GUY STANDING on why universal basic income is gathering momentum

Jeremy Corbyn named Guy Standing to a UK Labour Party working group investigating UBI

Guy Standing argues why a whole new approach to the way people are paid is necessary.

0
0:00 0:10

NBR Radio has teamed up with Spotify to bring Sunday Business to its podcast platform. You can also listen to the full episode free on SoundCloud here

This week's featured guest on NBR Sunday Business with Andrew Patterson is Guy Standing, a former British academic who has written extensively about universal basic income.

Universal basic income is an idea that seems to be gathering some momentum globally, with cautious support for the idea being expressed from both sides of the political divide as well as from a few Silicon Valley heavyweights including Tesla founder Elon Musk.

However, former Prime Minister John Key described the idea of paying everyone a fixed income, irrespective of their circumstances, as “barking mad.”

In New Zealand this week to promote his recent book, Basic Income and How We Can Make It Happen, Andrew Patterson discusses the idea with Mr Standing, who argues a fundamental breakdown of income distribution and a growing level of job displacement as a result of technology advances requires an entirely new approach to the way people will be paid in the future.


76 · Got a question about this story? Leave it in Comments & Questions below.


This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags

Post Comment

76 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

UBI will be the worst invention of all time, once we're all on the dole the State will micromanage us until we resemble nothing like free human beings. The State will have every reason to do this, to manage us like financial assets so we stay within our budget.

Reply
Share
  • 3
  • 2

That form of social manipulation has already been implemented in one form.

Emissions Tax Scam.

The system enabled governments to lever up or down states of social suppression by altering the front line impact/cost (based on false market forces) with reducing forms if legislative action.

National implemented Labours scam after rejecting it in the 2008 run up. Taxcinda will be as transparent with it's intentions with ETS as it has been with all other social suppression methods(tax). Gullible fools and money will be parted if it gets in.

Reply
Share
  • 4
  • 2

It's communism, let's call it what it is. Once everyone is on an UBI, it's just a hop, skip and jump to setting total income based on 'from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs'. It will be disastrous and cost hugely when the economic devastation it brings is wrought, like every other time the cold, hard realities of human nature run up against lofty ivory tower ideals of the out-of-touch communists.

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

My problem with it all is the incentive issue and /or rights. Why should
people receive something from other people as a 'right' for nothing. Seems
like once that is in place you get obvious problems as I think we are seeing
with democracy itself. A growing proportion of people will always vote for something for nothing
justifying UBI because of
increasing proportion of wealth going to capital not labour... as we know and as I suspect, that is largely illusionary consequence of central bank
policy unintentionally directing massive inflation to asset prices. What if that corrects over time, will the UBI recipients return the cash to owners
of capital? Also even if true, unemployment rates in UK and USA and much of the world are at multi
year lows but watching the news or lazy rhetoric about Trump or Amazon
/China stealing all our jobs...well, sure it hurts some but system wideunemployment is very low. if jobs worldwide are benefitting
maybe at expense of some people I don't really see that as net negative that needs correction mechanism that will likely cause stagnation. Specific groups can be "helped up" as indeed I see that as a key part of a civilised society
Eg. Look at people in Wales say who are multi generation welfare dependents, they just don't adapt to what has fundamentally changed/ ( mining
etc )but if same happened in a free market type of place, you move. Sounds
heartless but I think it is more heartless to find conscience pleasing short
term fixes (take from winnners, give to losers) but in the process set up
long term handicaps to adapting to inevitable change.
i just disagree at a more basic level with massive redistribution schemes no matter how well meaning. Evidence of success is weak and predictions of long term impzct are there to see in long term welfare dependent ghettos around the world... why lock that in even further?

Reply
Share
  • 6
  • 0

UBI cant be implimented by itself.

I think you may be missing the point. Some of the population have this in the form of a benefit already. One of the biggest benefits will be reduced government administration.

The other major benefit is it takes some stress away from those who unexpectedly loss their job; including the stress that goes with this.

Unfortunately jobs dont have the security they had in the so called good times. The planet is reaching a point where it can no longer sustain growth, and what this means is businesses are substituting labour for robots and computers picking up route jobs to keep profit growth.

