Jane Dodds launches Basic Income YouTube series

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds has launched a YouTube series in the runup to the Senedd elections to showcase the many ways in which a Basic Income could change the lives of people in Wales.

Published on the Welsh Lib Dems YouTube channel, “Basic Income Conversations with Jane Dodds” is a series of informal one-to-one conversations in which Jane asks men and women from all corners of the country about their day-to-day lives and how they think a Basic Income would make a difference to them and their communities.

In the first, she hears from Mary, a shop assistant and mother of one from Cowbridge, who reflects on the difficulties her and other working families face trying to make ends meet. “There are rural communities where they go without so much, they go without basics just to get by. And they’re all working families and that’s what I can’t get my head around. They’re all working so hard”.

Mary said the first time she heard about Basic Income was when the Welsh Lib Dems started talking about it and now she is all for it (and hopefully for the Lib Dems too, as a result!).

Jane Dodds has been a vocal supporter of Basic Income for many years and was delighted when the party adopted it as official policy at last year’s conference. “In this campaign I wanted to speak to regular, hard-working people across the country because I wanted to hear their stories and how they thought the financial security of a Basic Income could make a difference to them”, she told Lib Dems for Basic Income.

She added: “I also happen to think that Basic Income is a vote-winner at the doorstep. Once people like Mary hear about it, they just get it. They understand the impact on them and their communities of giving even small amounts of money to people on a regular basis”.

Basic Income is a simple concept: If poverty is a lack of cash, then Basic Income seeks to solve the problem of poverty by giving people cash. The idea is to pay every individual an amount of money, regularly and unconditionally, from the moment they are born to the moment they die.

A Basic Income has five core characteristics:

  • It’s paid in cash: it’s money you can spend on whatever you want.
  • It’s paid regularly: so you know the next payment is coming.
  • It’s for individuals: Each person gets their own basic income, paid to the individual not the household.
  • It’s unconditional: You don’t have to work or make any promises to get your basic income, there are no strings attached
  • It’s universal: everyone gets it.

At these elections, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for the rollout of a Basic Income pilot across the nation, based on the above five principles and funded by central government. This should be followed, if it leads as we expect to sustained reductions in poverty rates, by a permanent rollout of this policy across the whole of the UK.

If you are in Wales and want to talk Basic Income with Jane for an episode of this podcast, please get in touch here.

If you want to join the Lib Dems for Basic Income group, join the WhatsApp group here.

Jon Alexander is writing on behalf of Lib Dems for Basic Income.

* Jon Alexander is a member of the council of the Social Liberal Forum and of Sevenoaks, Dartford and Gravesham Liberal Democrats

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36 Comments

  • Impressive stuff from Jane Dodds. Listening and responding to voters concerns is the only electoral strategy that matters as this piece argues https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/libdems-tuition-fees/
    A pilot across Wales as the poorest nation in the UK https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wales-confirmed-poorest-nation-uk-1879362 makes a lot of sense.
    The issues raised by Mary are common ones. Rent and council tax are her largest outgoings and she cannot get a mortgage. Food and fuel prices are increasing faster than wages. These are bread and butter issues across the country.
    Basic income policies have to be combined with addressing the issues of rent, council tax and inflation of commodity and fuel prices, if it is not simply to be wholly swallowed up by higher prices.

  • “Basic Income is a simple concept: If poverty is a lack of cash, then Basic Income seeks to solve the problem of poverty by giving people cash.”

    Except that it’s not. And shovelling more cash from production to landowners will do nothing but subsidise the poverty that is created when you essentially deliberately suppress the ability of people to produce economic goods for themselves while allowing some to capture much of what is left in economic rent.

    There are many different forms of Basic Income, and we cannot simply go round as if there is one explanation and one way of doing it. Stop taxing people’s work, productive investment and trade, and start collecting and distributing the rent of the commons that we all contribute to the value of more than those who simply occupy it and farm the receipts.

    All the older examples of people advocating for some form of universal distribution, from Thomas Spence, Tom Paine, Henry George and so on understood this and advocated sharing the revenue of the commons, not the output of people’s productivity:

    https://jock-coats.medium.com/nobi-progressives-and-liberals-should-be-eliminating-not-subsidising-poverty-6868f01aed92

    Oh, and ahead of Earth Day, this is even more important than ever:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hMCQUZgYL9xeqmpjD-9iNbs94hrLEpaw/view?usp=sharing

  • Peter Martin 22nd Apr '21 - 4:50am

    “Basic Income is a simple concept: If poverty is a lack of cash, then Basic Income seeks to solve the problem of poverty by giving people cash.”

