The failure of TOP’s Youth UBI policy

Written By: - Date published: 9:48 am, September 19th, 2017 - 97 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, disability, Economy, election 2017, TOPS, welfare - Tags: , , , ,

TOP released its Youth to Adult Unconditional Basic Income policy a while back. It aims to give every 18 – 23 yr old $200/wk and for that income to be unconditional. You don’t have to apply, and you can spend it on what you want, no questions asked. You won’t be taxed on that income nor penalised via WINZ abatements. Sounds good, right? What progressive wouldn’t want to support young people with such an excellent start.

That $10,000/yr is every young adult’s on top of whatever other income they have. Unless they are a beneficiary (or a student1).

Young people in waged work would get $200/wk on top of their existing income. Beneficiaries would get little to no extra because the YUBI replaces their existing income. This is part of how TOP want to pay for the overall YUBI, by not giving extra assistance to some of the most in need NZers, those on very low incomes that can’t work.

It looks something like this (keeping it simple by looking at a 22 yr old with no children)

Income source Income p/wk (in hand) Income p/a (in hand) With YUBI p/wk (in hand) With YUBI p/a (in hand)
Jobseeker/dole (includes previous Sickness Benefit)  $177  $9,204 $200    $10,000
Supported Living/Invalids  $265  $13,780 $265    $13,780
Barista wages  $680  $30,200 $880    $40,200
Secondary School teacher salary  $778  $40,500 $978    $50,500

If that 22 yr old has a disability or illness that prevents them from supplementing their income via waged work, TOP is saying they have to stick with their life of poverty. We already know that for many people that’s not enough to live on. Morgan understands the value of giving young people a good start into adulthood, so why doesn’t this apply to some of the most vulnerable people in NZ?

There is this idea that a UBI is meant to replace welfare, therefore a YUBI should replace base benefit payments. But that’s an abstract approach to UBIs that places theories about ‘how things should work’ above actual people. Unfortunately there is a meme developing in the NZ UBI debate that welfare is bad and a UBI should kill it off once and for all. But we will still need welfare, there is no way around that because people have differing income needs. UBI was never meant to solve that issue on its own, but should be developed alongside fixing welfare.

What is a UBI for and how should it be designed? I’m arguing that it should primarily be part of a social security policy, rather than predominantly an economic tool, and it should be inherently inclusive. It should put the most vulnerable people at the centre of the design, including children, the elderly, and ill or disabled people, and not treat them as an after thought.

I grew up in a tramping family where it was standard practice to put the slowest person in the middle of the group not at the back. This is an acknowledgement that we don’t want to leave anyone behind because we care about everyone in the group and the kind of experience they are going to have. Also implicit is that the group is only going to go as fast as its slowest member so the wellbeing of everyone is dependent on everyone’s wellbeing. In a politically compassionate world ‘tramping’ with elderly, children, and disabled people in this way is normal. Just as important as inclusivity, it engenders the reality that people of varying abilities bring important things to the world, because they have different perspectives, skills and life experiences.  In a neoliberal world, why would you want to take slow people with you? Put them over there and deal with them separately and later.

The core principle for TOP seems to assert normal people as wage earners first and foremost, where a UBI is an economic tool in an age of employment instability, one that needs to make sure the workforce functions efficiently. Sure, TOP no doubt care about workers to an extent for their own sake, but if this was driven by compassion, why exclude more vulnerable people?

UBI models seek to improve the non-waged lives of some e.g. some kinds of able-bodied voluntary work would be more viable and valued, but that still doesn’t explain why TOP’s YUBI doesn’t take into account people who have differing support needs, and they sure as hell don’t value the contributions that the non-waged disabled might want to make.

Social theories of disability say that society creates disability. Someone in a wheelchair is an ordinary part of society until they need to access a building that someone else designed to be accessible for people that can walk up stairs. Society created that inaccessibility, not the person in the wheelchair, because society holds that infrastructure should be designed around certain kinds of physicality and not others. We’re getting better at that but a UBI model that starts with the premise that someone can work to earn extra income is a building that automatically and actively excludes others and creates disability.

This gnarly issue of UBI models with sub-liveable rates and how people who can’t work will live of even survive is not going to go away. TOP has paid lip service to this in its policy development and Morgan’s early work blatantly acknowledged that some of the most vulnerable people would be worse off. I’ve seen people argue that it’s a work in progress, that these issues will get sorted out in time (and this appears to be TOP’s rationale), but this initial policy actively builds in inequity right from the start.

They might want to add on some wheelchair ramps later, but it’s still a bad way to design if you want to get it right by the people most affected. It says that people with disabilities are not going to be attended to alongside others, and we might have a think about them later when we get round to it. From a disability point of view that’s discriminatory. Safety nets should be for all people and the way to best ensure that is to design them for the needs of people across the board, not start with economic ideology no matter the superficially liberal positioning.2

There’s a big conversation to be had after the election about what to do about poverty and welfare, and that should include looking at a UBI and whether and how it might work in NZ. But TOP so far are designing bad policy and this needs to be made explicit before people vote.

1 Youth in receipt of Student Allowance also don’t get the extra $10,000/yr. There are other critiques of TOP’s general approach to UBI but space in the post was limited.

2 Morgan’s campaigning in the past week has made it very clear that he is extremely antagonistic to progressive ideas from the Left, so this disabled social justice warrior is just closing the loop here. Morgan’s hatred of the Left goes hand in hand with the big stomping holes in his policies for people who he clearly has no understanding of nor willingness to include in his grand plan.

97 comments on “The failure of TOP’s Youth UBI policy”

  1. ianmac 1

    Your information is better than mine Weka but wasn’t there a proviso that those on a disability allowance now, would get the $200 UBI plus a top up as required?

    I think that there should be open discussion on such things as UBI. Morgan has floated some worthwhile ideas and there is a need for a real forum where the new ideas can be discussed without political bias or vested interest trying to block those ideas.
    (By the way I am not voting for TOP, this time anyway.)

    • weka 1.1

      There are two base benefits available to ill/disabled people – Supported Living Payment (ex Invalid’s Benefit), and Jobseeker with exemption from work requirements (ex Sickness Benefit). You can see in the chart that under TOP’s YUBI, the JS wld go up a bit and SLP would remain the same.

      Supplementary benefits are a different thing e.g. Disability Allowance, Accommodation Supplement, Temporary Additional Support. They are non-taxable income, have conditions on them (e.g. asset and income tests), and have caps e.g. standard DA maximum is $62/wk. In order to get that you have to prove costs related to the disability you are on the base benefit for. Lots of beneficiaries in NZ aren’t getting their full entitlements, mainly because WINZ actively don’t tell people what they are or how to access them. So there is a huge variation in what people get and why. But most long term beneficiaries rely on supplementary benefits.

      Those benefits exists because the base benefit isn’t enough to live on, but inclusion of supplementary benefits means that many people can survive, just. And yes, the YUBI allows for those supplementaries to continue. But those people can never get ahead, which is what the YUBI is about and why it’s appalling that that extra support to get ahead is denied youth with certain kinds of disabilities.

      Morgan said in the Big Kahuna that an across the board UBI should be around $200/wk and that all other welfare (supplementary benefits, hardship grants, benefit advances etc) should be scrapped. That is utterly insane and pig ignorant of how welfare works and why it’s so important in a civil society. You can dig deeper into Morgan’s background to find that he thinks welfare is bad and that people should be expected to stand on their own two feet, but he is either clueless about the realities of that for many people (i.e. inability to do that), or he doesn’t care. Or both.

      Worse, Morgan previously said that people with disabilities on welfare should lose income and instead should be provided with services by the state. How would you feel if your income was cut in half by the state and then you were told that you’d be ok because the state would now determine what your needs were and you would have to apply to them for them to meet them with service provision?

      TOP have moved a bit on that, and now acknowledge that topups are important. But for a party that is supposedly policy driven (as opposed to values driven) their YUBI policy has some pretty big holes in it. That’s unacceptable for a group of people that want to influence government via parliament.

      There are lots of things that need mending about welfare, and TOP aren’t the people to be involved in that because their values are anti-welfare (and apparently dismissive of disability). Maybe later once the values stuff is sorted out, then Morgan could help with the economic side of policy design, but unfortunately when he says he’s all about the policy the values that underpin it are rendered invisible. They’re still there though. Also, he’s really bad at working with other people, so it’s hard to see how he would be willing to adapt his ideas around what people actually need.

      Sorry for length, as you can see there are few more posts in me about this 😉

      • weka 1.1.1

        Actually to make this simpler. If people on SLP and SB who can’t do waged work were given an extra $200/wk their lives would improve massively and they would be enabled to do all those things that TOP are waxing lyrical about in their YUBI policy about wanting for young people in general. But TOP have excluded that group of disabled people from their policy.

