Debate Magazine

Killer Arguments Against Citizen's Income, Not (26)

Posted on the 20 March 2020 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

Just to remind us that it's not just the authoritarian Right but the authoritarian Left who are digging their heels in.
From The Morning Star:
For years the Universal Basic Income (UBI) campaign lurked in the libertarian undergrowth: give everyone a basic wage, unconnected to their labor or their needs and get government off their backs. But over the last 5 years or so the idea has crept into the left-wing of the Labour Party. It was a relief that it didn't feature in the last two manifestos.
It has been depressing, therefore, to see recently on social media so many people who consider themselves socialists calling for UBI. Finally today I was horrified to see good MPs like Sam Tarry and Rebecca Long Bailey joining the throng.
UBI was always a snake-oil policy but suggesting that it is a sensible response to the Covid-19 crisis is frankly crazy. The problem that needs to be solved is maintaining people's incomes if they cannot work because of illness or temporary redundancy. People, as best they can, adjust their outgoings to their incomes.
UBI is a one-size-fits-all payment. The correct response is for the government to underwrite payrolls for the duration of the emergency. If that were done there would be no need for rent or mortgage holidays for workers or tax/National Insurance holidays for employers.
Carol Wilcox, Labour Land Campaign

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So somebody who loses a higher paid job deserves higher welfare payments (or a higher government guarantee) than somebody who loses a low paid job? That's what she seems to be saying. Strange.
UBI is not about replacing income from work. Most recipients will continue working (the UBI would be low compared to average wages).
UBI is not supposed to be 'targeted' at those who have lost their jobs, it's not a kind of unemployment benefit. For sure, it would benefit the unemployed, but "universal" means "universal". It goes to children, students, workers, unemployed, stay-at-home parents, the disabled, pensioners, recently released prisoners... and the few people who are content with a really, really modest lifestyle and can't be bothered.
UBI goes to everybody. Same as the universal right to vote, use a public library, state education, NHS, whatever. If you genuinely oppose UBI, you should oppose all these as well.
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Also, to say that there'd be no need for a tax/National Insurance holiday if the government underwrote wages is a bit arse-backwards.


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