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The media treatment of Labour’s UBI discussion paper

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, March 24th, 2016 - 142 comments
Categories: David Farrar, dpf, john key, making shit up, national, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , , , ,

 

Recent treatment of Labour’s raising the possibility of a Universal Basic Income neatly shows the problem that the progressive movement in New Zealand has with the media.  It also shows how captured the media is and how manipulated it is by the right.

As part of Labour’s future of work project the possibility of a UBI has been floated.  The rationale is that with the increasing disappearance of long term traditional jobs individuals are going to have to reskill and retrain more often and periods of unemployment are going to become more and more common.  A universal basic income could ease the adjustment and allow the retraining to occur without disruption.  And if technology is going to automate many existing jobs then we better have a good way to spread the benefits around, otherwise the problems already being caused by inequality are only going to get worse.

So Labour has raised a UBI as something for consideration.  It is likely that in some form it will be part of a future policy proposal but clearly a lot more work has to be done particularly on its level and how it is going to be funded.

A discussion paper has been prepared.  From the paper:

Almost all individuals discussing a UBI raise the question of whether a UBI will be sufficient to maintain a reasonable standard of living for recipients. Most costed proposals for a UBI suggest that it is feasible and affordable to provide an annual UBI of around $10,000 (Gareth Morgan and Susan Guthrie’s preferred proposal seems to be a UBI of around $11,000, as discussed below at 5.2). There are legitimate doubts about whether this figure is enough for an individual to live on. After all, $11,000 is a lower income than what is currently paid out as part of New Zealand Super. If the figure is too low, then the benefits of security and freedom promised by a UBI may not be realised. On the other hand, if the figure is pushed higher, taxes will have to rise, possibly to an unrealistically high figure. (Morgan’s $11,000 UBI is funded through a flat tax of 30%.) There is, therefore, a real feasibility-sufficiency trade-off. It may be that a UBI has to be supplemented by other transfers to ensure that the most vulnerable groups have enough income.

A couple of models are mentioned.  Gareth Morgan’s Big Kahuna is referred to but the concern is that the tax system under his model is not progressive enough.  An alternative model retaining more progressive taxation is also mentioned in the discussion paper.  No figures are mentioned and clearly the paper is a preliminary analysis.

In fact when you read the paper you realise three things:

  1. It is a discussion paper raising an interesting proposal that is receiving support throughout the world.
  2. No specific funding proposal is made.
  3. It is not Labour Party policy.

Hear that media and John Key and National sock puppets?  It is not Labour Party policy, no final decisions have been made yet and the details need to be worked through.

So how have the sock puppets and the media handled this?  Well if you are into proper merit based analysis and enjoy a bit of blue sky thinking (scuse the terrible jargon) they should relish the debate.  Instead there has been the rush to attack the proposal on the basis:

  1. It is Labour policy.
  2. It is going to cost heaps and heaps.

As noted by Rob Salmond National Party pollster David Farrar was an early starter, claiming that the “policy” would cost $38 billion a year.  As explained by Rob:

Ohmigod! $38 billion! That headline sounds massively expensive. But it’s also utterly, hopelessly dishonest.

UBI policies are based on providing everyone a basic income, but reducing welfare entitlement and increasing tax rates on added income to compensate. David Farrar’s $38 billion figure is only true if you provide everyone with a basic income but you make absolutely no changes to either welfare entitlements or tax rates.

That’s like calculating National’s tax switch policy in 2010 was a “four year, $18 billion bribe,” by just excluding the GST rise from the calculations. Ludicrous. Imagine the gnashing of teeth and proclamations of economic illiteracy that would follow if I did that, including from a certain David Farrar.

But then the main stream media chipped in.

In the Herald Larry Williams called the proposal left wing lunacy.  He costed the proposal at $20 billion a year, even though he was told and was aware that under any UBI existing social welfare payments would be replaced.

Patrick Smellie in the NBR claimed that Labour had been forced to clarify that a UBI was not party policy.  Well it was, but only because two days earlier the NBR had printed Farrar’s misrepresentation of the proposal.

And then John Key got stuck in.  This is a difficult week for him with the embarrassment of being declined funding to settle the defamation claim made by Bradley Ambrose and gearing up for the further ignominy of losing the flag referendum so I am sure he enjoyed it.  From the Herald:

Mr Key today attacked the idea as “utterly unaffordable” and “barking mad”.

“It is utterly unaffordable and would actually leave a whole lot of people worse off. So there are 3.5 million New Zealanders aged over the age of 18, under Labour’s plan it would cost $38 billion,” Mr Key told reporters.

“Last year I think we collected about $29 billion in taxes anyway, so you would literally have to ramp up taxes enormously … what you would be doing is paying huge amounts of money to those who actually don’t need it, and give less money to the people who really do. I just think as a system it is barking mad.”

Mr Key’s grasp of the country’s finances are of concern.  Last financial year the Government collected $66.6 billion in tax, over twice what Key thought.

His grasp of the proposal is also of concern.  Repeat after me, it is a proposal for discussion only, it is not Labour Party policy and no final decision has been made.


Update. I hope MS won’t mind if I (r0b) add a couple of links to this excellent post. In terms of media / expert reaction see:
Universal basic income ‘is worth considering’ – economist
The case for a universal basic income (warning autoplay Paul Henry video)
A Universal Basic Income in New Zealand?
Universal Basic Income – how it could work in NZ
Universal Basic Income and Income Tax Reform
The case for universal basic income in New Zealand & worldwide
New Zealanders want to give everyone a ‘citizen’s wage’ and scrap benefits

As to Key’s predictably hysterical reaction, I think Iain Lees-Galloway has that covered:

142 comments on “The media treatment of Labour’s UBI discussion paper”

  1. Whateva next? 1

    The Tories were raging on in the UK about “a list” of supporters and non- supporters, funny that one of their own ministers resigned which was broadcast around the world, so trying to distract?

  2. miravox 2

    Probably wise to avoid trying to justify the UBI and constantly counter MSM framing with a simple “so do you think the sustainability of the current model of pay is going to continue for the forseeable future?” and work it from there until it is obviously a case of this is a discussion worth having.

    Baby steps.

    • weka 2.1

      I wonder how much of the media response (apart from the NACT shills) is that it takes time to get one’s head around what a UBI is. We’ve had quite a few conversations here on ts about it in the past week or so and it looks like we are still trying to hash out what a UBI is and how to explain it to people, and we’ve been having UBI convos for years. For those in the media who’ve never seriously looked at it, it’s not going to be immediately apparent what it is (and Labour’s typical approach to this hasn’t helped either).

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        Yeah, so maybe if Labour are going to put out a discussion paper on a UBI, they should also accompany it with a 1 minute animated video they can show to the media, explaining what a UBI is.

