Saturday, 17 May 2008

Basic Income


Basic Income is a visionary social security system that is UK Green Party policy (not that I’m advocating voting for them!) and David Icke wrote about it in It Doesn’t Have to Be Like This. It makes far more sense to me than any other welfare system I’ve heard of. The best thing about it is its simplicity. It works by the state paying every single citizen a certain amount of money; not a king’s ransom, just enough to live on; enough to ensure that that person will not starve or lose their home. The simplicity comes from the fact that there is no means-testing. There is no need for the army of clerical staff, city blocks of offices, security and fraud investigators, humiliating job-seekers interviews, signing-on and dole queues. The payment is set at a single, fixed rate and paid to everyone, rich and poor, able-bodied and disabled, working or not working. This means that if you have a job, you’re still getting your basic income on top of your wages; the tax money you pay to fund the scheme is one you benefit from too; so there’ll be no need to grit your teeth and tear your hair out any more over “lazy scroungers”!

The main criticism of Basic Income is that it removes the incentive to work. But as we’ve been shown time and time again, the idea that people need a whip-cracking negative incentive to work is a myth. It’s a myth very widely-held in Britain unfortunately and is promoted by much respected political figures and some of our best-selling newspapers. Look at the statistics: During the recession of the1980’s unemployment rose to over 3 million, yet after that recession, in the late 90’s, it fell to less that 500,000. Why do people suddenly and mysteriously stop being lazy during boom-times, Margaret Thatcher? I moan about having to go to work sometimes, but last year, when I was off sick for several weeks, I couldn’t wait to get back! And, if you check out my article on Workers’ Cooperatives you’ll understand that if unemployment can be as low as half a million under the current global corporate system, imagine how low it could get in the future when we bring in Workers’ Coops!: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2007/09/workers-cooperatives.html

Basic Income is the welfare state of kindness, insight and common sense. It is sadly not in force on a large scale today. There are several local versions in Namibia and Alaska has a form of Basic Income linked to oil profits. I hope a time will come when it is used all over the world. But hopefully a time will come when even it is not needed! In a way, social security of any kind is a symptom of society’s failure; it’s a salve to prevent individual people from going under due to this failure. In an ideal world it would not be necessary. Of course the world we live in is not ideal, but it could be. There’s no point lamenting: “If only the world was a better place!” The world is our creation. If it’s in the state it’s in that’s because of what we’ve done, or haven’t done. We can make it better. It’s our choice!

Here's a website of the Basic Income proponents: http://www.etes.ucl.ac.be/BIEN/Index.html

50 comments:

wise woman said...

Good sensible points as always. It's really so very obvious isn't it - and just goes to show our world is run by idiots or dark forces.
I am absolutely sure that if we were free we would each do the things we loved & through a properly functioning human connectiveness all our needs would be met.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Thanks, WW. The very fact that people are contemplating such daring things as Basic Imncome is a sign that the "dark forces" are failing.

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Of course this is completely sensible. Same system I imagined when I was examining economics as a child.

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