Why the Labour movement should support a Universal Basic Income

By   /   April 18, 2014  /   42 Comments

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The Mana movement’s support of the idea of a universal basic income is a welcome development. It could become one of the litmus issues that define the party and prove extremely popular.

its-where-the-future-is-a-universal-basic-income-for-all

The Mana movement’s support of the idea of a universal basic income is a welcome development. It could become one of the litmus issues that define the party and prove extremely popular.

If Mana are in a position to do so, they should demand that the concept be explored in a commission on tax and welfare to be established by the incoming Labour/Green government. The Green Party is also a supporter in principle for the idea.

The mechanics of a UBI are actually quite simple.

We would abolish WINZ and the giant bureaucracy it administers.

We would eliminate working for families and most welfare benefits.

Most of you think that such an idea is madness and it couldn’t be afforded.

However it could be done today at a level of about $200 (with an additional universal child benefit) without any significant increase in income tax and in fact a cdxecrease for most.

Currently those earning above $70,000 pay a tax of 33% on that additional income. If everyone payed at least that rate on all their income – and received a UBI of $200 – then the actual income tax paid by any one individual would be the same or less than they do now for everyone earning up to about $70,000 a year.

Most UBI proponents work out their system based on a flat tax rate. However, I see no reason why those on the highest incomes should not be taxed at a higher rate. I would continue to favour say a 50% rate at $150,000 and a 66% rate at say $300,000.

I believe a higher level of UBI is possible once we close all loopholes for the rich and tax ALL their income. This should include capital gains and dividend income being taxed at at least the 33% rate. We would also need some additional income from new taxes on the accumulated wealth and property of those who haven’t paid their fair share for decades. Overseas owners of land and property and other busineses who claim no income or profit should be taxed as well. A company tax rate of 33% would be enforced also.

Once we do that I believe we could actually afford to pay all tax resident New Zealanders aged 18 an over an income of say $300 a week with additional supplements of $100 weekly for children. It could then be merged with the existing UBI that applies to those aged 65 or over called national superannuation. Unlike with National Super there is no need to tax the UBI.

At that level people could choose to study or be creative artists or work 20 hours a week rather than 60.

The benefit would be a right of citizenship. Receiving it would not be a stigma. It wouldn’t matter whether you worked or not. It wouldn’t matter if you were living with a partner or not. The moral police would have no victims to hunt down.

I was at first a bit dubious about this proposal from the viewpoint of a unionist and a socialist. I feared it may lead to a situation where “Jobs for All” was no longer seen as a right to be fought for.

But I now believe that receiving a UBI would be a powerful lever for working people to resist exploitation. They could tell the abusive boss to shove it. They could hold out more easily during a strike or lock out for better conditions or pay.

It would strengthen the working class.

It would also be a powerful lever against poverty, inequality, racism and sexism. No one could be demonised and marginalised for exercising their right as a citizen. We could end the absurdity of wage rises having no effect because of reductions in working for families. We could eliminate the the vindictive 100% taxes for those on unemployment benefits earning above a minimal extra income.

No women would be forced to put up with an abusive partner. No woman or man in love would be forced to live apart from their loved one because they need to get the unemployment benefit. No one would be forced to bring up children in one parent families because they can’t afford to live together with a partner on minimum wage. Student loan for living costs would be abolished. ACC payments could be simplified. Even fines and child support would be easy to collect!

The benefits would be enormous. It is an alternative that is at least worth exploring.

 

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About the author

Mike Treen

National Director of Unite Union

42 Comments

  1. alan bainbridge says:

    It would be more easily affordable if the 17 billion per annum in seigniorage that is currently lost to the private banking system, found its way back to the public purse.

    • kiwi_guy says:

      I agree, finance industry has white anted Western democracies since the 1970s, an economic parasite that needs to be dunked.

    • kiwi_guy says:

      I support Gareth Morgan’s Big Kahuna argument for a universal basic income.

      I think the cats need to go too.

  2. Lara says:

    The first time I came across this idea my first reaction was “that’s ridiculous, how would it be paid for? it is unaffordable and would never work”.

    Then I began some reading and research on how it might work.

    I think the strongest argument for a UBI comes from the Mincome experiment in Canada in the 1970’s. It was affordable, it resulted in less hospital visits, higher graduation rates for teenagers, more involvement in further education for adults, lower rates of mental illness, and lower rates of domestic violence. And biggest of all, the amount of hours worked by adults dropped only slightly.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome

    If we get rid of the enormous bureaucracy that is WINZ and have IRD implement a UBI (much as they do working for families) we would save an enormous amount of money.

