Basic income

A very British disease

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/06/2018 - 3:35am in

The desire to judge people's motives rather than addressing their needs is a “British disease”. We have been suffering from it for hundreds of years, cycling endlessly through repeated cycles of generosity and harshness. Each cycle ends in public outrage and an abrupt reversal: but the memory eventually fades, and the disease reappears in a new form. In this post, I outline the tragic history of Britain's repeated attempts to "categorise the poor".

For centuries, successive British social systems have recognised that there are people who cannot work, whether because they are too young, too old, too ill or too infirm. These people need to be provided for by others – in the first instance families, but where family support networks break down, support must be provided by the wider community.

And for centuries, successive British social systems have also recognised the existence of people who are perfectly capable of working but are not doing so. Most of these people are unemployed due to economic circumstances. But a small minority are not working because they don't want to. And an even smaller minority pretend to be ill, infirm or unfortunate in order to claim benefits, often while working on the sly.

In mediaeval times, most social support was provided by the Church, through the monasteries and the parishes. But after the dissolution of the monasteries, far more of this responsibility fell on the parishes. Welfare provision in Tudor times became patchy and inconsistent – good in some places, less good in others. Eventually, the Poor Laws of 1601 recognised and codified “good practice” in the care of those who could not provide for themselves. Poorhouses were established, in which the old, ill and infirm were cared for, and orphanages were created to house, feed and educate children.It all sounds very civilised.

But there was a darker side. People who were physically unable to provide for themselves were not the only people without work in Tudor times. Unemployment was already high at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, and it was accompanied by persistently high inflation. A growing number of able-bodied people were either not working or not earning enough to support themselves.

There had been a history of vagrancy in England ever since the Black Death. Once feudal ties were loosened by the shortage of able-bodied workers, some people got into the habit of moving from place to place looking for the best-paid work. The first law controlling wages and restricting movement of labour appeared in 1349 and was reinforcedin 1351. But these were poorly enforced and ineffective. And they did not address the growing number of “sturdy beggars” travelling from place to place, supporting themselves with a mixture of casual work, petty crime and begging.

Such itinerant workers were regarded with fear and suspicion, much as modern-day “travellers” are. The first law outlawing “wandering” appeared in 1388. Initially the punishment amounted to public humiliation: the offender was to be put in the stocks until he could persuade someone to pay for him to return to his “hundred”.

Yet many wanderers were repeat offenders: as fast as they were sent back to their hundreds, they left again. There is little doubt that to start with, many were simply migrating around the country in search of better-paid work, while others were professional beggars (and in the case of women, prostitutes) who knew they could make more money in a place where they were not known – rather like today's homeless man in a doorway, accompanied by obligatory dog, who takes the Tube back to his flat in Mill Hill at the end of a successful day's begging*. But once unemployment started to rise in Tudor times, their ranks were swelled by men, women and children who were genuinely unable to find steady work.

The trouble was that no-one distinguished between the genuinely unemployed and the professional vagrants. Punishments for vagrancy became increasingly harsh: in 1530, the Vagabonds Act licensed begging by the old and infirm, but provided for any able-bodied person found wandering outside their hundred to be “whipped until bloody” then forcibly returned to their hundred and compelled to work. The only people excused from this were heavily pregnant women and children under seven.

The legislation was strengthened in 1536, when provision was made for mutilation, imprisonment or execution of repeat offenders. And in 1547, a law was passed allowing for enslavement of vagrants. These laws proved too much for the magistrates: neither law was ever enforced. The 1547 law was repealed in 1550, and the death penalty for vagrancy was abolished in 1597. Imprisonment was as far as magistrates would go. Thus were born the first “workhouses”.

They weren't called workhouses at that time. They were known as “houses of correction”. The idea was that “sturdy beggars” were choosing not to work and therefore had a bad work ethic, which needed to be “corrected”. This was done by imposing hard physical work and a spartan regime.

