Wasting taxpayers money on consulting fees has featured in National Party Leader Luxon's "State of the Nation" speech. He's got a point. There is an example out today. It relates to the Herald's front page headline saying, "Government Commissioned Survey Suggests Replacing Fuel Tax With Wealth Tax and People Love It".
It turns out that this survey was commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and carried out by University of Auckland researchers. It gives no indication as to what Kiwis "love", since it was not based on a random sample. Aside from that issue, what takes me aback is the wording of the survey "statement" that gave rise to the Herald headline.
When asked about various funding options, the survey asked whether or not participants agreed with the following:
"Introduce a wealth tax, to make the ultra-rich pay their fair share & fund public / active transport".
Over 60% said yes, hence the Herald story. It would be hard to come up with a line that revealed more contempt for wealthy & successful people. Psychologists have proved that when you "prime" people with questions built around ugly biases in wording, then respondents are led down a path to give the answer they think you want to hear. The bias renders the responses meaningless.
In the present case, once one designs a survey statement whose wording refers to an unpleasant group of people living in our country called the "ultra rich", preying off the poor by not paying their "fair share", then the response of survey participants is pre-determined.
Why is the Ministry of Transport wasting tax payers money to hear answers that have been fixed? By the way, the vast majority of taxes in this country are paid by upper income folks. They are the ones funding our existing transport, education and health systems.
Families with children earning average & below average incomes pay little income taxes due to the "Working for Families" tax-credit scheme. Should they be asked to pay their fair share since they use the roads as much as anyone?