Friday, 1 April 2016

The Universal Basic Income: A “Barking Mad” Idea Whose Time Has Come.

The Fourth Industrial Revolutionary: The Universal Basic Income is an inevitability. Not only because ordinary people all over the world are daily growing more determined to end inequality through a fairer distribution of wealth, but also because the more-than-human intelligence of the super-machines destined to manufacture our future will recognise what capitalists have always struggled to acknowledge: that people are at their most human when they work at their own pace and for their own purposes.
 
“THE FUTURE OF WORK” was the name Labour gave to its recent conference. All very forward-looking, I’m sure, but a much more appropriate title would have been “The Future of Capitalism”. Because, at this present point in the long march of human civilisation, work and capitalism remain inextricably intertwined. One cannot consider the future of one, without examining the future of the other.
 
The reaction to Labour’s conference from the two political parties most dedicated to capitalism’s defence – National and Act – would suggest that the free market’s future is not very bright. Strangely, capitalism’s least effective defenders appear to be the capitalists themselves!
 
Take the Prime Minister’s reaction to the concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). “Barking mad!” was John Key’s response to an idea that is already being trialled in a number of overseas jurisdictions. (Including the “barking mad” nation of Finland, whose GDP per capita ranking, at 22, was five places ahead of New Zealand’s in 2014. Source: World Bank.) Is it really asking too much to expect our Prime Minister (and the leader-writers of our largest newspaper) to keep abreast of international thinking on income distribution?
 
Apparently so.
 
Our Prime Minister would also, presumably, hurl the “barking mad” epithet at the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab. Earlier this year, at Davos, Professor Schwab told the gathered One Percenters that “we are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another”. This “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, said Professor Schwab, is “fundamentally different” from the previous three industrial revolutions:
 
“It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.”
 
Now, ordinary New Zealanders, whose future employment prospects will likely be put at risk by technological, economic and social change on this scale, are probably assuming that the Government, no less than the Opposition, is doing its best to ready the country for the onset of this Fourth Industrial Revolution. That the Prime Minister is already asking himself how a population becoming increasingly incidental to the processes of production, can possibly continue participating in the processes of consumption? And whether the creation of purchasing power, currently the near monopoly of the international financial system, might not, more sensibly, be restored to the democratic nation state? Because, surely, securing the future of Capitalism – and hence the future of work – is their Prime Minister’s Number One priority?
 
Apparently not.
 
Then again, according to business journalist Fran O’Sullivan, the Prime Minister is seized with his own vision of New Zealand’s future. Apparently, we are to become the Switzerland of the South Seas: a bolt-hole for free-floating capital and capitalists; a secure refuge for those with the resources to escape a world teetering on the brink of irreversible chaos. Quite where New Zealanders fit into this world of hunkered-down plutocrats is left rather vague. Perhaps those of us not employed to satisfy their every whim, will be deployed to keep out less disreputable refugees.
 
Who did the Prime Minister say was “barking mad”?
 
Casting a backward glance over modern history, it is relatively easy to see that what has saved capitalism from its own internal contradictions is not the impetuous avarice of the capitalists, but the determination of ordinary people to share in the bounty which capitalism’s long-term love affair with technological innovation inevitably generates. Generally, this has taken the form of extracting a greater share of the surplus than the capitalists, unprompted, would have felt obliged to give them. Without this forced redistribution of wealth, the capitalist system would not have progressed much beyond William Blake’s “dark, satanic mills”.
 
If Professor Schwab is correct about the unprecedented character of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, then the UBI is an inevitability. Not only because ordinary people all over the world are daily growing more determined to end inequality through a fairer distribution of wealth, but also because the more-than-human intelligence of the super-machines destined to manufacture our future will recognise what the factory-owners and bankers have always struggled to acknowledge: that people are at their most human when they work at their own pace and for their own purposes.
 
Anything else is barking mad.
 
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 1 April 2016.

41 comments:

Brendon Harre said...

Low income Americans can no longer afford their basic needs. The status quo economic system is not working.....
http://www.vox.com/2016/3/30/11330832/low-income-households-cant-afford-basic-needs

Anonymous said...

