Inequality and crime go hand in hand. There is enough research now to make that abundantly clear. We can have more police to catch people who take what they want but will never be able to afford to buy. We can introduce harsher sentences. We can build more prisons. But we will never have a safe place to live until we address the root cause – some people have far too much and others not near enough.
Reducing inequality is not about means testing, trying to sort out who are the deserving poor worthy of a little help from the state. Reducing inequality is about universality. Reducing inequality is about giving everyone the same respect, the same access to education, healthcare, a warm dry home, a liveable income whether they are in paid work or not.
So what if some elderly people earn enough over their lifetime not to need national superannuation and some students end up in high paid jobs? Let’s talk about paying it forward, rather than spending almost as much money on determining eligibility as is given out, and creating a very unfair system that nobody likes. Creating a system that encourages us to be jealous and resentful. Always looking over our shoulders to see if somebody is getting a bit more out of the system than we are.
Let’s hear no more of charging interest on student loans, or charging students higher fees for courses that might lead to higher incomes. In fact, don’t charge students fees at all. And have a decent living allowance for all students. If Daddy’s rich, ask him to pay a higher marginal tax rate to redress the balance. Do the same for our educated high fliers once they hit the workforce.
Get rid of stand-downs for benefits, work testing, and reporting requirements. Forget about what their partner earns. Give everyone a liveable basic income without any strings attached until they find paid work. One day if we’re feeling really brave, we might see fit to give everyone a universal basic income, full stop.
Hands off national superannuation. If there are people who earn enough not to need it, let a decent top marginal tax rate take care of that. Along with those who somehow end up on an astronomical salary that bears no relation to the amount they need to live on, or the actual value of the work they do. Inequality needs to be tackled at both ends.
Pay it forward. Support each other. It is that simple. That way we will not have to spend more and more on punishment – on prisons and police. We will be able to afford state of the art healthcare and a clean green safe environment – for everyone.