Monday, 14 December 2015

Reader's Letter Of The Day

From The Guardian:

Declan Gaffney (Even in Finland, universal basic income is too good to be true, 10 December)* is right: a universal basic income, or citizen’s income – an unconditional income for every individual citizen – is a lovely idea. It would provide a secure financial floor on which everyone could build; it would make it easier for people to earn their way out of poverty; it would remove intrusive government bureaucracy from a lot of people’s lives; it would enhance social cohesion.

There are 101 Reasons for a Citizen’s Income (if anyone is in any doubt about that, then the Policy Press will gladly sell them a book with that title). And yes, a citizen’s income is a useful thought experiment against which to judge proposed changes to the benefits system. But it’s more than that. It really is feasible. Research results published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research show that there are at least two practical ways to implement a citizen’s income and that one of those methods could implement it very quickly: which could be helpful if universal credit proves impossible to implement.

The high-profile new elements in the debate are the Finnish and Utrecht pilot projects, and the Swiss referendum next year. Equally important is the number of UK thinktanks now running their own research projects. The Adam Smith Institute has recently published a paper on a variant, negative income tax; and Compass, the Fabian Society, and Royal Society of Arts are researching the feasibility. The debate on citizen’s income has shifted from being a debate about its desirability to being one about its feasibility. The next stage might be a debate about how to implement it in the UK before everyone else beats us to it.

Dr Malcolm Torry, Director, Citizen’s Income Trust

* The article itself was the usual hatchet job by an authoritarian socialist.


Bayard said...

"The article itself was the usual hatchet job by an authoritarian socialist"

I would imagine that socialists would hate the idea of CI. What, have the poor look after themselves? Anathema! Everyone, and especially the poor, should have their lives run by the State.

Ben Jamin' said...

Come on, we love to see other people jump through hoops, and find that the idea of benefit scroungers fits in very nicely with our misanthropic views.

The CI will therefore never squeeze through the narrow minded "Mail Test".

I'm just not sure we like each other enough to have a LVT/CI, even if the benefits to us are perfectly clear.

BTW, Dr Torry is a top geezer.

Random said...

I have a big problem with these 'trials.' I was looking at one and what they mainly forgot is that it was only in small sections of Manitoba, not Canada as a whole. The Finnish one has small sections of Finland compared to the Eurozone. When you have a 'slave class' outside the BI area locked to you with a fixed exchange rate then you can offset the production loss with imports.

And almost all of the 'benefits' come from bringing areas income circulation up to the sustainable minimum, and the things never run long enough for people to start optimising their behaviour (as has happened with UK tax credits) - or for resentment to build up to the level where political agitation happens to remove the income (as has happened with Child benefit, basically small BI for a child.)

Random said...

I’ve often thought that the Job Guarantee may very well be brought in by a political party that serves the smaller business community (what in the UK would be called classically Liberal), since it ensures that demand stays up for business and keeps the business riffraff from undercutting quality operations. It also incubates business startups and ensures that work skills stay current.

It ought to be brought in by Progressive left of centre politics, but they seem to be struggling with the concept of people having to work for a living or that people might actually want to live with people like themselves in a nation.

It’s almost like the natural reciprocation and tribalism of humans can be dismissed if you just find the right equation.

Mark Wadsworth said...

R, a CI provably works far better than the existing welfare system, if only because a) it is far cheaper to run and less prone to fraud and b) marginal withdrawal rates are far lower than existing benefits ergo people more likely to look for work even if low paid. End of. The only real argument is how high it should be and whether funded out of income tax or LVT.

I take your point about resentment though.