This leaves us with few choices, so too avoid widespread disharmony the UBI is viable option to consider. There are examples of it out there which suggests it does work. One suspects those against it would rather see wages kept to a minimum, as this would otherwise be competition for them.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Over 50% of our welfare is already a UBI, to those over 65. We currently ask those who are younger and working to pay for this.

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

Well when you think of it, over 20 percent of the population are on some type of benefit permanently now. If everybody got something why would you even bother to go to work? Let's face it if someone gives you a load of money for nothing you're not even going to bother getting up in the morning are you.

Reply
Share
  • 2
  • 0

Speak for yourself - the research shows the reverse. People want meaningful work.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 3

There's plenty that don't, and are more than happy to be paid to do nothing. The research shows it, so speak for yourself.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

What research? Please specify and provide a link.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I did some research, there's a whole gang of people waiting outside the local WINZ office for their dole checks ... and they're all sitting around quite happily doing nothing. Zero intention of working.

Reply
Share
  • 2
  • 0

So you spoke to them all individually did you? Or are you just anonymously making sweeping judgements?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 1

Most people don't like work so much that you have to pay them to do it.

Reply
Share
  • 2
  • 0

Taxcinda : If it moves tax it. If it moves again regulate it. If it stops subsidise it ! RR

Reply
Share
  • 5
  • 1

Should we point out that Tax-Bill English and his cohort have introduced an average of six new/increased taxes in each of their three terms, despite their promises to the opposite?

Or would that be terribly inconvenient?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

all well and good but on a forward looking basis there cannot be much of an argument about which party is most likely to increase taxes

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

The problem is that in the end a free market only provides perverse incentives. Changes in tax structures are often needed to ensure the right focus.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Bet you were impressed when National increased subsidies to property investors and business owners via the Accommodation Supplement and Working for Families, eh? And this after John Key labeled it "communism by stealth" (of course, that was when he was trying to get into power, not once he was in).

An absolute zero from National on philosophical consistency in the face of buying power.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I Agree, we need to help people to help themselves. with the increasing impact of automation on the workplace a UBI is setting society up for failure.

Targeted re-training in areas that are already under pressure such as teaching is where we need to focus. Incentivise STEM subjects, heath care ect which will allow people to succeed themselves and then be paid accordingly, rather than giving them something for nothing.

It starts to set a dangerous precedent that will be near impossible to change.

Reply
Share
  • 3
  • 1

Have any of you actually listened to the broadcast?
It says a lot about the people who comment here that we get the National Party key points letter writers or dogmatic ideologues who couldn't open their minds to any sort of serious discussion about possible solutions to the impact of major trends in society.
A great shame but probably a reflection of our inability to address anything seriously these days. And perhaps why young people feel so alienated these days.

Reply
Share
  • 2
  • 5

Maybe people are opening their minds to it, and are deciding that it's not such a great idea. Maybe you need to open your mind to the fact that just because you think it's a great idea, it doesn't mean everyone else will. Plus you taking it for granted that its only National party supporters that are against it, says something about your own entrenched views.

Reply
Share
  • 4
  • 0

So did you listen to the broadcast before you did your posts here Ivan? And do you think your comments make a positive contribution to the FUTURE issues being explored?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 3

I listened to it and thought it was telling that he thought billionaires were supporting it for the wrong reasons - increased automation which he said wouldn't threaten jobs. Honestly he came across as a fairly pompous leftie who thinks he knows better than the rest of us. His sneering comment about inherited wealth was also revealing.

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

Hi Karen, a lot of intelligent people have considered this and have all came to much the same conclusion.
That is, if implemented it would be highly inflationary resulting in the new poor being those on the UBI.
In other words no-one would be any better off in the medium to long term. It surely cannot be good policy to have our taxes directed into the least productive sector of NZ?
What disappoints me the most is that UBI is being touted by people who have been through economics at University.
But really I shouldn't be I suppose, as the same "economists" believed, (and many still do) a shortage of houses could be controlled simply by the RB governor pulling his lever.

