Monday, 3 April 2017
"While the (Australian) Greens have been advocating UBI for years, earlier this month Luke Whitington, the deputy chair of NSW Labor’s Economic Policy Committee, proposed investigating a nationwide program," Young notes.
"A multitude of recent articles, research papers and government reports have started looking seriously into UBI’s feasibility in Australia. Some proposals suggest paying out between $10,000 and $30,000 per citizen per year, which is no small thing. And it doesn’t look like the idea’s on its way out.
"Left wing proponents say a UBI would reduce crime, reward hitherto unpaid labour in the home, and massively reduce gender and income inequality, while essentially eliminating poverty – as payments would likely be set above the poverty line," he argues.
One source of funding would involve "replacing elements of government welfare spending coupled with progressive taxation."
"There’s a lot of money to be saved via the elimination of the bureaucratic means-testing involved in programs like Newstart," he notes.
A UBI could help relieve in other areas, Young says "such as the manifold economic pressures of Australia’s ageing population and jobs at risk from the rise of automation."
However, he notes that UBI champions from the conservative end of the political spectrum have a different notion of it.
"Some Liberals believe UBI could replace the inefficient behemoth that is the Australian welfare system. Mikayla Novak, a senior researcher at the Institute of Public Affairs, Australia’s leading free-market think tank, argued that federal and state welfare spending could have been redistributed in 2013-14 to give 'each adult Australian resident … about $714 per month in a basic income'."
"Remember, that would mean scrapping everything, including Medicare and child support," Young warns.
Different possible funding options are available, he suggests, including former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis' suggestion of taxing automation, while academic Thomas Pogge says we should put a global levy on natural resource extraction.
Land value tax as a funding stream, financial transaction taxes and carbon taxes are other possibilities, Young argues.
It’s time to take ‘free money’ seriously (The New Daily)
Sunday, 2 April 2017
"Implementing a full-blown UBI would be difficult, not least because it would require answering a number of complex questions about goals and priorities," he says. "Perhaps the most obvious balancing act relates to how much money is actually delivered to each citizen (or legal resident)."
"In the United States and Europe, a UBI of, say, $2,000 per year would not do much, except perhaps alleviate the most extreme poverty, even if it was added to existing social-welfare programs. An UBI of $10,000 would make a real difference; but, depending on how many people qualify, that could cost as much as 10% or 15% of GDP – a huge fiscal outlay, particularly if it came on top of existing social programs."
However, a proposal from France "is a step in the right direction," Dervis argues.
"The approach seems like a good compromise between portability and personal choice, on the one hand, and sufficient social-policy guidance, on the other," Dervis adds.
"Only by striking the right balance between individual choice and social-policy guidance can modern economies build the social-safety programs they need," he concludes.
Monday, 6 March 2017
"But this right – the right of habitation – came under brutal attack beginning in the 15th century, when wealthy nobles began fencing off common lands for their own profit. Over the next few centuries, the enclosure movement, as it came to be known, shifted tens of millions of acres into private hands, displacing much of the country’s population. Excluded from the basic means of survival, most were left with no choice but to sell themselves for wages for the first time.
"And it wasn’t only England. The same process unfolded across Asia and Africa and most of the global south as European colonisers staked private claim to lands and forests and waterways that were previously held in common, leaving millions dispossessed," Hickel adds.
"Critics of basic income often get hung up on how to fund it. But once we come to see it as linked to the commons, that problem becomes more tractable," he argues, giving the modern day example of the US state of Alaska, where "natural resources are considered a commons, owned collectively by the people, so every resident receives an annual dividend from the state’s oil revenues."
Saturday, 4 March 2017
"The whole point is to link the payments to the country's income level. This has three important implications," Ray argues. "Firstly, the poor receive an amount that is independent of personal income. Secondly, the amount paid is automatically linked to inflation. Thirdly, people have no need to fight for the authorities to adjust the amount to keep pace with the growth in the national income."
"Why are these proposals being made now?
"The keywords are: unemployment, inequality, globalization and automation in manufacturing. Those who own the robots rule the world.
Sunday, 26 February 2017
Rutger Bregman is a 28-year-old Dutchman whose book, Utopia for Realists, has taken Holland by storm and could yet revitalise progressive thought around the globe, The Guardian reports.
Instead of attacking capitalism and post-enlightenment liberalism, Bregman celebrates its achievements. He also credits globalisation with lifting 700 million Chinese out of extreme poverty – hugely more than communism ever achieved.
