Vot­ing should be in­fam­ily money plan

The Tribune (NZ) - - COMMUNITY COOKBOOK - rob.stock@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz ROB STOCK

Vot­ing and money are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked. It’s why so many chil­dren live in such shame­ful con­di­tions, and why so few su­per­an­nu­i­tants do.

Work­ing on im­prov­ing your fam­ily’s fi­nances? It might be worth hav­ing a check­list. In­surance: check. Ki­wiSaver: check. Emer­gency cash fund: check. Mak­ing good use of our votes: Eh?

Yes, I mean to put the last one in there.

En­rich­ment and im­pov­er­ish­ment by Gov­ern­ment pol­icy are a very real phe­nom­e­non in this land of ours, but not all of us are vot­ing like we think so.

In­di­vid­u­ally, we do not have the money of, for ex­am­ple, a big busi­ness in­ter­est or a union to get the ear of politi­cians.

But we do have our votes, only many peo­ple aren’t us­ing them, es­pe­cially among many who de­pend on the Gov­ern­ment most, in­clud­ing the un­em­ployed and those on low in­comes.

The last time Sta­tis­tics New Zealand looked at fam­ily wealth and vot­ing, it found 42 per cent of peo­ple aged 18 to 24 years didn’t

vote in the 2011 general elec­tion.

And, of those who said ‘‘they did not have enough money’’ for ev­ery­day needs, 28 per cent didn’t vote, while fewer than 12 per cent of peo­ple who had ‘‘more than enough money’’ didn’t vote. What’s more, 35 per cent of un­em­ployed peo­ple didn’t vote.

The young, those on low in­comes, and ben­e­fi­cia­ries . . . three groups that have a lot to learn from an­other group de­pen­dent on the Gov­ern­ment for their in­comes – su­per­an­nu­i­tants.

In all, 94.8 per cent of over 65s voted in 2011.

It’s no sur­prise that the prime min­is­ter doesn’t want to muck with New Zealand Su­per.

Vot­ing and money are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked.

It’s why so many chil­dren live in such shame­ful con­di­tions, and why so few su­per­an­nu­i­tants do. It’s not be­cause the old are more wor­thy of per­sonal tax­payer sup­port than the very young.

Lo­cal coun­cils and cen­tral gov­ern­ment en­rich and im­pov­er­ish with their pol­icy de­ci­sions. If they over-ex­tend them­selves, peo­ple get poorer. Their poli­cies can drive house prices and rents up, en­rich­ing some (home­own­ers) at the ex­pense of oth­ers (ev­ery­one else).

Politi­cians take an in­ter­est in pow­er­ful vot­ing elec­torates, as the over 65s know.

It’s good to be part of a group politi­cians want to please, or at least not anger.

I’m not ad­vo­cat­ing for any­thing here other than the power of vot­ing, and its im­por­tance to an in­di­vid­ual’s money life.

There’s an­other way the voices of those with less money are not be­ing heard. They aren’t com­plain­ing. There was a re­port to MPs ear­lier this month, on how the Gov­ern­ment watch­dogs like the Com­merce Com­mis­sion, whose job it is to sniff out wrong­do­ing by the likes of loan sharks and mo­bile truck shops, are strug­gling to get the peo­ple who are most vul­ner­a­ble (code for the poor) to tell them about what the bad guys are do­ing.

I sus­pect a toxic mix of shame, poor ed­u­ca­tion, ex­haus­tion, and a sense of pow­er­less­ness are all to blame. There’s too much suf­fer­ing in si­lence.

So next time you are think­ing about tidy­ing up your money life, make sure that you are be­ing heard by the politi­cians and the watch­dogs.


A young woman demon­strates that vot­ing is not hard.

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