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Category Archives: Basic Income Guarantee
Posted: August 22, 2017 at 11:54 pm
Many of the community's "working poor" appear to be getting their food from convenience stores instead of grocery stores, according the results of a recent survey.
"One possible reason for the use of convenience stores and dollar stores to buy food might be the lower upfront costs as compared to grocery stores," according to a report prepared by the Brant Food System Coalition in partnership with the Brant County Health Unit that was presented to city councillors Tuesday night.
"Despite food from convenience stores and dollar stores being less in quantity and poorer in quality, the lower upfront cost may be a key factor for people who are on a limited budget."
The coalition is urging further exploration of the issue.
The survey, conducted between July 2015 and April 2016, aimed to determine the barriers to getting food and to identify where people get food as well as gauge the awareness and interest in food-related programs. It followed a 2013-14 study by the health unit that found that 10 per cent of Brant households experience some degree of food insecurity.
The survey, completed by 309 people, also found higher incomes and improved access to transportation would help those who sometimes have difficulty securing enough food. It is not considered representative of the whole community because the respondents were clients of local food programs.
Most of the respondents were aged 20 to 39 and were single without dependents.
About 28 per cent said they were recovering from an illness or had a disability, while about 22 per cent said they were working either full- or part-time.
Almost half of respondents with jobs found it hard to get enough food sometimes or all the time, the survey found. Such individuals likely would be considered "working poor" -- people who don't earn enough money to live on, the report says.
"The survey results support the need for employers to pay a living wage for people to be able to lead a healthy, productive life, or a poverty reduction strategy such as the basic income guarantee," the report says.
The cost of food also was a factor in some people not being able to get enough food, the report noted.
Despite the challenges, there is reason for optimism, Carol Haberman, a public health dietitian at the health unit, told councillors,
"There are exciting things happening with respect to the local food system," said Haberman, citing the Brant Food Forum and the Action Against Poverty Forum.
There is also plan to develop an initiative to help bring food closer to those who are in need and have trouble getting to grocery stores, she said.
As well, the community is also part of the province's basic income pilot project.
"It will be interesting to see how that impacts food insecurity," she told councillors.
Haberman was also asked if an increase in the provincial minimum wage would help address some of the local challenges.
"It's a good question but there are a lot of other factors that come into play," Haberman said. "I can't really say.
"We'll have to wait and see."
Haberman was also asked if she sees a lot of abuse of local programs that provide food to those in need.
"There may be a small number who may take advantage of the system but what I see is people in crisis," said Haberman, adding that she would like to see a time when food banks were no longer necessary.
Going forward, the coalition aims to work with poverty reduction groups, continue to educate the public about the link between poverty and food insecurity and adapt food-related programs to meet local needs.
Brantford Expositor 2017
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Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:11 pm
In an age of employment uncertainty and a growing income gap, urban America needs to find new ways to support its citizens.
Think about the good jobs of the past. Whether it's a much-lamented coal miner or a factory worker that pops in your head, what made their work good? It wasnt the day-to-day tasks themselves, but the economic security it providednot just the benefits and pay, but the stabilizing value it brought to individual households, communities, and society itself. In short, the good jobs of yesterday strengthened the safety net.
Today, we see the service sector replacing secure factory positions. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that restaurants are now creating more jobs than manufacturing and miningadding nearly 200,000 to the economy since January. As The Atlantics Derek Thompson recently wrote, these positions are responsible for big chunks of urban job growthmore than a third of Clevelands new hires since 2015 were in restaurants, for example. Many of these types of positions offer fewer, if any, benefits, more onerous and less predictable schedules, and a typical hourly salary of $12.50not a wage that supports a family in most of the country.
Such low-wage growing for now positions are also in a very tenuous position: Upwards of 47 percent of U.S. jobs at risk over the next two decades due to advances in technology, and workers earning below $20 per hour face a greater than 80 percent chance of displacement.