The Poor Laws codified this distinction. Poorhouses were for the “deserving poor” - those who, through no fault of their own, were incapable of working. “Houses of correction” were for the “undeserving poor” - those who were perfectly capable of working but were choosing not to do so.. But not many of the unemployed actually ended up in houses of correction. Belatedly, Poor Law legislators realised that unemployment was not necessarily wilful, and so chose to support the majority of unemployed with “outdoor relief”, or what we would now call unemployment benefit.

“Outdoor relief” was originally introduced to support agricultural labourers suffering seasonal unemployment. Usually it involved some form of workfare, which was supposed to be socially useful but unfortunately included such beneficial activities as parking the unemployed on benches and leaving them there all day. Finding useful work for the unemployed to do was not always easy for parish administrators in times of high unemployment: modern proponents of a countercyclical job guarantee system might like to take note. They also faced the problem known as “hysteresis”, where the skills of the unemployed degenerate over time.

All manner of creative solutions to the twin problems of unemployment and hysteresis were adopted. The so-called “labour rate” was a property tax specifically used to fund the employment of agricultural labourers. The “roundsman” system was a job guarantee system funded by parishes to ensure that all agricultural labourers were productively employed: it depressed wages, but at least it kept people busy. Philanthropists, too, did their bit to relieve unemployment: one clergyman with more money than sense even built a completely useless tower near Rothbury, Northumberland, purely to keep local stonemasons occupied. And the Speenhamland system of income support attempted to ensure that periods of unemployment and under-employment coupled with high inflation did not leave families struggling to afford bread.

The Poor Laws were in many ways a benevolent institution, reversing the harshness of Tudor times. But the cost of all this assistance grew higher and higher as the population increased in the Industrial Revolution, raising concerns about its affordability. And there was a growing belief that supporting people with benefits destroyed people's incentive to work and was therefore a bad idea from both an economic and, more importantly, moral point of view. Rather than discouraging work with benefits, therefore, people should be compelled to work, if necessary with the threat of starvation.

Driven by both moral and economic concerns, the Old Poor Laws were replaced in 1834with a new systemdesigned to ensure that people took responsibility for providing for themselves and their families. No more were parishes to provide unemployment benefits or income support (although in practice many continued to do so). No longer was there to be any attempt to distinguish between those who would not work and those who could not. Poorhouses and houses of correction merged to create a single institution – the workhouse. And into the workhouse went the old, the ill, the infirm, widows, orphans, the unemployed and their families.

Conditions in workhouses were deliberately harsh. It was believed that “work should pay”, and therefore workhouses should be a last resort for the desperate. Work itself was believed to be virtuous. So workhouses provided just that – work. Hours and hours of it. Pointless, boring, demeaning work such as breaking stones, picking oakum or – stupidest of all – walking a treadmill. The regime was harsh, food was basic and there was no leisure time. You were not in a workhouse to enjoy yourself. Nor were you there to be cared for if you were incapable of work: the old concept of the benevolent poorhouse had gone. Everyone, old, young, ill, infirm, widows and unemployed, were subject to the same regime. Regardless of the circumstances, you were in a workhouse because you had committed the crime of worklessness. There were no mitigating factors.

Because it was believed that worklessness was caused by moral defect, steps were taken to prevent such moral degeneracy from spreading. People who entered workhouses often died there. Children were separated from their parents, often never to see them again. And husbands and wives were separated, usually permanently.

And yet, for all their harshness, Victorian workhouses had benefits. They provided basic healthcare and education, which many people “on the outside” could not afford. This rudimentary safety net made them particularly attractive to the old and those with children. Because of this, they failed in their basic aim, which was to force everyone to support themselves.

The Victorian period was a time of bizarre contradictions: of appalling cruelty inflicted with the best of motives, and of real social improvements coupled with grinding poverty for far too many. The foundation of the modern welfare state was laid during that time, as campaigners and politicians genuinely concerned about the hardships of the poor enacted legislation to improve their lot.