        • mikesh 1.1.1.1

          Although many beneficiaries would very likely benefit from an extra $200 pw there are many whose circumstances would not necessitate it. The trouble is you would end up having to give it to all on a similar benefit.

          There are two min protagonists for a UBI at present: Keith Rankin and Gareth Morgan. Rankin advocates for a UBI which operates on top of the normal welfare system while Morgan was wanting a UBI that would largely replace welfare. However the latter these days seems to be to be looking for a compromise in which means tested top-ups would be added to the basic UBI. (An example would be his superannuation policy.)

          I don´t think Morgan is opposed to welfare; I just think he is seeking a better way of doing it.

          • weka 1.1.1.1.1

            If you look at his work over time, he’s clearly against what most LW people would consider welfare. Hence the Big Kahuna model intended to drop the income of women on the DPB and expected them to make that up by other means while acknowledging that they probably couldn’t do that via waged work.

            Morgan talks a good game, and he does have good ideas, but there are serious problems with both his values and the policies he is developing. Nothing wrong with having holes in policy, huge problem if he won’t look at that.

            • mikesh 1.1.1.1.1.1

              If he was against welfare why would he advocate a UBI. A UBI is better than than welfare because beneficiaries get the full amount even while earning more than $80 from wages. And it was always intended that the UBI would be enough to live on, although he may have underestimated what was needed.

              Like Guy Standing, Morgan is anticipating the emergence of a ¨precariat¨, and a UBI would be better in dealing with this.

              • weka

                No, Morgan set TBK UBI at sub liveable because he believes that people need an incentive work.

                There are many good reasons to look at a UBI for NZ including the issues for the precariat. The post isn’t anti-UBI. It’s saying that there are problems with this one model that is being held up as an exemplar. As I’ve said to Red elsewhere in the thread, at the moment I favour a UBI/welfare hybrid.

                “A UBI is better than than welfare because beneficiaries get the full amount even while earning more than $80 from wages.”

                Why can’t you have welfare and abolish the abatement rate?

                UBI isn’t inherently welfare although it can be part of it. But TBK demonstrates that you can build a centrist UBI that isn’t welfare in the sense that it discriminates and causes problems for the most vulnerable people. I guess it depends on what one means by welfare. That’s a debate I’d certainly like to see after the election.

  2. roy cartland 2

    Thanks WEKA. You’ve articulated this very well. I couldn’t shake the mistrust I had of TOP, the uneasy feeling that they’re trying to solve real, practical problems by moving numbers around. Economics should be one of many tools in the box.

    The other uncomfortable thing is that Gareth somehow “knows best” about what’s good for Maori, women, children, the poor, the environment and the non-business sector. If his experiment goes horribly wrong for the rest of us, with his billion-dollar pile at least he’ll be fine as he is none of these.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    Good write up.

    I will always disagree with UBI because it gives further advantages to those who don’t need it.

    UBI would play out like our current Super. People on the bottom of the heap don’t have enough even when they get extra assistance in the form of other benefits.

    • roy cartland 3.1

      I guess the simple argument to that is that you would just tax it back again at the top. So Bob Jones gets $200 like the rest of us, but he pays it back by way of a much higher top tax rate. When he goes tits up and loses it all, he gets to keep the $200.

      • weka 3.1.1

        That’s my understanding of how a UBI should work (I don’t think it’s Morgan’s though).

        I’d love to run a discussion week on welfare/UBI etc on TS next year.

        • ianmac 3.1.1.1

          “I’d love to run a discussion week on welfare/UBI etc on TS next year.”
          That would be great Weka.

        • roy cartland 3.1.1.2

          “run a discussion”
          Great idea.

          [BTW, does Morgan’s ‘wealth tax’ mitigate his UBI flaw? Because a retiree with tons of savings and assets doesn’t need the UBI, but they aren’t taxed on income. How is that different from means-testing or asset-levies or whatever?]

      • AsleepWhileWalking 3.1.2

        Rich people avoid paying tax.

        It would be more productive to fund teaching of our tax system alongside budgeting advice.

  4. cleangreen 4

    Fully support you Weka;

    I am also disabled and under National I get no coverage from any special medical treatment costs or education and had or give up my Massey post graduate studies because of the lack of funding for the studies!!!!

    Now you have confirmed that I too am religated to the ‘scrap heap of life’ along with lots of cats if TOP get into power.

    “If that 22 yr old has a disability or illness that prevents them from supplementing their income via waged work, TOP is saying they have to stick with their life of poverty”

    • weka 4.1

      Thanks clean green. The scrap heap one is my experience too, which is why this policy stood out like a sore thumb. It’s taken a while to figure out how to explain it though, because people are so enamoured of the idea of a UBI.

      I think the Greens have the best policy currently because they would immediately raise all benefits by 20% and they would mend the culture at WINZ. But even their policy isn’t brilliant for people on SLP and while they intend to fix the whole Sickness Benefit work requirement issues it’s not in the policy yet. I trust them though, both to know the general direction to be moving in, but also to listen and take on board what the people most affected are saying about the issues.

      • cleangreen 4.1.1

        Yes Weka,

        And my studies after three years into completion cost me $9 thousand dollars, and was all for the common community good as it covered Environmental monitoring of our noise, air pollution and water pollution of our indoor air quality and involved all public workplace studies too.

        I guess National don’t care so much about the environment, public health and workplace safety either.

        Evidenced by the west coast mine disaster that killed 23 miners and National don’t want to reopen that mine again – to even find out what happend?????

      • KJT 4.1.2

        I think the best answer is to treat health and disability, the same as injuries and accidents were treated under the original ACC scheme. The one Woodhouse intended, not Nationals dysfunctional imitation of private insurance.

        • weka 4.1.2.1

          if you have no or low income when you get sick then 80% of that isn’t enough to live on 😉 That’s already an issue for people who are otherwise covered by ACC.

          That aside (and assuming a suitable rate was found) I’m in two minds about it. Probably comes down to to what extent it can be tory-proofed. Just like welfare and a UBI.

          btw, as far as I can tell, unlike WINZ clients, young people getting ACC income payments would get the YUBI on top of those. Couldn’t get a confirmation from TOP or Morgan though.

          • KJT 4.1.2.1.1

            In the original incarnation of ACC, Another apprentice broke his back in a motorcycle accident.
            He got pay rises to 80% of the income he would have got without the accident, when the rest of us did.

            When ACC was social insurance, and not a profit making scheme to hide Government debt.

            • weka 4.1.2.1.1.1

              What would that man get if he’d been on the dole? Or a student?

              • KJT

                The same as far as I know.
                Definitely if he had been a Uni student.

                Didn’t know anyone on the dole back then.
                The Prime Minister claimed he could count those out of work”on one hand”.
                Despite right wing memes about “layabouts on the dole, gone surfing”.

                • weka

                  So 80% of the dole? Or nothing if not employed at the time (think women in particular). What I’m getting at there is that ACC does a lot of good things but it’s still based around society’s notion of breadwinners.

    • mikesh 4.2

      “If that 22 yr old has a disability or illness that prevents them from supplementing their income via waged work, TOP is saying they have to stick with their life of poverty”

      TOP are not saying that at all. Disabled persons would receive the UBI payments on top of any wage income, and also on top of any disability based welfare top-ups, they might receive.

      Morgan seems intent on introducing UBI gradually: 18 – 23 y/o´s, National Superannuitants, and families with young children, would get it immediately, and others later, as circumstances permitted. His goal seems to be a UBI for everyone (above 18) with means tested top-ups where necessary.

      • weka 4.2.1

        Reread what I said and then what you said. Seriously, reread the sentence of mine you quoted.

        People who can’t work will be left in their life of poverty. We already know that benefits aren’t enough for many/most to live on. Those two sentences are the whole point of the post. TOP designed it that way.

        But if you are ok with ill and disabled people being treated as an afterthought, I think it’s good to be honest about that.

        “His goal seems to be a UBI for everyone (above 18) with means tested top-ups where necessary.”

        I have no idea what his intention is with the full roll out, because he won’t say. The YUBI replaces base benefits, the young families UBI is on top of benefits, try explaining that one to me. And what the full one would look like. All we can do is guess, but I’ll place that in the context of Morgan’s history on this including his anti-welfare positions and consider it very risky.

        • mikesh 4.2.1.1

          OK. Sorry. I did misread what you said. However should be recognised that Morgan is not actually pushing his UBI scheme in this election; it is just known from earlier sources that he favours one. However his superannuation proposal would suggest that he would provide a suitable top-up for anyone who cannot earn. I don´t think someone disabled would be worse off under his scheme than they are at present.

