Better to be Hung for a Sheep as a Lamb

Guest post:


In the past week, the options have narrowed for Labour.

The Greens, through motormouth Metiria Turei, have ruled themselves out of the next Government. Labour’s tax proposals, while progressive, are too easily dismissed as complicated and paternalistic. The polls, while probably underestimating the left as usual, give no comfort.

The current Labour leadership are repeating the mistakes of David Cunliffe, who went in to his election with policies that were watered down and downright timid. The irony is that his predecessor, David Shearer, who was derided by many on the left, campaigned on a far more red tinted platform and did better than expected.

So, what should Labour do?

Tinker with tax? Hold their nerve and hope to muddle through? Keep putting out bland, meaningless slogans like “It’s Time for a Fresh Approach”?

Nope.

Labour need to be bold.

Andrew Little should dump the current campaign direction. He should be brave enough to say we’ve been too timid and put up an easily understood message instead.

It’s the UBI.

If Labour go into this campaign saying we’ll gut the benefit system, simplify taxes and give all New Zealanders a weekly minimum income equivalent to the current super payments, we’ll win handsomely.

Not because voters will instantly understand the UBI concept. Not because voters will suddenly unleash their dormant inner revolutionary. Not because it’s financially sensible.

Labour should do it because it plays to prejudices, and to back pockets.

There aren’t many middle class Kiwis who don’t look down on beneficiaries in some way or another. There aren’t many in the middle who wouldn’t fancy $400 a week. There aren’t many who wouldn’t abandon National if Labour gave them a simple reason to switch.

Sure, that message distorts what a UBI is really about, but so what?

It’s bold, it’s revolutionary and it’s better than meekly accepting defeat.

Do it, Andrew.

Win it with UBI.

Leave a comment

33 Comments

  1. I agree that Little needs to do something fairly drastic to turn things around, the current path is failing and could fail badly.

    I think that a major overhaul of the tax and benefit system is long overdue. Some sort of UBI should certainly be considered as a part of that.

    But unless the homework has already been done and there is some sort of comprehensive blueprint ready to, then it’s probably too major to pull off.

    Perhaps a significant first step announcement with future steps outlined.

    But there’s been no sign of anything innovative or truly game changing coming from Labour for a long time (neither from National but they have the advantage of incumbency and a fairly sound economic record and outlook).

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  July 13, 2017

      ”I agree that Little needs to do something fairly drastic to turn things around.”

      That time was last year, and it should have started with Andy stepping down as leader. If Labour are to make a fresh start which this well thought out post suggests, it should start from the top and finish with pruning deadwood at the bottom.

      As for a UBI, there’s no doubt it could be a roaring success. But it’s also a scaremongers dream. Labour would have to have all the answers to all criticisms. To date Labour wouldn’t know policy costings and implementation strategy to save themselves.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  July 14, 2017

        Last sentence, bingo again.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  July 14, 2017

          Thanks….great guest post too.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  July 14, 2017

            Inthink that’s what killing them in the polls Corky. I really do. Andy’s been a possum in headlights too often when called to ecolsin how his policy musings will be paid for. Put him up against someone like Joyce or [shudder shudder] dry Bill English to debate their costs & implementation strategy & he’s done like a dog’s dinner, imo.

            He couldn’t pull it off. He’d need Robertson alongside him to have even half a half a chance & because of Andy’s personality Robertson couldn’t sound authoritative. Andy would be trying to appear like the honcho in control. He is seen by voters outside the dedicated “Labour always – right or wrong” camp as just not having the personality or skills to manage the country or our international relations, in my opinion. They went with the wrong one.

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  July 14, 2017

            FiP! *ecolsin = explain.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 14, 2017

              The saying is actually ‘One may as well hang for a sheep as a lamb.’

              It doesn’t actually rhyme, but it’s more euphonious than the pointlessly changed version.

              People are hanged, not hung. ‘A picture is hung, a man is hanged.’ as my English teacher said.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 14, 2017

              And as better is comparative, it should be ‘than’, not ‘as’.

            • Corky

               /  July 14, 2017

              Yes, Kitty. I have had that lesson. You hung me up before you hanged me in front of everyone on this site. Now, what about octopus octopai and octopuses?

            • Gezza

               /  July 14, 2017

              octopi ! 😡

            • Gezza

               /  July 14, 2017

              Or it might be octopae, I can’t remember. 🤔
              If the bloody Romans just spoke bloody English we wouldn’t even have to go thru this bloody palaver! It’s octopuses as far as I’m concerned! The Romans can get stuffed !

