TOP’s youth UBI

The Opportunities Party has announced a policy that will provide all people aged 18-23 a Unconditional Basic Income of $200 a week. Coincidentally (perhaps) TOP are targeting young people to vote for them.

TOP’s Universal Basic Income

We acknowledge the fact that it’s not only people with families that matter but also people starting out in adult life who need support to help them reach their potential.

The Opportunities Party is proud to release an unconditional basic income for those aged between 18-23 years old1.

For the first five years of adulthood, as people are striking out on their own, they have the security of $10,000 per year, no questions asked.

If you are between 18-23

  • You get $200 per week ($10,000 per year) no questions asked, no hoops to jump through, no bureaucrats telling you what to do.
  • You get to decide the best way to use the money, to pursue your own goals.2
  • You will be financially better off under our policies. This includes your mates who are unemployed, students, parents, apprentices, artists, entrepreneurs, etc. Like we said all your mates.
  • This will take stress off you at a pivotal time in your life. NZ has an appalling rate of youth suicide and financial stress plays a key role in this.

This is the third stage of our UBI (Unconditional Basic Income) implementation, after young families and the elderly.

Background

The UBI is a fundamental reform of our social security system that recognises that the economy is changing and work is becoming more uncertain. Unlike the current antiquated system of targeted welfare, the UBI doesn’t penalise people as they move in and out of work, start a business, or retrain. It doesn’t discriminate between different forms of retraining, such as official government courses or more informal approaches like shadowing someone on their job. It acknowledges the people who undertake unpaid work, without whose endeavour our society would collapse. And most importantly it represents a civilisation dividend wherein an affluent society defines a person’s right to access resources, irrespective of their situation. A backgrounder on a UBI is provided here. 

The concept of a UBI is gaining traction here and around the world. It was featured in the TVNZ series What Next as a way to deal with an increasingly disrupted job market. It is also being piloted in many countries around the world including the Netherlands, Finland and Canada. These pilots are exciting, but they overlook the fact that trials have already been done in the 1970s, and we have had a successful UBI for many years in New Zealand; NZ Super. TOP intends to give young people the same opportunities that we’ve been giving those over 65 for the past forty years.

The Opportunities Party (TOP)’s ultimate goal is to roll out a UBI for everyone. The reason for targeting 18-23 year olds next is because they have the highest levels of unemployment and face the greatest challenge getting into the labour market.

So the youth UBI is a start, they want a UBI for everyone (even children?) but this is a starting point.

Giving a UBI to everyone would require a major overhaul of our tax and welfare systems. TOP have related policies:

TOP will really struggle to beat the 5% threshold, and if they do they will really struggle to get National or Labour to get on board with this policy.

I don’t think National would agree to this at all, Labour might be tempted, and Greens may be keen, but NZ First will have their own priorities.

There is a discussion at Reddit on this, and Gareth Morgan responds to some comments.

Don’t judge a UBI as just a left wing concept. It has appeal across the spectrum. More info here http://www.top.org.nz/what_is_the_ubi_why_do_we_want_it

Good article on that here – https://medium.com/basic-income/wouldnt-unconditional-basic-income-just-cause-massive-inflation-fe71d69f15e7

The only condition of eligibility is the same as the basic eligibility for any benefit:

You must also be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident who normally lives here, and who has lived here for at least two years at one time since becoming a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

More faq’s here…. http://www.top.org.nz/youth_ubi_faq

I think a UBI is an interesting concept and well worth considering.

But I think a major drawback is the cost of implementing one. If it ensures that no one on a low income or benefit or pension is worse off it will be very expensive initially.

If Winston Peters has any say there will be no drop in Universal Super – I doubt National or Labour would dare drop that entitlement either – so that sets a fairly high entry level for a UBI.

Unless New Zealand suddenly strikes oil in a big way, or perhaps patents a new cheap clean energy source, I don’t think we can afford a UBI in practice.

52 Comments

  1. David

     /  July 20, 2017

    And how many parents will end up with indolent offspring collecting their 200 bucks taking some time to decide what they are going to do with their lives.
    The biggest incentive to get off your chuff and striving is because you want a car/clothes/phone etc etc so at the time when you really want to motivate a young person you give them money for nothing. Morgan is one of those economists increasingly out of favour who fails to model for the human element.