But the moral beliefs that drove both the harsh treatment of vagrants in the 16th century and the unintended cruelty of the Victorian workhouse system persist to this day.

The idea that “work must pay” encourages politicians to make claiming benefits extremely difficult for the unemployed and – more worryingly – for those who are unable to work due to illness or infirmity, just as in Victorian times, workhouse conditions were made deliberately harsh to discourage people from entering them.

Politicians castigate “generational worklessness”, promoting the idea that a tendency to worklessness is somehow inherited, passed on from parents to children. It was this idea that led to the brutal separation of families in the workhouses.

Above all, there remains a strong belief in the moral virtue of work. Work is indeed important for human dignity, so making it possible for people to work is important: but in what way mind-numbingly boring, pointless and demeaning work is dignifying and virtuous is hard to imagine. Nonetheless, the idea that people should be forced to do basic work to “earn” their benefits – even if their time might be better spent looking for a job that actually uses their skills - is electorally popular.

Underlying this lies the unwarranted assumption that all jobs are intrinsically of value and therefore anyone who turns down work because it is poorly paid, socially useless and utterly boring is lazy. It was this idea that led to workhouse inmates being forced to work long hours in dreary, pointless jobs. Today, we impose benefit sanctions on people who turn down the dreary, pointless jobs we assign to them in the name of “work experience”. Giving it a different name doesn't change its nature. It's the workhouse work ethic all over again.

It is perhaps understandable that we feel angry when we see people we think should be working but aren't. And it is also understandable that when times are hard, we resent paying benefits to those we feel don't deserve them. I suppose the anger that we feel towards those we regard as “scroungers” and “shirkers” will never go away. But categorising the poor is not only difficult – it is harmful, not to the shirkers and scroungers, but to the genuinely deserving. And it is also economically damaging for society as a whole.

Compelling people to work depresses wages for everyone. Harsh treatment of the workless enables employers to bid down wages to the floor in the certain knowledge that people will accept any work, at any price, rather than face the consequences. In Victorian times, fear of the workhouse depressed wages on the outside, forcing workhouses to respond by making conditions inside even worse. There was a race to the bottom in grimness which culminated in the famous Andover workhouse case, where starving inmates were reduced to eating the bones they had been assigned to grind down to make fertilizer. Today, we withdraw unemployment benefits from people who refuse even unpaid “work”. Is it any wonder that real unskilled wages have been falling?

Falling wages mean reduced demand in the domestic economy and lower tax revenues. If there are in-work benefits, falling wages also mean higher benefit bills. The “roundsman” system resulted in unsustainable benefit bills, as employers under-employed at market rates in the knowledge that they could pay less for the “reserve army” of unemployed labourers auctioned off by the parishes. These days, we prevent Dutch auctions in unskilled labour by imposing minimum wages. Ostensibly, this is to “make work pay”: but as benefit withdrawal for people on minimum wages can mean marginal tax rates of 100% or more, work at the minimum wage may not actually pay at all, though it does limit the benefit bills. But we haven't addressed the root cause of the problem: because we still subscribe to Victorian ideas that people will prefer to live on benefits than work to improve their lot, we are still – nearly two hundred years later – trying to compel people to work. The result is spiralling regulation and intervention in labour markets to limit the race to the bottom that such compulsion causes. We have learned nothing from our history.

But worst of all, using rules and sanctions to compel the genuinely work-shy to work diverts attention and resources away from those who really need help. And it unfairly stigmatises the vast majority of those who are not working, or who are not working as many hours as we think they should, whether through unemployment, sickness or disability. Study after study has shown that in general, people want to work. The problem is that suitable jobs aren't always available. And yet there remains a prevalent view, even among people who should know better, that people must be compelled to work, or to work harder, with harsh treatment. But today's sanctions for those who won't or can't work are mild compared to the punishments of old: why should they be any more successful? We would do better to concentrate our attention on helping those who genuinely want to work to find fulfilling, productive and well-paid jobs.

