David Leyonhjelm on Inequality

Every morning when we look in the bathroom mirror we are reminded that life is not fair or equal.

If I was a proselytiser for equality I would demand the bloke who sits behind me in the Senate give up his unfair share of hair. Derryn Hinch has far more than he will ever need and I have none. But then again, he may demand something he is lacking in return, and I value my fully-functioning liver. That’s the problem with inequality; we’re surrounded by it. And it’s fine political fodder.

We will hear a lot about inequality in coming months. Labor believes election victory can be achieved by waving the banner of inequality. Echoing the rhetoric of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, Bill Shorten recently claimed in a speech that rising inequality was the single biggest threat to Australia’s social cohesion and the economy.

Now I can’t help noticing how many people have hair, and sometimes it seems their numbers are growing, unlike my hair. But increasing economic inequality? That’s just not true.

The Survey of Income and Housing from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows income and wealth inequality have remained relatively stable over the past 22 years. In fact, largely thanks to sustained economic growth over this time, significantly improved living standards have been achieved for Australians in every income decile.

The ABS’s findings, released late last year, were recently backed up by a Productivity Commission report that similarly found income gains had been widely shared across all income groups ever since the 1990 recession. Productivity Commission chairman Peter Harris said that those with the least income have done as well, if not slightly better, than most.

It’s a similar picture elsewhere in the world, although Australia is more equal than most. Among 28 OECD countries, Australia ranks eighth most equal based on the Gini coefficient of wealth, a well-accepted measure of inequality.

Australia also recently overtook Switzerland for having the highest median wealth in the world, according to Credit Suisse’s 8th Global Wealth Report. Median wealth in Australia – the wealth of the middle Australian if every one of us was lined up in a row according to our wealth — is about $270,000 after taking into account income, property assets, superannuation, debt and other liabilities.

So why the incessant claims of rising inequality from leftist politicians? Why has Labor’s Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, declared that income inequality in Australia “at a 75-year high.” Labor are misrepresenting historical data on the income share of the top 1 per cent of taxpayers in order to play on the genuine concerns of Australians about stagnant wage growth, inflated house prices and soaring energy bills. For the many who are feeling the pinch, it’s easy to think the cards are stacked against them. But that does not demonstrate inequality (and neither does the historical data on our top taxpayers).

Our focus should be on equality of opportunity – access to education and employment regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic background. It’s also about equality before the law, so that the same rules apply irrespective of your wealth.

At a rate of more than 60 per cent, my ancestral home of Sweden has the highest personal income tax in the world. For that price every Swede gets government paid healthcare, childcare, tertiary level education and unlimited leave, including sick leave, at 80 per cent of full pay.

Yet despite being one of the healthiest countries in the world, Sweden has one of the longest hospital waiting queues in the developed world, and one of the highest rates of sick leave in Europe. Just over two thirds of young people are not engaged in the type of tertiary level education their high taxes are paying for, and the most common household in Sweden is a single childless adult, unlikely to avail themselves of free childcare.

In Australia we admire those with a natural talent, in the fields of sport, the creative arts and entertainment. Few Australians resent a Miranda Kerr or Elle McPherson for being unfairly blessed at birth with the genetics that enabled them to become multi-millionaires as adults.

So I am determined not to resent the genetics that deemed my fulsome mop of hair in my twenties would desert me some three decades on. Instead, I will take my lead from Mr Aristotle, who pointed out that the worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.

This entry was posted in Economics and economy, Guest Post, Taxation. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to David Leyonhjelm on Inequality

  1. tgs. says:

    Derryn Hinch has far more than he will ever need and I have none. But then again, he may demand something he is lacking in return, and I value my fully-functioning liver.

    Fucking lol

  2. Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray says:

    Someone could make a great movie about a regime that enforces equality- actors and actresses and models must date according to a government schedule, and finally the government says that everyone must have cosmetic surgery to look like a supermodel or actor! No more lookism! No way to tell how old someone is, or what their natural genes are!

  3. Rusty of Qld says:

    Aren’t the minimum pay rates and standard award rates the same for men and women in the same jobs?
    If no award then negotiation for the best pay level is the same for both sexes is it not?

  4. Tim Neilson says:

    Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray
    #2901861, posted on January 8, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    Kurt Vonnegut wrote a story about the exact opposite – a society that enforced the lowest common denominator in every human attribute. The main protagonist was so gifted that he couldn’t be reduced to a low enough level and when he refused to co-operate he was killed by the government.

