Polity: Eleventy billion dollars!
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Lovely Joe. Made my afternoon :)
So now everyone has allowed themselves to be successfully distracted by the ramblings of a dishonest right wing spin doctor who thought it was a lark to try and get Nicky Hagar killed by Chinese gangsters, can I ask a few questions regarding the policy itself?
1/ What is a UBI trying to achieve? It seems to me that if the purpose of a UBI is to guarantee a sufficient income for everyone to participate in society in a future where robots have largely replaced people for doing work then $211 a week is nonsense, unless we invent some sort of Star Trek style replicator. The amount would have to be more like the $792 PW of the living wage. On the other hand, if it is a wage subsidy, how is that supposed to work? Say Mary works five days a week, 8am-6pm a half day Saturday and two late nights for 60 hours at $18 an hour and makes $1080PW. Does a UBI assume she will cut back her hours to 45 per week, freeing up a part time job? Now, that might happen in a society like Spain, where (to put in bluntly) they lack our crass materialism and you can buy a three bedroom apartment for $250,000. But in neoliberal NZ wouldn't Mary just take the $1291 as a bonus? Which leads to the next question. WWF is effectively a giant, taxpayer funded subsidy that Labour put in place because it was to scared to force employers to pay decent wages. Much as rightwingers wail at communism by stealth, no one can get rid of it now because it was keeps a lot of the precariat middle class afloat. What would stop Mary's boss, when it came to her next pay review, saying "Hey! It's been a tough year, no money in the kitty for a pay rise but that's all right the government gave you a huge one anyway!"?
2/ How politically defensible is a UBI when you would have our hostile, reactionary pro-boss class media contrasting at every possible opportunity virtuous, hard working young middle class family trying to get ahead in the face of unfair huge marginal tax rates in a society that exclusively measures success in wealth with meth mums breeding for cash and living the high life?
3/ my last point. The Chicago economic gangsters loved the idea of a UBI because they envisaged that it freed the state from moral responsibility to its citizens. What would stop a right wing government upping the UBI and abolishing free health and public education? Starving in the gutter? Then it is all your own fault. YOU ARE AN INPERFECT IRRATIONAL ACTOR! The state is perfectly in its right to let you die there.
Oh yes one other thing. We all agree that $211 a week is a hopelessly inadequate amount to live on, but why is there so little questioning of the sky high cost of living in NZ? Food in particular is a compete outlier in NZ. I pay 350 euro a month for rent of a modern three bedroom apartment, including power and water. 15 euro covers the gas. I eat a fairly typical diet and, including alcohol, I pay 100 euro a month for groceries. A beer is 2 euro. A nice apartment can be had for 110,000 euro. Medical care is free. The schools are free and often have a lunch program. On 1600 euro a month (what is that? $2500-3000NZ?) Your standard of living is much higher than in NZ. We kid ourselves about the quality of life in NZ.
But really, I come back to food. Ten dollars for a cauliflower? Are you fucking kidding me? Basic food items in NZ should cost half what it does, especially given our wages.
Ian Dalziel, in reply to
Ten dollars for a cauliflower?
It probably has to come from Australia or South America...
We're putting housing developments over our best growing soils round Chchch. and further down the plains they're selling the water extraction rights until 2046 to some firm to sell it to China
The Ashburton District Council is selling a section in its business estate, known as Lot 9, for an undisclosed sum. It comes with a valuable resource consent that allows abstraction of water from aquifers beneath the town.
The council has refused to publicise information about the deal, which is understood to be with an overseas company.
Ashburton often has issues supplying water during the summer. In some areas, water restrictions banned residents from using hoses to water their gardens.
When applying for the consent, the council came to an arrangement with meat processor Silver Fern Farms, allowing it to deepen its bore if Lot 9's water abstraction caused groundwater levels to reduce.
FFS - The crying of Lot 9? Bastards!
Chchch streams and rivers are already drying up, http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/77868433/christchurchs-streams-are-dying-citywide
Now is not the time to be plundering nearby aquifers for short term profit- where is Ecan when ya need it - oh that's right they approved it back in 2011 - by the then new Government appointed commissioners - I guess their government directed work is almost done - welcome to the Canterbury dust bowl!
Ianmac, in reply to
Tom. Do you live in Denmark or similar? I guess the great place you are living in must have (justly) high taxes. Whereas the thought of raising taxes in NZ terrifies politicians.
Sacha, in reply to
Spain, where their economy is buggered.
