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The expenses came to $3114.50 with income of $2125, including a grant of $500 from the Cathy Pelly Maungarongo Trust (many thanks). The cost of bringing Rob Watts over from Australia, essentially the difference, we will cover from the Methodist PAC grant. Rob paid for all of his internal costs and did a lot of work for us while he was here. Thank you Rob, your visit was a real tonic!
We will be publishing the proceedings, containing papers by: Rob Watts' Keynote address: "Basic Income and Citizenship in an Age of Precarious Employment"; Michael Goldsmith, Waikato University: "UBI and Citizenship"; Keith Rankin, Economics Department, University of Auckland: "The Standard Tax Credit: constructing a Universal Basic Income from New Zealand's present tax system."; Les Gilchrist, Christchurch: "The meaning of work and income"; Celia Briar, Social Policy, Massey University: "Women's Poverty and the Basic Income Solution: A Review of the British evidence."; Anne Else, Wellington: "Other Halves: Women, Work, and a Universal Basic Income"; John Peet, University of Canterbury: "Indicators of Sustainable Development."; Patrick Danahey, Nelson: "UBI: The Revolution of human consciousness necessary to create a healthy, sustainable future."; Helen Marsh, Auckland: "The People AND the Planet - UBI and Green Taxes."; Les Gilchrist, Christchurch: "The 'Real' Universal Basic Income", and personal statements on "Why the introduction of a UBI is Important".
They will be available shortly at a cost of $25. This will only cover costs. To order one, send in the form at the back of this newsletter. If you can not afford this amount, indicate how much you can afford.
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And I'd really like to thank Ian Ritchie for all the work he did in pulling the conference together; and also to thank all those who worked so hard to keep us on time and on track.
One regret I had in relation to the meeting was that we didn't somehow have more time in discussion with each other about the varieties of UBI. I think one of the main things holding us back is that we have no clear or common concept of what form of UBI we would like introduced. While this may be impossible to achieve at this stage, some groping towards a collective approach on things like "how much", "How is it paid for" and "who gets what" may have been useful.
I would also have appreciated more time to work on the implementation of common strategies. I think that people were in a lot of different places and perhaps we should have focused a bit more on educating ourselves, as well as working in more detail than we had time for towards processes for educating and lobbying others. However, I do have faith that Ian, Keith, Mike, Rendall, Helen and heaps of other people there will be progressing the work as hard as you can.
Which brings me to one last point - women are perhaps not as prominent in the campaign for UBI as we could be, and I think all of us who are committed to working for the introduction of UBI should be writing, speaking and working on ways in which the concepts of UBI can be made comprehensible to women, and, in fact, to all people who aren't blessed with university degrees in economics.
I certainly see it as a key task for unemployed groups, along with other organisations, to carry on this translation process, capitalising on all the great work done by Keith and others, but turning it into language and arguments which are easily grasped. I know many people, and women in particular, are very put off by 'heavy economics'. Let's work to break this down and make UBI accessible, while not losing the rigour of our arguments.
AUWRC will be continuing to lobby and work for UBI in all aspects of our work, and we hope to remain an active part of a network alongside all those who are working for a fairer economy and society here in Aotearoa.
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Coming away from the conference, one overriding thought that occurred to me was that of how we continue to co-ordinate the energy or efforts represented by those attending the conference. For word to spread effectively, being active in the campaign cannot be left to just a few. We all need to commit ourselves to doing our bit. We in Palmerston North believe that our newsletter provides a useful resource base for people looking to go out into their communities to talk to others and hope it will be used in this way.
One idea which came to me travelling home to Palmerston North was that it would be a good idea for a few of us to get together for a few days to nut out some of the details of the campaign and how we present the idea to various groups and sectors. At this stage we are looking at the possibility of spending a week at Opotiki in say late January. If anyone would be interested in joining us during that period let us know.
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We could learn something from the MMP campaign which started by managing to convince people there was something wrong with the way things are. This is the case at both ends of the spectrum - those who have no employment or not enough to survive on and those who are working excessively long hours in their employment.