    Like the previous commentator, I’d agree, but with a somewhat different take on it, that this is an incredibly naive viewpoint. It’s an extension of what we all know from our personal experience, but its a fallacy of composition. We know the supermarkets don’t hand out food for free and that rent and mortgages etc have to be paid. Therefore we need to earn some money to survive. Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to do that?

    But it is really not about cash per se. As Robert Tressel pointed out in the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, a chest full of bank notes or coins is no good at all to someone stranded on a desert island. Cash is the creation of the State and its function is to compel us to work. It might appear that the State is levying taxes to acquire the money it needs to be able to spend but this is making the mistake of thinking it is like our local council but on a larger scale.

    The State imposes taxes, with the ultimate threat that if we don’t pay we’ll end up in jail. Therefore, to get the money to pay the taxes we know we have to work for the State to acquire the cash it creates, or work for someone else who has a surplus of State created money and is willing to spend it on the services we can offer. In other words taxes drive money and the need or desire for money causes us to work. That work is nearly always for the benefit of others, so what might seem a coercive system does have its benefits. The computer I’m using right now is of use to me even though the workers who designed and built it weren’t wanting to do any favours for someone they didn’t even know.

    So, we have to start with an understanding of how the system works right now. It doesn’t make any sense to just short circuit it by handing out free cash even if we don’t particularly agree that it should work in this manner.

  • Peter Martin 22nd Apr '21 - 4:53am

    cont/

    A better approach is to recognise that if the whole purpose of the creation of cash is to encourage us all to actually do something useful, then the State does have an obligation to ensure that we all have something useful, within the limits of our capabilities, to actually do. Then once we are all doing this we need to tackle the question of how the produce we create from our own labour is divided up. Some will want a more equal distribution than others, so the concept of guaranteed work, with the State being a potential employer of all available labour, doesn’t necessarily solve all problems but it is a start.

    The wages offered by the State would mean that everyone else would at least have to match what was on offer if they wanted to employ workers too. Some employers might not like that very much! So we probably wouldn’t Mike Ashley’s vote! But some employers might be more interested in the concept of a UBI except they might prefer to call it a negative income tax. The political right don’t like the present system much either. The late Milton Friedman called for a replacement of :

    “… the ragbag of specific welfare programs with a single comprehensive program of income supplements in cash — a negative income tax. It would provide an assured minimum to all persons in need, regardless of the reasons for their need”

    He’d certainly have been including our NHS in that “ragbag”. So be careful of what you wish for.

  • David Evans 22nd Apr '21 - 5:41am

    The problem isn’t whether we can persuade people to support our proposals on basic income, but whether we can even get them to notice. So far on Youtube we have:
    “Basic Income Conversations with Jane Dodds” – 7 views in 1 day,
    “UBI Conversations with Jane Dodds – Brendan” – 1 view in 21 hours, and
    “Universal Basic Income the next big thing or fantasy politics with Jane Dodds & Dr Peter Sloman” – 179 views in 8 months.

    Mustn’t complain though, at least it’s better than “A Universal Basic Income for Wales? – Part 3” by Jack Sargeant, Labour MS for Alyn and Deeside with 4 views in 7 months.

  • George Thomas 22nd Apr '21 - 9:59am

    I’m afraid it’s likely that Lib Dems get a hammering in upcoming Senedd elections but I’d like to see Jane carry on as leader despite this: she’s done a lot of good work, appears to be a good person and the suspected hammering will be more a result of Westminster politics over past 10 years (and what people fear it will be if there isn’t progressive change in Westminster) than anything happening in Wales. Let the education reforms come through and allow Jane to claim that as a Lib Dem success before taking any rash action.

  • James Belchamber 22nd Apr '21 - 11:14am

    Jane is clearly defining what’s next for Liberals – eradicating poverty. What more Liberal way to do it than to give people the the raw material (money!) and trusting them to spend it on what they need. There are 15 million routes out of poverty, and every one of them can start with small, regular payments as a stable and reliable foundation.

    (I feel like there’s a Gladstone quote about this sort of thing..)

    The side effect of freeing individuals from abusive financial relationships (with partners, employers, etc), and the economic stimulus of redistributing money from the wealthy – who don’t spend it – to the masses – who do spend it – are to be celebrated, as are all the other positive externalities of such a project.

    But let’s be clear: enough is enough. We have the means to eradicate poverty, forever, if we want to. It’s not even that hard.

