The fire of truth: inequality among abundance



The politics of ethnicity-based research in New Zealand

When Simon Chapple in 2000 wrote “Māori Socio-Economic Disparity”, which showed that disadvantage in New Zealand is more closely tied to age, marital status, education, skills, and geographic location than it is to ethnicity, broadly conceived, such as Māori ethnicity:

  • He was summoned before the Māori Affairs Committee of parliament to defend his paper! His chief executive at the Ministry of Social policy went along with him to defend what he wrote while employed as a senior analyst at the Department of Labour.
  • The head of the Māori Affairs Ministry accused Simon of breaching the public services code of conduct.

Chapple also found that there are important differences in socio economic development by Māori self-identity. Those who identified only as Māori did worse than those that are identified as Māori and another ethnicity. Identifying only as Māori also correlated with living the rural New Zealand.

In terms of employment discrimination discrimination, employers would not know whether a Māori job applicant identified as only as Māori also with another ethnicity, so discrimination is not a good explanation of Māori disadvantage because of this counterfactual. A major driver of Māori disadvantage is simply unknown to discriminating employers as a basis for their action.

There was an editorial in the Dominion Post, which I cannot find online,  and the New Zealand Herald. The latter said:

The Government is being prodded to recognise that Maori deprivation has more to do with socio-economic factors than ethnicity.

This was the conclusion of a report by the Labour Department’s senior research analyst, Simon Chapple. Helen Clark might well have had that finding partly in mind when she referred to a lot of water having gone under the bridge since the Government first formulated legislation.

Mr Chapple said, in essence, that place of residence, age, education and skills had more to do with poverty than race. In areas such as South Auckland, Northland and the central North Island, there were poor Maori, but there were also poor Pākehā and poor Pasifika.

The Minister attacked him and the paper as well for contradicting the Minister’s claim during the election campaign that everything got worse for Maori in the 1990s.


Real equivalised median household income rose 47% from 1994 to 2010; for Māori, this rise was 68%; for Pasifika, 77% (Perry July 2014)

See Karen Baehler’s Ethnicity-based research and politics: snapshots from the United States and New Zealand for more information and a comparison with the similar response to Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s The Negro Family: A Case for National Action in 1965.

About a quarter of Negro families are headed by women. The divorce rate is about 2 1/2 times what it is [compared with whites],” Moynihan said. “The number of fatherless children keeps growing. And all these things keep getting worse, not better, over recent years.”

Moynihan, now retired from the United States Senate, was a senior official in LBJ’s Labor Department in 1965. He wrote his report on a typewriter over a few weeks and had the publications office in the basement of the Labor Department print 100 of them, marked “For Official Use Only.”

  • He warned about the breakdown of the African-American family where deprivation and disorganisation had formed their own vicious circle.
  • Many civil rights leaders had labelled Moynihan’s report a subtle form of racism because of its unflattering portrayal of the black family (Wilson 1987).
  • These accusations of racism helped make the breakdown of the family a taboo subject and social policy in the USA

see The Moynihan Report Revisited: Lessons and Reflections after Four Decades for a review by the best and the brightest in American economics and sociology on Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s prophetic warnings. Holzer says, for  example:

Moynihan was extremely insightful and even prescient in arguing that the employment situation of young black men was a “crisis . . . that would only grow worse.”

He understood that these trends involve both limits on labour market opportunities that these young men face as well as skill deficits of and behavioural responses by the young men themselves.

More children are growing-up without a working father living in the home and glean the awareness that work is a central expectation of adult life (Wilson 1987, 1996).

Single-parent households increased from 13 per cent of all Māori households in 1981 to 24.4 per cent in the 2006 Census. In the 2006 Census, 70 per cent of Māori single parent households were on a low income compared to 15 per cent of other Māori one family households (Kiro, Randow and Sporle 2010).

Most of the skill gaps that are present at the age of 18 – skill gaps which substantially explain gaps in adult earnings and employment in all groups – are also present at the age of five (Cunha and Heckman 2007).

There is much evidence to show that disadvantaged children have lower levels of soft skills (non-cognitive skills): motivation, persistence, self-discipline, the ability to work with others, the ability to defer gratification and plan ahead, etc. (Heckman 2008). Most of the skills that are acquired at school build on these soft skills that are moulded and reinforced within whānau.

When I started working on labour economics in 2007 I found that the labour economics of Māori was very narrowly written and stayed well clear of the minefield that Simon braved about how ethnicity does not matter much to Māori social disadvantage.

Inequality is in; discrimination is out for Next Generation Left

Question 1


Source: post-partisan

Income and poverty inequality




Peter Saunders on The Spirit Level Delusion

via Peter Saunders on The Spirit Level | Catallaxy Files.

John Rawls and are the super-rich unjustly over-taxed?

John Rawls is often put forward by political progressives as the starting point for political philosophy. Rawls pointed out that behind the veil of ignorance, people will agree to inequality as long as it is to everyone’s advantage.

Rawls was attuned to the importance of incentives in a just and prosperous society. If unequal incomes are allowed, this might turn out to be to the advantage of everyone.

Rawls lent qualified support to the idea of a flat-rate consumption tax (see A Theory of Justice, pp. 278-79). He said that:

A proportional expenditure tax may be part of the best scheme [and that adding such tax] can contain all the usual exemptions.

The reason why Rawls lent qualified support to the idea of a flat-rate consumption tax was because these taxes:

impose a levy according to how much a person takes out of the common store of goods and not according to how much he contributes.

