Monday, 18 December 2017

Killer Arguments Against Citizen's Income, Not (11)

Spotted by Mombers in The Guardian:

You can see the attractions of a basic income for Silicon Valley. Firms such as Uber, whose drivers are classified as self-employed “partners” rely on this risk-shift model. Even as Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, heaps praise on a basic income, the tech giant does all in its legal power to avoid tax and dodge paying its fair share towards the social infrastructure it relies on.

The left must not allow itself to be seduced. A basic income is a distraction from these core issues of economic power; a radical-sounding excuse to look the other way from the less glamorous, more complex question of how to ensure labour market rights are properly enforced. Accepting a deterioration in employment rights and working conditions in exchange for a basic income could be dangerously counterproductive...

The left will have to pick its battles. It must focus on winning the right to a decently paid job for all, not sell out by extolling a basic income as a panacea for the ills of the modern labour market. It must choose the fight for power, not the fight for a dribble of cash.


Jeez, that's the diagonal comparison from Hell.

The fair comparison is, would a Citizen's Income "work" better than the current welfare system? The answer depends on what you think the exact point of a welfare system is and what is wrong with the current one, but the answer is "Yes of course".

This is quite a separate topic from employment rights; working hours; the minimum wage; the taxation of employment income; improving training and re-training to help people get and keep a job; and/or how to deal with monopolies. We have to deal with those in parallel. Nobody said that we have to "accept a deterioration in employment rights and working conditions in exchange for a basic income", that's utter horseshit.

10 comments:

Sobers said...

"The fair comparison is, would a Citizen's Income "work" better than the current welfare system? The answer depends on what you think the exact point of a welfare system is and what is wrong with the current one, but the answer is "Yes of course"."

You must remember that the Left regard the welfare system as a means of creating a voting bloc that is dependent 100% on the State, and thus will vote for the Party most likely to increase the size of the State. The actual welfare of the individuals is not really an issue, its just a means to an end. A CI scheme would stop everyone currently in the welfare system from being a supplicant, and make them more self reliant - want more money, go out and earn it, not try and get yourself on some more lucrative benefit stream (have kids, claim disability of some kind etc etc).

If people were forced to become more self reliant and independent then they would be far less likely to vote for the Left. Hence the Left will always oppose a CI scheme, unless its just a way of paying benefit claimants more than they get today, ie its in addition to the existing system.

Lola said...

Sobers. It's not just the left that think that. In the UK so do the Torees. They have been winning power essentially by promising to run socialism more effectively and efficiently than Labour, for precisely the same reasons - buying votes. No party, not even the Torees under Thatcher, has ever made the case for not doing welfarism / socialism.

mombers said...

@Lola the Tories are happy to buy voters with massive welfare handouts, it's just that they go after the retired.

Ben Jamin' said...

@ Mombers

Good one.

Mark Wadsworth said...

S: A CI scheme would stop everyone currently in the welfare system from being a supplicant, and make them more self reliant - want more money, go out and earn it...

That's one of the advantages. Less inequality, more output.

L, M, BJ, agreed.

Bayard said...

"L, M, BJ, agreed."

S, agreed too.

We are all in agreement, is this a first?

James Higham said...

Separate topic from LVT?

Mark Wadsworth said...

JH, yes.

Lola said...

All, I'm a 'retired', in the sense that 'they' (i.e. me and you) pay me a pension and tax me on my profits. It's bizarre. Why not just net it off? Which under CI you could - if you taxed income, which you wouldn't under LVT / CI.

And I spent my £100 winter fuel allowance on booze...

Sobers said...

"We are all in agreement, is this a first?"

Sort of. I like the idea of a CI, but I have a feeling its one of those things that you can't get to from a means tested benefits system, because under a MTBS there will always be people who get more for it than they would under CI, regardless of how generous (or not) either are. And cutting people's payments just doesn't happen in social democratic countries.

Basically countries introduce welfare systems when they reach a level of wealth to afford them, and that pretty much universally means a level of wealth not enough to pay everyone a CI. So what spare money there is gets directed at the most needy cases. This system then grows and over time as (hopefully) the country gets wealthier it can afford higher levels of benefit payments, and to a wider proportion of people. Eventually you reach the situation we have today where a country probably could afford a CI, of a subsistence level for all. Yet the existing system, as it is targeted allows many to live far above that level, so moving to a CI is politically unacceptable, as many would lose out. Modern western democracies cannot in peacetime reduce welfare payments to the poorest without some massive exterior force driving it - the Irish financial crash was one such. So as MTBS always grow at least as fast as the economy does, there never comes a time when there's enough spare taxable capacity to swap to a CI and not cause some to lose out.

The proof to me would be why no-one has managed to do it - if its such a good idea why hasn't it happened? Its been trialled at various times, yet it has never got off the ground. Rather like the NHS, if its such a good idea why is no-one else doing it?