    The stigma around unemployment and benefits would be removed.

    Some people may choose to spend their time pursuing artistic endeavors which would result in a richer society overall. Currently much of the work done in caring for the young and elderly is unpaid, those doing this work would have more independence and dignity.

    Poverty would be greatly reduced (and could be practically eliminated) which would most likely result in a reduction in all the problems associated with poverty: crime, domestic abuse, gambling, drug use, alcoholism and gang involvement.

    The more I read about it, and particularly the more I read of studies where it was tried out, the more I think it’s one of the best ideas EVER.

  3. kiwi_guy says:

    I support Gareth Morgan’s Big Kahuna argument for a universal basic income.

    I think the cats need to go too.

    And beers for rats is a stroke of genius.

  4. Marc says:

    I support a UBI, and it will save heaps in administration and bureaucracy costs. It must be implemented very carefully though, and offer a fair and reasonable basic amount a person could survive on.

    But to be honest, it will not do away with all stigma and with social tensions of some sorts, nor will it necessarily empower workers and non workers as some think.

    For most it will not be enough to pay the rent and utility costs, and certainly not any appliances and perhaps transport vehicles people need (cars, bikes, scooters). So those that are too sick to work, too disabled, those who study for longer periods, or are in training, those who are sole parents without sufficient income to live off, they will require top ups, which will still need to be administered by a department of sorts.

    It would perhaps achieve to do away with WINZ and the IRD, and create a new agency or department, to bring in a UBI, but the fact that people will need to apply for certain top ups to survive, that will mean there will still need to be applications, assessments, reviews and so forth.

    For the labour market it will kind of provide an income just below the minimum wage. For some humble persons it may still present a disincentive to work, if the UBI is close to a minimum wage, and that is why there is a lot of opposition to this kind of policy to bring it in.

    But perhaps there could also be an expectation on adults receiving the UBI, that if they are physically fit enough, they should work at least 15 to 20 or so hours a week doing some voluntary work for NGO support or other agencies. That would create a situation, where the UBI may only be paid under some minimum conditions met.

    Employers will adjust to this new system, but they will of course also still ask people for work history, experiences, qualifications and CVs and certificates to prove this. So the competition for real jobs with higher paid incomes will not go away at all, nor the stigma for those that may not have worked “on the market” for longer periods.

    We would still have a kind of class system.

    Nevertheless, anything that does away with the present system at WINZ, where clients get mistrusted, harassed, spied on, denied support, and where checks and balances, plus day to day case management costs the country hundreds of millions if not billions, that can only be a step in the right direction.

    • Draco T Bastard says:

      It must be implemented very carefully though, and offer a fair and reasonable basic amount a person could survive on.

      What a load of bollocks. It could be and should be implemented immediately with the taxes worked out after. The amount needs to be $400 to $500 per week – enough for people to be entrepreneurial with. Having it so that people could only just survive on it, IMO, wastes a huge amount of our national talent as people who can’t afford to do anything but survive don’t try to get their ideas to work – they can’t afford to.

      For some humble persons it may still present a disincentive to work,

      The humble are the ones that work whether they need to or not.

      That would create a situation, where the UBI may only be paid under some minimum conditions met.

      You’re saying that we should just keep the failed system that we have now.

      • Lloyd Jordan says:

        added to that the rate of employment over the next few years are expected to drop dramatically with the introduction of more robotics and 3d printing, it is paramount that the UBI be at a rate of dignified living any top ups will just create a nightmare that winz is today.. the only top ups needed would be for the severely disadvantaged in society.

      • Marc says:

        Draco, I detected before, you do not seem to be an expert in social psychology, and not in economics, even-though some of your thoughts make sense.

        Bringing in such a change needs careful planning and research to be done before it happens. And of course it can be tied in to serve as a minimum tax free income level, but there are many other things affected, and the adjustments people will make, will not all be positive.

        Nevertheless, I support a smartly designed and planned UBI.

        • Draco T Bastard says:

          I’ve never claimed to be an expert although I have a reasonable level of learning – primarily self-taught.

          Bringing in such a change needs careful planning and research to be done before it happens.