Put out a questionnaire to political candidates. We need to get UBI into the political arena.
A conference on the "Future of Work" before the election. Including: A summary of resources on the damages taking place, the nature of employment, and the future of work. This would identify he commonality of the problem regardless of an individual's employment status (i.e. it is a problem that encompasses us all). Create unease about the future of work and present UBI as the solution. Generate Public debate around an accepted general concept. Needs to be complete with the identification of the relevant social problems.
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Points made were:
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Yes, we have one, small and simple as yet, but in an accelerating growth phase. The URL is:
Come and visit it and give me your feed-back. I am very much a beginner at this so all suggestions will be very welcome. What is useful; what is a waste of space; what is missing? Advice about technical improvements etc. Do you think we should have more graphics and animated bits and pieces? If so do you have access to suitable ones or can you construct them? Have you found any other sites talking about UBI by name or incognito?
I have a few more papers from Ian Ritchie et al. which should not take too long. These include more speech notes. I am crossing my fingers that I will not encounter any more problems with the tables and boxes in a paper by Keith Rankin.
I have some posters designed by the Nelson UUI group. I am planning to get them scanned for the site.
I have the past Newsletters which will go up some time for international visitors and historical interest but I am not giving them high priority. If there is anything in them you think should be available I can put that part up on its own if necessary.
I think my order of priority is the order mentioned here. I can change it if anyone needs something urgently. Let me know.
Internet people like to be first with the news so I will try to get this Newsletter and the conference papers up as soon as possible.
I want to have news from groups. If you send stuff to Ian Ritchie, he can copy it to me or vice versa. Remember though, the web-site can be up-dated item by item at any time. The Newsletter can only be published periodically when there is enough material, or urgent enough material to make it worth it.
I want to have a list of names and e-mail and/or postal addresses of contact people in different parts of the country. Please let me know if I can use your name. What do people feel about having the whole address list available in this way. How paranoid are we, bearing in mind that if THEY think we are likely to make a difference they may want to keep us quiet!
I'll do some more surfing when I get a moment to see if I can find any more relevant links for you.
If the site gets too big I may have to ask authors to find a share of the funding if it is not forthcoming from other sources.
I'll make a list of relevant Newsgroups and put a notice in them periodically but the best way is to refer to it as part of input to discussion. I don't participate in many groups so I hope any of you who do will seize any opportunity. If you have Internet access already or even just e-mail you are probably aware that many mail managing applications have an automatic signature capacity. People often advertise Web-sites they are connected with by including the URL in their signatures. This would be an effortless way for you to do your bit to make sure everyone knows about our site.
Looking forward to your e-mail: Helen Marsh - email@example.com
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There are three reasons why UBI is necessary. First, it is a method which continues to allow the matching of production with consumption in our society. This recognises the fact that full-time paid employment is no longer a possibility for most people. Second, it releases the creative energies in a way not matched since the sailors of ages gone left land beyond the horizon. The third and linking concept is citizenship, a concept which itself has grown over the centuries.
Whatever type of economy we have lived in, whether it be barter or a sophisticated computer controlled credit system, the basis of the transactions is to swap a mix or group of goods and services from a producer to a consumer. Our economies go into a tail-spin when the production/consumption process is out-of-kilter. In the future, unless we are to have more millions dying overseas, and greater signs of poverty in New Zealand, we are going to have to look at income distribution so that all New Zealanders can buy enough goods and services to enable them to live adequately and with dignity.
Producers need this as much as the folks doing the consuming. Unless producers take the same concern as consumers, they will either have production stockpiling because more and more people will be unable to buy the goods and services, or production will have to drop (meaning even less employment, wages earned, wages spent, production bought).
