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On Mondays – or Tuesdays afterwards accessible holidays – Civic Radio’s Kathryn Ryan runs a affair alleged ‘Political Commentators’. On 28 April, from the appropriate was approved analyst Matthew Hooton. From the larboard was Neal Jones who is listed as: “Chief of Staff to Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern, and above-mentioned to that was Chief of Staff to Andrew Little”.

It was acceptable to apprehend Hooton now acceptable article of an apostle for a Accepted Basal Assets (UBI), admitting (given accomplished comments) I am not bright yet that he understands it fully.

It was concerning, however, to apprehend Jones – a man abutting to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – repeating falsehoods about Accepted Basal Income. Jones said that a key botheration with UBI is that it would be paid to New Zealand’s richest man, Graeme Hart. That animadversion reflects an attitude that is dismissive of universalism. Universalism is the basal assumption that underpins democracy; and, added generally, underpins ‘horizontal equity’, the abstraction that we are all according in our bread-and-butter and added civilian rights.

Perhaps alike added importunately, Jones’ animadversion on Tuesday was false.

It was me who in 1991 aboriginal coined the appellation ‘Universal Basal Income’; my aim was to affix the acclimatized abstraction of ‘Basic Income’ (‘Citizens Income’ in the United Kingdom) with insights gleaned from New Zealand’s attitude of accepted assets support, as acclimatized in the 1938 Amusing Security reforms and as reaffirmed in the 1972 Royal Commission on Amusing Security.

The apparatus I envisaged in 1991 is: “a accepted tax acclaim accessible to every developed – the accepted basal assets (UBI) – and a moderately aerial collapsed tax rate”.

(Refer to my ‘Briefing Paper’ From Accepted Basal Assets to Accessible Disinterestedness Assets (2018) which in about-face links to a abode that links to, amid added papers, my aboriginal 1991 University of Auckland Policy Discussion Paper. To the best of my knowledge, this was the aboriginal anytime appear use of the name ‘Universal Basal Income’. The name started to be acclimated internationally afterwards I presented a cardboard at the Basal Assets European Network appointment in Vienna in 1996.)

Since the 1990s, the abstraction of Accepted Basal Assets has become ailing defined, and tends to be seen, simplistically, as an unfunded handout, a affectionate of consistently paid ‘helicopter money’. In that sense, it is accurate that some proposals that use the name ‘Universal Basal Income’ would accession Graeme Hart’s income. But not all versions of UBI. In those versions that are truest to the basal abstraction – Graeme Hart’s assets would be unaffected.

So, already again, for the butt of this essay, I am activity to abstain the appellation ‘Universal Basal Income’. The appellation I will use actuality is ‘Universal Assets Collapsed Tax’ (UIFT, if you will). This is a apparatus fabricated up from a accepted assets and a distinct (flat) bulk of assets tax. Thus, the accepted assets is adjourned by the abatement of the lower bordering tax rates. In the New Zealand case, that agency the accepted assets replaces the 10.5%, 17.5% and 30% bordering tax concessions. With a distinct tax bulk of 33% and a accepted assets of $175 per week, Graeme Hart would be absolutely unaffected, at atomic in the accomplishing phase. This represents a reconceptualisation of assets tax rather than a redistribution of income.

Rather than labour the point about how we acquaint the UIFT mechanism, it’s acceptable to get the eyes of the apparatus in action. It is a apparatus that addresses the issues of stability, precarity, equity, and sustainability. UIFT is not a acceptable catholicon to cure all our bread-and-butter ailments, aloof as the addition of MMP did not abolish the backroom from politics. UIFT is, however, a apparatus that makes the all-important possible. It is an enabling apparatus for the change of avant-garde democracy. The Covid19 all-around emergency has apparent added acutely than anytime that our present agency of cerebration about accessible accounts are disabling, and as such abuse to accompany about an end to avant-garde commercialism in some genitalia of the world.

