Thursday, 12 January 2017

Pro and against UBI in Australia

Troy Henderson, PhD candidate in political economy at the University of Sydney, and Gigi Foster, associate professor with the school of economics at the University of New South Wales, debate the possibility of introducing UBI in Australia in an interview in The Guardian.

"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.

'If you lose your job, UBI means knowing you can pay next week’s rent or power bill without having to interact with Centrelink... UBI could also afford Australians greater opportunity to take a risk or have a break. It might provide seed capital for a small business, support while doing voluntary work, or some cash for a much-needed holiday," he continues.

It would "put some meat on the Australian “'air go' bone," but it would be expensive.

"It would mean Australians accepting a tax to-GDP-ratio as high as France (44%) or Denmark (47%) compared with our current level of around 27%," he sys 

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. 

"Using a mid-range figure of $20,000 yields a total cost of about $380bn per year, which is more than twice our present welfare bill. Where would this money come from?" she asks.

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