This age of employment uncertainty means that city leaders will need to help build a new urban safety net to help support their citizens. Its also an opportunity to right the wrongs in the existing system and infuse equity into the equation. Here are four ways cities can help prepare for the future of work.
Make benefits portable
On-demand and contract work has become increasingly common in the modern economy. Freelancers now make up 35 percent of the workforce, and since these gig-economy jobs don't have benefits tied to employment, portable benefits are an option whose time has come. These benefits are connected to individuals rather than employers, and typically include paid leave, health insurance, workers compensation/unemployment, and some sort of retirement fund matching. Proposals for this type of system vary. Some suggest that benefits should be universal and administered by the government or a public/private institution created for such a purpose. Others say they should be administered by non-governmental community-based groups. Either way, portable benefits have the potential to support those who work outside the realm of the traditional 9-to-5 economy.
Most potential programs involve adding a surcharge to be paid by either the company or customer that would remit to a pool of funds for contract workers within a certain jurisdiction. The long-standing New York Black Car Fund is one such model, where fees are collected by the state from for-hire rides to help pay for workers compensation and other shared benefits. While it is still early to see a wide swath of initiatives carried out, in late 2016 the New York City Council proposed a law that would provide portable benefits to taxi and ride-hailing drivers. Additionally, legislative initiatives have been pursued in New York state and the state of Washington. There is even a proposal in Congress spearheaded by Senator Mark Warner of Virginiaso expect to see portable benefits explored more all across the country.
Require employers to provide paid leave
Women make up an ever-expanding portion of the workforceapproximately 47 percent of the U.S. workforce and the majority (51 percent) of workers in professional and technical occupations. And while studies show weve made strides in the disbursement of family and household responsibilities between men and women, existing policies put people with children at a distinct disadvantage. The U.S. only offers unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act, making it an extreme outlier amongst other developed countries, which have robust paid leave requirements.
With little substantive movement on this issue at the federal level, many cities are moving to right this monumental wrong. In San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors mandated six weeks of paid parental leave for workers, and California followed suit with a statewide policy. This long-overdue policy gives parents the opportunity to maintain their careers while starting a family, helps organizations retain employees who might otherwise opt out for financial reasons, and brings stability to the workforce and economy.
Let people with criminal records join the workforce
Nearly a third of American adults have some type of criminal record, and communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration policies.
More city leaders agree that past indiscretions shouldnt prevent citizens from contributing to society, and theyre doing something about it.
Reducing employment barriers for those with criminal records through efforts like ban-the-box, which discourages employers from requiring disclosure on job applications, creates opportunities to engage more people in the labor force. To date, more than 100 cities have taken measures to eliminate employment barriers for otherwise qualified individuals who have records. As corrections institutions shift their programs from punitive to rehabilitative, cities must reassess policies that keep individuals with non-violent criminal records from actively participating in the workforce.
Explore universal basic income
As income inequality deepens, one anti-poverty policy proposal thats gaining some global support is universal basic income (UBI), which would guarantee every citizen a regular, unconditional sum of money to bring people up to an economic baseline. A pilot project involving 100 households is currently taking place in Oakland through funding from Y-Combinator. Finland and Canada are running pilots funded by their national governments, and even here in the United States we held government-run city experiments in the 1970s. Proposed basic income programs share similarities to existing social welfare systems, with the major exception being that the benefit is universal and unconditionalregardless of age, ability, class, or participation in the workforce.
Advocates of UBI come from various camps, but generally fall into one of several categories. Many from the tech industry tout basic income as a way to counteract the economic blow of automation replacing jobs currently occupied by humans. Other supporters argue that basic income is more streamlined, efficient, and transparent than currently administered social welfare systems. Finally, there are some who endorse the idea of less work overallarguing that a basic income can free up the time individuals currently spend workingallowing people to pursue more creative and enjoyable pursuits.