And we should also stop trying to decide whether someone “deserves” social support. We have been trying to distinguish between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor for eight hundred years, and we are no better able to make that judgement now than we were in the fourteenth century, or the sixteenth, or the nineteenth.

It is time to give up this fruitless attempt to judge people's motives. Simply provide everyone with a basic income so that they can afford to live, then let them get on with whatever they want to do.


Related reading:

Rolling out Universal Credit - National Audit Office
Productivity and Employment - Coppola Comment

* I do not mean to suggest that all homeless beggars in London are frauds. But we should recognise that professional begging exists today just as it did in the fourteenth century. Some things never change.

Image is The Andover Bastille, a cartoon from the time of the Andover case. Courtesy of Wikipedia

This post was originally published on PieriaView in 2014, under the title "Categorising the Poor". 

United States: Andrew Yang is running for President in 2020 on the platform of Universal Basic Income

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 08/04/2018 - 4:00pm in


News, Basic income

Andrew Yang is a young entrepreneur who is running for president on the platform of Basic Income. As an entrepreneur, he started and led several technology and education companies. More recently he founded Venture for America, “a nonprofit that places top graduates in startups in emerging U.S. cities to generate job growth and train the next generation of entrepreneurs.” Because

The post United States: Andrew Yang is running for President in 2020 on the platform of Universal Basic Income appeared first on BIEN.

New Book on Universal Basic Income

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 31/03/2018 - 11:44pm in

A new book on universal basic income (UBI) will include a contribution from Brian Eno, the well-known musician and composer who has collaborated with artists such as David Bowie, U2, and Damon Albarn. The book, It’s Basic Income, is a collection of essays from a variety of contributors, including Eno, who argues that UBI will “nurture and support creativity”, according

The post New Book on Universal Basic Income appeared first on BIEN.

Erik Olin Wright, Unconditional Basic Income: Progressive Potentials and Neoliberal Traps

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/03/2018 - 6:00pm in


Blog, Basic income

Erik Olin Wright, Unconditional Basic Income: Progressive Potentials and Neoliberal Traps

Within Envisioning Real Utopias, Erik Olin Wright argues that a social economy could be promoted if the state, through its capacity to tax, provided funding for socially organised non-market production and that the institution of an unconditional basic income could be one such policy. By partially delinking income from employment earnings, an unconditional basic income would enable voluntary associations of all sorts to create new forms of meaningful and productive work in the social economy. The result would be economic democracy by creating conditions of social power, organised through civil society to establish social empowerment.

In his return to the Department of Political Economy and the University of Sydney, as an Honorary Professor, Erik Olin Wright revisits and further develops these arguments with crucial import for economic policy and envisioning anti-capitalism in and beyond Australia.

A recording of his presentation is available, here:


Venue: New Law Lecture Theatre 104, Eastern Avenue

Date: Thursday 29 March 4:00 – 5:30 pm

The post Erik Olin Wright, Unconditional Basic Income: Progressive Potentials and Neoliberal Traps appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

LSE Festival Beveridge 2.0 Preview: ‘Why We Need a Citizen’s Basic Income: A New Edition or a New Book?’ by Malcolm Torry

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/02/2018 - 10:46pm in


Basic income

75 years after the publication of the Beveridge report, LSE Festival Beveridge 2.0 (Mon 19 Feb – Sat 24 Feb 2018) offers a week of public engagement activities exploring the ‘Five Giants’ identified by Beveridge in a global 21st-century context. Tickets to all the events, which are free and open to all, can be booked here.

On Tuesday 20 February 2018, LSE are hosting a ‘Citizen’s Basic Income Day’, including an LSE Festival evening event, Beveridge Rebooted: A Basic Income for Every Citizen?’. Ahead of the discussion, panellist Dr Malcolm Torry discusses his forthcoming new book on the topic, Why We Need a Citizen’s Basic Income, and how it builds on his previous works, including Money for Everyone: Why We Need a Citizen’s Income. 

