How to make a just society – Justice Capitalism then UBI

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UBI (Universal or Unconditional Basic Income) is a brilliant idea. A majority of people support it. Let’s implement it worldwide. But to pay for it, we first must enact Justice Capitalism, that is, Capitalism that is fair, equal, and balanced for everyone.

But how will UBI be funded? The Tax system is broken and cannot be fixed to pay for UBI. Governments have been trying to fix the tax code forever, but it just gets more complicated with more and more loopholes. Corporations, criminals, corrupt politicians, and the 1%, hide money in Tax Havens or they game the tax rules to pay little or no taxes. Actions such as tax increases and eliminating tax havens will contribute to funding UBI but this will not be enough for the long term. Printing money, as is happening now, is also not a good solution to fund UBI as it just creates inflation which has too many negative consequences.

The best way to fund UBI is by Justice Capitalism.

The money should not come from taxation, but a dividend, financed from the returns on all our human capital; a “public” percentage of companies’ profits. Also, we will eliminate tax havens and the estimated $32 trillion hidden there. We will institute a tax on extreme wealth, a speculation tax (i.e HFT High-Frequency Trading), and a robot tax on firms that eliminate jobs by AI/automation. With this start to funding UBI, we will implement it.

Watch economist and former Greek Finance Minister @yanisvaroufakis explain it in a 4-minute video: #JusticeCapThenUBI

Two great things about Justice Capitalism: there will be fewer billionaires and it will wipe out all tax havens as people and companies won’t be able to hide money. Implementing Justice Capitalism is justified as all firms are built with our social capital. Wealth was always produced collectively and privatized by those with the power to do so.

We will be shareholders with variable ownership (little, eg 5% for small firms and larger, eg 75% for big monopoly firms such as Amazon) of every company. We will have seats on the Board of Directors and ensure that every company will act in a socially good manner, eg Environmental Social Governance to fight the Climate Crisis. This ownership will create annual Dividends that will be distributed equally to the citizens.

For people who can work, they will do so to improve their quality of life. This equal dividend distribution will be equitable and eliminate class warfare. This also will not adversely affect entrepreneurs in starting a business. People will still be able to make more money than they need. They just won’t be able to buy multiple yachts and villas or private planes. Inefficient bureaucratic social welfare departments will no longer be needed, except for the ones that support our most severely disadvantaged citizens.

To prevent politicians from messing these initiatives up, we will institute Public Financing of Elections. To do this, we will copy the gold standard of campaign election financing: Quebec Canada. There will be NO corporate, union, lobbyist, or third party donations allowed. There will be a maximum of a $100 donation per person/year to a candidate or political party. To minimize any ability of corruption, the donations will be funnelled through an independent Director of Elections. In addition to the donations, each candidate will receive a budget in equal part that will be sufficient to run a good campaign – smaller for municipal, larger for federal.

Implementing these initiatives will ensure that our society is fair, equal, and balanced for everyone.


More insight into Justice Capitalism and why it should be used to pay for UBI may be watched in these two 6-minute videos, also by Yanis Varoufakis.

What comes after capitalism?

The Rules Of The Game Must Change

 

* Nick Shcherban lives in Toronto. He is a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, and also a registered supporter of the Liberal Democrats

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44 Comments

  • Andy Hinton 1st Jun '20 - 10:57am

    I’m happy to hear more about a fair amount of these proposals, and certainly support UBI, but can we not do the whole “this isn’t about taxation” thing and then propose things that very much are about taxation, albeit rather more serious than the existing levels of tax? I think it undermines the UBI side more than it helps.

  • Why give hard earned taxpayers’ money to the wealthy who have no need for it?

  • Peter Martin 1st Jun '20 - 11:18am

    Brenda from Bristol might say ” Your Joking! An article about a UBI. Not another one!”

    “UBI (Universal or Unconditional Basic Income) is a brilliant idea. A majority of people support it.”

    Just what do they support? Sure a UBI sounds like a nice idea until we get down to the nitty gritty of the numbers. Most of the proposals involve cutting back or removing personal allowances. Do they support that?