        Seems like there’s 3 basic parts to it:
        1. People on benefits have high abatement rates, discouraging them from working and encouraging a dependency on the government
        2. A lot of money is spent on bureaucracy to manage the existing welfare scheme
        3. Simplify the scheme to save money on the bureaucracy, which can then go into paying the UBI, and solve the abatement rate problem by having a flat tax

        I think you can convey all that in 1 minute with some clever animation.

        • weka 2.1.1.1

          Yep.

          4. it’s about guaranteeing income in a precariate world.

          5. it values unpaid work.

          (although I don’t think abatement rates encourage dependency on govt, most people I know don’t want to be on a benefit).

          • Gosman 2.1.1.1.1

            How does it value unpaid work when everyone receives it regardless of what they do?

            • Lanthanide 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Compared to the current situation, where unpaid work is not valued by the government at all. Duh.

              • International Rescue

                Why should the Govt put a value on unpaid work? Who suggested this was the states responsibility?

                • Lanthanide

                  I’m not suggesting that the government should.

                  Just that that is one of the impacts of the UBI, since Gosman didn’t seem to understand.

              • dave

                where is the john key plan and that brighter future mr pony tail to busy fondling while Rome burns ??????

            • weka 2.1.1.1.1.2

              It means that people are freer to work for no pay. If you have a financial imperative to buy food and then that is taken care of you can spend that time doing things other than paid work. Many people do this already, they’re just not recognised for it.

            • Chris 2.1.1.1.1.3

              Because people receive it no matter what they choose to do. Our benefit system doesn’t value unpaid work because benefits and other credits are paid on the basis that having paid work is something everyone must strive for.

          • Lanthanide 2.1.1.1.2

            “(although I don’t think abatement rates encourage dependency on govt, most people I know don’t want to be on a benefit).”

            Sure, they don’t want to be on a benefit. But if you manage to find a low-paid 40-hour job that only nets you an extra $60 a week over what you were previously getting on the benefit anyway, that is strongly de-motivating to even bother with the hassle. It could easily see you going backwards if some event in your life prevents you from working and you’re not eligible for the benefit due to the stand-down period etc.

            • weka 2.1.1.1.2.1

              Quite, and it’s even worse for people half on a benefit and half on part time work. The problem with using the word dependency is that it’s being use as part of an intentional meme that is trying to reframe social security as an addiction. There is a big push in the UK around this, and it’s also starting to happen here at the MSD level. Being forced to stay on a benefit because of economic conditions and stupid benefit rules isn’t a dependency. It’s what people do when there are no other options.

              • Lanthanide

                “It’s what people do when there are no other options.”

                Aka, dependent on the situation continuing.

                I know it’s a term that has negative connotations, but it is simply the correct term to describe the situation.

                • weka

                  You used the word dependency, not dependent. By all means have a semantic argument and ignore the very real world politics that are meaning that the most vulnerable people in society are getting screwed. On our watch.

                  • Lanthanide

                    Actually, you’re the one having a semantic argument, by saying that dependency is a word that we shouldn’t use.

              • Yeah, it needs to be reframed that people are staying on the benefit for perfectly rational reasons that coincide with the part policy design of our benefit system. The great thing about a UBI is that the basic income isn’t taxed, and it only abates at the level of taxation. Even with a really highly taxed UBI, that’s probably not going to be over 50% for most people, so you are always at least 50% of your paycheck better off when you head into work from being on the basic income.

    • mosa 2.2

      Labour needs to BULLET POINT and inject humour into the SOUNDBITE to back up these ideas
      And repeat it over and over again
      And get a campaign manager who is bright enough to come up with a strategy to get past this MSM/NAT bullshit ,they have had 8 years to come up with a plan that works
      Whats obvious is its NOT WORKING !
      Phrases that stick in the mind and promote the message that everyone remembers-LOUD and CLEAR
      Dont waffle Andrew this is war

  3. Jenny Kirk 3

    Good comments MS (and rOb). Just wish the media would read them. But that’s too too much to hope for.

  4. weka 4

    In the words of Guy Standing,

    “WOOF!!!”

    😀

  5. RedLogix 5

    So Key attacks the UBI as ‘barking mad and unaffordable’

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11610662

    I want to see Little take it back to him. I want to see Little stand up and say:

    “It’s been a great act Mr Key. You’ve played to this nation for many long years, but eventually your lazy, ad-libbing has caught you out. A UBI is a completely different way of looking at whole of tax and welfare that is much fairer and equitable.

    My Key you’re stuck in the past, stuck trying to measure the performance of a jet plane, in units of what comes out of the back of a horse.

    It’s lazy, it’s arrogant and takes us nowhere. On Planet Key everyday is yesterday where nothing is allowed to change except for the rich getting richer. On Planet Key a community that wants to do the work, to debate and determine their future, is sneeringly dismissed as having a ‘sit down’.

    John Key is not really a Prime Minister. He does not believe in government, for a nation to change for the better. John Key acts up on talk-back radio, and making pretend noises to distract us from the simple fact that in six years his government has been nothing more than a place-holder, while quietly enabling the money end of town to make all the real decisions which affect our lives.

    Well you’ve ad-libbed once too often Mr Key. Yes a UBI does not fit into your neat little status-quo sound-bites. It’s different, it’s something a lot of people will have challenging questions about. Bring them on. Bring some facts to the debate for once.

    But ‘barking mad’ is not a challenge, it’s a tired unoriginal comedy fail.”

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      I don’t think Little has it in him to come up with these sorts of ripostes. No-one in Labour seems to (Cunliffe might have been closest, before the media knee-capped him).

    • Anne 5.2

      If he did say all of that, the soundbite on the telly would be:

      It’s been a great act Mr Key. And that would be the end of it.

      • Lanthanide 5.2.1

        And yet Key got a couple of paragraphs in.

        • McFlock 5.2.1.1

          yep, happens all the time.

          Quick comment from an opposition MP snipped out of context, key gets an opportunity for an extended response.

          • Expat 5.2.1.1.1

            Manipulation by the media, been going on for years in NZ, and sadly, Kiwi’s have accepted it as the norm, the Murdoch driven media has a reputation for being able to change govts for the one “He” prefers, Murdoch does not subscribe to democracy, he believes that only the wealthy should have the right to vote.

    • alwyn 5.3

      ““It’s been a great act Mr Key. You’ve played to this nation for many long years, but eventually your lazy, ad-libbing has caught you out. A UBI is a completely different way of looking at whole of tax and welfare that is much fairer and equitable.”

      He can’t do it for one very simple reason.
      He would be asked what the policy is, how much it would pay people and how it would be funded. He can’t say because at the moment it is no more than a fuzzy idea in a “discussion paper”.
      Remember “Show me the money”? That is what he would be hit with.

