Basic Income

Basic Income is a major position in our anti-poverty IPA. Check there for overarching issues. For alternatives to Basic Income, see Basic Needs.

Basic Income assumes that everyone works. Some people work in their homes and communities. Some people work in the paid labour force. Our position is that we advocate 32 hour standard work week for those in the paid work force.

Basic income does not directly address the structures which enable and sustain income inequality. However, basic income is a key part of a constellation of solutions necessary to reform the social contract. It is a radical structural change in the way we distribute money to those who are poor. It is a major shift from blaming and pnishing those who have no money, to admitting that the economic structures of the society have created great poverty in this very rich country, and that we are responsible as a society to make sure everyone is included. This issue that needs to be decided is what percentage of people need to be in the aid labour force to constitute full employment.

An excellent overview

Basic Income: A Brief History

· The concept of a minimum income has been around since the early 16th century.

· A form of a minimum income, the Speenhamland system, was implemented from 1795 to 1834 in parts of England

· Basic income has been studied, discussed, and debated throughout the 20th century in Canada, the U.S., South America, Western Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries throughout the world

· Basic income has been promoted by groups from both ends of the political spectrum. Richard Nixon proposed a form of a guaranteed income program in 1969 to "…establish a floor under the income of every American family with children." The Manitoba NDP adopted a Guaranteed Annual Income resolution in 1992 that states, "Therefore Be It Resolved that as one component of an attack on poverty, the next NDP government consider instituting a guaranteed annual income plan…"

· Manitoba actually tried the concept in the 1970s. The Manitoba Basic Annual Income Experiment (Mincome) made payments to over 1,000 Manitoba families over three years, beginning in 1975.

· A guaranteed minimum income for people 65 and older already exists in Canada - a Basic Income program would extend the concept to all other Canadians

Basic Income: A universal demogrant

The GPC should impliment a "basic income" as a universal demogrant (income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis). It will replace all other forms of income support. Some examples of these include welfare, the child tax credit, GST rebates, and Employment Insurance.

Basic Income differs from other traditional forms of financial support in three key ways:

· It is given to individuals;

· It is given even when the individual has other sources of income;

· It is given without requiring the performance of any paid work.

To pay for a universal basic income, the current extensive (and very expensive) means-based financial assistance systems and bureaucracies would be eliminated. (See basic income - financial)

There are many different ways to implement basic income (see models for basic income). The actual amounts paid to individuals would need to be set through political debate.

In the past the Party has proposed that the GAI would be indexed to incomes using a formula that works something like this: The GAI would pay half the difference between the goal income and someone's actual income. So if for example if the goal income for a single adult is $15000 and you had no other income you would receive $7500 in GAI but if you made $10000 a year you would receive $2500 for a total of $12500.

As part of the Basic Income proposal, the minimum wage should be standardized across the country so that a person working a reasonable full time position (40 hours per week) should be able to provide the necessities listed above. In other words, the minimum wage annual income be equal to, or greater than, the basic income, so that a working person would have a higher income, discouraging those who were "lazy" to take advantage of the system.

Argument: Basic Income and Ten Key Values

A policy of basic income rejects the assumption that people are fundamentally lazy, and will choose a life of self-destructive behaviour.

It affirms the value of each individual, independent of their 'productive value' to society, and ensures they will have the tools to make healthy and sustainable choices.

The Green Party's Ten Key Values include social justice and community-based economics, which are well served by ensuring everyone has the resources to participate fully in their community, regardless of their value on the labour market.

Argument: In favor of the universal demogrant

Basic Income operates on the premise that people need resources, opportunities, and hope. Recognizing that "job-saving" technologies that can spur economic growth and increase efficiency requires breaking the traditional relationship between income and work.

Robert Theobald argued:

With machines doing more and more of the work, human beings would need to be guaranteed an income, independent of employment in the formal economy, if they were to survive and the economy were to generate adequate purchasing power to buy the goods and services being produced. He wrote, "For me, therefore, the guaranteed income represents the possibility of putting into effect the fundamental philosophical belief which has recurred consistently in human history, that each individual has a right to a minimal share in the production of society.

Milton Friedman also favoured a guaranteed income to the poor so that they could make their own personal consumption decisions in the free market, unencumbered by the dictates of bureaucrats."

(from Notes on the End of Work by Jeremy Rifkin)

According to Marc Davidson: "Only the introduction of a basic income can restore a basic liberal right that has being violated for many centuries: 'the right to an equal share of environmental utilization space."

Argument: Basic Income and Green Economics

from here:

In 1796 Thomas Paine published the pamphlet Agrarian Justice, in which he denounced the unequal distribution of land ownership. According to Paine, with the introduction of the system of individual land ownership people were deprived of the natural right to make free use of the earth. What he proposed was to compensate this original right. Paine suggested that every owner of land should pay rent to a collective fund and that every member of the population should receive unconditionally from the state an equal share of this fund.

To translate Paine's idea to the issues at stake at present requires a shift of focus from land ownership to use of the environment. Instead of rent in exchange for land we then arrive at rent in exchange for use of the environment. From the liberal heritage it then follows directly that everyone who makes use of the environment and in doing so generates income should pay accordingly. The level of this 'environmental rent' should be such that there is as much demand for environmental utilization space as there is available. If the revenues from this 'environmental rent' is then distributed equally among the community, a basic income comes into being that is exactly sufficient to give everyone the opportunity to rent an equal part of the environmental utilization space.

Basic Income: Economic Security for All Canadians, S. Lerner, C.M.A. Clark, W.R. Needham, Beween the Lines, Toronto