I believe that taken in context to the position that NZ is taking to migrant and refugee's and the situation that the world finds itself in, with a massive intake of Muslim refugees (mostly young males) that it would be barking mad to undertake a policy of universal basic income at this time.
The time has not come and until the world can come to grips with the refugee influx taxing its economic well-being it's time will never come.
Already the Australian and NZ largess in welfare payments, free education,free healthcare and retirement payments is attracting to much bludger migration to our shores.
I also believe that our and our Australian cousins border laws are way to lax to stop elements of Isis establishing cells and grouping's of anti-western culture's in our countries.
A good Muslim migrant or genuine refugee would embrace our parliament's generated laws of equality for all including homosexuals, females and Christian's and other religions and not want Sharia but as a honest Muslim will tell you, you cannot be a good Muslim unless you embrace Sharia and Sharia rejects these laws and ideals.
Europe, New Zealand and Australia are all barking mad with our present migration and refugee practices.
The western world is in a war with Muslim migration who want "free benefits without obligation or allegiance" and radical Islam who want to run or control Western and Muslim societies by terror.
With all these facts facing us, and with the encouragement it would give to Muslim migration and refugee's we need a "basic Income policy" like we need a hole in the head.

alwyn said...

I think you may be a little bit ahead of yourself regarding Finland.
You say "an idea that is already being trialled in a number of overseas jurisdictions. (Including the “barking mad” nation of Finland"
In fact, as of December of last year
"A working group has been created with the task of providing a preliminary study that will lead to the actual experiment" and "A decision by government on the details of the basic income experiment is expected in the second half of next year. The experiment is scheduled to start in 2017"
This is from
http://www.basicincome.org/news/2015/12/finland-basic-income-experiment-what-we-know/
An interesting article on the subject was in The Guardian, also last December.
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/10/finland-universal-basic-income-ubi-social-security

Guerilla Surgeon said...

God help us, is there no topic that some of you characters can't turn round to immigration? Or Muslims? Give - us - a - bloody - rest.

Anonymous said...

Guerilla Surgeon 1April 17.00

We are talking about a UBI and its effects on the future and wellbeing of New Zealand and present New Zealanders.
Wake up there are momentous happenings in the world.
Immigration, refugees and Muslim's feature.

bob said...

People respond to incentives.

When I lived in Holand many years (30+) ago, they had very generous unemployment benefits that left the UK folks shaking their heads. All rent paid and enough money to allow a decent lifestyle with some left over for drink and drugs. This was far from universal, but anyone unemployed could get it.

Two results : one was an income tax rate that hit 60% at modest levels - I was only in my 20s and I got hit with it - I'd guess that the equivalent would be $55k where tax was 60%. Also GST was around 20%

Second result : lots of people became very lazy and decided to escape the job market, preferring to let others do all the work. Many of these were young, and no they didn't study instead - the money fostered laziness. Is that what you want for NZ? Politicians just don't seem to get it that people respond to incentives..in this case, double -why work because you can have free money, and why work because the govt gets more than you do.

manfred said...

Anonymous you fool NZ only takes 750 refugees per year.

From my extensive experience in the Muslim community I have only met a tiny number of Muslims living on benefits.

The vast majority of Muslim scholars today, both Sunni and Shia (who you have assuredly not read), do not believe in subverting western societies, imposing Sharia therein or supporting ISIS.

greywarbler said...

bob
You shouldn't be too quick to make kneejerk opinions and then vote on the basis of your simple analysis. Too high a benefit will I am sure encourage laziness, but finding the right benefit to allow basic living for anyone between jobs, and with more added on to those impaired who need more is the answer, not throwing one's hands in the air and refusing to apply your brain.

If you are inclined to do this about UBI, you should also do it about the way the government has opened our country to low-cost producers and so collapsed most of our simple manufacturing and the jobs that went with it. On top of that they are allowing poorer people from other countries, who are not refugees as recognised by government, to take many of the jobs that are left.

Then the government is harrassing NZs without any work, or insufficient hours to live on, and wants them to go out cleaning the roads with their tongues. This of course is a reference to black comedy of the Four Yorkshiremen from Monty Python. But its an echo of the selfish, callous approach of the well-to-do here. Is that strange and disgraceful enough for you to throw your hands up. Guilty as charged?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Bob. My wife is Dutch, and was in Holland about 30 or 40 odd years ago, and she didn't notice any of the laziness that you seem to think was very common.