UBI is important in this transaction process because of the fact that the nature of employment has changed markedly since the end of the 1960s. Government planning of the welfare state meant full-time, full-employment (for the male bread-winner) as much as benefits, education, housing and health. This has changed, and is unlikely to revert. The "labour market" is changing, part-time work, periods of unemployment and casual or temporary employment are becoming commonplace. At present, the combination of the State re-distributing income through an out-of-date benefit system and the labour market wages system is increasingly unable to distribute the nations income sufficiently well. A new method of distribution is needed in order that the country's production (and imports) can be purchased for consumption.
The changes in the labour market mean the participation rate of people of working age is between two-thirds and three-quarters in terms of full-time equivalents. The change in the labour market has also meant a lot of paid workers are working excessive hours. UBI may go some way to rectifying these problems, but its main concern is in income distribution - NOT redistribution. This is because wages/salaries will no longer be the prime source of income distribution.
The second element to UBI is the release of creative energy it will bring. Historically several of the rapid advances which have seen rises in living standards have come during the preparation for war. This method should be avoided as it is wasteful. Other advances have occurred as society has responded to demographic or economic pressures: fire, the wheel, mechanical engines, computers, advances in earth science and animal husbandry. Our creativity has been in the wider dynamism of human and planetary relationships: the abolition of slavery, removal of child labour, woman's rights, non-exploitation of the earth. While not complete in this development, given our technical advances, we are at least aware of the damage done and are looking at minimising this damage.
Creativity is enhanced by people doing what they want to do: having the freedom to step away from the absolute need to sleep, eat and be economically productive in the day-in-day-out sense. Research and scientific discovery is only possible when those undertaking these activities have the space to be creative.
By guaranteeing an adequate income, UBI will mean people are free to do what they desire. Being productive (in a creative or physical sense) is innate. No one is a vegetable by choice. UBI allows us to choose whether to seek further paid employment either for an employer, or as a self-employed person. It will allow people to undertake unpaid employment if they so wish. People can choose to work in the home, in their community, to experiment, to write, to design, to dig, cook or tend sheep. It will allow groups to work co-operatively, or reward individual effort.
Because people will have a choice of what to do, when to do it, and for how long, those tasks at present not highly sought after will have a premium on them if people are to be employed doing them. Otherwise machines will do the tasks, or the tasks will simply not be done.
UBI, as the part of the social wage or dividend which is distributed, is based on one's citizenship. This concept of citizenship has "advanced" in terms of Western culture through historical events such as the Magna Carta, the right to own property and the right to vote. Just as all adults (with very few exceptions) have the right to vote, the meaning of citizenship in the new millennium needs to advance to include the right to participate, to shelter, food and clothing and to dignity.
In many Eastern cultures the concept of citizenship recognises this. People are guaranteed shelter, food and clothing because of their mere existence almost. In a village setting, if your home burns down or one of your family members gets sick, new shelter or care is provided.
This new, widened meaning of citizenship means it is not good enough for, in New Zealand's case, for half a million adults to rely on the whim of the State and a variety of private charities for their physical and emotional survival. Relying on benefits to get an income with which to purchase food, clothing and shelter is dehumanising. It is also inefficient.
Just as beneficiaries have the right to vote, so too should they have the right to shelter, food and clothing. It goes beyond these bodily needs. The Bible is right when it says we do not live by bread alone. The right to income, to the UBI or Citizens Income, signifies full citizenship. It means you are a fully participating member of society, of one's community. What you do beyond this is of further benefit to society, to community, whether it be voluntary work for a community organisation, unpaid work in the home, craft work or work for which some employer is willing to pay.
Citizenship can survive without the right to individual ownership of property, or even the right to vote (not that I am suggesting the removal of these). It can not survive without the ability to participate in ways that are meaningful to the individual concerned.
The level of the social wage, that portion of a nation's wealth which belongs to that nation's citizenship is basic, and is what determines the tax rate. The social wage includes the money the government retains to pay for education, health and other services.
