No more Opportunities Party

Gareth Morgan put a lot of time, effort and money into the Opportunities Party. They developed some usuful policies, Morgan did well in public meetings, but he and PR recruit Sean Plunket made arses of themselves in social median at times.

Regardless, as all start up parties and millionaires have found, the 5% threshold is just too hard to achieve, especially with flawed leaders.

Today Morgan announced that the there would be no more Opportunities Party.


The Opportunities Party Will Not Contest 2020

The Board of The Opportunities Party (TOP) has decided to request that the Electoral Commission cancel TOP’s registration as a political party.

TOP was formed in late 2016 to contest the 2017 election in which it polled at 2.4%. Since the election the Board has considered whether it would invest time and money in preparing the Party to contest 2020 and after due consideration has decided against it.

Party founder Dr Gareth Morgan said, “I’m proud of the policy manifesto we developed and have no doubt it was by far the strongest on offer to improve New Zealanders’ incomes, business productivity, social fairness and environmental sustainability. The legacy of that manifesto remains and to be frank was all that personally ever interested me.”

“The voting public demonstrated that best practice, evidence-informed policy is not of significant concern when deciding elections. When 20% of the vote moves in 48 hours simply on the back of a change of leader, with no improvement at all in policy being offered, what makes the New Zealand voter tick is clear.”

“TOP was formed to improve the policy options on offer. Too few voters supported our policies. That’s reality and we accept that. With no inclination to compromise policy for political ambition, or to de-emphasise best practice policy for the promotion of whatever else attracts people’s votes, it’s pretty obvious what the appropriate course of action for this party should be.”

“I’d like to thank all those involved with TOP. We had fun and we challenged people and for the more than 60,000 people really interested in best practice policy, we appealed. They have reason to be proud.”

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.

Is voter turnout a problem?

Voter turnout has been trending down for decades. Is this a problem? Or should we not care about people who don’t care about voting, and just work on having better informed people who have an interest in voting?

The Opportunities Party has just released policy on democracy – The Opportunities Party – Democracy Reset – and has a detailed look at voter turnout data.


1. The Data

deomocracy-reset1.jpg

Source: http://www.elections.org.nz/events/past-events/2014-general-election

Fewer and fewer people have confidence in our democracy. They simply don’t see voting as something that impacts on their lives. This is illustrated by the voter turnout.

In addition there’s a difference in the enthusiasm to vote between the age groups. The babyboomers are the most enthusiastic voters. In the 2014 election, 85% of eligible Baby Boomers or older voted (81% of that total cohort).

But for those under 50, only 70% of registered (or 51% of that total cohort) voted and it gets a lot lower for those under 30. For this cohort – weighed down by student debt and the prohibitive cost of getting on the first rung of the property ladder – only 62% of the registered (45% of the number of under 30’s) bothered to vote.

This alienation from the democratic process is not just a New Zealand phenomenon – right across the Western World, people are increasingly frustrated that their democracies are not serving them. There is even a significant difference in opinion on the value of keeping democracy between young and old. In the US 43% of oldies see it as illegitimate for the military to take over if the government is incompetent, yet only 19% of millennials feel like that. And in Europe the numbers were 53% and 36% respectively. The generation divide – wherein younger ones feel our so-called “democratic” government is not serving their interests – is stark.

Such a dichotomy between young and old can be seen from the following graph.

Percentage of people (identified by birth year) who believe it is “essential” to live in a democracy

democracyreset2.jpg

In our view there are three issues to address;

  1. the absence of an independent body that holds the government of the day to account on long term issues
  2. not enough empowerment of communities and direct participation for voters
  3. the lack of a well articulated and widely valued Constitution that makes it clear what all New Zealanders’ rights are