          • weka 4.2.1.1.1

            Morgan has frequently referred people to TBK when asked about TOP’s UBI policies.

            “I don´t think someone disabled would be worse off under his scheme than they are at present.”

            Sure, but if you’re going to try and fix things why design bad policy. IMO it’s because Morgan doesn’t understand or value welfare and treats disabled people as an after thought. He also centres the UBI on people that can work.

            There’s something like 94,000 people on SLP currently. To get SLP you have to be majorly disabled from work long term. So that doesn’t count people on the old Sickness Benefit and those on SB who should be on SLP but are denied it because of the Bennett reforms.

            Those are not insignificant numbers.

            • mikesh 4.2.1.1.1.1

              [Sure, but if you’re going to try and fix things why design bad policy. IMO it’s because Morgan doesn’t understand or value welfare and treats disabled people as an after thought.]

              Perhaps you should show that something IS bad policy before taking a stab at the reasons why someone might have come up with that alleged bad policy.

              Incidently, I must confess to being unfamiliar with the term ¨SLP¨

              • weka

                I suggest you read the post then, because I’ve detailed why I think the YUBI policy has holes in it and that they come from bad policy design.

                SLP is Supported Living Payment. Sorry, but if you don’t know what SLP is then you probably don’t understand the post. It’s what used to be Invalid’s Benefit, and in order to understand what the YUBI is doing you need to understand what SLP is. You can’t get SLP if you are able to work in any meaningful sense. The YUBI actively discriminates against those people because it says if they weren’t that disabled they’d be able to get the YUBI on top of their existing income. But because of the kind of disability they have, they’re excluded, and so have to continue to live in poverty under TOP’s proposal.

                Basically I’m centering people in the discussion rather than abstract economic concepts. I’m saying that yes a UBI is one tool that is probably going to be useful for many working people in an age of precarious work, but those aren’t the only people who need to be looked after so let’s design policy that takes all vulnerable people as a starting point. TOP’s policy did the opposite to that, it actively excluded groups of vulnerable people. IMO that’s because of ideology and because it centres economics not people.

                • mikesh

                  [Basically I’m centering people in the discussion rather than abstract economic concepts.]

                  UBI is not an ¨abstract concept¨. It is actually a concrete proposal which will affect people in way or another if it´s implemented.

                  However, thanks for elucidating the term ¨SLP¨. Nevertheless, I´m sure that what I´ve said about other benefits would apply to the SLP. If the UBI was insufficient for someone in that situation to live on then it would be topped up.

                  • weka

                    SLP and topups already exist. They’re enough to survive on, but they’re generally not enough to live on with dignity or enough agency to do the kinds of things that Morgan wants for other young people. Many people on SLP long term decline over time, both in terms of standard of living and health.

                    TOP’s YUBI would not give any increase on what SLP beneficiaries already get i.e they’re ok for them to continue living in poverty.

                    I’m thinking that I should have spent time in the post educating people about what being ill/disabled on a benefit actually means, because I’m getting from your comment that you think that group of people are doing ok and thus don’t need the UBI extra. But they’re not doing ok.

                    Have a read of this. It’s the story by someone who’s been on SLP long term with a chronic illness and it describes the poverty that that entails,

                    This is life on a benefit for ill and disabled people

                  • weka

                    [UBI is not an ¨abstract concept¨. It is actually a concrete proposal which will affect people in way or another if it´s implemented.]

                    Yes, and as I’ve said it actively excludes a group of people who are in serious need of support. Why is that? I think it’s because Morgan is starting with a concept of a UBI rather than working from a starting point of the welfare of the people.

                    • mikesh

                      [Yes, and as I’ve said it actively excludes a group of people who are in serious need of support. Why is that? I think it’s because Morgan is starting with a concept of a UBI rather than working from a starting point of the welfare of the people.]

                      That´s an assumption on your part and, in my opinion, unwarranted.

  5. Sabine 5

    so essentially the Yubi or if implemented for all the UBI becomes the welfare maximum anyone on a benefit could receive and for those that are lucky enough to be in work it becomes a ‘top up’. Oh, who would have thunk.

    as for the hypothetical Idea that Bob Jones or Gareth Morgan would end up paying higher taxes after receiving their UBI payment each month, don’t you think that they should pay taxes in the first place? Cause at the moment, at least Gareth Morgan is on record of being of ‘the smart ones’ that are rich enough to avoid paying taxes altogether.

    • weka 5.1

      TOP now say that of course there should be topups. But when I and others asked about the UBI earlier in the year on twitter, Morgan kept saying to go read The Big Kahuna. I don’t have the book, so used the website, and it’s very clear there that his UBI would be set at a sub-liveable rate intentionally (to encourage people to work) and people would be expected to make do themselves e.g. women on the DPB should get better homemaking skills and grow veggies in their garden kind of thing.

      So at best, TOP would ditch TBK and have topups for which they have no plan or even general idea about how to implement. And at worst, they would use Morgan’s ideas and implement a neoliberal/conservative version of the UBI that kills welfare and actively discriminates against people with disabilities (amongst others).

      • Sabine 5.1.1

        the funny thing about women getting better homemaking skills is that even if you have them, and know how to can, preserve and such you could not sell it thanks to the new food producing laws, neither could you sell your surplus from your veggie garden. So i guess all a single mother could do is hope that the UBI is enough to cover basic rent and then live of what ever she grows in pots considering that many flats don’t come with gardens, or hey, there is always prostitution. Winston Peters a few month a go said it so well, Gareth Morgan should saddle a donkey and go for a ride. That is what he does best.

        • weka 5.1.1.1

          I think solo mums are meant to band together and pool their resources too.

          The thing that’s funny, not funny is that I know women on the DPB who grow their own food (as much as they can) and have homemaking skills and they still can’t make their lives better because WINZ and the State keep putting them in their place.

          • Sabine 5.1.1.1.1

            i think that a lot of women already do that. In saying that, it is inherently unfair to expect of people who have little to nothing to ‘band together’ and ‘pool their resources’ and give literal hand outs to people who are rich enough and brazen enough to be open about their tax evasion.

            I mean what next, Group Homes for single mothers to make banding together and the pooling or resources more convenient? Good grief. I am so pleased i voted yesterday, i can now ignore all this posturing and chest pounding.

            • weka 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Yep, and then you have to find ways to coerce the ones who don’t comply, and here we are back at National/Bennett reforms. Although to be fair to Morgan, in TBK he’s suggesting building in the economic coercion quite seriously at the start, no mucking around.

              • Sabine

                brighter futures for all then but above all for his kin and class.

              • mikesh

                [Yep, and then you have to find ways to coerce the ones who don’t comply, and here we are back at National/Bennett reforms. Although to be fair to Morgan, in TBK he’s suggesting building in the economic coercion quite seriously at the start, no mucking around.]

                Coercion? What coercion? UBI is something one receives ¨as of right¨.
                For example, to receive a UBI an unemployed person doesn´t have to be ¨actively seeking work¨ in order to receive a UBI, he receives it anyway. That may not apply to top-ups, but under the present system he needs to be looking for work before he can receive any benefit at all.

                • weka

                  Glad you asked, because there are far too many people that don’t understand this about Morgan’s UBI model. I’ll quote from The Big Kahuna website.

                  However, you would no longer be able to get Work and Income to pay your phone bill or power bill, for example. “Top up” payments like Hardship Grants would no longer be available. So with the freedom to live your life as you choose, comes the responsibility to handle any financial obligations yourself (but with the help of budget advisers, family and community groups). .

                  [and see that there, that’s is textbook neoliberalism. Don’t have enough to live on? Get better budgeting skills. Lefties should be shouting about this shit].

                  Sole parents who have no paid work would find themselves with less income under the UBI. Taking paid work would help (and it would no longer be penalised by the high abatement rates that apply to the DPB), but it is unlikely this would make up the shortfall. So other self-help strategies and complementary policies would be needed.

                  https://garethsworld.com/kahuna/are-you-a-client-of-work-and-income/

                  So under that model anyone currently getting more than $200/wk (most beneficiaries) would immediately be worse off financially. The economic coercion is in the context of what Sabine and I were talking about – what happens when you intentionally pay people less than they need to live on. This is precisely what Ruth Richardson did in the 90s.

                  Now you are forced by economics to do things to make ends meet. Like take cashies, sell your possessions, do sex work, or lie to WINZ.

                  TOP’s policy is a bit different to Morgan’s TBK one, but the problem is that they haven’t said what they would do about welfare once a full UBI was rolled out. One of their UBI policies pays on top of a base benefit, the other doesn’t. They pay lip service to the topups and disability issues. It’s a mess.