All of this being said, in this particular moment in American political life, the idea of a national program that would support UBI is probably somewhere between slim to none. Many critiques of basic income center on how it will be sustainably funded and the cultural implications of instituting such a system. Even in more progressive countries in Europe, there has been a bit of resistance to wholly decoupling social support from work. In many ways, a number of the proponents for UBI are merely laying the groundwork for what is to comea time when automation and AI take hold more fully and disrupt a wide swath of the workforce.
What city leaders can really draw from this broader discussion is a need to plan more intently for workforce shifts, think critically about current versus future employment sectors, and re-examine how and if there are ways to support people independent of their role in the workforce. Regardless of the potential solutionsour National League of Cities research provides a broad array of ideas on how city leaders can approach the future of work and the period of great challenges but also great opportunities to come. It is a safe assumption that what is imagined as the future today might not come to passthere are a wide range of potential career paths that are not even on our radar screens.
Our current social safety net was built for a different age. The urbanizing America of the mid-20th century faced a myriad of distinctive challenges that precipitated the need for the foundational safety net createdSocial Security, Medicare, and more built strength in our society. Much of the privatized safety net we all now knowretirement plans, employer provided health care, and leave policiesgrew based on the construct of a single employer for a career. But, those times have faded and the urban America of today faces vastly different economic concerns. We need a re-imagined toolkit that focuses intently on broad scale wealth inequality and the urban-rural fractures that were hardly imaginable in the Greatest Generation era of our grandparents. Now is the time for cities to lead the country forward, innovate, experiment ferociously with nationally scalable solutions, and ultimately, build a safety net for 2017not 1947.
Brooks Rainwater is the Senior Executive and Director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities.
CityLab is committed to telling the story of the worlds cities: how they work, the challenges they face, and the solutions they need.
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Posted: August 15, 2017 at 12:10 pm
With over 200 million people still below the poverty line and a similar number earning barely enough, much needs to be done to improve their lives. While faster growth is an obvious antidote, the view that some sort of universal basic income (UBI) may be needed to provide immediate relief is gaining currency. The UBI must be embraced in a deliberate, phased manner as it allows reform to occur incrementally weighing the costs and benefits at every step, the Economic Survey of FY17 had said.
The idea of universal income support has been under discussion for several years but the first real push was given by chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian in the Survey. While UBI could be more of an imperative in developed countries where manufacturing and services are moving to the developing world, India has tremendous scope for improving job creation along with strengthening its social infrastructure that in turn could lift millions out of poverty. As a result, the idea, which has seen some global success, is yet to take root in India.
According to the Survey, identified beneficiaries can be given a choice of UBI instead of subsidies under existing programmes. Based on FY12 level of distribution and consumption, the Survey estimated the income needed to take one person out of poverty at Rs 7,620 per year.
The Survey said UBI that reduces poverty to 0.5% of population would cost 4-5% of GDP, assuming that those in top 25% income bracket do not participate. The existing middleclass, food, petroleum and fertiliser sops cost about 3% of GDP. While DK Pant, chief economist of India Ratings, is in sync with the proposal to replace other subsidies with UBI, he is apprehensive of how best can beneficiaries be identified.
Unless you identify beneficiaries, the government will not be able to assess cost implications. The next challenge will be to monitor the progress. However, ensuring that all citizens have the right to a minimum income as a long-term solution to reduce poverty seems to be a distant dream with not many in the government and academia believing the option is viable.
Even if you take 2011-12 urban poverty line as Rs 1,000 in nominal terms, per person it translates into Rs 15 trillion for a population of 1.25 billion whereas the Central budget is somewhere (in the region of) Rs 21 trillion.
Hence, it is not fiscally feasible, outgoing Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya said. He said the socioeconomic and caste census available can help identify beneficiaries while the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme enables self-identification. Most experts believe that before supplementing the income of countrys over 200 million poor, India should put in place basic infrastructure for health, education, sanitation and drinking water to ensure a basic standard of living.
