The Universalist 5 — A Universal (Open) Letter to Q&A (March 30, 2020) Panellists: Jenny Westacott and Nicki Hutley
‘Society before Self’
‘Remember to create community with no ‘us and them’’
- Lee Cooper, formerly Wayside Chapel.
Universal Opportunity Infrastructure (UOI)
consists of 4 cornerstones:
1. Universal Liberal Democracy;
2. Universal Healthcare;
3. Universal Education; and,
4. The Universal Survival Income (USI).
April 2, 2020
Dear Jenny & Nicki
I hope you are well and motivated in these challenging times…
Tuning-in to Q&A last Monday night, I noted you were both dismissive of The Universal Basic Income (UBI).
The UBI — also termed, ‘The Universal Survival Income’ (USI) — is the most complex reform in economics because it impacts directly on individuals’ Survival-imperative psychology, which means the ripple effects are maximised.
In addition, The USI isn’t formally taught.
Hence, there is little understanding of The Universal Survival Income even in the economics sphere, let alone the business realm.
I go to many events and, when asked about the UBI, speaker-after-speaker either scorns the idea or gives it condescending platitudes yet, when I talk to them privately, it turns out, they’ve never thought deeply about it and know literally no more than the person in the street.
[Surprising even I, I discovered no less than the former long-term head of one of our most esteemed federal economics bureaucracies falls precisely into this category.]
If a lack of understanding is accompanied by humility, there isn’t a problem; however, regarding The Universal Survival Income, too often ‘experts’ pretend to know enough such that they close down the debate, which means the general populace and other similar ‘experts’ remain uninformed.
The damage is astronomical — for starters, we could have already vanquished poverty.
In retrospect, The USI debate should have occurred at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and, 260 years on, our deteriorating predicament necessitates it infinitely more.
Hence, given your profiles as the Business Council of Australia CEO and a Deloitte Access Economics Partner, respectively, please either investigate The USI and develop an informed opinion or, particularly when on national television, refrain from commenting.
[ABC — our television station is lagging, there is a solution to our Socio-Econo-Enviro- calamities so please shift into a higher gear.]
Regarding The Universal Survival Income…
First, unlike the complex system the government has just decided to implement, The USI is extremely simple and this simplicity assists everyone — i.e. business and government as well as individuals.
In addition, The USI is extremely efficient — i.e. rather than creating costs (application, administration, gaps, appeals and fraud), it is a transfer, which means there is little (next to zero) Dead Weight Loss.
Third, it is universal or egalitarian — i.e. it is homogeneous rather than heterogeneous — with no gaps and no favouritism.
Fourth (and this is a comment received from a Citizen’s Dividend Organisation (CDO) supporter): ‘It’s really so simple and would free up a lot of brilliant minds who are spending countless hours on devising, implementing and monitoring far more complex systems.’
I wish I could ask you in person, “Does that comment cut through?”
[Please note: Many believe solving our Socio-Econo-Enviro- problems is complex; however, that’s because, rather than getting to the root-cause, they are trying to attack symptoms.]
Fifth and most fundamentally, The Universal Survival Income universally guarantees every citizen their Personal Survival Income (PSI) — say, $1,500 per month to every non-incarcerated in-country adult and $400 per month per child (paid to their guardian).
Next, with everyone’s survival-income taken care of, such that poverty is abolished, and the Survival-Income-obtaining-stress relieved, it liberates individuals — including both paid-workers and business.
Paid-workers and business people can both choose whether to engage in the market’s supply-side or to live exclusively (minimizing their damage to the environment) on their very modest $1,500 per month. [And, we should remember, the most beneficial ways to contribute to society often aren’t paid — for example, society’s most important job: unpaid-carer.]
With everyone taken care of by The USI, this allows labour-market deregulation, which automatically achieves natural (i.e. non-artificial) full-employment, plus the end to the atrocious waste that is Centrelink/Jobsearch et al.
Moreover, it enables and promotes Natural-Morality — i.e. ‘society before self’.
Currently, citizens are first-and-foremost forced to focus on attaining their Personal Survival Income (PSI) — i.e. one way or another, they must have this — which means they are forced to prioritize themselves before society.
This natural-morality-violation, which impacts their most inherent survival-imperative psychological decisioning, is a disastrous precedent, which tsunamis into other self-before-society, trust-destroying and society-dividing behaviour such as tax avoidance.
In addition, The Universal Survival Income guarantees business a solid source of Aggregate Demand, which is much greater than the current Newstart/Job-Seeker-Allowance and will be especially beneficial in rural areas.
Moreover, instead of our economy being an inefficient cart-before-the-horse jobs-for-jobs’-sake own-goal economy, which is paid for by unnecessarily high business taxes — both direct and indirect (including, excessive personal income tax) — there will arise a totally demand-driven economy, which is dedicated to ‘maximising the efficient production of the goods and services we desire’.