      The UBI as being something New Zealand should consider has been grossly overhyped as being something we are going to have. Almost everyone commenting on this site in the early posts wrote as if it was an assured thing. Now it has to be hosed down.
      It would have been better covered, not by Robertson as part of the “Future of Work” conference, but by someone much further down the Parliamentary ladder.
      When your Finance spokesman, and number 3 ranking MP talks about almost anything it is assumed to be policy and to have been fully thought out.
      Let someone like Nash bring these things up.

      • Lanthanide 5.3.1

        We’ll eventually end up with a UBI. It’s only a matter of time (and how high unemployment has to get) before it’s implemented.

        • BM 5.3.1.1

          Back in 1992 we had an unemployment rate of 10.7
          Currently we have a unemployment rate of 5.8

          Unemployment would have to just about double to get to where it was in 1992 and I’d say a constant 20% unemployment would be where a UBI would come in.

          Looking at those numbers, it’s a long way off.

          http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/snapshots-of-nz/nz-progress-indicators/home/economic/unemployment-rate.aspx

          • Expat 5.3.1.1.1

            In 1992 the Labour party wasn’t in power, and the current % is simply a manipulated number the same as the crime stats, why would you change the way you collate stats unless you wanted to manipulate the outcome, your mates have a proven record.

          • Anno1701 5.3.1.1.2

            you do know they consider more than 1 hour a week as “in work” dont you ?

          • Matthew Whitehead 5.3.1.1.3

            How do you feel about an unemployment rate of 40%?

            Because that’s the direction various academics have been pointing to us going when automation in various sectors starts becoming a serious reality, with 45% of current jobs at substantial risk of automation using existing technology.

        • alwyn 5.3.1.2

          “We’ll eventually end up with a UBI”.
          Yes we almost certainly will. I don’t know when but that doesn’t matter. I can agree with that statement but I am not the Leader of the Opposition or the Labour Party Finance Spokesman.

          RedLogix wants Little to come out firing with statements like
          ” A UBI is a completely different way of looking at whole of tax and welfare that is much fairer and equitable”.

          If he was to do that he is going to be asked questions. It would go something like.
          Q. Will Labour introduce a UBI. A. I don’t know.
          Q. How much will people be paid. A. I don’t know
          Q. How much will it cost. A. I don’t know.
          Q. How much will taxes rise. A. I don’t know.
          Q. ??????????. A. I don’t know.

          Public reaction? Do you really want to think about it. Just think of Goff on stage and pinned in the spotlight during the 2011 campaign debates.
          Magisterium at 14.1.1 summed it up best. They should have prepared for this before they said anything. Personally I think a very junior MP like Nash could bring the topic up safely before it is fully thought out. Little and Robertson can’t.

          • gsays 5.3.1.2.1

            hi alwyn,
            have you watched the guy standing presentation that draco posted on open mike?

            • alwyn 5.3.1.2.1.1

              No I hadn’t seen it.
              I’ll have a look later. I don’t have nearly 40 minutes free at the moment.
              You rather confused me with your lower case. I was wondering what on earth anyone would post something about a man standing up. It was only when I found it I realised that it was a person called Guy Standing.

          • Matthew Whitehead 5.3.1.2.2

            Except the answer to 2 has already been answered- they’re floating $11k as an introductory basic income.

            Oh, and it’s relatively easy to do the maths on 3- my admittedly basic computation can guess that it would cost about $35 billion once you factor in the savings in benefit costs, which would need to be recouped in either government efficiencies or tax increases. (keep in mind as well, if you’re receiving an $11k UBI that’s tax-free, then any tax increase less than $11k is still a net tax reduction)

            4 – no more than $35 billion, lol. If Labour wants to simplify the tax code as well, I model that you can pay for their proposed level of benefit with a two-bracket tax that also applies to capital gains, with a 38% tax for income under $80k, and 50% tax for capital gains and income over $80k. That tax would leave you with an extra $232million in the budget compared to 2015, and that’s if the UBI has a very significant shift away from people working, which I don’t think is likely to happen in the numbers that I’ve modelled. The net surplus would likely be even higher, as there are natural efficiencies from scrapping JS as a benefit, and from simplifying the tax code, although there might be one-off costs that would make the first year a hit to the budget. The average taxpayer would pay $4,000 extra net of their basic income under such a system- that is to say, people earning over $60,000 annually would be worse off.

            Really the only thing they haven’t answered in one way or another already is “will they actually introduce the policy.” The answer seems to be “we’ll do some limited pilots and see what they show,” which is essentially “wait and see.”

            • Matthew Whitehead 5.3.1.2.2.1

              Oh, excuse me. I did the maths wrong- you wouldn’t be worse off under the modelling I’ve done to pay for labour’s proposed $11k benefit unless you earned over $150k annually. I went and looked for the first braket paying more than $11k in income tax under the model, instead of comparing the model’s rate of tax in each bracket to the current average tax paid for each bracket.

              So basically only 85,000 people have to worry about having their taxes increased if Labour pay for this how I imagine they would.

              • alwyn

                You can do your calculations and I can do mine.
                The problem for Little and Robertson is that they are going to be locked into anything they say. They can’t just change their mind if the public don’t like the original numbers they come up with.
                If they do that they are wide open to “How can we believe them” or “They are just making it up on the spur of the moment”.
                That is why I think a junior MP can come out with something and have it discussed. The leadership can’t unless everything is spelt out.

                I’m not sure I agree with your calculation by the way. I looked at an individual on $140k. At the moment they pay $37.12k don’t they?
                (14*0.105 + 34*0.175 + 22*0.30 + 70*0.33)
                That would leave them with about $102.88k
                Yours would be income of $140k.
                Tax is 80*0.38 + 60*0.50 = $60.4k minus $11k UBI credit = $49.4k
                They would then be left with $90.6k and be worse off by about $12k.
                Maybe my calculation is wrong but I don’t see where.
                See what I mean about Labour having to be absolutely spot on?

                • alwyn

                  Actually I had a moment and looked at a couple more incomes.
                  At $100k you would make people worse of by $5.5k (70.6 for 76.1)
                  At $60k you would make them about$0.8k worse off (48.2 to 49).
                  I think your first results may have been right.
                  Are people on $60K going to be Cullen’s “rich pricks” again? I seriously doubt you could sell that.

                  • I have never been upset after the fact in trusting labour on their estimates or numbers given when they’ve later provided their full analyses. Both Labour and the Greens do rigorous policies that are openly available with numbers and, at least in the Greens’ case, independent costings.