“I’ve heard for three years that many of my ideas are unrealistic and unreasonable and that we can’t afford them,” Bregman says, by way of preamble to a more comprehensive reply. “And the simple answer is ‘Oh, you want to stick to the status quo? How’s that been working out?’”
He acknowledges that a genuinely universal system would involve a massive overhaul of our tax system and that it would require an enormous amount of public and political support. But you’ve got to start somewhere, is his outlook, and the best place to start is in redefining what we mean by work.
“There was a poll in the UK that showed that 37% of British workers think that their job doesn’t need to exist. Well, it’s not the bin men, and the care workers and the teachers that say that. We’re talking about consultants, bankers, accountants, lawyers etc. The implications of that are radical. We could cut the working week by a third and be just as rich. Probably richer!”
“One of the basic lessons of history,” says Bregman, “is that things can be different. The way we’ve structured our economy, our system of welfare, it’s not natural. It could be different.”
Friday, 17 February 2017
In his comments, he relayed concerns that autonomous technology will impact jobs, and he noted that we will likely have intelligent, massive-scale automation for transportation relatively soon – within the next few decades.
However, displacement due to automation isn’t just limited to transportation, it will sweep across a number of industries, and Musk argues that the government must introduce a UBI program in order to compensate for this.
Saturday, 11 February 2017
"Unfortunately, there is little hope that the full implementation of a basic income – sufficiently high enough to meet all people’s needs without the obligation to work – is going to be achieved in the present context of financial austerity and so-called neoliberal capitalism.
"As long as present trends continue with the marketisation and gradual deterioration of public services in most countries, any successes achieved in introducing a nation-wide basic income scheme are likely to come at the cost of comprehensive social programs that benefit the majority.
"This means that any strategy to achieve a UBI has to be part of a transformative project, one that aims to delink work from income and redirect productive capacity towards creating real value for society, while at the same time 'switching off the neoliberal privatisation machine' and bringing about a 'controlled dissolution of market forces', as the journalist Paul Mason has argued."
Tuesday, 7 February 2017
He raised the idea in a speech to the Fabian Society about inequality and connecting with voters amid the rise of populist politicians like Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
In the speech due to be given on Wednesday night, Mr Ayres – a member of the ALP national executive – offers support for French economist Thomas Pikkety's proposal for an inheritance tax "to fund a one-off capital grant for every citizen at the age of 25".
He quotes Community Council for Australia figures that say if four per cent of the 25,000 families with assets of $10 million paid a 35 per cent duty it would raise $3.5 billion "while affecting only a fraction of the top 1 per cent of Australians".
"A capital grant to young Australians would give millions of young Australians a future: they can put it to a house, they can start their own business, they can pay off their university fees," Mr Ayres says.
"A universal inheritance tax may be bold, but 2016 has taught us that business as usual isn't going to cut it and politics as usual doesn't offer the scale of policy that is required to genuinely tackle regional and intergenerational inequality."
Inheritance or death taxes are in place in countries including Britain and the US but a recognised flaw is that people may transfer wealth before their death to avoid the duty.
In his speech Mr Ayres warns of the limited appeal of progressive politics to blue collar communities, particularly in regional areas where jobs have dried up and living standards have fallen.
Death tax grants would 'give young Australians a future', union secretary says (Sydney Morning Herald)
Wednesday, 1 February 2017
In a chapter ‘Universal Basic Income: A Conversation With and Within the Mahatma,’ the Survey dwelt at length on the pros and cons of introducing UBI in India before concluding that it was “a powerful idea whose time even if not ripe for implementation is ripe for serious discussion.”
The report justified the introduction of UBI citing several reasons such as promoting social justice, reducing poverty and an unconditional cash transfer that lets the beneficiary decide how she uses the money and generating employment by promoting labour flexibility since it allows “individuals to have partial or calibrated engagements with the labour market without fear of losing benefits.”
It also said the move would bring in administrative efficiency as a direct cash transfer through a JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhar-Mobile) platform would be more efficient compared to the “existing welfare schemes which are riddled with misallocation, leakages and exclusion of the poor.”
The report advocated a “target quasi-universality rate of 75%,” which would entail a cost of 4.9-4.2% of the GDP, well within the ball park of 5% of the GDP, which is what existing centrally sponsored schemes cost the exchequer.
According to Professor Guy Standing, a founding member of the Basic Income Earth Network, told Business Insider UBI trials in India had been “remarkably positive”, giving people a sense of control over their money, reducing debt and empowering women, the Independent adds.
