The Big Issues
As automation slowly moves us towards a world without work the Universal Basic Income (UBI) has gained a lot of popularity among policy wonk circles as a possible solution. It would involve giving every citizen a payment as their basic right. The idea has its critics and supporters on all sides of the political spectrum and the time is right to speed up that debate.
Right now large international corporations and the super rich have mastered the art/crime of avoiding tax, putting the burden on the middle class and poor. These proposals would make our tax system a lot fairer and reduce inequality by removing the systemic barriers hard working people face in the modern economy. It's about closing the loopholes in our system, especially around housing.
Comprehensive Capital Income Tax
Taxing the equity in assets in the same way as bank deposits. This provides an incentive to use assets efficiently rather than hold them simply for tax reasons. It would reduce housing speculation and make it harder for wealthy people and foreign companies to avoid tax. Would also achieve a better balance between taxes on income and wealth.
The owner of any land at a percentage of the value of land. It would reduce land prices, reduce speculation and give a strong incentive to put land to the most efficient use.
Child poverty has become a national crisis in the last few years, yet we don’t really have a solution that’s visible to the public. Here are some options.
Universal parent payment
The evidence shows that investment in the first few years of life is crucial, yet not everyone gets Paid Parental Leave and those that do only get it for a limited period. Why not ensure that all parents receive support during the first year?
Child Poverty Act
Have govt set target for reduction in Child Poverty by X% by (date).
Dump junk carbon credits
The Government wants to carry over our surplus of carbon credits past 2020, but we only have this surplus because of past dealings in dodgy carbon credits.
Phasing out imports of internal combustion engines in cars by 2030
The idea is currently being debated in Germany. But while Germany has a large automobile industry that might make this policy very hard to implement we have a natural advantage in NZ through our reliance on imports.
The idea that obesity is huge problem is not new, yet solutions never seem to get beyond a random news story every couple of months because there is no concerted push by the public or by non-profits for change. Here are some options:
Junk food tax
A tax on all junk food to reduce demand. The revenue could be used to fund healthcare and healthy food.
Sugary Drink Tax
A tax on sugary soft drinks to reduce demand. The revenue could be used to teach kids about the impacts of junk food.
Junk Food Advertising Ban
Ban junk food marketing to kids to protect them from predatory marketing practices until they are old enough to make a rational choice.
Our freshwater is no longer swimmable thanks for runoff from dairy and overuse for commercial purposes. For things to change we need a concerted public push on some specific goals.
Government policy should have the target of swimmable rivers - current the ‘bottom lines’ on the Government National Policy Statement for freshwater is for wadeable rivers. The goal should be for all rivers and lakes to be swimmable where possible, unless agreed by the local community.
Fair Water Use Fees
Commercial water users should pay a resource rental for the water that they use, with the money going into restoring our waterways.
Adopt the equal pay principles, embed them into law and properly resource the regulator to enforce this labour standard.
No conversation about the future of NZ is complete without addressing our history, how it’s shaped the society we live in today and where it goes tomorrow.
Compulsory Te Reo in
Part of our obligation under the Treaty of Waitangi is ensuring that Maori taonga is protected and thriving - that includes the language.
Civics and Culture (NZ History) in High Schools
Teaching NZ History and Civics in high schools can use the lens of education to build civic engagement and encourage a shared understanding of our bicultural history.
Over the last few decades we've seen a concerted effort to cut public services, even more so since the GFC. This has has consequences for NZ in many vital areas.
DOC needs more funding to stop the decline in native species and move towards a predator free New Zealand.
Increase funding for mental health services. Meet community needs and recruit and retain experienced and skilled staff.
As revenue from newspaper subscriptions and advertising revenue decline a core part of our democratic society is in danger of collapsing. Public funding of journalism is necessary for a healthy democratic society but we don’t really have a well organised movement creating the political pressure for that to change. There is a lot of latent energy in this area.
Inequality isn't just being caused by automation and the housing bubble. When we compare countries with strong worker protection with those without we see that incomes have actually kept pace with productivity increases. Which is why in order to address low pay and pay inequality we will need legislation to enhance workers’ ability to bargain and organise collectively.
Legislate to require workplace support for people experiencing family violence.