India still has a huge deficit on the social infrastructure side and unless we ramp up... there is no point in giving a little extra income,said another senior government official requesting not to be identified. The official said UBI has become imperative in developed countries to ensure a peaceful society or their youth will become disruptive in the wake of jobs migrating overseas.
UBI is not a bad idea but does the country have that much money? ...it is essential that government significantly increase its expenditure on creation of social infrastructure which will help to bring poor people into the mainstream, said Himanshu, assistant professor of economics at JNU.
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Posted: August 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm
On August 31, the New Zealand Fabian Society will host a panel discussion on basic income, led by BIEN cofounder Guy Standing, as part of its seminar series in Auckland.
Standing, who has recently published Basic Income: And How We Can Make it Happen, will be delivering a lecture titled Basic Income: the case for a significant new policy.
Two commentators will respond to Standings talk: Sue Bradford, a former Green MP, political activist, and founding member and former coordinator of Auckland Action Against Poverty, and Keith Rankin, an economic historian who has written extensively on basic income.
The event will conclude with a 20-minute debate on the issue of whether an income guarantee policy should be targeted or universal.
Details and registration are available on the NZ Fabian Society website here.
The New Zealand Fabian Society, a policy forum devoted to exploring progressive policy and economic reforms, has been active in promoting discussion of basic income.
In February 2016, the organization initiated its 2016 series of events with a presentation titled A UBI for New Zealand: on the cards, but is it the answer? by Rankin and economist Susan Guthrie. (Guthrie is the coauthor of The Big Kahuna and other work with Gareth Morganthe economist and businessman whose new political party, The Opportunity Party, has recently made a basic income for elders and young children part of its campaign platform.)
The NZ Fabian Society has also collaborated with BIENs affiliate Basic Income New Zealand (BINZ) by helping to organize some of events held in connection with BINZs basic income roadshow for Basic Income Week 2016, and supported past lectures by Guy Standing in Auckland. In March 2016, the NZ Fabian Society hosted Standing at an event in Christchurch, where he spoke on the theme of his previous book, rentier capitalism and the coming precariat revolt (video below).
Phil Harington, an active member of NZ Fabian Society and lecturer in sociology and social policy at the University of Auckland, explains that a key object of the Fabians is strengthen public confidence in progressive reforms. The arguments for basic income, he states, make a plausible argument for rethinking the very principles we need to apply in core policy and economic creativity alongside a concern to rethink the tax side of the income pool to increase social equity and participation.
Thanks to Phil Harington for information about the upcoming event as well as past efforts of the New Zealand Fabians.
Cover photo: Auckland Skyline
Kate McFarland has written 465 articles.
Kate has previously made a living as a professional student, with her most recent academic interests including philosophy of language and pragmatics. She has been a writer and reporter for Basic Income News since March 2016, and she received an Economic Security Project grant work 2017 in support of her work. She also accepts donations on Patreon (although she is in the process of moving to a platform for one-time donations), where she explains a little more about her role in the UBI community.
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Posted: August 8, 2017 at 4:06 am
Politics interests me a lot more than political philosophy. I appreciate pragmatism decide what the goal is and work towards it.
So I tend to pay attention to works coming from political think tanks only if I find them disturbing.
I once saw a publication from respected conservative scholars advocating that the federal government sell public lands, even national parks, use by use e.g., mining, access, lumber, recreation. I was relieved to find that the conservatives I know were stunned to hear it.
Similarly, many Idaho Libertarians have no idea their think tanks support abolishing public schools and roads. They think their party stands for individual rights, not destruction of infrastructure.
Still, I was surprised when a reader wrote that a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute one of the older, more prestigious conservative think tanks supports Universal Basic Income.
Under Universal Basic Income the U.S. government would guarantee everyone a basic income and mail out billions in checks every month.
