Citizen’s income or UBI (Universal Basic Income) is a concept that’s been rearing it’s head in recent months in various countries around the world. Indeed countries like Finnland, Switzerland and recently Canada have all proposed or are experimenting with a Citizen’s income but what is it?
Well basically it’s a wage from the government for just being you. That’s it!
There’s no means testing and you get it regardless of whether you work or what your salary or savings are.
Sounds crazy right, but it’s actually very smart!
Automation and technology has increased so much in recent years that thousands of jobs can now be done by robots and that trend isn’t stopping. Just recently a load of Driverless trucks were zipping around Europe which is cool as fuck in a Knight Rider sort of way but not so good news for the truck drivers of the world who will be left without a job.
Back in the old days automation was seen as a great thing. Indeed the entire human concept that were are SUPPOSED to be working towards is that one day everything will be done for us and we can kick back in a comfy work free life and pursue our creative or scientific interests without the daily drudgery of menial work (Which is often low paid and only profits someone else). What is actually happening is that we are getting replaced by robots and then left to rot as the wages saved from using automation are kept by the corporations whilst neither providing compensation for the job lost nor creating alternative positions.
What were are left with is a world that doesn’t need people to run itself and so all but the rich are left in destitution as not only is the worker replaced but the availability of jobs becomes non existent.
This is where citizens income comes in. Or at least one of the reasons for it.
A CI would (ideally) consist of the amount of a basic living wage paid monthly to each citizen of the country. In the UK this would be around £1000-1100 which would cover most basic utilities such as rent and bills although it might not be enough for a holiday in the sun or a new car. As stated this would free the individual from menial work PLUS remove the stress of day to day living by providing a solid and guaranteed financial floor under their feet BUT still encourage active job seeking to even better their lives.
Another impact Citizen’s Income would have (if implemented right) is the removal of the welfare system as we know it. This current system in the UK is a cruel and heavily bureaucratic one which is based on invasive and humiliating means testing which not only costs the taxpayer a LOT of money (Universal Credit is an expensive disaster) but is excruciatingly stressful for the claimant.
The CI would remove all the paperwork and hoop jumping making the payments clean and automatic without having to ‘prove yourself’ like some sort of criminal.
Most importantly it would remove ALL stigma and/or embarrassment of being a benefit claimant as every adult citizen would receive the same amount.
If this is starting to sound expensive well….it is, but not compared to the bullshit we do now in the UK. If corporate tax was properly collected and we didn’t waste money on dick measuring crap like trident then we could EASILY afford a proper citizens income at a living wage rate for everyone and……probably have some left over.
A proportional tax structure would be set in place also so that those who have too much money (yes there is such a thing) would pay more in tax to fund schemes like CI.
The money is there but the Government just spends it on shit (not to mention MP’s obscene expenses).
The fact that a good chunk of the money will be put back straight into the economy is an added bonus. You see, when a rich person gets say an extra £200 they have absolutely no need to spend it as they have enough money already and so it gets put away. Working and middle class people have no such financial cushion and so don’t tend to hoard cash like the rich do. If they have money they will spend it providing a much needed injection into our somewhat crippled economic situation which has been raped by false….yes FALSE austerity.
One would think that a Citizens income would be the sole domain of the far left leaning in the political spectrum but you’d be wrong. Some on the right support it as well and sometimes with a decent motive but sadly some of the more callus creatures out there see it as not a means to benefit it’s citizens but as a way to undermine the countries fail safes.
As with a lot of things there are simply those out there who just can’t stand to see others with…….well anything! Giving money away no matter how good the reason is folly in their eyes and there would be a threat that CI would only be implemented so it could be destroyed.
For example a particularly nasty government could propose a Citizen’s income and then have an excuse to scrap the current welfare system. They would then introduce an amount to be paid which was well below what is needed to survive with zero fallback to it’s citizens which would further drive the population in to poverty.
A good CI would also have to be in line with current economic fluctuations, situations/inflation etc. and fail safes would have to be put in place so that prices can’t just be hiked therefore rendering the payment useless.
Even with all this there will always generally be somewhat regular people who see a CI as a bad idea or waste of money. These are the same folk who think that without cold, depressing and soul destroying work that people would turn into lazy alcoholics and do nothing creative or fulfilling with their life.
In other words they do what our current system does and assumes the worst in everyone.
People usually drink or ‘don’t work’ not becasue they are lazy but usually due to some underlying problem connected to self worth or depression. How are you going to convince someone that you are worthy of a job when you think you are a piece of useless shit yourself and add to that the stress of debt mounting up and it’s really not so clear cut. The fact that some job interviews these days have multiple parts and can last for hours is both nonsense and unhelpful.
I have much more faith than that and while I don’t doubt that there will be a few who will take a break when it’s introduced the fact of the matter is that doing nothing isn’t sustainable for the mind. Eventually sitting and watching films will get boring and the mind will seek out new challenges and thrills in the form of entrepreneurial projects and creative quests.
This is what assuming the best in people does, something which this country has long forgotten.
As for my personal opinion? At the moment it is your labour which is worth something.
And that’s wrong!