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UBI (2) Why should we push for a UBI? (Universal basic income).

Written By: - Date published: 3:37 pm, January 17th, 2014 - 26 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, Economy, employment, global warming, human rights, poverty, superannuation, sustainability, welfare - Tags:

Continued From. /ubi-1-memes-and-paradigms/

Why a UBI?

Firstly. To overturn some paradigms:
That a great many people should lead poor and constricted lives, so a very few can be rich.
That ordinary people are disposable economic production units.

The economy, and I use the word in its broadest sense, exists for people, not the other way around.

New Zealanders, apart from a few extremists, generally accept that some of the income/resources available to those in paid work is transferred to those who are too young, old, ill or incapable to undertake paid work and those who undertake work, such as childcare, which is essential to our society.
The debate is about the amount, and how to fund and distribute it.

So. Why should we use a UBI?

A UBI empowers everyone, especially those who are currently marginalised, with the principle, everyone should have enough of societies resources as of right, for, at least, the necessities of life. I would go further, and say that everyone deserves enough, to be a inclusive part of the community.

A UBI acknowledges, and enables a living, for the many people, such as those bringing up children, (Mostly women) who carry out essential, but currently poorly paid or unpaid, services for our society.

A UBI looks after those whose work is displaced by the necessary shift to a more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable economy.
We cannot expect the involved workers, for example, coal miners, to bear the whole costs of the shift.

A redistribution of income to those at the lower end, who have to spend all their income, will be “good for business”, especially local small and medium enterprises (SME’s).
A UBI and initial flat tax rates removes the high marginal rates on low income earners. Encouraging workforce participation, entrepreneurship and progress away from “welfare dependency”..
The simpler tax system possible with a UBI makes compliance easier, especially for SME’s, and avoidance harder.
Redistributing income to those who spend it locally, instead of on Maseratis, Hawaii holidays and imported electronic junk is good for our balance of payments.
It reverses the, economically and socially disastrous, re-distribution of income upwards of the last 3 decades.
Increases the money available for savings and investment locally.

Libertarians, the principled ones, can see a lot to like in giving people choices in how they spend income, rather than giving it to the Government to spend. Less Government involvement in income redistribution and allocation may well “shrink” some parts of Government. We see from the “mincome” experiment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome , that spending on welfare, health care, crime and other effects, of poverty and social dysfunction, will reduce over time.

A UBI allows time out; to study, get well, bring up children, carry out voluntary community work, teach, start a business, avoid burnout, add to community services/wealth.

We already have a UBI, for older people. NZ super.
It has been totally successful in removing poverty amongst the elderly, (less than 3% in poverty). We can, at least, extend it to children.

Time we “made poverty, history!”


26 comments on “UBI (2) Why should we push for a UBI? (Universal basic income).”

  1. aerobubble 1

    Stunted children is the outcome from poor constrained upbringings, the inability to test boundaries tracked into adult life where workers become harder to fathom, predict, motivate…

    Its understood that parents who don’t see their kids harms their efficiency, motivation, and their kids. Yet in NZ we work longer than most places. Why?

    Its the Kiwi disease, management in NZ is atrocious. Would we need a UBI if the jobs were shared around better?

  2. McFlock 2

    We already have a UBI, for older people. NZ super.
    It has been totally successful in removing poverty amongst the elderly, (less than 3% in poverty). We can, at least, extend it to children.


    “UBI for children” certainly sounds a lot better than “extending working for families”.

    At 10k per kid (probably more than necessary, but what the hey) that equals about $11B to cover 0-18y.o. (then onto UB as a backstop).

    Less $2B in DPB and current WFF rebates.
    Didn’t cullen’s last tax cut give about $10B in tax cuts? So zero child poverty is pretty doable with changes to tax system.

    And if it works well and good, then progressively decreasing the gap between the venerable UBI and the vulnerable UBI would help overcome the old “1:leave a comment here, 2:something, 3:dramatic social reforms achieved” policy analysis we can be prone to committing.

  3. karol 3

    I very much agree with the idea of a UBI, but I also don’t think it can be done successfully in isolation. It needs to be part of a raft of changes. For a relatively egalitarian result or process, there also needs to be the following: acccess to education to tertiary level for all, throughout life – whether it be vocational, academic or community education; possibilities for start ups of enterprises; workers’ rights, adequate public services – health, community and leisure services, etc. along with a focus on change in cultute and its values.

