Universal Basic Income – What to do about wealthy people?

The idea of a Universal Basic Income seems pretty straight forward. Everyone gets a minimum payment to cover life’s costs.¬†Sounds good, all things being equal.

But all things are not equal.

Rich people do NOT need universal basic income and indeed should not get it. Or should they?

Maybe the answer isn’t means testing the payment of UBI, it’s means-testing the ability to access it. Controlling access is not a new idea.

Take superannuation – everyone gets paid a regulated minimum amount of Super – but can only access it under certain conditions such as retirement, dire medical issues or potentially losing home due to non-payments.

Your UBI could be paid into a government-held bank account, which can be accessed dependent upon a few very simple conditions. Those conditions would need some smarter people to work out properly…

But lets ‘spitball’ some ideas to start with:

  • Your yearly income is less than 200% of the ‘average’ (median) income, or $200,000 per year (adjusted for inflation)
  • Your total asset value does not exceed 1000% of the ‘average’ (median) asset value, or $5 million (adjusted for inflation)

Continue reading Universal Basic Income – What to do about wealthy people?

Australian Elections and the Insufficiency of Voting

Electoral politics can be a dirty business, especially in Australia.

The major parties, Labor (ALP) and the Liberal-National Party Coalition (LNP) play an intense, 5-week game of ‘catch-all’ policy making, and try to discredit each other.

This happens between candidates for the House of Representatives, the Senate (at this point Greens & Independents are contenders too), and at a national level between candidates for the Prime Ministership. It all plays out very publicly, streamed around the clock via television networks, media outlets and increasingly through social media and online communities.

Two overly crafted personalities are created and forced down our throats until we are so sick of them, we can’t WAIT to see that voting booth, if only to know all the excessive marketing will be over soon. Then it is over.

We have a new government and either you did or didn’t get what you ‘voted for’. Right?

For me, more often than not I DON’T get what I voted for, though the hung parliament of 2010 is the closest we have come so far. Never so far in Canning, the lower-house electorate I live in.

The truth is the majority of voters never get what they ‘voted for’. Continue reading Australian Elections and the Insufficiency of Voting

Improving Democracy (Pie-chart Representation)

Recently I’ve been ruminating over a very interesting article entitled “Democracy Without Elections” by Australian journalist and fellow tweep (heavy twitter user), Austin G Mackell.

To fully understand what follows in this article, you should probably read his first. What Austin proposes represents a pathway toward replacing ‘representative’ democracy with ‘direct’ democratic participation in decision making, through allowing electors to choose positions on actual policy proposals before they are voted on.

While I support direct democratic participation as a desired end-goal I do not believe we are yet at a place in history where we can achieve this, despite rapid technological advancement. On the other hand, contained within Austin’s suggestions are other very practical methods for reforming the way political representation is determined within a parliamentary system, to allow increasing levels of citizen participation and ensure more equitable representation.

Part of this is achieved via making the vote ‘fluid’ – giving the voter the power to change who they support as their representative at their own demand. But that part will become a post of its own.

For now it is necessary to understand a proposed new system for allocating your “vote”. Continue reading Improving Democracy (Pie-chart Representation)