How and why of UBI

Comments on the  Public Address/Polity post Home-spun non-truths look at ways of paying for a Universal basic Income and why it could be a good idea.

Daniel Carr:

Treasury has a page that describes a simple method for modelling raising revenue through income tax. It takes into account reduced GST revenue and wages from changes to the income tax rate. Obviously there’s more to a UBI then that, but it’s a good start if you’re thinking about how feasable it would be.

I’ve made a spreadsheet that implements it. Feel free to see what you can come up with.

It’s set for a $11,000 Adult UBI and $4000 child UBI that completely replaces jobseekers, dbp, student allowance, invalids benefits and offsets student loans by 50% (i.e. living expenses), but leaves pensioners no worse off. I get a net cost of $26,763 billion.

It can be done with the following tax rates on the current brackets plus a new ‘above $150000’ bracket. It results in net income increase for people on and below the median income from wages and salaries. Negative transfers kick in just above that:

His suggested tax rates:

  • up to $14000: 35% (currently 10.5%)
  • up to $48000: 38% (currently 17.5%)
  • up to $70000: 46% (currently 30%)
  • up to $150000: 56% (currently 33%)
  • above $150000: 66% (currently 33%)

He doesn’t say whether his suggestions includes the ACC Earner Premium which is currently 1.45% (it drops to 1.39% from 1 April 2016).

Remember also that we pay 15% Goods and Services Tax out of our taxed income.

Brent Jackson pointed out:

Those tax brackets are never going to work if the corporate rate stays at 30%

It’s not a corporate tax, it’s a tax on all business profits so affects many small and medium sized businesses as well as large corporations.

If the business tax rate is significantly different from personal tax rates it can create many unintended consequences. And if the business tax rate is raised too much it results in reduced business activity, more movement of businesses offshore, and more avoidance and evasion of tax. We already have a substantial cash economy that evades tax.

Adam H on why:

Finland of course…

Actually there’s a really good tax reason to do this. It’s effectively a tax free allowance: you slice it off the bottom and add it on the top. One effect is that people join the system who otherwise might not.

It’s fundamentally a simplification mechanism, and flattens out all (yes, all) the terrible marginal tax rates that arise in the current mess. It’s a bit like introducing a flat tax… so why do some groups rail against it?

Because flat taxes are better for those who earn more and not as good for those who earn less. A UBI would balance that to an extent.

Slicing off the bottom and adding to the top moves more of the tax burden to middle to higher earners. Many lower earners may little or no income tax already due to Working for Families.

I guess it’s partly because it eliminates the ability to moralise and penalise lifestyles. How could we target specific voter groups if you can’t differentiate…?

Ben Wilson:

I think it’s actually entirely about that. Because everyone can see given even one second, that it is possible to rejig all the taxation so that it’s a cost neutral change.

A cost neutral change? Perhaps overall, but if more people get benefits (which is what a UBI is under a different name) then someone else has to pay for it, unless the Government increases borrowing or increases the money supply, neither of which are sustainable.

The change in attitudes towards people who are in poor circumstances, as no longer “beneficiaries” but rather “people on the smallest possible income”. Their choice to work is not then nobbled by the brutal removal of any assistance, and the prospect of a stand-down if the work they get is precarious (as it usually is for people in such circumstances). Indeed, any paid work they choose to do is their business, they just have to pay their taxes like everyone else.

What about the change in attitude of (some) people who now regard an ‘income’ as a right that requires no effort to earn?

Rob Stowell:

I love the idea of a UBI. I love the way, for example, it could change society and the way we thing about work. If no-one wants to clean toilets, no-one HAS to. So toilet-cleaning might get you a good wage.

Or no one will want to clean toilets.

Other jobs might decline in value – because they offer personal satisfaction at a rate that amply compensates. Art might be everywhere. Music might be free.

That may not work so well if everyone chooses to be an artist or a musician.

I’ve heard similar elsewhere – a UBI enables people to choose to do what they like without having to worry about earning money.

With Labour’s proposed free tertiary education it is likely to increase hobby degrees – and the cost to the state to pay for the privilege.

This will reduce productivity and could be disastrous for the economy.

Tax policy would have to shift markedly, though. Already wealthy folks know there are many ways to minimise your tax. If we put up income and corporate rates, the ridiculousness of having no CGT will jump out. Because it’s such a simple way to avoid tax altogether, with higher income tax no-one will declare money they can shove into a capital asset. It’s already glaringly obvious this is happening.