    I think UBI can make a major contribution to a paradigm shift, but it won’t truly happen without a change in focus towards more grass roots democracy, towards cooperation and away from competitiveness. It needs some institutional, system and associated culture changes. Otherwse those that want power and wealth will just shift to saying, “You’ve got your UBI, what more do I eed to do for you? It’s all up to you now.”

    I like that the post recognises the important role UBI would have in helping to value caring work, and the recognition that surrently that sort of work is still largely done by women. But without institutioanl and cultural changes to re-value caring work, I fear a similar reaction to above, (“you’ve got your UBI, so get on with the caring”).

    In recent decades there has been a bit of a shift towards men doing more domestic and caring activities. Unless such caring work is positively valued, the role of women as carers will be reinforced, while many guys, and others without children, will just get on with doing the things that UBI has freed them up to do.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      The mass movement of political pressure needs to press for all those things you speak of Karol. It needs to develop the ideas and make them understandable to many.

      But no left government will have the political capital or time to get it all done even in 9 years.

      Also, Government policy only has weak, relatively facile abilities to change the underlying culture and attitudes of society, unless full on, multi-level social engineering and propaganda campaigns are engaged. Even then, it probably has to be a multi-decade programme.

      • karol 3.1.1

        I agree that the pressure needs to come from below. There’s no magic bullet. Especially no single government policy that will change the direction we are heading in.

        However, I do think it’s important to be clear that any government initiiated changes need to be accomanpanied by a well thought out explanation and ways of presenting the changes – things that embrace embrace a shift in culture as well as a shift in one or many systems.

    • KJT 3.2

      More “grass roots democracy”.

      Definately! 🙂

    • Chooky 3.3

      karol +100 …..agree, especially with the addition of access to education throughout life ….the old saying:….”man/woman does not live by bread alone”

      …also value for caring work with a UBI would be a huge step forward

    • RedBaronCV 3.4

      Good points Karol. The UBI could enshrine the value of unpaid work (caring) at the same rate as those who are free to pursue their own goals whilst receiving it. Somehow I think the RWNJ would love to have minimal payments because no more payments from males towards their child responsibilities.
      Since we have a UBI for the elderly, we could have UBI for children (formerly known as the child benefit) and maybe women. Males have to apply for it and meet certain criteria (drug free, looking for work, immunised, no female shoes under their bed?) Interviews and letters from WINZ

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Excellent work, KJT.

    To me the notion is simple: when you make money, earn a good salary, turn a solid profit, do a hard days work – you are doing it not just for yourself, but also for the good of your community and of your country.

    • Michael 4.1

      How simple is the notion: when you don’t make money, earn a crap wage (no “salary”), make record profits for the “shareholders” and management, and a do a harder day’s work than the overpaid, troughing bastards in the boardroom – you are doing it not just for yourself, but also for the good of your economy and of your country’s elite?

  5. Philj 5

    In my view, there is No justification for mega wealth. The Common Good (or TAX) should take care of that. If the mega wealthy want to emigrate, good. We want an egalitarian society. Or at least, I do. NZ is in a great place to advance a better way. Show the world, again!

    • Mike S 5.1

      I agree completely Philj. I fail to see how anyone can justify having more than say 1 billion dollars of worth. A billion is more than 99.999% of the population of the planet could ever dream of having and enables the billionaire to live in essentially a different world entirely than 99.999% of the population. Surely that is enough, why would you need 2, 5 or 10 billion more FFS?!

      At any given moment there is essentially a(n?) finite amount of ‘money’ in the world. For a billionaire to exist, there needs to be roughly over half a million people (that’s half a million people!!) somewhere throughout the world who have absolutely no money whatsoever. For Bill Gates to have 50 billion, 25 million human beings somewhere on this planet must have nothing. That is a ridiculously sad indication of where we’re at in terms of evolution.

