Universal basic income would likely increase social cohesion

By Scott Santens


I think we should avoid letting our ideologies inform our opinions on matters of social and economic policy. What matters is scientifically observed evidence. I support the idea of providing everyone with an unconditional basic income not because I just think it’s the right thing to do, and the best way to make ongoing technological unemployment work for us instead of against us, but because such an overwhelming amount of human behavioral evidence points in the direction of basic income.

In their opinion pieces for the week-long series about universal basic income published in September by The Washington Post, I was struck by how both Oren Cass and Jonathan Coppage expressed a distinct lack of knowledge of the evidence we have available to inform our opinions on giving people money without strings attached, by citing none of it. Science involves testing our hypotheses. They both expressed the shared hypothesis that giving people additional income in the form of a basic income would somehow reduce social cohesion, and that it is growing social inequality that’s leading to economic problems and not the other way around. We can test such a hypothesis by simply looking at what actually happens when people are provided unconditional cash, and comparing it to a control group of those who aren’t.

Read more

McGill fellow believes a basic income guarantee needs other targeted social programs

Roderick Benns interviewed Jurgen De Wispelaere earlier this year, a fellow at the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University, Montreal, about a basic income guarantee. De Wispelaere is a founding editor of the journal Basic Income Studies. He is currently in Finland helping this country to set up basic income pilot projects.

BennsIn what way can Canada draw from Nordic nations’ experiences when it comes to inequality? Out of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, what nation is on the right track these days when it comes to helpful social policy?

De Wispelaere: I am not an expert on Scandinavian social democratic policy regimes, but a few small points in response. The Nordic countries are very different from Canada and we have to be careful about learning lessons from other countries, or rather about thinking that we can apply models across very easily.

Read more

The link between work and pay and the value of unpaid work

Roderick Benns recently interviewed Luc Gosselin (left), a member of Basic Income Earth Network, and a member of France’s Mouvement français pour le revenu de base, about a basic income guarantee. 

Benns: How did you come to be involved in this issue?

Gosselin: It’s the last stage in a mental voyage that started with an aphorism I coined when a teenager: Il n’y a pas de salaire pour l’ennui, which translates as: No salary is high enough to pay for boredom.

A few years later, in one of Buckminster Fuller’s book, I came across this:

Read more

Everyone should benefit from prosperity: Jonathan Brun

Roderick Benns, publisher of Leaders and Legacies, recently interviewed Jonathan Brun (left) about a basic income guarantee. Brun is a metallurgical engineer by training, and has actively built various internet companies. He has worked with the Basic Income Canada Network to advocate for this issue in his home province of Quebec.

Benns: How did you come to be involved in this issue? What makes you advocate for it?  

Brun: Basic Income came to my attention through the recent Swiss referendum, to be held in 2016. As well, a number of technologists and entrepreneurs have begun to speak about basic income as a way to support entrepreneurship. This led me to meet with experts on the subject, such as Jurgen De Wispelare of McGill University.

Since my introduction, I have worked with the Canada Basic Income Network and we also started a citizen initiative for Québec, titled Revenu de base Québec. We hope to put the issue on the map as a solution to social justice, entrepreneurship and government simplification.

Read more

Economist Guy Standing says basic income 'an ethical demand for justice'

By Roderick Benns

Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site 

The combination of people in short-term and contract jobs and those in other precarious work and living situations, has grown into a massive new class of people. Named ‘the Precariat’ by renowned economist Guy Standing, he says it is the only class of people in the history of the world that wants to eliminate itself.

Speaking in Toronto earlier this year to support his latest book, Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens, Standing told an energized crowd that he estimates the Precariat class is approaching 40 percent in Canada.

Standing observes that precariousness is becoming the new normal after years of neo-liberal policies that have broken down the old order. (Neo-liberalism emphasizes privatization, deregulation, and globalization — the so-called right wing policies that promote a laissez-faire atmosphere for economic development.)

Read more

Basic income pilot programs advocated in time for Canada's 150th birthday

By Doreen Nicoll 

Trying to support a family while holding down several part-time jobs. Accepting short-term contracts without benefits. Working full time but earning wages so low your annual income falls below the poverty line. Trying to survive month to month on inadequate unemployment insurance or social assistance payments. This is what life is like for many Canadians. Unfortunately, the numbers of financially disadvantaged Canadians continues to grow as precarious employment becomes the new normal.

Financial insecurity is at the root of many personal and societal problems. Individuals and families are liable to experience inadequate housing, greater food insecurity, poorer health, significantly greater health-care costs, bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts arising from hopelessness. While society is challenged by increasing homelessness, hunger, health-care costs, demands on judicial and correctional services. Yet, the solution to situational and chronic poverty is quite simple — Canadians need a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI).

Read more

Most people in poverty are already working – they just don’t earn enough: Hugh Segal

By Roderick Benns

Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site 

Most Canadians living in poverty are not sitting around, says a retired Conservative senator – they are actually working. They’re just not earning enough to adequately get by. That’s a problem for Hugh Segal, who has spent over 40 years in pursuit of a basic income guarantee policy for Canadians.

“There is no evidence that people living beneath the poverty line in Canada won’t choose to work” with a basic income guarantee. “In fact we know that about 70 percent of people who happen to live beneath poverty line are working —they just don’t earn enough.”

Read more