Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) will provide more wealth for all and enable liberty for New Zealand
This post is designed to demonstrate that the premise of Unconditional Basis Income (UBI) is a step closer to liberty; not away. It will also further show that UBI will increase wealth for the majority of New Zealand. In 2017 the world is going through technological changes not only driving decentralisation but also driving cultural changes. We are heading towards a society where our ability to exchange our labour for a medium of exchange is diminishing and once economically possible the majority of positions will be replaced by technology either through the drive for profit or the drive through the state for safety. The pros and cons of this new world we are moving into are out of scope of this post and although we may delude ourselves that we can stop the progress (aka Luddites) or we will merely find new opportunities for value (linear style economics) to those that felt similar views through investigation into the possibilities of this new world have finally found that this is the end to the paradigm of being paid to ‘Think’ much like the end of the majority of ‘doers’ in the previous century. This changing society will dictate how a civilisation moves forward. There are multiple options to this new world which include removing benefits and allowing the ‘capital’ owners thrive and utilize wealth in order to build Walls and security to ensure they don’t have a rise of on their hands, having a complicated means-tested benefit structure which would ensure the life of the state moving forward or my preference which is a UBI thus enabling less complexity and allowing the people to fund such a platform however they see fit.
In scope for this argument is to define if the UBI should be classified as a step towards a libertarian society and how this will create wealth. What is not in scope is how it will function, how much it should be, who will pay for it and if the beneficiaries of today are better off.
The assumption’s of this argument is the following
- No further taxation is required
- Over 18-year-Olds will receive UBI with a kiwi passport and who can show their address in NZ
- All benefits and pensions will stop and be replaced
- Not increasing UBI as inflation takes over
What is UBI?
UBI is a benefit to every citizen designed to relieve the stress of being out of work, topping up lower income earners and removing the waste from our government departments. This UBI is given regardless and therefore no means testing is required. The amount is designed to free the individual from the needs in life aka food, shelter and warmth. (not iPhones, Broadband and flat screen TVs)
Liberty for ALL!
The first aspect of this post is to show that UBI actually promotes liberty aka freedom for the majority of the population. We can split this up into defining liberty and then linking how UBI is a step closer to such an ideal and not away. Liberty is a state of being free within a society from oppressive restrictions imposed by some form of hierarchy; in other words, this is the ability to make choices in your life how you best see fit as long as those choices do not restrict the liberty of others. Not very complicated but today we have a democratically formed government. This hierarchy government imposes currently laws that we must all abide by irrespective to if you agree. This is not to underestimate the large population that may believe in democracy and even promote it as a great way of making decisions but however, you feel if there is one person…. Even one person who does not wish to participate means that we do not have Liberty for all and telling them to go live in Somalia is also not helping.
Our current system allows the right to vote for all and the largest voting populous receive some form of benefit from the Government(1) which means that in its current format the larger voting populous tend to vote for more benefits for their needs (this is not a complaint as humans, in general, make decisions for the benefit for themselves and their direct tribe(2)). This welfare state has grown at a rate over the last 60 years that not only can we not sustain but also no one originally thought was going to eventuate(3). UBI will remove the ability for voting for forced redistribution of wealth to only specific areas of the economy and will replace with an even redistribution to every individual who qualifies. You can choose to receive or not but you cannot influence another person from taking or not taking the basic income.
Coercion and Social
As per the definition of liberty, having any form of hierarchical force goes against the philosophy of liberty. Thus coercive means of the state can push individuals into compliance as they do not wish to go to Somalia and they do not wish to be fined/go to jail and so they voluntary comply not to self-medicate and give taxes among other things. This same logic can progress into the workplace, due to the debt that each individual is born into (New Zealand has $XX’XXX(4)) and the fact that the moment you leave home you must be part of the rat race to keep up with paying back your debt and then spend up to 30 years to have the ability to own the right to not have a weekly fee from society in order to live. Only the ones on the full-time benefit have the privilege to the time to think and live without coercion and yet they cannot take advantage of such time as the society distances themselves from the lazy welfare bludgers. UBI will handle both these points in parallel. With everyone on UBI, there are no isolating factors to unemployment and it would be literally a choice if you wish to take time out and learn a new skill or utilise your skills and providing value to society how you see fit(5). Your way of life may be disrupted but due to the UBI you can negotiate your contract with your employer, become self-employed or leave your unethical job without the fear of starving of freezing to death.
Government waste is a frustrating factor for everyone. Without a long-term goal for ministries, they will always find it hard not to waste money. In most profitable business there are a 5 and 10-year goals and strategic goals. In ministries, there is an election every four years with potentially opposite views. We hear about these projects in mid-flight or going over budget monthly and it has become such a norm now that it’s a joke. I myself have worked with many organisations both private and public and can fully back that a change in strategic thinking or mid-freeze of waterfall projects costs the consumer or the taxpayer millions and then there is the actual running of the departments. These costs can range into the billions(6). UBI would use current technology to have a user-operated system utilising their passport number and bank account. It would be fully automated and would only require a skeleton crew for customer service, negotiations with the bank whom bids for the contract could also include these customer service parts to even further limit costs. A fully automated state is a more liberal state.
Ever had to go to MSD or IRD or any state department and ask for money or a time delay on paying your tax? See how much information you have to give? When I was audited by the IRD they let slip that my Facebook had X info on and Linkedin told me I had an IRD visitor. Let alone they requested access to all my bank accounts, address, financial statements, what car I drove etc. It was a ridiculous invasion of privacy and the remark I got “it’s not what the website (IRD website) says, it’s what I say”. UBI will require no information, no intrusion. If you want it? Put your passport number in and your bank account number. Anything else would be voluntary and not a prerequisite.
If everyone has 10k then no one has 10k
As we release 10k (for example) per person into the market the market will likely inflate in certain markets and constrict in others thus causing a 10-20 year inflation to make the UBI redundant. This may sound harsh but this is the idea of removing the need for a benefit and should be a long-term goal of the UBI. As society moves from an extrinsically motivated group (money) to an intrinsic motivator group (passion) the need for money for the basic requirements will filter out. This may seem contradictory to my above statement about technology removing jobs but if you look carefully we are MOVING into a society and it’s this transition that everyone needs basic needs to get through. Once we are there and there is a 60% unemployment, businesses with no labour like food generation(7), house building(8) and energy(9) will lower their costs so much that the inflated UBI will still mean you will not starve and you will not freeze and personal responsibility will still be required to live a better lifestyle.
Further libertarian points could be sourced, as you can imagine that once you start to automate the state you can start to automate competition. Imagine healthcare that is linked to your UBI payments? Police? In fact, imagine a fully automated service that splits your UBI up to all the companies you wish to support for that year? Without much shifting, we would be a more free society 10 years from now.
When you think of benefits you don’t think of more wealth and you shouldn’t.. the current benefits system has no driver for the individual to be off of the benefit other than social drivers and it has become socially acceptable to take handouts over the years(10) and it will only get worse. To break this down on how UBI will drive greater wealth we must look at how wealth is created and also what drives innovation and productivity. We live in a zero sum game with a variable that is based on value and technology. Wealth begins with an idea…. The human mind finds an answer to a problem that we currently have or a problem that is to come, they then use resources and promote such a problem solver to other humans who in turn will pay more than the resources are worth. AKA resource cost + Idea = product cost. Suddenly you have transferred that idea into a tangible medium of exchange that can be used for that lovely Ferrari you want. You may argue you are mere redistributing from another product and in effect you are but if more people have these ideas then more people are taking control of their life’s and redistributing wealth back to themselves. This isn’t just entrepreneurs this is the window washer who takes opportunity cost and solves the problem of dirty windows all the way to Elon Musk who is solving macro-level problems. Either way, there is a need for innovative thinkers in society to create wealth for themselves and for the society around them. Also for those that do not create wealth directly, they may create it indirectly through productivity! Sounds like I am reaching but hang in there. When creating a product or a service as humans we want to use the least amount of resources to create the same result(11) as an employee or a self-employed individual if you can perform the same value in a shorter time or with fewer resources you are in effect creating more wealth (hopefully not just to the Australian business owner).