  6. Will@Welly 6

    At what point is too much (income) too much?
    When you can’t possibly spend all that you earn, or when you earn so much that you can buy virtually everything you desire?
    On Monday (U.S. time) it was announced that distillers Jim Beam Ltd had been sold to Suntory Holdings of Japan for $13.6 billion. Now Jim Beam wasn’t a company being run badly, or in financial difficulties. Remember Charlies, sold off to the Japanese, for “expansionist motives”, or go back in time, Lion Nathan and D.B., both once two breweries that employed a lot of staff, traded on the New Zealand stock exchange, and paid taxes, both company and through their shareholders.
    The reason I’m “concerned” about Jim Beam is their supply networks are based in the U.S., but with this takeover, how long will this stay in place. With “globalization” if a large company like Jim Beam can be shafted, what about the minnows, in places like New Zealand? Key & Co are the most damaging sorts to be running this country right now.
    The other point is, if we want to put something truly progressive as a U.B.I.in place, we need firms to stay in the hands of New Zealanders so their profits do not drift off overseas. If we can keep those resources here in New Zealand, then we are all better off. Right now Johnny Key sees the money and the ownership heading off-shore as a better investment for him and his cronies.
    The other point, the taxation system needs a complete overhaul. The model we are using is based on one where everyone pays their fair share of tax. Ever Sir bloody Roger Douglas knew this was a fart when he tried to convince New Zealanders otherwise back in the ’80’s. Peter Dunne admitted the truth when he spoke of “legitimate tax avoidance”, and this from the Minister of Inland Revenue. So we need big changes there too.
    The question is, can the opposition do it, have they got the stomach for it?

  7. SPC 7

    An embrace of UI would have to come with a state by stage implementation.

    The first of these should help popularise the concept

    The obvious first steps.

    * universal student allowance at the post graduate level – gets the young onside.
    * a payment to those doing voluntary work/caring for relatives – suits the pro community meme.
    * a payment to non working partners with work test (no work test for those with children as per DPB) – the non working partner has equality with non working singles and the non working parent equality regardless of whether a sole parent or in a relationship.

    • McFlock 7.1

      those aree good options, esp universal allowances.

    • Chooky 7.2

      From what I have been told…..Joyce has made those who want to do honours, masters and PhDs pay through the nose for their education…..so unless you are a rich kid, higher than a basic university qualification is being made very difficult for you …..a discriminatory disgrace in favour of the rich ! …..so UBIs for those doing PhDs and post PhDs…until these students are employed…imo

      • Pasupial 7.2.1


        Yes it would be good if a NZ Universal Student Income was Universal to all NZ Students.There should also be some provision for overseas students who get residency to study (contingent upon a years contribution to NZ for each year of study, perhaps?), but that’s a way down the track.

        Also you and JC appear to have caught galloping ellipses; hopefully you didn’t contract them from too long an exposure to PU the other day.

        • Chooky

          JC?…and PU?

          • Pasupial

            jcuknz [at comment 8, this post thread] & phil ure [playing the veganer-than-thou card one too many times on the 17-1 open mike]… O no! Now I’m doing it!!

          • Chooky

            @Pasupial ….you mean a sort of galloping equine horse virus?……hope not…..i am well immunised against horses…i know them well

  8. jcuknz 8

    For those with one billion working for their second or those with 25 B working for 50B it is not that they need it but the challenge of doing it … like climbing Mt Everest for Sir Edmond … at least that is the reason one hears in stories about such folk.

    When my son was young, he is 46 now, my wife used to get a payment for him …. that sounds like a minor form of UBI to me …. why did that get scrapped? Did it?
    Since we didn’t need it she put it in the bank for him when he was older and needed money of his own.

    • Pasupial 8.1


      The Lange/ Douglas crowd abolished the Universal payment of the Family Benefit, so the payments you mention would have been pre1985. After that there were the; Family Support Benefit &; Guaranteed Minimum Family Income scheme till that was abolished by Bolger/ Richardson.

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        Yes and sad how most New Zealanders under the age of 50 or so have no idea that we used to have these Universal benefits/tax credits.

        What was once normal is now considered impossible.

      • Will@Welly 8.1.2

        Pasupial – I had this real sick feeling you were wrong on this point so I went and looked it up. Ruth “mother of all budgets” Richardson cut the Family Benefit on April 1, 1991.
        How well a “universal” payment like this would sit with the right today would be interesting?
        I could imagine some of their children “demanding” their money!!
        Again, its something the Labour Government could have re-instated had it had the political where-withal, but it lacked the moral fortitude. Better than WFF, which panders to the middle classes, and does nothing to lift wages.

  9. RedBaronCV 9

    And interestingly enough the family benefit was used to discriminate against low income earning women. If they received family benefit and earned small amounts of money they were not able to claim what was then called “low income earner tax rebates” the value of which by the close of the scheme exceeded the rate of family benefit.

  10. tricledrown 10

    The family benefit was cancelled in the early 90s by ruth richardson and shipley mother of all budgets.

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