If tax policy is changed markedly it will be a big gamble that benefits will outweigh unintended consequences. If it’s too expensive to do business competitively in New Zealand it is likely to increase the already substantial overseas based business interests here, like in Australia and China.

Tony j rickets:

Jenny just showed me a Listener piece about lousy pay for skilled responsible truck drivers leading to a shortage of truck drivers – this could really improve how we think about the value of labour.

It could. But if more people choose a non-employed lifestyle and jobs like truck driving and cleaning have to pay much more to attract sufficient labour then costs will go up. Put that alongside taxes going up and it will be harder to do do business, and the cost of goods and services will go up.

Marc C:

The way it has been presented, often only quoted as being about $ 211 a week per person, it will hardly thrill the majority on benefits, as if that is all they would get, it is definitely not enough to pay basic living costs. It would not even cover the rent for a room in many flats in Auckland.

But there are different models of an UBI, and those that are on benefits for health and disability, and for needing to care for a child or disabled person, they will surely need a good top-up to cover their actual needs.

It will not completely do away with a kind of “welfare system”, it can save a lot of administrative costs though, and if linked to taxation, it would work quite well, I think, provided the necessary changes to tax rates will be done.

A UBI matching the current level of National Super would be a lot more expensive than discussed above. If it is set less than Super we will have a multi-tiered system that could cause problems – are old people valued more than young people?

If Working for Families is retained, and accommodation allowances and health assistance and other targeted assistance we move further from a basic income and would just have a base income with a lot of bits on top of it. Not universal.

Labour has initiated a tricky and complex topic. It’s not just a UBI that needs to be considered, it’s inextricably linked to our whole welfare and tax systems as well as how we do business and how all that might impact on the economy.

If the result is more than a bit of tweaking the outcome will be very hard to predict. It would be a massive experiment with a huge amount at stake.



  1. Pantsdownbrown

     /  23rd March 2016

    What a load of nonsense from these people – you either go with a UBI and that replaces ALL current welfare payments (incl. super) or you don’t go there at all. If they think anybody is going to pay those excessive tax rates so that the govt can pay a liveable allowance for those who decide they don’t want to work is dreaming.

    Rather than go over my same old arguments against the UBI (or at least Labour’s Frankenstein version of it), go here:

    • Dougal

       /  23rd March 2016

      The first sign of anyone putting up my tax to 56% will be waiving me goodbye at the airport. My skills and knowledge would be more appreciated in the US or UK even Japan.
      US = 25%
      UK = 40%
      JP = 50%
      Japan is one of the highest in the western world and still I would be better off based on the above suggestions. The suggestions are communistic and plainly stupid. As you point out once taxes increase to levels where you earn less for yourself than you pay in tax the consequences are dire. Tax evasion and avoidance would be rife. If you have ever sold goods to China you will know they go out of their way to reduce the value of the goods to avoid taxes..communism 101.

      • Pantsdownbrown

         /  23rd March 2016

        Where’s your community spirit Dougal?!

        • Kathryn Ryan short interview Prof Guy Standing on RNZ National – the precariat, changing labour markets, education, sovereign wealth fund … very short, brief mention of UBI …

          And numerous articles in the Guardian here on various topics –

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  23rd March 2016

            Why not just go the whole hog and have 96% tax as they had in Britain at one time ? That was when people like Noel Coward had to live abroad because they couldn’t afford to live in the UK.

            How about the 102% that was the highest rate in Sweden at one time for people who were self-employed; they had to pay both income and some kind of employers’ tax so were paying for the privilege of working.

            • People should definitely “pay for the privilege of working” Miss Kitty, and Big Time!!! 🙂 In my Marxist world they should definitely pay 100% tax plus at least one bodily organ to the State each year, for which in return they’ll get a minimum wage, a State rental flat, free doctrinal education and free medical care …

              This is like a lot of other topics, isn’t it? Someone just throws a “scare spanner” into the works and we’re stuffed. End of rational discussion?

              I’m just gonna keep on talking about ways of maybe alleviating the grotesque inequalities and numerous other issues that have developed in our society with whoever wants to discuss the subject. :-/

              Those who want to discuss irrelevancies or kick around Labour politicians can do so amongst themselves … Go for it!!! 😀

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  23rd March 2016

              😦 😦 😦

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  23rd March 2016

        People on $14,000 a year will be worse off.