    • sorethumb

       /  July 20, 2017

      Yes but they will soon get sick of $2oo/week.

      • David

         /  July 20, 2017

        Perhaps, but it’s a critical time of life and probably the worst time to pay someone to do nothing especially if they are from a benefit dependent house

        • sorethumb

           /  July 20, 2017

          But they would get a benefit anyway?

    • sorethumb

       /  July 20, 2017

      And anyway governments high immigration policies have made it harder to motivate people like that to save for a house.
      Motivation is a function of the value of a goal and probability of achieving it.

    • Kevin

       /  July 20, 2017

      $200 is a bit steep. $20 bucks more like.

  2. sorethumb

     /  July 20, 2017

    Morgan wants to claw back super just when peoples bodies are wearing out: hearing, cataracts , warn joints, eyesight etc.
    ………
    In a Man Called Horse the elderly were taken to a hill top to expire.

    “Rising diversity within human societies tends to drive people apart, causing them to take sanctuary in individual pursuits and ethnic communities. The practical consequences are reduced public altruism or social capital, evident in falling volunteerism, government welfare for the aged and sick, public health care[v]and a general loss of trust.[vi] Ethnic diversity is second only to lack of democracy in predicting civil war.[vii] Globally it correlates negatively with governmental efficiency and prosperity.[viii]
    https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2010/06/the-misguided-advocates-of-open-borders/

  3. Mefrostate

     /  July 20, 2017

    My comments are all over that reddit thread. $10 to whoever can figure out which username is me.

    • Gezza

       /  July 20, 2017

      Garn. A tenner? Make it worth my while.
      What about $25?

      • Mefrostate

         /  July 20, 2017

        Just so you can afford this week’s lotto ticket Gezza, $25 for you. If you can find wally, that is.

        • Gezza

           /  July 20, 2017

          Done. I’ll have a shufti when I’ve watched Winston’s performance.
          They’ll love you in Singers. I thought you’d bargain. I’d have done it for $18.50.

          • Mefrostate

             /  July 20, 2017

            Winnie doing Cheryl Moana Marie down at the local RSA again?

            Buying my flights for Lion City today actually, off next Sat. I just can’t bring myself to bargain when they’re overpaying me by so much, even if I get called guizi.

            • Gezza

               /  July 20, 2017

              Bugger. I bloody dozed off during it. It’s not the best audio quality. Looks like it was in a retirement village or the RSA clubrooms at Waikikamukau or some cow cocky town. Same old same old rants & jokes that kids would get.

              Nearly pissed meself at the start when Ron Mark goes racing up aisle & scurries past, looking panicked, with his cellphone to his ear, because there’s no sign of Winnie yet. Might be lost out in the car park or something.

              What was funnist was the twerpy little bookish acoloyte sheila mechanically reading reading out a written speech about all the evils that have befallen our society, because of the evil ones everywhere in those other parties, & then all the virtues of the ONE MAN WHO CAN BE TRUSTED to save us because of his utter wonderfulness & caringness & smartness and THE GOLD CARD & SAVED THE RACING INDUSTRY n stuff – and as she nears her crescendo & introduces the saviour – there’s an upswellng of US Christian revivalist choir and strings music in the background – I kid you not – and he strides down the aisle to the stage to raptuous applause.

              I bet some of those poor old numpties thought he was waliking on water to get there & had strewn rose petals in his path. He’s Benny farkin Hinn, is who Winston is. And they’re the mugs who swoon & faint at his touch & think he’ll heal them.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 20, 2017

              Go on, G. You know you want to vote for him.

            • Gezza

               /  July 20, 2017

              Don’t be a plonker all ya life Al. Why aren’t yew getting stuck into Corky for being a bloody bludger not intending to vote cos no one’s banning Muslims yet. It’s sad, sad, sad to read his posts now. Pathetic.

              Winston’s a National bloody Embarrassment !

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 20, 2017

              Did you mount that framed tyre pressure gauge on the wall yet?

