Let's put an end to fear, poverty, and bureaucracy: Scott Santens

Roderick Benns, publisher of Leaders and Legacies, recently interviewed Scott Santens, one of the leading American voices for basic income policy. The New Orleans-based writer is an advocate of basic income for all people and he serves as moderator of the BasicIncome community on Reddit.

Benns: The very notion of a basic income guarantee frightens a lot of people, particularly in western societies like Canada and the U.S.  Thinking of employers, how can they be convinced that basic income policy is a good idea? Won’t they be worried about finding people willing to work?

Santens: It’s kind of interesting isn’t it, that the asking of such a question directly implies that employers don’t actually pay workers sufficiently for them to work voluntarily. We all know that’s the case, but we ignore it. The rate employers currently pay for the jobs people don’t want to do is artificially low. It’s low because people have to choose between no money at all, and at least some money. That’s coercion. It’s an imbalance of bargaining power. It’s also a market distortion. Employers have no incentive to pay sufficient wages, so people accept insufficient wages and consider themselves lucky they don’t have to live hungry in a box in an alley somewhere.

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Food Banks Canada calls on government to establish basic income

By Roderick Benns

Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site

Food Banks Canada is the latest national organization to call for a basic income guarantee for Canadians.

Writing in their latest Hungercount 2015 report just released, the group says the time has come for the provinces and territories “to dismantle what has become an understaffed, stressed, and ineffective bureaucratic system that hurts more than it helps.”

Food Banks Canada notes there exist several workable models for a basic income that would be administered through the tax system. This would instantly “eliminate the bureaucracy, the intrusiveness, and the stigma associated with welfare.”

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Segal inspires basic income advocates, says he has ‘never been more optimistic’

By Roderick Benns 

Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site

Retired Conservative Senator Hugh Segal energized about 50 Ontario advocates of a basic income guarantee on Saturday who were looking for inspiration and advice from one of the great leaders of the movement.

Segal didn’t disappoint, bringing his trademark humour and optimism in support of a cause he has championed for 40 years. He says a “confluence of events” has produced an incredible window of opportunity for basic income policy and that it was time to “seize this moment.”

“At no point in the last 40 years have I been as optimistic as I am now,” says Segal.

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Economics professor says evidence points to responsible use of basic income

Roderick Benns, publisher of Leaders and Legacies, recently interviewed Robin Boadway, a retired economics professor. Boadway studied economics at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. He has his doctorate in economics from Queen’s University in Kingston.

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

Boadway: I spent my academic career as a public finance economist studying optimal policies for achieving a just and fair society, particularly with regard to those most in need. Naturally, guaranteed annual income is one important element of redistributive policies. I was especially influenced by economists like Anthony Atkinson and Amartya Sen for whom basic income was both fair and conducive to equality of opportunity. The views of philosopher John Rawls were also influential, particularly the idea that societal outcomes owe much to luck at birth, and those of us who are luckier than others owe it to the less fortunate to share in our luck. Having spent most of my life teaching and studying the importance of a basic income guarantee, the BIG group in Kingston offered an irresistible opportunity to have some practical effect.

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Prominent Conservative speaks out in favour of basic income pilots

By Roderick Benns 

Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site

Retired Conservative Senator Michael Meighen says it’s time for governments to set up pilot projects across Canada to give a basic income guarantee a chance as future policy. In an interview with Leaders and Legacies in Toronto, Meighen says the idea is “very attractive on paper” so it will be important to follow this through with real-world testing.

“That’s where pilot projects come in – we have to test it,” says Meighen, who notes that if the pilots are successful, then the policy becomes easier to sell, politically.

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Cheaper to eliminate poverty than manage it, says Kingston woman

Roderick Benns, publisher of Leaders and Legacies, recently interviewed Tara Kainer, a long-time anti-poverty advocate, about basic income guarantee policy.

Tara Kainer grew up talking about social justice issues around the dinner table. In the 1950s, when she was a small child, her family lived in Tennessee where segregation was still in place and poverty, especially in the rural areas, was extreme.

Because her mother worked in the emergency department of a local hospital she often talked about the people who were turned away from medical services because they couldn’t pay. After leaving Tennessee they lived in Saskatchewan where the CCF government brought in Medicare before it was adopted by the federal government in 1966. Her parents were fervent supporters.

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Saskatchewan Green leader believes basic income might occur after 2016

Roderick Benns from Leaders and Legacies recently interviewed Victor Lau, the leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan, about basic income. Lau has been the leader of the Green Party since 2011. Saskatchewan goes to the polls April 4, 2016.

Benns: Do you run candidates in all ridings?

Lau: Yes! The Green Party of Saskatchewan ran our first full slate of 58 candidates in the previous general election in 2011. For 2016, our party finished nominating a full slate of 61 candidates (the provincial government added three more seats) by the summer of 2014. We are currently the only party in Saskatchewan to have finished nominating their entire slate of candidates. Even the Saskatchewan Party government has two more seats to go and the NDP has just over half of theirs done.

Benns: Are there any signs of electoral success on the horizon for any of your candidates?

Lau: The Green Party of Saskatchewan believes strongly that by being ready with a full slate of 61 candidates and an excellent platform for 2016 that our central messaging should carry us to victory in three to four seats or potentially even propel us into forming government (only 31 seats are needed to do so.)

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