    • Kevin

       /  23rd March 2016

      Agreed. The other thing is that a UBI isn’t supposed to be a “living” income. It’s supposed to be an “existence” income. So all those who say things like $200 is not enough to live on are missing the point.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  23rd March 2016

        The point though is that all of those on existing benefits will demand a top up to a “living” income. At which point we are left with our present welfare costs plus funding the existence income to all the new beneficiaries who previously didn’t need it.

        Clearly a stunningly daft idea.

        • Kevin

           /  23rd March 2016

          There is parallel example with ACC. Originally it was supposed to be universal compensation scheme but then people saw that for example prisoners were getting it when injuring themselves when trying to escape and as a result politicians started making exceptions making it no longer universal. No doubt the same kind of thing will happen with UBI and we will just end up back where we are now.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  23rd March 2016

            No, it will be much worse than just where we are now. It will have created a big new bunch of beneficiaries.

      • @ Kevin – “UBI isn’t supposed to be a “living” income. It’s supposed to be an “existence” income.”

        Sorry. You are wrong. Definitions of UBI do not say this. They say, “all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money,” – Wiki. I can’t find definitions where the sum of money is actually innumerated. Why it should “necessarily” be existence only I don’t understand? (Presumably because you think this is all we can possibly afford and the work disincentive would increase exponentially above this point? See below and Wiki link)

        If anything UBI definitions say the opposite about subsistence or “existence” UBI, “An unconditional income transfer of less than the poverty line is sometimes referred to as a “partial basic income”. (Ibid)

        @ Alan – Studies, albiet limited, indicate there may not be vast numbers of new beneficiaries which you and most others appear to both assume (or transume) and fear. [The logic appears to be: All beneficiaries are bludgers, therefore any increase in benefit will lead to increase in bludging?]. Several UBI trials are outlined in the Wiki link below.

        ” … in studies of the Mincome experiment in rural Dauphin, Manitoba, in the 1970s, the only two groups who worked significantly less were new mothers and teenagers working to support their families. New mothers spent this time with their infant children, and working teenagers put significant additional time into their schooling.”

        “… in 2008 and 2009 in the Namibian village of Omitara; the assessment of the project after its conclusion found that economic activity actually increased, particularly through the launch of small businesses, and reinforcement of the local market by increasing households’ buying power.”

        • Kevin

           /  23rd March 2016

          The thing is a UBI set at a living income level (the “Left wing” version) is unsustainable. At least the libertarian version (existence level) can work, although it would be far from what the Left would advocate.

  2. Ray

     /  23rd March 2016

    Well Finland is going to have a crack at it next year (maybe) let’s wait and see how it works there rather than working up a lather here
    It is worth noting that NZsuper is universal aan plenty of people work on after getting that

    • There will be a lot of interest on how it works out in other places like Finland, but it will take some time (years) to properly evaluate the flow on effects.

      We do have universal super, but extended that back to 18 year olds is a massively different scale.

    • Dougal

       /  23rd March 2016

      Notably, the driving force behind this move in Finland is the very high youth unemployment rate (22%) and rising general unemployment at 9.4% and the vast, probably the worlds most comprehensive welfare systems. There are many examples but one really does stick out. 65 is the retirement age in Finland. Pension allowances are 60 – 66% of your wage earned in the 4 years preceding retirement. Because Finland is a well developed country the average wage is around $85k p/a this means your average retiree will live on $56k p/a. That is not bad for a single income and could be a lot more if there are 2 retiree’s in a single household. This reason alone is enough for the government to want to look at scrapping everything and pay a flat rate to everyone. It seems to me Finland are looking to downsize the welfare system, save money and forget about being softy nordics who care about everyone.

      • @ Dougal – Is the glass half full or half empty? You might also say the Finns are working on being even better softy nordics by treating everyone more equally? If, for instance, retirees get less but are still comfortably off, other sectors of the population are better taken care of, and it saves money too, the outcome could be described as “good all round”?

        With a more minimal social welfare system to begin with, New Zealand’s situation is different. Whatever we do it seems it’s going to cost us more than it does now?