            • Gezza

               /  July 20, 2017

              No. It’s back in the car where it bloody belongs ! And I’m drying the dishes & putting them away now – don’t need that sort of stress again!

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  July 20, 2017

      At a quick glance, QBY.

      • Mefrostate

         /  July 20, 2017

        Oh god, I’m that transparent? Bloody well-done.

        How shall we do this? You place a pizza order & I’ll call in and pay for it? Or pick a charity?

        Believe me, this is truly painful.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  July 20, 2017

          Too easy, Mefro. Don’t worry about it or give it to a charity of your choice, non-political.

          • Mefrostate

             /  July 20, 2017

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 20, 2017

              Excellent. I just looked for a few posts about the same length as you usually post and using the same kind of emotional level and content attitude. I didn’t read the thread and it took less than a minute.

            • Mefrostate

               /  July 20, 2017

              I’m sure you’re well familiar with my attitude towards people making bad arguments.

              Emotional is absolute slander though, I’m such a cold-blooded economic terminator that people often resort to calling me boring. I’m deeply hurt and offended that you said that.

              You might enjoy looking through my post history, you might enjoy plenty of productive discussions where I’m arguing against lefties, into the right direction. Shows what can be achieved when people engage in good faith.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 20, 2017

              Too busy winding G up, Mefro. I can’t take GM seriously because a lot of the stuff he has promoted is just ridiculous.

            • Mefrostate

               /  July 20, 2017

              Fair enough. GM’s image is definitely a problem, which is a shame because I think they’d be good to have in the room – like Seymour is.

            • Gezza

               /  July 20, 2017

              I’ve revised my opinion of Seymour mefro. He’s worth a listen sometimes, I reckon.

            • Mefrostate

               /  July 20, 2017

              Much like you, Gezza.

      • Gezza

         /  July 20, 2017

        Whaddaya mean winding me up? I’m just turning the key in yaw back & letting you wander off squawking about lefties and bureaucrats as usual.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  July 20, 2017

          Gezza looking for his tyre pressure gauge:

  4. PDB

     /  July 20, 2017

    As I’ve mentioned before the trials done in Finland and the like are nothing like a UBI and hence have no value in ascertaining if one works. Giving young people $200 no questions asked is not a UBI at all, it is another benefit without the obligations required of other benefits.

    Put it this way – there is a very good reason a UBI has been spoken about for decades but never fully implemented – it doesn’t work and assumes the top 5% of the country are happy to pay 70+% income tax to prop it up.

    On top of that the payment will always be less than current benefits (or else it can’t be afforded even with massive tax hikes) hence the left will still be wanting the govt to ‘top-up’ people on lower incomes/beneficiaries/families defeating the whole point of a UBI and making it totally unaffordable. The left seem to love the free money part (no questions asked) but deliberately ignore the part that aside from a basic UBI there is no safety net.

    It’s ironic that the same people wanting to reduce super and say it’s unaffordable are likely many of the same ones using it as a shining example of a successful UBI. Of course super is nothing like a UBI, if it was a true UBI it would be cut to a lower flat rate with no means for the person to get more money unless they still work or if they have money behind them. It is also somewhat insulting to compare the elderly (who have all had a life of paying tax) to young people (who have paid very little/no tax).

    People toying with backing a UBI need to look at the history of it and inform themselves as to why it doesn’t work even though it appeals to many on paper. New Zealand has one of the least efficient workforces around – this will only make things far worse.

    • sorethumb

       /  July 20, 2017

      there is a very good reason a UBI has been spoken about for decades but never fully implemented – it doesn’t work
      ……..
      You may be right but just because a thing hasn’t been adopted doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. E.g land taxes.

    • Mefrostate

       /  July 20, 2017

      “trials done in Finland and the like are nothing like a UBI and hence have no value in ascertaining if one works.”

      Mind explaining how? A quick google made it sound like a UBI

      “assumes the top 5% of the country are happy to pay 70+% income tax to prop it up.”

      TOP’s youth UBI requires nothing of the sort. It’ll cost $3.4bn, only slightly more than National’s tax tweaks.

      It also comes in the context of TOP wanting to shift some taxation from income to assets. This makes sense given that returns to capital are outstripping wages.