                    It’s the National Party that’s prone to pull figures out of… their anatomy. 😉

                    Alwyn- I was checking per bracket. You’re right that the second figure was also wrong though- not sure what I was doing there, but it came out way off. The intercept point where the current tax system would make a taxpayer better off seems to be about $61,373 under the system that *I* proposed would pay for Labour’s UBI. Labour hasn’t yet committed to how they’d pay for it as they’re still only “discussing” it.

                    I don’t think people earning more than $61k are “rich pricks”, and Cullen was a moron to even speak those words. I think that people who are doing well in our society should realise that they have a moral obligation to pay a bit more of their disposable income as tax than people who are not doing well, so that we can ensure a certain minimum living standard for everyone. A UBI actually calculates this more fairly, as the tax-free basic income is treated as your non-disposable income, and the rest of your income is treated as disposable, and then if you have a progressive tax on top of the UBI, each band is much more directly correlated with people who you think can afford more.

                    I set the threshold in my model at $80k because I think that’s well above the amount you need to earn to support a couple kids.

                    It’s just that the way a UBI+simplified tax system works is that it’s both friendlier to the people at the bottom of the tax system and unfriendlier to those at the top, so necessarily when compared to a progressive income tax like we have now, it will eventually be harsher on the people at the top in order to pay for the UBI.

                    Gareth Morgan’s system will have its own intercept where you’re worse off than under the current tax system- his is definitely above $100,000, because his assumptions include a $10,000 basic income and a 35% flat tax. If you asked me to set it up I’d start with the assumption of a $15k basic income, see what we needed to do to pay for it, and if possible work that up to a $20k one if it’s workable, so that NZ Super can be rolled in without any loss of benefit.

                    My first results were not correct- I was looking for the first tax bracket in which you paid more than $11k in tax, rather than the point at which you paid more in tax than the current system, as I don’t have my spreadsheet set up to do a side-by-side modelling of the current tax system vs a UBI system, I just plonked in the total tax take from income tax in the 2015 budget instead to compare whether it was generating enough revenue.

                    • alwyn

                      I just checked some of the numbers because a breakeven of $150k seemed to be impossible. The I did the $100k and $60k out of curiosity. Did you see anything wrong with my calculations by the way?

                      The problem with “trusting labour on their estimates or numbers” is that their opponents will jump on them if the first numbers aren’t right. Labour would never recover. It also means one can attack them on everything vis “they haven’t provided any detail. Their story is as false as was …..”. Suppose that some Labour MP had popped up and presented the numbers you did? Do you think they could have got over it?

                      “people who are doing well in our society should realise that they have a moral obligation to pay a bit more of their disposable income as tax” So do I. however there is no way that Labour could sell a policy like this if it could be pointed out that anyone earning more than $60k is going to have to pay more. I don’t see any way it could be sold. People on $70k do NOT see themselves as “doing well”. It does open up an attack of “Labour thinks every schoolteacher is a rich prick” proportions.

                      About a week ago I looked at what would be needed to pay the $400/week that people were talking about then. It worked out that you had to double the tax take.
                      At least you are really looking at what the cost is and how it could be financed. There was an idiot, who I also referenced, who had posted a comment on The Independent that would have cost ALL New Zealand’s GDP. He clearly hadn’t even thought about it.

                      I still think that Little and Robertson should have shut up until they had the details worked out. At the moment the have to flip/flop between “It is not any part of our policy” and “It is a wonderful advance that we can’t actually talk about”.

                      It is nice to be debating with someone who will calmly consider, even if they may disagree, what is said by someone on the other side of the fence.
                      Thank you.

                  • The Chairman

                    “I still think that Little and Robertson should have shut up until they had the details worked out”.

                    Here are a number of rational reasons why Labour went about it this way.

                    It provides on-going headlines for Labour. Opposition parties require the spotlight.

                    It shows the public they’re being productive and creative, willing to look at alternatives.

                    It shows the Government up, making them look complacent and lacking new ideas.

                    It gives the wider public time to understand, discuss and come to terms with the concept.

                    It gives Labour the opportunity to gauge wider public feedback.

                    It gives Labour time to ascertain concerns aired, thus better formulate policy.

                    “At the moment they have to flip/flop between “It is not any part of our policy” and “It is a wonderful advance that we can’t actually talk about”.

                    No. They are talking about it. They had a conference. Moreover, they put out a discussion paper.

                    It’s not that difficult for the public to comprehend policy is yet to be formulated.

                    • alwyn

                      Good luck.
                      I think they are coming across as being like University students sitting in the cafeteria and totally reorganising the world.
                      Probably appropriate considering the number of MPs they have who were Student Union Presidents.
                      However it is not what we are entitled to expect in people who think they are worthy of ruling us.

                  • The Chairman

                    A number of others think they are acting like a forward thinking Government in waiting.

                    A decent UBI will boost consumer demand, thus business returns, which is getting positive attention in business circles of the struggling regions.

        • mosa 5.3.1.3

          Under a LABOUR-LED government @5.3.1 Lanthanide is the only way it will see daylight
          Does anyone know where Dunne stands on this idea ??

    • Don’t talk the detail. Speak about the values and the impacts. I.e.
      UBI is an idea whose time has come. It’s progressive people addressing the most compelling issue in society. It’s about human dignity and human potential. It allows people to do the work that is necessary – rather than the work that the market will pay for. It addresses the huge and growing problem that is precarious work.

      UBI could be valuable and doable even if it cost a lot. However there has been plenty of thinking locally and internationally about mechanisms to make it affordable. It could be part of a solution alongside work guarantees and a jubilee for student loans.

      That’s all that needs to be said. Explaining the costings is losing and puts the pro-argument straight onto the opposing territory .

      You could argue that the Prime Minister has already lost the argument if he needs to inflate the costs ($39bn cost is discounted by all of the adults currently receiving pensions and benefits) and under-estimate the tax take as he appears to have done in the NZ Herald article yesterday by Isaac Davison here http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11610662. The tax take for last year was almost $60bn for example not $29bn. It’s here if you are interested. http://www.ird.govt.nz/aboutir/external-stats/revenue-refunds/

      Naturally the NZ Herald article repeats this mistake even though fact checking to me less than a minute

      • Incognito 5.4.1

        Hi Jan,

        I think your first and last sentences are almost (!) conflicting. Key is not keen to discuss details or facts; he likes to create a perception by spreading innuendo and memes that are happily picked up by the lazy MSM. The MSM can’t help itself; it’s like throwing a bone in a pack of hungry hyenas with fully predictable behaviour – you don’t have to be Desmond Morris to work that one out.

        I agree that UBI has now reached a stage at which it will be properly debated and if NZ regards itself as a progressive society, which I think it is, it will do so, irrespective of political ‘head winds’.

        • Jan Rivers 5.4.1.1

          Thanks.