  5. Ainsley Hayes says:

    I wish I was as tall as my sister, sucks to be me. She wishes she was blonde, sucks to be her. Life is so not fair or equal. The Left want equal outcomes from the greatest lottery, that of life.

    Speaking of tall and beautiful Elle and Miranda, the post reminded me of this from the The Bee and the Lamb in NER here:

    For the Left, questions about life’s essential mystery and tragedy are met by fraudulent answers. It’s all about the inequality. One day, Progressive rulers will figure out at last that beauty and charm are distributed far less equally and are a greater blessing than race, gender and money. Woe is that day, for government goons may equalize those with “unearned advantages” by sprinkling them with hydrochloric acid in the name of social justice.

  6. min says:

    Left as usual going for the politics of envy , unfortunately someone will have to pay and there will not be any equality about that.
    Since critical analysis was dropped from curriculum and parents slacked off in teaching kids about consequences and responsibility, voters will go for the government most like mummy and daddy.
    Do not worry about consequences and government will take responsibility for you.

  7. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Yet despite being one of the healthiest countries in the world, Sweden has one of the longest hospital waiting queues in the developed world

    Classic socialism: everyone is equally miserable.
    Unfortunately socialists haven’t worked out that is inevitable in socialism.
    Some socialists are happy though: the ones more equal than others.
    Like Tony Castro and Maria Gabriela Chavez.
    Respectively grandson and daughter of the famous socialists.
    With a combined net worth in the multiple billions.

  8. While largely I agree with the LDP member, equality of opportunity is not possible. Those of us from poorer backgrounds do not have the contacts of the rich. We can still do pretty well, as I have done. Those of lesser ability but better contacts will mostly still outstrip us. Such is life.

  9. AussieMAGA says:

    You can’t criticise inequality from a Liberal perspective — liberty and equality are essential to one another. Libertard fantasists don’t understand this because they are intellectual pygmies with a homo-erotic fixation on young brown men.

  10. stackja says:

    To have equality in Australia:
    First abolish the ALP.
    Then trade unions.

  11. Old School Conservative says:

    Is David’s theme one of national importance, or just a NSW issue?

  12. Davo says:

    My god the same job same pay argument has always been the dumbest thing. Let’s be honest people saying it are referring to same ‘job title’. The morons who are always parroting such rubbish need look no further than sport… any team sport…to see that people in the same ‘position (half back whatever)’ do not get paid the same. Obviously in rugby league Jonathan Thurston was more valuable and paid more than the halfbacks in most other teams, because he was better and did a better job, he was worth it.

  13. max says:

    Thomas Sowell
    Economic inequality? More like economic envy

    Gary North:
    economic inequality has not increased since at least 1897 — the year that Vilfredo Pareto published his discovery: about 20% of the people in every European nation he studied owned about 80% of the wealth.

  14. Jonesy says:

    Same job, same pay…..as long as you dont mind me slacking off to match the output of your worst operator who happens to be female!

  15. Baa Humbug says:

    There was a time in Australia, when we had (almost) full economic equality. Then Captain Cook arrived.
    Much the same in North America, until those pesky pilgrims landed on shore.

    Economic inequality is a feature not a bug, in the wealth of a nation. Most of the citizens of North Korea are pretty much economically equal, save for a handful of their leaders.
    Just South on the peninsula, economic inequality is rife. From the orphan girl child all the way up to multi billionaires.

    If we think of our economic lives as a stairs we need to climb, the richer a nation, the higher the stairs reaches and the wider it is at the middle and higher steps.
    Most of us have to start at the base of the stairs. Some, as Andrew Browne #2901896, posted on January 8, 2019 at 7:12 pm alluded to, start a few steps higher and some get a quick lift on an adjacent escalator due to wealth of their families, but by and large we all have to climb those stairs.

    Those who are green with envy (almost all of them on the left of the political spectrum) look up and see the people way up there on the high steps. They get jealous, they are too lazy to climb themselves and want a free ride on the escalator.
    But worse than that, many of them want to demolish the top steps. If they can’t reach the higher steps themselves, then nobody should reach those higher steps.
    The policies they advocate usually don’t destroy the high steps, but narrow the middle and high steps so that only a few can be on them at any one time. See Venezuela.