Reply
Share
  • 2
  • 1

Hi John. Your first statement simply isn't true. A lot of intelligent, non-economist people have looked at it and consider it worthy of further exploration. Some countries have trialled it and some currently are.
But what is your alternative solution for addressing the future issue the broadcast raises?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 3

Karen, we already have all the enlightened answers in our current govt.
Lots and lots more people, lots and lots more cows, lots and lots more irrigation. Repeat annually until NZ resembles the land of the long drop.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 3

Many of us believe that the main objectives should prioritize increasing living standards for all over worrying too much about inequality as well as ensuring that anyone can have the opportunity to succeed in life. Given most of the wealthiest people in the world are first generation super wealthy there is no current evidence that I can see to support the idea that the rich control everything and have a mortgage on all of life's opportunities to the detriment of the rest of us. Until that situation changes I am happy to let market forces and the basic protection of liberties dictate the course of humanity. Attempts to solve future problems by the well meaning do not have a great track record of success unfortunately.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

So do you believe in the trickle down theory then Tim?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 1

The UBI was trialled in Canada in the 1970's. They saw an 11% reduction in workforce participation. In other words a lot more bludgers. This will happen here as well.

The UBI essentially would take it off those who do work and reward those that won't or can't work. Isn't that socialism?

Reply
Share
  • 3
  • 0

A UBI needs to be debated so that different versions are considered. What may be right now may not even be right for the future and vice-versa.
The concept of a UBI is that it is universal - everyone would get it ,like all currently get superannuation. Getting rid of the bureaucracy associated with benefits means that the cost is largely fiscally neutral. And certainly the amount proposed is not much of an incentive for people to give up work.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 2

"Getting rid of the bureaucracy ... ". Surely that will win over the Stale Pale Male NBR brigade.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Why then do we have a hard core of professional beneficiaries now? They survive on the lower benefit. Increse that financial reward for not attending work and basic logic says that more people will be able to survive on it.......

Please tell me why people wouldn't if you are so sure they wouldn't.

If there are less tax payers because there is an 11% reduction in workforce participation what will have to happen..........

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Have you tried"surviving" on a benefit?

Has the workforce reduced by 11% in all countries that have or are trialling UBI?

Or are you just being emotionally judgemental?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Taxcinda is dreaming about solutions that will wreck this country. Water tax farmers but it is okay she says because we will make sure they retain margins doesnt that mean higher price for milk and butter. Emission tax farmers will mean us being uncompetitive or again increase prices or other countries will take over dairy sector and wow the same global dairy emissions will continue. Find some real solutions, and increasing incomes doesnt sort it as that has happened with builders and carpenters due to skills shortage and directly increased cost of housing. Some councils increased wages to so called living wage and what happens to the rates - up up up. If you increase wages out of proportion to rest of the world then the costs of goods and services will just go up and problem not resolved. And those businesses that compete with Chinese just relocate factories to China. We will just turn into a dependent state eventually becoming too poor and reliant on China to get by. Look at Aussie as soon as chinese stopped buying minerals things went pear shape. Cant people learn.

Reply
Share
  • 4
  • 0

The idea of UBI is fundamentally flawed and is nothing more than posturing of various political parties regarding perceived economic equality, the key is to provide equality of opportunity rather than outcome.

Reply
Share
  • 4
  • 0

But the opportunity you talk about always ends up for the few not for all.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 2

In Godzone, everybody gets the opportunity to learn how to read, write and count.
Not everybody gets the opportunity to have committed parents as first educators. So some children will be relatively advantaged in respect to education, profiting from the enriched learning environment.

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

But all the international evidence shows for example Julie that children in poverty suffer in terms of their education, yet flourish as soon as they move out of poverty.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 1

I think that you misrepresent whatever research it is that you refer to (you do not give the paper(s) that you rely on.
But enrichment of the learning environment is what gives children a head start in the learning stakes.
Monetary enrichment does not necessarily give an advantage.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Look at the 2012 The OECD report (“Low-Performing Students – Why They Fall Behind and How to Help Them Succeed”) . It found that the poorest 25% of New Zealand students were more than six times more likely to do badly in maths than those from the richest 25%. This result is five times worse than that for Australia. Only three other countries, Israel, Poland and Ireland, were worse than New Zealand.

