Universal Income Petition

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Universal Income Petition

Here is a link to an H of C petition to adopt a universal income. My MP, Gord Johns is one of the sponsors. I have always had mixed feelings about a universal income scheme but it is clear that at this moment in time we have set a floor that is above the water line for our most vulnerable unlike our disability and welfare payments in most provinces. Seniors need to get the same amount through OAS and if it gives some seniors too much income then tax it back under a progressive formula.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i agree re the feelings but signed


Finland Gave People $640 A Month, No Strings Attached. Here’s What Happened.

The world's most prominent trial of universal basic income has ended -- and the first results are in.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..here are reasons to tread carefully re basic income. it's easy to sell the good parts..the benefits. but not so easy to have control over the politicians that would be in charge of implementation. those politicians are beholden to neoliberalism. and we will be facing even more austerity because of the pandemic.

A basic income would be a major concession to the capitalist takeover of everyday life

Has the time come to make advocacy for basic income (BI) a central demand of the Canadian left? The pandemic has upended everything, putting many debates on mute and compelling an unprecedented wave of government spending to stabilize the economy.

In particular, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) offers monthly cash benefits to individuals to supplement income lost due to the crisis. Some hope that this policy will lay the groundwork for establishing a universal cash-based stipend, available to all Canadian citizens.

While the outcomes touted by BI proponents sound appealing, leftists should consider that BI is a profound concession to the neoliberal order that entrenches the commodification of virtually all areas of social and political life. Additionally, there are many BI proponents who support the policy for explicitly right-wing reasons and expect that it would facilitate deep cuts elsewhere in the social safety net, resulting in a deepening of government austerity. Leftists should consider the dangers of inadvertently selling the public on a policy that could end up as another weapon to be deployed against the public sector.

The driving force of capitalism is the relentless drive to commodify all aspects of life, society and even nature itself, transforming everything within its grasp into something that can be exchanged for money. BI reinforces and legitimizes this process. Its advocates substitute the traditional left criticism of capitalism -- the prioritization of private profit over human need -- with an analysis that suggests the problem with this system is merely a question of how to better distribute the wealth that society produces.

However, within a capitalist society, wealth and deprivation are co-constitutive of one another. The purchasing power of a business owner or member of the professional managerial class is predicated upon keeping labour costs elsewhere as low as possible. BI advocates evade the implications of this, failing to recognize that market forces, as well as conservative politicians, would quickly whittle away even the most ambitious BI to a barely subsistence-level support system.

The most enduring and successful leftist program in Canadian history, single-payer health insurance, offers a different approach. Instead of topping up Canadians' bank accounts and sending them into the private marketplace for insurance, Medicare was intended to remove the need for cash altogether by socializing the costs of insurance and tightly regulating the behaviour of healthcare practitioners. As economist Armine Yalnizyan writes, "the advantage of improved public services is that they also make things cheaper for everyone (through scale and by eliminating for-profit exigencies and tax obligations), while improving the quality of life and making incomes and markets matter less."

In lieu of a BI, then, leftists should advocate for more direct market interventions to reduce or eliminate the costs associated with other vital human needs, such as housing, education and care work. The exploding costs and subpar quality of these critical sectors of the economy drains more purchasing power from the working class than a BI could hope to restore, and unlike a BI, these government interventions would actively seek to mitigate the predatory nature of contemporary capitalist enterprises. While a BI would leave people vulnerable to rising rents and prices, programs that use coordination and planning along the lines of Medicare operate by doing the most possible to eliminate the need for money altogether.

The typical progressive rejoinder is that BI can complement rather than replace these expansions of the social safety net. While this vision is popular with some leftist commentators, the most prominent advocates of a BI in Canada believe that a necessary prerequisite for implementation will be the elimination or severe reduction of existing welfare provisions. 

A significant figure in the BI debate in Canada, Hugh Segal, is a lifelong Tory and former chief of staff to Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Segal, whose advocacy was critical to the Ontario government's aborted BI experiment in 2018, champions the idea as a solution to bloated government bureaucracies that aligns more closely with the proposals of arch conservative economists such as Milton Friedman. While describing the outcome of a BI experiment conducted in Manitoba in the 1970s, Segal even notes that "there was almost no reduction in hours worked except for women who chose to stay home with young children, elderly parents or disabled family members, thereby unburdening the state of health or daycare costs.".....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

UBI Without Public Services is a Neoliberal’s Paradise

From tech-billionaires to socialist leaders, Universal Basic Income (UBI) has caught the imagination of many across the political spectrum. This mechanism, which would give everyone regular cash payments that are enough to live on, regardless of income or work status, is increasingly promoted as a key policy to maintain social stability and ensure a decent standard of living.

Yet many in the labour movement have been unsure how to approach the topic. This is why our trade union federation, Public Services International (PSI), has been working with the New Economics Foundation (NEF) to produce a detailed labour analysis on the issue. Examining 14 trials from India to Alaska, the report found that although UBI trials provided valuable insights into the nature of work and welfare, there is little evidence to suggest that UBI is the best tool to address the core challenges of our time: inequality, wealth redistribution, precarious work, and digitisation.

What the studies do demonstrate is that giving cash payments to the poorest helps improve their lives and does not increase wasteful spending or laziness as many right-wing politicians would have us believe. This gives strong weight to the argument that our social welfare system needs an overhaul: we must do away with punitive activity testing and demonisation of the poor.

But government spending is inevitably about choices – and compared to funding better universal quality public services, UBI doesn’t stack up. Providing a single mother with a cash payment to fend for herself in an inflated housing market is not as effective as providing quality public housing. Giving people more money to fill up their cars is not as progressive as offering free public transport.

When it comes to UBI, the models that are universal and sufficient are unlikely to be affordable, and models that are affordable are not universal. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates the global average cost for UBI, as a percentage of GDP, would be 32.7 per cent. The current global average government expenditure is 33.5 per cent of GDP.

Better Funded Public Services

Until we manage to dramatically increase public revenue – something which the mega-rich have been fighting tooth and nail – then it is clear any UBI program would necessitate huge cuts to key public services including education, healthcare and infrastructure. Whilst many in the UBI movement point to administrative savings and preventative measures generated from UBI, there is little evidence these will be enough to fund the UBI considering the large amounts of funding that will still be required to finance public health, education and infrastructure.

The fact is free public services, such as health and education, are one of the strongest weapons in the fight against inequality. They benefit everyone in society, but the poorest most of all. According to the OECD, publicly provided universal services give the poorest the equivalent of an extra 76 per cent of their post-tax income and are strongly progressive.

And a UBI would not exist in a political vacuum. Once in place, some argue that the state’s obligations would be largely met. Consumer citizens could then buy ‘service products’ on the open market. It is unsurprising that many of UBI’s most famous proponents are Silicon Valley’s tech-billionaires – like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.....

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Thanks for pointing out the pitfalls of UBI, Epaulo. I remember one of the earliest proponents in Canada was Senator Hugh Segal. It had traction with some conservatives because it could result in less investment in a myriad of social supports for low income families as well as dismantling unemployment/employment insurance. It's similar to those politicians who think that increasing the basic income tax deduction is enough for claiming fair and equitable taxation reform while slashing tax rates for higher income brackets and businesses.