The US beats NZ on:
- Firearms ownership
- Ability to do what you want with your own property if you're way out in the back woods where nobody's watching: in NZ, you'd still need Resource Consent and tourists may still have right of access to your property's rivers and streams.
- Income taxes are higher in NZ on folks on a Professorial salary: 40% top marginal tax rate kicks in at $70,000 (including the 2% ACC PAYE Earner's Levy). A comprehensive Goods and Services Tax at 12.5% increases the overall tax burden: on the next dollar I earn, I'll get to spend
$0.475$0.533 (thanks Sam) net of GST. But, local rates are relatively low: I pay about $2100/year on our house: schools are funded out of income taxes, not local rates.
- Smokers face greater restrictions here than in the US
- Ridiculous city zoning and bylaw enforcement (swimming pools, subdividing and the like)
- Most day to day living
- A less enthusiastic War on Drugs: what drug raids we have tend not (yet) to be conducted by paramilitary squads who seem to like killing corgis and terrifying the children. If California passes legalisation, rank ordering here may change.
- Civil asset forfeiture is new here and hasn't as yet generated the horrible abuses seen in the US, though that may well change
- Gay marriage is legal via civil union: Eleanor's birth certificate even had a tick box in case Eleanor had two mommies instead of the standard mother and father; in the former case, the lesbian partner would have counted as "Second Parent". This kind of respect would have to count for an awful lot for folks in that category.
- Prostitution is legal and seems to have improved outcomes for sex workers. Recognition of same sex relationships and legalisation of prostitution were the two best things achieved under Helen Clark's Labour government; John Key has done nothing that comes close and seems likely to do nothing that comes close. A couple points reduction in income taxes rates, if ever enacted, counts for less in terms of aggregate liberty than these two achievements of the Clark government.
- Ease of starting a business: nothing like the US regs that force someone wanting to open a hair braiding salon to get professional certification as a hairdresser, for example.
- Relatively simple and hassle free income tax system; the majority of wage earners don't even need to file a return
- Free trade, both domestic and international, is the norm: I don't need the permission of any marketing board to grow, sell, or purchase a potato or to milk a cow
- If I wanted to, I could buy a still and start distilling my own whiskey with no fears of the Revenuers. Overall alcohol policy is far more liberal than that in the US, though that's under some current threat.
I can understand why libertarians placing high weight on gun rights relative to other civil liberties would stay in the US rather than moving here. Those with a broader rights-weighting system ought to prefer New Zealand; the income loss could perhaps give a way of measuring how greatly the non-movers value those freedoms. Suppose the expected income loss for someone moving here is a quarter. Can a gay couple value legal recognition of their relationship by more than a quarter of their income and still remain in the US rather than moving to New Zealand?
So, Will, why aren't you here yet?