Sunday 6 October 2013

For a Citizen's Basic Income

I've been a fan of a basic income for everyone for some time. And now there's a European Union-wide campaign agitating for one. As Switzerland will be hosting a referendum on a 2,500 franc monthly income for every adult (about £1,720/month), there's no time like the present to whip up support for it. And pioneering work in Namibia shows it's not just something rich countries could indulge.


Robert said...

Can't see this ever taking off because of the moralistic prejudice against "something for nothing" and the work ethic, which should really be called the job ethic.

But it would certainly be a huge improvement on the benefits system we have which is designed to systematically humiliate and hurt the poor. Also a modest basic income for everyone regardless of whether they were in work would mean that people would always be better off working.

Some people are unemployable and bullying them into dead end jobs is a complete waste of time as any employer can confirm.

I could be wrong but I think some libertarians and right wingers such as Charles Murray and Tim Worstall support a basic income guarantee.

Sarah AB said...

I'm also inclined to support the idea.

Robert - I think when I looked at a breakdown of support across all parties a while back, most support was from the left but there was some from the right as well.

I remember when I posted on this at Harry's Place someone asked how this would work with people working in the UK who weren't British citizens. I'm sure many other points were raised but that is the one which sticks in my mind.

Mark Walmsley said...

A basic non-withdrawable income as a right of citizenship is a Green Party policy, for all the reasons above, but one which will be forever perceived as a Hippy’s Charter in current discourse. An intermediate step might be the “green wage subsidy” whereby those taken on by specific private sector employers in the green sector could keep their JSA, and the employer top up their wages to the going rate. The individuals and green sector as a whole get a boost and the social and economic value of this demonstrates the legitimacy of receiving both state and private income.

Clive Lord said...

'Moralistic prejudice' 'Hippies charter'?? Let me cut through the crap. A Citizens Basic Income imply gets rid of MEANS TESTING, which has the same effect as (i.e. IS) a massive tax on low incomes. The CI is FAIR because it puts everybody on the same tax footing.
See my blog
Incidentally although the Green Wage Subsidy would work in principle - no one is compelled to take a job, its complexity opens up massive scope for abuse similar to that exposed in Johnnyvoid's blog under Iain Duncan Smith's current welfare to work scheme.

Phil said...

I support the basic income for all kinds of reasons, but not least it massively strengthens the hand of working people and frees millions of people from drudgery.

Paulo Rodrigues said...

I think it is something we should aim for. I think its difficult to do it in a tax neutral way but not impossible. I think that being able to show people that it can be done without costing them more will make it more popular.

If anyone says they don't want to pay people for doing nothing you can counter that they all ready pay the idle to do nothing.

Allowing people to keep their benefits when they start work will give them more incentive to go out and work. Because even a part time job will massively increase their money.

There will be less stigma. More self employment, more power to women and a more flexible workforce. With more money in the hands of the majority there will be more money to spend on luxuries, restaurants, pubs, electronic goods. It will create more wealth for the nation and more employment.

All those armies of people investigating benefit fraud and managing the byzantine benefits system will be able to be put to use going after the estimated 15 billion in tax evasion.

All the armies of people in councils and citizens advice bureaus who advise on benefits and interface with the DWP will be able to do something far more socially useful