(Much of the disabling is due to the actuality that abounding abundance allowances abide to be delivered to us in the anatomy of tax exemptions, allowances, concessions and graduations. These are adorable to recipients because they are actual – they do not accept to be activated for – and to policymakers because they almost contributes to accessible debates about amusing welfare. The big botheration with this affectionate of account is that, aback a person’s assets declines, these tax-related allowances additionally decline. We tend to anticipate of allowances as a cushion, or a assurance net. These tax-related allowances represent the beanbag actuality removed aback we fall. The best allowances are cushions that are there for us aback we fall, rather than cushions acclimatized to us aback convalescing from an uncushioned fall.)

So, brainstorm that we already accept in abode a 33 percent assets tax and a account basal accepted assets of $175. (For present beneficiaries, this $175 per anniversary would represent the aboriginal $175 of their present benefit. This bearings does not represent any abundant change from the assets administration we accept become acclimatized to. It is a conceptual change.)

How could we use this tax-benefit apparatus to abode the four issues: stability; precarity; equity; sustainability?


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Stabilisation is the accustomed affair of how societies use budgetary and budgetary behavior to administer accustomed bread-and-butter downturns and upturns in the economy. Governments apprehend to pay added abundance allowances in an bread-and-butter abbreviating (eg a recession), beneath allowances in an expansion. And governments apprehend to aggregate beneath taxes in a contraction, added taxes in an expansion. Thus, we apprehend the government to run account deficits during contractions and account surpluses during expansions.

When we accept abundance allowances that are accessible to access, this action is accepted as automated stabilisation. While such automated allowances are acceptable for the recipients, they are abnormally acceptable for the adherence of the abridgement as a whole. (Countries that already had a arrangement of allowances in abode afore the Great Abasement of the 1930s – conspicuously Sweden and the United Kingdom – emerged from that emergency analogously quickly, in 1932. Added countries – for archetype France and the United States – were still in bread-and-butter abasement at the access of Apple War 2.)

The added authoritative the action of accessing allowances – and the added codicillary those allowances are – the beneath able is the stabilisation process. (Reliance on allowances delivered as tax concessions is abnormally destabilising, because these allowances are absent aback they are best needed. A decidedly arrant archetype of a destabilising account in New Zealand at present is the In-Work Tax Credit, which, as its name suggests, is absent aback recipients lose their employment. Another such account is the KiwiSaver anniversary tax acclaim of $521, which is progressively absent as a person’s gross account assets avalanche beneath $1,043.)

Under the UIFT mechanism, the abounding accepted assets is retained aback a actuality loses their job, or suffers a abridgement in wages. And it’s instant, a 18-carat cushion; not a consecutive palliative. Further, this beanbag account cushions bodies with ally still in work; abounding bodies (especially affiliated women) do not authorize at all for present targeted authoritative Assignment and Assets benefits.

When there is an bread-and-butter expansion, beneath this UIFT regime, government assets tax acquirement increases by 33 cents in the dollar for every added dollar of gross income; thus, during a accustomed bread-and-butter upturn, the government moves into surplus added bound and added automatically.


Precarity is the bearings area abounding bodies are active on concise contracts; some may be accepted to be ‘on call’ after actuality compensated for that belted time. It additionally refers to abounding the self-employed bodies – free-lancers and baby business agents – whose labour incomes alter with little predictability.

For these people, a basal accepted assets works as a claimed bread-and-butter stabiliser – a beanbag acceptance some assets tide-over during bottomward times – with a college bordering tax bulk which offsets this beanbag in the acceptable times. With the UIFT apparatus in place, these bodies can abide self-reliant, and will accept basal charge to appoint the abundance authority which needs to prioritise those bodies with structural assets incapacity.

Further, the actual account basal of the UIFT creates some allurement for self-employed workers to absorb work-life balance, by not overworking at assertive times, and by not penalising them aback they charge some downtime, such as ancestors time.


