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Well, it appears that Coronavirus returned with a vengeance this week, just as I predicted.
The reasons for it’s return are both simple and complicated, and those reasons are; ONE: In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic Western governments sat around waiting for someone to tell them what to do, and when someone didn’t, they sat some more, allowing the Novel Coronavirus to spread to thousands of people, who then infected many more thousands of people.
Mind you, once medical professionals told Western governments that Coronavirus represented an existential threat to their countries, they moved quickly to direct citizens towards healthier choices such as ‘social distancing’ and the wearing of PPE’s whenever they left their homes and only essential service workers were permitted to travel to and from work. Both modalities were surprisingly effective in reducing further airborne transmission of the disease.
TWO: A good example of the complete lack of personal responsibility shown by some is represented in the photo below, taken only days ago when the COVID-19 alert threshold was lowered (slightly) and thousands of people (who obviously AREN’T healthcare professionals) mobbed the beaches, disregarding the recently relaxed Coronavirus social distancing rules.
Consequently, the huge sacrifice made by millions of Britons staying home under lockdown for two months may be in vain!
And many may now catch the disease and perhaps die because a number of Britons lacked the personal discipline to adhere to the (recently relaxed) Coronavirus social distancing requirements!
Let’s hope it turns out that by sheer dumb luck only small numbers of Britons will subsequently catch the disease and suffer or even die on account of the irresponsible actions of those beach going Britons.
Why the UK Needs a Guaranteed Basic Income for the Coronavirus Economy
Due to initially slow response by Western governments (but see the effective response to COVID-19 mounted by South Korea here) and due to the lack of discipline shown by some Britons, it looks like Coronavirus is here to stay for the next two years. At least.
Not only that, but there WILL BE another COVID variant arising this year or next that may prove deadlier than the present Coronavirus pathogen. It’s typical of respiratory viruses that they mutate and those mutations often become more effective at terminating the lives they infect. ‘Nature of the beast’ as they say in virology labs around the world.
So, the economy can’t continue to be locked down and survive Coronavirus indefinitely. It needs real money to be earned, spent, taxed, and reinvested in the whole economy every day of the year.
Consequently, when large numbers of people aren’t working during the COVID-19 lockdown, money stops flowing and businesses begin to die. And that’s terrible for the economy. And it’s even more terrible for individuals who live from paycheque to paycheque as their cash and ‘fridge contents dwindle for as long as the crisis continues.
That’s why it’s no surprise that many headed to the beach over the past few days to gain respite from the living hell they experienced over the past weeks.
See how things are so connected? Demographers see it everyday.
To stabilize the economy and to prevent irreparable harm to persons during this and future Coronavirus lockdowns, the UK needs to institute a Guaranteed Basic Income
Handing huge amounts of taxpayer money to corporations isn’t the answer, as 50% will always and automatically be skimmed-off to add to annual profits and be thence distributed to shareholders — many of whom AREN’T UK citizens, don’t pay taxes in the UK, and may never live in the UK. Which isn’t any kind of pathway forward for the UK economy. So forget that plan.
Putting real money in the hands of Britons is the way forward, especially during times of lockdown, high unemployment, war, or natural disaster. By simply paying adults a minimum income, they can afford to eat, keep the lights on, and keep hope alive for their families for the duration of any crisis or emergency.
Many such facilities already exist in the UK, including all social welfare and Universal Credit spending, food banks, homeless shelters, substance abuse organizations, local charities, domestic NGO’s and foreign NGO’s operating in the UK during the pandemic.
What a GBI means to the UK economy is that all social welfare and charity gets rolled into one payments system — thereby eliminating the many parallel and overlapping programmes that were designed with the best of intentions to, (1) mitigate the effects of poverty on Britons, and (2) alleviate the sudden and unexpected poverty caused by local crises or national emergency.
It means keeping people alive until the crisis has passed (yes, it’s that dire in many cases) so that Britons can then pick up and carry on with their lives after the crisis and once again contribute to the wider economy.
Who Should Get It?