LSE Festival Beveridge 2.0 Preview: ‘Why We Need a Citizen’s Basic Income: A New Edition or a New Book?’ by Malcolm Torry

Why We Need a Citizen’s Basic Income will be published on 1 May 2018. It can be pre-ordered now from Policy Press.

A Citizen’s Basic Income (sometimes called a Basic Income, a Citizen’s Income or a Universal Basic Income) is an unconditional and nonwithdrawable income for every individual. Everyone of the same age would receive the same amount, every week or every month, no matter what their income, wealth, employment status, household structure, etc. Children would receive less, younger adults might receive less than working-age adults and older people might receive more; the amounts paid would be uprated each year, but otherwise the amount would never change. The payment would begin at birth, and it would cease at death.

Ever since the late eighteenth century, and possibly before that, this idea has emerged into public consciousness and then disappeared into obscurity. A brief flurry of activity 35 years ago prompted a small group of us to form the Basic Income Research Group – now the Citizen’s Basic Income Trust – and then the Basic Income European Network (BIEN: now the Basic Income Earth Network) to promote research and debate, so that the idea wouldn’t disappear entirely, and so that the next time there was an upswing in interest, there would be expertise and literature available to facilitate an intelligent discussion.

By 2011 no book-length general introduction to Citizen’s Basic Income had been published for twenty years, so I wrote Money for Everyone: Why We Need a Citizen’s Income (Policy Press, 2013). We decided to put detailed research results in an online appendix because we believed that the figures would go out of date much faster than the book. We were wrong. The figures for a feasible Citizen’s Basic Income scheme haven’t changed very much, but the debate has.

In response to demand for a shorter introduction to the topic, I subsequently published 101 Reasons for a Citizen’s Income (Policy Press, 2015); and then, in 2016, Policy Press suggested that a new edition of Money for Everyone might be required. I agreed, so set about updating the book. I quickly realised that the whole of Money for Everyone would have to be rewritten.

Image Credit: (Generation Grundeinkommen CC BY 2.0)

Money for Everyone was written to facilitate the debate as it was six or seven years ago, and it answered the question: ‘would a Citizen’s Basic Income be a good idea?’ There were chapters on the history of the UK’s benefits system and of Citizen’s Basic Income. Further chapters compared the UK’s current system and one based on a Citizen’s Basic Income in relation to administration, employment incentives, household structure, efficiency and dignity. I then asked whether people would still seek employment, and decided that many people would be more likely to do so than they are now because a Citizen’s Basic Income would not be withdrawn as earnings rose, whereas means-tested benefits are. Another chapter asked whether a Citizen’s Basic Income would reduce poverty and inequality (in general yes, but the answer depends to some extent on the tax and benefits changes that would accompany the implementation of a Citizen’s Basic Income). The following sections were about citizenship and who should receive a Citizen’s Basic Income; whether the country could afford a Citizen’s Basic Income; and whether the idea cohered with a variety of political ideologies. The final two chapters were about alternatives to Citizen’s Basic Income, and about the social problems that a Citizen’s Basic Income would not solve.

By 2016 the question ‘would a Citizen’s Basic Income be a good idea?’ was still being asked, but two other questions were if anything more prominent: would a Citizen’s Basic Income be feasible? And how would it be implemented?

In 2014 I had been asked to write an entire book on feasibility: The Feasibility of Citizen’s Income (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). This listed seven different feasibilities: administrative; psychological; behavioural; political; policy process; and two kinds of financial feasibility: fiscal feasibility and household financial feasibility. In today’s financial climate we have to assume that there will be no additional public funds available, so to be feasible a Citizen’s Basic Income would have to be paid for by rearranging the current tax and benefits system. Because under those circumstances every household net income gain would imply a net income loss for another household, it would be essential to ensure that no household would experience unsustainable losses at the point of implementation, and in particular that no low income household would suffer a net loss. The book concluded that there were Citizen’s Basic Income schemes and implementation methods that could satisfy the feasibility criteria.

