It is difficult to understand how an intelligent, highly trained man like Richard Di Natale could seriously suggest that Australia should introduce a Universal Basic Income.
It was even more surprising to hear channel 10 television host, Waleed Ali give some credence to the idea on The Project, last night, suggesting it was “no lefto pinky nonsense”.
Natale made his announcement at the National Press Club luncheon this week. For those unsure of it, a UBI is a basic, liveable payment to all citizens without any conditions attached.
Economists tell us it could replace all government spending on welfare, as well as housing, health and education. Even if that were true (it isn’t), it would still be a very bad idea.
According to Professor Bill Mitchell, a UBI is nothing more than, “a scam to absolve the government from its responsibility to create full employment.”
An article by Chris Hedges (April 1, 2018) – The Oligarchs’ ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’ Scam – published by Truthdig explains very succinctly, the purpose behind the recent push for a UBI.
“A number of the reigning oligarchs … are calling for a guaranteed basic income. It looks progressive. They couch their proposals in the moral language of caring for the destitute and the less fortunate. But behind this is the stark awareness, especially in Silicon Valley, that the world these oligarchs have helped create is so lopsided that future consumers, plagued by job insecurity, substandard wages, automation and crippling debt peonage, will be unable to pay for the products and services offered by the big corporations.”
We are being told that we are on the precipice of a technological revolution where robots are being assembled as we speak, to take over 40% of existing jobs. Never mind that those robots will still require human management.
Never mind also that the computer revolution that began 40 years ago was also going to put most of the workforce out of a job. It’s a familiar projection of future trends that keeps us both enthralled and intimidated at the same time.
A UBI would be another win for the top end of town. They are concerned that the downside of the technological revolution is that no one will be able to afford their products in the future. They are positioning themselves to put pressure on governments to spend money for no return, just to keep them in business.
The result is, the rich would continue to get richer as the poorer continued to be the victim. Paying people to do nothing, is as silly as it sounds. It is, as Bill Mitchell says, “a neo-liberal strategy for serfdom without the work.”
“Business leaders want to avoid attacks on their power as they kill off jobs in swathes. But they also will continue to work out ways to maintain control over workers and what better way than dishing out a little consumption bundle and keeping them out of the workplace,”he says.
A UBI would create a society where people become mere consumption units, where the demand for labour goes into decline, wages and conditions suffer and the inequality balance shifts even further in favour of capital.
National GDP levels would fall as people opting not to work, lowered their expectations and their living standards, forcing production rates to spiral downwards, prices to rise, inflation to run amuck and the only winners are guess who?
Little wonder business CEOs support the principle. It would mean more money for them, less overhead and bigger profits. This is not the society we want for the future, it’s the society from which we have been escaping these last 100 years.
If our business leaders were truly keen to care for the destitute and the less fortunate, they would support a job guarantee where the government provided a job for everyone who wanted work but were unable to find it.
A job guarantee would ensure a pool of workers ready to join the mainstream workforce when the economy was in recovery, help maintain production levels, increase taxation revenues and overall GDP.
Strangely sinister, is it not, that the wrong message, sugar-coated to appear electorally popular, is always the one that seems to get the most media attention, while the more beneficial option, the one that best serves the interests of the majority, languishes in the “it won’t work” basket.