Every adult UK citizen (including senior citizens) who live in the bottom economic quintile and (a) thereby earn less than the annual official national poverty line (about £20,000/yr in the UK) or (b) any adult UK citizen temporarily affected by local crises such as flooding, or national crises such as pandemic, war, or other emergency situations that cause them real hardship; e.g. no money to buy food or find shelter, should automatically be eligible to receive GBI payments.
Non-citizens shouldn’t be eligible for a UK GBI, but should be able to (easily) access enough funds from the UK government to safely transport them back to their country of origin, allowing them to return to their home country until the crisis is over. E.g. A one-time payment of £1250.
How to Pay GBI to Citizens
The best way to pay a Guaranteed Basic Income to UK citizens is, of course, the easiest way. And that is via a reverse income tax, which simply means the UK government issues a monthly credit to individuals via their personal HM Revenue and Customs account to top-up their income to £1250/mo. for as long as they earn less than the official annual poverty line amount in the UK.
As HMRC knows exactly how much you earn due to your most recent income tax form, it’s a simple matter for them to credit your HMRC account to top you up to £1250 for that month and transfer it to your bank account via online banking. Some people may choose to allow HMRC to do this automatically, while others may wish to manually log in to their HMRC account to choose the date they want their GBI deposited into their bank account.
Some may wish to have their GBI payment deposited to their PayPal account. That should be OK too.
UK GBI: Reducing Government Overhead Costs, Supporting Low Income Britons, and Supporting Britons Hit by Natural Disasters/Pandemic, Etc.
Instead of today’s many overlapping and expensive government programmes, some with HUGE overhead costs, a single-payer system would put more actual money in the hands of Britons living below the official poverty line at a lower cost to taxpayers, and to more easily assist Britons during emergencies, again, at a lower cost to taxpayers.
How could it cost less when even more people are likely to receive a GBI, than presently receive Universal Credit?
By eliminating the many costly and overlapping anti-poverty programmes using the single-payer system (HMRC’s payments system) and by dramatically reducing homelessness, drug abuse, property crimes, policing costs, court costs, incarceration costs, mental health costs, and reducing NHS cost of (repeatedly) caring for homeless people or (repeatedly) caring for those injured while engaging in property crimes offences, or who (repeatedly) engage in confrontations with law enforcement, due to the nature of the poverty-stricken life they lead.
A UK GBI Improves the UK’s ‘Velocity of Money’ and Therefore, the Whole Economy!
Economists call the speed of the transfer of money from one person to another, the ‘velocity of money’ and it’s a fascinating thing to examine. But to explain it properly, a short video is required to demonstrate how relatively small amounts of money can revolutionize a village, town, city, or rural area…
Now, for a more detailed look at the velocity of money, see Doug Andrew’s excellent example on the topic of how money really works, which refers directly to the ‘velocity of money’ — also known as MV = Py to economists.
FYI – All these examples are sans tax as they’re simple examples designed to demonstrate how velocity of money works.
But in the case of government stimulus — whether government stimulus paid to corporations (a corporate subsidy, or corporate welfare) or paid to individuals as part of a GBI (a personal subsidy, or personal welfare) every dollar or pound sterling of that stimulus (subsidy) returns to the government via taxation within 11-years — and the government is only ‘out’ by the amount of interest paid on the money they injected into the economy 11-years prior. And that’s why you pay taxes…
By the way, your taxes don’t pay for the full amount that the government lends to the economy, you’re paying tax to cover the interest on the money the government lends to the economy. If it wasn’t done this way (so-called ‘Cost of Use’ of money) your taxes would be much higher.
Therefore, British taxpayers don’t pay the full cost of social welfare programmes via taxation, they only pay the interest on the amount loaned to the economy by the government over that 11-year period.
Now, here’s a secret: Since I took my economics education (U.S.A. circa 1991) that 11-year repayment statistic has decreased to 4.3-years (U.S.A. stat roughly similar to the UK statistic) because the velocity of money has increased so dramatically since then. Ask any economist.