Given the current state of the debate, it was essential that the new edition of Money for Everyone should contain substantial amounts of material on both feasibility and implementation. In 2016 the Institute for Chartered Accountants held a consultation on the implementation of Citizen’s Basic Income and asked me to write a report. This became the basis for the chapter on implementation in the new edition. The Feasibility of Citizen’s Income became the basis for the chapter on feasibility.

It was also clear that it had been a mistake to relegate research results on a feasible illustrative scheme to an online appendix to Money for Everyone. Many of the questions that I was being asked related to affordability, net income losses for low income families, poverty and inequality indices and marginal deduction rates (the total rates at which additional earned income is reduced by taxation and benefits withdrawal). It had also become essential to include results from microsimulation research in a substantial appendix in the book itself.

And of course, much of the book needed updating and expanding. There have been more pilot projects and experiments to report on in India, Finland, Kenya, Germany, Scotland, Canada, the USA and the Netherlands, and it was now vital to include a chapter that responded to objections to Citizen’s Basic Income. With so much new material, something had to go: so no longer will the reader find a lengthy history of the UK’s benefits system or a detailed exploration of the notion of citizenship.

Because the publication is perhaps more a new book than a new edition, Policy Press has given it a new title, Why We Need a Citizen’s Basic Income (with a subtitle relating to feasibility and implementation), as well as a new cover featuring the familiar pair of wallets: a reference to Money for Everyone. If the Citizen’s Basic Income debate continues to evolve as rapidly as it is evolving now, then perhaps there will need to be another new edition in 2021.

A significant element in the continuing discussion will be the Citizen’s Basic Income day at the LSE on Tuesday 20 February as well as the LSE Festival debate in the evening, Beveridge Rebooted: A Basic Income for Every Citizen?’. The morning will bring together experts on political feasibility, funding methods and costings; the afternoon will gather speakers from pilot projects and experiments around the world. In the evening, Professors Philippe Van Parijs and John Kay will debate the motion: ‘This house believes that if the Beveridge Report were being written today then it would have recommended a Basic Income’. The answer to that question might, of course, be different from the answer to the question: ‘do we need a Citizen’s Basic Income?’

Dr. Malcolm Torry has been Director of the Citizen’s Basic Income Trust since 2001 (and was Director before that between 1988 and 1992); he is a Visiting Senior Fellow in the Social Policy Department at LSE; and he is General Manager of BIEN, The Basic Income Earth Network. He is the author of Money for Everyone: Why We Need a Citizen’s Income, 101 Reasons for a Citizen’s Income, The Feasibility of Citizen’s Income and a new edition of Money for Everyone out later this year with a new title, Why We Need a Citizen’s Basic Income. Malcolm is a priest in the Church of England, and from 1980 to 2014 served in full-time posts in South London parishes. He has written extensively on the characteristics and management of religious and faith-based organisations.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

Fully Automated Luxury Socialism: The Case for a New Public Sector

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/02/2018 - 7:15pm in

With ever more job-killing robots on the horizon, it’s time to demand a new public sphere: one that guarantees not just jobs but leisure too.

LSE RB Guide to LSE Festival Beveridge 2.0 (Mon 19 – Sat 24 February 2018)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/02/2018 - 12:00am in

75 years after the publication of the Beveridge report, LSE Festival Beveridge 2.0 offers a series of public engagement activities shining a light on the ‘Five Giants’ identified by Beveridge in a global 21st-century context. Originally described as Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness, today’s Giants are being framed for the Festival as the challenges of povertyhealth and social careeducation and skillshousing and urbanisation; and the future of work. In exploring these topics, the Festival will also consider their interconnections and the cross-cutting questions they raise. And what would you add to the list today? LSE Festival will be identifying ‘missing Giants’ that a modern-day Beveridge would prioritise instead.