    “The best way to fund UBI is by Justice Capitalism. The money should not come from taxation, but a dividend, financed from the returns on all our human capital; a “public” percentage of companies’ profits”

    This is all very airy-fairy. However you want to spin it it’s still a tax on company profits. The reason the big international companies manage to avoid paying their fair share of tax is to move their profits out of the UK by price transfers and other easy-to-do mechanisms. Their tax returns in the UK show ultra low profits.

    So, if they don’t show any profits for tax purposes, why would you expect it to be any different when it comes to paying out your dividend? I suppose you could always try sending in your invoice to their company offices in Luxembourg or the Cayman Islands, or wherever the profits end up.

    Good Luck with that!

  • Nick Shcherban’s contribution is very interesting.
    Certainly my opinion is that most people are looking for a new way of having accountability in a democracy. The reality is that our we are using nineteenth century methods in the twenty-first century.
    The world has changed in that over the last few centuries, and we are starting to understand the real outcomes of exponential change. The amount of pollution in our oceans, rivers, land and air is increasing and we are nearing a time when the results will be ever more catastrophic from our point view as humans.
    So we get back to our failure, as humans, to design systems which enable people to join together to manage our planet.
    It will be impossible until we are willing to put effort into this.
    I know nothing about the Liberal Party of Canada, apart from reading the election results when there is a general election, but to me this should be the first priority of liberals, and anyone else who wants to improve the Earth rather than make in uninhabitable.

  • Brian Edmonds 1st Jun '20 - 12:58pm

    That’s all we need – a Varifakis groupie. All I’ve ever seen of him is a silver-tongued fantasist with a glib line in special pleading; the only problem is, his arguments are not remotely plausible. I stopped reading ‘And the Weak Suffer…’ at the point where he suggests that if the European banks were foolish enough to think the Greeks would pay them back, then they deserved what they got.
    ‘Justice Capitalism’? Sounds more like ‘Fantasy Marxism’ to me, and we’ve had enough of that from the Labour party in recent years. Please tell me this will not find its way onto the next Conference agenda….

  • Surprisingly, the Conservatives – who are in power for the next four plus years – aren’t in favour of UBI, would have thought it would have been a marvelous way for them to get rid of the welfare system and have a very simple tax system, The govn has dug quite a hole for themselves at the moment, people persuaded that the govn can do a lot more for them than previously and quite how they extract themselves will be interesting…

    But I do think the Liberals should look at the other end of the equation as well – how to remove the remarkably high fixed costs of living in the UK plus how to get rents down to a fraction of their current level.

    On UBI, it will probably need much higher income tax/NI levels in the 40-60 percent range to fund it, balanced so that those earning up to 20k will be better off.

  • Peter Martin 1st Jun '20 - 3:02pm

    @ Nick Shcherban,

    ” This would not be a tax – it would be a dividend that we will receive as shareholders with variable ownership of all companies.”

    The more-than-slight problem is “we” aren’t shareholders. The way to change that is to nationalise, or partly nationalise, “all companies.” The Labour way involves compensating the shareholders for the loss of their dividends by issuing them with Govt stock that pays out a similar return. This gives the Govt control over the industry but it doesn’t actually raise the spending money you might have in mind.

    Parties further to the left would argue for nationalisation without compensation which would do the trick but it doesn’t sound very Lib Demmish. Is this your plan too?

  • Julian Tisi 1st Jun '20 - 3:17pm

    There are so many layers of wishful thinking in this article it really is difficult to know where to start. Suffice to say I do feel here at LDV we’re being bludgeoned to death by UBI articles, the problems of which have been discussed ad nauseam. This is yet another of those “here’s the magic money tree that’s going to pay for it” articles. I think you lost me at Yanis Varoufakis, the man who broke Greece and tried to break the EU to pay for it.

  • Simon McGrath 1st Jun '20 - 4:46pm

    I am really excited by this :
    “a robot tax on firms that eliminate jobs by AI/automation”
    But can we have a bit of clarification. Will it be backwards looking ? will we be taxing bank cash machines for replacing cashiers. And new things like the AI on Netflix which suggests what I might want to watch next – will that be taxed because it replaces a human being who would otherwise be doing it ?

