NBR Rich List backlash the canary in the coal mine, pointing to an ‘anti-wealth’ election: commentator

NZ Initiative head of research Eric Crampton says "it’s impossible to satisfy some of these critics"

Eric Crampton explains the NBR Rich List backlash.

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This year there has been a bigger backlash than usual against the NBR Rich List.

Some elements are familiar.

It’s no surprise that Nicky Hager's sister, Mandy, re-tweeted that it was the “list of shame.”

And NBR’s stock rebuttal will come as no surprise to readers.

Rich Listers like Rod Drury, Ian McCrae, Brendan Lindsay and the McPhail family (to name just a handful) have created thousands of jobs in areas from software to manufacturing to horticulture.

New entrants like Chris Heaslip and Eliot Crowther (Pushpay) and Murray Holdaway (Vista) have created weightless exports in whole new markets, bringing in export receipts and high-value employment. 

And the likes of Sir Stephen Tindall, Sam Morgan and John Holdsworth are prolific investors in startups, helping to create new companies or even new sectors of the country's economy.

While the Rich Listers are getting richer, NZ Initiative head of research Eric Crampton points out that many of them have made their fortune by creating value for others, as opposed to the monopolists or crony capitalists who can dominate rich lists overseas. When the Mowbrays burst onto the Rich List by selling innovative toys, it doesn’t detract from others’ wealth.

On a similar theme, Prime Minister Bill English – who could be relied on for a dry rather than inspiring defence of the Rich List – suggests a lot of wealth disparity in New Zealand can be linked to interest rates, which have been historically low since the 2008 global financial crisis, saying: “Much lower interest rates drive up capital values. That wouldn’t be surprising to people who hold assets, who are going to find those assets to be more valuable. If interest rates rise, then on that measure of inequality, inequality will drop – but they will still have the same assets.”

Rodney Hide weighs in that “The great thing about capitalism is that it generates wealth on a phenomenal scale, so the very definition of poverty changes every generation.”

I could go on, but you know the drill.

Lining up to give the Rich List the bash
What has been a surprise this year is the ferocity of critics and, more, the New Zealand Herald, Stuff, RadioLive and NewsTalk ZB enthusiastically providing a platform for the bashers (see links on our Rich List home page).

Auckland University sociologist Dr Ron Kramer, with his theory that the Rich List was a “representation of underlying inequality” became the King of All Media as he hopped between interviews.

Does it mean New Zealand is catching some of the populist fever that has recently gripped the US and the UK?

“The NBR Rich List in 2017 might be seen as some sort of canary in the mine – the reaction to it this year has been more negative than usual,” says political commentator Bryce Edwards.

 “This year’s election might yet be influenced by this rising anti-rich feeling. It’s not yet clear how this might be represented – New Zealand’s parliamentary parties haven’t traditionally railed strongly against the rich,” he says.

“New Zealand First is the most likely to push an anti-wealth programme, and already Winston Peters is even using the word ‘capitalism’ in disparaging terms during the campaign. He’s the one to watch. His version of populism is somewhat more left-wing than usual, and he’s clearly hoping to pick up on the more anti-establishment feeling out there.”

He adds, “Sometimes it’s even the wealthy here that are doing the politicising. Witness The Opportunities Party’s Gareth Morgan railing against wealth and against the lack of taxes on wealth.

“Ever since the global financial crisis there has been much more public and media discussion of poverty and economy issues," Mr Edwards says.

"The Roy Morgan poll out last month showed the single biggest concerns of voters are poverty and inequality. In addition, voters in the survey cited other economic issues of housing affordability, homelessness, cost of living, inflation and unemployment as their top concerns."

Increasingly, the debate or concern about inequality is shifting from a focus on the problems of those at the bottom to a focus on the other end of the spectrum – the wealthy. So previously the problem was framed simply in “the poor not having enough,” whereas now there’s a greater discussion about “the rich having too much.”

Dr Crampton says the economic data shows income inequality has been relatively flat over the past two decades. But the fact that house prices and rents have increased has made conveying that a hard sell.

“I get uncomfortable when people see high levels of wealth, don’t understand the value-creation that underlies it and think it’s somehow unfair that this person who’s created a lot of value for others has a lot more money in his pocket as a consequence and they don’t – and then they want to redistribute all of it. “

NBR ran a Rich Lister philanthropy special last year. Would it have helped soften the backlash if we’d done the same this year?

“No. I don’t think there’s any way of winning on that one,” Dr Crampton says.

“When Mark Dunajtschik put a whole pile of money up to build a new hospital for Wellington, you still had the Twitter left railing against the fact he had that wealth to spend in the first place – and that it should have been taxed away from him so the government could have built the hospital."

He adds, “It’s impossible to satisfy some of these critics. They have no understanding of the process by which wealth is created, no understanding that creating value for consumers is what allows you to build that wealth. They don’t appreciate the market process that underlies that; they think it can all be done by government redistribution instead. And when you build an economy on that kind of a basis, you wind up in terrible situations.”

Foot-shufflers
The release of the Rich List 2017 has also seen the familiar theme of Kiwi reticence.

Journalist Bill Bennett, who worked for NBR back in the 1990s, remembers: “My job meant getting short interviews of Rich Listers and checking details about their wealth. It didn’t take long, for one thing, to become clear, New Zealand’s rich did not like talking about their wealth and went out of the way to downplay their success. Many tried to persuade me they didn’t belong on the Rich List. One hired a publicist to persuade me he didn’t belong on the Rich List.”

He adds, “Compare this with the big noters in Australia or the US who pay publicists to get their names on local equivalents of the Rich List.”

Things haven’t changed. One Rich Lister went as far as getting a QC to issue a last-minute threat of legal action if his profile wasn’t dropped from the NBR Rich List this year (it stayed in).

And Rich Lister and National MP Ian McKelvie told Fairfax that people named on the list were uncomfortable about being singled out.

"I just don't think [the Rich List's] is in anyone's best interest,” he said.

New Zealanders love to celebrate success when it comes to sport.

Business, not so much.

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50 Comments & Questions

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I think this article misses the point of the criticisms people have of the wealth distribution. Probably deliberately. The capitalism model is fine. The issue is the way the tax system works. It is all loaded against the income earner. The more wealthy are able to benefit disproportionately from passive capital gains with no tax consequences which tilts things heavily in their favour. The rising property prices hits the less wealthy with a double whammy by opening the wealth gap between the wealthy and the average person and increasing costs for anyone renting or trying to buy a home. These changes and wealthy getting wealthier effect have nothing to do with creating jobs and probably weigh against doing so because of the reduced spending power of the average person.

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Most listers will have benefitted from tax-free capital gains on their homes over the past year, but that asset accounts for a tiny part of their wealth in most or all cases. Other gains are subject to tax, directly or indirectly

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I think you are downplaying the role that property has in many people's wealth and where it gets stashed when it has been accumulated. I would also note that GST has a proportionally greater impact on people at the lower end of the wealth spectrum. It may be applied equally on all goods and services but it has far less significance to the wealthier and the amount they have left over to live on.

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Quite right and it really grates when you learn kids of relatively wealthy people get a full student allowance while your own kids only qualify for a loan!

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Some evidence please. Otherwise you are just speculating.

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I started Uni 8 years ago and the only people I knew on the allowance had some of the wealthiest parents out of my friend group. It's not speculation but it's difficult to find evidence, why would anyone admit to this.

I couldn't agree more with Lnh above. It's been great for home owners - but what if you don't own a home? Rich keep getting a lot richer - tax free! Older home owners (baby boomers) find it immensely difficult to see things from a younger persons perspective.

House prices 10x income... yeah cheers. What a success.

Anyway, time to get back to my smashed avocado.

