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


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  • Catriona

    Well, if what you say is indicative of the capability or incapability of Rob Salmond, then the Labour Party should get rid of him. As far as the UBI goes, Labour clutching at straws again. My god, they are pitiful these days. A train wreck springs to mind.

    • GT

      But he is top of the labour class – so no one else to step up!

  • Cadwallader

    The proposed UBI is an insult to any NZ’er who has a few brain cells. It doesn’t take many to perceive the UBI as nothing more than a throw-away bribe to coerce those hooked on freebies to vote for Labour. To propose an un-costed “policy” is either arrogance born of isolation (from the electorate) or just plain stupid.It seems the intellectual gene-pool within Labour is as shallow and directionless as its parliamentary representatives are.

  • Sally

    Labour are basing their ‘discussion, (not a policy yet)’ around Robin Hood. Little sees himself as Robin Hood, Robertson is Friar Tuck and there are several contenders for Maid Marion. Horton has been cast the roll as the big bad Sheriff.
    The UBI is just an extension of how socialist roll, robbing the rich and giving to the poor.

    • Woody

      Trouble is, they will be robbing everyone and most of us are certainly not rich.
      to use j
      John Key’s line, Labour, show me the money. They are steadfastly refusing to do so.

    • Grizz30

      Labour see John Key as the sheriff. Horton is more like Gibson the nasty head foot soldier.

  • The only upside to the whole UBI discussion is that it makes WFF look like fair, reasonable and well balanced economic policy instead of the unashamed piece of middle class bribery and socialist theft that it actually is.

  • Justme

    This policy would have to be a game changer for Labour. But not in a good way. The reason why they don’t want to discuss the financials is because the true cost is astronomical.
    If the UBI is to replace all other benefits, then that would work, but it won’t be to replace others. It will be a top up, in order to keep current beneficiaries happy. So, in effect, Labour is promising an extra $200 to every person over 18 who currently doesn’t receive a benefit. Instant cost increase. And which current beneficiary would be happy to know that they won’t be receiving anything extra? So, in effect EVERYONE over 18 gets $200 extra.
    The stupidity of Labour is that everyone who pays taxes knows who is going to pay for it. And they know it will financially kill them.
    Every mortgage holder in Auckland will have to find an extra $500+ a week tax to pay.
    Every graduating student will walk into a job knowing that on top of their student loan repayments is another $500+ a week in tax to pay.
    Every working person who is single and looking for their one true love will have to find an extra $500+ a week tax to pay, leaving them to wonder why they continue working, when all they are doing is paying for everyone else to enjoy the more intimate pleasures in life.
    This idea of Labour’s is a dream killer.

  • Tom

    Anything that makes everyone a beneficiary isnt good. Anything that would reduce pensions is going to upset a lot of pensioners. If you want people to have a simpler cost saving system then follow the UK. First Pounds 11,000 is tax free.

    • Left Right Out

      When I lived in Oz the first $5600 was tax free…… not sure what they do now… maybe one of our Aus commentators can confirm

  • BR

    I know! Let’s pay everyone over the age of 18 $200, and put a $200 tax on everyone over the age of 18 to pay for it.


    • Woody

      The trouble is that it’s not that simple is it? If we ignore the fact that not everyone works, there is still the administrative cost. Labour seem incapable of grasping even that simple fact. I guess that having no experience out in the real world will do that to you.

      • oldmanNZ

        its probably not that simple but the concept is the same. The money comes from somewhere, and is usually the taxpayer. (or borrow, then you’re in debt)

        unless, you let the greens, they can just print you a $200 bill every week. (then our money would be worth less).

        so lets say 10 people working and 1 not. each gets $200.
        to pay for it each working person pays $220.

        • Grizz30

          Actually the 9 working people would pay $222.22 but in reality it would be more like $250 as there would be administration charges and an increase in the black market economy with rising taxes.

          • oldmanNZ

            yes, forgot the admin charge. (+ GST too)

            10 working and 1 not = 11 people, or is my grammar incorrect?

