Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Zealand wine can sell for half the price in the USA---so what!


I get a bit miffed when I hear that NZ lamb and other products sell in the USA and the UK for less than what we pay in New Zealand. That just feels so wrong. I do not get so annoyed when I read that NZ wine can sell for half the price in the USA. I see that as having little do with ‘greed’ and a lot to do with taxation policies here. I have fewer problems when so-called luxury or products that cause our health bill to increase, year by year are taxed at a high rate.

Now, before you call me a ‘fun-killing wouser,’ let me say that I enjoy wine; even more so in my distant youth. Before you label me as being precious about having to pay the extra tax, let me state that I believe in a taxation system that ‘extracts’ what it can to help balance the budget when it comes to allowing for ever increasing ‘needs’ in the health and education areas. I do not moan about having to pay higher level taxes if my income falls into a ‘higher bracket.’ I only wish it did!

For those who  become enraged every time there is a possibility of having to dip their hands in their pockets to pay for better health and education for ‘all’ of our citizens, I say, just look to Scandinavia to see  nations where tax is high but services are excellent. We can’t have it both ways; good services and low taxation. Yes, it does mean ‘spreading the wealth’ a bit more, but I would rather live in a society that cares and offers opportunity for everyone rather than one that focusses only on the individual. The word ‘balance’ comes to mind at this point.

What does all this mean? Apart from taxation policies that match the needs of the citizens of NZ, it means having a system whereby products that cause the most damage to society, are taxed highly. The obvious examples are tobacco (which is facing ever increasingly high taxation) and alcohol. I believe in lowering tax at the other end of the scale; namely paying no GST on obviously ‘healthy eating options.’ I did not include taxing fatty foods, because all the evidence from Denmark, a country that has a left of centre government, (just to dodge criticism that I may be a trendy lefty) has reversed such taxation policies on fatty and unhealthy foods because they don’t work!

So yes, wine may be more expensive here, and even though we make the product here, is it so bad that the price matches the social, health and economic damage done by over indulgence of the said product. I can hear the angry cries from those reading this and saying that they should not be punished because of the behaviours of others. Yeah--- same argument as those dumb assed Americans in the NRA who believe that it their sacred rite to bear arms, including military style guns. We cannot trust ‘all’ to behave sensibly and the price of having a ‘safer’ society is often a bit hard to swallow for some citizens. No doubt they will mirror the response of that crazy gun-toting NRA guy on Piers Morgan’s programme the other night who was frothing at the mouth at the prospect of tougher gun laws in the USA. He was ‘gonna take on the Government and encourage people to rise up and start a revolution.’

Paying tax is an obligation and a ‘peaceful’ way of distributing wealth and opportunity. That it sometimes means paying more for luxury items and those that cause obvious harm when over-used, is the price we pay for a better and safer society. I understand that others have views that are totally opposed to the ones I have espoused. Great, at least we live in a country that allows for alternate views!  I am not prepared to take up arms to defend my views; I will of course ‘blog my head off’ to further them!