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Hey Hmmm, consider who is most responsible for driving wealth up for the haves (property owners) and creating the enormous disparity with the have nots (the renters) in Auckland

Why good ol' lefties in the form of aggressive planners and silly thinking local government politicians, trying to save us from the idyl of suburban living by ring fencing the availability of land in the face of increasing demand.

Every time a redistributionist mentality interferes with the basics of supply and demand the same thing happens - the already well off do even better, the most disadvantaged continue to be locked out of independence and upward mobility and the long suffering middle class continue to pay twice

The most brilliant thing is the redistributionists' then claim and maintain the high moral ground, such as we read read about in the article.Their shrill shrieks of indignation are so pure, so uncontaminated, theirs must truly be the voices of the gods.

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Oh, please.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1167...

Too many of today's old folks forget the ways in which society helped them to get to where they are, and have come to really believe they did it all on their "own two feet". Which is bollocks.

Old folks received so much from NZ's earlier policies, then having benefited from these, have benefited yet more from the switch to neo-liberalism. Yet somehow fail to realise this...Not surprising - studies have also shown lottery winners often come to believe they "earned" all their wealth.

This is less denigrating the rich list than telling NZ's older folks to get real about inequality of opportunity.

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Well said. The youth need to target their action against those who have created the shortage of land in the first instance. And who is that? Well, those invisible lefty central planners who are un-elected, but can screw with the future of young people. No expansion of land= higher prices for new homes=pain for young people.
And who created the RMA? Well, you can thank the greens, who want nothing built except gulag type concrete boxes all in the CBD.
Where have all the developers gone? Well, when it just became too tough, they changed their businesses, or left the country. No developers+no land=very expensive houses.
Then we have the "higher learning institutes", creating non-viable courses (wage wise) for "international students" ( read = buying residence in NZ, and they bid up prices of the houses that become available.
If I was starting out in uni today, I would be questioning why the academic "system" is colonized by the left. These academics, not all, but most, poison the minds of their students against capitalist ideology, driving their Marxist policies dressed up under the green skirts of sustainability. But of course a questioning mind and attitude these days gets you a lot of flak.
There you have it. I await the flak from the PC brigade.

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What's funny here is that there seems to be a sense of expectation that the masses out there (in that pesky "society" that Rodney Hide can't quite get his head around) should fall to one knee, tug their forelocks appropriately, and collectively hail their genetic and intellectual business superiors simply because they have managed to stash away more cash (through fair means or foul, with motivations ranging from pure greed through to full-on philanthropy) than they have.

That pesky NZ society out there (that incidentally the Rich Listers are still part of whether they like it or not, unless they would all choose to go and live on their own remote desert islands, and also from where they derive most of their profits) is still trying its best to be an essentially egalitarian one, the way it always has been. Egalitarian does not mean "communist" by the way, I think the definition is "everyone gets fair crack of the whip".

No-one begrudges success in business per se because yes it benefits everyone with jobs, careers, tax revenue for the govt, international standing and prestige etc.

What people in that society out there do get really sick of is every year having the fact that these people have accumulated shedloads of money rubbed in their faces. Making lots of money is clearly important to these people, and that is fine, but I think if you focused more on what the business people had actually done to benefit society and the wider business community by growing their businesses - instead of solely focusing on the amount that is in their bank balances as the sole measure of "success" - you might get a better response.

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Do you personally know any one on the list. I know 5 and not one expects any person, "should fall to one knee, tug their forelocks appropriately, and collectively hail" them. Perhaps your another who just cannot see what may of these people have done and suffer under the 'tall poppy syndrome' I feel sorry for you.