These are political questions beyond the introduction of UBI. The amount of the social dividend paid out as UBI needs of course to be sufficient to avoid the need for people to rely on a benefit system with all its rules and dehumanising and denigrating procedures. If the UBI was set at $160 per adult, per week and $80 per child, extra assistance for accommodation would be needed for those for whom UBI is the sole source of income. Additional money for those with special health needs would have to be part of the health system - not welfare. Anything less than these amounts would run the risk of needing the retention of NZIS - something which beneficiaries would prefer not to have.
UBI is justified for three reasons. Firstly economically. It provides a method so that the process of purchasing the nation's production continues in a reasonable fashion. Secondly, it provides an environment free from war and which allows genuine creativity and maximises the opportunities for us to express our human skill and initiative. It will free people to make decisions about what they do in a creative fashion, matched historically by the invention of fire, the wheel or sailing out of sight of land. A third, it completes another step in our journey of developing citizenship.
Graham Howell, Spokesperson for Te Roopu Rawakore O Aotearoa, the National Unemployed and Beneficiaries Movement, P O Box 11-503 Wellington. firstname.lastname@example.org
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As highlighted on that programme, at the other end of the spectrum from those who find themselves without employment, are a significant group who are working extremely long hours to the detriment of their health and their families well-being. These people are either trying to cope with more than one job or working long hours to cope with the demands of their jobs.
The UBI offers people an escape from this type of bondage so they can make real choices about how many hours a week they wish to be employed. There will always be workaholics who will continue to work these crazy hours, but for many they will be able to make a lifestyle choice which will make their existence more bearable and healthier for all concerned.
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I am undertaking research into the Universal Basic Income with a particular emphasis on how it will address the issues facing women. As part of this I would like to do a feminist critique of the concept, how it might be implemented, the effects on women and the issues of particular concern to them/us.
I would like to involve others in this project. I believe this could be achieved through the establishment of small discussion groups of interested women in different parts of the country. The aim to be an exchange of ideas and material which I could send to you for comment on and in return you send me material, ideas and comments to work on and to pass on to others in the network.
I am enthusiastic about co-ordinating this and would like to hear from you if you are interested in being involved.
I am aware that most of the commentary and support for a UBI has largely been voiced by the male sectors of society and I believe that the establishment of this sort of discussion group will provide the forum for women to voice our views and opinions in this area.
I look forward to hearing responses to this proposal and if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact me at the Working Party's address. I can also be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com
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I am a single woman in my early 40's, and am in my ninth year being dependent upon the unemployment benefit. As the readers of this newsletter can well imagine (either by personal experience or by knowing someone close to them that still is/has been dependent upon an Income Support Service benefit) the unemployment benefit does not allow me the quality of life with which I would expect an ordinary New Zealander to have/enjoy - nor does it enable me to participate in society in the way in which I would like to.
You, the reader, may say that "you have time or your hands to do voluntary community work" or "educate yourself to gain skills/qualifications". As the income from the unemployment benefit does not even cover the basic essentials, ie decent housing, food, clothing, medical care, such options are out for me. I am also unable to drive - so participating in community work which involves evening/weekends or which cannot be reached by public transport is simply out of the question. I am loathe to take out a student loan - as I know that my family is not in a position to assist me financially, to help me with other costs over and above what the student loans and allowances cover.
There are also problems in my family due to a member of it being in denial that he is an alcoholic; and is also emotionally/verbally/psychologically/financially abusive as a result of being an alcoholic in denial. Those readers who have had/who have, these problems will know exactly what I mean when you know that there are problems within your immediate family which are affecting you - but that you don't have the "financial clout" to immediately get out of the situation and have found that the community organisations which you have approached for assistance are unable/unwilling to assist you.
BUT!! The good news is that I am currently on an excellent TOPS course being run by a local Private Training Establishment. I can only hope that after the course finishes on the 12th of July that I obtain permanent, paid employment which is considerably more than the benefit.