  • Gwyn Williams 22nd Apr '21 - 11:38am

    Social Security is not devolved to the Welsh Senedd. Even if the Welsh Liberal Democrats won a majority in the Welsh Senedd election on May 6th, Universal Basic Income could not be introduced in Wales. This is the right campaign but at the wrong time.

  • George, I agree with what you say in principle, but if Jane/Kirsty/the Welsh Lib Dems haven’t already claimed and achieved real recognition for the successes Kirsty has achieved in Education, it is too late now. If you don’t do it at a time when you have your hands on the levers of power and access to the power of the government publicity machine, you certainly won’t achieve it through Youtube podcasts watched by few dozen people long after the event.

    I hope we learned that lesson between 2010 and 2015, because the good has been forgotten, but the blame and its consequences remain. If we didn’t or we accepted a proposal where there was no political benefit to the party, but lots of political damage, all we will have done, once again, is squandered the hard work of previous generations of Lib Dems winning by-elections etc but left next to nothing for later generations at all.

    The key question is whether the fact that Jane is not standing in B&R constituency (where she should have significant name recognition) will knock on into a loss of votes in the Mid Wales Regional list, where she is standing. 8.3% is needed to be certain of one Top up seat, so you would expect we should be OK, but we were only 10.9% last time.

    Winning is vital, but if we lost our last AM, we would rapidly become just a footnote in Welsh history.

  • @ James Belchamber “Jane is clearly defining what’s next for Liberals – eradicating poverty”.

    Mr Belchamber clearely hasa a vivid imagination. As a former Lib Dem Convenor for Social Care, Chair of a Foodbank and trustee of a drug & alcohol charity, I must tell him that his comment is really quite breathtaking. Too late. Too late. The damage is done, the credibility gone.

    Lib Dems should have thought about that between 2010-15 when they helped to create poverty by a combination of Austerity measures, Welfare cuts and “Welfare Reforms”.

    Since 2010 the number of emergency food parcels distributed by Trussell Trust food banks has risen from just over 40,000 to well over one and a half million – an increase of 3,900% in just 9 years. Trussel Trust stats as at 17 Jun 2019

    The number of children growing up in poverty in working households has risen by 800,000 since 2010. Child poverty in working families rose to 2.9 million in 2018 – an increase of 38% since the start of the decade.

  • Arthur Clive Trussel 22nd Apr '21 - 12:24pm

    I don’t think that many people fully understand the reason and ALL the benefits that U.B.I. would bring to so many people.
    I’d just say two things for now:
    First;
    Before leaping to the usual opinions, everyone should look at: ALL of “Basic Income Conversation with Michael Tubbs” on YouTube.
    Second;
    Have a think about what life is for and what a Liberal Democrat would like for ALL people?
    I link this to what has been going on for centuries – and certainly has been increasing for the last few decades.
    That is: Mechanization, then Automation, then computerization and of course lastly A.I.
    As this was taking place; replacing jobs – the people had to find others in a “more efficient” way of working. So people had to learn more, just to earn enough to live on.
    For the people keeping up with change; in many ways, life could be said to be getting better- although we are incurring Climate Change as a result!
    All the while any extra money acquired – basically, made the rich richer.
    I heard it said decades ago that we would all have more free time to live our lives while the machines take over.
    Of course this never happens -and never will; while we pursue this constant focus on growth and acquisition of “Stuff & Wealth”.
    I think we should be sharing the equity of all our past efforts as well as any we earn today.
    U.B.I. could slowly increase and be seen as the start of the time when the promises of the past slowly come to fruition.
    Make it a LIBDEM policy – so giving ALL people a decent life.

  • James Belchamber 22nd Apr '21 - 1:05pm

    > Mr Belchamber clearely hasa a vivid imagination

    If you agreed with me you’d call that “vision” 🙂 of course you need to first “imagine” a better world to work towards it – we’re Liberals, that’s what we do, and I can assure you that I take such conservative critique of Liberal ambition as just part and parcel of being on the left. What’s the alternative – accepting today’s reality as perpetuity? I won’t be doing that.

    I must say David, I wish you would find something more worthwhile to do with your life than consistently troll the comments of a blog for a political party you’ve apparently grown to hate. Maybe a lack of imagination is involved?

  • Michael Tubbs has done some good work in this area with the founding of Mayors for a guaranteed income https://www.mayorsforagi.org/
    This article https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/bidens-first-big-win-and-what-comes discusses the recent covid emergency relief in the USA:
    “Biden’s relief bill promises to make cash payments a permanent feature of our economy. The most important item, in my opinion, is not the $1400 checks or Pandemic UI or any of that stuff — it’s the child allowance. Under the new bill, families will get monthly checks for $300 for each child under the age of 6, and $250 for each child between the age of 6 and 17.If you have two kids, that’s between $6000 and $7200 a year! Officially this is a temporary program, but many people expect it to become permanent.

