kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

NZ people believe the rich will make them poorer

REALISATION: Country needs more business titans, not more sports heroes

WHAT happens when a far-flung nation in the antipodes gets so wrapped up looking at the world through the eyes of the poor?

It becomes incredibly debilitating because the nation sees the rich as tall poppies that ought to be trimmed rather than celebrated.

Looking at the world through this rich-poor divide gives rise to a lack of self belief.

The poor or less well-off tend to see being rich or successful as a state to be loathed.

It has become fashionable to keep expecting the government to hand out more in terms of social welfare programmes.

This perpetuates a cycle of complacency, where generations of household are trapped in their cocoon of poverty.

"Let's hate the rich, they are making you poor and poorer"; this seems to be the message heralded mostly by the media.

This national psyche is best reflected by former (Labour government) finance minister Michael Cullen's verbal attack on Prime Minister John Key, calling the latter that "rich prick".

Current Labour leader David Cunliffe, in his first speech as party leader, spoke of the rich wanting to keep the poor from competing on a level- playing field.

He is delusional: there is no such thing as a level-playing field.

If he doesn't recognise that, he doesn't understand reality.

Somehow, it becomes convenient for the average Joe on the street to damn Key, especially for his wealth.

Key is after all the epitome of success, someone who has risen way above his state-house background.

He was brought up by his mum and somehow found the path to success by recognising opportunities, not putting up barriers of self disbelief.

His sterling career at Merrill Lynch is well known.

New Zealand has got to get rid of its self-limiting tall-poppy mentality, which is deeply embedded in its being geographically isolated, as well as having its roots in the hard-working working and middle- class Scottish and English heritage.

Yet there seems to be something of a disconnect: there is this near megalomaniacal tendency that surround Kiwis and their sporting prowess in rugby and sailing.

Then there is this self-effacing tendency when it comes to celebrating corporates and entrepreneurs for their successes.

Somehow, bragging about sports is okay but celebrating successful companies is not.

New Zealand is a nation seriously intoxicated by the adrenaline of sports.

Most Kiwi children go through the drill of a childhood spent at countless hours of swimming lessons, soccer, cricket, netball, rugby -- driven largely by mums and dads more scary than Asian Tiger mums.

These parents have such enthusiasm for their kids to excel at sports, be an All Black (rugby), a Black Cap (cricket), an All White (soccer), or a Silver Fern (netball). These kids have "sport" literacy well before they can count or write ABC.

The fact is, New Zealand needs more business titans, not more sporting heroes.

How much better would it be for New Zealand if most of this exuberance for sports is transplanted onto exuberance for achieving financial literacy.

Start with educating children about how they need to save, and save, and not spend and spend.

Then teach them the dangers of taking on too much debt.

Kiwi homebuyers have no qualms about borrowing 90 or 100 per cent from the bank to fund their love of home ownership.

Treasury statistics show that in the 20 years to 2011, consumer and housing loans (in dollar terms) have seen a six-fold increase.

Households are increasingly putting more and more of their disposable income into consumer loans and housing loans with the ratio having risen to 147 per cent as at June 2011 (up from around 60 per cent in 1991).

National statistics also show that, over the last 20 years, the average Kiwi has been spending more than what he earns.

Kiwis sending bad vibes over the rich should take note that the wealthy households in New Zealand are paying for the bulk of the taxes that go towards funding the country's social programmes.

In fact, households earning about NZ$60,000 (RM156,000) pay virtually nothing into the system while households with income of more than NZ$150,000 pay a fair bit into the government's effort to redistribute wealth.   Someone very wise said "you can't be rich if you don't love money". There is a lot of truth in that. There is a lot of truth in that.

Someone should also be telling the Labour opposition that such mud-slinging reeks of sour grapes, of envy and jealousy.

What is interesting is those who succeed are not attracted to money per se. They are often driven by an incredible sense of self belief and a desire to scale new heights.

I won't have any problems if Key continues to run the national GDP. It would be dreadful for the Labour Party to take over.

The union and its merry band have a disjointed sense of reality. They want all the gain, and none of the pain associated with self restraint and self discipline when it comes to spending other people's hard-earned money.

Lee Yoke Har is an Auckland-based business writer New Straits Time Online Columnist 21/11/2013
Tags: poor, rich, sports

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