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Well Snowflake- I know at least 30 people on the list, maybe more, (my business partner would be on it if anyone was watching his moves etc) and I can tell you my overwhelming view (as a capitalist) is that almost all of these people are primarily concerned with preserving their own wealth. Indeed - deep down most of these people feel that with financial success should come "special treatment" (hence why most of the 80's guys moved to London or the US where more money = more special treatment). When I was first starting out as a young guy I always thought - the NZ rich is a club that those in it will be all about young people getting into (like Silicon Valley is), and actively help them - but if anything I have learnt in my travels in the business world, it that in NZ the exact opposite is the case. It is very much a shadow plutocracy. For example - can any of you tell me what social good Graham Hart does? He is around - I have run past him running on Tamaki drive before. Just yesterday I saw a homeless guy having a seizure on Queen Street outside Gucci (literally visual irony). In case you guys haven't realized - they downfall has begun. Which sucks becuase there is no reason why NZ shouldn't be like Switzerland in that the rising tide should have raised all ships (the best and the brightest get feted and can buy all the ferraris and jets they want but at the same time there are no homeless people dying on f#4cking Queen Street as ferrari driving 19 year old Chinese students step over them). Walk down High Street tomorrow and see all the for lease signs. Retail is dying cause no middle class kiwi has any discretionary income to spend. So unless we want to become an awful soulless luxury retail outpost of Beijing - its time to wake the f up. And it would be nice to see some of the business leaders on your stupid least actually show some leadership in this regard (*NB : I don't think Bob Jones anti-bum crusade counts for that matter, he just wants them out of his doorways out of sight out of mind).

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I can feel your anger/disappointment. We should be more like Singapore. Copy what works over there. But we won't, because we are too PC, too squishy left, looking for excuses and to blame someone else feeling entitled, so Singapore will continue to outpace us. Forty years ago , we were twice as rich as Singaporeans, now they are 2,5 times wealthier than us. But consider this : they import EVERYTHING, except air. And we have what? Everything, but we run a VERY expensive quasi socialist economy, and pander to crime.

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Errr...forty years ago, when we were wealthier than Singapore, we were much more socialist than we are now. Today we live in our post-Neo-liberalism state.

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NZ "too squishy left"? A "quasi socialist economy"? What? Yes, lots of corporate welfare for big business, but precious little for the small guy in the street who really needs help from WINZ after being fired by serial director Joan Withers or one of her ilk. Taxpayer bailouts for Air NZ, BNZ, Kiwirail and Alan Hubbard's (the one time "Warren Buffett of NZ", according to NBR & NZ Herald) SCF etc. Do you never ask yourself why NZ is so expensive? The economy is largely comprised of cartels and monopolies and it is their senior managers who have the ear of our publicly elected MPs and senior "public servants". The NZ "capitalist" economy is not run for the benefit of the people. It is a neo-lib, crony capitalist/corporatist club that seeks to stifle any threat to its profits, a good deal of which go offshore to their overseas owners.The dearth of competition also helps explain why the boardrooms and executive suites of these corporations are chock to the gills with greedy, backscratching deadbeats and timeservers. Look at Fletcher Building, Feltex, Cadbury and Spark (the company that had to change its name) as just several of many, many examples!

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I like the bit where you say 'When I started out as a young guy.'

For someone who doesn't like the supposed plutocracy, you do throw trendy places and names around. Pity you don't post under one ... a name.

Say what you like about Eric Watson, he would.

And I'm tied of saying a voluntary free market transaction is not zero sum: both parties take their value (without having to go to war). Unless your view of evil business peeps is formed by Batman movies.

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What a bitter and somewhat petty reading of the situation.
The Rich List is not for "rubbing it in" - it is a celebration of the success New Zealanders have had building world class businesses, innovating and providing employment.
The article makes clear that most Rich Listers downplay their wealth and some try not to be on it at all.
I think you'll find for most, if not all, on the list "making shedloads of money" was never an important driver, but more a consequence of being highly successful at what they do.
If success in business, and therefore in lifting NZ's economy and living standards has become something to be scorned rather than lauded, the country is headed in a very disturbing direction.

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The purpose may be to celebrate, but if the masses are taking it as having thier noses rubbed in it, then that is an issue. It is how the message is percieved not what it meant to say.

I think the more negative reaction is about how hard more and more people are finding things. Many are struggling to make it from pay day to pay day, no matter how hard some politicans are saying they are better off. Again perception counts.