After all, we want goods such as houses, cars, computers, telephones and clothes — tellingly, of these, currently, we only produce houses — and we want services such as entertainment, education, restaurants and holidays.
So, on that criteria, where, for example, does Centrelink fit?…
Nevertheless, Centrelink workers are incredibly talented — for example, typically, they possess extraordinary EQ abilities.
The point is, in our current system, there are far too many unproductive jobs, which, as well as often being soul-destroying for workers, waste resources, which unnecessarily damages the environment.
And, in many cases, these unproductive jobs create further problems — for example, Centrelink et al, in addition to wasting an incredible pool of talent, manufactures the disastrously insidious output of means-testing, mistakes, friction, punishment and stigma.
That is, our Centrelink-centred system manufactures massive Unnecessary Suffering.
Thus, because of it, we require extra police, court-staff, corrections officers, health staff, mental health workers, social-service providers (i.e. according to ACOSS, community organisations employ 1.3 million people (not including volunteers) — yet society is still unravelling) etc.
[Note: Social-service providers desperately need appropriate leadership because, despite their, usually, tremendous good-faith intent, all are currently devoted to addressing symptoms with not even one overtly advocating The USI. If the social-services industry united behind The Universal Survival Income then we would soon have it — of course, with a superior system, the social-service industry will be able to contract, which a minority may lament.]
Hence, currently, the totality of unproductive jobs plus the jobs devoted to fixing or managing the problems they create — i.e. our cart-before-the-horse jobs-for-jobs’-sake own-goal economy — amounts to up to half the economy.
That is, rather than our GDP representing a soccer score of, say, 4–0, it represents a score of just 3–1 (the own-goal), which means the 2-goal GDP benefit we share is half of what it would be with a USI.
No wonder, in manufacturing, we are uncompetitive– as you know, we’ve already all but lost these tradables.
So, while people must be looked after, wasteful inefficient jobs must not be saved.
We need an efficient economy now more than ever and it would be tremendous if organisations such as the Business Council and Deloitte assisted.
Lastly and most significantly, The Universal Survival Income will solve all our exponentiating Socio-Econo-Enviro- calamities — including poverty, homelessness and the unneeded portion of paid-work — to the extent that any remaining problems are manageable.
Hence, The Universal Survival Income delivers the most dramatic achievements of small, efficient and effective government, both individual and business freedom plus overall prosperity in our nation’s history.
Meanwhile, given our exponentiating Socio-Econo-Enviro- calamities, our current system must change.
Yet, instead of The USI Utopia-approaching possibility, we have the recent government package, which creeps toward, what is known as, The Job Guarantee (JG).
For quite sometime, a massive battle has been raging between:
1. Centrists, Universalists (such as The CDO) and some on the moderate left who all support The USI — please note, while there are plenty of moderate-right supporters, they have predominantly kept to themselves; and,
2. The far-left who support The Job Guarantee.
[Note: with a USI and labour market deregulation, full-employment is a natural consequence, which means those supporting both a USI and a JG don’t understand The USI.]
Recently, while The Universalist/Centrist USI versus the far-left Job Guarantee battle has become increasingly passionate, in a colossal omission, the right has remained oblivious.
And, with Liberal-National/Labor, effectively, a Class-Warfare-based power-toggling coalition such that, at some point, Labor will get its turn, regarding this USI/JG debate, the right has, in failing to enter it — let alone failing to understand it — strategically blundered.
That is, whereas The USI provides everyone with their Personal Survival Income (PSI), which means all but an end to Class-Warfare, the empowering of workers — i.e. they can say ‘no’ to an employer — and yet an unleashing of business from extraneous social-service responsibilities including excess ‘hire and fire’ regulation and economy- and industry-wide minimum wages, the JG, on the other hand, acts as, no less than, a transitional mechanism to Communism.
Without going into so-called ‘Modern Monetary Theory’, which often sprouts as a whack-a-mole type accompaniment (i.e. analyse the JG and MMT is brought up; analyse MMT and the JG is brought up), in any case, the JG’s funding model relies on taxing the productive private sector in order to prop-up these relatively unproductive jobs.
So, with the Job Guarantee requiring private sector taxing in order to fund it, business will become increasingly uncompetitive, which means the businesses remaining will need to be taxed ever more to pay for the ever-increasing numbers of unemployed being absorbed into the Public Service JG programs.
In this way, by having to pay ever greater tax, private enterprise will be crowded-out.
The result will be government ownership of virtually all means-of-production — i.e. Communism.
Hence, while The USI reform will be a boon for everyone including business, the JG will weaken us to being unable to defend our sovereignty.
