Monday, June 26, 2017

Universal Basic Income For Greensboro, Part 3

If you'd like to start at the beginning of Universal Basic Income For Greensboro... Well, if you don't know how links work by now it's probably over your head anyway.

Interestingly enough, while all the e-mail I got in opposition to UBI thus far comes from what I believe to be conservative readers, UBI has long been a conservative idea. From theguardian's Ellie Mae O'Hagan in an article entitled Love the idea of a universal basic income? Be careful what you wish for:

"But UBI also has some unlikely supporters, most prominent among them the neoliberal Adam Smith Institute – Sam Bowman, the thinktank’s executive director, wrote in 2013: “The ideal welfare system is a basic income, replacing the existing anti-poverty programmes the government carries out.” He added that UBI would result in a less “paternalistic” government.

From this perspective, UBI could be rolled out as a distinctly rightwing initiative. In fact it does bear some similarity to the government’s shambolic universal credit scheme, which replaces a number of benefits with a one-off, lower, monthly payment (though it goes only to people already on certain benefits, of course). In the hands of the right, UBI could easily be seen as a kind of universal credit for all, undermining the entire benefits system and providing justification for paying the poorest a poverty income."

Now folks, if you don't already know, neoliberals are the exact opposite of liberals and as far right as it gets. But in Britain they've been pushing UBI longer than anyone-- why?

Well it might be for the same reason Libertarian, Conservative Economist Milton Friedman wrote in his 1969 book, Free to Choose:

"We should replace the ragbag of specific welfare programs with a single comprehensive program of income supplements in cash — a negative income tax. It would provide an assured minimum to all persons in need, regardless of the reasons for their need, while doing as little harm as possible to their character, their independence, or their incentives to better their own conditions.

A negative income tax provides comprehensive reform which would do more efficiently and humanely what our present welfare system does so inefficiently and inhumanely."

In other words, we could eliminate 79 different government agencies and replace them with just 1 government agency just by switching to Universal Basic Income.

By the way, Friedman's book, Free To Choose, became the basis for a television series. Too bad it was on PBS and Conservatives won't fund PBS anymore. Why do Conservatives constantly cut their own throats? But there is YouTube where someone was thoughtful enough to upload the original series.

Yes, those of you who point to the Bible, it does say that Jesus said the poor will always be among us but did Jesus ever tell us not to help the poor? No he didn't. As a matter of fact, not only did Jesus talk about helping the poor but the New Testament is filled with examples of Jesus helping the poor.

You see, the man you call Jesus, lead by doing, not by making excuses.

But won't giving money to the poor make them lazy?

From Nixon’s Basic Income Plan by Rutger Bregman:

"While young demonstrators the world over were taking to the streets, five famous economists — John Kenneth Galbraith, Harold Watts, James Tobin, Paul Samuelson, and Robert Lampman — wrote that “[t]he country will not have met its responsibility until everyone in the nation is assured an income no less than the officially recognized definition of poverty.” The New York Times published their letter, signed by 1,200 fellow economists, on the front page.

The next year, Richard Nixon was on the verge of making these economists’ dream a reality by enacting an unconditional income for all poor families. It would have been a massive step forward in the War on Poverty, guaranteeing a family of four $1,600 a year, equivalent to roughly $10,000 in 2016.

First, however, Nixon needed some evidence. Tens of millions of dollars were budgeted to provide a basic income for more than 8,500 Americans in cities around the country. The researchers wanted to answer three questions: (1) Would people work significantly less with a guaranteed income?; (2) Would the program cost too much?; and (3) Would it prove politically unfeasible?

The answers were no, no, and maybe."

While the idea for Universal Basic Income is known to date back to Thomas More in 1516, the first known attempt at Universal Basic Income was the 1795 Speenhamland system founded in Speenhamland, Berkshire, in Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. Britain's previous poor laws punished the poor, forced them to work as slaves, put them in prisons and shipped them off as indentured servants to colonies in America.

The Speenhamland system was a locally run system and a means of providing additional wages to those who worked for wages that were so low they were unable to support themselves and their families. In 1834, angry elites pushed the British Parlament into declaring the Speenhamland system and others like it illegal and forced the poor back into slavery, prisons, and off to penal colonies in Australia.

You see, the richest in Britain had been paying to fund the Speenhamland system and obviously workhouses filled with government funded slaves paid for by the British middle class was cheaper.

But won't giving money to the poor make them lazy?

I know, that's the argument and you still want to know the answer. And to find that out you'll have to return to read Universal Basic Income For Greensboro, Part 4.