A simple way to have a progressive consumption tax is to exempt all savings from taxation. Taxable consumption is calculated as income minus savings minus a large standard deduction. Different countries use different terms to describe the minimum amount that must be earned before any taxes are paid.

Income tax must be opposed on social justice grounds, but not progressive consumption taxes.

Given that the super-rich – the top 0.1% of income earners – do not spend much of their incomes, especially on the way up building their businesses, they could be rather over-taxed!

Steven Kaplan and Joshua Rauh’s “It’s the Market: The Broad-Based Rise in the Return to Top Talent”, Journal of Economic Perspectives (2013) found that:

  • Rising inequality is due to technical changes that allow highly talented individuals or “superstars” to manage or perform on a much larger scale.
  • These superstars can now apply their talents to greater pools of resources and reach larger numbers of people and markets at home and abroad. They thus became more productive, and higher paid.
  • Those in the Forbes 400 richest are less likely to have inherited their wealth or have grown up wealthy.
  • Today’s rich are working rich who accessed education in their youth and then applied their natural talents and acquired skills to the most scalable industries such as ICT, finance, entertainment, sport and mass retailing.
  • The U.S. evidence on income and wealth shares for the top 1% is most consistent with a “superstar” explanation. This evidence is less consistent with the gains in earnings of the top 1% coming from greater managerial power over the determination of their own pay in the corporate world, or changes in social norms about what managers could earn.

Today’s super-rich are highly productive because they produce new and better products and services that people want and are willing to pay for. These rewards for entrepreneurship and hard work guide people of different talents and skills into the occupations and industries where their talents are valued the most. The efficient allocation of talent and income maximising occupational choices were important to Rawls’ framework.

Another important role for incentives is it rewards entrepreneurial alertness. People will look for and take advantage of hitherto unnoticed business opportunities if they are rewarded for doing so. These private rewards for greater effort, excellence and superior alertness are the driving force of the market. Most of the innovation that drives modern prosperity would not have occurred but for the lure of profit.

Rawls was keen on stiff inheritance taxes to prevent the “large-scale private concentrations of capital from coming to have a dominant role in economic and political life”. His support for inheritance taxes was out of concern with a concentration of political power rather than improving incentives.

Rawls overrated the power of the rich to buy political influence as do many on the Left. They do not understand Director’s law of public expenditure and the theories of the median voter and the expressive voter. The major political parties all chase the swinging voter in the middle class.

Rawls’ views on incomes taxes and the rich are rather under-discussed among his champions on the progressive Left. Google John Rawls and income taxes and you do not get many hits or papers of any substance.

With his emphasis on fair distribution of income, Rawls’ initial appeal was to the Left, but left-wing thinkers started to dislike his acceptance of capitalism and tolerance of large discrepancies in income. Many moved on. Rawls excluded envy from deliberations behind the veil of ignorance. This may be why he lost some of his initial appeal to some.

You must admire his consistency. Rawls was happy for people to be super-rich as long as they saved and invested their resources. Everyone in society gains from those investments and is better off.

Robert Lucas (1990) estimated that a revenue neutral elimination of all taxes on income from capital and on capital gains would increase the U.S. capital stock by about 35% and consumption by 7%. Hans Fehr, Sabine Jokisch, Ashwin Kambhampati, and Laurence J. Kotlikoff (2014) found that eliminating the corporate income tax would raise the U.S capital stock (machines and buildings) by 23%, output by 8% and the real wages of unskilled and skilled workers by 12%. Is taxing the rich worth this large a lost wage rise?

Barrie Saunders

Thoughts on public policy and the media

Liberty Scott

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Vincent Geloso

Econ Prof at George Mason University, Economic Historian, Québécois

Point of Order

Politics and the economy

James Bowden's Blog

A blog (primarily) on Canadian and Commonwealth political history and institutions

Why Evolution Is True

Why Evolution is True is a blog written by Jerry Coyne, centered on evolution and biology but also dealing with diverse topics like politics, culture, and cats.

Great Books Guy

Reading The Classics

Science Matters

Reading between the lines, and underneath the hype.

Peter Winsley

Economics, and such stuff as dreams are made on

A Venerable Puzzle

"The British constitution has always been puzzling, and always will be." --Queen Elizabeth II

Real Time with Bill Maher Blog

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

No Minister

Laughing at Our Elites

The Antiplanner

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Bet On It

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Movie Nation

Roger Moore's film criticism, against the grain since 1984.


Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Bowalley Road

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

History of Sorts


Tudor Chronicles

News, reviews and talk all about the Tudors

Offsetting Behaviour

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law


Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Conversable Economist

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The Victorian Commons

Researching the House of Commons, 1832-1868

Coyote Blog

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The History of Parliament

Blogging on parliament, politics and people, from the History of Parliament

Books & Boots

Reflections on books and art

Legal History Miscellany

Posts on the History of Law, Crime, and Justice

Sex, Drugs and Economics

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Doc's Books

A window into Doc Freiberger's library

Media Myth Alert

Calling out media myths

European Royal History

The History of the Emperors, Kings & Queens of Europe

Tallbloke's Talkshop

Cutting edge science you can dice with


Small Steps Toward A Much Better World


“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. - J Robert Oppenheimer.


The truth about the great wind power fraud - we're not here to debate the wind industry, we're here to destroy it.

Trust, yet verify

Searching for the missing pieces of climate change communication

Lindsay Mitchell

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law


Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

croaking cassandra

Economics, public policy, monetary policy, financial regulation, with a New Zealand perspective

The Grumpy Economist

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

International Liberty

Restraining Government in America and Around the World

%d bloggers like this: