Universal Basic Income

AR Andrew Reitemeyer Public Seen by 238

Many Pirate Parties support and have policies promoting the adoption of a universal and or Unconditional Basic Income UBI). The new leader of the Labour Party has expressed interest in UBI. Should the Pirate Party of New Zealand take a stand on the principle of UBI.

The UBI has already been discussed somewhat in another thread on Social Welfare:

Research and resources:

Online resources, including calculators for different schemes of balances between certain taxes and UBI amounts, offered here: http://bigkahuna.org.nz/

The Icelandic Pirate Party brings the UBI into parliament:

Talk by economics Professor Philippe van Parijs, summing up the usual pat arguments against UBI, and the economic rebuttal to those arguments:

An argument for Guaranteed Minimum Income from Milton Friedman (he calls it Negative Income Tax):


Andrew Reitemeyer Wed 26 Nov 2014 7:27PM

IMO we should not get bogged down in detail about its extent,, how it will be funded or how the goal will be achieved at this stage, We can, however, state our general position as either for or against UBI in principle.


David Peterson Thu 27 Nov 2014 12:37AM



Ben Vidulich Thu 27 Nov 2014 8:45AM


This would be an excellent contribution for a proposal.

While it is still in discussion form would you care to elaborate on your one-word argument, @davidpeterson?


Ben Vidulich Thu 27 Nov 2014 8:46AM

@andrewreitemeyer What were the leading arguments when overseas Pirate Parties decided on this policy?


Hubat McJuhes Thu 27 Nov 2014 12:15PM

@zl4bv I have followed the debate in PPDE and there the strongest argument was along the line that current welfare is currently implemented a means of control of those in need which is contradictory/counter-productive to the idea of enabling people to regain control of their lives. It is embarrassing instead of empowering.

In a society that organises itself so that more than 10% of those interested in paid work are excluded from the regular labour market it is cynic to argue that the individual could try harder to get a paid position and if she/he still fails to be successful it may be more or less her/his fault, so restrictive policies in regards of welfare are justified. Ask me if you want to have that laid out in more detail. I can tell from my own experiences here.

The point here is, that in the moment that you take the condition out of the service, dignity is protected.

More than that the costs for the bureaucracy to maintain this tool of oppression has been calculated against the incredibly cheap equal distribution scheme, which pays itself off to some degree.

And there is the as aspect of data protection as well, as classic welfare requires the individual to completely disclose pretty much all aspects of life that the agency deem relevant. This problem would be completely extinct by its root with an unconditional payment. If the UBI comes with a change in the taxing system where income tax gets replayed by a flat tax or by an equally high raise of GST, then this advantage would expand to all employees as well!

Furthermore is the whole concept of the BruttoInlandsProduct -> GDP is based on the misconception that work is only considered work if it is paid. It is obvious that in a society there is lots of work provided without any payment, be it growing up children, caring for elderly parents,... It's as simple as that: if you pay someone to clean your flat, then that counts towards the GDP and it is beneficial to the society; if you do it yourself, it is unpaid, hence it is worthless.
Studies show that in OECD countries unpaid work, if compared to paid work, can contribute up to 75% of the productivity of the country. But this will not be appreciated by the statistics.

From these numbers we can learn that people who are not paid are not necessary lazy or useless or rejecting being productive. With a small number of exceptions are these people productive and help the society saving a huge amount of costs that would need to spend for paid workers otherwise.

It is therefore not only fair but more that rationale to pay everyone without condition to enable them to do what they would anyway do without pressurising them, additionally to the stress that many of them endure anyway.

For me, personally, the most important point is to take the principle of supporting participation serious. Amongst all political values I regard participation as the highest amongst them, as it is the foundation, the 'condition sine qua non', for democracy itself.