Anonymous. You woke me up years ago. The problem is every topic you turn around to immigration and Muslims keeps me awake. (Just to extend the metaphor.) It is in fact impossible to get any sleep with all this bullshit about immigration and Muslims every time Chris posts a topic that has pretty much nothing to do with them. So as I said just give us a rest from this one trick pony crap.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Guerilla Surgeon.

Please try to refuse the bait dangled before you by our more benighted readers.

In a posting about the UBI there is really no excuse for debating the goodness or badness of Islam.

I know it's hard, given the provocation, but please try to stay on point.

And rest assured that I am going to start moderating the blog with a great deal more attention to commentary relevance in the future.

People who come here simply to troll will not have their comments posted.

Many thanks.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Thank God! Or rather thank you Chris. Not to conflate the two.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Ah, somewhat calmer now – still have some Easter egg left :). And I'd just like to say that I don't actually think that this is trolling. Trolling is a deliberate effort to provoke someone into incandescent rage. And usually when I spot that I just post something about not feeding them, and ignore them. But I think that anonymous and company truly believe that we are in danger of being inundated by Muslims who will then impose sharia law over the whole country, and there will be (obviously) no-go zones where white men will fear to tread. This is the sort of thinking that Lionel Terry was doing when he shot Joe Kum Yung in Wellington in 1905. It's dangerous and sheer madness, and I for one will be quite happy never to see it on this blog ever again. Unless it becomes relevant. Again – thanks Chris.

Patricia said...

I cannot quite understand the reasoning that giving the poor more money might encourage them to be lazy and yet we do not worry about the rich not working because they have too much money.

Charles E said...

Chris I think you know that politics almost requires Key to say Labour is 'barking mad'. Yes, not the idea of UBI but Labour, as that has been the perception. Key once again shows his political instinct is quite brilliant. Half the country do think Labour (Moron-ey eg), the Greens and Winnie are exactly that: mad or bad. Whether that is right or fair is irrelevant. It's politics. With most people working hard and paying enough tax the last thing they will be keen on is the beneficiaries of those taxes getting free money. That is simplistic but so obviously how the average worker will see UBI at first. It is the idea of the moment and one that is very interesting but a big mistake for Labour to look at it now. When in power and after a few trials would be the time.

It really is mad for Labour to talk about UBI now, because it looks like desperation. Plus why mention Finland? Who? It's nothing like NZ, it being very homogenous, ancient, boring and cold with 500m consumers close by to sell it's products too. And of course, they are not implementing it, they are planning a small trial. Good luck to them and I hope Russia does not invade their neighbours next month after their show pony excursion into Syria to keep their sad public excited.
Similar to labour's excursion into avant-guard economics. Doesn't fool us, sorry.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I cannot quite understand the reasoning that giving the poor more money might encourage them to be lazy and yet we do not worry about the rich not working because they have too much money."

Ah, that's because the rich people's money works FOR them.:) Except that it mostly sits in overseas bank accounts doing sweet FA apparently.

Jigsaw said...

The difference is Patricia that those 'rich' are paying their own way and not getting the money from everyone else.

Anonymous said...

According to 50% of the NZ public John Key is always right and the other 50% are 30% wrong and 20% no opinion.

John Key is Prime Minister.

Therefore the proposal is barking mad.