  3. alloytoo

     /  23rd March 2016

    Most of the arguments for UBI seem to revolve around how lovely it would be to have somebody else’s money so that they can do what “They” want to do.

    Arguments that invoke the supposed flowering of arts and culture ignores the reality that the vast majority of the worlds artists are in fact professionals working to produce much of the content we consume. The impoverished artists (with a very exceptions) are probably no bloody good anyway.

    I also note that a supposedly “neutral” scheme still has to fill a $28 Billion dollar hole in the budget and requires milking the net tax payer a little more.

    I can guarantee that if the tax rate increases substantively both the productive people and the businesses they support will disappear very quickly.

    Communism doesn’t work people, never has, making people equally poor doesn’t build successful societies. Just ask Bob Mugabe.

    • A few things possibly worth noting in this discussion, which, IMHO, is really about a complex matrix of issues around ‘work & welfare’ or ‘tax & transfer’ in our society? The central issues of our political economy; of whether we have a market economy or a market society?

      The issues arise because anyone looking at or even attempting to look at the whole society – with some sort of holistic view – as a total system including everyone, bar no-one – which someone ultimately must do – sees some grotesque inequalities and undesirable outcomes, eg actual poverty, plus very rapid (partially reform driven) evolution which seems to be outstripping our current ‘transfer systems’ and social mechanisms, revealing distinct inadequacies.

      1) The Tax Working Group 2010 (of which Morgan was one) recommended UBI to the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT as one possible way to rationalise taxation (in relation to welfare). I don’t have data enough to download the whole report and “news” about it is surprisingly hard (for me) to find but its mentioned in this Herald article – ‘WFF Tax Trap’ –

      There seems to be a clear and widespread recognition of two things: a) Practical – the piecemeal, inefficient nature of the current system, and b) Ethical – the tax & transfer system ‘in itself’ is unequal and “fails to recognise that a dignified existence is not necessarily analogous with being in paid work.”

      2) Morgan/Guthrie, no matter how much you may hate them, make many salient points in ‘Big Kahuna’, among them comments on the subsequent Welfare Working Group report – recommended by WTG but notably, National failed to connect the two, Tax and Welfare. Quite how this is possible one must wonder? It seems UBI didn’t carry over from one to the other either.

      “Implicit in the WWG proposal to create a new Crown entity … responsible for working age people dependent on transfers and placing them in paid work (increasingly by private contractors) is the view that either the private market is unable to do this successfully without any State involvement … or that most of these people are unwilling to work.

      In the absence of any compelling examples of how the job placement market is failing, the only conclusion we can draw is that the WWG assumes the majority of working age people who rely on transfers don’t want to do paid work – a serious accusation, and one which clearly requires justification. None was given. That such prejudice was on display reflects very poorly on those involved.”

      This rather backs up one of Morgan’s pithier statements, vis, “Asking policy officials in the MSD and IRD to dismantle the vast empire they’ve established, because something simpler, more effective, and more in keeping with our values exists, is like asking a butcher to design your vegetarian meal plan. The status quo always exerts the greatest influence on policy advice,”

      “The [WWG] proposals amount to a compliance-heavy tune-up of a system that’s broken and irrelevant to the choices people wish to make, and that certainly fails to recognise that a dignified existence is not necessarily analogous with being in paid work.”

      National, of course, implemented selected proposals of WWG, eg targeting sole-parents, simultaneously subsidizing the early-childcare industry, and made no mention (to my knowledge) of the UBI option proposed in TWG. I’m not sure what other TWG proposals National did implement? Has there been any tax changes lately?

      The last few pages of ‘Big Kahuna’ are a very good summation of the situation IMHO.

      Economist and columnist Paul Krugman says, “Political and economic reform turned the oligarchic America of the Gilded Age, a place of vast inequality, bigotry and corruption, into the imperfect but far better society of the post-war era. The challenge is now to do again what the New Deal did: to create institutions that will support and sustain a decent society.”

      Morgan/Guthrie, “Without an informed community, don’t expect our politicians and their minions … to draw us away from a society whose institutions promote our penchant for frivilous consumption and champion the monotonous worship of paid work, towards one that equally supports paid and unpaid work – where those who prefer to do unpaid work can do so whether they’re rich or not, and without facing penury. It’s called choice, and we’ve earned it.” pgs 292 – 296

      Raved on again …. Sorry …

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  23rd March 2016

        Rave on-rave on, tell me/Tell me not to be lonely/Tell me you love me only/Rave on to me !
        The little things that you say and do/Make me want to be with you-ou-ou-ou/Rave on….