AEI fellow Charles Murray published his second book about UBI in 2016 In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State. In it Murray claims the government could save money by ending all current social welfare payments think food stamps, Medicaid, Social
Security, Earned Income Credit, etc.and mailing $10,000 a year in monthly installments to every person over 21. An additional $3,000 would pay for health insurance covering catastrophes. Payments would be reduced for those making over $30,000 a year with persons making over $60,000 still receiving $5,000 a year.
To those who say that no one can live on $10,000 a year, Murray argues such a stipend would improve lives significantly for those who can only find minimum-wage or part-time jobs. And his program would encourage people to live together and pool their money. (Doesnt the current system do that?)
Murray claims that we must make the change because current welfare programs discourage people from entering the workforce, advances in Artificial Intelligence will soon wipe out many good-paying jobs, current programs face solvency problems, and there is too much bureaucracy.
Murray appears to be a caring person whos seeking a way to help.
Still, the need for his plan doesnt hold up.
For the past 25 years, welfare programs (think EIC) have encouraged and rewarded recipients who go to work. The percent participating in the workforce changes with the availability of jobs, not welfare.
Past gains in new technology has always led to more jobs, not less. We should be working to see this continues rather than mailing everyone money.
A growing economy and some small tweaks can solve the solvency problems. Social Securitys overhead is only 0.5 percent; and costs of Medicare and Medicaid have grown slower than healthcare in general.
More important there are major inequities in Murrays UBI.
Every person over 21 there is no support, not even additional insurance, for children.
Health insurance covering catastrophes with coverage limited, people tend to forego continuing care; healthcare costs are higher and outcomes worse.
$10,000 a year social security payments now average $15,444 annually. Senior citizensmany not capable of working would take a 35% cut.
I believe even those who support Murrays version of Universal Basic Income dont see Congress ever accepting it.
Charles Murray will be in Boise at the annual Idaho Freedom Foundation banquet Aug. 26.
Judy Ferro is a former state committeewoman for Canyon County Democrats. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Posted: August 6, 2017 at 3:05 am
Here at Big Think we like to talk about the basic income guarantee. While the basic income is an interesting idea, objections to it abound. Also, it isnt the only idea for ending poverty making the rounds. While the basic income gets a lot of press, there's another idea: the Job Guarantee.
What is it?
The Job Guarantee is a policy proposal that would have the state function as an employer of last resort; always having public works projects in action to assure that any person looking for work is going to be able to find a job. That job might not be glamorous or conveniently located, but it will exist.
Such a plan would not end unemployment outright, but would rather assure that the rate is always near a low target. While most proposals set the target unemployment rate near three percent, that rate has been as high as six percent in others. It is based not only on economic questions, but also on the pragmatic question of how many people would take the work offered.
Is this a new idea?
No, the idea was formalized by Bill Mitchel and Joan Muysken decades ago. However, the principle goes back to the New Deal in the United States when agencies like the Civilian Conservation Corps and WPA offered work to the unemployed when the market failed to provide it. In the United Kingdom it goes back to the work of William Beveridge, notably the book Total Employment in a Free Society, which reached the conclusion that the state could assure total employment by a variety of means consistent with a liberal, capitalist, society.
Has it been tried?
In the United States, the bill known as Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act states the Federal Government can institute this policy- but no action has ever been taken along these linesdespite unemployment often being above the bills suggested level of three percent.
Currently, India has the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which aims to provide work in impoverished areas. While criticism the projects has been made, independent studies show it does have a positive effect on the people and areas it serves. It is, however, less comprehensive than many theorists would have liked. Though it does employ many people and provide needed infrastructure work in isolated areas.
What are the upsides?
The benefits of attempts at job guarantees have included reduced poverty and the ills associated with unemployment, including issues with health, family problems, drug use, and high crime rates. Supporters also argue that it can lead to stability of both prices and economic growth by assuring the unemployment rate never spikes.
Well, this sounds pretty good, what are the downsides?
