Kia ora: It is very informative reading about the Forest of the Charter 1217. Guy Standing’s article on the 800th Anniversary coming up on November 6 was printed in our September newsletter. How did society lose sight of the importance of the rights of ordinary people to the right to subsistence. The present inequalities of contemporary society are much pondered and discussed. Religion has buried our human endeavour, perhaps because the solutions seemed so beyond us. Did we need a supernatural being to fix things? Surely with the continuing growth in human understanding, science and technology we can find and apply the solutions. In a recent article in Brave New Europe: Politics and Economics: Expertise with a radical face 1 Oct 17 Guy writes ‘On November 6, everybody who calls themselves ‘green’ or ‘left’ should lift a glass of something special in salute to the principles it espouses.’

Monthly meeting: Monday November 13, 6.30 pm

Injustice! The Peter Ellis Case

Jonathon Harper has had a long interest in the dubious conviction in 1993 of Peter Ellis, a child care worker who was accused of sexual offences involving children at the Christchurch Civic Creche. Peter Ellis was caught up in what is now termed ‘day care sexual abuse hysteria’ which originated out of California in 1982. Peter maintains his innocence but has not yet received a long overdue pardon. This is an injustice that must be remedied. Along with his friend, Ross Francis, who has also published in the NZ Law Journal on the case, Jonathon will discuss issues around this injustice. Rather than his personal story with the case, and guilt or innocence, Jonathon’s focus will be on the interesting questions raised and the Eichelbaum ministerial report on the case. Questions about bias, choosing expert, scientific consensus, should we have a hall of shame for biased unreliable and harmful people (Jonathon produces one!)? Also, some aspects of how our government and justice system works and fails, mass hysteria and witch hunts, and how and why people stick to their silly senseless beliefs

Note the change of day to Monday 13 November, as the venue is not available on the 1st Monday.

All interested people are welcome, Society members and members of the public – bring a friend.

Venue: Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St in the George Room

2017 Humanist Society NZ AGM 1.00 pm til 4.00 pm

This year’s AGM will be held Sunday 29 October in the Mezzanine Floor Meeting Room at the Wellington Central Library. Interested persons are very welcome to join us on our Committee. After the AGM we will discuss plans for the IHEU General Assembly which is to be held in NZ next year. We hope to showcase our beautiful country with a Road Trip. The General Assembly will open in Auckland 3-6 August 2018 followed by the Road trip down to Wellington for a closing event. You are invited to join us. We would like your ideas for unusual, interesting and fun sightseeing excursions to incorporate along the way.

A Vision Splendid. The Influential Life of William Jellie, A British Unitarian in New Zealand. New Book published by Wayne Facer: Wayne, a Humanist Society member, who has actively campaigned for abortion law reform from the 1970’s has published a biography A Vision Splendid. The Influential Life of William Jellie, A British Unitarian in New Zealand. Blackstone Editions, 2017.http://www.blackstoneeditions.com/Title%20BE-14%20AVS.shtml

John Maindonald, a Wellington member has written a review of this book. A Vision Splendid is the biography of William Jellie (1865-1963), a pioneering Unitarian minister and educator and a key figure in the history of Unitarianism in New Zealand. In a world where religion is increasingly associated with hatred, bigotry, fanaticism, violence and misogyny, Jellie’s story provides an alternative – a vision splendid – where values rooted in the liberal religious tradition are the very ones required to promote social justice, protect the powerless and reduce social and economic inequality. It is a story we can turn to for inspiration as we continue to work for fairness in society, equality of opportunity, and the enrichment of the human spirit.’

Many well-known political and literary figures feature in the book. Figures who had a large place in radical political, social and religious history, in the late nineteenth century in the UK and in NZ, and in the first half of the twentieth century in NZ, get extensive attention. Jellie’s synopsis of notes he took of Philip Wicksteed’s lectures to students at Manchester New College, on “Social Problems in the Light of Economic Theory”, are included as an appendix. Chapter 4, on “Religious Socialism and Social Change”, discusses the social and religious milieu in which Jellie moved as a student and in his work for six years with the London Domestic Mission Society — including the Labour Church movement and Fabian socialism. Coming to NZ in 1900, Jellie formed a close friendship with Robert Stout, George Fowlds, and other leading figures, many of whom were active in reform movements. His path crossed at a number of points that of James Chapple, the larger-than-life religious and political radical who was the real-life inspiration for Maurice Gee’s novel “Plumb”. Both as a minister, and in his later involvement with the Workers Educational Association, he was active in opposing the Bible in Schools movement.

