Firstly, it was revealed that 3% of New Zealand households pay 25% of income tax. Most of the media coverage of this was couched as a defence of the Government's income redistribution policies but there was recognition that there was "a risk to our tax base because people are mobile and can move." I think this is the first time I seen this acknowledged in recent years in the mainstream New Zealand media. That statistic actually doesn't reveal the true extent of the issue because almost all (97%) of income tax in New Zealand is paid by 17% of households*.
The other statistic that received much more attention this week was that 10% of New Zealand households have around half of the wealth. The predominant media narrative was about how unfair this was, but when you delve into the figures a little more you find that around 60% of the assets held by New Zealand households is the family home. It seems to me to be churlish to begrudge people the wealth they have built up by buying the house in which they live.
Looking at these two statistics together gives a more holistic picture than either on its own. A few New Zealanders who work hard pay nearly all the income tax that supports the rest of society, and a few more, particularly those who are able to save enough to buy homes, manage to achieve some level of personal wealth over their lifetimes. This is the edifice on which all left-wing wealth redistribution policies are based. It all seems quite fragile really and a sudden economic shock - another global financial crisis, for example, that resulted in significant job loses and a property market crash here in New Zealand - could see the whole edifice crumble.
The left-wingers who call for ever-more-punitive taxation should bear that in mind.
* This is based on 2011 Budget figures but it won't have changed much since then.