Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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

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 , 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!”

Also published in  The Standard

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