                  • RedLogix

                    Quit the daft put downs; TOP’s policy is perfectly plain …. a modest $10k UBI as a starter with top-ups to meet current benefits, or presumably better if that is what the major coalition partner wanted. Plus substantial PAYE tax cuts for low incomes. Muddying the waters with much earlier proposals from TBK just doesn’t help.

                    And logically once you had a full UBI rolled out at an adequate level, then most targeted welfare would either be unnecessary or reduced to a quite modest top-up to meet individual circumstances. Morgan’s made it perfectly plain that while in principle it would be nice to set the UBI high enough to eliminate all benefits, within the constraints of current political acceptability, some residual targeted welfare would be necessary for at least the foreseeable future. That’s just pragmatic politics that would apply to any party rolling out a UBI within a coalition govt.

                    A UBI isn’t a magic wand that fixes all political problems; fundamentally it’s just a redistribution tool like all others and can be both used and abused. You’d imagine if it was National as the major partner the numbers would be lower than we’d like, and if Lab/Grn then hopefully we’d be much happier.

                    • weka

                      “Muddying the waters with much earlier proposals from TBK just doesn’t help.”

                      You should tell Morgan that, because all year he has been referring people back to TBK when asked about TOP UBI policies.

                      And logically once you had a full UBI rolled out at an adequate level, then most targeted welfare would either be unnecessary or reduced to a quite modest top-up to meet individual circumstances.

                      This doesn’t make sense to me, because of the issue of people having varying income needs. I wonder if people truly have no idea about the variation in circumstances. The current welfare system has huge problems, but there is a reason to pay someone with kids more than someone without. Targeted benefits aren’t inherently bad.

                      I’m also raising my eye at your assertion that benefits would eventually be reduced to a quite modest topup. What does modest mean? How would we even know this when we haven’t looked at what people’s needs are?

                      I’m actually less worried about what the base UBI rate would be than I am about the number of lefties who think it should be based on some norm that won’t be useful to lots of people.

                      Morgan’s made it perfectly plain that while in principle it would be nice to set the UBI high enough to eliminate all benefits, within the constraints of current political acceptability, some residual targeted welfare would be necessary for at least the foreseeable future. That’s just pragmatic politics that would apply to any party rolling out a UBI within a coalition govt.

                      I’m not sure he has made that clear. I think he’s saying that the UBI has to be low enough to incentivise people to work.

                      I think there is some conflation here between UBI and welfare. This is why I favour a hybrid model. We need to look at what both are for and then what NZ needs and then design from that. The top down approach is proving problematic.

                  • mikesh

                    Morgan made it clear in TBK that the unemployed would have enough to live on. If they were not getting phone bill paid for them it would be because the UBI would be sufficient to cover such payments. The whole point of a UBI is that one receives it regardless of circumstances, and that it is adequate. There is nothing neoliberal about a UBI in itself, although it obviously has to be enough to support its recipient, or be subject to a top-up where this is necessary.

                    It looks as though top-ups will usually be necessary but, if that´s the case, I´m pretty sure they will be included.

      • mikesh 5.1.2

        Morgan made it clear in TBK that the unemployed would have enough to live on. If they were not getting phone bill paid for them it would be because the UBI would be sufficient to cover such payments. The whole point of a UBI is that one receives it regardless of circumstances, and that it is adequate. There is nothing neoliberal about a UBI in itself, although it obviously has to be enough to support its recipient, or be subject to a top-up where this is necessary.

        It looks as though top-ups will usually be necessary but, if that´s the case, I´m pretty sure they will be included.

        • weka 5.1.2.1

          “Morgan made it clear in TBK that the unemployed would have enough to live on. If they were not getting phone bill paid for them it would be because the UBI would be sufficient to cover such payments.The whole point of a UBI is that one receives it regardless of circumstances, and that it is adequate.”

          Are you sure about that? Because the rate is $211/wk, how would someone live on that? The only way it works is if someone gets waged work as well. That was the point from Morgan’s perspective.

          https://garethsworld.com/kahuna/are-you-a-client-of-work-and-income/

          “There is nothing neoliberal about a UBI in itself, although it obviously has to be enough to support its recipient, or be subject to a top-up where this is necessary.”

          I agree, but there is also nothing to prevent neoliberals from co-opting it if it’s poorly designed. It’s an entirely valid concern for the left that a low UBI that replaces welfare could be used against poor people. The dismantling of the welfare state must be approached with the utmost caution.

          “It looks as though top-ups will usually be necessary but, if that´s the case, I´m pretty sure they will be included.”

          I’ve seen lefties argue they’re not necessary. Just saying.

          Again, not against a UBI, but think we need to approach this carefully.

      • mikesh 5.1.3

        [I don’t have the book, so used the website, and it’s very clear there that his UBI would be set at a sub-liveable rate intentionally (to encourage people to work) and people would be expected to make do themselves e.g. women on the DPB should get better homemaking skills and grow veggies in their garden kind of thing.]

        I have read the book – it´s available in the Wellington Public Library if that´s any use to you. The impression I got was that Morgan wants to separate income from work so that someone who wanted to spend their time, or part of their time, other than in paid employment would be able to do so. It would also leave him free from having to work in a job he didn´t like just to survive. Although he sees a UBI as contributing to welfare, that would not be its only purpose.

        • weka 5.1.3.1

          Yes, I understand that, both what a UBI is generally, and what Morgan intended as positives about it. The problem is, TOP have a policy that says this group of people here (people too ill to work, getting on for 100,000 of them), aren’t allowed that extra support that would enable them to spend their spare time doing things they enjoy, or having being free from having to do things just to survive, TOP’s policy says they can carry on with what they’ve got now. For many, that’s a life of poverty.

          No-one in this thread who is critiquing the post has been able to address that central point. Why should those people be excluded?

          (btw, as far as I can tell, but TOP wouldn’t confirm this, a 22 yr old who can’t work from an accident and is on ACC income payments would get the extra $10,000, but a 22 yr old who can’t work from illness and is on SLP wouldn’t get the extra $10,000. Why is that?).

          • mikesh 5.1.3.1.1

            [No-one in this thread who is critiquing the post has been able to address that central point. Why should those people be excluded?]

            This problem has been addressed many times in the comments above, though someone who doesn´t understand the meaning of the word ¨top-up¨ might not think so.

            • weka 5.1.3.1.1.1

              Why don’t you explain what you think it means? Because I certainly know what it means in terms of the welfare state currently. If you think it has additional meaning for TOP, I’m all ears.

              edit, you get that current topups are capped and aren’t usually enough to lift people out of poverty right?

              • mikesh

                You seem to be getting bogged down with how the CURRENT system is structured, and failing to understand that the future has still to be written.

                • weka

                  Not at all. I’m inspired by the forward looking GP welfare policy for instance, and I’ve been involved in quite a few UBI debates.

                  But I see that you have sidestepped the issues including the one you raised about topups (and I’ll take from that that TOP have no plan for changing the topup system, which is pretty much as I though). So I think we are done here.

                  The thing I have learned perhaps is that there are still people who have no idea about the realities of being on a benefit, so it makes sense that some of TOPs stuff looks attractive. Hell, even I think there are seem good ideas there. But I will keep speaking out against the bad ones because they have the potential to do damage to people that are already having a seriously hard time.

                  • mikesh

                    [and I’ll take from that that TOP have no plan for changing the topup system, which is pretty much as I though).]

                    You seem to take a lot of things without proof.

  6. Benjamin 6

    This article is completely untrue, see here: http://www.top.org.nz/how_does_the_youth_ubi_affect_other_benefits
    The UBI is better for those on Supported Living Payments as they get the same payments, they’re no worse off and they don’t get the same aggressive abatements as those who do now.

    • Molly 6.1

      Your link proves the point the post is making. Are you sure it is not your perspective that is not allowing you to read it without prejudice?

      Supported Living Payments at present are insufficient. So are unemployment benefits and other welfare payments. The point being made is that we need to ensure those most vulnerable are assisted before applying a universal payment, instead of continuing to underfund them and calling it a different name.

    • weka 6.2

      You look like you might be new here, so you get a second chance at this. Read the whole post, properly. Also read the Policy for commenting on the site.

      As the posts shows, the SLP rate would be the same. The abatement issue is irrelevant to the post, because I am talking about people that have no capacity to earn extra income. That’s the point of the post, TOP have designed a policy for able-bodied people and excluded a section of disabled people from that.

      The whole ‘bene are no worse off’ line is one that TOP uses, and that also is unacceptable from people that are priding themselves on being policy kings. Their policy is lazy and discriminatory, and worse, it didn’t need to be like that.

