Income is for survival; income re-distribution is to create choice: Michael Clague

By Roderick Benns

Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site

Michael Clague grew up as a middle class boy in Vancouver, B.C. in the 1940s. He was fortunate, he says, because he never had to experience poverty firsthand. Given that his father was a school principal in an east Vancouver school, though, he did encounter a number of people who came from families with low incomes.

But it wasn’t until many years later, when he was appointed to the Special Senate Committee on Poverty, that Clague would realize the weight of poverty that existed for many. Chaired by Senator David Croll in 1968, the final report says it well:

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All three northern capital city mayors say it’s time to look at basic income

By Roderick Benns


Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site.

All three territorial mayors in Canada, representing the capital cities of the vast Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, say it’s time to look at basic income policy to address growing inequality.

The mayors’ three respective territories where they hail from cover about 40 percent of the geographic size of Canada. Echoing many of their southern big city counterparts, the mayors are calling for pilot projects to be set up to measure the effectiveness of a basic income guarantee.

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Whitehorse mayor says basic income pilot projects the best way forward

By Roderick Benns

Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site. 

The mayor of Whitehorse, Yukon, the recently re-elected Dan Curtis, says the challenges of northern living make investigating a basic income guarantee a viable idea.

Curtis says he “would love to see everyone in the middle class, but it’s challenging when there is so much work in the (lower paying) service industry,” even with people often working two or more jobs to make ends meet.

Curtis is the latest Canadian mayor to be interviewed by Leaders and Legacies, in order to gauge municipal level support for a basic income guarantee policy. A common definition of a basic income guarantee ensures everyone an income sufficient to meet basic needs and live with dignity, regardless of work status. It involves a regular, reliable distribution of money from government to people to help ensure total income sufficient to meet common, basic needs.

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A basic income would recognize value of unpaid work

Roderick Benns, publisher of Leaders and Legacies, recently interviewed Julia Endicott about her advocacy for a basic income guarantee. Endicott is a first year Bachelor of Education student at Queen’s University. She also holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Waterloo and a Masters of Chemistry from the University of Toronto. 

Benns: From what perspective do you approach the basic income issue? And, how did you come to be involved?

Endicott: I have always been interested in social justice and I believe wealth inequality and poverty are issues that can be addressed if people can be inspired act. I learned about the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee  when Toni Pickard did a guest lecture in a class I am taking as part of my Bachelor of Education at Queen’s University. I had heard of the idea before but Toni’s description of the group and the type of activism they were doing made me excited to get involved with them.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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