Monday, 3 April 2017

Introducing UBI in the Australian context

It’s high time we take it seriously, argues Charlie Young at The New Daily.

"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)

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