      As for the YUBI being better for those on SLP, compared to what? The clusterfuck of punishment and degradation that is National’s WINZ and welfare policies? Of course, anyone could design policy better than that. But compared to other policy on offer, I’ll take the Greens’ because they understand that disability isn’t a side issue. They also understand the societal benefit of welfare and that you don’t just start dismantling it for reasons. You fix the bits that are impacting the worst on the most vulnerable people, and then you look at what needs to be redesigned.

      So the Greens would increase benefits by 20%, remove sanctions, increase the amount earned before abatement kicks in, mend WINZ culture so it’s not based in punishment and degradation and denial of entitlements. They also have policies for increasing minimum wage, and supporting young people in a range of ways.

      Their policy isn’t perfect, but the point of the post wasn’t to compare TOP’s policies to others, it was to point to the problems with the TOP policy itself. See if you can address those.

      • Benjamin 6.2.1

        Hi both, thanks for your responses. I’ll admit I picked this article up off FB which was prefaced by the comment:

        “One of the biggest holes in TOP’s basic income policy: it’s an income *cut* for those most in need, because it replaces current benefits with a smaller amount and will leave struggling people even worse off. Don’t vote TOP!”

        As I was at work I posted in haste after scanning the article and you’re totally right I missed the point assuming that it backed up the comment that was on FB. Thanks for your responses

        • weka 6.2.1.1

          Ok, that makes sense, thanks for clarifying.

          One of the problems is that Morgan’s ideas are contradictory. He refers people asking about TOP policy back to The Big Kahuna, and that model does give lots of beneficiaries less income (i.e. a cut). In the election policies, one UBI is on top of benefits, the other replaces the first $200 of benefits. The idea is to roll out a UBI to everyone eventually, but with no clear explanation of what that would look like. IMO it’s a mess and while it’s good to have lots of people talking about a UBI, it’s not good to be centering the debate on Morgan or TOP’s models because they have significant problems. That’s one of the reasons I wrote the post.

      • mauī 6.2.2

        So the Greens would increase benefits by 20%, remove sanctions, increase the amount earned before abatement kicks in, mend WINZ culture so it’s not based in punishment and degradation and denial of entitlements. They also have policies for increasing minimum wage, and supporting young people in a range of ways.

        My interpretation is that TOP isn’t much different, they are scrapping the WINZ culture and scrapping abatement rates, degradation, job requirements, etc.

        The one major difference is that TOPs increases to beneficiary income ranges from nothing to 13% (for single job seekers) compared to the Greens 20% across the board. TOP say they’re targeting 20,000 young people who aren’t on a benefit or in work. That’s a significant proportion of people too that possibly won’t be targeted by any other political party this election. The Greens 20% increase to benefits doesn’t effect these people.

        TOP are the only party seriously proposing and discussing a UBI this election, and I’d rather it was in the discussion than rubbishing the concept because it doesn’t fit everyone right now. It’s still early days and he’s only proposing it for two groups of people, young adults and young families. I think it would be a game changer for heaps in those two groups. Obviously the concept of giving everyone the same single sum of money doesn’t work in certain circumstances, and maybe another party (Greens) can help iron out the flaws.

        • weka 6.2.2.1

          “My interpretation is that TOP isn’t much different, they are scrapping the WINZ culture and scrapping abatement rates, degradation, job requirements, etc.”

          Actually that isn’t true. They’ve ignored fixing WINZ and appear to think that if they have a UBI the WINZ problems disappear. Anyone on SLP or SB will still need to deal with WINZ and TOP have no plan for that.

          The one major difference is that TOPs increases to beneficiary income ranges from nothing to 13% (for single job seekers) compared to the Greens 20% across the board. TOP say they’re targeting 20,000 young people who aren’t on a benefit or in work. That’s a significant proportion of people too that possibly won’t be targeted by any other political party this election. The Greens 20% increase to benefits doesn’t effect these people.

          True, but the Greens’ plan to transform WINZ would mean that many of those young people were able to access their welfare entitlements and do so at a higher rate and within a system that is supportive not punitive. How many of those 20,000 would need topups? How many would not be able to work?

          I don’t have a problem with a UBI, I have a problem with the model the TOP are using, because it’s conditional and discriminatory.

          TOP are the only party seriously proposing and discussing a UBI this election, and I’d rather it was in the discussion than rubbishing the concept because it doesn’t fit everyone right now.

          Who is rubbishing the concept? You know from previous conversations on TS that I am pro-UBI. And here I have written a very serious post discussing one UBI proposal.

          It’s still early days and he’s only proposing it for two groups of people, young adults and young families. I think it would be a game changer for heaps in those two groups.

          And yet of the young people you think would be helped a lot, there is a subset who are being actively excluded and those people are arguably some of the most vulnerable people in NZ. I think it’s hugely problematic for progressives to take the stance that disabled people can wait until later. I covered that in the post.

          If you are saying you support TOP’s policy because there is no other good policy, I think you are wrong but don’t really want to quibble on that because there are plus and minuses in all progressive policies. But if you are saying you support it because it’s good policy then I will strenuously disagree, it’s got some good ideas, but as an actual policy it fails.

          Obviously the concept of giving everyone the same single sum of money doesn’t work in certain circumstances, and maybe another party (Greens) can help iron out the flaws.

          Or we can 🙂

          • RedLogix 6.2.2.1.1

            I think it’s hugely problematic for progressives to take the stance that disabled people can wait until later.

            Well Turei tried and look how that ended up. Turns out in real politic terms that it will have to wait until a bit later. I very much regret that … it impacts my family as much as anyone here … but I really don’t see why that is reason to undermine and attack what progress towards a UBI is possible.

            But if every time we discuss a UBI you’re going to cry “whadda about the disabled” without putting forward any concrete proposals of your own … well it’s hugely problematic to be arguing that everyone else can wait for a UBI until ‘maybe the Greens sort their act out on it’ later.

            • weka 6.2.2.1.1.1

              I’m not arguing that Red. I’m pro-UBI, and even if you want to misrepresent my views on that, I’ll stand by my long commenting history on TS on this subject, including support for your work on this when you’ve written posts about it.

              But if every time we discuss a UBI you’re going to cry “whadda about the disabled”

              The only reason I am doing that is because so many of the discussions are inadequate or actively discriminatory when it comes to disabled people. That is unnecessary.

              Look at it the other way round. If I hadn’t had to push back so much against disability ignorance in lots of those early TS convos about UBI, we’d be much further along the path of developing models that are humane and compassionate. I’d also probably have published posts of my own.

              But as I said in the post, this issue of topups, and of disability, isn’t going to go away, best we get on with addressing it. As far as I can tell your position today is still put them aside and deal with them later.

              At some point I will write about ways to untangle this dilemma for a NZ UBI, but in the meantime it would be helpful if lefties got on board with the issues raised and actually addressed them in meaningful ways. A series of ad homs, and sidestepping the issues just keeps us in the same holding pattern.

  7. Nic the NZer 7

    This is a well written discussion.

    It highlights a particular issue with almost any UBI implementation. There will likely be an income differential created between present beneficiaries, and low wage workers. The introduced differential is likely to create relative income differential between these groups and the likely resolution of this will be to leave the UBI dependent people here in relative poverty. This will probably effect these peoples standing and ability to participate in society even if it leaves the beneficiaries at the same nominal income level.

    On the other hand almost all of the actual efficiency gains to be made by the UBI could be made by simply removing the more pernicious benefit restrictions on present day benefits and increasing the benefit rates by a bit at the same time. Benefits are by themselves really not that difficult to administer, all the work tests and other stuff is the far more complex, unfair and bureaucratic part of the present day arrangements.

  8. RedLogix 8

    The article makes the basic mistake of considering the UBI in isolation from all the other tax and policy reforms TOP has proposed at the same time, reforms that would see the top 20% pay more via an asset tax and the bottom 80% better off through a combination of a UBI and lower PAYE.

    For the vast majority of people it would make a huge positive impact to their lives; but all this is to be ideologically tossed aside because weka wants her Disability Allowance increased. Great.

    If weka wants to campaign on increasing incomes for the disabled and unemployed then she should specifically make that case; as Meretira Turei did. That argument has my 100% support. But to use it to undermine the case for a major reform that would have multiple, massive benefits across the broad sweep of society seems both narrow and perverse.

    The entire UBI concept is flexible and can be adapted to work pretty much however you want. You can have a UBI and increased Disability incomes at the same time if you want. TOP will never form a government on their own; they specifically disavow that aim … anything that does get implemented will be the outcome of negotiation with other parties. In an ideal world I’d hope that would be a Labour/Green/TOP coalition. But such political cooperation seems beyond the Greens and their zealot supporters these days.