(I have often wondered why the Government is not prepared to pay beneficiaries a decent living wage/salary who wish to/are currently doing community work - other than Task Force Green - and definitely more than the adult minimum wage. After all, there must be many people - including the writer - who would rather be working in the community for community organisations if they have been unsuccessful in obtaining "traditional paid employment" than sitting on their backsides doing nothing. And these people are sitting on their backsides doing nothing simply because they cannot afford the costs involved in doing community work, ie transport, suitable clothing etc.)
I'm sure that I am not the only woman in my situation. I will continue to carry on lobbying to ensure that women have sufficient income to live on in dignity - and to enable them to afford the lifestyle that they want. In our society, women are traditionally the people who look after our young, elderly, sick, disabled and those who are less fortunate than themselves. If their needs are not met (either by giving them cash in hand or by adequately resourcing the community agencies that they need in their day to day lives), how can they meet the needs of those who depend upon them?
Following on from other comments in the May Newsletter, I wonder if the present Government takes notice, and actually puts into practice, the following articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which New Zealand is a signatory.
Everyone, as a member of society has the right to social security and is entitled to realisation through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organisation and resources of each state, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory, technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship amongst all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the groups and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
1. Everyone, has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and maternal interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
Ask yourself! Would a decent universal basic income allow you (and your family or whanau, either immediate and/or extended) to have your rights protected under the Universal Declaration of Rights?
Only when every person within New Zealand receives the Universal Basic Income - and at a rate which research has shown will allow everyone the quality of life which we all deserve - will money start circulating again.
For many people/ families or whanau what income they receive does not meet their basic needs (e.g. decent housing, food, clothing, medical care, education) let alone have money left over for discretionary spending - thus their basic human rights are being denied.
The refusal of the Government to ensure that each of us has sufficient income for our needs is called ABUSE - in particular FINANCIAL ABUSE- and is designed primarily to keep us all under their thumbs or control. By the time we have expended all of our energies on the basics of day to day living the government is hoping that we (the people) will not see what they are trying to do us ie they are wanting to control us in our day to day lives.
The government says that we have choice in how we run our own lives, but what choice do we have if we do not have the financial means to ensure that our needs/wants are met in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
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The rationale for a UBI is the removal of the stigma from applying for a "benefit" by ensuring all citizens have access to a regular sum of money on which they can rely. Its unconditionality will remove the costs of assessing, monitoring and recovering of misapplied "benefits", whilst encouraging saving.
UBI will allow those who wish it to combine resources and thereby generate their own economies. Using GST as the recovery agent ensures that transactions contribute to the nation's tax base. Tax recovery at source seems painless perhaps because of its universality and transparency.
A UBI could be delivered through Inland Revenue and where other income is received it would recover tax in the way it presently recovers by way of a surcharge from superannuitants.
Ideally each citizen (defined as anyone living in New Zealand!) will be credited with a sum each week to be used in any way they choose. All finance based transactions with the state will be processed at the Inland revenue, Income Tax will only be payable at a threshold pre-determined by the needs of the state. Negative tax say at $60k or an increase of GST, will be essential that the costs of police and the defence force are sustained, it is unlikely that the public of New Zealand would welcome a private police or defence force though some of their services will doubtless be privatised, and there might be an amalgamation with an overseas defence service because of the economies of scale, an issue which must effect a country with such a very small population scattered over a land area which is equivalent to Italy, Japan or UK.
The goods and services tax has proved to be a simple and efficient means of recovering tax on transactions. Consideration might need to be given to increasing this consumption tax perhaps leading to the abolition of all other taxes!
Australia has a financial transaction tax which is generally considered iniquitous because those who can afford to can easily avoid or evade their tax liabilities thus punishing the "average" citizen.
This scenario would lead to the retention of government departments/ministries concerned with infra-structure such as: Conservation/Environment/Police/Defence/Customs/IRD/Parliamentary service/counsel/justice (become a "social justice ministry" incorporating health and education policy units. Social Welfare delivery would be funded through "voluntary" benevolent agencies.
And resulting in the abolition of all other government departments/ministries not directly concerned with common good issues: thereby saving substantial amounts of revenue.
