Basic Income: a regular income everyone can live on

Posted on Posted in Economics, Finance

piggy-bank-1510552_1920What if we (the taxpayers) paid everyone a regular income they can live on, not based on any conditions? No tests or proof that you need it.   No conditions attached.

Many argue that basic income will reduce poverty.  Poverty is a complex issue and basic income alone cannot address it, however it has a role in reducing.  There are many reasons why basic income is appealing.

The nature of work has changed. People work and still don’t have enough money to live on – in work poverty has risen over the last decade.  We need to increase people’s incomes (the living wage is one way of doing this) and also plan for a future workforce that is increasingly automated.

The access economy (it’s not the sharing economy as many want us to believe) offers challenges.  Uber, Airbnb, etc. offer flexibility, part-time work, and low entry points, changing our idea of what a job is and the contract that goes with it.  This type of economy is only going to grow and while it will work for some people, it won’t provide an adequate income to live on for most people.

The welfare state has become increasingly complex, bureaucratic, and intrusive. We have a coercive, humiliating and arbitrary sanctioning system that can lead to death.

guitar-1583461_1920Critics of basic income often say that people will stop working.  However, it doesn’t seem to stop rich people or those who inherit wealth from working.   Also, there are many forms of “work” that add value to our society, such as creativity work, volunteer work, care work and housework.  We should not conflate work with working for money.

Income can be interpreted and implemented in different ways.  Here  the RSA provide a more detailed outline of how basic income could work in the UK and what would make it politically acceptable.

Finland is considering an experiment that will take place in 2017 and likely to involve 5,000 to 10,000 Finns being paid a basic income of €500 to €700 a month.

While I like basic income as an idea, it’s a temporary alternative.  For the idea to fully work, it would need to be an economic human right for every person in the world.  Basic income would also need to be combined with free/affordable healthcare and education.  However, giving everyone enough money to live on does not address social justice, environmental and economic exploitation. Certain kinds of goods have to be created collectively in ways that basic income can’t accomplish and might even undermine.

Most importantly, the underlying assumption is that capitalism is an appropriate system for human society.  Future economic systems need to be different to address all our needs and not destroy the plant.

What can I do?

  •  Check out the peer-reviewed journal looking at the concept  of basic income
  • Join Basic Income UK  to promote the ideas