Look at the eight year study in North Carolina (Duke University, USA 1992 – 2003, “The Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth” which shows that boosting the incomes (without strings attached) for poorest families will close about half of the gap in health, education and employment between the haves and the have nots. The families who were moved out of poverty with the regular payments displayed less stress-related behaviour. They had fewer arrests, had more quality time with their children, improved their parenting behaviours, while the children themselves were happier, stayed in school longer, and committed less crime, compared with poor families in Smoky Mountains who did not receive the payments. These improvements were greatest for the poorest families. No such changes were found in those families who did not receive the payments.
Is that enough for starters?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Karen you have confused your dependent variable. We were talking about people's ability to stand on their own feet : to become self- reliant and not beholden to some politic all party for their sustenance.
You fail completely to mention self - reliance as an outcome of your experiment.
Perhaps your aim is to produce people who are solely dependent on handouts.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Julie you are confused in a number of ways. Firstly I am Rose, not Karen. Secondly the dependent variable that you now introduce is your own ideological one. You have shifted the goal posts to it from your original statement that "monetary enrichment does not necessarily give an advantage". You challenged me to reference the research that shows otherwise. I have done so. The research also shows that lifting people from poverty enables them to take the opportunity to become self-reliant and move off benefits..

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Rose, did no one mention that maybe the parents who were "poor" at maths, may have children who are "poor" at maths?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I don't see any straight line causation between opportunity and outcome. In many instances it is disadvantage which drives performance. So trying to level the playing field beyond a basic minimum is a futile and potentially counterproductive exercise.

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

It does seem that Karen has some difficulty distinguishing between causation and correlation.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

It seems that you are intent on changing my name and resorting to personal abuse. Don't people say that's the first sign of losing an argument?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Do you also have difficulty with causation and correlation?
Easy to mistake Rose for Karen , if they are indeed separate people.
Abuse? Pffft.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

There is little evidence of the "many instances" you talk about Tim. But it certainly does occasionally happen, although less than when people are given an initial helping hand up.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Have you actually listened to the broadcast? Or are you simply preaching ideology? If you have listened, what are your specific criticisms?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 3

It's quite simple really. When you extort tax payers, the hardest working people to give equal benefit to those who do not work, you cause there to lack any reason to actually innovate
But it's more than just the psychological aspect that makes it fail. The economic and market side is the most important. Understanding the most basic economics and market principles shows you that it's Hegelian. It perpetuates the problem. If you give everyone $2,000 a month, prices will quickly inflate and this will lead to $2,000 being less valuable and cause further volatility in the already incredibly manipulated markets. In a free market society, prices will deflate due to more businesses competing for lower prices, creating better products, innovating and then creating a circle of success based on the demand of the individual with their dollar, leading to more employment and higher wages that go further when it comes to the price of living. This creates more options for everyday individuals trying to succeed themselves. Charity becomes more realistic when one has more money in their wallet. Instead of extortion, people are able to put money in community pools by the voluntaryist ideology. Those who simply cannot work can be provided for by their community and people will have more money to spare for such charitable work. Healthcare costs would be dramatically lower due to competition. Fewer people would be sick. Better innovations in healthcare would be available and for that reason, there would be less people to provide for. Not only would people have more money to spare, but it would take far less money to provide for individuals. With UBI, the middle class, those who are extorted the worst and are suffering the most will be forced into further poverty and we will see the final end to the middle class. That simply means more people being forced into UBI. Why should the people who work the hardest be equal to those who work the least? The very capitalists that the collectivists hate so much are the ones the collectivists depend on via extortion. It's time to snap out of the mind set of "Why can't I be successful?" and start asking, "What can I do to be successful?"

Reply
Share
  • 4
  • 0

Very good post. But I think these people are foreseeing a time when technical advances, computer/robots/new machines take over too many "jobs" leaving nothing for our school leavers to do.
I bet they said that back when the wheel was invented too. And there was still lots to do then, and I bet there will always be work for those who seek it. But then my opinion leaves no room for an over funded bureaucracy to steer us all safely through this imaginary problem. So my opinion will not be wanted and will not count.