Monday, 23 January 2017
|Benoit Hamon / Marion Germa / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0|
A vocal supporter of basic income, Benoit Hamon came out first in the first round of the socialist primary, Basic Income reports.
Hamon immediately received the support of his fellow main competitor Montebourg for the second round of the election, which should secure his victory against the former Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the second round.
Sometimes described in the international media as the ‘French Jeremy Corbyn’, Hamon, 49 years old, was Education Minister and Minister for the Solidarity Economy under President François Hollande. He was pushed to resignation after a government reshuffle in August 2014.
Wednesday, 18 January 2017
This would make the public sector the employer of last resort to provide jobs for the unemployed population in areas of the economy and community where demands are not being met: aged care, child care, education, retail and small business etc. It would also establish the basic minimum standard for a decent job at decent pay in the public sector.
Connelly quotes Pavlina Tcherneva, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics and Research Scholar at the Levy Economics Institute, who says a basic income program operates on the fantasy that somehow the market will provide things the recipient want or need.
A job guarantee program would connect income with things people - and communities - need and allow them to be part of the social contract, to participate in transforming their communities and their livelihood, Tcherneva argues.
"It would establish the basic minimum standard for a decent job at decent pay in the public sector, a standard which the private sector must match (at a minimum) to attract workers," she said.
Going further, Dr Steven Hail, lecturer at the University of Adelaide's School of Economics, argues it would enhance it by creating a pool of workers that private enterprise could hire from at any time to meet production needs.
Meanwhile, retired economist Ellis Winningham told the ABC a jobs guarantee would put a complete end to all involuntary unemployment while also gaining price stability.
"Globalisation, technological change and the move to flexible labour markets has channelled more and more income to rentiers – those owning financial, physical or so-called intellectual property – while real wages stagnate," he writes in The Guardian.
"The income of the precariat is falling and becoming more volatile. And chronic insecurity will not be overcome by minimum wage laws, tax credits, means-tested benefits or workfare. In short, a basic income is becoming a political imperative," he says.
Noting a range of pilot programs under way around the world, he stresses that "pilots can only test certain behavioural aspects of paying a basic income and seeing what people do differently."
On the other hand, UBI proponents "rest their case on more fundamental justifications – social justice, freedom and economic security" which cannot be tested by pilots.
Nevertheless, he notes that several pilots showed positive effects. "A well-known experiment in the Canadian town of Dauphin in the 1970s showed that recipients of the basic income suffered less from ill-health and mental stress," for example.
Moreover, in the largest Indian pilot, about 6,000 men people in eight villages received a small basic income for 18 months. Four positive effects were observed: benefits to welfare, positive equity effects, positive economic effects, including more work and labour, raised productivity and output, and reduced inequality, and finally, there was a growth in secondary, self-employed work.
Monday, 16 January 2017
"The chariness being expressed in a lot of trade unions where Basic Income has not been very well received by union bosses or members sheds light on several serious confusions about Basic Income," they write, while recognising that there are significant exceptions like Unite in Great Britain, AFL-CIO leaders in the United States, some groups and militants of the Spanish unions CCOO and CGT, and the Basque Ezker Sindikalaren Konbergentzi.
Here are the six reasons they mention:
First: Basic Income would undermine the power of the unions.
Second: Since the bulk of union membership consists of full-time workers, they could lose out economically because of the tax reforms required.
Third: Basic Income is only a pretext for dismantling the hard-earned welfare state.
Fourth: The bosses will use Basic Income as an excuse for lowering wages.
Fifth: Basic Income challenges the trade union culture of work because it dissociates material existence from work and the rights arising from it.
Sixth: with their existence guaranteed, workers would lose their fighting spirit.
Here are a couple of points Raventos and Wark make in reply:
"The question of basic income and work is much more complex and interesting than the union argument suggests. It is true that, with a Basic Income, material existence would no longer depend on having a job but this doesn’t mean that it’s antithetical to employment. Rather, it would offer a more resourceful way of sharing tasks in different domains of work.
"The unions’ concerns about remunerated work totally overlook two other essential kinds, viz. voluntary work and domestic (reproductive) work, a standpoint which makes it impossible to understand the effects a Basic Income would have for most people. Our definition of work would be much more open: “a set of remunerated or unremunerated activities whose results procure goods or services for members of our species.”
Why Don’t Trade Unions Support an Unconditional Basic Income (Precisely When They Should)?
