Hooton vs Salmond on UBI

Matthew Hooton and paid Labour shill Rob Salmond have been going hammer and tongs on the UBI proposal from Labour.

For those who weren’t aware of the discussion Labour put up a proposal, un-costed, with scant detail that the state pays everyone over 18 a universal basic income. The suggested amount is around $200.

There is no other detail about how such a massive welfare grant could be afforded and in?the?absence of any meaningful information from Labour, others including myself, have tried to work it all out.

That in turn has sent Rob Salmond, and from his reaction it shows it much to be his idea, into a mad frothing spin full of vitriol, spite and ad hominem attack against anyone who dares speak ill of the UBI.

Matthew has written a column at NBR and Rob Salmond has responded to that with another ad hominem attack against Hooton at Public Address. Salmond objects to every suggestion of David Farrar, Jim Rose and Matthew Hooton and basically calls them liars. He doesn’t, of course, put up any number at all.

Matthew Hooton’s response to that attack is brilliant, and exposes yet again the lack of intelligence from the sole defender of the UBI, Rob Salmond.

Just a few brief(ish) points.

1) For those with a subscription or working for someone who has one (and I think students at some universities), the actual column is here:http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/ubi-just-cynical-ploy-increase-welfare-and-tax-mh

2) The column makes clear at the outset this is an idea not policy. The word policy appears only once, and in the sentence: “It?s difficult to think of a policy proposal with more going for it.” I don’t know why Rob claims I said it was Labour Party policy. The column also makes clear I support a UBI in principle and I outline the key policy benefits, especially around EMTRs, administrative savings and reducing indignity for beneficiaries. I mention the huge amount of work that Lockwood Smith did in opposition in the 2000s trying to make something like a UBI work. (In fact, and I don’t mention this, I first encouraged him to do so when he became National revenue spokesman after the 2005 election). ??

3) The $86 billion gross cost assumes:
(i) a UBI is indeed “universal” in that:
(ii) everyone gets it from aged 18 until they die;
(iii) there is a top up for children under 18 as with the current Jobseekers’ Allowance and Working for Families;
(iv) it is enough to survive on, and
(v) there are no financial losers among existing beneficiaries.

4) Rob acknowledges I discussed the potential $25 billion saving if the full $86 billion model was implemented. He seems to have missed the bit when I said tax changes would be needed to bridge whatever difference remains, specifically “higher income and company taxes, new taxes on carbon and capital gains, and a tougher IRD.” Is there anyone who thinks a UBI can be implemented without those things?

5) I criticise Andrew Little’s “little helpers” for calling people liars for trying to put some numbers around a UBI. Labour has called for a discussion and public debate on its idea.

6) It is perfectly OK for Labour (or its paid proxies) to say that the $86 billion gross cost is too high. But then they need to say which of the assumptions in 3 above should be relaxed. If they won’t relax any of those assumptions, then $86 billion gross is a fair estimate of what the policy would cost.

7) If a party wants to have a public debate on a major policy idea, that is great, but how can people debate an idea if they are told they are liars for considering the fiscal side? For example, if a UBI of the type I describe in 3 above could be implemented at a cost requiring tax increases of only $10 billion I would be all for it. Who wouldn’t be? But how can anyone even begin to consider the matter without some parameters, including fiscal parameters? To initiate a discussion without providing some information on the fiscal implications is entirely disingenuous. It would be like National saying “we’re thinking of $100 a week tax cuts for everyone”, refusing to give further information and then calling people liars if they tried to work out what that might cost.

8) Labour still has quite a few MPs in parliament. I would have thought if Labour wants a public discussion on a UBI those MPs should be getting involved, rather than putting a staffer up on Public Address to rebut a column in the NBR. But far be it for me to give Labour political advice.

Labour were politically retarded to go public with a policy discussion with no details of their own, and then send out Rob Salmond from his highly paid job in the leader’s office to run interference against anyone who attempts to fill the gaps. Salmond is an intellectual pygmy and almost everything he touches turns to complete shit. It was his brilliant idea to slag off Asians in Auckland, and it was him who was exclaiming that all the polls were wrong at the last election, and it is him who is defending the UBI when even Grant Robertson has remained silent on the proposal.

When Labour strategy is run by a tax dodger and moron you really can’t blame anyone else for their appalling showing in?the?polls.


– NBR, Public Address