The end.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
I hesitate to point this out lest by doing so a good idea is buried before birth , but UBI is Social Credit.
The difference is that Socred's idea involved the state issuing new money to make these payments instead of having the reserve bank putting new money into circulation by buying govt bonds with it and so putting that new money into the hands of the banks.
To this end , when Socred was still a movement within the labour party the BNZ was nationalised to become the people's bank and the controller of our money supply. Unfortunately the bankers who were engaged to run it talked enough of the Labour govt out of using the bank this way causing a major rift in the party and leaving the BNZ to carry on in much the same way as any other commercial bank.
Without having complete control of the money supply, including issue, multiplication , and withdrawal , it's hard to see how UBI would not be massively inflationary and involve huge borrowing. If you assume a level of the average benefit, with 280,000 + recipients at a cost of about $28 B , and consider this is paid to about 10% of working age people, then a UBI would cost $28 x 10=$280 B. Present total govt expenditure is about $91 B so this would increase by 300%. Please anyone correct me if I'm substantially wrong. On the face of it and with deep regret, John Key's comment seems justifiable
The whole money system has to be reworked so that it is controlled by the people through their elected representatives and this is going to disenfranchise all the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world, so it isn't going to happen until the present system has collapsed of it's own fundamental flaws.
Happy landings
D J S

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The difference is Patricia that those 'rich' are paying their own way and not getting the money from everyone else."

Many of them aren't. Tax breaks – corporate welfare. Including Team New Zealand, the sport if not of Kings, then of the wealthy, Racing, which is the sport of Kings. Hollywood studios, Sky City, the list just goes on and on. Which I wouldn't mind quite so much but Conservatives are so against welfare. Except when it benefits them.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I hope everyone is listening/has listened to Sunday morning with Wallace Chapman this morning. A very interesting discussion on the nature of democracy, and the 1%'s vested interest in reducing ordinary people's participation in it. Mostly American examples, but instructive.

manfred said...

The rich are exploiting people, making money off the sweat of the workers' brow. It's only right that they should pay something back so the working class and middle class don't live like paupers.

Anonymous said...

"Without having complete control of the money supply, including issue, multiplication, and withdrawal, it's hard to see how UBI would not be massively inflationary and involve huge borrowing"

The two NZ economists who have outlined UBI schemes, Gareth Morgan and Keith Rankin, both insist that their schemes be introduced in conjunction with a flat tax. A flat tax of of 33% (the current top tax rate, which cuts in at $70,000) would greatly increase the tax take, without leaving high earners worse off since the higher tax paid by these high earners would be offset by the UBI. Given this, and given the fact that a UBI would replace most of the welfare system, it seems unlikely that the scheme would be greatly inflationary.

Grant Robinson has said that he would prefer to retain some degree of progressiveness in the tax system. This seems like a bad idea since one of the incidental benefits of the scheme that Morgan and Rankin are proposing would be the simplification of the tax system that the introduction of a flat tax would produce. And the point is that a UBI coupled with a flat tax provides us with the equivalent of a progressive tax system anyway.

As for the government having control of the money system, this would be beneficial in a lot of areas.

Anonymous said...

What level of ubi us proposed ?

What levels of tax rates will be needed to meet that?

What restrictions on claimant's will be required? Consider that an unemployed Aussie would just need to jump on a plane to receive it.

What effect will it have on inflation, especially at common goods.

What effect on rents, when landlords know that remnants can pay twice as much?

What effect on house prices, when those with savings prior to ubi coming in see the proposed income taxes?

Pretty basic questions.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well, judging by today's revelations in the Guardian, if we managed to take back the money that's been illegally squirrelled away my members of the 1% we could probably all afford to retire. :) Just more evidence as to how venal the buggers are.

Bushbaptist said...

We already have a partial UBI, it's called NZ Super. AKA "Winnies Whinnies."

Anonymous said...

I don't know what level of UBI Labour is proposing, but Gareth Morgan suggests $11,000 pa (or $8,000 pa for those aged 18-20). Keith Rankin suggests $10,400 ($200 per week).

Morgan proposes a flat tax of thirty cents in the dollar and sees the a UBI as largely replacing welfare. Rankin proposes a flat tax of thirty five cents in the dollar but would keep the welfare system as is.

In the case of an immigrant there would probably need to be a period of residence prior to receiving it.

I doubt it will have much effect on inflation, particularly in these deflationary times.

There could be an effect on house prices and rents but, given that a UBI wold be largely offset by the increase in taxes due to the move to a system of flat tax rates, I wouldn't think that this effect would be significant, particularly if welfare payments are largely abandoned as Morgan proposes.

AB said...

UBI really only passes the test for me if is redistributional, and reduces the power of employers.