    Essentially this is a pilot universal basic income program for families. It would be phased out at higher income levels, but that’s not really that much different than a tax-supported UBI. The key here is that there’s no work requirement or time limit — all you have to do is have kids.

    The people who are saying Biden’s bill is not transformational, and would just be a temporary band-aid on the problems of poverty and inequality, need to think about the child allowance. Child poverty is still alarmingly common in America — about 14% before COVID struck — and some estimates predict that Biden’s child allowance will cut that number in half.

  • @George Thomas – I like Jane Dodds a lot, but she’s even less charismatic than Ed Davey. The problems in the Welsh Liberal Democrats go beyond the leader though. Whatever the result in May, we need to really sort things out going forward. Serious thought has to be given to our campaigns and communications strategies and a shake-up of those in positions of influence within the party is needed.

  • Simon McGrath 22nd Apr '21 - 2:36pm

    Nothing about how to pay for it I notice. £100 a week to say 50m people = £250bn a year or two NHS’s.

  • David Evans 22nd Apr '21 - 2:44pm

    James Belchamber – it’s not hate that has grown for David Raw. It’s the despair that has grown for a party that stood for so much, but all too quickly, too many of its members accepted without demur a totally different philosophy, which its leaders and their key supporters promoted rigorously for five years of disaster.

    Now those key supporters and what’s left of those leaders want to get a new generation to simply ignore the lessons of the past and pretend that it never really happened – Thereby absolving them of responsibility.

    Well the public don’t fall for that sort of stuff, which is why we are still stuck well under 10% in the polls. The 10 years of experience we have all seen since then shows it won’t change until they show that they have changed.

  • Paul Barker 22nd Apr '21 - 4:07pm

    If you are seriously looking for an explanation of the present State of The Polls then I would suggest Covid is the obvious place to start.
    There is really only one issue that most Voters are interested in – Covid.
    Only Governments can do anything about Covid so only Parties in Government really matter – Tories in England, The SNP in Scotland & Labour in Wales. UK Polling is dominated by England so that The Tories. The “Opposition” find it very hard to get a hearing & “Third” Parties like us are dependent on our loyal Core.
    We have been around 7% for a Year now & that is unprecedented – if its not down to Covid then its an odd coincidence.
    We have no idea what our “Real” level of support is & I doubt the Results in 2 Weeks will tell us more.

  • I think Paul Barker is right about the impact of Covid on the polls. As to the most recent election, the Late Jonathan Fryer recounted Professor John Curtice’s assessment last year https://jonathanfryer.wordpress.com/2020/01/16/sir-john-curtice-at-the-nlc/
    “… the talk was particularly focussed on the Liberal Democrats’ less than optimal performance last month. Far from taking off during the campaign — which was the case in several previous general elections, thanks largely to a higher media profile — the LibDems actually lost nearly half of their opinion poll percentage as the weeks went by. Certainly some of the Remain-leaning Conservatives who lent the LibDems their vote in May’s European elections, not least in Greater London, went running back to Boris Johnson, despite Brexit, out of (unnecessary) fear of a possible Jeremy Corbyn government. Many commentators at the time also attributed the fall in LibDem support to (1) Jo Swinson’s call to Revoke Article 50, rather than pitching wholeheartedly for a second EU Referendum, and (2) her claim to be a potential PM in waiting, despite the modest number of LibDem MPs (albeit supplemented by both Labour and Conservative defections). However, Professor Curtice said polling, notably from YouGov, did not support that assumption. Instead, he highlighted three conclusions about the election result based on his research:

    1) It was not clear that the decision to back revoking Article 50 without a referendum was electorally costly;

    2) Jo Swinson failed to make a favourable impression on voters and thus provide a point of attraction in contrast to Jeremy Corbyn;

    3) The Party failed to communicate what a “brighter future” for Britain might entail.

    Other points from John Curtice’s brilliant presentation which particularly struck me were that the Liberal Democrats drew most of their support from the educated middle class, but unlike the other parties had an almost equal level of support across all age groups.”

    This point about “…communicate what a “brighter future” for Britain might entail” is key and what Jane Dodds is endeavouring to do.

  • John Marriott 22nd Apr '21 - 5:07pm

    Oh dear. The Lib Dem’s REALLY have lost their way. OK, campaign on UBI and see how much traction you get. I won’t go as far as the late Lord Ashdown in the millinery stakes, however……

  • @ Paul Barker – Yes, Covid has had an impact. It’s made things very different this past year. But the polls are not ‘unprecedented’. You’ve been asked before what your excuse is for our similar polling levels at various points over the past 10 years. You’ve not answered.