Reply
Share
  • 2
  • 0

I no economist ( i am an offset printer with an interest in philosophy and economics) but in my view technical advances have increased opportunity and expanded employment options

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

Exactly. 10/10

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

Your wasting your time. People like her have tunnel vision and their minds made up, and that is that. She's a follower plain and simple. It's not hard to see why there's so many people out there that will follow false prophets.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hey Ivan. You still haven't answered my question. Have you actually listened to the broadcast yet? What's your solution for the future issues it raises?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Come on now Karen, calm down, you'll just give yourself another headache.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Come on now Ivan. Even you can do better than to stoop so low.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

If these are your arguments against a UBI I'm fascinated to hear what you have to say about universal superannuation.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

It's a good thing. Why shouldn't people that have worked hard all their lives get superannuation in their latter years. People that have come to live here and then claim it after a few years, that's another story.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

The usual...welfare is great when it's your own turn at the trough. Other than that, it's reprehensible.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 1

Its not welfare when you've already paid for it

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Superannuation has been earned by a generation who grafted and for the majority understood "living within your means" , it is disrespectful to even contemplate applying the same yardstick to these folk and the current crop of young with an over inflated sense of entitlement.

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

My mother is about to get superannuation. She got her university education essentially free. Her student allowances more than covered her living costs until the oil shock of the 70s. She only worked over Xmas for extras, and even then had 3 weeks holidays. She didn't work other holidays or during term time. She and her contemporaries got good jobs on leaving university. Don't you sit on your high and mighty horse disrespecting my generation against the benefits you and my mother got.
And besides, the point we were discussing was the universality of the UBI versus that of superannuation and how selective arguments seem to be by people like yourself when comparing the two.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Take it easy Karen, who looked after your family enabling your dad to work and pay taxes? Or, doesn't that count?

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

What are you talking about John?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

One would have thought that with socialism having failed spectacularly every time and everywhere it's been tried that there'd be considerable embarrassment, and hence reticence, about advocating even more brazen forms of it. Apparently not.

Reply
Share
  • 3
  • 1

Too right. We need to get rid of the Pension - that socialist grasping of money from the hard-working and redistributing to folk who are no longer working for their bread.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

pensions are by and large not a form of socialism. A more pure form of pension would be one that requires each worker to save for his or her own retirement. However in our society governments have preferred to spend those savings on the pensions of the previous generation. Given the temptation for government not to ring fence this cash and changes in the demographics of society personally I would prefer the private pension approach but that would require current workers to pay for both current pensions and their own future pensions.

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

It had to happen. The dancing Cossacks are arriving....

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

We already do have a UBI - it just starts at 65. Yet amongst those over 65 most people continue to contribute to society in all sorts of different ways. I'm in favour of it. It's not about creating a nation of bludgers it's accepting that income as with schooling and hospitals can be provided at a basic level for all. Sure some folks will take it and do nothing, but we all ready have those in society anyway. I think it's a good idea for all the reasons given.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

So why should I pay to fund this nonsense?

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

To keep some people from competing for jobs, making sure there are enough for everyone.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 2

This is quite possibly the most ridiculous statement i have ever read, what would progress look like without competition

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

Stop calling it UBI. Call it pension (for the oldies) and Student Benefit (for the young). Those in between get nothing!. (Hang on, isn't that Gareth Morgan's GOP idea?)

If those in between get money too, then I will expect you all to work very hard from now on, to keep me in the style to which I hope to become accustomed!

But if everyone is to be like me, who?? will work to add the value to something to pay for my UBI? (e.g. the dairy's cream manufactured into yummy desserts, the farming land cultivated into crops, the computer chips getting software so as to perform their magic).

If no-one works as we can all get by on a UBI, then surely our country's businesses and land will become less productive? How long will it be before the payer of my UBI has no money left to keep me in the style to which I hope to have become accustomed?

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

You are pointing directly to a major problem with the arithmetic.
5 million people each receiving $5000/ annum, or about $100/ week, will take $25 billion will it not?
That is one third of the tax take.
In order to remove the disincentive to work, all those who work must receive a tax credit equivalent to the UBI.
Let's say 4 million of us go to work and get a tax credit of $5000/ annum.
That is another 20 billion, bringing the total to $45 billion, well over half the current tax take.
Barking mad is not too far off the mark.
It would mean user pays for almost everything: health, education, etc. because the government would have no money left after paying the UBI and the tax credit to those who work.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 1

If you want to make any sort of reasonable attempt to talk about the nett costs of a UBI perhaps at least read Gareth Morgan's work on it and the TOP party's associated policy.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Post New comment or question

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.