COMMENT:

I might nominate Phillip Neal for New Zealander of the year.

Phillip, who is the president of Marlborough Fed Farmers, has got himself some attention this week over his views on the capital gains tax.

In the last column I tried to outline the difference between a small business owner, of which a farmer is one, and salary and wage earners, of which an alarmingly large number appear to think there is little if any difference. And given that, then go on to argue that capital is capital and therefore we should all be taxed.

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Farmers more than any other group are whacked hard in the Michael Cullen-led report.

If you want to get a bit political about it, it will be because Labour and farmers have never been close, mainly because farmers are realists, salt of the earth-type entrepreneurs ... and Labour MPs are from unions and universities.

Phillip, in a newsletter, pointed out quite rightly what farmers could be in for tax-wise.

Not just the CGT, but an emissions tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, nitrogen tax, and an environmental footprint tax.

It doesn't take a scientist to see they are targets, and disproportionately so.

Farmers more than any other group are whacked hard in the Michael Cullen-led tax report. Photo / David Kerr
Farmers more than any other group are whacked hard in the Michael Cullen-led tax report. Photo / David Kerr

And what tragically is forgotten here is that the farmer, whether it be the one with the cows or the beef or the lamb or the grapes or the kiwifruit, is the lifeblood of this economy.

You add up the farming contribution to the bottom line, it beats anything going, including tourism, hands down.

A back-of-a-pad number crunch would have the industry putting in well over $20 billion a year.

Now what got Phillip the headlines is the fact he's worried, and he won't be alone, that in this Government's zest for redistribution you are taking millions out of the pockets of the productive sector and putting it into the pockets of the unproductive, or as Phillip so eloquently put it, the useless.

To quote him: "They want to redistribute to those they perceive as helpless and needy, but in my opinion ... useless."

Now obviously not everyone on the receiving end is useless.

But we have a growing collection of those who are increasingly receiving without the traditional expectation of then somehow giving back.

The jobseeker benefit in this country has grown under this Government by 11,000 and counting.

The jobseeker benefit is for those who are able to work, but don't.

They are the ones who fail to turn up to appointments, the ones who remarkably, despite
all the jobs available, can't seem to find any work — yet this Government is more than prepared to hand out ever-increasing amounts of our money to support their habit of going nowhere fast.

The state house tenancy review has been suspended.

A large swathe of those in social housing are no longer asked or expected to move out and into their own place when their circumstances allow, thus returning in part to the days where people had social housing for life, no matter whether they needed it or not.

And as those people happily sit in their subsidised accommodation, the line for help grows to a record-breaking 10,000.

And the thing about the approach is someone has to pay for it, and given what we saw last week on the GDP front, 0.6 per cent for the quarter and an annual growth rate barely above 2 per cent, that's increasingly not going to be coming from the once rock star economy.

It will be coming from the productive sector, like the farmers.

And in that is the danger of the left-leaning political operator.

It's not about growing the pie, it's about the same pie being sliced up and a basic redistribution.

If you have something you worked for, that's not fair because there is someone who hasn't worked for anything, but they're just as entitled.

As nutty as it sounds, that's the policy and that's why farmers are mad. And that's why calling some people useless is colourful and not exactly PC, but then not all that inaccurate either.