          Not really, it needs discussion through the wider community to get majority support for it but it’s actually too simple for excessive planning in implementation. About the only thing that needs to be done is to ensure that the government has all the required bank account number so as to make the deposit.

          but there are many other things affected, and the adjustments people will make, will not all be positive.

          I hate to say this because I really don’t like things to be left the market but at the micro level things will work out by themselves. We’ll probably want to put some temporary price fixes in place for rent and food but that would be about it.

          At the macro level we’ll need a new tax system and a new monetary system to go with it but a) that needs to happen anyway and b) we could put it in place after the implementation of the UBI. About the only thing that would need to happen immediately before hand is changing the upper income taxes.

  5. Mike says:

    I see a UBI as an income redistribution project that sends the wrong signals to the wrong people.

    It is wrong to pay a person an entitlement of a share of someone else’s money with no strings attached. To pay a person to “pursue artistic endeavours” is about as worthwhile as paying me $300 per week to further my studies of how much of each brand of whiskey I can drink before falling over. If an artist is any good, they will make a better living than I ever could. And don’t even get me started on the message you propose to send to young mothers….’the more children you choose to have, the more the state will pay you in multiples of $100.’

    To tax those on higher incomes at 50% and 66% amounts to exploitation of the higher paid at a higher level than you believe is happening to the lower paid. Nobody deserves two thirds of the rewards of another persons work. Can you imagine the irony of a boss paying income tax by force to a government that is paying his staff a ‘retainer’ of $300 a week to hold out for collective demands?

    The problem with this proposal is that it incentivises the behaviour that is getting the vulnerable people into trouble in the first place and punishing them through taxation based around the politics of envy should they have the hard work or good fortune to be able to improve their lot. What do they have to look forward to if life on a higher income could mean that the state now has a claim to no less than half of their reward for success?

    Frankly I don’t trust your “abolish WINZ and simplify tax laws”proposal. If a UBI is as good as you say it is, I believe you think you have just discovered a way that your supporters may rob Peter to pay Paul that Peter won’t notice.

    • Mike, aside from the simple fairness of such a policy, have you considered the millions wasted on maintaining the WINZ bureaucracy?

      Have you considered the millions (hundreds of millions?) spent on;

      * staff salaries
      * office buildings
      * various WINZ “training” programmes
      * the printing of all the forms (see: http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/bill-english-when-numbers-dont-fit-or-just-jump-around/ and http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/winz-waste-and-wonky-numbers/)
      * additional support structures (security, maintenance, etc)

      You’ve parroted a Libertarian/ACT ideology very succinctly, but like most ideologies, it fails to actually address the problems at hand.

      You’ve simply said This Is My View of The World instead of This Is The World As It Really Is. The former absolves you of responsibility to change things. The latter demands that you change things.

      Your entire view is predicated on the assumption which you clearly stated,

      The problem with this proposal is that it incentivises the behaviour that is getting the vulnerable people into trouble in the first place and punishing them through taxation based around the politics of envy should they have the hard work or good fortune to be able to improve their lot…

      – without stating any evidence that this so-called “incentivisation” would actually happen.

      Let me gve you an example why you are hopelessly out of touch.

      If you lost your job or your partner deserted you, you are forced to survive on a WINZ benefit.

      For a single person, 25-plus, the unemployment benefit pays a fraction of $216 per week, net. (Accomodation benefits pay a pro rata portion of your rent/mortgage – not the entire lot. The remainder has to be paid from the $216 you receive.)

      If you find part-time work and earn either $80 or $100 per week (depending on your circumstances – http://www.communitylaw.org.nz/community-law-manual/chapter-5-benefit-rights/benefit-rates-and-how-earnings-affect-them/) your benefit starts to be abated (reduced).

      The process can be messy, complicated, and often WINZ gets it badly wrong.

      It also sends a signal that if you work part time, your main source of income will be reduced. (One individual I know has had no end of trouble with WINZ stuffing up their benefit because of a part-time, casual job they are working. S/he wishes they’d never made the effort in the first place and simply kept trying for a full time position instead.)

      So if you’re going to talk about sending “wrong signals”, perhaps this is where you should start?

      Because I put it to you that if everyone received a UBI, then they would have an incentive to work and earn more because they wouldn’t have the WINZ bureaucracy* (a) reducing their main source of income and (b) getting it wrong and (c) made life unnecessarily difficult and complicated.

