My values are Labour values.

I want to help build a stronger, more caring society. I am passionate about Dunedin, and I bring considerable energy and wide experience to the task of representing this electorate.

My diverse work background has given me an understanding of the economic and social levers that can be pulled to achieve meaningful change.

Please read some of the discussions included here. I welcome your comments.

- David Clark

Cutting the cake

Campbell Jones writes about the growing gap between rich and poor.  He asks the right questions in this Dominion Post opinion piece

Innovative, hard-working Kiwis can be very successful in New Zealand.  Government can set the right conditions, but many will succeed regardless.  Some will become wealthy. 

But, does the reverse logic hold?  Is wealth in New Zealand necessarily an indication of innovation and success?  Not always.

Jones writes:

…those concerned about these increasingly unequal distributions of wealth, income, power and privilege have been dismissed as “tall poppy bashers” or as being motivated by “envy”.

Central to such dismissal is the idea that whoever has wealth has created it by and for themselves. This sounds like meritocracy, that is, the idea that whoever puts in an effort merits reward. But this is meritocracy on its head. It assumes that just because someone is rewarded, they deserve that reward. This false meritocracy need not look at what anyone actually does. It reads reality backwards, imagining that those who have wealth are by definition the ones who have created it.

This ideology exhibits a remarkable forgetfulness of history. It forgets, for instance, that the European aristocracies were overthrown because the wealth they claimed as their own was shown to be the result of arbitrary privilege. It is also blind to the present, failing to see that when people are constantly told to shop but do not have the means to do so, they will at times reject conventional understandings about property and ownership.

Above all, it fails to recognise that the allocation of wealth is a matter of judgment, a collective decision about what kind of society people want to live in.   …

If we choose to keep growing the gap between rich and poor, we create a class society, where accident of birth dictates your opportunity set.  Wealth begets wealth, and poverty begets poverty.  This kills the dream of a society where the way to get ahead involves innovation and hard work.  It attacks our sense of fairness.  And it’s not good for us socially or economically.

Jones’ whole article is well worth a read.

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