      • Pantsdownbrown

         /  23rd March 2016

        Hmmm – Morgan can only squeeze a measly $211/week for those not working by upping income tax rates, upping GST to 20% (which lefties say hurt the poor the most), getting rid of all benefits (including super), and implementing his version of a capital gains tax – $211.00! He never actually explains what happens to those people that can’t afford to live on $211.00 (especially the elderly or sick/ injured who can’t work) and have no welfare system to help assist them…….. Labour won’t even be able to provide half that amount per week as they won’t dismantle the welfare system.

        There is good reason the idea of a UBI has been around for centuries in some form and hasn’t been implemented to any widespread degree – it doesn’t work as it is totally unaffordable.

        Some interesting thoughts in this article:

        • Good article PDB and a great site. I have bookmarked it. 😀 In many ways an American version of the Guardian article I linked yesterday, headed ‘Finland’ but really a British viewpoint, which shows up some great difficulties, perhaps impossibilities with UBI?

          I wasn’t for one minute promoting the Gareth Morgan version of UBI – which is the worst of any I know – simply pointing out that UBI has also been suggested to a National government who carefully separated Tax and Welfare Working Groups, when these two are inextricably linked. IMO, they then carefully cherry-picked proposals from these “guided” groups (Flag that) and laid it on sole-parents as the targeted ‘beneficiary’ group (read ‘bludger’) everyone loves to hate …

          Here’s me: 6% or more of the working population are unemployed, whether they ‘circulate’ or not, regardless of possible skill level and skill mismatch issues. Many more are significantly under-employed. I believe this will remain the case no matter what. I believe our government will intervene to keep it this way because this situation maintains depressed low-wages, encouraging (so-called) ‘business’, which props up a neoliberal ‘market society’ system otherwise leaking credibility like a sieve. I believe the 6% is likely to grow in the future. I believe one day there will be statistical proof that old-fashioned “paid work” simply does not exist for a significant and measurable portion of the working age, work-capable population. I wonder what we might do about this?

          I know, let’s treat these people like the bludging scum of society, pay them less than a sufficient amount to live on, punish and denigrate them at every turn, entrap them in an inherently soul destroying, negative bureaucratic system … (I exaggerate for effect) …

          I still think ‘Big Kahuna’ covered ‘tax & transfer’ very well, including the ethics and history of it. I guess ultimately I think we should be having a massive discussion about economic fundamentals, redistribution and everything associated, because they are all inextricably linked.

      • alloytoo

         /  24th March 2016

        PZ, a few short comments on your raving.

        We have a mixed market economy supporting a welfare state. Welfare state largely excludes “Market Society.”

        I dispute the assertion that one “MUST” see: “grotesque inequalities and undesirable outcomes, eg actual poverty”, one MAY see relative poverty, but if one views the planet holistically the relatively poor in NZ are not as a whole residing in the abject poverty that a significant (but diminishing) proportion of the world experiences. One may also see undesirable outcomes, but those are the exception rather than the norm and would be better served by targeted intervention rather than the blunt UBI.

        1. The best manner to rationalize the tax and welfare system would be to implement tax rebates largely aligned working for families payments. and reduce Welfare payments to current post tax levels and make them tax free. This would be fiscally neutral, but would yield considerable administrative savings for the state by shifting the compliance burden to Payroll administrators (who are by and large equipped to deal with it.) thus mostly avoiding the WFF repayment traps.

        I agree that the current tax and transfer system is fundamentally unethical (it’s basically theft), it is however a price most taxpayers are (up until a point) willing to pay in order to enjoy a relatively peaceful existence

        2. We don’t need to make too many assumptions about whether healthy working age people who rely on transfers don’t want to do paid work. 10.7% of the HWAP are on benefits yet unemployment sits at 5.8%. There’s a gap. (Actually the gap is wider that it appears due to churn, stand down periods and job seekers who are supported by their spouses or parents rather than the state. Certainly some people may have circumstances and obligations which prohibit them from seeking full time employment, but we must acknowledge that there is a stubborn core of Beneficiaries who are content to live off the largess of the rest of the population.