    TOP has put up a version of the UBI they think is politically workable across the political spectrum, even if it doesn’t tick everyone’s wish list. But at least they have front footed the concept and got it onto the agenda. Unlike Turei who got absolutely hammered and effectively set back the political chances of improving beneficiaries incomes by at least an electoral cycle or three.

    • weka 8.1

      The article makes the basic mistake of considering the UBI in isolation from all the other tax and policy reforms TOP has proposed at the same time, reforms that would see the top 20% pay more via an asset tax and the bottom 80% better off through a combination of a UBI and lower PAYE.

      No it doesn’t. It specifically looks at discrimination against disabled people who can’t work. That exists in the current system, and it’s unnecessary to continue that in any new proposals. Yes, TOP have some innovative ideas that would help lots of people, I just don’t know why they need to throw disabled people under the bus while they do it. If you read the post carefully you will see that that is what it is about. So sure, support those other things if that’s what you think is best, but be honest about what that means for this section of the population.


      For the vast majority of people it would make a huge positive impact to their lives; but all this is to be ideologically tossed aside because weka wants her Disability Allowance increased. Great.

      Seeing as how you know virtually nothing about my personal situation, I’ll take that as you needing to throw in something personal to undermine my argument because you can’t actually address the issues raised in the post. There is a limit to what I will tolerate on that, both for my own sake, but also for other people reading here and who might want to write here about welfare. It’s not ok to have a go at authors personally. You know this.


      If weka wants to campaign on increasing incomes for the disabled and unemployed then she should specifically make that case;

      Which I already do as well. Can walk and chew gum at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with critiquing TOP’s policy, unless one believes it should be accepted as is without critique. Hell, I even critiqued the Green Party’s welfare policy. No-one gets a free pass on this stuff.

      But to use it to undermine the case for a major reform that would have multiple, massive benefits across the broad sweep of society seems both narrow and perverse.

      You obviously missed the core point of the post. The rhetoric that we can help all these people over here so it’s ok to harm those people over there is not new to disabled people. Or beneficiaries. I’m just pointing out this particular version of it. I’m not undermining the case for reform, I’m saying some reform is harmful and we can do better. I even made the philosophical case for how to do reform better.

      The entire UBI concept is flexible and can be adapted to work pretty much however you want. You can have a UBI and increased Disability incomes at the same time if you want.

      I completely agree. Which is why I wrote the post, it’s unnecessary for TOP’s model to be the way it is.

      TOP will never form a government on their own; they specifically disavow that aim … anything that does get implemented will be the outcome of negotiation with other parties.

      It’s still badly designed policy. Part of the democratic process is people being able to critique what politicians are doing. It’s a good thing to run this policy under the microscope because if TOP get any parliamentary power, these issues will need a good airing. Also, TOP could form govt with National, and then we’d get a truly fucked up version of a UBI.

      But such political cooperation seems beyond the Greens and their zealot supporters these days.

      The Greens can work with pretty much anyone on policy and have demonstrated that for 20 years. I’ll just note that it’s your comment that has the somewhat nasty, undermining personal stuff in it.

      TOP has put up a version of the UBI they think is politically workable across the political spectrum, even if it doesn’t tick everyone’s wish list.

      Reducing the needs of poor disabled people to being ticks on a wish list is part of the problem. You’ve not addressed this aspect of the post as far as I can tell. So I will assume that you are ok with disabled people being put aside to be dealt with later. I’m not ok with this and will continue to speak against it.

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        Seeing as how you know virtually nothing about my personal situation,

        Seeing as how you always reduce any discussion on a UBI to this particular disability aspect … well it’s hard not to wonder why.

        There are so many positive aspects to the whole concept; so many different ways to construct it and think about a UBI and tax reform in general, that to have it constantly derailed down this narrow path is frustrating to say the least.

        It’s quite simple really; if you want Disability and benefit incomes to increase then you need to win that case politically. It’s something I 100% support. But there is nothing mutually exclusive about that and a UBI … it’s perfectly possible to have both at the same time IF the wider public will vote for it.

        In the days when pensions where means tested and very much considered by the wider public as a favour only to be bestowed on the worthy and morally pure … the elderly went through all the same punitive humiliations that beneficiaries do now. Indeed in those times it was not uncommon for some elderly to decline claiming what they were entitled to … just to avoid the despised process itself.

        Only when pensions became a universal right did they suceed not only in eliminating poverty among the elderly … but crucially it also eliminated the stigma associated with them. After that the idea of Universal Super set at a liveable level was politically achievable.

        All I’m arguing is that once we can establish the idea of a Basic Income as a fundamental and universal human right … then pulling it up to a liveable level, even if that does mean some modest targeting of specific groups such as the disabled, feels much more achievable. In that respect I view TOP’s policies as a starting point … not a fixed end game.

        • weka 8.1.1.1

          But you don’t support it 100% Red. Because I just wrote a post about it and here you are doing ad homs and sidestepping the issues. If you supported it you’d be acknowledging the problems and then we’d be talking about how to solve them. At the moment you are basically saying shut up about the disability stuff because a UBI is Good.

          There are so many positive aspects to the whole concept; so many different ways to construct it and think about a UBI and tax reform in general, that to have it constantly derailed down this narrow path is frustrating to say the least.

          As I’ve said, when lefties start getting on board with the issues of topups and disability in ways that are good for beneficiaries and disabled people (there are other issues too), then the debate will move on. I’ve explained well enough why I think it’s a mistake to leave those things until later to sort out. It’s bad design process, and it’s discriminatory. Also unnecessary. Morgan is anti-welfare and has huge influence in NZ. His ideas need to be critiqued before we get too far down a particular path.

          If you are saying that it’s possible to have a UBI that’s fair, then I would agree. But you appear to be saying that we should start with an unfair model. I don’t support that, and I’ve said why. Feel free to address those points because they’re not going to go away.

          • RedLogix 8.1.1.1.1

            I want a UBI that is achievable in my lifetime … not something perfect which may happen sometime, maybe.

            Within the constraints of conventional fiscal policy an achievable UBI would be in the range of $10 – 15k pa. A liveable benefit for one person is probably in the range $15 – 20k. That’s not such a huge gap really and there are any number of ways to transition through it. You know way more about this than me, and I’m totally happy to hear your ideas on how to make it work.

            Once the concept is established in the public mind (and most people are quite change resistant so you have to take them in measured steps) then it’s much easier to broaden the concept. For instance:

            http://www.top.org.nz/modern_monetary_theory_will_it_work

            • weka 8.1.1.1.1.1

              “A liveable benefit for one person is probably in the range $15 – 20k. That’s not such a huge gap really and there are any number of ways to transition through it. You know way more about this than me, and I’m totally happy to hear your ideas on how to make it work.”

              The first thing I would say is that income need varies hugely. So while we can try and set a safety net UBI at a given rate (and there are plenty of arguments in favour of that), the idea of there being a liveable rate for a single person is problematic. That’s solvable IMO, but it requires us to get to grips with the fact that people’s income needs are very different.

              What I’d like to see is next year NZ has an open and wide ranging discussion on what to do about poverty and welfare and for that to include looking at UBI models. I think people need time to get to grips with how a UBI would work e.g. if your income is high you in effect don’t get the $200/wk until your income drops. That’s the first hurdle from what I can tell – lots of people who are against a UBI don’t like rich people getting it.

              I’d also like to see that conversation look at welfare and what it is good for. Because we are so far from good welfare models now that it’s tempting for people to write it off as bad, when it’s in fact core to a compassionate society.

              Once those things are being discussed openly I think we can talk about what might work for NZ. At this stage I’m in favour of a hybrid UBI/welfare model, but I’m open to changing my mind on that once we’ve looked at what is needed. I want to hear from people on the ground what solutions would work for them. I have a pretty good handle on my area of expertise (SLP/SB and chronic illness), but I want to hear from a range of people about what the issues are. That means the academics and power holders are going to have to step back a bit and listen, and also prioritise some resources to make sure people’s voices are heard and understood. That’s disability, Māori and Pasifica, women on the DBP etc.

              I do have some ideas about the specific topups issues (I think fixing WINZ culture would mean that that system could be redesigned so it’s more fair and effective). But I don’t want to start talking about that kind of detail until the values and priorities stuff is much more visible.

              (mostly I’m just focussed on the election atm. I see lots of potential for TS to spearhead these discussions next year though. And despite your put downs of Turei and the Greens, they are part of a broad movement that is gaining momentum that is addressing the politics of poverty in ways I’ve not seen in my lifetime. If we get a change of govt on the weekend I expect there to be a lot of proactive activism on welfare and poverty over the next few years, including the kinds of creative problem solving both of us want).