Tickets for the Festival, running between Monday 19 February and Saturday 24 February 2018 and free and open to all, will be available after midday on Tuesday 6 February: further information can be found here. Before you book your tickets, check out our guide to some of the events on offer!

Interested in the challenges of poverty?

The possibility of a Citizen’s Basic Income has become a mainstream global social policy discussion. In ‘Beveridge Rebooted’, key figures on both sides of the divide will be debating whether Beveridge would have recommended a Citizen’s Basic Income if the Report were being written today. Since the wealth of the richest in society has risen dramatically since 1942, ‘The Challenge of Richness’ asks whether addressing poverty requires us to tackle extreme wealth too.  ‘Five LSE Giants’ Perspectives on Poverty’ looks at the issue of poverty through a historical lens, discussing five key reports authored or co-authored by LSE thinkers – including Beatrice Webb and Amartya Sen – that have sought to challenge inequality over the last 100 years.

Interested in the challenges of health and social care?

‘The Doctor’s Dilemma’ spends an evening discussing health service resource allocation and medical ethics, culminating in a staging of George Bernard Shaw’s titular 1906 play. A panel of academics explore the possibilities and challenges of implementing universal health coverage in the Global South. With the average life expectancy increasing from 66.7 in 1942 to 81.25 in 2017, the Festival also looks at ‘The Future of Ageing’. On Sat 24 February, the panel ‘Who Cares’ critically examines the provision of care today, complementing an exhibition on ‘Who Cares? Women, Care and Welfare’ running from 19 February – 23 March 2018.

Interested in the challenges of education and skills?

Does education, and Higher Education in particular, lead to greater happiness and social mobility or can it contribute to continued inequalities? Though one of the Giants of 1942, Ignorance was barely mentioned within the Beveridge Report. ‘Education and the Giant of Ignorance’ returns to this enduring issue, particularly looking at equality of opportunity, while Bridging the Gap’ explores how students’ backgrounds prior to entering university can have a huge impact on their destination once they graduate. ‘Is Higher Education Good for You?’ debates the fundamental role of Higher Education today – should government reduce HE funding in favour of early years education, as LSE Professor Paul Dolan will argue, or should we stand up for the continued value of a university degree with former UK Minister for Universities, David Willetts?

Interested in the challenges of housing and urbanisation?

The crucial role of social housing has been recognised following the Grenfell Tower disaster, which also laid bare the disconnect between elites and the most disadvantaged in society. In ‘Lessons from Grenfell Tower’, Danny Dorling, Lynsey Hanley and Anne Power explore the link between inequality and housing. ‘Getting Ahead of the Curve’  looks at the particular challenges facing developing countries experiencing rapid urbanisation, the pace of which is often exceeding their capacity to ensure decent, affordable housing for citizens.



Interested in the future of work?

The structure of the economy and the nature of employment have fundamentally changed in the 75 years since the Beveridge Report. ‘The Future of Work’ brings together academics from LSE’s Employment Relations and Human Resource Management Faculty Research Group to debate what Beveridge 2.0 would involve for work and how work could change in the future. ‘Our Automated Future’ looks at the question of automation and its particular impact on younger generations, asking whether it is something to be embraced or feared.


Interested in exploring further?