            • Gezza

               /  July 14, 2017

              It doesn’t actually rhyme, but it’s more euphonious than the pointlessly changed version.

              Euphonium

              Well, that bloody figures, doesn’t it! Let it go Kitty! 😠

  2. MaureenW

     /  July 13, 2017

    UBI – vomit. Its too late for Labour to do anything this election, I’m not sure they even know who they represent as their voting base.

    What would be the game-changer of handing out more money to useless people who can’t be bothered working or are unemployable? How will this help the country?

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  July 14, 2017

      It has supposedly reduced stress among the Finns, but this is surely subjective. It seems to me to be playing musical money. I can’t see the point of it.

      Useless Bloody Innovation ?

      Reply
  3. artcroft

     /  July 13, 2017

    I’d be all for it if it could be shown my $400 a week came from Mr Zuckerberg or some other over-wealthy individual. Sadly it would be me paying me while Little Andy clipped the ticket along the way. So I’ll pass.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  July 13, 2017

      You put Andy’s lights out before he hit the dust, Arty.

      Reply
  4. sorethumb

     /  July 13, 2017

    labour should stick to it’s knitting: identity politics and rape culture. We should have a spot the kiwi day and nude day (mid summer) to affirm our multicultural status.

    Reply
  5. sorethumb

     /  July 13, 2017

    Imagine Richard John Seddon sprouting identity politics and rape culture.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  July 13, 2017

      Great stuff… but did you see the personal information these socialists want from you for the honour of supporting them financially?

      Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 13, 2017

    I can see an argument for a “Not Universal Basic Income” for those qualifying for a benefit but actively seeking part or full-time and/or temporary work – to encourage people to take up work opportunities even when they are uncertain or temporary without being left in limbo or with stand-down periods when jobs finish.

    Reply
  7. PDB

     /  July 13, 2017

    A real UBI is an economic impossibility – all you see being trialed in Finland and the like are nothing like a real UBI. The guest poster is living in la la land.

    “The practice, however, is very expensive. One rudimentary scheme worked out for the UK by Malcolm Torry – and remember that he is an advocate of the basic income – proposed an income of £8,320 a year, to replace all benefits except housing and council-tax benefit. That is hardly a generous annual stipend, and yet if it is to be funded through the income tax system it would require the rates of income tax to go up from 20, 40 and 45 per cent to 48, 68 and 73 per cent. That means anyone on today’s average full-time earnings of about £27,000 a year would lose out, because although the £8,320 a year would make up for losing the income-tax personal allowance, every pound of earnings would be taxed, and more heavily.”

    “And that proposed scheme doesn’t even abolish housing benefit. One of the reasons it cannot is that housing is so much more expensive in London that to set the basic income high enough for the capital would make the scheme unaffordable at any tax rates.”

    “The alert and sceptical reader will have noted that the Finnish scheme isn’t even remotely a basic income, because it is limited to unemployed people. It is therefore merely an experiment in the incentive effects of paying higher unemployment benefit.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/basic-income-pilots-scotland-ubi-glasgow-finland-canada-ontario-switzerland-referendum-refuses-to-a7505561.html

    Reply
  8. Gezza

     /  July 13, 2017

    So we can submit guest posts and ask for them to be anonymous? That’s a good idea when I think about it.

    Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  July 14, 2017

      I agree with the thesis of the post. Not so keen on the anonymity.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  July 14, 2017

        The reason I think the anonymity is actually a good idea is something High Fkying Duck said yesterday when he wimped out on supply details about his occupation & income. He thought knowing such details might affect or change how people reacted to the content of the poster’s comments, if I recall correctly. It wouldn’t, with me, in the sense that I look at what the comments say, not who the poster is – but sometimes I like to see where they’re coming from & if they can see an issue from another perspective than the one they are advocating. No reason – just the way I am. I’ve had to learn to do that in my working life. Take different perspectives & apply them.

        It’s made me realise though that knowing who an author is for some commenters here might well mean all sorts of assumptions are made about intent & real meaning because of the picture people form of a poster’s views over time, even though they may differ on some issues from their ‘norm’. A well-written, anonymous post prevents that, unless the poster’s style is instantly recogniseable. I’d recognise you. Maybe people would recognise me. Maybe not. Anonymous means you don’t waste time on assumptions as a reader, you look at and consider the content only.

        Reply

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