          I’m just so sad to see the arguments for pro people policies get onto the territory of “affordability” as defined by people who think that small government is a positive and investing in people is an actuarial calculation and only something you would do to cut future liabilities rather than for human dignity and wellbeing.

          Capital Gains Tax and the idea of Quantitative Easing for People both suffered this treatment and yet both those issues and UBI are solid pro-people policies made more credibleby research evidence and practical application.

          • Incognito 5.4.1.1.1

            I agree with you; the whole debate on UBI and other progressive policies tends to drown into a big numbers (actually, $$) game. It is no coincidence that Guy Standing and Gareth Morgan both are economists. This largely sets the scene and frames the issues in almost purely economic terms. It leaves the door wide open to populistic attacks and mockery such as John Key’s “barking mad”, “utterly unaffordable” and “show me the money”. First and foremost, it is about the people; the damage done to the UBI debate is that opponents have managed to get it back to front and make it all about the money.

  6. Murray Simmonds 6

    If you would like some insights into where Key’s (deliberate) misunderstanding of contemporary economic theory comes from you can’t go past this:

    Michael Hudson on Economic Theory etc:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/03/michael-hudson-on-debt-deflation-the-rentier-economy-and-the-coming-financial-cold-war.html

    This is an absolutely brilliant discussion of what contemporary economic theory SHOULD be all about, and why it is not (the main reason being that classical economic theory of the type that Key believes in, serves the 1% at the expense of the 99%).

    Its a long article, but absolutely worth reading, even if you just skim through some of the highlights. To my way of thinking it explains exactly what is wrong with current global Western economic theory, and why the 1% insist on keeping it as the status quo, where economic theory teaching is concerned.

    An absolutely brilliant summary of the sorry state of the Western Globalised economy, and why it is the way it is.

  7. AmaKiwi 7

    It was 1,000% predictable that Key and his MSM would smear Labour for discussing a radical new policy. As usual Labour has no attention getting, forceful reply.

    Winning in politics is NOT about policies. It’s about public relations. Labour has learned nothing from Key and Trump. That’s why Labour keeps losing.

    • Lanthanide 7.1

      +10

    • TC 7.2

      +10000
      Same mistakes and not learning from past msm treatments. F’n amateurs !!

      Run at this govt and the corrupt inept cabal of ministers within it. Proposals like this just fuel the DP machine.

  8. Nic the NZer 8

    Seems Labour might have discovered the budgetary rock to go with their progressive hard place. Given the repeated left wing meme of Labour surpluses National deficits its hardly surprising that all the progressive policy that is discussed needs to be carefully costed and suposedly balance the budget.

    Only when the left breaks away from its compact with fiscal responsibility (and explains to the polity why that is possible) will it be possible to propose real progressive ideas.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      “Given the repeated left wing meme of Labour surpluses National deficits its hardly surprising that all the progressive policy that is discussed needs to be carefully costed and suposedly balance the budget.”

      Because National spent all the money (and then some), and Labour are actually sound fiscal managers who don’t want to run up debt, unlike National.

      As it is, the National debt that National have built up will never be repaid in real terms.

      • Nic the NZer 8.1.1

        Yep. Cant see the record being changed any time soon either….

      • Gosman 8.1.2

        You obviously never read the 2008 PREFU.

        • Lanthanide 8.1.2.1

          The one that predicted the Decade of Deficits that National party have now delivered 7 of?

          I guess Treasury are better at predicting the future than we thought. Who knew they were actually predicting National would win the 2008 election?

          (cooking the books to produce an accounting-surplus is not an actual surplus of the type Labour delivered for 9 years straight)

          • Nic the NZer 8.1.2.1.1

            Go get him Lanth. Attack is the best form of defence and all that (unless you want to propose progressive policy any time soon).

            • Lanthanide 8.1.2.1.1.1

              Not sure why you’re blaming Labour for the double-standards imposed by the media.

              It seems all National has to do is promise to get a paper-surplus and the media don’t really care if they do or not. They also get to spend the proceeds from asset sales over and over again (for routine construction of schools and hospitals that were always necessary and endangered by National’s tax cuts – so they had to find some other way to fund this routine spending).

              Key deliberately lied to the media many times about the asset sales. Amongst his lies is that “selling shares in a company gives money to that company that they can use to grow and re-invest” – except the companies never got to keep any of that money, it went to the government to spend on routine infrastructure that they then advertised as being some new spending, even though it was always scheduled. Key’s also lied about surpluses, saying they would be “used to pay down debt” but other times saying they would be used to increase government spending (so, not actually a surplus) or for tax cuts (again, not a surplus).

              But if Labour dare have a policy that requires borrowing, both National and the media will roast them over the coals.

          • International Rescue 8.1.2.1.2

            7, and then a surplus. 3 years earlier than predicted.

            • Lanthanide 8.1.2.1.2.1

              Did you perhaps not read my whole comment:

              “(cooking the books to produce an accounting-surplus is not an actual surplus of the type Labour delivered for 9 years straight)”

              Also, we would have had a surplus much sooner if Labour were in government, that I am sure of.

              • Nic the NZer

                Is that the same surplus Labour would have achieved by taking income off pensioners?

                These Labour guys do realise their policies are supposed to be appealing to and actually helping people don’t they?

                When is the anouncement that a UBI amounts to the same thing due?

              • International Rescue

                No, you cannot be sure of that. It was on the basis of Labour’s policies that Treasury made their forecast. And it was National who left the books in surplus in 1999.

                And I did read your comment. There is no ‘cooking the books’. Labour’s surpluses were achieved by overtaxing, and by 2008 the economy was heading into recession.

        • framu 8.1.2.2

          you obviously think a prediction is some sort of pre ordained future reality

          for you to try that one goss is sub par – you know that a prediction has no capability to account for possible actions one can take as a situation changes

    • Expat 8.2

      $120B

  9. Murray Simmonds 9

    Gosman, you obviously never read the article on contemporary economic theory that I have cited above. Try educating yourself.

    • Nic the NZer 9.1

      I am pretty sure Gosmans willing to excuse a few deficits here and there. That makes his thinking much better aligned with Hudsons that what Lanth is saying. (Lanth is defending the worst aspects of mainstream econ, assuming that deficits are inherently harmful).

  10. Murray Simmonds 10

    Gossy:

    “Try educating yourself.”

    By that, i mean “Try educating yourself before attempting tp mis-educate others”.

  11. adam 11

    This was always going to happen!

    And can we please stop calling it the main stream media, it is the media of the capitalist – so lets call it the capitalist media.

    When in our history have the Tory media be anything else? Go back and look the herald, and the invasion of the Waikato. The capitalist classes produce material to protect the capitalist classes. They print truth as they see it. Which is that they frame the debate in their terms and for their ends.

