Matt McCarten hits the mark over low wages (HoS)

I would be inclined to call this the best piece of opinion that I have read for a while.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/3/story.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10491537

Some excerpts:

We have an extraordinary situation where we have full employment yet our wages are among the lowest in the developed world.

Profits are way up and business has been so successful here that the Reserve Bank has to keep jacking up the interest rates to slow the economy. The World Bank continues to commend our government for its pro-business policies and rates us number one on Earth when it comes to supporting business.

Even if we gave workers a $50 weekly tax cut, their wages would still be well behind Australia’s.

Until now, government initiatives have arguably let low-paying employers off the hook and have institutionalised a poverty trap. For example, rent subsidies paid to low-income workers make no difference because rents have increased in response to soaring house prices. Although the heralded family support is a welcome relief to low-paid parents, it helps sheet in low-paid wages. This comes about because any increase in wages a parent may get is then deducted from their family support, neutralising any benefit.

New Zealand workers, according to numerous reports, have the most flexible terms of employment and hours of work in the world. We have the highest percentage of people working more than 50 hours a week than any other developed country. Few households can survive on the income of one breadwinner. We have an increasing social dysfunction in our society as many parents are required to spend too much time away from their families because of work demands.

What we have now is a society where inequity has cemented in. A third of New Zealanders are never going to be able to afford their own home; the average wage earned by the average New Zealander cannot even pay for the basic necessities of life. The minuscule tax breaks that will trickle down to workers next year won’t change a thing whether Labour or National is in power.

New Zealand Quiz

This aired on Campbell Live the other night. I managed to achieve 15/15 how well can you do?

1. Which colours are represented on the NZ flag?
a. black and white
b. red, black and yellow
c. blue, red and white
d. green and gold

2. Which symbol is represented on the NZ flag?
a. Silver Fern
b. Kiwi
c. Southern Cross
d. All Blacks

3. Which is a popular sport in NZ?
a. table tennis
b. water polo
c. rugby
d. ice hockey

4. The capital of NZ is?
a. Auckland
b. Hamilton
c. Wellington
d. Christchurch

5. Which 2 figures are on the NZ Coat of Arms?
a. A kiwi and the silver fern
b. A Maori chieftain and a European woman
c. Captain Cook and Abel Tasman
d. The Queen and a Maori Woman

6. Who is the head of state?
a. Prime Minister Helen Clark
b. Queen Elizabeth II
c. Governor General Anand Satyanand
d. Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon

7. Who was the first Prime Minister of NZ?
a. Michael Joseph Savage
b. Sir Keith Holyoake
c. Henry Sewell
d. Sir Robert Muldoon

8. What song is NZ’s national anthem
a. God Save the Queen
b. Star Spangled Banner
c. God Defend New Zealand
d. Pokarekareana

9. Which main political party is in power?
a. National Party
b. Labour Party
c. New Zealand First
d. Green Party

10. What does Anzac Day commemorate?
a. The Gallipoli landing
b. Armistice Day
c. The battle of the Somme
d. Victory in the Pacific

11. Who was the first European to sight NZ?
a. Captain James Cook
b. Abel Tasman
c. Young Nick
d. Captain Bligh

12. NZ soldiers fought in which war?
a. World War 1 and World War 2
b. Korean War
c. Vietnam War
d. All of the above

13. Which year was the Treaty of Waitangi signed?
a. 1840
b. 1850
c. 1890
d. 1901

14. Which is New Zealand’s highest mountain?
a. Mt Ruapehu
b. Mt Taranaki / Mt Egmont
c. Aoraki Mt Cook
d. Mt Tasman

15. Maori have lived in NZ for?
a. over 20,000 years
b. over 500 years
c. less than 500 years
d. less than 100 years

Answers:
1 c, 2 c, 3 c, 4 c, 5 b, 6 b, 7 c, 8 c (or a), 9 b, 10 a, 11 b, 12 d, 13 a, 14 c, 15 b