We need to talk about inequality

by Jake Quinn

Letter to the Editor of the New Zealand Herald submitted earlier this month. Unsuccessful I believe, but I haven’t been following the letters section. 

We need to talk about inequality as it’s something we can choose to manage

Martin Robinson (5 January) mischievously tries to link the salaries of All Blacks to the debate about the social consequences of increasing inequality.

He claims redistributing AB’s salaries to all other NZ rugby players would ruin the team – sure it could, but no mainstream commentator is suggesting that, nor are they suggesting a purely equal society, which is the ‘strawman’ Robinson is arguing against.

Since the 1980’s income inequality in NZ has risen to amongst the highest of developed countries.

We need to talk about the negative effects of this on social cohesion, highlighted by Garth George (29 December), such as increasing rates of imprisonment, mental illness, drug abuse, and teenage births, and what we are willing to do to maintain a healthy society.

Countries can organise themselves to manage income disparities. The ratio of CEO to blue-collar worker income is 11:1 in Japan compared to 480:1 in the USA, both are wealthy but are at opposite ends of the social cohesion scale.

If we don’t manage inequality, many of us may need, like Robinson’s brother, to live in gated communities as social ills sky rocket. Is this the type of country we want our grand-children to grow up in?