    Anarchist were a lone voice arguing that state owned media would not fix this problem, it is not with smugness, but a sense of depression, that we have been proven right.

    It was the main drive to the original Maoriland Worker and other publications. Which meant workers got to spread information and frame the debate to the interests of working people.

    That said, the internet is our friend. We get to frame the debate again.

    Good to call the capitalist media out, but don’t expect anything from them, as they are only interested in their own interests, and lets not forget, they want to make a buck.

  12. AmaKiwi 12

    Universal Basic Income – To win elections you have to campaign on the issues that are on the voters’ minds NOW, not what you expect they will be talking about in 10 or 20 years.

    In my opinion (I have no polling to support it) people around me are concerned about exhausting work schedules with no advancement and constant fear of being laid off. Quotes from my friends: “We are not people, we are work-units to be bought and sold like farm animals.” “My work is soul and body destroying.” “I have no hope of anything better for the rest of my life.”

    UBI does not address these issues which is why it is so easy to dismiss.

    • BM 12.1

      This

      It’s true about work-units and it’s unfortunate that’s the way many large businesses have evolved.

      Having said that though, I can see why.
      A business cannot be dependent on one individual, because if that individual leaves or dies then that business could fail putting it under and every one else out of work.

      That is why people have become labour units with very set tasks and procedures, that way some one can be replaced without affecting the company and putting it in jeopardy.

      The down side is

      “We are not people, we are work-units to be bought and sold like farm animals.” “My work is soul and body destroying.” “I have no hope of anything better for the rest of my life.”

    • Lanthanide 12.2

      “UBI does not address these issues which is why it is so easy to dismiss.”

      Ok, so what would you have the government do about those problems? Seems like the only solution would be for the government to be very interventionist in the types of jobs, hours and pay that private companies are allowed to offer.

      Really that is the place of the unions, which have been effectively destroyed in this country.

      Also, the UBI does go towards helping those issues, both directly – people will have more security to look for alternative work, and indirectly – by putting a lot of extra cash into people’s pockets, which they will spend back into the economy, helping private businesses keep their heads above water.

      • Nic the NZer 12.2.1

        The govt could have a job guarantee (yes a boring old make work scheme) so there is always a minimum job available to anybody who applies. You wouldnt like that idea though they also need to be willing to run deficits for such a scheme to always be able to provide jobs.

    • weka 12.3

      “UBI does not address these issues which is why it is so easy to dismiss.”

      FFS, it’s part of a really big approach Labour are taking to work. Have you bothered to read any of the whole package, including TFoW and their worker policies? No-one, absolutely no-one that I have seen is suggesting that a UBI is a panacea or that it will solve all work issues. By all means dismiss it yourself, but you’re missing out on an important conversation. Already the debate is broadening out to include other aspects of work and income security.

      • AmaKiwi 12.3.1

        “No-one, absolutely no-one that I have seen is suggesting that a UBI is a panacea or that it will solve all work issues.”

        Wrong! Key and the MSM are claiming precisely that. They are claiming UBI is already policy and therefore UBI is best Labour can come up with for workers’ problems.

        Perceptions win elections.

        • weka 12.3.1.1

          Maybe, when lefties buy into the lies and think that the left should position itself in relationship to those lies instead of working with what is real. You are running Nact’s lines for them.

    • The Chairman 12.4

      “People around me are concerned about exhausting work schedules with no advancement and constant fear of being laid off”

      “UBI does not address these issues which is why it is so easy to dismiss”

      That’s incorrect.

      A decent UBI will reduce the fiscal harm of being laid off, easing that fear.

      It will also provide the fiscal assistance to enable people to work less, reducing those exhausting work schedules.

  13. Magisterium 13

    From rightwing National sockpuppet Danyl at Dim-post:

    (T)his sounds like a plan to raise people’s taxes and then pay them the money back again, with the half on lower incomes getting a bit more. At no cost, somehow. Do I have that right?

    https://dimpost.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/more-on-the-ubi/

    • BM 13.1

      Thought the first comment summed up the UBI debate quite well

      I don’t know what the problem is with, say, a $20,000 tax-free threshold rather than essentially implementing communism. I’m clearly missing something here

      Game, set and match to the blue team.

      • weka 13.1.1

        How does that solve the benefit abatement issue or the WINZ/IRD bureaucracy issue? And the one about guaranteed income for the week that you don’t work?

        • BM 13.1.1.1

          ALL seems a bit, baby getting chucked out with the bath water to me.
          Turn the whole country upside for a issue that may or may not occur some time in the future.

          As AmaKiwi said this is 20 years down the track shit, Labour needs to be concentrating on the here and now, not the hypothetical.

          • weka 13.1.1.1.1

            In other words you’ve got nothing. The benefit abatement and bureaucracy issues exist now and having been causing problems for decades. You’re pig ignorant on this BM, and spouting ideolgicial nonsense.

          • weka 13.1.1.1.2

            Stephanie Rodgers ‏@bootstheory 2h2 hours ago

            I don’t want to “what about ~me~” but it confuses me how the general approach is the Future of Work is only an issue for 10-15 yrs from now

            Job swapping and retraining are issues now. Lack of regional jobs, communities devastated by industrial closures have been issues 4 decades.

            17 jobs in 5 industries? That’s my life, not just a hypothetical 15 year-old’s. Just transition? That was needed 20 yrs ago in some places.

            Retraining and support to move between jobs? Talk to the 50-to-60-year-olds who can’t access tertiary education because of this govt.

          • dave 13.1.1.1.3

            it not 20 years away its happening all around us eg self order consoles in Macdonald’s and super markets ,banks ,its happening already and automation will spread its not 20 years away please make factual statements

    • weka 13.2

      No, he doesn’t have that right.

    • International Rescue 13.3

      He’s right. It’s a bit like WFF…tax people in order to give money back to them.

  14. Tom 14

    Why Oh why do we have to make any potential loicy so public. Its why we keep getting tarred with the “Not thought through” Tag

    • weka 14.1

      Labour want it to be a national discussion. How can they do that without making it public?

      • Magisterium 14.1.1

        The key is to make it public after you’ve worked out all the wrinkles in private. You wait until your pretend National team has put your ideas through the wringer.

        That team is made up of your brightest most articulate staffers and they get tasked with roleplaying as National. They get to tear your proposal to pieces behind closed doors so you can put it back together in a more robust form.

        Everything Labour puts in the public eye – State-controlled interest rates! Ban on Chinese chefs! UBI something something we’ll work out the details later! – seems totally off-the-cuff, always like it’s just a first draft. Labour never seems prepared to have its ideas put under a harsh microscope, it’s always “waaaah waaaaah we just want to have a discussion, just putting it out there, stop being so mean”.