Redistribution has to be downwards, undoing the upwards redistribution of the last 30+ years. Can that be achieved with a low UBI and a flat income tax? Suspect it will need progressive income tax, tax on capital gain, financial transaction tax and a major crackdown of evasion/avoidance.

To reduce employer power the UBI rate cannot be low - it must be survivable at least for a reasonable period of time.

Simplification of the benefit system would be a good thing but is of marginal importance compared to the previous two. Though I agree that removing the whip hand from WINZ and their political masters is entirely proper and decent.

Patricia said...

I am probably repeating myself but I still believe a better taxation system could be iintroduced by just starting again. First of let's abolish all income tax and exemptions and GST. Then I would put a type of Tobin tax on each and every deposits in the bank. Let's start with 1% and see how it goes. I think it would bring in a lot of money each and every day. It would have to be done gradually though because it could cause inflation. If someone tried to avoid the tax by putting money in an overseas account then that money would be taxed on each and every transfer. All those people who depend on exemptions for their income would have to start thinking how to be productive instead of just rorting the system. The existing system is man made so let's create another.

David Stone said...

Anonymous @ 09:17

Have you done the math ?
D J S

Guerilla Surgeon said...

If a UBI won't fly with conservatives, let's think outside the box. What about abolishing the artificial differences between those who sell goods and services, and those who sell labour. That way those of us who are taxed at source could actually avoid taxes like businesses do. We can claim for the petrol, and the car, or the train service/bus service that takes us to the place where we sell our labour. We could claim for the food that it takes to fuel our labour. We could claim for the house that we used to store our labour overnight. We could probably figure out some way to claim overseas holidays, but at this time of the morning I tend to lack imagination. If we did this, there would be a level playing field that conservatives are always talking about. Though I must admit it probably wouldn't do much for the unemployed :).

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous @ 09:17

Have you done the math ?
D J S"

No. Have you?

I'm pretty sure Morgan and Rankin have.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
To Anon and anyone else interested my apologies I am in error by an order of magnitude. $10,000 to each of 2.8 million people would cost 28 Billion not $280 Billion and must be well affordable . My error arose from looking up govt statistics that gave figures of $28 billion cost of welfare and numbers of 280,000 recipients . This would be $100 000 ea not $10 000 and I don't see how that can be unless the cost of running the system is 10x what is paid out to the clients. UBI then looks totally cost effective.
Ignominious Cheers
David J S

Anonymous said...

"We can claim for the petrol, and the car, or the train service/bus service that takes us to the place where we sell our labour. We could claim for the food that it takes to fuel our labour."

That's an interesting point. Income Tax law allows deductions only for those expenses which have been incurred for the purpose of producing taxable income. IRD argues that a worker doesn't start producing taxable income until he enters his place of employment; the bus, train or car, etc, only takes him to his place of employment and is therefore not deductible. What IRD overlooks is that the same argument would apply to business interest. Borrowing (and the payment of interest) takes a business proprietor only to the point of being able to invest. He doesn't start earning taxable income until he has actually invested.

I think IRD are being just as tad inconsistent.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well thank you anonymous. That's the first time I've said this and anyone has actually commented on it. I mean it's sort of humorous but I mean it seriously. It was a road to Damascus moment when I saw that our local artisanal coffee distributor was driving round in a very large off-road vehicle made by jeep or someone. With his name in tiny print on the side. And I thought "why should he be allowed to drive that when everywhere he delivers is along nice sealed roads?" I was told it's perfectly legitimate tax thing. Well why can't I have one? A purely artificial division, that benefits business people over workers. We should definitely get rid of it.:)

Anonymous said...


He probably uses it for both business and private use; but in that case only the proportion of its costs that relate to its business use should be tax deductible. I agree it's inefficient, but tax law unfortunately doesn't require efficiency otherwise IRD would be putting half the country out of business.

Victor said...

Bob

You may not be aware of the ‘Minincome’ UBI experiment which took place in Dauphin, Manitoba for approximately five years during the 1970s.

Subsequent research showed that only two groups became less involved with paid work as a result of this experiment, viz. new mothers and teenagers, the former because they, not unreasonably, wanted to spend more time with their offspring and the latter because, freed from the need to contribute to the family budget, they were more able to concentrate on their studies and, hence, graduated in larger numbers.