  • This article proposes massive and high risk upheaval that nobody wants to pay for UBI that nobody wants.

  • Peter Martin 1st Jun '20 - 5:08pm

    “ ‘nationalisation without compensation’ is justified as all firms are built with our social capital.”

    Yes OK. That’s what the SWP think too. Good luck with getting that through into Lib Dem policy.

    “Sure, some of the 1% will lose some money…….”

    They all will lose a lot. Even more if you include the holding companies that manage their ownership of land.

    They aren’t going to like you any more than they like the SWP. They will come after you if they feel threatened.

  • A lot of interesting ideas, “think tank” stuff and there is nothing wrong with a bit of thinking aloud. However, like others I have my reservations.
    The public funding of elections is an idea that i am instinctively drawn to, but I am not convinced it will create a new class politicians, more democratic and more connected to their voters. Will the public fund election broadcasts ? How do we encourage political parties to put forward more candidates from non elite back grounds ? Or do you see parties being less important and a new wave of independent “citizen” politicians ? How does it remove the public’s apparent desire for celebrity politicians, and I include in that political dynasties in apparently liberal countries like Canada ?
    Regarding the 5% stake in companies, do you mean ALL companies ? Even the local plumber or poodle parlour ? If you were to say all companies with a turnover of more than £100m, then at least it might be doable.
    But lets be honest here. You talk of state ownership of up to 75% on large companies. In fact you talk of Amazon as “monopolistic”. Jeff Bezoz doesn’t think so, he’s selling stock because he knows that some day some someone is going to come along and do to Amazon what Amazon did to the other companies. It’s called capitalism.
    You don’t like guys who own yachts. You basically want the state running the economy. This is socialism, not liberalism. Count ,me out.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun '20 - 1:48am

    Agree on ubi, and much else but not some.

    There is no justice in having both ubi and a tax on ai, automated workplaces. Fewer tedious jobs is the goal of ubi, we ought want to encourage self service machines , if wanted, and that is good for a world of work that requires social distancing too.

    There is no justice in the state taking over companies, higher tax, great, semi ownership is not Liberalism or social democratic, unless as a deal, or voluntary, nationalisation is honest and agreed , taking by force seventy five per cent, is communism for the modernists!

    We need FDR< JFK, Mill, and Grimond, co- ops, fine, not Mao and Castro , statism, rampant.

    We need a green approach, and to tax harm.

    We should support those in the gig economy, give them security and work place rights, not destroy the companies by thinking the state should replace the unions or shareholders.

    We can have co- ownership, radical left of centre ideas, agreed between all, sides of industry, but let us not become Corbyn, as he leaves the stage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Peter Martin 2nd Jun '20 - 11:17am

    “We need FDR< JFK, Mill, and Grimond, co- ops, fine, not….. Castro…."

    I tend to agree. Socialist as I am, I wouldn’t be happy without the internet in Castro’s Cuba.

    However, Castro can have some lessons for us. The Cuban exiles have long complained that their wealth was confiscated and that their businesses were nationalised without proper compensation. This isn’t totally correct. The businesses were valued according to their declared profitability which wasn’t very much as the business owners naturally sought to fudge the figures to minimise their taxes.

    For years, politicians have been wringing their hands, and little else, over the problem of tax avoidance by the big multinationals. Nick Shcherban seems to favour the Trotskyist solution of Nationalisation without compensation. Maybe we shouldn’t actually do that. But we could threaten that the compensation they would actually receive would be based on a valuation of the business using their own declared figures if they didn’t cough up their fair share of taxes. That might give them food for thought!

  • Toby Keynes 2nd Jun '20 - 11:51am

    NIck: “There will be NO corporate, union, lobbyist, or third party donations allowed. There will be a maximum of a $100 donation per person/year to a candidate or political party. To minimize any ability of corruption, the donations will be funnelled through an independent Director of Elections.It’s hard to know where to start, but fortunately others have already covered a great deal of the territory.”

    Well, yes, it is hard to know where to start.

    I expect we’re all deeply concerned about the degree to which politicians can be bought, and elections can be swayed by massive injections of campaign funds from questionable sources, but this is a classic case of an ill-considered solution being worse than the problem.

