Imagining Sustainable Social and Economic Equality: A Maximum-Wage

Linda Twiname, Lisa Sharp


The New Zealand Government first embraced Neolibral market dergulation and privatisation
in 1984, when policy took a sharp turn towards minimising the role of the State and opening
the market. New Zealand has hence endured an explosive and sustained rise in income
inequality (1985 Gini co-efficient = .271; 2000 Gini co-efficient = .339, OECD, 2013b). One
might see this trend across South America, Asia, and Europe, with very few exceptions. New
Zealand is a particularly strong example, with the Gino co efficient increasing in the late
1980s into the 1990s more than any other country recorded by the OECD in that decade
(Ministry of Social Development N.Z., 2013). We argue that the neoliberal policy regime of
market deregulation and minimal social support drive income disparity and a host of other
undesirable social phenomena. From a Marxist perspective we find a root cause is the
underlying mode of production - capitalism itself – and suggest that a solution is a maximumwage
cap. We expect that such action would not only be an immediate step towards reducing
income disparity but would also instigate mass-deconstruction of ideology that is maintaining
inequality across a board of indicators. With a vision to more extensive and enduring effects
than could be anticipated by policy alone, we place our recommendation of a maximum-wage
within a larger, long-term strategy to build the social consciousness necessary to sustain more
equal societies.

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