              • RedLogix

                I can go with almost all of that.

                While I can accept that people do have different income needs, exactly where do you stop? Do you finish up micro-assessing every individual and justifying a specific payment for every individual? That feels like a tough ask on both sides of the table if you ask me.

                Most people are reasonably happy if they think the system is not only fair to them, but transparent and equitable across similar instances.

                The other key element you keep leaving out is that not all people are fully disabled and unable to work at all. Many indeed do find some paid or supported work for say 5 – 10 hours per week. Targeted welfare invariably whacks them with rebated benefit the moment they go over a threshold, while a UBI in it’s simplest form does not. Or if they have a partner a UBI does not hit them with low partner qualifying income threshold. A flexible UBI brings these are very real positives for many people in real life circumstances … without the state micromanaging every inch along the way.

                Most people I’ve ever met on a benefit would love nothing more than to be off it. A hybrid UBI as we’re discussing creates more open pathways for that to happen.

                • weka

                  While I can accept that people do have different income needs, exactly where do you stop? Do you finish up micro-assessing every individual and justifying a specific payment for every individual? That feels like a tough ask on both sides of the table if you ask me.

                  Most people are reasonably happy if they think the system is not only fair to them, but transparent and equitable across similar instances.

                  I agree. We need something fair, but it has to be something the country generally gets and is on board with. The state already uses various assessment models, but most of them happen under the duress of a punitive system or budget caps that create a falsity between needs assessment and reality. So the first thing I would do there is change the culture at WINZ. Leave the existing assessment system in place and start operating it with compassion. Because then we will see where the efficiencies are and where it’s not working. At the moment that is almost wholly clouded by the punish and degrade ethos.

                  btw, WINZ already assess each beneficiary individually. That’s exactly how welfare is supposed to work, you take into account individual circumstances. It doesn’t work very well currently because WINZ don’t tell people what they’re entitled to and often actively block them from getting it. That’s straight out of Wellington.

                  I’m not leaving out people who can work part time, I just wanted to write a post about those who can’t work, for whatever reason, because TOP’s policy is based around people who can work and that design will cause problems for those that can’t.

                  Yes, abatement rates are a huge problem. As is how couples get treated. All those things are solvable and I’m in favour of solving them.

                  “without the state micromanaging every inch along the way.”

                  I think it’s really important to remember that what we see currently is a massive bastardisation of welfare. Bennet in particular created a monster in terms of controlling and micromanaging citizens. I think there are all sorts of reasons why National (and Labour) have done that, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

                  “Most people I’ve ever met on a benefit would love nothing more than to to off it.”

                  me too, but most of them it’s because of how degrading WINZ is to deal with. Most people I know appreciate the support when they need it and then move on when they don’t. Long term beneficiaries are not so lucky but their lives aren’t a misery because of welfare, they’re a misery because we have pro-fascists running welfare into the ground and using it as a weapon in class war.

  9. Antoine 9

    Im not seeing a huge lot of point in discussing the policies of the soon to be defunct TOP party, but suppose it cant do any harm

    • weka 9.1

      2% wasted vote 😉

      There’s going to be a lot of discussion about UBI over the next year. The issue of topups, and what happens to the non-working poor is central to that, and the left in NZ hasn’t been that great on discussing this so far. It is changing though, people are starting to get that a UBI needs to go hand in hand with welfare. But there is still a lot of belief and framing that would harm vulnerable people. Best to get ahead of that.

  10. Eco maori 10

    Yes I made a ass of me assumption Weka
    I all ways new you are a bright star
    I will be voting GREEN I think Gareth has good intention but he can not see our WORLD outside his glass bubble THANKS

    • Eco maori 10.1

      I was close to making a big push for tops so I gave him a test he failed the test.

    • weka 10.2

      I also think he has good intentions, but in the end it’s all about what he wants. I’m pushing for an egalitarian approach to policy development.

      Interestingly, I could make similar critiques of other TOP policy e.g. their cannabis policy would put supply in the hands of industry, in part because they want to control pricing upwards as a way of deterring personal use. There are still some good things about their policy, but they’re not a friend of the poor. More like a patronising uncle who thinks he knows best.

      • RedLogix 10.2.1

        That’s an unreasonable criticism really. All political parties are about what someone wants or thinks is a good idea.

        Every party has a mechanism to create policy. National uses focus groups and checks flying about, Labour has an antiquarian system of branches, remits and non-smokey back rooms and the Greens pride themselves of rounds and rounds of navel gazing and consultation. I’ve no idea which backward hillbilly province or dark century NZ1 gets it’s policy from. Yet none of them seem all that radical these days, none of them are really challenging business as usual in any fundamental way.

        Yes TOP is probably pretty much the outcome of Morgan ideas and a handful of close allies like Simmons’. Morgan has spent a lifetime working in public policy so it’s only natural the party he founded is going to frame it’s ideas using those tools. But at least via books like the Big Kahuna and the Morgan Foundation it’s been a reasonably transparent and well explained process. You aren’t going to die wondering the broad outlines of what they’re proposing and why.

        • weka 10.2.1.1

          Yes, the broad outlines are their good ideas. It’s when you start digging down into the detail that the problems become more apparent.

          My criticism above isn’t that Morgan has good ideas or that he wants to develop policy. It’s that his policy has problems with it and that he is really bad at engaging with the critiques. This isn’t just my view, there are a lot of people that have basically given up trying to have reasonable conversations with him about policy, including trying to get detail (I tried twice the other day to get a definitive answer on where ACC income payments fit into the YUBI and Morgan preferred to stick with the ad hom/abuse conversation instead. It was a very simple question, he didn’t answer it. That’s typical).

  11. mikesh 11

    [Morgan’s campaigning in the past week has made it very clear that he is extremely antagonistic to progressive ideas from the Left],

    In what way? The main thrust of his economic policy is to tax the ¨risk free rate of return¨ which would not only hit land bankers, speculators, etc, but would also rectify the glaring injustice caused by the non taxation of imputed rent as it applies to home owners. All that the left seems able to come up with is its ridiculous capital gains tax which banking and financial interests are trying to fob us off with*, and which will do nothing to stabilise house prices or divert resources to more productive outlets; and which is also unfair (as the left intend applying it) since it hits landlords while leaving homeowners untouched.

    [so this disabled social justice warrior is just closing the loop here. Morgan’s hatred of the Left goes hand in hand with the big stomping holes in his policies for people who he clearly has no understanding of nor willingness to include in his grand plan.]

    This of course is just poppycock.

    *A CGT would not impact on interest rates, unlike taxes such as land tax or RFRR tax, which would leave property owners with less disposable income to pay interest out of.

    • weka 11.1

      Re GM’s position on lefties. The following would be some of the milder expressions from GM. It’s been a thing on twitter in the past month and escalating. He’s made he pretty clear he is anti-left. I can’t link properly because since this convo he’s blocked me (don’t know why). For the same reason I also can’t easily search for examples I saw but wasn’t involved in. e.g. I can’t find the ones where he disparaged social justice warriors (although tbf it might have been his comms man).

      GP been irrelevant since it formed. Reason? it bundles conservationism with Far Left class struggle. No thx-TOP’ll take centre of politics

      That’s pure tribal politics. I must tell everyone who is centre right how Green Party enviro is wrapped in deeply entrenched Far left cringe

      Crap. Provide an eg. The Greens are Far Left class warriors with an enviro coating. Wouldn’t know a market mechanism if they fell into one

      Crap. TV1 & TV3 polls are of old people with landlines. 70% of our target don’t have landlines. GP enviro fine, its Far Left crap awful

      No room here for Lefties or Righties – it’s about what works. That is the issue with Estab politics – one has to be L or R. It’s just crap

      weka‏ @wekatweets Sep 17

      The big shame here is that had Morgan been able to play well with others, we could have seen some truly good policy development…

      instead, it’s all about TOP being Right and anyone that disagrees w them is a troll or stupid….

      Gareth Morgan‏ @garethmorgannz Sep 17

      Pretty much. That is the advantage of best practice, evidence-based policy. Not hampered by ideological Achilles Heel that Green P has.

      Here’s the convos I can find that I was in that GM was in too,

      https://twitter.com/search?l=&q=from%3Awekatweets%20to%3Agarethmorgannz&src=typd&lang=en

      • mikesh 11.1.1

        [No room here for Lefties or Righties – it’s about what works. That is the issue with Estab politics – one has to be L or R. It’s just crap]

        Of all the quotes above, I believe this is the one that encapsulates his actual position. I think he criticises the Green Party because he can see that without their left wing trim they could support either National or Labour, whichever happened to be in power, and perhaps better advance environmental and global warming issues. I doubt whether he has much time for either of the major parties, and he has said that he doesn´t want to be in politics, claiming his time could be better spent elsewhere.

