Universal Basic Income: the fight is on

It seems like only yesterday (it was Tuesday) that the Breakdown warned you about the looming battle for the universal basic income (which goes by many names, just as poop can be called crap, a turd or plain old sh!t).

No matter its name, the outcome is the same: taxpayers, and the productive sector of the economy, fund the lifestyle of the indigent and the useless. Which is why the idea is so popular in academia.

Yesterday a group of “prominent” Australians started their campaign to put a universal basic income on the political agenda.

The campaign is being led by Tim Hollo (without the W). Tim is … an academic at the ANU … he’s a former Greens candidate … and Executive Director of the Green Institute, where he leads thinking around ecological political philosophy and practice, and drives policy discussion around Rights of Nature, Universal Basic Income and participatory democracy.

The list of names is worth looking at because it highlights the structure of so-called ‘progressive’ political movements in Australia.

You see, it’s a mix of the well known and the ‘authoritative’.

The well known, in this case people like Benjamin law can use their prominence (109 k Twitter followers), to help get a message out from the authoritative (Professor John Quiggan, for example).

Do have a look at their open letter and you’ll notice a few things.

First, there is not one indication of what it will cost. It’s all about how it will make people feel and the benefits. that’s because, as outlined on 31 March, the costs and the benefits are miles apart. Miles.

But read these sections carefully. Can you see what they’re doing here?

Specifically, the undersigned call on you [the Prime Minister and the national Cabinet] to:

  • Remove conditionality requirements to make access to the Jobseeker Payment and related payments, including the Coronavirus supplement, administratively fast and simple;
  • Remove all mutual obligation requirements, which will be both impossible to comply with and impossible to manage;
  • Unify all payments, including the Aged Pension, Disability Support Pension, Youth Allowance, etc, at the same full Liveable Income Guarantee rate of the Jobseeker Allowance plus the Coronavirus supplement (without prejudicing any additional payments such as Disability Support Pension, Rent Assistance or the Remote Area Allowance);
  • Introduce these measures with immediate effect.

Did you catch it?

Here it is again:

  • Remove conditionality requirements to make access to the Jobseeker Payment and related payments, including the Coronavirus supplement, administratively fast and simple;
  • Remove all mutual obligation requirements, which will be both impossible to comply with and impossible to manage;
  • Unify all payments, including the Aged Pension, Disability Support Pension, Youth Allowance, etc, at the same full Liveable Income Guarantee rate of the Jobseeker Allowance plus the Coronavirus supplement (without prejudicing any additional payments such as Disability Support Pension, Rent Assistance or the Remote Area Allowance);
  • Introduce these measures with immediate effect.

The Coronavirus supplement is the extra $550 per fortnight. According to Services Australia:

The temporary Coronavirus Supplement will be an extra $550 a fortnight payment on top of your income support payment.

You’ll automatically get the supplement if you’re getting one of these payments:

  • JobSeeker Payment, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Sickness Allowance and Wife Pension

  • Youth Allowance for job seekers

  • Youth Allowance for students and apprentices

  • Austudy for students and apprentices

  • ABSTUDY for students getting Living Allowance

  • Parenting Payment partnered and single

  • Farm Household Allowance

  • Special Benefit.

So they want these payments to be made without mutual obligation, at the higher rate (with the coronavirus payment) and then plonk disability etc on top.

Great if you get it. Crappy if you pay for it.

In case you missed it …

No comment necessary.

Leon Russell (b 1942)

Joe Cocker was great – he was better with Leon Russell. This is from the legendary Mad Dogs and Englishmen concert which Russell organised, including the epic ensemble. Leon’s the pianist – the one with bloke in the blue top hat. One of the greatest rock pianists.

Crank this baby to 11.

Here he is with another pianist who always said he owed an enormous debt to Russell.

John repaid the debt with the album The Union. It is special.