    I’d also be interested in your explanation as to why Green Party support has gone up in all parts of the UK despite also not being in government anywhere and when their pitch on many issues is similar to ours – and why in a Welsh Senedd poll yesterday, we were as low as 6th.

  • Barry Lofty 22nd Apr '21 - 6:42pm

    What baffles this mere mortal is why this present government with daily exposures of its incompetence and corruption seemingly glide along on a tide of benevolence, yes the vaccine roll out is going well but do we really believe Boris is behind its tremendous organisation, I do not whatever the media say. It is sad that the so many people are taken in by sound bites and bluster. It seems I will have to continue my own rather foul mouthed abuse at any sight or sound of that man!

  • John Marriott 22nd Apr '21 - 8:50pm

    @Barry Lofty
    My theory is that many people have just given up on politics, if they ever were really engaged in the first place. This chimes well with the Tory party’s ability to adapt itself to changing circumstances. It really is a case of “bread and circuses”.

  • More circuses with plenty of clowns than bread.

  • “Think for yourselves; ask yourselves whether this wide-spread fact of poverty is not a crime, and a crime for which every one of us, man and woman, who does not do what he or she can do to call attention to it and do away with it, is responsible”

    [and every politician who does not take the time to learn this, and thereafter eradicate this crime is just as guilty of it: Jock]

    Henry George, 1885, “The Crime of Poverty”
    http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/georgecripov.html

  • In recent decades, US and UK labour share of GDP has decreased to being well below trend , while corporate profits as a percentage of GDP have increased to being above-trend https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/135320/economics/labour-share-of-gdp/
    Private equity firms have become big players in residential housing markets https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/mar/26/blackstone-group-accused-global-housing-crisis-un
    The Wall Street Journal is reporting that big foreign investment firms that buy office buildings, hotels and shopping centers around the world have a new favourite real-estate play: single-family homes in American suburbs. https://www.wsj.com/articles/that-suburban-home-buyer-could-be-a-foreign-government-11618306380 Just as we have seen with London property, overseas investors (including sovereign wealth funds) now also reinvest their trade surplus dollars into buying US single family homes and renting them back to Americans, collecting income from them.
    The land issue and the problem of rents has to be addressed as part and parcel of basic income proposals to address in-work poverty.

  • Peter Martin 23rd Apr '21 - 7:17am

    @ Joe Bourke,

    “In recent decades, US and UK labour share of GDP has decreased to being well below trend , while corporate profits as a percentage of GDP have increased to being above-trend”

    Recent decades? The reference you quote says since the mid 70s for the UK. So why not say so? Eurosceptics might think it’s no coincidence that since the UK joined the then EEC in the 70s that the situation has become relatively worse for working people.

    Or we might blame it on the rise of the Thatcher government and the anti working class policies of her government.

    They are both factors. They are obvious manifestions of a wider underlying trend. The the mid 70s was a time when the concept of full employment was abandoned. It was a time when economics changed from its previous Keynesianism to what was initially termed monetarism but later morphed into neoliberalism. Full employment was abandoned as a policy goal.

    If the LibDems want to be taken seriously in places like Hartlepool, where you’ll be lucky to get 4% of the vote, you might want to get back on to the right track and start to use the term full employment again, But use it in the way it used to be defined. Employment is a someone in a real ob which pays a living wage, holiday entitlements, pension contributions and sick pay. It is not a pseudo ZHC type job.

    The people of Hartlepool aren’t stupid. They’ll know that if the government is promising to hand out a £1 of free money they’ll want to claw back £1.50 in extra tax. The history of the region is that when the jobs have been there the people of Hartlepool have done relatively much better.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15276765

    PS Can we leave Henry George in the 19th century where he belongs? Capitalism has moved on a bit since then. It’s just not possible to have a “Single Tax” -either on land or anything else. Go for a LVT if you want to but it will be just another tax that won’t change anything fundamentally.

