Mike's Minute: Let's not lose our financial minds during this crisis

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 27 Mar 2020, 9:34AM

Mike's Minute: Let's not lose our financial minds during this crisis

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 27 Mar 2020, 9:34AM

COMMENT:

Just because times are tight, unusual, unheard of, or worrying doesn't mean we have to lose our minds.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson is reported to be considering a universal income. In a different time, about two months ago, this would have been laughed out of the room. Universal incomes don't work, they've been proven to not work. Finland tried one, it flopped, and this was only in December last year.

A universal basic income is a socialist's dream. It's about control by the state, it's about everyone being reliant on the government.

There are a million articles about Finland, or any of the others that have given it a crack, and it's a failed idea. It was money wasted, it led to no real incentive to work. Simply, all the things you'd expect to happen if you applied a logical brain.

Up to this point I had assumed we wouldn't be so stupid.

I might, sadly, be wrong. There is talk in Britain and the US of something universal. That in itself is worrying enough.

To state the obvious, or for fans of free money to give you a lesson in why it's flawed, follow this simple logic: Firstly, not everyone needs money. Given the situation we are in, whatever the Government offers needs to be efficient and targeted. And it needs to be targeted to those who need it, and it needs to be spent in areas that need it most.

Which is why I was astounded they didn't look at some sort of voucher system. Vouchers for specific areas of the economy that most need it, and are most useful.

If you give a person free money, even if they need it, do they spend it wisely? Do they spend it in areas that would most benefit? You have no control over that, so therefore there is waste.

If you give people money who don't need it, that's automatic waste given it fails to target someone in genuine need.

And given they don't need it, it could logically then be argued it doesn't get spent in a remotely useful way, if spent at all. What if they put it in savings, or pay their mortgage, or buy shares with it? Is that a sensible use of taxpayers' money? And yet again need we remind ourselves these days it's taxpayers' debt.

Does the economy, in general, need money? Yes, but target it.

Don't in these most of unusual days, lose your mind, and forget basic economic principles.