    $100 limit on personal donations? Basically, that would make it almost impossible for any independent candidate to build their campaign from scratch, unless they’re extremely media-savvy or have a lot of generous friends and supporters – even for a local election, let alone a parliamentary one. It would be a huge barrier to entry, so you’d be protecting the incumbents from competition.

    That’s attacking democracy, not defending it.

    Meanwhile, of course, big media groups will be able to pour resources into supporting their preferred candidates – unless, of course, the plan is for us to kill off freedom of the press as well. I guess that’s an option.

    And requiring that all political donations are channelled through a state institution? Forcing all candidates to channel all their funds through a state entity sounds spectacularly dangerous and prone to abuse by state actors. We see, even in democracies such as the USA and some European states, how state institutions can be used as partisan instruments of the governing party. So candidates that oppose the government must rely on the government’s agencies to pass funds straight on to them speedily, efficiently and fully, in the middle of an election campaign when a single day’s delay could make all the difference to their ability to get the message out?

    And of course we can say goodbye to collecting buckets at fundraising events.

    Again, by giving the state effective administrative control of election campaigning, you’re attacking democracy rather than defending it.

  • Innocent Bystander 2nd Jun '20 - 1:47pm

    I suppose there is a place for unconstrained, even wild, thinking but some of the claims here are too exotic too ignore. Apparently Buffet, Gates and Musk have endorsed this. That just leaves 69,999,997 of the world’s 1% who have yet to agree. I know at least one of that number and they will not pay up.
    Answer = “But we will make them pay up!”
    No you can’t. The one I know has four houses over three continents and is as impervious to your schemes as are the three musketeers you name (who can well afford to say anything they like for a bit of popularity). The jury should note that they show no sign of the sort of philanthropy that would actually make a painful dent in their billions.
    These proposals are yet more of fantasy “Co-operative Marxism” – a dream reliant upon the energetic, imaginative, enterprising, risk taking, far sighted, knowledgeable and industrious individuals suddenly choosing to come up with their market changing products and ideas, not for their own reward any more, but to fund all these Santa Claus plans.
    No chance. I have shared the truth before but to no avail, but here it is. The talented and successful people and corporations, don’t, may I repeat, don’t, have to pay swingeing taxes. There are scores and scores of administrations, across the world, who are now and always will be out of your control, who would offer the warmest welcome to them if you choose to drive them out of Canada (or the UK).
    The state, left to itself, comes up with the Red October Plastic Sandal Factory and a ten year waiting list for a Trabant motor car. The reddest of Socialist states eventually has to eat humble pie and persuade the capitalists “who know how to do stuff” to come and do it in their country.

  • Nick,

    I think you are a little too pessimistic about tax reform. This crisis may well provide the impetus for the kind of international cooperation required to implement a unitary system of taxation for multi-nationals.
    For readers of that ever-popular magazine AB Accounting and Business there is a feature this week on tax reform. Geoege Bull, a tax partner at the accountancy firm RSM lists six broad outcomes that the office for Tax simplification could usefully focus its attention on:
    – Reduce inequality and end child poverty.
    – Reassess the tax base: who should pay how much tax and on what.
    – Reform national insurance contributions and the taxation of workplace income.
    – Look at taxation of wealth and capital, including inheritance and council tax.
    – Assess what ‘social goods’ should be encouraged through tax reliefs, and how effectiveness should be measured.
    – Create a roadmap to bring certainty during a transition towards more carbon-based taxes.
    In the same magazine there is an interview with Sarah Olney, Libem MP for Richmond Park https://www.accaglobal.com/uk/en/member/member/accounting-business/2020/06/interviews/sarah-olney.html speaking about tax reform she says “Another area that needs clarification, she says, is tax – especially the amount of tax owed to individual governments by the tech giants. ‘There needs to a global joined-up effort in order for people and organizations around the world to work out what tax is owed where.’ This is unitary taxation.

