16 June 2020

Jessica Irvine: “JobKeeper, as a public policy, is not a keeper. A policy that pays some people to do nothing is not a long-term plan, despite what advocates of a Universal Basic Income might say.” Liam Hogan, in rebuttal: “This is exactly wrong. It’s not even about creating UBI or Citizen’s Income, [i]n fact our society pays many people very well to do nothing, for good and bad reasons, and has done, without protests or disagreement, for a long time. Sometimes it’s extremely good, and deliberate. The aged pension (low as it is) is one of the great innovations of modern life, perhaps the greatest. Old people shouldn’t be working, or starving, or dependent; that’s only civilised. … Sometimes it’s bad, and we just accept the status quo. Returns on capital investment are precisely money for doing nothing; it is the money itself that has done the work, reproducing itself in the unique way that capital does. When an owner of an investment—whether that’s a bond, or a term deposit, or an inheritance, copyright on someone else’s pop song, or a rented-out house—gets their regular payment, no work has necessarily occurred, and that work that does (repairs, account fees) is incidental. … When the crisis recedes—if the crisis recedes—we will get to choose what’s a ‘keeper’ and what’s not. Who will we continue to allow to get money to do nothing?”