Tag: welfare state

How many of the 41,000 homeless don’t have a roof over their heads? @metiria @PhilTwyford

There is a difference between not having a roof over your head and being in emergency or temporary accommodation. It disrespects those who lack a roof over their head tonight to equate their grave misfortune with those fortunate enough to already be in emergency accommodation. Once they are in emergency accommodation, that shows that the system is working. Finding them somewhere to stay pending finding something more permanent.


Source: 24 August 2016, Most homeless people working or studying, News, University of Otago, New Zealand, table 4.



Why so few successful left-wing populists

The Twitter Left is doing its best to attribute the surge against globalisation and immigration to inequality. This is despite the main beneficiary at the ballot box is right-wing populists.

The beneficiaries in the last few years were UKIP, the French National Front, Alternative for Germany, various pro-welfare state but anti-immigration parties in the rest of Europe, Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump. Barely a left wing party in sight outside of Greece.


Source: Only a third of the EU is governed by the centre-left | World news | The Guardian.

Bernie Sanders is a fake left-wing populist because much of his support comes from college students and the university educated, not the aroused working class. These college students are unwilling to pay more than $1000 in taxes for the socialist revolution especially if they have a job.

At the last New Zealand election, two-thirds of the electorate voted for other than centre-left and left-wing parties. The hard left party, Mana-Internet, won 1% of the party vote despite having millions of dollars in campaign donations from a criminal fugitive hoping to avoid extradition.

These right-wing populists combine a heady brew of nationalism and social conservatism, scepticism about market competition, strong support for social security and old-age pensions but not welfare dependency, and opposition to immigration, imports and cultural change. The rise of the parties are not the first signs of an aroused working class seeking to overthrow capitalism. Face up to it.

Homeless means living rough or in a car @DavidReiMiller @greencatherine @secondzeit

Statistics New Zealand spent 21 pages trying to define the term homeless. How Orwellian.

When I first moved to Canberra and when I moved back, I stayed with friends. Some regard that as being homeless under the Statistics New Zealand definition, much to my own surprise.

I qualify because I shared accommodation . Having shared or short-term accommodation is not homeless. The descriptions shared and short-term accommodation quite adequate to the task.


People living in temporary accommodation including with friends are not homeless. Their situation is unsatisfactory but describing it does not justify butchering the English language by conflating their inconveniences with the few hundred people who live rough each night.


Source: New Zealand Parliament – Homelessness in New Zealand.

Those that conflate having a roof over your head tonight with living rough take advantage of the great sympathy people have for those living rough for people in far less dire situations.

NZ #UBI can be only $4,700 @JordNZ @GrantRobertson1 @GeoffSimmonz

A universal basic income in New Zealand will have to be financed by a great big new tax because the existing ones are not enough according to the Economist calculations below.


HT: Paul Kerby.

@BernieSanders nothing is free in Denmark


Source: Brutal Meme Reveals Truth About European Socialist Countries? : snopes.com.

@garethmorgannz the @TaxpayersUnion #UBI report isn’t bonkers @JordNZ

A clever man can climb out of the hole a wise man would not have fallen into. In responding to my Taxpayers’ Union paper on a Universal Basic Income, Gareth Morgan just kept digging.


His first response was to say a Universal Basic Income would not be implemented immediately. This avoids retirees taking home $50 per week less than currently under NZ Superannuation.

Gareth Morgan’s solution is to say that only those currently under 50 will have to rely on a Universal Basic Income.

Only people who are today under the age of 50 could be expected to retire under the UBI policy, the policy would not apply to existing superannuitants.

Generation Rent have to pay higher taxes to keep current retirees in the superannuation style they have become accustomed. Those aged over 50 are also grandfathered in to the existing level of income support from New Zealand Superannuation.

Generation Rent will have to save their Universal Basic Income so they do not live in poverty when they retire in as little as 15 years from the date of introduction. As Gareth Morgan explains when referring to 40-year-olds:

For the 25 years prior to retirement they will receive the UBI on top of their wages. If they save a good portion of it they will have nest egg at retirement which they can use in retirement to supplement the UBI (which is more modest than today’s NZ Super).

At least the Labour Party admitted that a Universal Basic Income of $11,000 per adult was inadequate and will have to be supplemented so that no one is left worse off:

After all, $11,000 is a lower income than what is currently paid out as part of New Zealand Super. If the figure is too low, then the benefits of security and freedom promised by a UBI may not be realised.

On the other hand, if the figure is pushed higher, taxes will have to rise, possibly to an unrealistically high figure. (Morgan’s $11,000 UBI is funded through a flat tax of 30%.) There is, therefore, a real feasibility-sufficiency trade-off.

It may be that a UBI has to be supplemented by other transfers to ensure that the most vulnerable groups have enough income.

As for single parents relying on a welfare benefit, they are $150 a week short under a Universal Basic Income. Where is Sue Bradford when you need her to go on about beneficiary bashing.

Gareth Morgan’s proposed solution to this $150 per week cut in the incomes of the needy is to suggest that the non-custodial parent of the child should give up part or all of their Universal Basic Income to support their child:

Each child has two parents, the UBI is paid to both whether they live together or not.

