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Inequality Divides Us and Holds Us Back

Inequality Divides Us and Holds Us Back

“Growing inequality is dividing us and holding us back as a country,” comments Pam Waugh Vice-President of the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS). “Every day NZCCSS member agencies are trying to support people whose incomes are simply too low to live on, whose housing is sub-standard and whose chances of getting ahead in the employment market are very limited. The growing income divide is a major contributor to their plight.”

NZCCSS welcomes the publication of Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis as a landmark in the debate about income inequality in this country. Inequality affects us all and New Zealand has the opportunity to choose attitudes and social and economic policies that bring us all closer together by narrowing the gap between rich and poor. This book helps us better understand the problem and what can be done about it.

The book has brought together a wide group of contributors with expertise across many fields including education, health, housing, social welfare, economics, and policy.

Alongside those expert contributions stand the stories of everyday people living with our increasing disparities of income and wealth. The stories show the realities of living in a country that is increasingly divided between “the rich and the rest”. The book has ideas and proposals for ways to close that divide.

NZCCSS congratulates editor, Max Rashbrooke and publisher Bridget Williams Books on their commitment to an independent and wide ranging analysis of inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Inequality is a moral issue for our nation. It is unjust and deeply unfair that a minority has captured so much of the income and wealth of this country over recent decades, while other incomes have barely risen. Every government agency, every business, every organisation, every individual must ask what action can we take to overcome the divides that hurt our children and our young people the most?

Maori and Pasifika people are central to the future of our country and carry the hopes of their cultures and traditions with them. Yet it is the children and young people in those communities who are hardest hit by the income gap and their chances are held back by health, education, and income inequalities in particular.

The responsibility to reduce inequality is a shared task. Central and local government, businesses, communities, iwi, and faith groups can all take steps to restrain the growth in disproportionately high incomes and wealth, as well as lift lower incomes, both for those in paid employment and for those who cannot enter the workforce because of family caring roles, disability, illness or unemployment.

The social services of the churches are right in the midst of the suffering that growing inequality is bringing to our communities. The vision of a just and compassionate society is one that can be shared by all people of good will, Christian or non-Christian. We believe this book will help people better understand why it is important to reduce the gap and feel inspired to support actions that will bring us all closer together.


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