Latest Windows on Waikato Poverty report now available

A review from Stewart Lawrence, Professor in Accounting, Waikato Management School.

“This report offers an excellent exposition of the failures of the market economy – in the areas of housing, employment and health. It shows clearly the impact on specific vulnerable groups (Maori, children and young adults). The statistics provided are shocking and thought-provoking. The report clearly shows the implications of treating housing as a commodity, and labour in a market economy is treated simply as an expendable commodity. The revelation (p.15-16) of the attitude of the wealthy towards tax avoidance is particularly shocking. The accounting profession has a lot to answer for in this respect. The winners of the market economy are the rich and powerful. What are the positives to the wealthy of having a fairer distribution of wealth? The report takes up this point well on page 14. There are benefits for everybody in social and economic equality. If inequality keeps increasing there are dangers. The increasing concentration of wealth in a few hands and the lack of purchasing power of the many was a major point of Marxism – it would lead to revolution! The illustration of Timebank was a reminder of the labour theory of value – in which labour is the source of all wealth and all labour should be equally valued.

I enjoyed the section on “Economies that serve communities’. Here is the challenge to the market economy that fails so many people. If the market does not satisfy community needs, mass movements could ultimately displace the system that suits only the few. The latter had better beware! Poverty is an inevitable outcome of capitalist accumulation. The concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands brings with it the danger of the downfall of exploitative systems. The rich somehow have to realise that there are advantages to them in greater social well-being and cohesion. Poverty is avoidable.

I enjoyed the paper and found its contents convincing.”