Volunteer welfare agencies would benefit by being offered at no cost the use of the facilities already being leased by DSW.
I would suggest that all social so-called support functions (having been reviewed and defined) be carried out by voluntary agencies, supported financially and co-ordinated monitored by a small (max 16 person) government support/policy agency from within the social justice ministry.
There seems to be an overwhelming need for a replacement to the costly, unwieldy, confused and confusing "Social Welfare System", I believe that a full exploration of the concept of a Universal Basic Income is long overdue.
To be published in the September issue of Future Times
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By choice, I have lived for the last three and a half years on less than $1,250 p.a. (subsistence existence, just enough to keep body and soul together), if I don't count a several thousand dollar investment in gold caps for my teeth, (which came out of savings: I retired in 1989). Half of this goes to pay for my very restricted diet (based on bread, milk, cabbage and carrots (no cooking)) while the remaining approximately $600 pays my share of the rates and repairs to keep a roof over my head, and some public transport -Thames to Auckland- I walk anywhere else, and spend nothing on clothing and pleasures.
There are a number of reasons for this choice, one of which is that I have opted out of the current, hateful, economic system (where "money decides everything").
However a $2000 UBI (per person) should allow anyone to quit or not start an unacceptable job without facing starvation, though it does not recognise a large amount of self-sacrifice, and one feels alienated from society to some degree (eg virtually everything on supermarket shelves is inaccessible).
PS. There should be a degree-days-dependent addition to the above, for winter heating.
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Too many from both groups do not cope and seek extreme solutions such as crime and suicide.
Fear, stress, poverty and despair are not the side effects of a healthy society, they are the side effects of a sick and malfunctioning society. If we want a healthy society, we need to create a climate that generates feelings of security and well-being and where all people have real choices. From this, a stream of creativity will flow which will create the future we can all be enthusiastic about.
A Universal Basic Income, at a level to allow meaningful participation in addition to providing for daily needs in a context of collectively funded basic services such as health and education opportunities and housing support would lead to the development of such a climate.
It is considered feasible and a network has been formed in New Zealand to promote this approach.
While New Zealand has, at present, a simple tax scale and an increasingly complex yet Spartan welfare safety net, it also has a history of universal welfare provision. Indeed, in the post-war era, New Zealand has operated superannuation systems essentially in accordance with basic income principles. While the commitment to universalism appears to have become a casualty of a rapid "Thatcherisation" of the New Zealand economy, the ideals remain within a large segment of the population.
My paper locates a social dividend as a partial basic income within the wider construct of a social wage which in turn is seen as a distinct, logically definable factor share of gross domestic product. It shows that for New Zealanders receiving above-average incomes or social security benefits, their situation already conforms to that of a "basic income / flat tax system". The remainder of New Zealanders receive a "clawed back" social dividend, offset by, in most cases, a mix of supplementary cash benefits. My analysis leads to the obvious conclusion that the whole system would become much more efficient and transparent if formally converted to partial basic income / flat tax principles, along with a rationalisation of supplementary benefits to ensure adequacy of income for those without private means and to ensure that benefits do not abate so rapidly as to discourage labour force participation.
The paper finishes with two politically feasible budgets for 1996/97 which draw out the social wage and the social dividend as a distributed social wage: a 'centre-right' version based on the existing 33% tax rate, and a 'centre-left' version based on a 43% flat rate of income tax. Readers should note that, while one New Zealand dollar approximately equals one Deutschmark, the internal purchasing power of New Zealand's currency is greater than the exchange rate would imply. New Zealand's average real income per person is comparable with that of Ireland and Spain.
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Please send me a copy of the following papers _______________________________________
I enclose my contribution of: $10, $20, $50, $ ________ Please send a receipt. yes/no
to assist with producing the Newsletter and other network expenses.
Name _______________________ Address _____________________________________
Amount enclosed $___________ Cheque/Cash Signed ____________________________
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