Rae Sott, in reply to
On the war point, I totally agree with you, and I am going to shout as loudly as I can for us to try alternatives as I have no desire to see my grandchildren become cannon fodder. With a will, we could do it, but are we too lazy? Will we just have another massive cull then when we've run out of energy for that, we will set to, once again, rebuilding, and the pollies will crow "Look, growth"
BenWilson, in reply to
It seems to me that if the purpose of a UBI is to guarantee a sufficient income for everyone to participate in society in a future where robots have largely replaced people for doing work then $211 a week is nonsense
Yup. But I think it's also a start. Currently, it's a nonsense that a lot of people don't even get. In the long run, I'd think the UBI should just rise to cover the whole gamut of unemployment, pension, student, and family allowances. But in the short run it can do a great deal to alleviate the worst kind of poverty, simultaneously with getting its foot in the door.
Your argument here is basically "Because the UBI doesn't create instant Utopia, then it's not worth having". It's weak. We're talking incrementalism because it's practical. If you have an objection to the incrementalist approach then perhaps you're actually just making a case for a higher UBI. Good luck selling that with the enormous tax increase it necessitates. Perhaps we might have more luck doing that after piloting it in with something that's only a very small rise, with the much more targetted aim of eliminating poverty, and we can work on socialist nirvana in the longer run?
What would stop Mary’s boss, when it came to her next pay review, saying “Hey! It’s been a tough year, no money in the kitty for a pay rise but that’s all right the government gave you a huge one anyway!”?
Yup. That could happen. But also, Mary could far more easily tell her boss to get fucked without being immediately destitute. So there is that. Ultimately, what's going to drive wages is mandated minimums, and beyond that, the actual market. If the guy can't get an acceptable quality employee to work for the lowest wage, he'll have to put the wage up. It already works this way. There is currently nothing to stop bosses refusing pay rises, and they're doing it all the time. So I don't think this criticism is very strong.
How politically defensible is a UBI when you would have our hostile, reactionary pro-boss class media contrasting at every possible opportunity virtuous, hard working young middle class family trying to get ahead in the face of unfair huge marginal tax rates in a society that exclusively measures success in wealth with meth mums breeding for cash and living the high life?
I don't understand your point at all here. Are you asking how you sell it to arseholes? I don't know. You probably can't. This is a Labour Party potential policy discussion, not an Arsehole Party one.
The Chicago economic gangsters loved the idea of a UBI because they envisaged that it freed the state from moral responsibility to its citizens.
You'll have to give a reference for that. Who are you even talking about? They sound confused. A UBI is providing every citizen with cold hard spendable cash. That doesn't sound like they're "freeing themselves from moral responsibility". It sounds like the opposite.
What would stop a right wing government upping the UBI and abolishing free health and public education?
What would stop them from doing that without a UBI? Nothing. They're doing it anyway. We don't have free health or education now.
BenWilson, in reply to
why is there so little questioning of the sky high cost of living in NZ?
Because that is off-topic, basically. It's a perfectly fair question to ask, but what does it have to do with this discussion? UBI or the currently welfare model with it's 100,000 people getting absolutely nothing at all: Under both, a cauliflower will still be a rip in NZ. Separate issue.
tussock, in reply to
1/ A UBI gives everyone money, that's about it. What adult people do with money, experimentally, is improve their lives in various ways, including health, dentistry, extending their education, and job seeking with improved transport and clothing and so on. Needed stuff that just gets shelved when you don't have money.
You'd think everyone would cut back their hours and write a novel or whatever, but in the real world they don't, because that's super-boring. A lot of people will try starting a small business related to their expertise though, using the UBI to effectively lower the initial setup costs on their own time investment.
2/ Worrying about what crazy people are doing just makes you crazy, or a psychiatrist I guess. Stuff either works or it doesn't, don't worry about the crazy people.
3/ The Taliban runs public schools and public hospitals. In the anarchy of recent times in Somalia and Iraq private businessmen kept the public schools and public hospitals afloat until the state got back on it's feet. Basically, no nation can compete at all without them, even the total monsters educate and provide professional healthcare to the local kids for folks, and have for a couple centuries now.
Even the USA used to provide healthcare, it just couldn't figure out how to forgive anyone's debt for it after the fact, when the only answer is obviously just to not charge one.
An interesting and well-balanced article by Brian Fallow in today's Business Herald explores the UBI and how it might be introduced in NZ. Fallow is one of the few business journalists around that doesn't seem to have been captured by any particular ideology, is capable of thinking sensibly and doing research, and is allowed to publish his stuff without being subject to brainless editing.
Sacha, in reply to
Yes, well-written and easy to follow. Ta for linking to it.
The new way of thinking economically is back to basics, stimulus.
There's an interesting UBI story in the Guardian today. It's great to see the subject being discussed intelligently worldwide.
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