      “the left will still be wanting the govt to ‘top-up’ people on lower incomes/beneficiaries/families defeating the whole point of a UBI and making it totally unaffordable. The left seem to love the free money part (no questions asked) but deliberately ignore the part that aside from a basic UBI there is no safety net.”

      It’s better if you assess this specific policy, rather than imagined reactions. TOP propose that the youth UBI will replace Jobseeker Support, Student Allowance, and the first $10,000 of the Supported Living Payment and Sole Parent Support for 18-23 year-olds.

      I never know if I’m part of “the left”, but I personally would be perfectly comfortable with there being no other safety net beyond this youth-UBI. If you get $200 at the start of the week no-questions-asked and can’t make it to the end, too bad mate.

      “New Zealand has one of the least efficient workforces around – this will only make things far worse.”

      Quite the contrary, by removing the high marginal effective tax rates faced by the current benefit system, it will improve the incentive to work/study during a quite formative period. It also removes some of the distortions in the current system, which should move youth closer to allocating their skills to the right task.

      I also think it’d be reasonable to lower the minimum wage for people who qualify for the youth UBI. This would encourage businesses to hire them, improve productivity, help youth gain skills, and improve overall efficiency. Only thing I haven’t quite got my head around is whether there would be distortions around the 24th birthday.

      Let’s leave the comparison to Super aside for now.

      “young people (who have paid very little/no tax).”

      Nothing makes me angrier than an 8 year-old who happily uses public playgrounds but pays $0 in tax.

      • PDB

         /  July 20, 2017

        Mefrostate: “assumes the top 5% of the country are happy to pay 70+% income tax to prop it up.” TOP’s youth UBI requires nothing of the sort. It’ll cost $3.4bn, only slightly more than National’s tax tweaks.

        Straw man argument – I was clearly talking of a fully implemented UBI – I describe the youth UBI as “not a UBI at all, it is another benefit without the obligations required of other benefits”.

        Trials in Finland are too small and are restricted by age and employment situation. Of course the obviously problem with all these trials is that these people continue to rely/operate alongside/with people/an economy not trailing a type of UBI. Make the whole economy a UBI based one and the problems would be obvious in a very short time.

        Mefrostate: “It’s better if you assess this specific policy, rather than imagined reactions.”

        That would be silly – Law of cause and effect. If this youth policy is Gareth’s example/representative of a UBI that could be rolled out across the country then all arguments against a UBI are valid.

        Mefrostate: “I never know if I’m part of “the left”, but I personally would be perfectly comfortable with there being no other safety net beyond this youth-UBI. If you get $200 at the start of the week no-questions-asked and can’t make it to the end, too bad mate.

        You would be in the minority I’d suggest, one can only imagine the increased MSM stories of how the elderly are struggling on even less money, solo mums can’t survive etc. You can’t tell me the Greens would suddenly stop promising more money for those on less money just because a UBI has been implemented. The continuing pressure to raise the minimum wage and implement a living wage a case in point. Gareth’s proposed UBI is no where near the proposed living wage.

        Mefrostate: “Quite the contrary, by removing the high marginal effective tax rates faced by the current benefit system, it will improve the incentive to work/study during a quite formative period. It also removes some of the distortions in the current system, which should move youth closer to allocating their skills to the right task.”

        This is fanciful at best. Free student loans has not resulted in better outcomes for most students (as most don’t even finish their studies) or improved youth attitudes/ability to work which is the closest example we have to this. Further encouraging youth to not work straight out of school makes our hands-on labour shortages even worse and reliance on immigrant workers even more.

        Mefrostate: “I also think it’d be reasonable to lower the minimum wage for people who qualify for the youth UBI.”

        Wont happen – the backlash would be huge. Remember the left are pushing for all working youth to get a living wage.

        Mefrostate: “Nothing makes me angrier than an 8 year-old who happily uses public playgrounds but pays $0 in tax.”

        I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on this as it has zero meaning. An 8 year old is the responsibility of an adult who pays their way for them – a child 18-23 isn’t.

        • Mefrostate

           /  July 20, 2017

          PDB: Straw man argument – I was clearly talking of a fully implemented UBI.