Thus, there is a simple choice:
1. Dystopia: A Wage-Subsidy/Guarantee, which we have just been gifted, whose logical extension is The Job Guarantee (JG);
2. As close as we can get to Utopia: The Universal Opportunity Infrastructure’s 4th (and final) cornerstone — i.e. The USI.
Nevertheless, elitist-comrades include:
1. GetUp’s current executive though not necessarily its supporters;
2. The ACTU’s current executive though not necessarily its members; and
3. ACOSS’s current executive though not necessarily its constituents.
Three sets of fat elitist whales — can you imagine any of them on a Newstart-lifestyle? — supposedly fighting for the interests of the plankton they are, simultaneously, feeding-off — the GetUp executive via donations, the ACTU via membership fees and superannuation board-seats and ACOSS by representing the rising number of social-service providers.
Talk about ‘unrepresentative swill’ and ‘always betting on the horse called ‘Self-Interest’’ — in all three cases, though some of the individuals may be innocently naively erroneous, the executives’ personal interests are maximised by not solving the problems and, on the contrary, further entrenching and expanding them.
Consider this: The more our Socio-Econo-Enviro- problems are solved, the more will GetUp’s donations, The ACTU’s membership and ACOSS’s constituents all plummet.
That is, in each case, their power, careers and numbers will be culled.
Hence, no wonder none of these whales are adequately representing their constituents, let alone putting Australia’s interests first, yet there is no well-known organisation (The CDO is not well-known), let-alone a political party, calling them out.
Certainly, there is no broadly-recognized organisation overtly advocating for The Universal Survival Income.
And, in addition, inexplicably, the Liberal Party has given the JG its greatest ever sponsorship — the First-World’s first quasi-JG trial — and business and many economists are applauding.
The Liberals have tripped over their own feet because they are not following an overarching philosophy/narrative; on the contrary, with the Covid-19 crisis, by their own admission, they are making it up as they go along.
In any case, with the Liberals’ supreme mantra having already become: ‘Save Jobs’, which is, paradoxically, a deeply Socialist view, they’ve been quasi-Leftist for sometime.
For the Liberal Party, this profound shift across to the other side of centre is, for them, another strategic disaster.
Having gone far more left than even present-day Labor, instead of being the champion of both the disempowered and business, they have unnecessarily trashed their 76 year-old brand such that, even twenty years from now, assuming they still exist and assuming Australia is still sovereign, this aspect of their history will be impossible to live down.
GetUp April 1:
‘Incredible! Hundreds of thousands of us have taken action, and together we’ve won some tremendous victories!
At the start of the coronavirus crisis we set out three immediate priorities to help communities face the oncoming hardship:
§ guaranteed liveable incomes;
§ a roof over every head;
§ and access to healthcare for all who need it.
Before we blinked, the government had doubled Newstart.’
So, with the Coalition, though riding high now, seemingly betraying its roots, their illegitimacy means they are signing their own next-election death warrant.
The Citizen’s Dividend Organisation’s prediction is:
Unless rectified — most obviously by implementing The USI together with labour market loosening — with the government having gifted a Job Guarantee-precursor in the form of a Wage Subsidy/Guarantee, people will get used to the Wage Subsidy/Guarantee (and wonder why the government can’t just keep printing money) and then want a Job Guarantee such that, in 2022, Labor will run with the Job Guarantee and win the election.
So, why would Labor — who have a history of making long-term structural decisions both bad (such as the-poor-subsidising-the-wealthy and women-discriminating Superannuation) and good (such as Universal Healthcare in the form of Medicare) — choose a Job Guarantee over The Universal Survival Income?
The Labor Party could and should — just like the Liberal-Nationals — implement The USI; however, the Labor Party remains unreformed such that it is still dominated by the trade-union-executive.
Why, specifically, is trade-union-executive domination a problem?
While The Universal Survival Income will be a boon to the trade-union movement’s members — imagine, both full-employment and workers suddenly having the universal definitive power to say ‘no’ to an employer — trade-union executive positions will predominantly become superfluous.
On the other hand, the JG will both cement and inflate their power.
In addition, non-elitist trade-unionists are, unfortunately, typically:
1. Traumatized (as, understandably, was Marx) by their history and philosophy such that they are obsessed with the notion of Class-Warfare being perpetually inescapable — i.e. ‘The Marxist Inevitability’, which, in their view, can never be resolved; and,
2. So emotionally attached to both the minimum-wage system and its associated militarism that, in the short to medium term, they may be unable to be weaned-off it and, therefore, are unlikely to be capable of being leaders on this issue.
In any case, at this point, also unfortunately, Labor Party reform is far less likely than The Job Guarantee becoming their policy.