    In short, the wealthier a nation is (indeed the wealthier the World is) the more economic inequality will result by necessity.
    Bill Gates was an average nerd tinkering in his mom’s garage. Economically he was equal to most. He soon became the wealthiest man in the World with the widest gap between himself and others. But he also enabled hundreds of millions out of poverty and millions of others into wealth for themselves.
    There is now a much bigger gap between the rich and the poor thanks to Bill Gates, but the World is also wealthier thanks to him.

    A feature, not a bug.

  16. bollux says:

    Some amongst us will do anything to stay on the gravy train.

  17. Mr Rusty says:

    Ironic really, the left use envy to convince people that some are getting what they don’t deserve and that they will “fix it”.

    Then they do exactly what they accused others of doing – unfairly grabbing as much as they can for themselves for nothing in return.

    Combet, Rudd, Pelosi, Richardson, Hitler, Castro, Chavez that BoN mentions above, the Drug Dealers wife’s husband, the ABC journos, the Abo Industry, the CAGW Industry, Unions, academics…the list of thieving Socialist Scum is endless. All got fabulously rich by diverting taxpayers money to buy their book, or TV program or wife’s business, or buy shares in taxpayer funded ruinables then sell for 10x the amount just before the shares crash, or simply just put their criminal husbands into positions they are unqualified and ineligible for. They loot the countries wealth and actually fuck the place up at the same time! They might actually have a leg to stand on if they had anything positive to show for being total and utter parasitical vermin.

    And who are they envious of? The people who actually make stuff that people want and VOLUNTARILY buy, like dishwashers and bikes and vacuums. And all the people who provide the raw materials to build those products. They got rich because they made people’s lives easier, not harder. Good on them. Well done.

    Where there is unfairness and inequality is all in Socialist Scum (97% of the time) Governments who take everything and give back misery, hate and destruction; Exhibit #238213 – Venezuela.

  18. Louis says:

    Why are union officials paid so much more on average than those they represent and pay their wages?

  19. iain russell says:

    My genuine concern is the ever expanding army of bludging bureaucrats sucking the country dry. Oh and the legion of staggeringly well paid ALP place men such as Mr Plibersek. Squeeze ’em all until the pips squeak!

  20. Tombell says:

    Democracy is surely in its death throes. A majority of the population have already voted themselves access to the Treasury aka other people’s money. We know what de Tocqueville and others had say about this. The Trump experiment remains just that. Old school Democrats in the States are a dwindling breed. And the RINOs remain strong. Not much cause for optimism in my view.

  21. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV) says:

    The gini coefficient is rubbish, it presumes a linear distribution which is unicorn poop realistic. Wealth is Pareto distributed which is about as far from linear as you can unreasonably expect, a result of multiplicative processes. Pareto is also scale free and the majority are always well below the mean. The perfect storm for muckraking loudmouth marxists.

  22. Colonel Crispin Berka, King's Fusiliers Corps. says:

    Tim Neilson, #2901877, posted on January 8, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    Kurt Vonnegut wrote a story about the exact opposite

    Jeez, spoiler alerts please, Tim.

    Yes, Vonnegut wrote a superb story, Harrison Bergeron, a hypothetical which was meant to be a warning, but which threatens to become true these days. It is worth reading by the upcoming generation, which is why no Australian school on the government teat would dare teach it today. Parents really have to fill in the yawning gaps in political ideology that the socialist indoctrination camps avoid.

    I don’t know if copyright has lapsed on that work but it is certainly widely available for free.
    I point leftists and fence-sitters to it whenever it seems relevant.

  23. Rohan says:

    Andrew Browne
    #2901896, posted on January 8, 2019 at 7:12 pm
    While largely I agree with the LDP member, equality of opportunity is not possible. Those of us from poorer backgrounds do not have the contacts of the rich. We can still do pretty well, as I have done. Those of lesser ability but better contacts will mostly still outstrip us. Such is life.

    Yeah, nah. What you have to understand is that government is not going to solve your problems for you, only you are. So if you are able bodied and sound of mind, the the only thing that’s stopped you from achieving is you. And things change, learn to adapt on the fly and quickly. Above all else, be resilient.

    Equality of opportunity is not the same as equality of outcome. You only can achieve a good outcome.

  24. bollux says:

    Mr. Rusty.
    Never a truer word was spoke!

Comments are closed.