Literary Review of Canada
In May 2017 Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage at Harvard University and used his commencement address to call for something that even a few years earlier would have been regarded as radical, at least coming from a capitalist billionaire: Governments, he said, should start giving everyone a regular paycheque, no strings attached. “We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful,” Zuckerberg told his audience. “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”Read more
Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, gave supporters of universal basic income a reason to toast in his address to the general debate of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly of the U.N. on September 25, 2018.
“The very nature of work will change,” said Guterres. “Governments may have to consider stronger safety nets and eventually, universal basic income.”
Guterres has a point. As automation eliminates jobs like data entry workers and postal clerks — 52 percent of tasks are projected to be replaced by robots by 2025 — and a long-running concern is how displaced workers will respond to mass unemployment.Read more
There is a common trend when arguing against a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to use critiques that could apply to any policy. The logical thing to do, if we were to take this line of reasoning at face value, would be to stand for nothing.
Before looking into these criticisms, we should begin by addressing exactly what is a UBI. A UBI is an unconditional, liveable wage for every citizen. If it does not meet the three metrics of 1) unconditionality; 2) liveability; and 3) for every citizen; then it is not a UBI.Read more
By Judy Paul
I have always loved school. After high school I attended university and several years after graduation I completed a graduate degree. Wanting to dive into peace and justice issues, I returned to university at age 50.
Formal education has enriched my life and opened doors to new types of work. One of the things I learned, as a literacy practitioner is that not everyone was as keen about the value of school.
One of the people who came to see me for an educational skills assessment was a 54-year-old man on social assistance. His past work experience consisted of working for two manufacturing companies in Cambridge, Ontario. He had left high school to work at a time when jobs were plentiful and a high school diploma not required. This man was not fired; he did not quit, but rather both companies closed.
Like many manufacturing companies in Ontario, they likely left for the U.S. or the global south seeking lower wages or less stringent labour and environmental regulations.Read more
SHEDIAC–It was 46 years ago when Armand Bannister and his team released their white paper on social development that urged the adoption of a basic income guarantee in New Brunswick.
As director of the task force on social development, Bannister presented it to then-Premier Richard Hatfield who had just begun his unprecedented 17-year run as premier.
But Hatfield squandered this opportunity, as history shows, and instead Manitoba took the lead on basic income with the support of then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, in its well-known Mincome experiment.
New Brunswick has never looked at it seriously again, although that might be set to change, if Bannister has anything to say about it. That’s because 46 years later, the 82-year-old advocate has never given up the fight for basic income and sees a golden opportunity with the movement growing stronger than ever, from Ontario, to Prince Edward Island, to British Columbia and Quebec.Read more
Federal New Democratic Party leadership hopeful, Guy Caron, says the world economy is changing rapidly and some of Canada’s policies are “stuck in the 1950s.”
Caron, a Quebec MP and former economist with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, says there is no doubt that precarious work “is a large issue.”
“It’s the symptom of a larger problem in our economy, the way it has been restructured…with a focus on privatization, deregulation, and trade agreements,” he says.
“This has deeply affected us and we need to begin the hard work of restructuring our economy.”Read more
Ashly Rigby, 36, had a dream of one day becoming a nurse. No one in her family had any post-secondary education and she was determined to be first, according to what she told herself in Grade 11. She didn’t expect to be pregnant during the Grade 12 school year, though, a fact that “derailed everything.”
The Vancouver, B.C. woman descended into depression and lived solely on income assistance for many years. Now, working part-time with dreams of school this fall, she hopes to reverse her fortune in the very near future.Read more
In a life filled with ups and downs, including a long-term relationship split and a bankruptcy, Pierre Madden says that along the way a basic income would have helped him out a great deal and prevented unnecessary stress.
Now, trapped in a call centre position at age 62, making a few dollars more than minimum wage, he’s hanging on until retirement when his federal pension kicks in.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Pierre is an educated man, has a family, and is a trained lawyer. As often happens with many people’s lives, though, there were a few curve balls in store.
Pierre grew up in middle class Montreal, Quebec, the city where he still resides.Read more
More than one in five UK workers, over seven million people, are now in precarious employment according to this analysis of official figures by John Philpott. Since 2006, the numbers on zero-hours contracts has grown by three-quarters of a million are and over 200,000 more are working on temporary contracts. My own recent research has found that some two and a half million adults in the UK may be working for online platforms like Uber, Taskrabbit or Upwork at least once a month, with about 1.2 million people earning more than half their income from this kind of work. A growing proportion of the population is piecing together an income from multiple sources, in many cases making even the concept of a fixed occupation anomalous.Read more
Opinion -- Wall Street Journal
I usually agree with Bill Gates on matters of public policy and admire his emphasis on the combined power of markets and technology. But I think he went seriously astray in a recent interview when he proposed, without apparent irony, a tax on robots to cushion worker dislocation and limit inequality. The Microsoft co-founder is right about the gravity of the problem and need for action, but he’s profoundly misguided in his proposed solution — and in ways that point up problems with the current public debate.Read more