There are a few, one objection of course is that such a policy calls for major government intervention in the economy; an idea opposed by many people for various reasons. The project could also cause inflation if not managed properly. The risk of politicians using assured employment to create a pool of loyal voters has also been a hurdle to the creation of new projects.
There is also a practical problem to consider. While it may be possible to assure that there are more open job positions than unemployed workers at any time, it may prove impossible for that work to be useful, attractive, and accessible. While there will be a demand for people to pave roads in Northern Alaska at some point, it will prove difficult to get people to move there to do it at a low cost. At the same time, you could employ everyone digging and filling in holes, but would have a hard time selling it to voters as being useful.
And more recently, the question of how automation would influence attempts to have productive work for everyone is also currently unsolved.
How we are going to organize the economy is always a pressing question. With the pressures of automation and globalization becoming stronger all the time, the question takes on new dimensions. Will the right to have a job be the next freedom enjoyed by people all over the world? Or will the idea end up as a trivial notion in a history of economics class?
Posted: August 1, 2017 at 6:12 pm
The intent for an income guarantee is laudable. We all want to see people do well, particularly the most vulnerable. But will the results be those that are intended? To me, there is a fundamental problem with the concept. Income guarantees address the symptom of poverty, not the causes. Perhaps a fable will illustrate this point. Once upon a time, in a place not unlike our own, there was a medical clinic. It had many doctors and nurses but there always seemed to be unmet needs; people waiting, maladies untreated. The administrator of the clinic took note that there was a common denominator for all the patients they were all in pain or discomfort. So he came up with a simple, all-inclusive solution. He laid off the medical staff, provided all clients with pain relievers and sent them home. It started off not badly. Everyones most immediate need was met. For some it actually worked out well. They had relief and they progressed to better and sustained health. For most, however, not so much. They needed stitching, or medications, or therapy or other services. Whats worse, for some patients the process developed a dependence on pain relief. They never did recover. Now, back to reality, nobody would ever run a medical clinic this way. Yet is this not the approach of an income guarantee? If people are poor, give them some income. People fall into poverty for many reasons. It could be a lack of education or training, health problems, family issues, mental health challenges, low wages, poor economy, etc. While the guarantee would provide immediate relief, it wouldnt address the limiting issues. Worse, it would almost definitely create dependence. This is critical because our sense of well being often revolves around work and productivity. It is unintended by the authors, but an income guarantee would be a disincentive to work. It would serve not to enable people but to sedate them. Advocates would respond that there is no reason a guarantee couldnt be combined with support measures to better address these barriers. Perhaps, but this is where a critical question comes in where will the money come from? An income guarantee is enormously expensive. Some of the cost would have to come from new money; there is just no other way. But some of the funding would have to be taken from existing programs. Employment insurance, job creation, community development, counselling service and others would all be on the chopping block. In most cases, it would be the very services low income people most depend upon. And what of the savings projected for reduced demand on things such as health care and the criminal justice system? Even if demand did fall, what politician would be bold enough to cut something like health care? Look to the example of education. Did fewer children in the system lead to reduced spending? This is not to say that educational spending should have been reduced (it shouldnt) but it does say that the idea that a guarantee will result in savings is highly suspect. Personally, I would very much love to have a simple, all embracing cure for poverty. But I think we should be directing our energies to the more complex set of tasks around economic development, income incentives, disability benefits, childcare, social assistance and support services. A basic income guarantee would be prohibitively expensive, would result in a work disincentive and would fail to come to grips with why people fall behind. The sentiment is good but the product is in need of a rethink.
- Don Pridmore, of Charlottetown, is a retired civil servant. He worked for the Department of Health and Social Services in the 1990s.
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Posted: July 27, 2017 at 10:19 am
EDITORIAL: Island needs dollars, not data, to cope with poverty
It may seem repetitious, but the fact remains that this Island still needs federal funding to get a basic income guarantee pilot project off the ground. So far, as we've chronicled in past issues, the Trudeau government has only been willing to offer ...