      After all, Mike – and here’s the punchline – if you receive a UBI; and can earn more through a job as well (even part-time); without arbitrary abatements; then the incentive is there to work. Isn’t that what the Right Wing keep telling us; that if you earn more that is an incentive to work, and vice versa?

      Mr English says for some time now National has been advocating a credible tax programme which rewards effort and hard work, and allows more people to get ahead under their own steam.

      – Bill English, 5 October 2007, http://www.billenglish.co.nz/archives/204-NEWS-Credible-tax-programme-pillar-to-future-growth.html

      “Because at a high level, my belief is every single New Zealander wants to work, wants to provide for their family, wants independence and wants the comfort that comes from the knowledge that you can pay the bills and look after your family in the way that you want to. That’s the ambition of New Zealanders. “

      – John Key, 25 November 2012, http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1211/S00355/shane-taurima-interviews-john-key.htm

      “It’s true, ultimately if every one was to get off welfare we’d need to create even more jobs, but that’s the Government’s whole agenda is to have a vibrant economy that does produce jobs. I certainly accept there’s not a job for every single person, but I don’t accept there aren’t some jobs out there.”

      – John Key, 28 February 2012, http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/6489372/Welfare-changes-just-the-start

      * By the way, most WINZ staffers are helpful. Only a small number should not be in that position.

      • Mike says:

        You certainly make some very valid points Mr Macskasy, but I still can’t get away from the idea that it is only a matter of time before some left wing academic zealot cleverly disguised as a social policy specialist advocates that the UBI is too low for a certain sector to live on. That is of course how we ended up with the dogs breakfast of a welfare system we have now. Because everyone’s needs are different, we have a relatively low ‘base’ welfare rate. “I can’t survive without a car” they say, so on goes an allowance to pay for taxi fares to the doctor, etc. “rents are high, I can’t afford to pay rent” they say. Here’s an accommodation allowance. “Oh think of the children” they say. The list of supplements appears never ending.
        That dogs breakfast exists to try to match the amount of money given (no strings attached) to the perceived ‘need.’ I would LOVE a universal basic handout that stuck to a set amount, no matter how many dependants, how much rent one pays, how far one lives from civic amenities, how many failed relationships, how many gender reassignments or if one has access to the Internet or not. You can call me selfish for wanting to spend my own money in my own way all you want, but quite frankly I just don’t trust politicians, social policy advocates, liberal academics or anyone holding a clipboard claiming to represent those in need (and not merely representing their own selfish interests) to ever get the balance right.

        I must admit that the idea of sacking most of the staff of WINZ et al is a hugely appealing idea but it hasn’t got a hope of saving a cent , as just like a fat lady in a corset, if we squeeze the middle of the public sector hard enough to make it look good, it tends to overcompensate by bulging in an unsightly way in all sorts of places.

        By the way, my view of the world is as true from my position of being a payer of this proposal as your view of the world is as a representative of the receivers.

      • Danyl Strypey Bruce says:

        Thanks Frank for your thorough response to Mike. To me, this is the critical point we must emphasize if we are going to convince people this policy is workable:
        “if you receive a UBI; and can earn more through a job as well (even part-time); without arbitrary abatements; then the incentive is there to work. Isn’t that what the Right Wing keep telling us; that if you earn more that is an incentive to work, and vice versa?”

        No doubt when Labour wanted to introduce unemployment benefits in 1935, there would have been people like Mike making exactly the same arguments against that – that nobody would work if they could live on a benefit instead. Wrong in that case, and for the same reason, wrong in the case of the UBI.

        As for Mike’s comments on artists, check my guest blog for an explanation of why most people would be much better off if artists could live on a UBI while searching for ways to make income of their art, rather than relying on every more draconian enforcement of the copyright monopoly.

        • Mike says:

          Most people would be better off if artists could live on a UBI!!! Are you serious??! What makes you think that the world (or the taxpayer in this case) owes an artist a living? Living off the UBI or living off the dole are just as bad as one another and one in the same…they both require living off someone else’s money.

          Yes, you are right. The right wing do tell you that if you earn more that is an incentive to work. But not in your case. The operative word here is EARN. A UBI is not earned, it is received, as an entitlement, of other people’s money, the amount probably decided by the public service, in a committee-type situation. There is in fact less incentive to work because you advocate for a UBI that provides a comfortable living.