Hubat McJuhes Thu 27 Nov 2014 12:36PM

For NZ Gareth Morgan and Susan Guthrie have done the research and all the math to argue for the positive effects and demonstrating the possibility to actually realistically do it in his book 'The Big Kahuna - Tax and Welfare; Turning Tax and Welfare in New Zealand on its head'.
If you or anybody else is interested I am more than happy to borrow you my copy.

You may also want to check their online resources, including calculators for different schemes of balances between certain taxes and UBI amounts, offered here: http://bigkahuna.org.nz/

There you find self-criticising notes that the concept of UBI doesn't cases for specific cases of exceptional needs. My stance on this problem area is, that we should see the UBI as the general purpose tool to replace our welfare system with something different - being different in being in-different to the subjects. That's what it is for and that is where it ends.

All additional individual special needs could be addressed by a fond driven system, similarly to the ACC. This fond would be administered by an agency that considers applications on a case-to-case basis and should have all sorts of tools at hand to address special requirements in the most appropriate ways - with being permanent regular additional payments being one amongst others.


[deactivated account] Fri 28 Nov 2014 7:17AM

I believe that the for the UBI is that it would allow current beneficiaries to engage in meaningful work or business opportunities of whatever scale.
If people would rather volunteer, then they would not have to be forced to seek paid work.
If people want to start a business, they would be supported financially while they get the business running and not have to raid the petty cash to survive.


Hubat McJuhes Fri 28 Nov 2014 9:07AM

The Icelandic Pirate Party brings the UBI into parliament:


Andrew Reitemeyer Sat 29 Nov 2014 8:40PM

There is also the fact that people can engage in activities / work that is currently done by the state. For example care of the sick and elderly who can be cared for a home,

It also gives budding entrepreneurs a safety net to fall back on if a business go through rough times or fail leading to improved innovation. It would also allow businesses to take on people on short hours and build up to full time positions.


Danyl Strype Fri 5 Jun 2015 6:18AM

Here's a good talk by economics Professor Philippe van Parijs on the usual pat arguments against UBI, and the economic rebuttal to those arguments:

I think the introduction of a UBI would be as much of a game-changer as the introduction of social welfare (unemployment and sickness benefits, public housing etc) by the fist Labour government in NZ (1935-1949). These innovations were unimaginable before Labour emerged as a political force, but once they were put in place, they became as politically obvious as universal pension do now, until the 1980s and the beginning of our "structural adjustment" by neo-liberalism (beginning with Rogernomics).


Danyl Strype Fri 5 Jun 2015 9:02AM

Here's an argument for Guaranteed Minimum Income from the "right", none other than the high priest of neoliberalism, Milton Friedman (he calls it Negative Income Tax):

This underlines that like copyright reform, free code softare, and open source development, the concept of UBI/GBI can unite libertarians traditionally divided along "left"/"right" lines. If, as @andrewreitemeyer says, we campaign on the concept of UBI/GBI, rather than getting bogged down in a specific proposal at this stage, we can join/ facilitate a broad public debate, to democratically find a specific UBI/GBI proposal the majority will support.


[deactivated account] Fri 5 Jun 2015 10:45AM

With the exception of our libertarian troll from Epsom, we are all in favour of ubi gbi as a process. The only controversial topic has ever been my tax proposal to fund it, as most do not have the dedication to make treasury figures work.

It can be done, and I already have the proposed figures.
Let's take this stand for a decent society.


Danyl Strype Fri 5 Jun 2015 2:33PM

An example of the growing support for UBI:

There is a growing impetus in some parts of the world to provide everyone with a fixed sum of money that would enable them, either as individuals or households, to address basic needs such as food and housing. This proposal for a Universal Basic Income has support among people across the political spectrum. Forty-six percent of Canadians support the idea of a UBI and the people of Switzerland will vote next year on a proposal to implement it in that country.

Evaluated trials in India with 6,000 men, women, and children have delivered positive results “the simple fact is that people with basic security work harder and more productively, not less.”