          TOP propose a youth UBI. You’re arguing that a full UBI would cost too much. That’s a strawman too. Let’s discuss the actual policy being proposed.

          PDB: That would be silly – Law of cause and effect. If this youth policy is Gareth’s example/representative of a UBI that could be rolled out across the country then all arguments against a UBI are valid.

          But your argument against it is based on cost, which is the very same reason TOP aren’t making it available to all age groups.

          PDB: – I describe the youth UBI as “not a UBI at all

          It is a UBI for people 18-23.

          PDB: , it is another benefit without the obligations required of other benefits””

          That’s the point.

          PDB: Trials in Finland are too small and are restricted by age and employment situation.

          Thanks, I see that it was paid to 2,000 people who were 25-58 and unemployed. Crucially though, it didn’t abate if they found work, which still makes it useful evidence for the impact of a UBI, even if there are limitations due to the parallel economy (as you highlight).

          PDB: You would be in the minority I’d suggest, one can only imagine the increased MSM stories of how the elderly are struggling on even less money, solo mums can’t survive etc. You can’t tell me the Greens would suddenly stop promising more money for those on less money just because a UBI has been implemented.

          Ok, so vote for TOP and not Green. National’s tax policy isn’t wrong just because ACT would call for larger ones.

          PDB: Wont happen – the backlash would be huge. Remember the left are pushing for all working youth to get a living wage.

          I was just making a normative argument for what I think should happen. Just because the left would disagree with me doesn’t make it wrong, unless they can make the case against it. Just how you disagreeing with TOP’s policy doesn’t make it wrong.

          PDB: The continuing pressure to raise the minimum wage and implement a living wage a case in point. Gareth’s proposed UBI is no where near the proposed living wage.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_wage. Check out the byline in italics.

          PDB: This is fanciful at best. Free student loans has not resulted in better outcomes for most students (as most don’t even finish their studies) or improved youth attitudes/ability to work which is the closest example we have to this.

          Perhaps a UBI would fix some of these distortions, as it would remove some of the weird incentive signals and enable youth to allocate their time where they think will be best for their future.

          PDB: Further encouraging youth to not work straight out of school makes our hands-on labour shortages even worse

          This is where you get closest to making a salient point against that actual TOP policy, but you’re going to need to provide evidence that a youth UBI would increase the number of NEETs.

          • PDB

             /  July 20, 2017

            Metrostate: “It is a UBI for people 18-23.”

            TOP is for a UBI for everybody, this youth policy is just a start.

            Therefore you can’t just look in isolation at just the youth policy bit & call it a UBI simply because the people providing the free $10k a year are not on a UBI (and therefore not taxed as high as if they were under a UBI) and hence can afford to ‘prop up’ the payments.

            It’s like setting up a communism group in NZL and saying communism works even though it is funded by, and operates within a fully democratic society.

            Essentially TOP can only afford to pay the 18-23 year olds a so-called ‘UBI’ because no other demographic in the country would be on a type of UBI aside from pensioners. Smoke and mirrors.

            The key workforce problems we have are in youth not entering the manual labour force in enough numbers &/or being ready to work – this policy would only make that situation worse by providing further incentives to those to not enter that particular area.

            You may be in favour of giving kids of ‘rich people’ $10k annually to spend as pocket money – I’m not.

            • Mefrostate

               /  July 20, 2017

              PDB: TOP is for a UBI for everybody, this youth policy is just a start. Essentially TOP can only afford to pay the 18-23 year olds a so-called ‘UBI’ because no other demographic in the country would be on a type of UBI aside from pensioners. Smoke and mirrors.

              Yes exactly. TOP admit that a UBI for all ages is currently unaffordable, and so propose to start with families (http://www.top.org.nz/top7), Superannuitants (same page) and youth (http://www.top.org.nz/top11).

              I understand that you might not like them using the word “Unconditional” when all three policies clearly ARE conditional on age, but crucially it IS unconditional on behaviour. And that’s the bit that people on the left and the right should like the look of.

              PDB: “It’s like setting up a communism group in NZL and saying communism works even though it is funded by, and operates within a fully democratic society.”