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"No-one begrudges success in business per se because yes it benefits everyone with jobs, careers, tax revenue for the govt, international standing and prestige etc." But...........

Lol, You sound like one of those racist talk-back callers who say, "'I'm not racist, some of my best friends are X, but".........

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Well I am certainly not racist, and I can assure you that as a fervent talk-back caller, I've *never* been afraid to say it, "Some of my best friends are Maoris."

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Let's celebrate business success definitely, but not perceived greed - there is a difference, and they are quite distinct. The problem with the NBR Rich List is that it confuses business success with amassing wealth, and the perception of that outside the business community - ie everyone else - is what is not going down well. As Anon says above it's the perception that counts, and this "perception" is also the thrust of Chris Keall's article.

Why there is such an onanistic response from some people in the business and wider community when they see a 7, 8 or 9 figure personal bank balance is another issue (I'm going for insecurity), but maybe the Rich List needs a rethink to better celebrate the achievements and hard work that these business people undoubtedly do?

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Although inequality is a major issue in New Zealand society, and is a deep concern to many, the so-called 'rich list' and the media hype surrounding it are side issues. Singling out and publicly identifying those with wealth seems to be a crass media activity with an element of voyeurism.

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I find it interesting that similar such rich lists, created in other lands, never contain those that generate the most so called 'wealth' and nor do those lists contain the entities that print unlimited currency such as the owners of Central Banks like the Fed, the BIS, the ECB, the BoJ etc. The name Rothschild never appears on any list. The Saudi Princes never appear either nor do the owners of their oil companies. In addition, can paper currency or FrN's even be called money? What is wealth exactly?

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The increasing vilification of successful business people that we are seeing is another signpost to the fact we live in the ruins of a once great Enlightened civilisation, it's nascent hope snuffed out election by election in the emoting booth, and on its way, benefit by benefit, regulation by regulation, tax by tax, to the gulags of collectivism and anti-individualism.

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Well said, and what is so scary is that this pattern seems to be happening all across the western world.

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Another New Zealander with little appreciation of NZ's own history and the way it's helped them to where they are now.

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It's free lives versus slave lives; individualism versus the prison of each other; up versus ... you.

I like living in the village, but the village doesn't own me.

Free markets are freedom. Nothing else. And business people peacefully pursuing their happiness via voluntary transactions have brought humans more health and prosperity than any command economy ruled by any tyrant which have always brought poverty, misery and often, slaughter.

Mum of nine (remember her from two weeks ago?) - benefit upon benefit says 'her children just happened', all nine, apparently, one after the other and she wasn't able to figure out the mechanism (or didn't bother because she knew I'd be forced to pick up the tab). Ain't no future in that. (Edited)

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“I get uncomfortable when people see high levels of wealth, don’t understand the value-creation that underlies it and think it’s somehow unfair that this person who’s created a lot of value for others has a lot more money in his pocket as a consequence and they don’t – and then they want to redistribute all of it. “

We already had a Cold War from 1945-1991over which system was better. It's not perfect, but I'm pretty sure that to anyone doing any type of research knows which system is preferable by those which have lived under them...

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I think the resentment is fueled in part by the lack of social mobility.
You don't make any money by selling labor and if you don't own assets already they are already too expensive/massively risky to buy.

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Perhaps we should distinguish between people who acquire wealth for themselves via providing real value to others vs. those who *exploit* others to do it. I think most of the massively wealthy are in the latter group, although there are probably many (who we should be celebrating) who are financially comfortable or even wealthy, who have done so with strong ethics and principles the whole way through. It's the ones who have fleeced others to feather their own nests for whom we should reserve our invective (and top tax rates)...

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The cynic would say that profit is created by the gap between ripping off staff, suppliers and customers.

Staff getting them to make your product for less pay, suppliers paying the least for quality components that you can and customers by selling your products for more than they are worth.

On the flip side, without your business staff would have no job, suppliers no one to sell their components to and customers none of the good they seek to improve their lives. Provided all of these three have choice, value is balanced in between.