          There is no such thing as a fair financial system that redistributes income from the earned to the unearned as an entitlement and asks nothing in return. The dole or the UBI? Doesn’t matter. One is as bad as the other

    • ‘It is wrong to pay a person an entitlement of a share of someone else’s money ….. ‘
      It is NOT someone else’s money – just take a look at the ways in which it is accumulated. We all own the economy – not just the people who are best at siphoning it off.
      I agree with a UBI. It recognises our common citizenship.

      • Mike says:

        It IS someone else’s money in the example I gave. If an artist receives a UBI whilst at home ‘being creative’, the said artist is in effect unproductive until the day he/she produces a creation that generates income greater than the living costs. A UBI would allow an artist (or anyone else for that matter) to receive an income off the state as an entitlement with no obligation to be a productive member of society, no means test or application to determine the level of need and no incentive to ever become productive. That means that in my example, the UBI being paid is someone else’s money as the fact remains that it is unearned.

        I have no idea what you mean when you claim that we “all own the economy.” The economy is not owned by anyone…or everyone. It is the result of a multitude of private and public transactions and human interactions all interrelating with each other.

        If “recognises our common citizenship” through a UBI is important to you, maybe a life in a communist country would appeal.

        • Draco T Bastard says:

          I have no idea what you mean when you claim that we “all own the economy.”
          It is the result of a multitude of private and public transactions and human interactions all interrelating with each other.

          That would make you as ignorant as an economist then – they don’t know what an economy is either.

          The best way to describe what an economy is is to state its purpose and its purpose is to provide everyone with a reasonable living standard while using the nation’s scarce resources in a sustainable fashion.

          Economists seem to think that an economies purpose is profit which is one of the reasons that they get it so wrong.

          The economy is not owned by anyone…or everyone.

          The scarce resources that the economy uses and is supposed to distribute evenly and efficiently belong to everybody. It can be no other way. Those scarce resources include the people but don’t include money.

          BTW, very few people don’t want to work. Probably less than 1% of the population. The rest do as it’s a challenge and it’s social.

          • Mike says:

            I don’t consider myself to be “as ignorant as an economist.” Yes, economists can sometimes be misguided, even ill-informed, but never ignorant.

            Your definition of an economy is broadly believable from a communist point of view, but is a little simplistic. The purpose of an economy is not profit, although profit on the production side is essential if the economy is to remain viable. Economies don’t really have a purpose as such, but if they did, it would best be described as a vehicle to allocate resources, that is, all resources that play a role in producing goods and services for consumption. So a well-functioning economy trades internally between producers and non producers alike to allocate resources in accordance with supply and demand. The NZ economy generally uses prices (usually cash prices) as a means to allocate resources, whereas North Korea will generally use legislation and government planners to allocate resources in accordance with a government central plan. All economies rely on production of goods and services to trade, and use or sustainably harvest their available resources to produce goods and services in demand from its own or other economies to purchase goods and services we ‘demand’ but for one reason or another, don’t have enough of here to satisfy demand. For example, we produce milk products, adventure tourism experiences and certain brands of designer clothes to sell to other economies in exchange for goods and services we cannot produce as economically here, such as vehicles and specialist machinery, other brands of clothing, fuel and oil and those cheap shitty plastic children’s toys that break after 5 minutes and then clog up landfills.

            Economies are driven by supply and demand and a hard wired desire for all of us to improve our lifestyle by making it easier for us to live our lives the way that makes us the most comfortable. And yes, profit is the driver, not for the money per se, but for the goods and services that may be exchanged for the profit of our own endeavours.

            To say that the “scarce resources that the economy uses and is supposed to distribute evenly and efficiently belong to everybody” is only half right. I don’t own the people, neither does the government. We are all individuals, we have freedom of movement, freedom of thought and freedom of association. For instance, if I owned you, I would have you working for me right now as I am one person down at the moment and am desperate to find someone else to work for me (true!), but I have to accept that it is not fashionable right now to get ones hands dirty, so I have to “meet the market” and pay more…lots more, and am still looking. So as you can see, supply and demand doesn’t always favour the employer.

            Only in a communist economy will resources get distributed evenly. In the case of a free economy, resources are allocated evenly by central planning, then individual supplies of resources are added to by those comfortable to carry more risk and by those who are clever enough to get a better return from their resources than the next guy.

            • Draco T Bastard says:

              The purpose of an economy is not profit, although profit on the production side is essential if the economy is to remain viable.

              Considering that profit is physically impossible then we better get used to not having one.