This approach has historical precedent stretching back to the days before neoliberalism colonized collective thinking. Martin Luther King, Milton Freidman, John Kenneth Galbraith have all supported versions of the idea. Richard Nixon proposed it in 1969. It passed through the House easily but stalled in the Senate. <<


The problem is not sophisticated machines – it’s about whose interests are served by the people who finance their development. Or as Guardian correspondent Hannah Devlin puts it, “Given that we’re bound to lose this race against the machine, isn’t it time we began thinking of how we might harness it to improve the quality of our lives, rather than merely enrich the corporations that own it?” <<

If machines are on the cusp of doing most of our work, and both hardware and software have already replaced thousands (if not missions) of jobs that used to be done by humans, it makes sense to start decoupling income from work.


Andrew Reitemeyer Sat 6 Jun 2015 8:08PM

We should be seeking to cooperate with others in bringing UBI to national attention. Tighter cooperation with The New Economics Movement would be a good start.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 14 Jul 2015 2:05PM


David Peterson Tue 14 Jul 2015 3:34PM

Pointless bringing up Milton Friedman, as nobody here in this thread is proposing what he was saying. As NOBODY in this thread is supporting his form of the proposal.

Which was $300/year to replace ALL other forms of welfare.

Nope, everybody here would be seeking vastly higher figures.

Only person here who might just perhaps maybe support this, would be myself. As theoretically it would at least be an improvement over the current system (although still not optimal). But on the flip side, I believe in the long run it would cause far too much damage as it grows and expands (and even in the short term it would do a vast amount of damage by giving the appearance of lending support to crazy ideas put forward by others).

Have a read of this:


Andrew Reitemeyer Wed 15 Jul 2015 5:15AM

It is not as if Milton Friedman invented the idea in the first place. And the link is broken btw. - negative income tax is not the same as UBI in anycase


Danyl Strype Tue 21 Jul 2015 11:28PM

I referenced Friedman simply to point out that a redistributive system to guarantee a minimum income (and consumer purchasing power) can be compatible with neo-liberal ideology. Of course a system proposed now, for Aotearoa, would be different to what Friedman proposed then, for the US.

From the link that @hubat mentioned, the Finnish announcement:

marks the first commitment from a European country to implement a Basic Income experiment and will be the first experiment in a developed nation since the 1970s. Other experiments have been performed more recently in India, Namibia and Brazil. Every experiment so far has reported very positive results with improved economic performance, health, housing and other outcomes.

BTW Here's a TEDx Talk on UBI by Karl Widerquist


Danyl Strype Sat 1 Aug 2015 1:53PM

I've started a cross-party working group on UBI (as a subgroup of the Aotearoa General Assembly Loomio group), for anyone keen to get involved in campaign for some form of UBI:


Rob Ueberfeldt Sun 2 Aug 2015 8:12AM

I like the concept of UBI. The implications for tertiary education alone make it attractive to me.

Some of the articles I have read where they are giving housing to the homeless in the US without hurdles like maintaining drug or alcohol free status with very positive results IE recipients having a large degree of success becoming alcohol and drug free. Seem to have some parallels to UBI.

David mentions the danger of unlimited growth of such a scheme. I think this could balance out the unlimited growth of the bureaucracy of our current welfare state. ACC is a classic example of an out of control bureaucracy that could be tempered by having a UBI.


[deactivated account] Sun 2 Aug 2015 8:22AM

Personally I favour a simple UBI at the rate of $500 per week, which would be about twice as often the superannuation payments, and sufficient for tertiary students. ( Paid in excess by a single flat transactions tax )
I would point out that the main point of a UBI is to allow the young, the old, the students and the small business owners to live and to not worry about whatever petty regulation the major parties cook up each year.
The UBI brings certainty back to people's lives in planning how to live with decency and dignity, which is something that opponents of the UBI do not bring to their side of the debate.


Danyl Strype Tue 4 Aug 2015 2:54PM

Another talk on UBI from Prof. Guy Standing, author of the book "The Precariat".