In sum, Australia has a massive opportunity to install The Reform of the Century yet is hurtling into the greatest of long-term disastrous traps.
Regarding the political right vacuum from the vacating Liberals, Australia doesn’t especially need another right-wing political party replacement; instead, Australia needs a Universalist Party — either an existing political party to become Universalist or, notwithstanding the start-up difficulty, a new one.
The next edition of The Universalist will detail precisely such a template.
Thank you for reading and thank you to both of you for your individual efforts over this most challenging period.
The Citizen’s Dividend Organisation (Australia)
Humanity is being confronted by a perfect storm of Socio-Econo-Environment Catastrophes including:
a. Internal: mental illness, domestic violence, drug & alcohol abuse etc.
b. External: our weaknesses boost Democracy’s enemies, which is currently enhancing international rivalry such as with China, Russia, North Korea and Iran;
2. Econo: absolute poverty, relative income inequality, unemployment, homelessness etc.; and,
3. Environmental: ecosystem destruction, species extinction, human population explosion, plastic islands, climate change etc.
Hypothesis: This is due to a single foundational ‘Society-Individual Interface’ contradiction whose deleterious effects are cascading through every facet of society.
The relevant contradiction is the partial absence of the natural-morality-derived ‘Universal Opportunity Infrastructure’ (UOI), which consists of the four cornerstones:
1. Universal Liberal Democracy — [In Australia] Yes;
2. Universal Healthcare — Yes;
3. Universal Education — Yes;
4. Universal Basic/Survival Income (UBI/USI) — No, not yet.
The Socio-Econo-Environment-Harmonising Universal Survival Income (USI):
It’s not that it is the solution;
It’s that its absence is the problem.
The Taxpayer-to-Citizen-Transfer [Note: Unlike the Current System, this is not a ‘cost’ but a ‘transfer’.]
Around $18,000 per year x 18 million (non-incarcerated in-country adult Australian citizens) + $5,000 x 4.5 million (children) = $350 billion (2018 figures).
This may be achieved by:
1. Reallocating $150 billion of the $175 billion Social Services budget (yes, we are already spending half of what we need), which still leaves $25 billion to top up pensions and disability payments);
2. Abolishment of the Tax-Free Threshold ($35 billion); and,
3. Insertion of a 20% full-breadth GST (no — it’s not regressive if the disempowered are net beneficiaries; also, the wealthy and multinationals’ capacity to avoid a GST is particularly limited), which results in $200 billion minus $60 billion (from the current 10% gap-ridden GST) equaling an additional $140 billion.
In addition to this $325 billion total, there will be massive human-capital, efficiency, societal-involvement and trust gains, which means, not only is the USI easily afforded, we will be, at least, twice as prosperous such that it will amount to a win-win-win in which all community segments — the wealthy; the middle-class; and, the currently disempowered — all win.
In the process, the economy will also be transformed from an ‘environment-destroying jobs-for-jobs’-sake’ ‘own-goal’ one to ‘an efficient production of goods and services we desire’ one.
Then, there is the massive permeating benefit of achieving full-employment.
That is, with everyone both taken care of and invested with the freedom to say ‘no’ to an employer plus the rectification of the present social-status premium on paid-work over unpaid-work, which will dissipate the stigma of not having paid-work, this means there will be a massive flow of power to the disempowered and working classes, which will result in a workers’ paradise.
Yet, this workers’ paradise will enable significant labour-market deregulation (i.e. everyone is already being looked after so, while we may continue to feel an emotional attachment to, for instance, economy-wide minimum-wages, in practice, there will no longer be a need for them).
And, this means our 5.7 million volunteers can get paid something and our young, elderly, relatively unskilled, disabled, unpaid-carers, 600,000+ unemployed and 1.1 million+ underemployed can, if they desire, get paid-work (or, more work) and, generally, there is full-employment such that ‘anyone who, at the going rate, wants a job, can get one’.
In addition, the USI will eradicate the current welfare-to-paid-work distortion where there is a disincentive to acquire paid-work because, in doing so, one loses one’s welfare.
Furthermore, full-employment will result in wages and conditions being bid-up.
And yet, business, as well as benefiting from deregulation, rather than having to tolerate the current crop of unhappy conscripts, will benefit from an army of volunteer workers, which given, with regard to morale and productivity, ‘one bad apple spoils the barrel’, will deliver massive productivity efficiencies.
This means our tradables’ sector — especially manufacturing — will roar back to life.
The Citizen’s Dividend Organisation’s Commitment:
1. Short-term (interim) — At the 2022 Australian Federal Election (unlike in 2019), at least one registered political party will have the USI as its signature policy such that the USI is an election issue; and,
2. Medium-term (end) — At the 2025 Australian Federal Election, the winner has a mandate for the implementation of a USI, which it then prosecutes.