The Basic Income ‘What’s in it for me’ Series: Employed people

By Roderick Benns 

Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site

In this series, we examine the value of a basic income guarantee to various sectors of society. In today’s column, we look at three reasons why it’s a great policy idea even for people who already have jobs.

A basic income should be Canada’s next great social program. Even if you are a fully employed person, there are many reasons to support a basic income guarantee. We’ll talk about just three of them below.

But first, what is a basic income guarantee?

A basic income would ensure that no Canadian would ever drop below the poverty line. Let’s say it was set at $20,000 per year. If someone earned $15,000 in one year, then at tax time an additional $5,000 would be given to that person, spread out over 12 months using the existing income tax system. Clean and simple and minimal bureaucracy. No one is overseeing the process to determine if it is ‘deserved.’  We could scrap the entire welfare system and review other levels of bureaucracy, too.

In addition to the bureaucracy savings, Canada already spends up to $86 billion a year in combatting poverty…and yet we still have poverty. Basic income is simple in design and effective. No one gets left behind.

Now, on to those top three reasons…

Top Three Reasons for the fully employed to Speak Up for Basic Income

1. It’s not the 1950s anymore and jobs aren’t guaranteed for life. Just because you’re working now, it might only take an economic downturn or a corporate restructuring and anyone – including you — could be out of work. If a basic income policy were in place, you would be assured of enough money to keep you above the poverty while you are searching for new opportunities. Think of basic income as a trampoline that helps you bounce into a new opportunity. With welfare, you would have to liquidate every asset you have just to qualify for money that isn’t even enough to live on.

2. Having a basic income guarantee will actually create better jobs. This will happen because employers will have to offer fair compensation to you. If they don’t, you as an employee can refuse the work for the pay being offered because you know you won’t be in desperation mode. The basic income guarantee is your back-up. While very few people would want to live on just a basic income guarantee for long, this will help tip the scales back toward employees.

3. Work is far more precarious today, with more people employed part-time, doing contract work, and often without benefits. Having a basic income guarantee would ensure you don’t slip into poverty while looking for new prospects.