  • Nick Shcherban 5th Jun '20 - 5:50am

    Dear Peter Martin

    re; “Nick Shcherban seems to favour the Trotskyist solution of Nationalisation without compensation.” I am not saying 100% nationalization, more along the lines of 75%. Who would share any tears for firms like google and facebook that built their wealth with our social capital? Why should we compensate them for something they took from us? Google and Facebook did not work the soil with their own hands – they only wrote some software programs that facilitated the privatizing of our social capital.

    Regarding Cuba, Castro disliked the Mob running casinos and all the negative things that came with them. The Mob did nothing for Cuba, they just took the cash profits back to Miami.
    As to valuation, I follow your thoughts of them minimising sales and profits because of cooking their books. With google and facebook, it is different. They are very profitable. That is why they have market caps of $1 Trillion and $600 Billion. Problem is they book the profits in low tax jurisdictions. Whith Justice Capitalism, citizen Board of Director members would vote to stop this tax avoidance so they pay their fair – aka Unitary Tax.

  • Nick Shcherban 5th Jun '20 - 7:46am

    Dear Joe Bouke

    I agree with you
    “This crisis may well provide the impetus for the kind of international cooperation required to implement a unitary system of taxation for multi-nationals.” All countries are printing so much money and racking up huge deficits, they will have to work on initiatives like a unitary tax.

    Unfortunately, a unitary tax that Sarah Olney and the initiatives Geoege Bull proposes will not be enough to fund UBI in the UK. I estimate that giving adults over 18yo that would quality for UBI, $2,000usd per month would cost the UK $943 Billion USD /year.
    These tech giants spend a lot of money on lobbyists that prevent a unitary tax on them.
    I’ll give you a related simple example here in Canada. Our current and previous government, are too scared to even have netflix participate in our VAT equivalent called HST. All Canadian firms participate and do their fair share. Somehow netflix lobbied and framed this as a “netflix tax” and convinced Canadians it is evil.

  • Peter Martin 5th Jun '20 - 8:15am

    @ Nick Shcherban

    “I estimate that giving adults over 18yo that would quality for UBI, $2,000usd per month would cost the UK $943 Billion USD /year”

    It all sounds very nice and Lib Demmish. But, why would we all want to work in the legitimate economy, doing anything at all, if we received approx £20k per year tax free? If we had the prospect of earning high a salary in a high powered job then, of course, we might. But what about the millions of people doing everyday jobs? We need someone to do these jobs. We can’t afford, even if we did somehow magic up the 943 billion or whatever the figure might be, to have them sitting at home doing nothing apart from a bit of bit of cash-in-hand work on the side.

    This doesn’t mean that we should pay people poorly for doing essential work, and yes we should make sure everyone has the opportunity to earn enough to keep themselves out of poverty by earning a living wage. But we have to recognise that money is only worth anything because it will buy the goods and services which have been created by the labour power of others. That labour power doesn’t just matter a little, it’s really what the economy and economics is all about.

  • John Littler 5th Jun '20 - 7:58pm

    I support UBI but it cannot realistically provide £20k p.a across the board.
    A lot of the jobs are going to go anyway and people will have to be able to live and pay the bills for themselves while keeping the whole economic show going, because Californian Tech companies are not going to give two hoots as to the social aspects of jobs vanishing, private bankruptcies, homelessness, economic downturn or extreme poverty.

    I am informed that Unemployment now is a deliberately annoying system, a merry-go-round of forced, often pointless job applications going into hundreds, low grade training and meetings in Job Centres. It is an often pointless and soul destroying process that must cost the State a lot of money and prevent people from doing something more useful and profitable, perhaps on a lower level, speculatively or for good works

    If People’s basic bills were covered they could risk starting small businesses, do cash in hand work, charity work for expenses, part time PAYE or formal education and training. It is not a perfect system, but you cannot massively expand the State job centre system and harass half the nation to chase full time jobs that will no longer be there, even if people don’t believe it until it happens. See below:

  • John Littler 5th Jun '20 - 7:58pm

    Some examples:

    Warehouses – Thomann in Germany supplies over 50% of the UK and Pan European Music Gear market in 1-2 day free deliveries ( a better, cheaper semi privatised postal system run by DHL) from one automated warehouse in Southern Germany. Music Gear shops in the UK are closing all over the place, including those open since the 60’s.