        FFS, none of this stuff should even make it outside Little’s office until every possible criticism has already been made internally in the way and using the words that National would.

        Does Labour actually have bright articulate staffers? Is that the problem?

        • weka 14.1.1.1

          I’d certainly like to see Labour take more care with how it presents issues into the public domain. But they’re not made of money and I suspect that is just as big an issue as the advice they are getting.

          I also don’t believe this is only Labour’s responsibility and I’m sick of the Labour bashing that doesn’t go anywhere. By all means critique them, but if we’re going to sit on the internet and go “waaaah waaaah Labour are useless, why aren’t they looking after us” then we’re acting like a bunch of babies.

          Time is running short. We need to step up as well as Labour.

          Labour never seems prepared to have its ideas put under a harsh microscope, it’s always “waaaah waaaaah we just want to have a discussion, just putting it out there, stop being so mean”.

          Citation needed for where Labour are doing that on this issue. I think you just made that up.

          • Anne 14.1.1.1.1

            Thank-you weka. It wouldn’t matter a hoot what way Labour choose to present the issues – and their deliberations how to solve them, – John Key and co. plus the fawning, mindless media are going to distort everything they dare to utter about them.

            Time IS running out and it’s more than time we all got behind Labour and the Greens because that IS where our real future lies.

            • weka 14.1.1.1.1.1

              +1 My politics are to the left of Labour and the GP, but they are what we have to work with, so let’s work with them.

              I reckon there is a change happening with the media, seems like there is more negative coverage of National than before.

        • Sacha 14.1.1.2

          “Does Labour actually have bright articulate staffers? Is that the problem?”

          Or are they overruled by people who know less? Whatever the case, the problem is behind the scenes. This is all politics 101. Wish some time-servers would get out of the way for people who can perform.

          • Magisterium 14.1.1.2.1

            But this is 3rd form debate team stuff. Put your own argument under the scrutiny that in your worst nightmare it’ll get from an opponent who is smarter and more articulate than you.

          • AmaKiwi 14.1.1.2.2

            “Does Labour actually have bright articulate staffers? Is that the problem? Or are they overruled by people who know less?”

            Overruled time and again by the caucus, a multi-headed creature that doesn’t ask the public and doesn’t listen to what they are saying. Top-down leaders.

        • Sacha 14.1.1.3

          “stop being so mean”

          You’ll recall that was actually a line from Nat Ministers in recent months.

          • weka 14.1.1.3.1

            I’d put Cunliffe’s big fail moment as being the debate with Key where he got hammered on the CGT and floundered a bit. The problem wasn’t what he did or that he couldn’t answer the questions exactly, it was that he looked like someone had been punching him for months. Which they had. National, the MSM, his own caucus, and too many on the left. And then Key was there punching him again and crowing about it. Few people can stand up to that, and no-one should be expected to. I think the criticisms of Labour’s internal advice processes are valid and I think equally as valid is the idea that Labour are trying to do the right thing and still getting hit from all over the place. Not as hard, and they’re better at protecting themselves but that’s largely due to Little not being as hated within his own party as Cunliffe was.

            So my question for the left is, if all you can do is slap Labour each time they do something that might help, how are things going to change? Seriously, what is the strategy here? Or shall we just admit that we are just as bad as Labour are?

            Myself, I think we should be supporting Labour when they do things right and critiquing them when the drop the ball but this incessant Labour are fucked meme is just going to prevent the things we want to have happen.

            • Magisterium 14.1.1.3.1.1

              he looked like someone had been punching him for months. Which they had. National, the MSM, his own caucus, and too many on the left. And then Key was there punching him again and crowing about it. Few people can stand up to that, and no-one should be expected to.

              Gobsmacked.

              • alwyn

                And he should have expected something like that from Key. He should have known where every full stop was in the Labour Party’s main policy.
                Did he forget what happened to Phil Goff, or did he just think he was smarter? Anyone else remember “Show me the money”?
                However Cunliffe has gone. What is Little going to do.

            • TC 14.1.1.3.1.2

              valid points weka but you have to work with the landscape that exists.

              Labour need to factor the owned msm and nats DP division into such attempts in future as they are very powerful influential factor with voters.

              They need to amplify the stench wafting from shonkys mob alot more and let the sheeple make a decision.

              Have the considered debate once in govt, its a popularity contest not an IQ test to get back in govt.

              • weka

                “valid points weka but you have to work with the landscape that exists.”

                Which is my point. What were Labour supposed to do in 2014 given who was in caucus? It’s all very well for us to sit out here and say Labour should do x, y, z (and lots of those critiques are valid). I just think we need to be more real about the limitations. There is no Sanders/Corbyn, Labour still have internal issues albeit better controlled now. But Little is actually ok, they’re still making mistakes (Chinese names) but they’re also doing good solid work (Future of Work). I think if we want a left wing govt we should be supporting Labour when they do teh right things.

                “Have the considered debate once in govt, its a popularity contest not an IQ test to get back in govt.”

                Do you mean that the Future of Work Commission and conference were bad ideas to have now?

                • Sacha

                  It’s not just caucus, it’s the party officials too and I’m glad to see some of the latter got out of the way. If only caucus would follow suit. There were some good candidates on Labour’s list who got ranked too far below disloyal seat-warmers to get into parlimanet. Who made that happen?

                  Some good performances so far this year – notably around Kelvin Davis – and now they need to really lift the workload before a likely early election and demonstrate to voters a capable, credible coalition government in waiting.

                  That can’t happen whenever feet are crammed in mouths or attacks seem a surprise.

            • Anne 14.1.1.3.1.3

              See my reply to you weka @ 14.1.1.1

              And your comments re-Cunliffe are spot on. He didn’t have a show. Those venal bastards in Govt. and in the media are responsible for David’s marriage crashing. God, I loathe and despise them!

              And it’s to Cunliffe’s credit he didn’t bail out and is still there doing his bit.

  15. David Farrar is ostensibly just ordinary mainstream conservative media. He gets invited onto TV and radio to be a dweebish commentator. He is not outwardly a foulmouthed maniac on a rabid campaign.

    His ‘style’ makes him presentable but his ways are that of the dirtiest in dirty politics.

    Rob Salmond calls his presentation “utterly, hopelessly dishonest” but that is usual, not remarkable.

    Farrar has positioned himself in such a way that he travels with the benevolent label ‘National Party pollster’. A more apt description of his modus operandi would be more in the vein of that of his liege when he is termed the ‘smiling assassin.’

    • TC 15.1

      And hes one of many doing the hard yards influencing voters thinking.

      Nats have done a superb job dotting their DP players all over the media outputs.

      Farrar plays the ‘reasonable’ role well for his paymasters.

