Waa waa waa

Rob Salmond is sad because we take advantage of Labour’s stupidity.

In this morning’s National Business Review (paywalled), Matthew Hooton estimates Labour’s Universal Basic Income Policy could cost up to $86 billion.

This is the latest in a series of escalatingly absurdist claims about the , starting with David Farrar’s $38 billion, John Key’s $76 billion, and Stephen Joyce’s 80% tax rates.

Matthew responded to Rob’s column pointing out his figure is based on a UBI with no losers. Also in my blog post I correctly calculated $38 billion is the cost of a UBI at $11,000 per adult. However I was generous and said that if you assume it replaces all current benefits then it would cost only $19 billion.

It is far from clear that it would replace all benefits. The Morgan Foundation responded to the NZTU critique by saying that it wouldn’t replace superannuation for many decades, so you can’t assume all current benefits would cease with a UBI.

But the hilarious part of the cry from Rob is this:

But here’s the thing, and I’m complimenting Matthew Hooton here: He’s far too smart to be this stupid.

I don’t think he honestly believes a UBI in New Zealand would cost $86 billion, any more than David Farrar believes it will cost $38 billion or Stephen Joyce believes it will lead to 80% tax rates.

Instead, all these insane figures are part of a deliberate, coordinated strategy of scaremongering, coming from many of the usual Dirty Politics suspects, aimed at shutting down an important policy debate just as it’s getting started.

Waa waa waa.

Dirty Politics is now the label the left give anything they don’t like. And no it is not co-ordinated. It’s more like shooting fish in a barrel – we’re all trying to join in the fun, because you can’t miss.

If Labour is so moronically stupid to float the idea of a UBI, to refuse to give any details of what level it might be, and how it might be funded, and to expect that no one would criticise them – well its beyond moronic.

Let’s turn this around. What would left commentators do if a National Opposition floated the idea of a scrapping all welfare benefits and replacing them with a negative income tax. And National refused to give any details or scope. According to Rob no one on the left should criticise this or talk worst case examples because that shuts down important policy debate.

Not only are Labour incredibly naive (to be fair most in Labour have now run 100 miles from a UBI) to be floating the idea with no details, but Rob’s ongoing defence is equally bad.

He seems to be saying oh this policy may not cost $80 billion or $38 billion or $20 billion but *only* $15 billion.

When that is your argument, well good luck with that.

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