Wevisit.co.nz: This is an initiative of Sam Johnson, who spearheaded the Student Volunteer Army of Christchurch after the 2010 earthquake. The website is well worth visiting.

2018 Global Atheist Convention, Reason to Hope. 9–11 February 2018 Melbourne Australia The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) has announced that evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, and Ben Goldacre, best-selling author of Bad Science and Bad Pharma, will speak at this Convention. Tickets are now on sale for the 2018 Global Atheist Convention, via the Convention website at atheistconvention.org.au. Single day tickets are now available

Richard Dawkins & Lawrence Krauss speak in Christchurch and Auckland May 2018!!! See THINK.INC for ticket sales.

800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest commemoration: Monday November 6 @ 6 00 pm. Join Basic Income New Zealand (BINZ) at the Southern Cross Garden Bar Abel Smith St, Wellington  to ‘lift a glass of something special in salute to the principles of the Charter of the Forest. Txt Gaylene on 021 155 7084 to find where we are sitting.

Basic Income Part 1

A write up of the talk given at the October monthly meeting by Iain Middleton

As the gap between rich and poor increases, the equitable distribution of wealth is being questioned. For many who find employment today, their work has become increasingly precarious with unpredictable and uncertain hours of work. In response, economists, politicians and many others are increasingly suggesting a Basic Income as a means of ensuring a fair and just society, and as a necessity for a modern economy. But what is a Basic Income and what will it achieve? To understand the concept let us look at the proposals and see what they will mean for society. First, let us take a brief look at the purpose of government and ask, what is money?

Governments exist to collectively ensure the well-being of all citizens of the country they govern; not a minority at the expense of the majority, or a majority at the expense of a minority. To achieve this, they must ensure an equitable, rather than an equal, distribution of wealth.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides an excellent guideline for governments seeking to provide good governance. Articles 22 to 25 state that everyone has the right to social security; the right to work and to choose their own employment with just and favourable conditions of work and with protection against unemployment; the right to rest and leisure; and the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families with special care and assistance for mothers and children.

To achieve these rights governments create money as a medium of exchange, as legal tender. A unit of money may be considered to be a unit of work. At current rates one NZ dollar is equivalent to 3.8 minutes of work at minimum income rates. While money is initially a creation of government, governments are not the only creators of money. Banks create money and increase the amount of money in circulation when they issue loans and mortgages. They do not, as is often assumed, lend the money they hold on deposit to others. The use of credit cards also increases the amount of money in circulation. The amount of money in circulation reduces as loans, mortgages, and credit cards are repaid. Governments attempt to control the amount of money in circulation but do not have absolute control over how much money is created or the total amount in circulation.

In his latest book, Guy Standing, who coined the word “precariat”, the author of the recently published book Basic Income: and How we can Make it Happen, 2017, defines Basic Income as follows:

A Basic Income is a modest amount of money paid unconditionally to individuals on a regular basis where the sum paid is basic enough to survive on but not enough to provide full security. Sometimes called a Universal Basic Income, it is non-refundable and paid to all people who are usually resident in a country – citizens or permanent residents. It is paid as a right of citizenship and is not abated or taxed back on an individual basis or otherwise taken away except through the due process of law. It is paid unconditionally without income conditions or means testing and is paid regularly – either weekly or fortnightly.

A Basic Income is not associated with the political left or the right and over many years has had supporters on both sides of the political spectrum. As a Basic Income tends to boost the disposable money supply amongst the lower income groups it boosts business, profitability and profits, while reducing the costs of providing income to those who are temporarily out of work. In June 2016, Guy Standing was invited to addresses the annual Bilderberg Meeting, attended by political leaders and leaders of industry, and since then many have endorsed the principle of a Basic Income.

