According to the Herald this morning, John Key is asking New Zealanders to spend their tax cut or give it to charity (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10562448).
I for one don't think now that is the time to be giving tax cuts to New Zealanders when we are facing a real economic crisis. Labour should have moved in this direction when the economy was strong, but now the moment has passed. It will come again, and I think we should wait until the crisis has passed. I suppose Key thinks he can't break an election promise. However, I think he should as this increases the national debt and we may need that money for the unemployed and suffering. We may pay for it in the long term especially if the unemployment levels really rise as they may.
I also think he should not over-rate the tax cut. For a worker on $45,000 that gives them $11.54 a week; those on $100,000 $24. Excellent, $11-12 covers about 7 litres of milk, 5 bottles of coke, a block of cheese, or one kg of mince! Now, I know that it every bit helps, but come on John! Does this really make that much difference. Not for me and my family, but thanks for trying, all credit it to you as Sean Fitzpatrick might have said. I think Goff has a point, this will do almost nothing for those on lower income levels.
Anywhy, moving beyond that, John Key here is saying something very interesting. His concern for us developing an American culture of giving has a noble ring to it. If it is correct as the article says, that Americans give twice as much to charities, then bring it on!
He wants those who can't bring themselves to spend their tax cuts to give it to charity. Is he dreaming? Sadly, I suspect he is. As noted above, it is a drop in the 'pressure on families bucket'. Many of us are trying to save to buy a house. Now is the time. This money will add a little to mortgage repayments, to savings.
Having said that, isn't it great to hear a political leader call for New Zealanders to give money to charities. John himself is a great example in that he gives a reasonable portion of his nearly $400,000 salary to charities and will continue to do so. That is great. I know his detractors will note that he can do this because he is rich. However, that is not a crime. A Christian view of wealth is concerned not with how much we have but how we got it and how we use it for God and his Kingdom. He does set a great example to other New Zealanders.
So, good on you John when you say of New Zealanders being more like Americans in this regard: 'That's the kind of attitude I want to foster here.' Wouldn't it be great if we Christians hear this call and lead the way. It is great to see us ensuring such giving is rebated, shifts to the tax system to make giving more worthwhile, that businesses will be supported with a government 'gift in kind' system.
We Christians know though that, nice ideals that these are, charitable giving comes from the human heart moved by grace and compassion rather than a government directive. We need to address the hearts of NZers and this comes from the message of service and grace in the gospel. We do not want to go to a honour-status patronage system as dominated the Greco-Roman world before Christ turned the world on its head and said, give not for personal gain and prestige; give to address need out of genuine love and compassion. What we need is not 'an American style of giving' but a Kingdom - style of giving.' Perhaps that is asking too much. Whatever really motivates his thinking, for the good of NZ and humanity, good on you John.