  16. shorts 16

    one day (possibly) National will be back in govt and will implement a watered down version of labours UBI and the media will hail it as revolutionary

    until then no one should be surprised by the reaction to any of this – though it isn’t silly to wish Labour was slightly better at handling the obvious knee jerks these proclamations receive

    • Magisterium 16.1

      And you know what? National won’t call it “UBI” because that’s about as appealing as cancer. It’ll be “National’s ‘Safety Net'” or “Rising Tide” or something that actually gets people onside from the moment they see it. Because National will have given it some thought before “putting it out there”.

      • weka 16.1.1

        Yeah, like the flag. National, those paragons of getting things right.

      • Whispering Kate 16.1.2

        Magisterium. It must feel pretty bad to know you are inadequate when you have just admitted that National are full of air heads with no creativity or vision to think ahead and on their feet. You have virtually admitted that they will adapt the concept, water it down and rename it with a sexy slogan of a name. How sad for you. This country will get nowhere with them in power, just further debt and a deficit of original concepts of their own.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 16.2

      And I predict the Nats version would result in lower payments to those currently on benefits, compared to the current situation.

  17. Magisterium 17

    Three election wins in a row, increasing their vote every time, is not an accident.

    • Lanthanide 17.1

      With dwindling MPs supporting their government after each election.

    • weka 17.2

      and it’s still a low voter turnout, so the non-voters are part of that picture too. Labour’s problem isn’t that it’s incompetent. It’s that it’s still too hijacked by the internal left/right conflict.

      • AmaKiwi 17.2.1

        +1

        Chris Trotter identified it clearly, “Blurred Vision: Why Labour Isn’t Trusted To Govern New Zealand.” (18 March 2016)

        http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.co.nz/search?updated-max=2016-03-18T16:34:00%2B13:00&max-results=7

        • McFlock 17.2.1.1

          If the reason for Labour’s lack of electoral success is failure to “publicly repudiate Rogernomics”, why could Clark govern for three full terms? His answer seems to be that it was solely down to Clark’s “iron will”.

          I disagree.

          I strongly suspect that most people haven’t read enough political history to debate the merits of “neoliberal” vs “neokeynesian” theories, let alone theories about the creation of the money supply.

          Labour doesn’t look like the governing party, because it’s not the government.
          People are alienated, but don’t know why or how.
          The media corrupts nuanced messages from Labour but derides simple messages as ill-considered.
          Labour will always look weaker than National, because the left and center have many parties while the far right only has one (and a couple of rotten boroughs).

          BUT

          National need ideas, and all they come up with is flags.
          Key’s role is to act like he doesn’t care. I believe that this attitude as an expiry date. Sometimes people want passion.
          Labour is now pretty disciplined. National’s cracks are beginning to show.
          National is johnny no-mates. The left can work together if they choose, and have done in the past. They can even work with economic conservatives like Winston.

          A little bit of luck is needed to keep the nats wobbling, but in general things look reasonable for the next election. I’m sure not gnashing my teeth, anyway.

          • weka 17.2.1.1.1

            That’s how I feel (ish). And it would be a shame if the left commentariat used its influence to keep telling NZ that Labour are useless and that increased the non-vote.

        • hoom 17.2.1.2

          I’m confused: I could have sworn Trotter has previously & repeatedly opposed the idea of a big swing Left as ‘unelectable’.

          Even if he does occasionally bring out The Internationale I’ve long lumped him in with the Rogernomes/ABCs.

          Have I misjudged him?

    • framu 17.3

      of course not – there was a whole book on how they gamed the system in secret

  18. weka 18

    Responding to Prime Minister John Key’s statement that the policy was “barking mad”, Mr Little said: “That’s because you have a Prime Minister who’s incapable of dealing with a big idea. He’s never had one.”

    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/labour-forced-clarify-universal-basic-income-not-party-policy-b-186692

  19. dave 19

    at least labor is thinking about the problems all we here from national and john key is slander defamation lies smear tactics. john key has failed to diversify the economy and is running the country in to the ground record food parcels.well i would like hear the john key plan to deal with job displacement oh hes to busy being an ass and not doing his job!

  20. She'll be right 20

    From what I can see – UBI is the following:

    1 Get the dole without any (seeking) work obligations at all.

    2 People who do not need the UBI payments will receive them. Why Labour think that well off people earning more than $70, 000 plus need a $11,000 top up I don’t know.

    3 What about a well off family where one partner is earning huge money. (Say $200,000 plus) How is it equitable that both the partner earning the huge money and their partner should be entitled to an extra $22,000 top up?

    4 For many on the current benefit with accommodation supplements and the like will be taking a major cut in income. How this will alleviate ‘poverty’ I don’t know.

    5 Taxes. If the Government had to hike up Income/Company Taxes significantly to pay for the UBI it is likely that a significant amount of investment capital (as happened in France) would export itself(and them) to countries with lower tax rates.

    This would reduce the tax base available to pay for the UBI putting a tighter squeeze on those remaining in NZ.

    6 Recession. If the economy goes through a time of economic recession (increasing unemployment) this would result in again a squeeze on the tax base as the average income would fall.

    7 Money Churn. Take more tax money off people and then give some of it back. Sounds inefficient. Would negate any efficiency gains from removing WINZ benefits/obligations.

    8 What about the Universal Pension – it works don’t it? I personally think that the Pensions should be income tested. If you are retired and earning passive income of say $50,000 plus why should you get an extra $16,000 on top of this?

    It could allow those who have no passive income to maybe get paid $20,000 and thus live a little more comfortably.

    I suggest that Labour put the UBI idea back in the too hard basket – the NZ voter isn’t willing to cough up large increases in taxes chasing a misty dream.

    • Michael 20.1

      You’ve got that wrong, “She’ll be right”. Have a read of the UBI Discussion Paper on Labour’s site (I’d link it but don’t know how). Bear in mind, though: (a) the paper and UBI itself are not Labour’s official policies; (b) it’s only an outline and doesn’t contain all the necessary details. That said, it’s a good piece of conceptual work. Assuring a Universal Basic Income does not entail paying people “money they don’t need” (to paraphrase your first objection). In the example you cite, why not make the first $11,000 of income tax free and increase tax progressively above that, as required?

  21. Incognito 21

    If Labour would release a Discussion Paper proposing to lower taxes for the rich and increase GST Key would decry that they are “barking mad” and the ‘policy’ “utterly unaffordable” [nice alliteration, BTW, for extra rhetorical effect] and the unthinking MSM would faithfully repeat and propagate this meme. National has kept many of Labour’s main existing policies and likes to ‘copy’ Labour’s ideas, which clearly shows that is not the idea or Discussion Document that Key is attacking but the Labour Party per se. It is all about preserving the status quo and staying in power at any and all cost!

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