Getting a fair go

I have an opinion piece in the Herald on Sunday this morning.

We all deserve to get a fair go

In the United States, when politicians want to connect with voters they talk about freedom. It’s a big deal: any politicians who want to be elected need to show they are committed to freedom. Barack Obama used the words, freedom, free and liberty 16 times in his 2012 inauguration speech. The next most common word was people, which appeared 11 times.

In New Zealand, we don’t talk about that so much. Our big shared value is fairness. We think that everyone ought to have a fair go, a fair chance at getting ahead and a fair opportunity to participate in our society. We’ll hear politicians talking about fairness a lot this year in the lead-up to the election.

But what exactly is fairness? When I ask my taxation students about how to tax fairly, they quickly come up with three ideas, all of them “fair” in some way.

Click here to read the whole thing.

This entry was posted in Economics, Ideas, NZ Politics, Taxation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Getting a fair go

  1. Shane Field says:

    After having studied some economics at university, I believe that the concept of “utility” or “marginal utility” can be used to form a good argument for a progressive tax system.

    If every person in NZ was offered $1 or had it taken away, the effect on each person would not be the same. Each person would gain or lose varying amounts of happiness, enjoyment or benefit as a result. If a billionaire saw $1 on the ground, he or she might not even bother to pick it up. A person on a low income, however, might be overjoyed.

    I’m all for decisions designed to maximise utility, and when considering tax changes or changes to our welfare system we should consider how to do that. On the other hand, there are good arguments for universality when it comes to our welfare system.

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