The research also showed, if my memory is correct, that unemployed people took longer to return to work but only because they weren’t jumping at the first derisory, short-term opportunity but waiting till they had a decent, lasting job to go to. Often, they took advantage of the longer hiatus to upskill . As a result, unemployment went down over time and incomes increased.

Of course, it may be that, when applied to 21st century New Zealand, UBI might encourage more people to “drop out” than occurred in 1970s Canada. But, there’s always going to be a minority who are happier outside the workforce and, frankly, the economy doesn’t lose much from the non- participation of unwilling hands.

It’s also the case that some of those outside the paid workforce contribute to society in ways which can be equally onerous and time-consuming and rather more necessary than many a paid job (e.g. parents of disabled children, children nursing elderly parents or people volunteering in the community).

In any event, no purpose is served by denying a bare minimum to anyone in our society. Moreover, the less well-off tend to spend a greater percentage of their incomes. So making sure they have enough is a means of stimulating our domestic economy.

Meanwhile, above all, we need to remember that, because of technological change, an increasingly large number of people soon aren’t going to be able to take paid work.

So we need a different approach.

Victor said...

Jigsaw

You seem to suffer from a delusion common to both right and left, viz. that people’s wealth can somehow or other be decided on by principles of justice.

To my mind, the right wing version is the more delusory of these, as it seems to assume that everything you own before taxation is the product of your own unvarnished and unaided efforts and abilities. But that just cannot be, unless you’re alone on a desert island.

All wealth is ultimately derived from society. And it’s not just derived from the efforts and skills of those now living but from many generations stretching back through the centuries.

Hard work, intelligence, good fortune, good health, sensible decisions early in life, personable looks, knowing when to take risks, having the right background, a sharpness of focus and/or downright unscrupulous can all contribute to one person being better off than another. But it doesn’t follow from this, that the rich are better or more deserving than the poor or that they contribute more to society, other than (hopefully)through taxation.

Nobody apart from Robinson Crusoe, moreover, can claim to have put more into society than he or she has taken out, be it in the form of opportunities, markets, education, infrastructure etc. etc. So saying that the rich deserve to be rich just doesn’t wash. The whole process of personal enrichment is too arbitrary and irrational to be morally normative.

But, to my mind, it doesn’t follow logically from this that the state should try to give everyone a more or less equal share in society’s wealth. I personally believe that most advanced societies have become too unequal for their own good and urgently need to become more equal. But I think that’s a matter of utility rather than justice and certainly don’t view distribution as an ethical rather than a pragmatic imperative.

Not the least virtue of UBI is its pragmatism. It doesn’t judge the rich to be better than the poor or the poor to be more deserving than the rich. It seeks to modify rather than replace the essentially amoral distribution of wealth throughout society. It doesn’t stand in the way of wealth creation and might, through the efficiency that comes from simplicity, actually lower the cost of government.

Above all, UBI recognises that amorality is not necessarily the same as immorality but it also accepts that we can all benefit if everyone has a defined minimum of income.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Hard work, intelligence, good fortune, good health, sensible decisions early in life, personable looks, knowing when to take risks, having the right background, a sharpness of focus and/or downright unscrupulous can all contribute to one person being better off than another."

And research has shown that the greatest of these is simply good fortune. The good fortune to be born too well off parents, and in some countries to be born a certain colour, the good fortune to enter the workforce at a time of prosperity rather than recession, even the good fortune to be good-looking :).

Victor said...

GS

Absolutely.

Victor said...

Actually, I 'misspoke' above, in saying that I "don’t view distribution as an ethical rather than a pragmatic imperative".

I do view redistribution as a moral imperative when people are in dire and obvious need. Hunger, homelessness and the inability to access health care are absolute evils as far as I'm concerned. But I don't view the quest for equality of income as a moral imperative.

I do, however, regard the search for a more equal society than we have now as a pragmatic imperative, not least because I don't think that western societies or liberal democracy can survive for long in approximately their present form without a degree of redistribution.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"not least because I don't think that western societies or liberal democracy can survive for long in approximately their present form without a degree of redistribution."
Absolutely :).