Therefore, the huge cost of homelessness, property crimes, policing costs, court costs, incarceration costs, property and vehicle insurance costs, medical costs, etc., to the economy will always be many times more… than the cost of 4.3-years worth of interest payments on money loaned to the economy by the government to solve those problems! Which means, that after 4.3-years (or thereabouts) the British taxpayer should be in for a tax break — courtesy of the GBI and a much better velocity of money factor. All of which equals a booming economy.
Conclusion: It’s cheaper to pay citizens a GBI than it is to pay for the huge costs of poverty on individuals and on the whole economy!
I love economics. Have a great day everyone!
Q: Why does the UK need a tax on job-stealing robots?
A: To pay Universal Credit to millions of soon-to-be-replaced workers.
And why do we need Universal Credit in one of the richest countries on the planet?
Because unemployment skyrocketed due to the recession in the 1980’s, it skyrocketed again when millions of UK jobs began to be offshored in 1990, and again when millions of immigrants arrived in Britain looking for work.
And because automation and robotics are about to change the world more than all of the above combined!
Bye Bye UK Jobs (Offshoring)
Since 1990, but beginning in earnest around 2000, UK businesses began outsourcing much of their manufacturing to Asian and non-Asian countries that offer low-cost labour.
This had an immediate and positive effect on company profits in Britain and resulted in just as immediate job losses in the UK as millions of ‘man-hours’ shifted to Asia. Consequently, the unemployment rate shot up, and eventually, many of those formerly employed people ended up on some kind of social assistance, or moved back home to Mom and Dad’s house, or they lived a precarious life staying with friends until they could land a job.
Those who didn’t find a job or who weren’t able to stay at Mom and Dad’s house, or weren’t able to mooch off their circle of friends any longer, ended up homeless; either on social assistance or not.
And as some of you already know unemployment insurance benefits only last for so long.
A sad thing about homelessness is that it causes a dramatic rise in crimes like theft, vandalism, hooliganism and other social ills as the homeless watch those fortunate enough to have a job/a home/a warm bed, etc., and resent their success. It’s not evil you’re seeing, it’s human nature.
You’d feel the same way if your company terminated your employment and by the time you got out looking for work there were millions more job applicants than jobs available.
But for UK companies, offshoring jobs scored a solid 6 out of 10 as a means to improve profit.
Enter, The Immigrant Workforce
Some UK companies decided to hire the immigrant workers that arrived on Britain’s shores by the millions and were willing to work for a lower hourly rate than native Britons.
For many companies, this was an even better solution than offshoring jobs which sometimes resulted in questionable quality or problems related to timely delivery of products that were produced offshore and then shipped to Britain.
Some British companies were able to lay-off hundreds of workers on a Friday and have their immigrant counterparts start work on the following Monday without skipping a beat. Of course, there may have been language barriers or quality control issues at first, but on the main cutting their labour costs by one-half (or more) worked wonders for profitability, if not always productivity.
For UK companies, hiring low-cost immigrant workers, probably scores around 8 out of 10 as a means to improve profit.
Rise of the Machines (Job-Stealing Robots)
In the corporate world, the quest to lower costs and increase profits never fades.
That is why cars replaced horses, ships were fitted with powerful engines instead of sails, it’s why jobs were (and still are) offshored to countries that can manufacture items at the lowest cost, and it’s why jobs were taken from British workers and given to low-cost immigrant workers in the UK.
But the big daddy of them all is just around the corner as human workers are replaced by machines.
For companies, this cost savings/quality improvement represents the greatest business opportunity to arise since the Neolithic Period when Trog first sold Grok a bag of salt he’d dug out of the ground.
Once Human Labour Becomes Redundant, Then What?
In robotized factories, labour costs are almost microscopic when compared to the other costs of doing business. Quality can improve by orders of magnitude and companies can devote even more time, money, and effort to sales and marketing to keep all those machines busy 24-hours per day, 365-days per year, without sick days, arguments with superiors, or paid holidays.
Almost any job can be done by robots, even policing can be done via millions of cameras set up around the country and monitored by small groups of people in a control room hundreds of miles away. In the case of a stolen car for example, as soon as the theft is reported to a website, the website programme can then steer the stolen vehicle to the side of the road and shut off the engine, and an automated tow truck could go out to recover the vehicle. We’re almost there now…
And robots never go on strike for better wages.
