Thursday, October 14, 2010

Super(?) Schemes

These days it is compulsory for employers to automatically enroll new workers into the kiwisaver scheme.  This is a way to increase savings for retirement for people and requires you to opt out of it rather than asking if you want in on it in the first place.  Your contribution (from your pay) is added to a government contribution, which is then added to the employer contribution.

There is a lot more in the minor details, but it is the major details that I have a philosophical problem with.  Two problems in fact.

Problem one:  Tax dollars are being taken from me and given to other people.  I can save fine on my own as I have enough knowledge and will power to save, making this scheme unnecessary for me.  Also, I prefer to make my own decisions about how I spend my money.  If I want to save more during one part of the year and spend more at another part, why shouldn’t I be allowed to?  Where is my freedom in this not so subtle system of extra taxation?

Problem two: My employer must pay something over and above what I already get paid by them.  This doesn’t seem fair on the employer, especially if I began work with them without the expectation that they would contribute to my savings.  Now, everyone who started after the date that it became compulsory to automatically enroll will get more from the employer, but I am still on the same total income that I was receiving before this.  Not only is the employer forced to pay more, driving up the cost of production for items sold and cost of provision for services sold, but I am getting less than others for no good reason.

A number of other questions arise, such as:
Will employees who agree to opt out of the kiwisaver scheme, during the 6 week window of opt out opportunity, be more likely to get the job?  They will cost their employer less by doing so; and if it is illegal to make this arrangement under the table, who will police it?  And will it be practical to police it?

Personally, I think that the way to go is to make your own contract with your employer that deals with things like this.  While it seems easier for most to use the union and have a collective agreement contract, it is not actually in the best interests of the thoughtful and innovative (“top”) workers to be lumped in with the rest.  My employer and I will both get a better deal if we agree on our own terms.  I might get a slightly higher salary than others who are in the union, but that extra covers the benefits that the union fights for.  Perhaps it would force people to identify exactly what they have to offer to society, if they had to negotiate their own terms of employment and salary.  I know that I would rather have the freedom to decide on finances for myself and my family, as long as there is enough to cover my expenses and to allow me to save for emergencies (and treats).  

Unfortunately, the real world is not so simple and there is a web of systems that link up and depend on each other, making it almost impossible to break free from something like the tax system.  However, some technological innovations, such as the Internet, are hopefully leading to better options for everyone for the future!