  • Peter Martin,

    Mary, has a full-time job that she enjoys doing and that pays above minimum wage. As a mother she will also be eligible for child benefit. What she has made clear is that rent and council tax are her biggest monthly outgoings and she has no chance of getting a mortgage, even in this part of Wales. She has to budget carefully to balance what is left of her income between food and heating costs.
    The UK reached record employment participation rates of 76% in 2018 https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/uksectoraccounts/compendium/economicreview/april2019/longtermtrendsinukemployment1861to2018
    The ONS survey indicates “Patterns of employment have changed over time: manufacturing employment declined drastically from the 1960s onwards, and services sector employment increased significantly over the same period.”
    Financialisation of the economy began in the 1960s with the development of the Eurobond market as a means of getting around international capital controls and accelerated after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1971. The impact of financialisation has been seen in the squeeze in real wages as a share of national income and the increase in housing costs in cities around the world.
    Mary and others like her are already working all the hours they can. The problem is. her income is inadequate to meet her living costs. There are three policy interventions needed:
    Firstly. guaranteed minimum income in the form of an enhanced tax credit that will put more money in the pockets of low income workers;
    Secondly, capture of land values for the public benefit through reform of the 1961 Land Compensation Act to allow for development of the public housing needed and replacement of council tax with a proportional property tax payable by landlords and homeowners;
    Thirdly, normalisation of interest rates and control of inflation to keep house prices within the reach of people earning an average salary and keep fuel and food costs under control.
    Continually running large current account deficits decade after decade ultimately leads to the majority of the assets of a country being held by wealthy elites and overseas investors – whether it be its companies, its public debt or its land and property.

  • Michael Maybridge 23rd Apr '21 - 1:51pm

    @Peter Martin I presume that Eurosceptics (or at least you) would at the very least concede that the decline in US labour share of GDP (and indeed that of South Korea, Canada, Australia and Japan, who appear in a graph in the article to which Joe links) since the 1970s was unconnected to Britain joining the EU?

  • @Peter Martin…

    “PS Can we leave Henry George in the 19th century where he belongs? Capitalism has moved on a bit since then. It’s just not possible to have a “Single Tax” -either on land or anything else. Go for a LVT if you want to but it will be just another tax that won’t change anything fundamentally.”

    In what way? This is a common trope. Especially among people who have never read Poverty and Progress and seen that it is, in fact, totally relevant to today. Don’t worry – that includes “Georgists” like me who took twenty years to summon up the courage to read what I thought would be a dry piece of Victoriana political economy.

    The fact is that for over a century we have tried to kick the can down the road with more and more interventions, but hard economic facts, of the factor of production with the most fixed supply still able to gobble up the lion’s share of production, trying to set capital against labour when in fact the real tussle is between land – on the one hand and capital and labour on the other.

    In fact it’s coming more into vogue again, Stiglitz recognises the problem of rents and has finally had the freedom to say so, hell, Willetts gets it, Collier too, all talking about rentierism as a distortion of capitalism and suggesting ways of redress, including land taxes.

    Do you want to continue to punish people for doing the things we want them to do in a healthy economy – creating wealth through land, capital investment, and meeting their needs by trading that wealth? Whilst taking that tax revenue and pumping it wholesale to the owners of so called assets that were never created (land) to the detriment of anyone who doesn’t happen to hold any in the right places?

    None of that has changed since Henry George (or Mill, or Friedman, or Spence, or Hodgskin). Just because politicians have been wrong for a century doesn’t make it right that they continue to be.

  • Peter Martin 23rd Apr '21 - 7:53pm

    @ Joe,

    As often I’m not quite sure what point you’re making. We might all agree that “Mary” , and others, need an income boost so they don’t have to “work all the hours they can”. You’re suggesting the govt should foot the bill. But that is simply subsidising capital and adding to the imbalance you are complaining about. Just set the minimum wage to be a living wage. The neoliberals would argue that a higher wage will price workers out of jobs. They would say that, wouldn’t they? But workers are customers too and they have to be able to afford to buy the products of their labour.

    I’ve never quite understood why you think a proportional property or land tax will bring in a game changing amount of revenue. Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t do but its not going to make a huge difference.

    Running current account deficits has nothing to do with our decision to let wealthy foreigners to buy up our football clubs and expensive London property. We let them do it and they do. If we said no and made laws to prevent them, they couldn’t. This would possibly reduce the capital account surplus, and hence the current account deficit, but wouldn’t entirely eliminate either. It would mean that the capital inflow could only be spent on what we said it could be spent on. I can’t see any problem with the sale of Govt bonds to overseas buyers, for instance.

    @ Michael Maybridge,

    You might want to reread what I wrote. Britain joining the EU/EEC was the start of the move away from Keynesian economics. The US and Australia moved away too but didn’t have quite the same level of unemployment as we saw here. The EEC/EU has always been dominated by the German economy which is more ordoliberal than neoliberal. We made the mistake, and our EU/EEC membership was partly responsible, of trying to have German style balanced budgets without the large surplus of exports to make that possible.

