A minimum income can replace a minimum wage

That is the suggestion here from Gareth Morgan.

I agree of course, I have said the same thing here before – both when raising what my policy platform would be and discussing the minimum wage more recently.

It is fine to disagree with this and say “only people who are part of the labour market are part of society” – but in that case lets make that transparent and build our policy platforms from there.  I don’t agree that platform (hence why I would push for a minimum income) – but the current state where we don’t face issues of income adequacy OR fairness simply leads to inconsistent and unfair policy.

8 replies
  1. Starling
    Starling says:

    Sorry for density, but could you unpack your last sentence a bit more please? Do you mean we don’t face a situation where we have to make a choice between income adequacy on the one hand and fairness on the other?  I can’t see that you can say that we don’t have an issue with income adequacy and we don’t have an issue with fairness.

    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      I wouldn’t say its a direct fairness trade-off – it depends what society defines “fairness” as.

      What I was trying to imply is that society as a whole may not believe that people deserve a minimum standard of living as a result of being alive – they may think that someone is only “part of society” if they are willing to work.  In that case, the way the scheme would work in order to follow the social will would be different.

      Part of the reason that my suggestion of that is unconvincing is the fact that I don’t believe it – I do feel that everyone deserves a minimum income solely as a result of being part of our society.  And that probably comes through in what I write.  But ultimately, society determines what is right, not me, and as a result this is a point of view we need to take into consideration 😀

  2. Kimble
    Kimble says:

    I don’t think you can separate the discussion of whether there should be a minimum income level and what that level should be.

    The absence of a minimum level is actually just a special case of having a minimum level, just that its value is zero.

    So your belief that there should be a level must also come with a belief of what the level should be. (Note, a response of “non-zero” will be met with a question of whether it is a non-zero value above $1, then $2, then $3….)

    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      Agreed with everything you wrote.

      However, there is one additional point I would raise.  Society can say that it is willing to give a higher “minimum level” to some people than others – for example, society may be more willing to give money to people who have a willingness to work, than to people who enjoy playing computer games all day (I like to think I fit into both categories 😀 ).  In that case, we get a debate about “separating out” the minimum level based on what society thinks is right.

      I would prefer we make such value judgments explicit, rather than rolling around with the current system that makes many value judgments implicitly.

      • Kimble
        Kimble says:

        (I think this is probably pedantic, but I cant help feeling there might be something important in it.)

        There is only one minimum. That would be the lowest amount society is willing to give to any group. Everything else would be a premium.

        A premium for having children, a premium for producing art, a premium for being funny.

        • Matt Nolan
          Matt Nolan says:

          Completely agree.

          Furthermore, the advantage of structuring that way is that it makes the “concept” consistent with all policy – it is just a clear way of framing said policies.

  3. Ian Random
    Ian Random says:

    There was a study of minimum income done just north of where I live. If I remember right, with a guaranteed income there was no incentive for couples to work through difficult problems. I personally like a negative income tax to reward working toward something and only penalizing the working poor dollar for dollar for income earned.
    SIME/DIME Study

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