Featuring a video by LSE European Institute students, a panel discusses the most promising 21st-century European welfare state reforms that are tackling the five Giants today, while ‘Civil Society and the Five Giants’ looks at the vital role played by contemporary civil society actors across the globe in enabling bottom-up transformation. ‘Identity and the Welfare State’ reflects on the challenge of sustaining social solidarity, while ‘Beveridge and Voluntary Action for the 21st Century’ uses Beveridge’s lesser known Voluntary Action report as a springboard for considering the value of private action for public good. ‘The Evolution of Altruism’ returns to the 1960s theories of WD Hamilton to examine the evolutionary significance of altruism. And can literature reach audiences on the issues explored by the Giants in ways that the social sciences cannot? In ‘Writing Fiction to Dramatise Inequality’, novelist Louise Doughty, Not the Booker Prize winner Winnie M Li and LSE Professor Nicola Lacey discuss the importance of narratives that bring to life such experiences. LSE LIFE rounds off the Festival with ‘Tongue Lash’, a night of spoken word performances hosted by Poetcurious with hiphop poets from across London offering lyrical rhymes that challenge our assumptions on urban spaces, masculinities, racism and much more.

And what’s missing? 

Join the debate on the sixth Giant for the 21st century! Having polled LSE students, staff and alumni, a sixth giant will be selected from one of the following: Sustainability; Equity; Loneliness; Security; or Extremism. Which would you pick? To help you decide, on Mon 19 Feb, panellists will make a pitch for each of the potential missing Giants for Beveridge’s Sixth Giant. This will be complemented by a screening of the 2016 documentary RiverBlue, while ‘The Future of Fashion’ will explore the capacity of the industry to reduce its environmental impacts. ‘Sustainable Food and Beveridge’ looks at how to tackle the mountains of food waste in the UK. ‘Who Belongs?’ examines the challenges of developing a diverse, inclusive and equitable society. In ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?’, Paul Dolan turns his attention to loneliness and how the relationships we pursue and discard impact on social and individual wellbeing. To close the Festival, LSE Director Minouche Shafik will chair an event discussing ‘The Giants of 2020’ and the missing Giant, as voted by you, will be revealed!


Professor argues for job guarantee over basic income

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/01/2018 - 9:28am in

Philip Harvey, a professor of law at Rutgers, argues that a job guarantee could eliminate poverty for a fraction of the cost of UBI.

The post Professor argues for job guarantee over basic income appeared first on BIEN.

Thursday, 7 September 2017 - 6:21pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Thu, 07/09/2017 - 6:21pm in

I've been meaning to go through the literature on every thrust and parry in the ongoing argument between proponents of a Job Guarantee and those of a Basic Income, and put together a thorough response. That's not going to happen in the next month or so, so in case I get hit by a bus, here's two paragraphs of where I stand (or don't stand) in the debate, lifted from a comment I just posted on Neil Wilson's blog:

Basic income vs. job guarantee is a false dichotomy that ill serves anybody who takes sides. There is undoubtably some overlap in that they both aim to reduce hardship and stimulate demand, but as far as I can see they’re mostly orthogonal in the range of problems they can potentially solve. Also they’re both programs that we already run, in the sense that we (in developed sovereign currency economies) already have a labour buffer stock program — unemployment — and a basic income, set at the level of zero.

I’m totally sold on (at least my understanding of) the job guarantee as a better implementation of a labour buffer stock, but I don’t think that “with a job guarantee in place, no matter what the particular circumstances may be, anywhere and forever, no level of basic income other than zero could be justifiable” is a defensible argument. And it runs counter to the general MMT stance of “these are the economic policy tools available; how you choose to use them is a political decision”.

Brian Eno on basic income

Published by Matthew Davidson on Mon, 24/10/2016 - 5:00pm in

From an item in this weeks reading (transcription provided by the author of the item):

"I often get asked to come and talk at art schools, and I rarely get asked back, because the first thing I always say is, ‘I’m here to persuade you not to have a job.’ … My first message to people is: try not to get to a job. That doesn’t mean try not to do anything. It means try to leave yourself in a position where you do the things you want to do with your time, and where you take maximal advantage of whatever your possibilities are. The obstacle is that most people aren’t in a position to do that. I want to do anything to work to a future where everybody’s in a position to do that. … [T]he concept [of basic income] is the closest thing I’ve heard to achieving the kind of future that I would like to live in."