  • Michael Maybridge 23rd Apr '21 - 11:59pm

    @Peter Martin Thanks, I’ve reread your comment, and had another look at the article Joe linked to but I’m still a little confused (a phenomenon that’s been quite common when it comes to economics ever since I realised during my Politics degree that this was a serious gap in my, and others’, understanding of the subject!). For a start, what do you mean by ‘Britain joining the EU/EEC was the start of a move away from Keynesian economics’, when in your earlier comment you said that ‘They [EEC membership and Thatcherism] are obvious manifestions of a wider underlying trend.’? What do you think the direction of causation is here? Secondly, Figure 3, Panel A in the article shows changes in the labour share of GDP for nine advanced G20 economies (plus Spain) from 1970 – 2014 (although the y axis isn’t labelled properly, which makes it a little unclear). This appears to show that the largest fall was in Spain (an EEC member since 1985), followed by Italy, but the smallest reductions were in the UK, France and Germany, with South Korea, the USA, Australia, Canada and Japan all seeing greater reductions. If EU membership was intrinsically linked to the reduction in the labour share of GDP in the UK (and, presumably, in the other member states too?), then doesn’t this suggest that there must have been something else that, separately, exercised an equivalent influence in these other countries? Alternatively, couldn’t it be that what was in fact influencing all of the countries included was in fact ‘a wider underlying trend’, and if the EEC/EU pushed, deliberately or otherwise, its member states towards what we might agree to call neoliberalism / ordoliberalism it was only because it reflected that broader trend? Indeed, to coin a phrase, mightn’t Europhiles think that it was no coincidence that most (not all) of the countries inside the EEC/EU experienced a smaller reduction in the labour share of GDP than those outside?

  • Peter Martin,

    you say “I’m not quite sure what point you’re making”.
    This is a good article on Universal basic income https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/why-we-should-all-have-a-basic-income
    It concludes “…our problems are not impossible to solve. Poverty is not a supernatural foe, nor is extreme inequality or the threat of mass income loss due to automation. They are all just choices. And at any point, we can choose to make new ones.”
    This is the same point that Henry George was making in the final decades of the 19th century and Jock Coats has pointed out above.
    Mary Roberts in in full time work and earning above minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage won’t solve the problem that she and so many others face. As wages increase so too do average rents. Her biggest monthly outgoing is rent and then council tax. After that she pays her utility bills and only then can she budget for food. The last week of the month is always the toughest until the next pay cheque comes in.
    The ONS report writes “The highest employment rates recorded [in the UK] were in the years 1872, 1943 and 2018, at 76% of the working age population; the lowest rate was 61% recorded in 1932, during the Great Depression. UK unemployment fell to 3.8% in 2019. Full employment has not driven wages higher. The UK is principally a services based economy characterised by lower wage jobs in industries like hospitality, retail and distribution coupled with comparatively high housing costs as a % of disposable income. Much of the demand for consumer products is met by imports and this is paid for by selling property and financial assets (overseas investors own the majority of shares listed on the London stock exchange) to global investors in the countries producing these goods. Overseas investors will only currently buy UK gilts if they can quickly sell them back to the BofE at a profit. Globalisation has squeezed down wages across the developed world as value produced is captured by finacialisation and extraction of economic rents https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/replacing-rentier-capitalism-one-defining-challenges-our-age/ These issues of rent extraction can be mitigated by refocusing the burden of taxation and local authority planning gain capture to where economic rents are derived.

  • Peter Martin 24th Apr '21 - 1:18pm

    @ Michael Maybridge,

    It is of course interesting that the share of GDP, worldwide, which goes to working people has fallen since the mid 70s. It’s probably because of the world wide change in economic thinking which has followed the neoliberal mantra of privatisations, deregulation and globalisation. There is no place for the old Keynesian policies of full employment any longer.

    If you want something to get your teeth into you could try having a look through this:

    “How Germany’s Anti-Keynesianism Has Brought Europe to Its Knees”

    http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_886.pdf

    Of course this doesn’t mean that every country in the EU is down on its uppers. It is possible to do OK in the EU if you can export a lot more than you import. There’s an obvious flaw in the “German model”. So you can’t compare the Netherlands with Australia or produce a scatter graph of share of GDP which goes to capital and labour in the EU countries and elsewhere. The policies of the EU have lead to the destruction of capital. W don’t actually want that either. No-one does. If you ask around in the Eurosceptic areas of the UK you’d be unlikely to find anyone who said they were against the EU because the share of GDP going to working people was too low.

