benefit,
solo parents' benefit and widows' benefit made by National in 1991 have
not been reversed by Labour, which has been in power now for nearly four years.

So much for the notion that Labour gives a shit for workers and the poor
or is any kind of "workers' party".  Right now, it is the chief party of
the NZ ruling class and its membership - to the extent it has any left
these days - are largely a bunch of detestable yuppies.

Secondly, the Rich List seems to be comprised disproportionately of
purely parasitical capitalists - ie there are very few capitalists
engaged in production; most of the top ones mentioned in the newspaper
articles on the Rich List are "financial investors", "property
developers", and "retailers".

This is indicative of the damage done to the productive sphere during
the economic trauma  of the 1980s.  Unlike the 1975-84 National
government of Muldoon, the 1984-90 Labour government was prepared to let
large swathes of NZ industry go to the wall and thus Labour's
neo-liberal reforms of the 1980s wiped out half the jobs in manufacturing.

This primarily meant drastic declines in living standards for NZ
workers, but it also meant a much narrower base for capital accumulation
in NZ by the capitalists themselves.

Philip Ferguson

More information about the Marxism mailing list