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UBI and COVID-19

In recent years and in many countries, the issue of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been discussed, and for the most part, dismissed.

Another issue, recently raised by Labor, and ignored by the Coalition, has been the almost obscene amounts paid by many wealthy individuals and corporations to cover the costs of managing their tax affairs. These amounts are eligible for considerable refunds as they are tax deductible.

There must be many Chartered Accountants who remember the Coalition’s tax policies in their nightly prayers and who are living a really good life!

Sorry, guys! The good times are coming to an end! At least if my idea catches on.

Now, in the current gig economy and for many lower paid workers, the need to self-isolate, for an individual who might have been infected by the COVID-19 virus, might mean a battle to survive financially. It may even mean a total long-term loss of employment.

The government is becoming more acutely aware of the dangers of a slowing economy and realising the need to put more money into people’s pockets to try to boost that economy.

Sadly, this government seems to have no long-term vision and only plans for short-term fixes, yet the growing awareness that climate change is real, that more disasters are becoming highly probably and that people are crying out for proper planning, cannot and should not be ignored.

So how does the UBI come into this?

If, instead of paying one-off lump sums to individuals, the government introduced a realistic UBI, then those without work, for whatever reason, would all have basic costs covered.

If this coincided with putting a realistic ceiling on the amount that can be claimed for the costs of managing tax affairs, as a preliminary for a long overdue revision of the tax laws, the cost of the UBI might suddenly seem more realistic.

I am sure that the archives contain records of all the research that has been put in, over time, in relation to the costs, benefits and processes involved in introducing a UBI, so we only need to dig the records out, dust them off and polish them up.

If the Coalition can grit its teeth and copy a policy from Kevin Rudd, then, surely, they can catch on to Malcolm Turnbull’s theme of innovation?

Joking aside – we really do need to look really seriously at the plight of an, as yet unknown, number of people affected seriously – and not necessarily only medically – by the Coronavirus.

The suggestion I am putting forward should not be brushed aside as unnecessary, given the number of unknowns with which we will be faced in the immediate future.

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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15 comments

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  1. RosemaryJ36

    The amounts recouped by limiting refunds to the wealthy might well more than equal the amount they would receive unnecessarily from the UBI.

  2. Pingback: UBI and COVID-19 #newsoz.org #auspol - News Oz

  3. Keitha Granville

    Excellent plan, even if they only did it for 6 months to get through this crisis. It would certainly save many people from homelessness, starvation and permanent unemployment.
    My industry, arts and entertainment, will be crippled and many small operations and sole traders (like myself) will simply disappear without a trace. They need help NOW, as do small traders who rely on this industry for their livelihood – small bars, restaurants, merchandise suppliers, printers. Too many to name.

    This is a national catastrophe.

  4. pierre wilkinson

    If they spent less than the cost of the Indue card on all those who they wish to include in an expansion of the card, then they could still afford an increase of $75pw for all on welfare. After all, it equates to the tax cuts to the wealthy that they want to include asap, and isn’t even a fraction of the costs of other government profligacy.

  5. Win Jeavons

    Since this virus impact began I have been promoting the UBI concept constantly. It would solve much of the concerns about casual and low income persons self isolating, and tend to smooth out boom/ bust cycles. It would possibly be much less expensive than our present welfare system, and indubitably less cruel. And it
    would ease our way into a more automated future, when already too many skilled older workers are cruelly dumped onto Newstart – better known as Deadend . More couples could have a parent stay home to actually parent, not have to pass it off to paid others. Just because it is a real break from the past is no reason not to think carefully about it as future. There will be no better time than now, when there are so many potential victims of this crisis

  6. New England Cocky

    The Canadians tried this approach and in brief the savings made in the Health Budget were GREATER THAN THE COST OF THE PROGRAMME.

  7. TuffGuy

    If they went after a just a fraction of the tax not paid by large corporations they would have more than enough money to pay for a UBI. If every working citizen had the UBI as a base (therefore negating any need to apply for it and avoiding waiting periods) then your job income would supplement that. Employers (and large corporations) would be paying more tax to cover the UBI but would lower your salary by that amount so the employee ends up with the same money. So for employers they pay more tax but similarly less in wages.

  8. DrakeN

    The simplest way of gathering revenue for such a scheme, and all spending by governments, is a tiny impost on each and every financial transaction.
    The money manipulators, who do the least for public benefit, would contribute a more equitable amount and people who have the least would pay the least.
    It would put a heck of a lot of the tax accountancy parasites out of business, save a fortune in Tax Office costs and give more people a “fair suck of the sav”.
    An UBI is far too equinanimous for the governing elite to contemplate since it reduces the need for ordinary people to take whatever employment conditions are offered by them.
    Having a subsistence income independent of control by exploitative capitalists would free many minds to create more appropriate employment for themselves and even to engage in communally beneficial work which is otherwise not commercially gainful.
    As mentioned by NEC the net benefit to the Treasury would be substantial., and the complex nature of the current “welfare” system would be effectively eliminated.
    Any persons earning more than the UBI would be taxed only on those earnings, should a transaction tax be not taken into effect.
    It really is just an ubiqitous application of the ‘KISS’ principle.

  9. Kerri

    The UBI at first glance seems counter intuitive until you really think about it.
    Many years ago my nephew was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
    (Spoiler he is in strapping good health now and an adult)
    One of the government’s handouts to families under such stress was given to my sister-in-law who protested that she did not need it and surely there were more in need than she?
    The response came that it is policy that ALL families receive the benefit, regardless of means.
    It occurred to me that this was totally fair. Your bank balance does not decide who gets cancer!
    And really your wealth or lack thereof should not be a deciding factor in how the government supports you in times of basic need. The handout did not cover all costs but allowed every child to be treated.
    She did much work to raise money for childhood cancers after the diagnosis.
    This is how it strikes me with the UBI. At first I was sceptical but if everyone gets it, how can anyone complain??
    And surely it costs us all less in the long run to support those in need rather than try to deal with homelessness or incapacity?

  10. Mike

    It will never happen, a UBI would mean less people on the job market to work slavishly for the wealthy. Who is going to do my renovations and mow my lawn, what about cleaning my pool?
    The plebs need to be kept in their places, ie at my beck and call.
    God damb man do you expect ME to expend personal energy when I can engage someone to do it for whatever I wish to pay? Get real!

  11. RosemaryJ36

    Mike – you speak truth. Greed and selfishness overrule all else, despite the hypocritical claims of the pseudo-religious. So sad.

  12. fucmall

    There is at least one step to make before a UBI is established, to make it useful.
    How to prevent the corporations who control the needs of society from simply using the UBI as an excuse to gouge more of the cash flow. The whole Idea of a UBI is to put cash flow onto the street. But without controls on corporate controlled needs Power, water, petrol, housing, and the rest. Then the UBI will just be gobbled up before it gets to the street.

  13. Glenn K

    The reality of Australia with one third of the workforce being casuals, is that very soon you will be in the grip of a lockdown like we are here in France and the masses will be panicked. people cannot afford to avoid work when being a casual. This locks in the reality of a pandemic. It’s happening to you. Very soon.
    Whilst the French government talks about compensating people to self-isolate (solutions pending), Australian governments talk about fines and imprisonment. This is gonna get ugly, the recession is going to be very very big. And the big fear is running out of loo paper???

  14. Egalitarian

    Glenn Perhaps some nice landlords will stop charging renters or at least reduce the rent during the covid crisis before they are forced to.

  15. Roland Flickett

    The only LEADER in the Western world was Angela Merkel, and she was brought down by her foolhardy promise to take 1m refugees created by the peregrinations of the USA and it’s toadies.

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