              So a well-functioning economy trades internally between producers and non producers alike to allocate resources in accordance with supply and demand.

              Not necessarily. There are other forms of economy that don’t include trade. Oh, and Steve Keen has proved that the supply/demand curve is bollocks.

              For example, we produce milk products, adventure tourism experiences and certain brands of designer clothes to sell to other economies in exchange for goods and services we cannot produce as economically here
              Which is also a load of bollocks as we can produce them just as economically here. A cell phone made here will use the same resources to produce as a cell phone made in S. Korea. Considering that we then wouldn’t have to ship it here means that the cell phone made here should be cheaper. The problem is that our financial system creates the delusion that it can be made cheaper in S. Korea. It’s this same delusional financial system that is polluting our waterways and driving the Earth to the first, and possibly the last, anthropological Extinction Level Event, one with the hallmarks of the Permian Mass Extinction.

              profit is the driver

              Not for the majority of people. IMO, profit is only the driver of the sociopaths.

              I don’t own the people, neither does the government.

              The people are the government. Anything less is some form of dictatorship.

              Only in a communist economy will resources get distributed evenly.

              Communities are inherently communist. It really can be no other way. IMO, the problems we have today is that we keep trying to make capitalism the bedrock of society and it just doesn’t work. The inevitable result is that society will collapse as it has done time and time again.

              • Mike says:

                Excuse me. Profit is possible, and essential. The means to pay for resources in demand from a trading economy can only come from two sources, funds borrowed from another profitable economy or funds generated from the productive side of the economy when income exceeds expenditure…economics 101 Mr Bastard.

                There is only one exception to that rule; an economy that never trades with another economy, never imports or exports and most of all, never expands to allow for the changing needs of the people. Without overseas trade, New Zealand consumers would be denied the value for money, the efficiencies and most of all, the freedom of choice we enjoy today. The very same freedom of choice that may allow you to purchase the cheapest, the organic, the Californian, the out of season or the locally grown grapes that best suit your taste and philosophy.

                Your paragraph concerning the cell phones is so misguided and out of touch that its difficult to know where to start. Maybe the materials for a cellphone can be sourced from the same place for the same price, but the cost of production includes more than the materials. Costs of transport, commerce and labour/staff must all be considered. The key to getting ahead in business is to recognise a gap in the market (demand) and satisfy the market demand with a product price and specifications that the buyer is willing to accept. In a free market such as this, and in a country which has one of the highest cellphone use per head ratios in the world, there is nothing to fear but fear itself to start your own cellphone factory. Praeoccupemus!!!

                Overseas trade is vitally important for any economy, especially ours. We may be the best in the world at producing one product, while another economy is the best at producing another. For example we produce over 80% of the worlds carrot seed and the carrot seed producers use a portion of that income to purchase the worlds best specialist harvesting equipment from Germany and the USA, which in turn makes us even more efficient at producing carrot seed. What’s the key to our ability to be the best? Our temperate climate and our ‘out of season’ harvest timing. But we couldn’t do it without potassium fertiliser from Russia, harvest equipment from Germany and USA and staff from all four corners.

                Well, put a bow around me and call me a sociopath! Profit is what drives me. Profit gives us life choices, quality of life, a future proof business and financial independence. Hang on, there’s a coincidence……the exact same things that your followers simultaneously hate, spit vitriol with envy at me for having and openly complain that they don’t have enough. And the only solution your ideas can offer? Government regulations, less consumer choice through trade restrictions and bans and taxing (read confiscation and redistribution) those of us who have gone to the trouble of understanding the benefits of trade and being willing to take a risk and back ourselves.

                The people are not the government. The government are a hotchpotch bunch of self serving misfits elected by the people to represent the people in a democratic fashion.

                If you think that all communities are inherently communist, you need to get out more. Seriously. You are obviously so withdrawn in to your own world that you fail to realise that there is a profitable, capitalist primary production based economy out there comprising more than 60% of the total New Zealand economy funding the non productive side of the economy by way of jobs, commerce and taxes. Profitable businesses forming part of a productive economy are what makes the world go ’round.

                • Draco T Bastard says:

                  The means to pay for resources in demand from a trading economy can only come from two sources, funds borrowed from another profitable economy or funds generated from the productive side of the economy when income exceeds expenditure…economics 101 Mr Bastard.

                  Trade doesn’t produce money. That’s one of those physical realities that economists and yourself seem to forget.