    Driving & Deliveries – Self driving vehicle technology is well underway, supported by Government legislation and will get to the point that it has a lower risk than from Human drivers, as well as lower costs and millions of jobs will go rapidly

    Retail – automated check outs in shops, new security systems and a big jump in online purchasing will shed millions of jobs & largely empty the High Street from traditional shops

    Call centres – increasingly automated

    Banking – retail and commercial loans – increasingly automated

    Services – Restaurants in Japan already have robots serving tables
    There are automatic lawnmowers and hoovers already available
    What is to stop automated hair cuts, tattoos & massages?

    Professions – it is already accepted that advanced computer programmes can do a better job at detecting cancers correctly and in offering law advice

    The next 5-10 years will see a big shift and the virus has already more than doubled some online sales and closed many shops, accelerating the process

    The future foretold in the 70’s by Alvin Toffler in “The Third Wave” is arriving now, but Tory attitudes of bashing people while they are down won’t cajole them into finding jobs no longer available

  • Nick Shcherban 9th Jun '20 - 6:30pm

    Dear Peter Martin
    My article was not about the pros and cons of UBI. It was about how to fund UBI.
    1,000s of people have already debated UBI and the consensus is that it is needed now and more so in the future when AI takes more of our tax-paying jobs (robots do not pay taxes).
    To discuss UBI, visit Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/BasicIncome/

    “have them sitting at home doing nothing “ is the number one argument against UBI. What is not often discussed is the people who could really use it: mentally or physically ill, unemployed, an elderly spouse taking care of their sick partner, a grown adult full time taking care of their sick elderly parents, the homeless, the young racially profiled, volunteers etc etc . They all should be taken care of in a just society.

  • Nick Shcherban 9th Jun '20 - 6:52pm

    Dear John Littler

    “I support UBI but it cannot realistically provide £20k p.a across the board.” I believe with my Justice Capitalism proposal it can be funded – not in the first year but as it rolls out.

    For the UK the cost would be:
    52,403,344 adults over 18 * 0.75 who would qualify for UBI
    39,302,508 adults Times $24,000usd (i.e. 19,000 pounds / year i.e 1,600 pounds / month = ~ 365 pounds/week)14,088
    = 943 Billion usd /year ( 746 Billion pounds)( compared to UK GDP 2,855 Trillion usd = 33%)

    “Californian Tech companies are not going to give two hoots as to the social aspects of jobs vanishing” this is why I propose Justice Capitalism: We will be #Shareholders with variable ownership (little, eg 5% for small corporations and larger, eg 75% for big monopoly firms such as Google and Facebook) of every company. We will have seats on the Board of Directors and ensure that every company will act in a socially good manner, eg #ESG Environmental Social Governance to fight the #ClimateCrisis.

    Your good points about Thomann in Germany are the same for Amazon. They have put the majority of small retailers out of business and the ones remaining only act as showrooms for them. People will go into a small retailer to look at a product, scan the UPC, and see a lower price on Amazon. They will order it from Amazon before they have even left the store.

    John, I agree with all you about Unemployment Insurance (it is the same here in Canada).
    I also agree with all the good points you have identified as the negative consequences of AI. That is why we should have a #Robot tax.

  • Nick Shcherban 10th Jun '20 - 12:28am

    Dear Innocent Bystander
    I found an organization your friend with 4 houses over three continents can join.
    It’s called patrioticmillionaires.org/
    You only need $1 million in annual income or a net worth of $5 million to join

  • john Littler 13th Jun '20 - 4:17pm

    Nick, I have no doubt that if Government finances were restructured, £20k p.a UBI could be found, but it would probably mean the politicians not having to try to play on the World Stage & renew Trident for instance. It would also have to replace a lot of means testing, which would leave some worse off, but there’s a case for it.

    I just don’t think a UK government would agree such a high figure so widely. Also, if 25% were left out, which makes sense; there would be a big pressure from the wealthy well connected to abolish it, continually. There is a danger that having such a benefit for a long enough period, such as 10 years, then withdrawing it for whatever reason, might be worse than never having offered it, as people will have re-organised their lives around it.

    All to be considered, but read “The Third Wave”

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