28 February 2012

Hickey and the Big Kahuna

Bernard Hickey should get together with Gareth Morgan; one has the daring, heretical call for the Reserve Bank to ‘print money’ (NZ Herald Feb 26) and the other maintains, shockingly, that we should all be paid a basic income.

And why not? There is no doubt that people on the lowest incomes are struggling to make ends meet. Overcrowding, Third World diseases, crime, domestic violence – all of these are symptoms of deepening poverty. They are exacerbated by the media: seeing what you don’t have and some else does only makes your situation seem worse. Publishing the Rich List rubs salt in the wounds of poverty.

Gareth Morgan recognises that not only would families benefit from a universal basic income, but their local business communities would too. And the envy of the ‘haves’ that the ‘have-nots’ are getting a handout would disappear, because everyone will get it.

But how to pay for it? Enter the heretical Mr Hickey. He has called for the publicly owned Reserve Bank to do the job it once did and ought to do now: create the money New Zealand needs to function, without resorting to borrowing from overseas banks at interest.

This is where the plan must depart from orthodox economics: no interest should be charged on this created credit being lent to the government. In this way, while enabling all New Zealanders to live in prosperity and dignity, and collecting the resulting taxes as money changes hands and strengthens communities, an eye could be kept on inflation as loans are paid down.

Democrats for social credit call for an independent Monetary Authority to manage this exchange, and keep control of the money supply, increasing or decreasing it as needed. It is generally accepted that such responsibility is too dangerous to leave in the hands of politicians.

So, Mr. Morgan, may I introduce Mr. Hickey? I think you have a lot to discuss.

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