                  Without overseas trade, New Zealand consumers would be denied the value for money, the efficiencies and most of all, the freedom of choice we enjoy today.

                  And we’d all still be employed in vital work rather than unemployed, under-employed and competing for worthless jobs that only help the rich get richer.

                  The people are not the government.

                  Yes they are. that’s the basic nature of a democracy. Of course, we have a representative democracy that’s designed to prevent that truth.

                  If you think that all communities are inherently communist, you need to get out more.

                  Again, that’s a simple basic physical fact. A society cannot survive without the underlying bedrock of communism, the cooperation that allows us to survive and prosper.

        • fatty says:

          “If an artist receives a UBI whilst at home ‘being creative’, the said artist is in effect unproductive until the day he/she produces a creation that generates income greater than the living costs.”

          I think your problem is that you define something to be of worth if it creates money. This has been our ideology for too long and if we want a better society and a better future, then we have to move on from this worth = profit thinking. How about we start assuming that worth = the elimination of poverty, and worth = creative endeavour and mastering new skills?
          You might pass this off as ideological and utopian. But what could be more ideological and utopian than perpetual profit accumulation in a finite world?
          I find that reality gets in the way of our current ideological utopianism.

          • Mike says:

            My grandfather once told me “if you think a good education is expensive, you want to see what it costs to go without one.” The same can be said for my example. Maybe…’if an artist thinks that income is not important, try buying your next meal with “creative endeavour and mastering new skills.” I have absolutely no problem with us all having creative endeavour, but we have a responsibility to ourselves and our family to get our priorities right.

      • Draco T Bastard says:

        We all own the economy – not just the people who are best at siphoning it off.

        QFT

        But that is something that the privatisers don’t want people to realise.

        • Mike says:

          You can believe a load of nonsense with all your willpower. You can click your heals together 3 times and will your load of nonsense to be true, but at the end of the day it is still a load of nonsense.

          • Draco T Bastard says:

            It’s not nonsense. The nonsense is that the communities wealth can be owned by individuals and that this will bring about prosperity despite 5000 years of reality proving otherwise.

            • Mike says:

              I have never claimed as an individual to have a share in the communities wealth any more than anyone else’s.

              The wealth I bring to the community is created by me and the resources I employed in the process of manufacture. None of the resources I created were there before me, they are a result of the skill and sacrifices made by me and my family over the years.

              During the 1980s, we nearly lost the lot and made six figure losses for 4 years in a row. I asked for help from the welfare state and we were turned down because I still had equity in our house. “Sell the house and when all the money is gone, you will qualify for an emergency benefit.”

              You can’t have it both ways. You can’t privatise the loss and socialise the profit.

              • Draco T Bastard says:

                None of the resources I created were there before me, they are a result of the skill and sacrifices made by me and my family over the years.

                Wrong and it’s really a good example of the lies that business people tell themselves. The materials that you use in your business have lasted longer than this solar system and your skills are the direct result of the community.

                And considering that you lost 6 figure sums over four years I suspect that the “sacrifices” that your family made were along the lines of not going on over seas holidays every year, not eating at 5 star restaurants and probably drinking sherry rather than Chandon. In other words, you lived like most other people do all the time.

                I asked for help from the welfare state and we were turned down because I still had equity in our house. “Sell the house and when all the money is gone, you will qualify for an emergency benefit.”

                First I would like to say that I disagree with that and second a UBI would have made sure such a situation could not occur.

                You can’t have it both ways. You can’t privatise the loss and socialise the profit.

                But apparently you can privatise the profit and socialise the loss as the GFC proved yet again.

  6. kevin says:

    A few thoughts on the manor:

    1) We give HUGE (rarely spoken about and even rarely investigated) welfare payments to the wealthy, e.g. banks, tax breaks etc. …….So remove them and there’s your money for the UBI.
    2) Get the Government to print it’s own money, under the same rules as the banks produce it presently (out of thin air too), so they’ll be NO EXTRA INFLATION effect. And put the same regulations on the Government as the banks, via a REALLY independent RBNZ.
    This way ALL THE PROFITS, that presently go back to Australia (USA, UK etc) can stay here, and will EASILY pay for UBI and probably remove the need for most of the income tax !!!!!!!
    3) Yes The Big Kahuna makes sense.
    4) Reduce the cost of housing and you significantly reduce the cost of living and thus raise the standard of living, without an inflationary effect.
    e.g.
    a)Back the printed money with the asset of newly built state housing. Presently the money (via banks) has no backing, so this will be a positive effect on the currency.
    b) Remove the housing speculators from the housing market, both domestic and more importantly foreign. This is a NO BRAINER and will have an immediate and LARGE positive effect on the cost of living.

