Thursday, 28 December 2017

Killer Arguments Against Citizen's Income, Not (12)

In a paper published on Academia.edu
Frederick Harry Pitts, Lorena Lombardozzi and Neil Warner warn that:

Basic income may not be the ideal response to automation and technological unemployment envisaged by its proponents. In fact, it risks embalming our current economy defined by low-skilled, low-paid, and unrewarding work for longer than would otherwise be the case

They support this claim by asserting that the Speenhamland System was a type of basic income and then point out how the system failed.

However, from Wiki: The authorities at Speenhamland approved a means-tested sliding-scale of wage supplements in order to mitigate the worst effects of rural poverty. Families were paid extra to top up wages to a set level according to a table. This level varied according to the number of children and the price of bread.

This is what already happens with working families tax credit. It is not what most people would agree is a system of basic income. Straw man argument, case dismissed.

6 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Nice one.

Mark Wadsworth said...

To be fair, some UBI supporters waffle on about automation and mass unemployment and say it's an argument for UBI.

To my mind it's nonsense, we've been finding easier/quicker/less labour intensive ways of doing things for millennia and magically, there is no mass unemployment, because we find new stuff to do instead.

So it's only a weak argument for UBI, but certainly not an argument against it.

Mike W said...

There are so many points that the article raises, I will pick just a few central themes from my perspective. It is of course, yet another Marxist attack on Corbyn’s Labour Party. It seems to me two groups are involved. The Tories are concerned to explain to Daily Mail readers that Corbyn is a Marxist and the Marxists are concerned to explain to Labour members that he is not.

So these Ivory Tower, revolutionaries are digging around their theory to explain Labour’s coming failure. I see even General Mason gets some stick. Of course, the real failure will be to fail to become a Centre Left, Liberal Party, of the 1910 mould not a 1970s direct action mob. But as ever, the Marxist’s don’t really read what the ‘Utopians’ actually write. The answer is already known to them. They argue that, in itself, a Universal Basic Income will not deliver the results hoped by ‘technologists’ like Mason. But even a brief scanning of Labour’s Manifesto, for example, shows that LVT and LVT Lite not just Paul Mason’s book are also key features. And like Marx himself, our Ivory Tower mob, cannot dismiss Henry George as a mere ‘utopian’ reformer. In short, UBI has never been proposed as a solution to the problems of ‘capitalism’, standing apart from the other reforms necessary. The old, ‘It’s not a silver bullet routine’?

Also, Speenhamland was an attempt, by the ‘gravediggers’ of English Feudalism, the Rentier Class, to save feudalism from the scientific, agricultural reform and early industrial processes that they themselves were also bringing into play. I agree, a big fat Marxist, history moving contradiction! For Polanyi though it is the failure of this ‘Proto Tory’ attempt, which turned this surplus labour into the labouring class that would work, not on the land, but in the new factories: the creation of the factor of production – the worker. The question is, while the Industrial Revolution stood in the wings to benefit from the final destruction of ‘Tudor England’ what revolution stands waiting behind more and more robotic, computer, automation?
I don’t know.

To be fair to the Marxists, they do have an answer, even if it is written in code:

‘Basic income may not be the ideal response to automation and technological unemployment envisaged by its proponents. In fact, it risks embalming our current economy defined by low-skilled, low-paid, and unrewarding work for longer than would otherwise be the case.’

So there you have it. What would be ‘ideal then’? It is in fact the bog standard ‘party line’ dressed up for today’s reader. As ever, they see George, Keynes, (Mason above) et al, as Liberal economists who would seek to ‘save’ capitalism from itself rather than destroy it. And what is, ‘longer than would otherwise be the case’? Well it is the long predicted revolution of course. And you don’t want to stand in the way of that do you?

DBC Reed said...

Something very dodgy about all the anti Speenhamlamd protests. Why should n't the big enclosing landowners pay for all the people that had been put off their in-common-ownership land? Why should these landowners be protesting that the relief payments would decrease wages further?Even if wages went down while relief payments went up, you can be sure the landowners, increasingly dominated by retired people who'd done well out of slavery, would n't be out of pocket.
The Poor law Amendment Act which followed, with Workhouses that split up families was truly barbarous by contrast.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, what bloody anti speenhamland protests? B merely pointed out it was a wage top up and not a UBI.

Bayard said...

"Why should n't the big enclosing landowners pay for all the people that had been put off their in-common-ownership land?"

Because the same big landowners simply reduced the wages they were paying by the amount that the labourers were getting from the Parish and came out ahead of the game.