Innovation and Min Wage
We are finally realising that innovation requires time and less stress to become fully ingrained into our minds. Ever gone for a walk and had plenty of ideas? Or on holiday and suddenly you have the next best invention to replace post it notes? Or better yet just a lunchtime walk with colleagues and now you have solved your problems. We know that through neuroscience and psychology that we need an environment for creativity and innovation. This environment must be free of stress(12). The majority of people’s stress comes from their financial life(13) and companies like Google have updated their position. Instead of just paying the most, they pay just enough to take the thought of money off of the table and then provide their employees with the freedom to choose how they work. The key here is paying their employees enough to take the idea of bills and food off of the table. Think about this…. If your partner providing you with organic food every day from your garden and your trust pays the rent on your house and your solar panels kept you warm. How much more innovation would you have in the knowledge that your NEEDs are actually met without any additional effort. There is a reason that once people make their first Million… the next 10 are easy. Minimal wage does solve this if you can get a job (which is going to get more complicated), with a min wage you SHOULD be able to take the thoughts of food and shelter off of the table but due to how jobs are centralized the cost of living is far more than the min wage allows and the new term living wage has popped up to try and rectify this. Wouldn’t it be better to decentralise and innovate for the future?
As an agile coach in my daily life we have seen in multiple industries that given the opportunity to work with intrinsic motivation, the individuals will work faster, have higher quality and deliver to market faster time after time.(14) and this is due to the idea that humans lived to fill their time with what they are passionate about. During the industrial revolution we created processes to drive humans to automate and thus redirecting their productivity and mastery (think Henry Ford and car makers vs the manufacturing line) and this worked great but the moment we automated people’s jobs with machines who do a great job and we required humans to fulfil a new ‘thinking’ job…. We have failed to change the way we manage. At a macro level, this is exactly the same and allowing individuals the time to follow their passions with seeing them joining the work that best suits them and thus productivity will increase.(15) UBI gives them that opportunity, individuals can leave and take a month out to think about what they want to do. Utilise free resources online to gather new skills and join different growing industries instead of being stuck in a candle making business.
There are plenty of fear based opposing arguments out there and I can fully understand from a statist (state lover) point of view. We want everyone doing what WE WANT THEM to do instead of allowing them to do what they want. It may sound backwards but I hope the above points have shown that by allowing them to lead themselves to fruition it can lead to greater value for all of New Zealand and less dependency, however, I do want to address a few opposing arguments and rectify them where I see fit.
“People on benefit now don’t do anything, why would UBI change that”
I was a big proponent of this originally until I spoke to people on the dole or family tax credit here in New Zealand. They do not have many benefits NOT to be on the dole. Moving off of the dole is similar to earning more than $70k… the more effort you put in the less value you get proportionately. With UBI there is no barrier to entry for anyone on the benefit, they will not lose any benefit and instead of losing the life they currently have any increase in earnings would better their circumstances. now they make additional funds no matter how minor. It would be advantageous for mothers to do some part time work as it would also add to their income vs losing significant benefits. However, if people can live and enjoy their life on the UBI then there only contribution to society would be rates and GST and if that is their choice then who am I to judge?
“We can never afford it”
Afford what? All arguments are based on affordability of today’s benefits and we haven’t even talked about how we…… Let’s assume 10k per person with the above conditions. This is $192 per week or a total amount. There are around 800’000 Kiwis living overseas and roughly 400’000 perm resident holders and 1 million children below 18 this leaves us roughly (would be good if the state gave us the figures) 3.3 million adults in New Zealand giving us a total of $33 billion NZD. We currently spend $25.2 billion direct expenses to social welfare. This leaves a gap of only 8.1 billion which is where we are trending income. This doesn’t include the additional tax we more than likely would bring in through this strategy or a number of expenses we could knock on the head due to the UBI. At a crowdsourcing level, we would find a solution if we wanted a fair and equal system. So no… we wouldn’t need to raise taxes, we just wouldn’t have the ability to reduce taxes but you would receive a $192 tax rebate each week and for 72% of us… that is better.
In Conclusion, most arguments are based on sound conservatism logic. WE don’t want THEM having something because WE don’t want to pay for it. Well as an NON-passport owner myself I am a promoter of the UBI without even receiving the benefit, I also am a high tax payer and STILL think this is better. I want to enable our population irrelevant of income. I want people to think for themselves and not have boundaries that the state imposes. I want min wage abolished and allow people to negotiate their own rate. I want my kids when they leave school to have the ability to be enabled to do something innovative and productive and not be forced into a crappy job just to feed themselves. Most of all I want all of us to be able to mitigate this next paradigm shift, I want us to find our own new bespoke place in the world as Googles AI removes jobs and Robots make us lazy. There will be so many opportunities to do something that YOU want to do and getting $192 a week… is more than enough to take the stress away from having to sell blood to get food or be on the ever expensive dole that will end up bankrupting the state and the rich will end up building that Wall?
$90 Rent for a room
$50 Food (vego)
$52 for your fun