He cites Marjukka Turunen, the head of the legal unit in benefit services at KELA, the Finnish government social security institution that is overseeing the project.
"Studies have shown one of the top reasons more people don’t become entrepreneurs is because they don’t have the capital to both support themselves and start a business at the same time. This means they can’t afford to leave their current job to start their own small business," argues Marjukka Turunen. "UBI would give them a solid financial foundation to do this."
He also draws on Guy Standing from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network, who also believes that the UBI could boost the freelance economy in five ways.
2. It could inspire people to take risks and start their own businesses.
3. It could help freelancers maintain health insurance coverage.
4. It could help freelancers say "no" to abusive clients.
5. It could help compensate freelancers for the unpaid work they do.
Sunday, 15 January 2017
"The true net cost of UBI in the US is therefore closer to an additional tax revenue requirement of a few hundred billion dollars – or less – depending on the many design choices made, and there exists a variety of ideas out there for crossing such a funding gap in a way that many people might prefer, that would also treat citizens like the shareholders they are (virtually all basic research is taxpayer funded), and that could even reduce taxes on labour by focusing more on capital, consumption, and externalities instead of wages and salaries. Additionally, we could eliminate the $540 billion in tax expenditures currently being provided disproportionately to the wealthiest, and also some of the $850 billion spent on defence.
"Universal basic income is thus entirely affordable and essentially Milton Friedman’s negative income tax in net outcome (and he himself knew this), where those earning below a certain point are given additional income, and those earning above a certain point are taxed additional income. UBI does not exist outside the tax system unless it’s provided through pure monetary expansion or extra-governmental means. In other words, yes, Bill Gates will get $12,000 too but as one of the world’s wealthiest billionaires he will pay far more than $12,000 in new taxes to pay for it. That however is not similarly true for the bottom 80% of all US households, who will pay the same or less in total taxes."
A draft report, tabled by a socialist MEP Mady Delvaux-Stehres, warns preparations must be made for what it describes as the “technological revolution” currently taking place, including provisions for the “possible effects on the labour market of robotics”.
In its introduction the report warns against Frankensteinian consequences to the widespread introduction of robots:
"Whereas from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein's Monster to the classical myth of Pygmalion, through the story of Prague's Golem to the robot of Karel Čapek, who coined the word, people have fantasised about the possibility of building intelligent machines, more often than not androids with human features," the report warns.
"Whereas now that humankind stands on the threshold of an era when ever more sophisticated robots, bots, androids and other manifestations of artificial intelligence ("AI") seem poised to unleash a new industrial revolution, which is likely to leave no stratum of society," it continues.
The report, which will be submitted to the entire European Parliament in February, urges member states to consider a general basic income in preparation for robots taking over people's jobs, The Independent says.
“In the light of the possible effects on the labour market of robotics and AI a general basic income should be seriously considered, and invites all Member States to do so,” the report says.
Mady Delvaux-Stehres / LSAP / Wikipedia / CC 3.0
Thursday, 12 January 2017
"UBI could reduce the levels of insecurity experienced by Australians in important ways," Henderson says. 'It could provide the means to bargain for better pay and conditions, or to leave an exploitative employer.
Foster agrees that it would be expensive, so much so as to be unworkable.
"A UBI means giving money universally – to everyone, or at least to every adult. To make a material difference to people’s circumstances, this transfer has to be reasonably large. I’ve heard figures floated for the Australian context of between $10,000 and $30,000 per adult per year.
Wednesday, 11 January 2017
It was Groucho Marx who said, “While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.” Quite true, but what if there’s no money coming in from work because your job’s been taken over by a machine?
Low wage earners appear to be most at risk from automation. In February 2016, the Council of Economic Advisers (an agency within the Executive Office of the US President) issued an alarming report predicting that an 80% or greater chance exists for people on basic incomes of US$20 per hour or less to be made redundant by smart machines in the foreseeable future.
After them come the mid-range workers. Clearly, we need strategies to address any job losses arising though increases in automation.
Theoretically, just about any job that can be described as a process could be done by a computer-controlled machine. In practice though, many employers will decide that keeping a human in a job is preferable to automating it.
These are jobs that involve some degree of empathy. Imagine telling a robot doctor what ails you in response to “please state the nature of your medical emergency”.
Free money for all – seriously?
But what about those people whose jobs are lost to automation? What if new jobs aren’t created to replace them? What are they to do if they can’t earn a living anymore?