    • Barnacles2

      You mean put a tax of $300 on everyone over the age of 18 to pay for it, there will be overheads involved.

  • Sally

    Actually this is how Labour format policies. Float an idea through the media, then let the political commentators and blogs pick it up for discussion while Labour MPs sit on the sideline watching and then they pick up the positives. Only then they come out and say this is our idea when it is the public idea. If it is all negative it is consigned to the rubbish bin.
    No thinking on their part or expensive consultants. We, here, are actually working for Labour.
    Next time they float an idea we should all just ignore it.

    • CD

      Actually to be fair every political party now does this thing of running ideas up the MSM and social media flagpole.
      Remember mining? 6 people and a goat marched down Queen St and they backed off.

  • JohnO

    I used to give a lift home to a young man (27ish) who had worked in a bank but was now unemployed. His theory was that the government and society needed the unemployed and he was volunteering for the job and he was going to spend the rest of his life living frugally off the unemployment benefit. I was incredulous at his naivite in thinking that the rest of us were going to pay him to do nothing for the rest of his life. I told him that he was going to come to a sticky end like cleaning other peoples cars for a living.
    There would be thousands of young people who would go down the path of living frugally without working for their whole lives if they were given the opportunity to do so. We should not give them that option.

  • cows4me

    “Salmond is an intellectual pygmy”, he’s more like Snow White when you compare him with the rest of the lamebrains.

  • Effluent

    Since the Labour Party have decided to outsource their policy making function to the twittersphere, I would like to volunteer my hap’orth to their policies – free bacon for the over 60’s – after all, we aren’t supposed to drink, smoke, fornicate, or eat sugar any longer. Anyone else got a better suggestion? Maybe elecution lessons for all the young women on TVNZ, red radio, etc, so I can understand what they are saying…
    On the other hand, maybe that’s not such a good idea.

  • Wasapilot

    Labour are saying-
    There will be no jobs in the future.
    We will give everyone money.
    We don’t know how we will fund giving everyone money.
    Don’t you dare try and work out how we will pay for giving everyone money.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    In a relatively short time The Future of Work Commissioner has decided that work is all to hard so have decided it is easier to just pay everybody of working age $200 a week. The master stroke is the UBI. What a gem of an idea and a brilliant way to stop work related problems as well as finally establish true equality. Can’t cost much and hey there might be vast oil deposits discovered before it could be implemented if we can take over the treasury benches by 2026. Other countries have used that funding channel. Right?
    The only truth here is that when you start with a bunch of dumb people who seem magnetic in attracting even dumber people as paid advisors then it must surely produce some outstanding dumb ideas.
    The really funniest part of this equation is the numbers who only hear what Labour will “give” them without the question of “how come?” being raised.
    Spare a thought for the hard working majority already shackled with too many millstones left behind by their last tenure in office with so many rash promises that will have to be paid in perpetuity. Also what a great tax reduction could be passed on if this expensive legacy were not having to be paid for? Now that would be a sure fire way to see some serious growth in the economy when the man in the streets gets to even attempt the wants list. Supplementary natural occurring increased inflation would ease the task of the Reserve Bank Governor with it hovering in the 1.5 – 2% band. Real economic growth as a result of the earners getting to actually spend more from an improved disposable income instead of the Government locked in to greater collections to pay for past things that Labour “gave” to the people.
    It really should be “beware of Labourites bearing Gifts” since like the Greeks they can’t pay for theirs but leave it to the masses.

  • Grizz30

    With this policy the Labour Party start to look like the big banks they are so critical of. Sure they will give you some money, but will take a lot more off you in return. After they have got their cut, the profits will be largely divided up to their voters: low income or no income earners.

    People who have faithfully gone out to work know the efforts required to earn a dollar. When it gets increasingly taken off then in the form of higher taxes they will feel increasingly enslaved. No wonder people are rebelling against this policy.