  7. […] (Reprinted from The Daily Blog) […]

  8. Jack says:

    The parasitic Banking & Finance Industry are sucking economies dry as well as taking control of Society by the Chosen Few.

    The Banking & Finance Sector do nothing to improve the productivity or development of communities.

  9. Draco T Bastard says:

    The benefits would be enormous.

    You’d have to work out the taxes but there is no downside to a universal income.

    As for the taxes, well IMO, our entire tax regime needs to be thrown out and replaced. Decide what needs to be achieved and redesign from the ground up. One thing that needs to be addressed is that all income in NZ needs to be taxed in NZ and that means no tax deductions for transfer pricing as that actually decreases the income to be taxed while a business expense to another business in NZ doesn’t as the other business will be taxed.

    • LilaR says:

      I’ve thought for many years now that tax should be raised on the basis of what the country needs in the way of infrastructure, health, education, etc., and that those most able to pay should pay more FOR THE GOOD OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

  10. Jono says:

    Fantastic article Mike.

    I to thought that this would not work on first reading but after a bit of reading yes I agree it could work.

    I think it makes a lot of sense in today’s world of insecure employment.

    Technology will also mean this is going to be more important in future as machines replace workers more and more.

    I believe this could be the future trend in world economic systems as we head into hopefully a more enlightened society. We need a new system the current one only serves the elites.

  11. Danyl Strypey Bruce says:

    From the Big Kahuna website:

    Quote begins:
    This is what the New Zealand Royal Commission on Social Policy had to say in 1988 about universal and targeted transfers:

    “Universalism recognises that we are all members of society… being New Zealanders entitles and engages all of us, whatever our ages or circumstances, and support measures should be rights based. And those eligible for income support should not be subject to unnecessary and stigmatising procedures to establish what is theirs as a basic right.

    A system designed only to assist the poor helps perpetuate existing social and economic inequality in the longer run by reinforcing distinctions between the poor and the rest of society, and at the same time it may lock the poor into a cycle of poverty by its system of benefit abatement. A further implication is that a highly targeted system will ultimately face considerable resistance from taxpayers unwilling to support a system perceived as rewarding the improvident and providing themselves with no return for their contributions. The longer run consequences could thus be an even more targeted system that provides continually falling benefit levels.”
    Quote ends.

    Sound familiar?

  12. fatty says:

    This is why Labour needs to steal MANA’s policies.
    UBI is inevitable and it’s something that the left in general can support.
    The only questions surrounding the concept of UBI are myths that come from a neoliberal perspective – work incentive, productive member of society etc.
    Also, UBI is not that radical – perhaps it’s radical compared to the past 40 years, but surely we need radical if the past 40 years is considered ‘normal’

    • Draco T Bastard says:

      The only questions surrounding the concept of UBI are myths that come from a neoliberal perspective – work incentive, productive member of society etc.

      Not really. Quite a few neo-liberal economists and Act types think a UBI is a good idea. The problem comes more from the social conservatives and you get those in both Labour and National. The liberals in both are probably too scared to mention the idea thinking that the populace are as conservative as their in party brethren.

      but surely we need radical if the past 40 years is considered ‘normal’

      Yep, we definitely need radical ideas to get us out of the mess that we’ve got ourselves into. Thing is, they’re just ideas taking us back to reality, the reality that we left under capitalism.

  13. C. H. says:

    A UBI is more efficient and fairer than the current mess of benefits and baby bonuses, and would go a long way towards destroying the division between the unemployed and working people cultivated by the right.

    But a UBI alone isn’t enough in the long term, because our clapped-out market economy will continue to yield lower and lower surpluses for governments to tax, punctuated by inevitable crises of overproduction. Wages will continue to trend downward, and government transfers such as the UBI would fail to keep pace with the cost of living (or become unaffordable).

    Higher taxes would mean little when the whole pie is shrinking.

    Inevitably the left must revive the demand for full employment – through a democratic, socialised economy led by strong SOEs and cooperatives. The ‘Third Way’ has been totally discredited – Neoliberalism and Neo-Keynesianism has no answers to overproduction and falling rates of profit.