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No one's forcing suppliers to supply anyone or staff to work for them. Last I heard slavery was illegal.

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I wonder how many people really have a choice in whom they work for... I'm lucky that I've been able to make an ethically satisfying work decision, but I realise that I have benefited from quite a bit of privilege. Many others have not. Ultimately, the people who run businesses have to decide whether to be ethical or not. Many of the "successful" one (financially at least) use very dubious means to achieve that success. Sadly, we often have governments made up of similar people, and our systems tend to overlook these ethical lapses and the resulting exploitation. I do, however, suspect this underlying exploitation is the reason we have high-and-increasing inequity in most of the world.

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You are good example of the negative tall poppy syndrome. You have no evidence for your claim that most of the massively wealthy have acquired their wealth by exploiting others. Just a cheap shot.

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Whatever. I'll give crap what you think when you put your name to your comment.

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If Mandy Hager hates it then it must be good for you. Of any activists the Hager's should understand the advantage from inherited wealth and (asset protection) trusts from their family and I don't see them handing the wealth back to charity.

The List this year I think was a fallacy in including foreigners on it. I also once again think it lacks credibility measuring individuals wealth up against family wealth.

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One is minded of France circa 1792. Storm the Bastille. Off with their heads!!

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If we didn't have wealth and value what would be left with, "Lord of the Flies"? Animal Farm? 1984?

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Creating jobs and wealth for all is good
Has no relationship at all to having an equitable system for taxation on the income earners
Time for a re-think on all this!!
Have we all thought through what another 50 years of the current taxation and wealth systems will surely provide?
Do we want a wealthy class - where wealth persists in perpetuity and increases exponentially? and the middle and lower class to be continually downgraded?
If that's what all New Zealanders want - then keep the status quo
If not - then promote informed debate that outlines the 50 year view of keeping the current models in place!!!

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No, let's concentrate on getting the costs of socialism out of our system so we don't need to keep on sucking people's savings and wealth from them.
Or we can follow the French and raise more and more taxes until the smart and rich people just leave these islands for a better life elsewhere.
Why are we as a nation so supportive of socialism? Is it because our educational institutions have been captured by the left? Or is it that we have so many unions and taxpayer funded employees all dependent on taxes for their wages ? Why don't we have journalists visiting Venezuela to expound on how wonderful socialism works?

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I listened to that full interview with Dr Ron Kramer on ZB and I could not believe what I heard - if you haven't heard it I recommend you try find it, shocking beyond comprehension. Our tertiary institutions are full of these like minded individuals who essentially teaching communistic ideologies to the young minds of this country. The negative reactions to the Rich List is just proves that the Tall Poppy syndrome is alive and well. The gap between the rich & poor has existed since time began itself, once a man was considered 'rich' because he had 10 more heads of goats than his closest neighbour - nothing has changed except how we measure wealth now. People don't understand that the people that made it to this list have failed time & time again, success does not come to you on a platter.

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How did Dr Ron Kramer get into this country? Were we second choice to Venezuela or Zimbabwe? Just for amusement, I thought about enrolling into Auckland Uni Faculty of Arts to see if I could take one of his courses, maybe Graffiti and street art, but only if his research outcomes are endorsed by Singaporean Justice System who are Masters of dealing with Graffiti criminals.

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I agree with one of the other commentators that highlighting the jobs created by these people would help the message.

As an aside, what I have difficulty with is that by producing a numeric "list", the rich list infers a level of accuracy which is simply not true. For example:

NBR cannot know what debt individuals or families have.

Valuations of early stage companies may infer a high "valuation" but are often funded through pref shares, the terms of which dictate value, not the headline number.

There are a huge number of private companies with earnings that would have them valued at levels to qualify the owners for the rich list (let alone the years of dividends they've accumulated). Few of them ever appear in this list unless their company has been sold and IF the value becomes public (which is not often).

I'm all for celebrating business but I think the "rich" list is a very narrow and inaccurate way of doing it. And, I don't think it sits comfortably with the natural modesty of most New Zealanders.

