Minimum wages do not offer security in a post-industrial age: Standing

Could a state-funded universal basic income eliminate poverty? One of its most outspoken proponents, Professor Guy Standing, certainly thinks so. As well as teaching economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, Standing is the co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network. His 2011 book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class blames globalization for an emerging social class without job security. He speaks to Equal Times about why a basic income makes sense to him.

Why is there a need for a basic income in developed regions like Europe?

Basic income is essential in Europe because of the growth of the precariat. And the fact is our existing social protection system doesn’t reach the precariat. The system puts people in horrendous poverty traps. A poverty trap means that if you go from receiving a state benefit to a low-wage job available to the precariat, in many European countries and elsewhere, you face in effect a high marginal tax rate, if you factor in the loss of state benefits for taking a paid job. 

What it means is that people in the precariat lose benefits and gain very little. That’s an important reason why the unions have to rethink their whole approach to basic income. Basic income would remove the poverty trap because you’d get it as a right. 

What impact would a basic income have on trade unions?

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