Equity is a axial basal of democracy. And disinterestedness represents the according buying of advantageous resources. Clandestine disinterestedness represents the according buying rights of the principals of clandestine businesses. Accessible disinterestedness represents the according buying rights of all bread-and-butter citizens over those abounding advantageous assets which are not abreast owned. Equity-holders apprehend to accept an bread-and-butter acknowledgment on their equity. There is no law of economics that restricts this backer apprehension to clandestine shareholders.

The aftereffect of this avant-garde autonomous acumen is that the accepted assets basal of UIFT can be appropriately accepted as an bread-and-butter dividend; absorption on the accessible disinterestedness represented by the accessible commons. And it additionally agency that a accepted assets that is basal (ie low) charge not abide low beneath all accessible approaching circumstances.

Just as political citizenship reflects the accepted suffrage, one actuality one vote, so, in a complete democracy, bread-and-butter citizenship requires a accepted publicly-sourced clandestine income. One person, one disinterestedness dividend. A absorption on disinterestedness attempt suggests that the accepted assets allotment of the UIFT apparatus should be accepted as a accessible disinterestedness dividend.

A accepted publicly-sourced clandestine assets is basal income, not labour income. It is a amusing dividend, not a wage. It is a crop on accessible capital. It is amusing commercialism at work, not socialism.

The chat ‘equitable’ charge be associated with an equalising mechanism. Actuality we may accede both banking asperity and time inequality.

A avant-garde autonomous allotment agency that one abundant allotment of the bread-and-butter pie is broadcast equally, and that the butt of the bread-and-butter pie is broadcast unequally in band with bazaar forces. It agency that bodies experiencing abundant declines in their bazaar incomes absorb a claimed pale in their avant-garde democracy, through their rights to an assets from the accessible share. And it agency that bodies experiencing increases in their bazaar incomes do not accompanying draw increases from the accessible share. Banking asperity is mitigated.

Time asperity is addressed, because the admittance of an actual accepted assets gives advance to the busy to assignment less, and for the underworked to assignment more. After such an equalising mechanism, workers, who additionally lose accessible allowances aback they lose clandestine incomes, are disincentivised from abbreviation their assignment overloads. Likewise, bodies with little or no assignment apperceive that, with UIFT, they will absorb their publicly-sourced clandestine assets aback they booty on added bazaar workloads. The busy assignment beneath and the underworked assignment more. For the unemployed and the underemployed, a basal accepted assets is assignment enabling; it facilitates rather than restricts labour supply.


This affair relates to both the affair of robots and the affair of altitude change. It relates added about to the possibilities of actuality able to adore aerial active standards in a added airy form, and accepting a supply-elastic economy. At present we try to accept a full-capacity (ie, ‘maxed out’) growing abridgement area we accept little best but to overproduce and overconsume. At present, our overconsumption is addition else’s livelihood.

The apprentice affair is that our economies will become too productive. The alone affair alarming about that book is that, at present, we accept no amusing apparatus to administer the gain of that productivity. In the absence of such a mechanism, the endgame is acute inequality, which agency (among added things) acute poverty. An avant-garde association with acute abjection has aerial unemployment of both bodies and robots.

How does a complete UIFT apparatus abode this issue? It addresses the affair by both adopting the bulk of accepted assets and by adopting the assets tax rate. If done in a aloof manner, again the all-embracing admeasurement of bread-and-butter asperity (measured by the Gini Coefficient) would be unchanged.

In adjustment to abstain added inequality, both the accepted account bulk and the tax bulk would charge to increase. This would be a simple absorption of accretion basal assets about to labour income; added gross assets accruing to buying about to assets accruing to effort.

(At this point we ability note, Graeme Hart, as a acceptable apprentice investor, would be alike richer than he is now, afore tax. While the UIFT apparatus would accord him an added accessible disinterestedness dividend, he would additionally pay added assets tax. The net aftereffect of these three influences on Hart’s assets should be that his ‘disposable income’ would access at about the civic average.)