        I agree he is someone who is unwilling to ¨suffer fools gladly¨, but his policies need to be be examined objectively, without that in mind.

        • RedLogix 11.1.1.1

          Agreed … Morgan has no interest in being a career politician. And made a point of rejecting potential TOP electorate candidates whose interests too obviously lay in that direction.

          Combine his consistently brusque personality with a media who will only pay him attention when he’s being OTT … then quite what does anyone expect? I’m not voting for him as Prime Minister, I want a change agent, and being sweetly agreeable is not always the most effective mode to achieve that.

        • weka 11.1.1.2

          Of all the quotes above, I believe this is the one that encapsulates his actual position. I think he criticises the Green Party because he can see that without their left wing trim they could support either National or Labour, whichever happened to be in power, and perhaps better advance environmental and global warming issues.

          Sure that’s what he believes, but he’s wrong. You can look at the GP charter and see that social justice is built in right from the start. It’s not left wing trim, in green politics (not just NZ GP) you can’t work with the environment alone. Because people are part of the environment, and because the same ideology that causes poverty causes environmental degradation. When you value people ahead of the environment, or the environment ahead of people you create more problems.

          The Greens could never support National into govt because National’s policy is so neoliberal and destructive. There is no shared policy that the Greens and National have that would advance CC, that’s the whole point. This is nothing new, so either Morgan is ignorant of what the GP is, or he’s being disingenuous.

          The not suffering fools gladly thing doesn’t bother me, it’s the abuse that’s the problem, as well as the positioning. We saw this for years with Peters. He actively worked against the Greens having influence in govt, and his rhetoric was similar. It’s centrist power-grabbing.

          • mikesh 11.1.1.2.1

            [The Greens could never support National into govt because National’s policy is so neoliberal and destructive. There is no shared policy that the Greens and National have that would advance CC, that’s the whole point. This is nothing new, so either Morgan is ignorant of what the GP is, or he’s being disingenuous.]

            This is probably true. However, Morgan probably sees the Green Party as hogging the the environmental/global warming/etc space, and preventing a politically neutral ¨pure¨ Green Party from emerging. It is very to see that as a disadvantage where Green politics are concerned. The ¨green on the outside, pink on inside¨ jibe is understandable.

            I hasten to add that, despite what I have said in the above paragraph, I fully support ¨pink¨ policies.

            • weka 11.1.1.2.1.1

              I’m not sure what people mean by a pure Green party, because in green politics terms you can’t separate people from the environment. I think what Morgan means is he wants a green party that will be subservient to the bigger parties and play them off against each other for minor gains. Because I can’t see any party working with National and getting anything other than a few sops thrown their way. Look at the MP environmental stuff, it’s pretty good, what gains have they made?

              I’m curious if you support the red/green why you would support TOP given they’re opposed to the red.

              • mikesh

                [Yes, and as I’ve said it actively excludes a group of people who are in serious need of support. Why is that? I think it’s because Morgan is starting with a concept of a UBI rather than working from a starting point of the welfare of the people.]

                That´s an assumption on your part and, in my opinion, unwarranted.

              • mikesh

                [I’m not sure what people mean by a pure Green party, because in green politics terms you can’t separate people from the environment. I think what Morgan means is he wants a green party that will be subservient to the bigger parties and play them off against each other for minor gains. Because I can’t see any party working with National and getting anything other than a few sops thrown their way. Look at the MP environmental stuff, it’s pretty good, what gains have they made?]

                This is just hogwash. I cannot see Morgan being subservient to any party. And, as for the Greens never getting anything from National, when were they ever in government with National? Don´t answer that – it´s a rhetorical question.

                [I’m curious if you support the red/green why you would support TOP given they’re opposed to the red.]

                TOP has good ¨green¨policies, good Maori (treaty) policies, and of course his tax policies are streets ahead of those of any other party. His welfare policies are tied in with his UBI ideas. These are still being formulated but there is no reason to suppose that they will be un-red.

                • weka

                  I wasn’t talking about Morgan being subservient, I was talking about the idea of a Green centrist party that had no social justice platform. It would be in a similar position as the Mp or UF where it got a few minor policy gains for not a lot of power but would be bound by coalition agreement to not opposed National’s horrendous platform. .

                  The Greens don’t need to be in a National govt to know there is nothing there for them. They just look at the values and the policies. They have said that were Nationals policies to change they would work with them. Nobody thinks that’s going to happen though (National changing).

                  If you think that TOP can be left wing and work with National, I guess that’s up to you, but given that Morgan is actively eschewing the left and is positioning himself in the center it’s hard to see how TOP would be anything other than centrist.

                  • RedLogix

                    but given that Morgan is actively eschewing the left and is positioning himself in the center it’s hard to see how TOP would be anything other than centrist.

                    Why is it necessary to pin a tribal label on TOP? Morgan didn’t go down this path just to lead another bunch of ‘play it safe’ careerist pollies. Right from the start they said the big parties, Labour and National, had the experience and clout to run government and TOP had no intention of muscling in on that space. They would work in good faith with ANY party if and when the opportunity arose.

                    All that matters is what you make of their ideas and policies; trying to pin them onto a narrow spot on the political spectrum doesn’t help with that really.

                    • weka

                      Best take that up with Morgan, who said (quoted above, my emphasis),

                      “GP been irrelevant since it formed. Reason? it bundles conservationism with Far Left class struggle. No thx-TOP’ll take centre of politics

                      I think it’s good he is honest about that, because positioning is part of politics. The Greens have long had their own struggle with the L/R spectrum thing and many Greens see the party as not being L or R. Lprent describes them as orthogonal to the L/R axis. So I understand the attraction of that. But parliamentary politics are very much based in the L/R axis and it will take time to get past that.

                      The big problem for people that want that to happen is that RW policies have done some serious damage. This is why the Greens can’t work support them to be govt. If TOP does get into parliament and supports National on C and S, I think there will be a lot more damage and the left will never forgive them. The Mp got away with for other reasons, but only just.

                      The other problem is that TOP aren’t transcending the L/R stuff, they positioning themselves in the middle of it. Fine if that’s what they want to do, but they can expect to be criticised in the same way that UF and NZF are. There are very real problems with that positioning.

                    • weka

                      btw, I recommend following Morgan and Simmons and some of the other TOP people on twitter. Sean Plunket too, as their comms person. It’s a real eye opener to see the abuse, the culture, the values, the way things get argued, who and how people get blocked, Plunket being a creep harassing people, on and on. Mostly SP and GM although GS sometimes does the same ‘you just haven’t read the policy’ stuff (when people obviously have). Then you come across some of the other TOP people, and they’re great, as you would expect. Stark difference.

    • weka 11.2

      “All that the left seems able to come up with is its ridiculous capital gains tax which banking and financial interests are trying to fob us off with*, and which will do nothing to stabilise house prices or divert resources to more productive outlets; and which is also unfair (as the left intend applying it) since it hits landlords while leaving homeowners untouched.”

      That tells me you’re not reading actual policy. There’s a post up today with The GP manifesto and fiscal plan. It’s broadly LW and IMO outshines TOP policy in a number o ways. One is that it’s moving away from neoliberalism, whereas TOP are comfortable with neoliberalism if they can make it more fair. The other is that the GP has had it’s policies costed and independently assessed, and there is detail.

      TOP policies are often hard to understand (UBI a case in point), and often there simply isn’t that much detail on how they would work. Hence I wrote an indepth post about the YUBI and I’m still not clear what would happen to young people on ACC.

  12. mikesh 12

    [That tells me you’re not reading actual policy. There’s a post up today with The GP manifesto and fiscal plan.]

    I concentrated on the Greens´ CGT mainly because it contrasted with Morgan´s policy of taxing imputed rent. I´m sure the Greens have a very fine fiscal policy, apart fro the CGT which I feel sure is included in their fiscal plan.

    • RedLogix 12.1

      I’ve always been a bit leery of CGT’s. I reluctantly accept we will probably get one, but they never seem to deliver on what they promise. And because they tax on lump sum realised gain at the point of sale, it’s inevitable they have to exclude the family home.

      The more I read about Morgan’s CCT the more impressed I am. It’s a powerful, subtle idea that could quite likely deliver on the economic re-balancing objectives claimed for it. But sadly I really think the wider public, most of whom are change resistant, is way short of understanding this.

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