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Hidesight: How Much Government?

Hidesight: How Much Government?

HideSight is a regular column from Rodney Hide MP sent from his Epsom office. To subscribe to HideSight visit

"The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax."

- Albert Einstein

The looting in Iraq shows that some government can be handy. But compare Iraqi looters with our government:

1. The looters don't take as much;

2. They spend what they take more carefully; and

3. They don't pretend they are looting for the good of society.

There is another difference. The Iraqi looters don't have parliamentary backing.

Our government does. The upcoming budget vote makes "legal" the government's annual tax and spend. It takes just 61 or more votes cast by party whips this May to "pass" the budget. That vote makes it "legal" for our government to spend over $50 billion taken from hard working Kiwis over the coming year.

That's a whopping sum - 40 percent of all that we produce in a year. It never used to be like this. When my grandparents were young, the New Zealand government took just twelve percent of all that they produced. That would be like running government today just on GST - no income tax. Imagine that.

The total tax take bumped up to 16 percent in the 1930s and to 25 percent through the World War II. The original welfare state was run and a World War was fought with government taking only one dollar in four.

And that's where it stayed. Through the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, successive governments in New Zealand took about 25 percent of what we produced. And we prospered.

The Third Labour Government in the early 1970s increased the tax take to 27 percent (oh, if only we could get back there!).

But more harmfully, the Third Labour Government expanded social welfare entitlements and created the conditions for welfare payments to increase dramatically over a generation.

Welfare payments now drive government spending - and therefore taxation - up to 40 percent of GDP.

Mickey Savage and Norman Kirk never imagined working people being clobbered like government does today.

Over the coming weeks and coming months, this column is for those fellow Kiwis who want to do something to reverse the trend of government taking more and more of our money and spending it in more and more wasteful and counterproductive ways.

Hidesight believes in some government. But we want government to be limited to key tasks such as defence, keeping our communities safe from the thugs, and true public goods such as roads and other infrastructure.

Apart from the key tasks that government must do, we trust Kiwis to spend their own money far better than any politician or bureaucrat can do on their behalf.

HideSight intends to take it to government. But we are going to need your help. So thank you for signing up. And keep in touch. We have a fight on our hands.


What does our government spend per worker every week?

1. $200

2. $350

3. $700

To view the answer to the quizlet go to


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