As this action of ascent incomes and ascent assets taxes unfolds, it agency that the accessible allotment of the bread-and-butter pie increases about to the bazaar share. This increases the alertness of the busy to assignment less. And it increases the compassionate that paid assignment is a amount rather than a benefit. Ascent accessible disinterestedness assets about to absolute assets gives the all-important arresting to the absolute workforce to assignment beneath for money, and to commence on added projects that may not bear banking returns. Added autonomous unemployment, beneath automatic unemployment. Added ‘slack’, in the faculty that baggy represents bazaar accumulation elasticity. An abridgement with added baggy has the accommodation to access assembly aback it needs to. In accustomed times, avant-garde backer economies should not be ‘maxed-out’; alone in assertive types of emergency.

We can now brainstorm a autonomous backer apple order, in which bodies accept to both acquire beneath and absorb less, while actuality assured that basal bread-and-butter needs are covered, as able-bodied as abounding higher-order needs. Ironically, in our Covid19 lockdowns abounding of us acquired a faculty of that, admitting missing the coffee and ambient of the bounded café. But not missing the added rat-race.

It is this slower active – which we accept apparent briefly – that has the abeyant to accompany about ecology sustainability. We accept heard added birdsong. We accept smelled the flowers. We accept heard that the bodies in China accept afresh apparent the stars in the firmament.

We can accept a aerial abundance abridgement after maxing-out our countries’ GDPs. We aloof charge a apparatus to accomplish the all-important possible.

What is the Aboriginal Step?

In New Zealand, the aboriginal footfall is to reconceptualise our tax-benefit system, and in the action to administer a little abatement to those who assignment adamantine after accepting aerial wages. This footfall would accept calmly been adjourned through tax acquirement in 2019, pre-Covid19. Today this aboriginal footfall should be adjourned – and immediately, eg through the 14 May 2020 Account – by Reserve Bank credit, aloof as the emergency allowance subsidies accept been funded.

See my Five Examples for any added description about how the alteration to UIFT would affect altered people.

In abounding added countries, the action will be added difficult. They accept added complexities to break (compared to New Zealand) in their present income-tax scales. Australia could accomplish the alteration absolutely easily, with a 37% tax bulk and a basal accepted assets of $240 per week.

We charge political commentators with accessible minds.


Universal Basal Assets (or Basal Accepted Income) and Covid19. Scoop or Evening Report, 7 April 2020.

From Accepted Basal Assets to Accessible Disinterestedness Assets (2018); Policy Observatory Briefing Papers, AUT, Auckland

Public Disinterestedness and Tax-Benefit Reform (2017); Policy Observatory, AUT, Auckland

The Accepted Abundance State accumulation proposals for a Accepted Basal Income, Keith Rankin, University of Auckland Policy Discussion Cardboard No.12, 1991

Constructing a Amusing Allowance and a Amusing Allotment from New Zealand’s tax-benefit system, cardboard presented to the Basal Assets European Network (BIEN) all-embracing conference; Vienna, Austria, 12-14 September 1996.(Note that in this paper, I acclimated the agreement ‘full accepted basal income’ and ‘adequate accepted basal income’. My use actuality of words such as ‘full’ and ‘adequate’ are evocative of the aspiration that a basal assets could be added than a basal dividend; rather a acting for a wage, and accordingly a accessible bridle to appoint with the labour market. About my accent in this cardboard – and consecutive affidavit – was the ‘social dividend’, a basal accepted assets that ability eventually advance into a non-basic payment.)

© Scoop Media

Political Economist, Scoop Columnist

Keith Rankin accomplished economics at Unitec in Mt Albert aback 1999. An bread-and-butter historian by training, his assay has included an assay of labour accumulation in the Great Abasement of the 1930s, and has included estimates of New Zealand’s GNP activity aback to the 1850s.

Keith believes that abounding of the bread-and-butter issues that betray us cannot be accepted by relying on the accepted interpretations of our amusing science disciplines. Keith favours a analytical access that emphasises new perspectives rather than artlessly opposing those practices and behavior that we don’t like.

Keith retired in 2020 and lives with his ancestors in Glen Eden, Auckland.

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