              I get what you’re saying, but I think that broad statements like “communism works” and “a UBI works” are pointless without the context of “within a society with x,y,z other features”.

              When I assess policies, I try to do so within the context of the existing society, and determine whether it’s better or worse than the current state of affairs.

              PDB: youth not entering the manual labour force in enough numbers &/or being ready to work – this policy would only make that situation worse by providing further incentives to those to not enter that particular area.

              Surely for the 15% of youth who are NEET, this policy would remove the disincentives to work/study, because they will no longer lose their Jobseeker Support if they find work. Now they’ll get $200 – roughly rent + $60 for food & petrol in a small town – and any extra money they manage to earn will be theirs to spend.

              PDB: You may be in favour of giving kids of ‘rich people’ $10k annually to spend as pocket money – I’m not.

              Giving Lorde $10k/week is an uncomfortable side-effect that I’m willing to suffer if it will result in the benefits outlined above.

    • Kevin

       /  July 20, 2017

      UBI while nice in theory won’t work in practice

      1. Most people currently on welfare will be much worse off, at least initially.
      2. Politicians will find a way to mess it up.

      • PDB

         /  July 20, 2017

        3. People will quickly waste the money being offered for free and then require further govt support.

  5. sorethumb

     /  July 20, 2017

    Fostering a culture of ready made (migrant) substitution rather than maximise our own people. Acting naive on demand: “employers are telling us they can’t get labour”

    • PDB

       /  July 20, 2017

      You obviously don’t have staff then, or are not involved in hiring staff – young Kiwis don’t want to work but are happy to enjoy the benefits the immigrants bring who do want to work.

    • sorethumb

       /  July 20, 2017

      Wrong thread again

  6. PDB

     /  July 20, 2017

    http://www.taxpayers.org.nz/money_for_all

    “$11 billion dollars more than the existing welfare system, while making solo mothers $150 per week worse off. For superannuitants, a UBI at this level would see their  weekly income reduced by $50.

    We find it startling that the Labour Party would be floating the idea of a replacement to the welfare system that would see those most vulnerable in society being far worse off. A UBI replaces helping those most in need with handouts to the middle-class and millionaires.

    If you take Labour’s assurances that no one will be left worse off under their UBI, the amount would need to be so high that Treasury’s economic modelling suggests that a flat income tax of between 50.6% and 55.7% would be needed to pay for it.”

    If you think workers are going to bust their ass and pay 50+% tax so others can afford to do their own thing and not work then you are in la la land. As soon as it’s implemented the left would push for those not working/on lower incomes to get more free money to survive and the tax rates would skyrocket even further. No one on lower incomes is better off under a UBI (many are worse off) hence the number of people in ‘poverty’ does not change.

  7. sorethumb

     /  July 20, 2017

    Proceeding as though a bigger population is a given and will make us better off.

  8. PDB

     /  July 20, 2017

    To sum up the only way we the taxpayer could possibly give each youth 18-23 $10k per annum no questions asked is because we don’t operate under a UBI – hence the problem if you extend it to other people and why it’s just another benefit not a form of UBI.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  July 20, 2017

      As I said a while ago, it’s a non-UBI and might be justifiable on that basis but targeting is going to be a big issue as will incentives. No good reason why youth vs DPB vs other beneficiaries should be targeted.

    • Gezza

       /  July 20, 2017

      Mum had to get a job before she & dad had enough cash to give us pocket money.
      We all had to do our allocated jobs & earn it before we got pocket money.
      I always thought that was fair.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 20, 2017

        Yep, same with us and with our kids. And if our kids wanted something big I said I would pay half. They had to work and save to get the other half. Worked fine.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 20, 2017

          We always had pocket money, not a vast amount but the average. It wasn’t payment for things we did as I seem to remember that it was taken for granted that we would do a, b and c anyway. At high school I had a ‘clothing allowance’, pocket money with a cooler name. It was so much trendier to have this !

          I have a dim recollection of the 50/50 thing, but no actual examples.

  9. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 20, 2017

    Classic example of how excessive powers given to bureaucrats have f*cked up the world:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/fatherhood/5-year-old-daughter-fined-150-selling-lemonade/

    Shoot the bastards should be the cry!