Friday, 15 July 2016

Another hatchet job on Citizen's income

From the BBC:

Why are so many on the left now arguing that the state should pay everyone a universal basic income?

Imagine this. You can sit back, relax, turn on the telly, put your feet up. And the government will pay you for it without any of that tedious job-seeking and signing on business.

It sounds like a fantasy. But it's an only slightly exaggerated version of the big idea animating many on the left of British politics, and which has just been adopted by Unite, the country's biggest trade union...

It's not a "slightly exaggerated version" it is a crass misrepresentation. No serious proponent would set the CI rate at anything much higher than current unemployment benefit (i.e. £ not much per week).

We know that most people are prepared to waive their dole money in exchange for a wage and some people on the dole decide that the extra they could earn is not worth the hassle. With a CI, those in work would continue working, and some of those currently on the dole would start working as they would not be penalised by losing their dole money. For the no-hopers, not much changes. Simples.

And there are other objections. Labour MP Jon Cruddas sees the embrace of universal basic income as "absolutely deadly" for his party.

"Part of the thing about the basic income is that it assumes that the working class will disappear, right?" he asks. "Now if you disrespect them to that degree, is it any wonder that they'll go walkabout?"

Mr Cruddas warns that a left-wing embrace of the policy would constitute an electoral gift to UKIP, dismissing it as "a form of futurology which owes more to Arthur C Clarke than it does to Karl Marx".

"It imports a sort of passive citizenship with no sense of contribution. It doesn't contest the sphere of production, and it just retreats into a hyper-consumption."

None of that makes any sense, it's just Westminster bubble-speak. Nobody "assumes that the working class will disappear". And WTF does "contest the sphere of production" or "retreat into hyper-consumption" mean? A small weekly payment towards the cost of basic essentials for the lowest paid and a modest tax rebate for those in work is hardly fuelling "hyper-consumption"... right?

And the CI idea was in UKIP's 2010 manifesto, I know because I wrote it myself and even did a ten minute speech at a UKIP conference which was received far more warmly than I would have expected. I bet it disappeared long ago though.


Mark In Mayenne said...

Personally I think that CI is a good idea, defensible on many levels.

Antisthenes said...

One day it will indeed be necessary for everyone to have a guaranteed income if like me you believe that at some future point robots and AI will provide all the goods and service that humans need without human intervention. So Luddites do no despair technology may do you out of a job but it will make you as rich as Croesus.

Lola said...

A. Well yes. Precisely. It'd be a form of reverse LVT as we all benefit from the investment made that permits us all to do bugger all.

Bayard said...

I call this sort of argument "greener than it's wide" (Google "greener than it's wide" to see why). Basically it consists of taking a statement, then saying that statement assumes another statement, then disproving the second statement without demonstrating how the two statements have to be linked beyond the bald assertion that they are.

Mike W said...

"Part of the thing about the basic income is that it assumes that the working class will disappear, right?" he asks. "Now if you disrespect them to that degree, is it any wonder that they'll go walkabout?"

Well Mr Crudass,
Let us know about your contribution to the 'Underclass' debate and then wonder where they all went under your/Brown's watch.

Perhaps citizens, backed by an modest income, would feel able to participate in the civic life of their cities, change politics and campaign in a manner hitherto only the privilege of the secure wealthy.
The poverty of his imagination stuns me.

Derek said...

I have been answering these attacks with the point that if CI is such a Bad Thing then its attackers must think that its reverse, a poll tax, would be a Good Thing.

Mark Wadsworth said...

MIM, ta.

A, I am not sure that day will ever arrive or whether it is a justification for a CI (or any other form of welfare).

L, yes.

B, I'll remember that one.

MW, agreed.

D, excellent point, but there are a few miserable sods who still think the Poll Tax is a good idea.