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Ah heck is you don't like it just do what Turei did rip off the government and the NZ taxpayer after all your entitled to get more than the law allows, either work, cant do that, so steal. For once NZ take your head from between your legs and celebrate success, in all its forms

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Why cant we see this for what it is, a celebration of exceptional achievement, when you look through the list many of these people have started with nothing or very little, they have been clever, industrious, lucky, or whatever but I'll bet they have all had some big downs before the big ups, New Zealanders are awesome at knocking anything that sets some of us apart from others, look at the comments here about slave labour etc what a bunch of misery guts they are the same people who knocked our achievement in the Americas Cup, instead of celebrating it as probably our greatest sporting achievement its a bunch of rich pricks and cheats. Spare me how many jobs and opportunities do these Rich listers create for ordinary NZrs, without them we would be worse off as a country, I'm looking at the glass half full Go Kiwis.

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I dont have a problem with the rich. I am by no standards rich myself. But I know I could be if I apply myself and make a commitment and then execute my plan - I would hit all the numbers I wanted. However my issue has nothing to do with what ifs but why should I? And if geographically speaking, our country is experiencing unprecedented change that makes no guarantee that this next generation will enjoy everything we are working towards today - do we all have our priorities straight?

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I wonder where we'd be without the masses of money poured into worthy causes by the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett? I wonder what a government would have done with that money?

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How many Kiwis today would actually be as wealthy as they are had New Zealand's government never enacted things like Land Tax and other measures that broke up land banks and got land into more average Kiwi hands?

Capitalism works well when people have a chance to attain and utilise capital...but once it gets to the point where it's all getting concentrated in few hands is becoming inaccessible to new entrants, we're just heading back to Third World conditions, and eventual regulatory capture, corruption et al.

All the whines about things the likes of TOP are proposing (e.g. a tax on capital/land) being an "envy tax" can be equally leveled at income tax. The best thing young Kiwis can do to have a reasonable chance of upward mobility in life is what's happened before in NZ's history - rebalance tax away from its slanted emphasis on income and back onto a mix of income and land / capital.

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I would prefer to see the NBR "Rich List" turned more into a "Fortune 500" or maybe an "NBR 100". It seems that's what the NBR is trying to celebrate - business success. That can be measured by business longevity, employment, returns to shareholders, customer satisfaction, types of products.

I think it is only prurient curiosity (read: tabloid trash journalism) that drives NBR to fous on individual wealth of business owners (plus some others) instead of the businesses themselves. Does it really matter how much wealth Mr Tindall or Mr Hart have? Isn't it more interesting to measure the success (or not) of their businesses?

I understand NBR's insistence to continue with the Rich List. Tabloid trash journalism generates far more clicks, reader engagement, and thus revenues than something more analytically pleasing, but boring. This year, the NZ Herald actually ran stories about the Rich List as if it were the latest installment in The Bachelor; I think NBR could not get a higher compliment from the Herald.

And in a funny way, the Rich List is really just a slightly different version of a reality TV show...... How much money have those Keys managed to accumulate this year anyways? Stay tuned for the next installment of the NBR Nosy Parker Rich List - see what your favourite (or least favourite) family of rich pricks has been up to this year. Hahahahaha.

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Being one of those mentioned as having an easy run of free university fees in the 50's and 60's. No one mentions the high exam fees and the difficulty of supporting oneself during the academic year especially for women and the impossibility of a females then getting a loan no matter what they earned without a male backing them. I was somewhat successful as I was a school teacher on maximum income tax from early in my career (secondary teachers still hit maximum income tax in their fourth year). However that was when school teachers were paid a similar salary to MPs.
I watch my son lawyer struggle with his new company and competition and see that being bound to a state salary was not so bad. I am pleased when people do create jobs and are successful. I love that I am free to do airbnb to seriously supplement my income.
I am more unhappy that the maximum tax threshold is so low and likely to remain so than being envious of the rich.

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