It is totally feasible that the UBI of both parents could be required to be directed to support the children in the event of separation. In the Kahuna the amount paid per family would be $22,000 after tax – more than is paid to a sole parent family now.

This hard line on child support will make being a non-custodial parent of a child a rather risky venture under a Universal Basic Income. A Universal Basic Income is supposed to make you feel very secure against misfortune as Gareth Morgan explained back in 2011:

…let’s agree on what is a minimum income every adult should have in order to live a dignified life and then see what flows from that. We begin by specifying the income level below which we are not prepared to see anyone having to live.

If you are the non-custodial parent and down on your luck – unemployed, sick or an invalid – you cannot rely on your Universal Basic Income as a backstop because part or all of that is already transferred to support your child.

Paternity suits will take on a new meaning because you can lose your Universal Basic Income. The Universal Basic Income with Gareth Morgan’s ad hoc amendments this week has strings attached on whether you or someone else receives your Universal Basic Income. That make or break decision will be up to the Family Court and the Child Support Agency at IRD.

I am not sure how a Universal Basic Income deals with deadbeat dads at home and living abroad. Central to its funding is abolition of the welfare state bureaucracy to save $2 billion.

Those down on their luck will not have a welfare state bureaucracy to turn to if their child support does not come through or have nothing to live on after their child support is paid.

Now let Gareth Morgan explain why he wanted to get rid of that welfare state bureaucracy and replace it with a Universal Basic Income:

We must finally admit that with all the paternalistic will in the world there is no chance that public servants can adequately identify and monitor eligibility for a needs-based benefit regime.

We should save ourselves the torture of continuously getting it wrong and designing an endless stream of discriminatory “fixes” to cover our mistakes in finding targeted perfection.

The reality is that people’s circumstances are dynamic and that they will change their behaviour to suit the design of the benefit regime making the chicken and egg nature of determining “needs” an exercise in futility.

The important thing is to be fair and to have a consensus on the level of income that we all have an unconditional entitlement to in order to live a dignified life.

Gareth Morgan seems to throw Generation Rent and non-custodial parents under the bus to deliver on his dream. They both have to give up much of their Universal Basic Income either to their children or their KiwiSaver to fill the growing number of gaps in his Big Kahuna. Their unconditional entitlement to be able to live a dignified life through a Universal Basic Income of $11,000 per adult has a lot of strings attached to it and cracks to fall through with no safety net.

Wear a condom, do not divorce and do not be under 50 are the secrets to enjoying a Universal Basic Income. If not, you are on your own. Your Universal Basic income is already spoken for.

@garethmorgannz’s #UBI finishes the job on #GenerationRent @JordNZ

Gareth Morgan revealed today a hitherto unnoticed design feature in his Universal Basic Income of $11,000 per annum. It will be phased in over a long time. That will mean that Generation Rent will continue to pay taxes to fund a universal old age pension for their parents and grandparents, but will not be fortunate enough to receive that themselves.


Source: Morgan Foundation (2016) Taxpayers Union Critique of the UBI just bonkers – again

They are not left of their own devices. Generation Rent  is expected to save the Universal Basic Income they receive over their working lives to avoid living in poverty in their retirement. Does not strike me as a political winner.

The Morgan Foundation does not understand the implications of time inconsistency for retirement savings policy:

  • Which is better? Save for your retirement through the share market or save to own your own home and then present yourself at the local social security office to collect your taxpayer funded old-age pension?
  • Under this fine game of bluff, you bleed the taxpayer in your old age and pass on your debt-free home to your children.

This strategy of not saving much for retirement is rational for the less well-paid. The family home is exempt from income and asset testing for social security. If you lose you bet, sell your house and live off the capital. For ordinary workers, this is a good bet. The middle class might prefer to live in a more luxurious retirement.

For ordinary workers, whose wages are not a lot more than their old age pension from the government, a government funded pension is a good political gamble. The old-age pension for a couple in New Zealand is set at no less that 60% of average earnings.

Edward Prescott argues for compulsory retirement savings account albeit with important twists because it is otherwise irrational for many to save for their retirement against the background of a welfare state:

The reason we need to have mandatory retirement accounts is not because people are irrational, but precisely because they are perfectly rational — they know exactly what they are doing.

If, for example, somebody knows that they will be cared for in old age — even if they don’t save a nickel — then what is their incentive to save that nickel? Wouldn’t it be rational to spend that nickel instead?

…Without mandatory savings accounts we will not solve the time-inconsistency problem of people under-saving and becoming a welfare burden on their families and on the taxpayers. That’s exactly where we are now.

Tax mix in the USA as a percentage of GDP since 1965

The only major change in the US tax mix in the last 50 years has been greater reliance on social security contributions.


Source: OECD Stat.

The share going to income taxes bobbing up and down quite a lot in the last 30 years much of that to do with the business cycle. In the 1990s, the share of taxes from personal income increased during boom times. In the Great Recession, the tax share to income tax rose with the declining economy as did that on corporate profits.

Taxation of personal income and social security contributions as a percentage of US, British, Danish, German, French and New Zealand GDPs since 1965


Source: Tax – Social security contributions – OECD Data and Tax – Tax on personal income – OECD Data.