        We are effectively a full employment economy, we are not currently experiencing serious skill shortages because high migration levels are meeting demands, but evidence suggests that not only is the stubborn core of Beneficiaries content to live off the benefit, they are also probably unemployable, and turning off the immigration tap (if it were meaningfully possible) would have little effect on this core.

        I’m all for simplifying welfare state, but I’m strongly against further lobbing of wads of cash at people who seem largely content to avoid honest contributions to society. I accept a responsibility to hold them above abject poverty (which the current regime does), but no obligation to alleviate their relative poverty. If they want a “lifestyle” they should damn well work for it. If we’re going to spend more money on beneficiaries let target it on those who desire to change their circumstances and simply need a leg up.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  23rd March 2016

      Alloy, I have heard that the starving artist in a garret is the exception rather than the rule. Of course, one can think of examples, as always happens in these cases, but when one looks at the great artists, most of them were not like that, or not like it for long.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  23rd March 2016

      Anyone who thinks that communism will work hasn’t taken human nature into account. I have read The Communist Manifesto and an appallingly abstruse book about Marx, Hegel et al and it is obvious that it can’t work unless everyone wants the same thing/s.

      • You could perhaps say the same thing about human nature in relation to capitalism Miss Kitty? People say greed and avarice have nothing to do with it and yet we have these yawning chasms of wealth and income inequality?

        Here’s some talk talk about the old “true communism has never existed” argument I was going to use on you (but this paul moufawad communist has made me think again)

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  23rd March 2016

          Lenin had a number of very expensive cars-I think that they were Rolls-Royces.Who needs more than one Rolls ? They were his own property, paid for by the state.

          Communist leaders, alas, tend to end up living like the capitalists that they despise. It’s like televangelists & leaders of independent churches like Destiny-look at the Tamakis’ lifestyle.

  4. Brown

     /  23rd March 2016

    This reminds me of a Social Credit policy but without the fundamental monetary reform that would, in theory, make it possible. It seems pointless to give and take like this at the whim of Marxists – it costs a fortune to achieve some theoretical balance that is correct only because some Marxist says it is.

    • where did the Marxists come in ? UBI is generally advocated by libertarians you really see the present day Labour party as Marxist ?

      • “… an idea … promoted by internationally renowned economists as diverse in their thinking as the Keynesian James Tobin and the Monetarist Milton Friedman.” Here’s Robert H Frank, ‘The Other Milton Friedman’ NY Times 2006

        The worst thing that can happen, and which clearly has happened to some extent, partly due to Labour themselves, is for the wider ‘inequality’, ‘tax & transfer’, UBI, negative tax or social dividend discussion to get hung-up on the NZ Labour Party and some random figure of $211 per week.

        I reckon we should still be asking really basic questions like, “What sort of society do we want to live in?” and “How are we going to deal with these very REAL social issues going forward?”

        Bagging Marxists is about as useful as organising a fox hunt for the gentry IMO …

  5. John Schmidt

     /  23rd March 2016

    This looks like a solution looking for a problem. What is the intent, what is the problem that this is supposed to fix.
    It looks like a wealth distribution system to me taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor, Robin Hood dressed as a Ponzi scheme.

    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  23rd March 2016

      Yep – redistribution of wealth under a different name.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  23rd March 2016

        Kenneth Williams as Robin Hood on ‘Round the Horne’ explaining his modus operandi to Kenneth Horne

        ‘ ……….and, of course, robbing the poor to help the rich.’

        KH : ‘Shouldn’t that be robbing the rich to help the poor ?’

        KW “I know which side my bread’s buttered on, duckie.’

    • alloytoo

       /  24th March 2016

      Most supporters of UBI seem to view this as a new way for “Rich Pricks” to pay their “FAIR SHARE.” forgetting of course that the wealthy pay considerable more than their fair share anyway.

      The real stupidity of the idea is in so far as if effects the middleclass, those to whom the scheme would be (at a household level) fiscally neutral.

      Instead of me simply handing over $211 to my unemployed (but not on benefits) spouse the government will taken $422 dollars off me a week and hand my spouse $211 and give me back $211. Presumable the administrative cost will be borne by Richer (but soon to depart for sunnier shores) Prick up the road. The outrageous churn (and costs attached) make this less of a Ponzi scheme and more of a make work scheme where one man digs a hole and his companion fills it in behind him.