Posted: July 26, 2017 at 4:12 pm
Peterborough businesses are registering their concern about a proposed minimum wage hike.
As the Ontario government considers raising the minimum wage from $11.40 to $15 in 2019, some local business owners are raising red flags, and say the wage hike could lead to job cuts.
The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148), tabled earlier this year, proposes the wage hike that has caught some businesses off guard.
READ MORE: Loblaw could offset higher costs from minimum wage hikes
At a Peterborough Chamber of Commerce round table in June, business owners said the wage hike was just too much, too soon.
Sandra Dueck is a policy analyst with the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.
Sandra Dueck, a policy analyst with the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce said the feedback they received formed the basis of a report and recommendations which they shared with the province and the standing committee dealing with Bill 148.
We had 24 businesses represented in the room and they were all saying, This will mean fewer hours, fewer jobs and more automation, not hiring, and maybe even job cuts,' said Dueck. Its all in reaction to the speed of which this is happening. Many of the businesses said they werent opposed to the increase, its just the speed at which its happening.
The list of recommendations included the suggestion of increasing the minimum wage to $14, not $15 and phasing this in over a five-year period. They also want the province to consider providing relief for the agricultural and tourism sectors while looking at keeping the student minimum wage lower than the regular minimum wage.
Whether you agree or disagree with the increase, Marion Burton, president of the Peterborough and District Labour Council, says the minimum wage hike is one measure designed to help lift people out of poverty.
Marion Burton, a labour activist, says workers cant wait for a wage increase.
This government has been faced with a province where too many people are living in poverty and they are looking at ways of bringing people out of this, and the basic income guarantee pilot project is part of that, said Burton. Theres too much precarious work and far too much part-time work and this younger generation just doesnt have the future that my generation did.
Burton says that anytime the government has tabled changes to issues like minimum wage or other labour initiatives like a five-day work week, for example theyremet with the same reaction: trepidation and fear that businesses cant meet the demand.
But, she says, the workers cant wait for a wage increase.
If they wait and implement the minimum wage over a longer timeline, all they are doing is perpetuating poverty for too many people in this province, she said. I dont think its a stretch at all, if you look at the legislation, youll see the employers have until October 2019 to capture the $15 minimum wage increase.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Keep Ontario Working Coalition have commissioned an independent economic analysis to study the effects of the proposed Bill 148 and will publish the findings next month.
In the meantime, the Bill is due for first and second readings even without amendments when Queens Park resumes session in September.
2017Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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Posted: at 1:14 am
Having a monthly, tax-free, no-strings-attached income that would cover the basics for life may sound too good to be true, but its no fantasy. The idea of universal basic income (UBI) already has been implemented in some regions, such as Canada, Europe, and even Alaska, and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently revitalized discussion about the concept.
Zuckerberg endorsed UBI during his 2017 commencement speech at Harvard University as a means of leveling the economic playing field and opening the doors of entrepreneurship to everyone.
"We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas," Zuckerberg told graduates. Now its time for our generation to define a new social contract.
What Is Universal Basic Income?
Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and other tech executives, including Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, have turned to this notion in response to the re-emerging concern about unemployment in the tech sector.
But the concept was originally developed hundreds of years ago as a way to lift citizens out of poverty.
Universal basic income (UBI) actually dates to the 16th century and the Renaissance, when the idea of a minimum income guarantee originated as a way to help poor people. Then in the 18th century, the idea of a basic endowment emerged to help alleviate theft, murder, and poverty in Europe.
The concept has changed through the years. When people talk about UBI today, theyre referring to an unconditional cash grant regularly distributed to all members of a community without any means test or work requirements, according to the Basic Income Earth Network. The concept means that everyone receives a set amount of money each period, no matter their circumstances.
Despite its existence for even centuries, UBI did not take the stage like other social assistance programs, such as Social Security, food stamps, and unemployment benefits, which some critics believe would be outperformed by UBI, if implemented.