This time it’s Karl Marx, not Groucho, who comes to mind with the idea of giving people a universal basic income (UBI). This is raised as a possible remedy to any misery caused by rising unemployment from job automation.
Put simply, a UBI is a pump-priming minimum income that is unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without any means test or work requirement. It eliminates the poverty traps that the poor fall into when welfare payments have many conditions and are administered by large and inflexible bureaucracies.
The suggestion of free money is sure to raise many peoples’ hackles. Yet, this seemingly outrageous idea is being taken seriously enough to be trialled by a growing number of governments around the world, including that of Finland, the Netherlands and Canada.
Meanwhile, Switzerland will hold a referendum in June on whether to include a flat monthly payment of 2,500 Swiss Francs (A$3,380) to all adults, and a reduced flat payment of 625 Swiss Francs (A$845) to children.
Some commentators, such as former US labor secretary Robert Reich, consider a form of guaranteed national income to be “almost inevitable”.
And the US libertarian think-tank, the Cato Institute, last May published an analysis on the pros and cons of a guaranteed national income. It makes for interesting reading.
The Dutch experiment
In the Netherlands, the provincial capital of Utrecht is planning a trial that it calls See What Works. This model is showing other governments how to go about their own trials. Four types of UBI will be tested over two years.
The first type gives people a basic income of around 850 Euros (A$1,250) per month, requiring nothing in return, no reciprocal obligation. People are allowed to earn as much additional income as they desire.
The second gives people the UBI, but requires them to do volunteer community work to qualify for the full 850 Euros (A$1,250). Non-volunteering recipients receive a reduced amount.
The third type offers additional money for volunteering, while the fourth gives people the 850 (A$1,250) but does not allow them to do any work. A control group rounds out the trial.
What about welfare?
Under existing welfare arrangements, some people are already being paid even if they don’t work.
Non means-tested income would encourage people to work to supplement their basic income, an arrangement that would suit the rising class of freelance and casual workers in today’s information economies.
A basic income is described by some advocates in Silicon Valley as venture capital for poor people. They see it as enabling a pool of creative talent which has good ideas but not the means to pursue their projects and create the dynamic new industries that will be key to future prosperity.
Where will the money come from?
Advocates suggest that much of the funding currently going into welfare, state pensions, tax credits and various poverty alleviation schemes could be redeployed to fund a UBI to achieve better results.
More savings can be made by reducing the size of the government bureaucracies that administer them. Big government becomes smaller government.
The shortfall would need to be funded from tax revenue, and therein lies the rub. Raising taxes is never popular, particularly with those already saddled with heavy tax burdens.
But one thing is for sure: automation will continue to change the nature of employment, forcing economic restructuring whether we like it or not. There is pain ahead, and no avoiding it.
As counter intuitive as it might seem to those of us with a traditional work ethic (myself included), a UBI is worth exploring as a simple solution to a complex problem.
We must not underestimate the value of untapped human capital; people with the desire and capacity to be engaged and creative. If they do not need to take a menial job to cover their living expenses, they will have time to do more interesting things that are of benefit to society.
|Professor Charles Clark|
Monday, 9 January 2017
A meeting in Glasgow last month with Guy Standing, the radical economist who founded the Basic Income Earth Network, inspired Kerr to seek cross-party support to pilot a universal basic income in parts of Fife and Glasgow.
The current welfare system "has been a 70-year experiment," he said.
"This is a big challenge to the left. In these circumstances you can’t just write people off and nor can you have the current system that is hugely difficult to navigate and completely enslaves people to the state."
Sunday, 8 January 2017
|Occupy Wall Street / Wikipedia|
"In 2015, according to PSZ, the richest 1% of people in America received 20.2% of all the income in the nation. Ten points of that 20.2% came from equity income, net interest, housing rents, and the capital component of mixed income. Which is to say, 10% of all national income is paid out to the 1% as capital income.
"Put another way: the average person in the top 1% receives a UBI equal to 7.5 times the average income in the country.
"If passive income is so destructive, then the income situation of the 1% surely is a national emergency! Where does the 1% get its meaning with all of that free cash flowing in?" he asks, citing an argument often used against a UBI for the poor.
Saturday, 7 January 2017
|Working with taro roots in Hawaii|
This was reinforced by what St Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 that "the one who is unwilling to work shall not eat."
Other more positives passages in Genesis, in which labour is presented as a sharing in God's work of creation, also add to this view:
"God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:28)
"The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it." (Gen. 2:15)