    They probably wouldn’t say that they were against the EU because of the way the Troika treated the Greek Syriza Government after its election victory in 2015 or they disagreed with the stupid rules of the so-called Stability and Growth Pact. But its is fundamentally the anti Keynesian nonsense that is espoused by the EU elites that cause the problems which make the EU unpopular.

  • Peter Martin 25th Apr '21 - 8:18am

    @ Joe,

    You don’t seem to be too consistent in what you’re arguing. I remember you saying previously that it was acceptable to sell expensive London property to wealthy foreigners but now you are quoting ” Much of the demand for consumer products is met by imports and this is paid for by selling property and financial assets” . I presume not with any approval?

    Then you say ” As wages increase so too do average rents”. So why argue for a UBI, which is one way of paying out a social wage, if the majority of the benefit is going to be swallowed up by rentier landlords?

    You’re still stuck on the idea that land is all there is wealth inequality. It’s a hangover from the 19th century clash between the aristocracy (Tory) who owned the land and the rising capitalist class (Liberal) who begrudged having to pay land rents to them on which to site their factories. Things have moved on a bit since. The two classes have intermarried and effectively become one. There’s no big dispute any longer.

    It’s easy to see how Socialism offers a solution. Land can be nationalised and rented back to the users by the State. But the Lib Dems pussyfooting around the issue and suggesting that the taxation of land is going to be a game changer won’t convince anyone. Neither will telling everyone:

    “The idea is to pay every individual an amount of money, regularly and unconditionally, from the moment they are born to the moment they die.”

    Who’s going to believe this? You have enough trouble putting the numbers together
    when the age range is 25-60. Some people might be taken in just as they are when they reply to emails telling them that they can make a fortune in one dodgy way or another. But most people will assume, quite rightly, that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

  • Peter Martin,

    Basic income is already paid in the form of various benefits from Child benefit to Universal credit, personal tax allowances and NI thresholds, carers allowances and state pensions etc.
    Scotland is making progress in making benefits more universal as this IFS anaysis of the SNP manifesto makes clear https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15400
    “The SNP’s manifesto continues with a trend of greater universality in public service provision – providing services free to everyone, rather than using means-testing to focus support on those with the lowest incomes.”
    Overseas investors using their trading surpluses to acquire UK property need to be assessed to Land Value Tax so that gains arising from community investments are captured for the public benefit.
    Any increases in disposable income will have a knock-on effect in the private rental sector. The solution is public housing. This article sets out how that might be achieved https://medium.com/@martin_farley/how-a-transition-from-private-to-public-rental-could-save-uk-renters-and-taxpayers-50bn-per-year-ece57b818c26
    Development of land was nationalised under the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. Landowners lost the right to develop their land. They could enjoy the existing use, and those whose land was about to be developed could apply for one-off compensation. To develop land for a new use, you had to apply for planning permission. It gave the majority of the power to decide these applications to local councils creating the biggest shift in power between landowning interest and ordinary citizen in British history.
    Perhaps because of its ambition the 1947 system was operational for just six years before major reform in 1954 removed the land tax provisions by abolishing the development charge. Many of the issues the TCPA 1947 solved are now a confused mess like how to deal with strategic housing growth sustainably. Heavily deregulated and underfunded, the notion of public interest planning focused on sustainable development is effectively dead in England. It seems that as a nation we will have to relearn why 1947 is so important to us and why its principals are as relevant and vital to our society as they were 70 years ago.

  • Peter Martin 25th Apr '21 - 3:16pm

    @ Joe,

    Now you are deliberately confusing the issue. Child Benefit is, using the definition given in the OP, not a UBI because it’s not “paid to the individual” neither is it “universal”. We can make the same or similar points about the rest of your list too.

    Everyone who reads this blog will know that the LVT is your pet subject. But I shouldn’t think any of them will be much the wiser having read your many comments on it. They won’t be able to answer simple questions from potential Lib Dem voters on how it will work and why it would make a huge difference to the taxation system. It will be perceived as just another tax. It’s the same with the UBI. The details simply aren’t clear enough. So once we get past the point of saying “wouldn’t it be nice if we could take everyone out of poverty by paying them a UBI ” the details to support further discussion are sadly lacking.

    When you and I become old and decrepit, or more decrepit than we already are, we might want some help. We probably aren’t going to get that help if the Govt is paying out money “unconditionally”. We’d be relying on someone to do the work out of their innate sense of kindness.

    I’d rather rely on giving everyone a guaranteed job at a decent rate of pay, ie a living wage, to do that. Not that they’d have to do this type of work if they didn’t want to. There will be other options.

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