Jason Murphy, assistant professor of philosophy at Elms College in Chicopee, Mass., and U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG) coordinating committee member, says UBI would remove the conditions placed on existing social assistance programs that limit who receives help and how. The program would better target communities that are especially vulnerable and overlooked ensuring that no one has to go hungry and everyone starts on equal footing, he adds.
Still, with UBI in place, Murphy says he thinks not only does it give everyone a chance to cover essential needs, but it also opens the door for others to invest, start businesses, and create more jobs for the economy.
Critics argue that UBI could cause inflation, cause people not to work, or be an unfair tax on the rich, but research shows this isnt likely. A study by MIT and Harvard economists found that "no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work" in poor countries and, in some cases, encourage it.
Karl Widerquist, an economist, philosopher, Basic Income Earth Network board member, and visiting associate professor at Georgetown University-Qatar, says he thinks with a decent tax policy, the program would serve as an automatic stabilizer, alleviate income inequality, and help everyone financially.
The average worker is no better off than they were in the 1970s when you adjust for inflation, Widerquist says.
Some Places Are Already Benefiting
Regions around the globe including Ontario, Canada, and Finland, and, in the U.S., North Carolina, and Alaska are putting UBI to the test.
In the late 1990s, a tribe of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina began distributing some of the profits from the tribes casino to its 8,000 members, the New York Times reported. It amounted to about $6,000 per year for each member.
A long-term study on the tribes universal income experiment was published in 2016 by Duke University epidemiologist E. Jane Costello. She found that children in communities with a basic income experienced improvement in the education system, better mental and physical health, lower stress levels and crime rates, and overall economic growth.
Finland began a similar experiment in 2017, promising to give 2,000 citizens $600 per month through 2019. And Alaska has offered a basic income to its residents since the early 1980s.
With these small, pilot projects, social scientists and politicians are observing the effects of a basic income on the economic, social, and personal well-being of residents before launching large-scale programs.
Can UBI Really Level the Playing Field?
With a cushion, Widerquist says people will be less likely to settle for certain jobs and living arrangements, causing employers and property owners to cut better deals and prioritize clients, customers, and employers.
I think it will promote growth, Murphy says.
The rich and well-off may use the extra money to invest, and possibly begin investing in low-income communities, which works in favor of those in both social classes, Murphy says. He also says it could revitalize local economies, because those who rely heavily on the cash grants are more likely to spend locally.
Whats the Catch?
Murphy says the tax reform needed to make UBI a reality must be progressive. That way, it will avoid a major concern for the middle class the upper class will evade taxes, and the middle class will have to fit the bill for the non-workers of the world.
Widerquist argues that implementing this program requires open minds that are willing to move away from an economic system where the upper class maintains control over the flow of cash through ownership and stringently structured government programs. Instead, he thinks the government and society should first focus on eradicating poverty, and the roads to economic prosperity will follow.
The con is that the devil is in the details, Widerquist says. There are some [programs] that want to redistribute less to the poor that would not be better than the programs we already have.
Is UBI Feasible?
The answer is yes, Widerquist says.
The net cost of a basic income, large enough to eliminate poverty in the United States, is $539 billion a year, Widerquist says. Thats only a fourth of what the government is spending on entitlements.
Although it would be a big item in the federal budget, Murphy says he thinks its even cheaper to implement and maintain than Widerquists projections suggest.
Its going to take a commitment, but some of the calculations that are out there are actually way too high, he says.
With no means testing, Murphy says, there is no need to hire people to interview citizens, which saves money compared to requirement-driven social assistance programs.
The money poured into a basic income program would represent about 3% of the gross domestic product, which would put everyone above the poverty line, Murphy says.
Also, Widerquist and Murphy suggest that while universal basic income is possible without drastically cutting other programs, like unemployment benefits or universal health care, there are other ways to keep costs down. Those include trading UBI for programs like food stamps (since it is a cash grant), or taxing items like pollution, traffic, and electronic financial transactions.
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