A Basic Income will cost less than many think. It will replace all benefits of equivalent or less value and partially replace all benefits of greater value. It will significantly simplify the welfare system and save on administrative costs. Because low income people tend to spend all of the money they receive in the local economy, almost fifteen percent of money paid to people on low income will be returned to the government as GST while around another 15% will be returned through taxes on profits, income, and dividends. The remainder of the money will continue to circulate and this will return more money to the government as GST and as profit, income, and other taxes with each cycle.

A government might expect to receive 50% of the money back in two to four expenditure cycles. Estimates put the number of cycles per year as high as seven. The government, however, will not hold on to the money that it receives in taxes, it pays the money out again very quickly. Because the government returns the money it collects back into circulation as government expenditure, the government can collect one hundred percent of the original money it spent back through taxes in just 4 cycles, or in about six months. The original amount of money the government put into circulation will remain in circulation at a constant level as it is constantly topped up by government expenditure.

A government might expect to receive 50% of the money back in two to four expenditure cycles. Estimates put the number of cycles per year as high as seven. The government, however, will not hold on to the money that it receives in taxes, it pays the money out again very quickly. Because the government returns the money it collects back into circulation as government expenditure, the government can collect one hundred percent of the original money it spent back through taxes in just 4 cycles, or in about six months. The original amount of money the government put into circulation will remain in circulation at a constant level as it is constantly topped up by government expenditure.

Businesses cannot thrive when those on low incomes have insufficient income to purchase goods and services. Low income people need money, and they spend most of the money they receive as a matter of necessity. This keeps the local economy moving and increases the velocity of money, the speed with which money circulates in the economy, while boosting and stabilising the economy. In contrast, while those on higher incomes spend money in the local economy they also tend to accumulate a larger percentage of their money or spend the money on overseas trips or purchases slowing the circulation of money and shrinking the local economy. The higher the velocity of money, the quicker it circulates, the greater the total taxes government will receive in a year, and the more the government can pay out.

Money spent by the government continues to circulate and generates economic activity that exceeds the original money spent by the government. The ratio of a change in national income to the change in government spending that causes it is known as “the fiscal multiplier”. For every extra dollar going into the pockets of low-wage workers, economic multiplier models tell us that about $1.21 is added to the national economy, while for every extra dollar going into the pockets of high-income earners, only about 39 cents is added to the GDP. Similarly, government spending in social protection and health not only improves public health, but can also benefit the economy. For every $1.00 of public investment there is a return of $1.60.

We can now say that trickle up works, but trickle down was no more than a myth. Trickle down just does not work. More money circulating among those on low incomes increases the velocity of money, boosts the economy, generating employment, profits and dividends, while increasing GST, income tax, and taxes on profits & dividends. In contrast, tax cuts that always tend to benefit those on higher incomes more in absolute dollars than those on lower incomes are generally accompanied by limitations on government expenditure and result in a reduction in economic activity and a reduction in government tax income that exceeds the original tax cuts. Economic contraction is a result.

Trials of basic income schemes indicate that they have many worthwhile social impacts, including better health outcomes and lower crime rates. The benefits include the elimination of poverty traps, encouraging people to enter the workforce; the de-stigmatising of those who are not in full time employment; simplification of the welfare system and the reduction of administration costs; increased school attendances; reduction of child poverty; and many other benefits.

Speaking on National radio on the 22 June 2017, Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw said that a Basic Income eliminates all the costs around delivering a welfare system, which can be really expensive. Currently $280 million is spent each year to assess and collect overpaid benefits that occur because people receiving benefits often cannot predict in advance the hours of work they will be offered so the correct abatement of their benefits cannot be applied. Welfare, she said, can be extremely dehumanising. Basic Income is a positive approach rather than a deficit approach. She said that she liked to think of it as a providing a trampoline to bounce off rather than a net to fall into. She added that in New Zealand there is a lot of unpaid work, last estimated at $40 billion in 2009 by Statistics NZ. Basic Income gives some recognition to this unpaid work.

With a Basic Income, work participation is encouraged and work increases. Because people are allowed to keep the extra income they earn, poverty traps are removed and high marginal tax rates and high abatement rates are eliminated. Trials indicate that more people move into work than move out and those who do move out of work tend to be mothers of young children and those pursuing additional education. When people do move out of work it creates vacancies for those seeking work. As more people move into work, drug usage and crime reduce, and health levels improve.

TO BE CONTINUED in December newsletter