Basic income

Coronavirus: how Rishi Sunak's commitment to pay business to pay wages misses the point and exacerbates inequalities

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/03/2020 - 6:19am in

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has this evening announced that the Government will meet 80% of wage costs for workers to ensure that they keep their jobs during the coronavirus crisis. The package has already attracted criticism, because it does nothing for the self-employed and freelances.

That point is well-made, but there is a deeper problem with Sunak’s proposal. Essentially, it supports a model of employment that for many people simply doesn’t exist any more; those on zero-hours contracts, or on contracts as part of the gig economy, occupying that twilight zone between employment and freelancing. It does nothing for the millions of people who do not benefit from traditional permanent employment contracts, and that often means the poorest and most insecure.

I have argued before that we face a crisis of work; one in which work no longer pays, in which real wages are falling, in which poverty is predominantly an in-work problem, in which those who are able to earn a little more effectively suffer swingeing marginal tax rates as benefits are withdrawn; in which nearly all the benefits of such economic growth as there has been in the last decade have accrued to owners of assets – rentiers – rather than workers who sell their labour. The basic proposition of capitalism – that you can earn a decent living through work – no longer applies.

During this crisis we have seen increasing calls for what is described as a Universal Basic Income for those who lose their incomes as a result of the drastic measures needed to deal with coronavirus. In fact, the calls have not, in the strict sense of the word, been for UBI as such, as they do not involve the changes to the tax and benefits system that UBI would entail. But they do recognise that for very large numbers of people, often those on the lowest incomes in the most vulnerable occupations, the only way to preserve their incomes is through substantial transfer payments, directly to those individuals, so that they can pay their rent and buy food when they cannot earn through no fault of their own. Indeed, if there is one silver lining to this crisis, it is perhaps that people will grow out of regarding poverty as some kind of moral failing; a narrative that should have been outdated ever since Beveridge but has crept back across the political spectrum.

But Sunak has not risen to the challenge. By focussing his scheme on traditional employer-employee relations he has left millions of people outside the safety-net; the freelances, the contractors, those on zero-hours contracts. His is a solution that seems oblivious to the structure of work in the third decade of the twenty-first century; and, focussing as it does on traditional employers, appears more concerned with preserving profit for those employers than alleviating the problems faced by workers.

And it exacerbates the growing divide between traditional salaried employment on permanent contracts – often favouring the better-paid – and the economically insecure. It does not address the crisis of work and actually broadens the divide.

It is possible that one outcome of the coronavirus crisis is that we start thinking a lot more intelligently and progressively about work and income; that we start thinking about alternative models, of which Universal Basic Income is one. But whether you call it UBI or not, the pressing need now is for a substantial transfer payment to individuals. And it would need to be universal because there is no time to set up a means-test; for the better-off such a payment could be reclaimed through tax changes in the next financial year.

But, for now, the need is pressing. Unless and until the Chancellor is prepared to make universal transfer payments, rather than working through traditional permanent employment contracts, he will not address the problem and he will increase inequalities. This is not the time for half-measures.

Basic Income Earth Network 2020 – Brisbane, Australia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/12/2019 - 8:00am in

Scholars, policymakers, advocates and activists are invited to submit abstracts for papers related to one or more of the thematic areas outlined below for the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) 2020 conference in Brisbane (Monday 28 to Wednesday 30 September 2020). Abstracts (250–300 words) should be submitted to the Local Organising Committee (LOC) via the ‘Submit Abstract’ form on this website by Friday January 31, 2020.

Basic income, the ecological crisis
and a new age of automation

Can basic income play a role in tackling
the multifaceted ecological and social crises confronting the world today? As
climate change and the ‘new age’ of automation continue to re-shape the globe, can and should basic income form
part our answer to these challenges? For instance:

  • Can basic income be part of a Green New Deal or is a Job Guarantee a better way forward?
  • Can basic income promote ‘de-growth’ and genuine sustainability?
  • Should automation and digitisation be used as a justification for basic income? What is the evidence regarding the impact of these technological processes on the availability of jobs?
  • Is basic income an adequate replacement for any technological unemployment that may occur (now or in the future)?

We invite
submissions related to all aspects of our headline theme, and/or our other
thematic areas below.

thematic areas:

  • Basic income in Australia and New Zealand — What are the specific opportunities and challenges for a basic income in the Australian and New Zealand contexts?
  • Political strategies for achieving basic income — What are the most effective political strategies for achieving a basic income on a national or regional level within 10 years? Are basic income experiments a dead end? Are the political campaigns built around the Swiss Referendum and Andrew Yang’s US Presidential Campaign a better way forward? Are there other alternatives?
  • Basic income and gender — Can basic income be an instrument for a redefinition of traditional gender roles and a redistribution of unpaid work? Or would it just reinforce the sexual division of labour?
  • Poverty, inequality and social injustice — How might basic income address structural inequalities and oppression across vulnerable groups (for example age, disability, LGBTIQ+, culture, locality) during transition and later phases? How might progressive policies, social movements, activists and other actors play a role in shaping the basic income policy agenda to redress poverty, inequality and social exclusion?
  • Basic income and Indigenous communities — Can basic income play a role in reducing socio-economic inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities? Can basic income play a role in self-determination for Indigenous communities?
  • Basic income and the end of workfare — What are the social, economic and health consequences of workfare regimes? What role could basic income play in ameliorating them?
  • Basic income and migration — What are the appropriate criteria for deciding who should be entitled to a basic income within a particular nation state?
  • Basic income and the creative arts — What role can basic income play in supporting the creative arts and artists in contemporary society?
  • The macroeconomics of basic income — How would basic income affect economic growth, labour supply and inflation?
  • Basic income versus basic services — Are these complementary policies or competing alternatives?
  • Post-capitalism and basic income — Is basic income a pathway to a post-capitalist future?
  • Modelling basic income schemes — This theme calls for specific modelling of the static costs of basic income schemes in different national and regional settings.
  • Funding a basic income — What is the optimal taxation mix for funding an adequate basic income scheme in different national and regional settings?
  • Challenges of implementation — How can tax and transfer systems be integrated to accommodate the introduction of basic income schemes in different national and regional settings?

The post Basic Income Earth Network 2020 – Brisbane, Australia appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

Korea: Gyeonggi’s youth basic income report released

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/11/2019 - 1:09pm in

The Gyeonggi Research Institute released "Satisfaction survey report on the youth basic income in Gyeonggi Province."

UBI Calculator answers basic income’s big question

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/10/2019 - 4:54pm in

Conrad Shaw wants America to know about Universal Basic Income, and he has two big projects to help make it happen.

Groups calling for basic income experiments spread across the UK

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/10/2019 - 4:04pm in

Groups across the UK are calling for pilots of a radical alternative to the current welfare system.

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."

What should Labour be talking about?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/02/2016 - 9:43pm in

The Labour Party is a joke at the moment. The Corbyn side seems to be trying to steal the Green Party’s manifesto at the moment with it’s talk of basic income guarantees and “Democracy Days“. Meanwhile, the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party seems focused on ensuring it performs terribly in the May elections, with a … Continue reading What should Labour be talking about?