Companies that replace most of their workers with automation represent the best way yet to improve build quality, to lower costs, to operate 24-hour production runs that last 365-days of the year, and to increase profits.
Hey, who needs a large Human Resources department when only 5 employees work in a 5 million square foot factory and all executive positions are hired via a points-based website?
For UK companies, hiring robots scores a perfect 10 out of 10 as a means to improve profit.
Almost HALF of all UK Jobs Lost to Automation by 2033 (PwC Report)
This is a lot closer to happening than most people think.
“A 2017 report from PricewaterhouseCooper predicted that 30 percent of jobs across the nation will be automated in the next 15 years.
Predictions for outside of the U.K. aren’t any better. In the U.S., job loss estimates range from 33 percent of jobs by 2030 to 47 percent of jobs by 2033. Around 137 million workers in Southeast Asia could lose their jobs to automation within the same period.” — Futurism.com
Shall We Prepare For That Eventuality or Wait for Something Magical to Happen?
Waiting until then to do something about it isn’t responsible leadership. Neither is hoping that something magical will occur to solve our self-made problems.
If the 1% own all the automated factories and services but nobody except the kids of the 1%’ers have jobs, to whom will those companies sell their goods?
As more and more people are replaced by machines and as their unemployment insurance runs out and as fewer and fewer humans are required to operate a company, more and more people will find themselves on Universal Credit in the UK — so we better start NOW to make it sustainable!
The benefits for companies to automate are such that automation is coming no matter what, therefore, taxing job-stealing robots to support people on Universal Credit is the only relevant option.
Yes, the Protestant work ethic; A truly great thing.
But if machines are doing all the work, humans will become largely redundant insofar as work is concerned and companies will still need people to purchase their wares — otherwise what’s the point of all that automation?
Avoiding a Societal Crash Bigger Than the 1929 Stock Market Implosion
It’s almost too late to address this looming crash. But if politicians got energized this societal catastrophe could be managed, if not quite averted.
Automation WILL happen, it’s not something that can be ignored. Change is coming. And we’d better be ready.
For now, it’s a relatively simple fix;
Theresa May’s government needs to increase Universal Credit payments to (the anti-poverty standard metric of) £1088 per month, to include full medical and dental coverage, and provide full prescription medicine coverage — with no barriers to enter the Universal Credit system other than applicants must be adults who reside in the UK and earn less than £1088 per month.
This monthly amount and the healthcare benefits that go along with Universal Credit should also automatically apply to the country’s senior citizens to ‘top-up’ their pension to that amount, if they report less than £13,056 (from all sources) on their annual tax return.
In this way, every automated vegetable farm can sell its produce, every automated dairy can sell its milk, every rancher can raise their livestock, and every automated delivery company can get paid for their investment in all that amazing technology, because, well, at the end of the day, people need to eat and producers need to get paid.
And the UK can pay for it all without changing the existing tax regime other than adding a 5% tax on the daily output of every robot and automated system in the country.
Will companies go for it? You know they will.
How to Pay For It
Once people see they can exist without starving to death courtesy of their £1088 per month+benefits, people may decide they can earn a (taxable) living from their own home-based business — hand-painting landscapes on canvas, or running (taxable) Airbnb accommodations from their home, or becoming a (taxpaying) tour guide. Who knows. But artists, lodgers, public speakers, or those who create anything desirable or those who sing or play a musical instrument (well) may become well-rewarded for their unique and creative talents and pay taxes once again.
A 5% tax on robots and other automation devices or systems that work 24-hours per day, 7-days per week, 365-days per year without labour strife, without complicated accounting, without employer contributions to pension plans etc., without sick days and so much more — or pay a number of humans to fulfill that task?
It’s really a no-brainer. Humans can’t begin to compete with automation. What matters is keeping all those consumers alive and purchasing which after all, is what makes the economy function.
Companies will make so much more profit they won’t mind paying a 5% tax on the daily output of every robot and other automated device. Quality will improve, production and productivity will go through the roof, and companies and countries that get on it first will find the largest possible benefit.
Here’s to automation and to artistic endeavors!