Universal Basic Income: Andrew Yang Was Pushing for It Long Before Coronavirus Pandemic – PopCulture.com

A growing number of representatives in the U.S. Congress are calling for a monthly stimulus check sent to Americans for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, it received the added support of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Yang is no stranger to the idea, having run his campaign around the promise of Universal Basic Income (UBI) to combat the growing threat automation poses to the job market.

Congress is beginning to seriously consider a measure to approve monthly coronavirus relief payments for at least six months. A fledgling bill called the Emergency Money for the People Act would guarantee $2,000 per month for most taxpayers, ensuring that Americans could safely practice social distancing. On Tuesday, Yang added his support for the idea, which is hardly a surprise given his advocacy for UBI in the past. Now, many of Yang's vehement supporters want to make sure he gets credit for his early adoption of the idea.

Millions of Americans have gotten a single stimulus check worth up to $1,200 under the CARES Act, but for those out of work, that money has probably already gone to pay for food, housing or utilities. "They essentially helped pay last month's bills," said Yang in an appearance on Fox 11. "This month's bills, and next months bills, are right around the corner. We have to put $2,000 a month into everyone's hands for the duration of the crisis because that money doesn't disappear, it goes right back into our local economies, into groceries, rent, fuel, and things that help keep our communities, frankly, functioning."

More and more lawmakers seem to agree. In total, 28 Democratic representatives have now cosponsored the Emergency Money for the People Act, feeling that taking care of basic needs is the best way to ensure that Americans continue social distancing.

For Yang, the idea goes even further than that. Through his background in Silicon Valley, Yang came to believe that the automation of more and more jobs would inevitably leave vast swaths of Americans out of jobs, with no new work to replace it. Through a system of automation taxes, Yang wanted to implement UBI for those people in the United States.

With the coronavirus pandemic upon us, Yang's platform seems closer to reality than ever, and many Americans are now revisiting it. Here's a breakdown of how Yang proposed UBI in the U.S.

Yang grew up in Westchester County, New York, the younger son of two immigrants from Taiwan. He skipped at least one grade in school, attended gifted summer programs, went to an elite boarding school and then graduated from Brown University with a degree in economics and political science. Yang then attended Columbia Law School, graduating in 1999.

Yang worked as a corporate lawyer in New York City for a brief time, but found the work unfulfilling. In a profile for The Washington Post, Yang later said that the job was "a pie-eating contest, and if you won, your prize was more pie," and that he wanted to "build something" instead.

After that, Yang worked in some of the earliest online startups, as well as the health care industry and a standardized test preparation company. He also founded Venture for America, a nonprofit dedicated to helping potential entrepreneurs find the resources they needed to continue pushing the U.S. forward.

Finally, Yang has written two books throughout his career Smart People Should Build Things in 2014 and The War on Normal People in 2018. Both are about his experiences in the world of business, his thoughts on entrepreneurship and his belief in UBI as the future for America.

For those that had heard of Yang, this was the reputation he brought into the 2020 presidential race. He sometimes described his political views as "Human-Center Capitalism." This included the implementation of UBI through a program that Yang called the "Freedom Dividend."

As president, Yang promised, every U.S. citizen over the age of 18 years old would receive $1,000 per month from the U.S. government. He argued that this was necessary to make up for the number of jobs being lost to technological automation, which he projected would increase drastically in the coming years.

To pay for the Freedom Dividend, Yang proposed a value-added tax on large American corporations. He argued that he was qualified to combat corporate tax avoidance thanks to his background as a lawyer. Most other countries in the world have a value-added tax in their laws, though some refer to it as a goods and services tax. Either way, it is a complex method of taxing a product or service at every stage of production and distribution, compensating a community for the environment and infrastructure it provided for the creation of that product.

Yang's plan included other forms of welfare already in place. According to Yang, the Freedom Dividend would replace some extant welfare programs, but others would remain in place, meaning that people could continue collecting aid they already received with an additional $1,000 per month on top of it.

Yang's plan also noted that the Freedom Dividend would operate on an opt-in basis, so Americans who did not want the stipend for one reason or another did not need to refuse it. According to a report by USA Today, he theorized that a society with UBI would produce "healthier people, less stressed-out people, better-educated people, stronger communities, more volunteerism, [and] more civic participation."

While Yang advocated for Universal Basic Income, he was more moderate on other universal programs, such as health care. According to a report by CNN, Yang said in November that he supported "the spirit of Medicare for All" but also said that as president, he would take a gradual approach to it in order to convince the American people. He wanted to leave the option of private insurance available for those who wanted it, and thought that the public would eventually realize "that private insurance is not what [they] need" and that Medicare for All is "superior to [their] current insurance."

Still, Yang's policy proposal during his presidential campaign did not include a public health insurance option, nor did it commit to Medicare for All. He was criticized by some for his commitment to UBI and his apparent hesitation on any form of universal health care.

Yang suspended his presidential campaign on Feb. 11, 2020, and later endorsed Joe Biden for president. However, Yang has continued to advocate for UBI in media appearances since then, and has become a regular media presence. Eight days after suspending his campaign, Yang took a job as a political commentator on CNN.

Yang will soon be launching his own podcast as well, titled Yang Speaks. An audiobook version of his second publication The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future, is now available for free on YouTube, sparking more discussion than ever about UBI in the U.S.

In February, Yang mentioned on the air that it was "flattering to be considered for a VP role or any role in someone's campaign," implying that one of the remaining candidates was considering him. He also later said that he was interested in running for Mayor of New York City in 2021.

Yang has popularized UBI for modern Americans, but the idea is by no means his. Yang himself has said that he became an advocate for the idea after reading Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford.

Before that, however, the idea of UBI goes back as far as 1796, when it was suggested by writer Thomas Paine. Pain called for a tax on heritage used to fund "basic incomes" for people in their 20s. The following year, Thomas Spence wrote out a more official proposal for the idea.

If the trend of support for the Emergency Money for the People Act continues in congress, this long-held idea may soon be a reality. For updates on your stimulus check visit the IRS' Get My Payment website. For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the websites of the CDC and the World Health Organization.

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Universal Basic Income: Andrew Yang Was Pushing for It Long Before Coronavirus Pandemic - PopCulture.com

Coronavirus is a crisis for the developing world, but here’s why it needn’t be a catastrophe – The Guardian

While countries in east Asia and Europe are gradually taking steps towards reopening their economies, many in the global south are wondering whether the worst of the pandemic is yet to come. As economists who work on poverty alleviation in developing countries, we are often asked what the effects of coronavirus will be in south Asia and Africa. The truth is, we dont know. Without extensive testing to map the number of cases, its impossible to tell how far the virus has already spread. We dont yet have enough information about how Covid-19 behaves under different conditions such as sunlight, heat and humidity. Developing countries more youthful populations may spare them the worst of the pandemic, but health systems in the global south are poorly equipped to deal with an outbreak, and poverty is linked to co-morbidities that put people at a higher risk of serious illness.

Without the information widespread testing provides, many poorer countries have taken an extremely cautious approach. India imposed a total lockdown on 24 March, by which time the country had about 500 confirmed cases. Countries such as Rwanda, South Africa and Nigeria enforced lockdowns in late March, long before the virus was expected to peak. But these lockdown measures cant last forever. Poorer countries could have used the quarantine to buy time, gather information about how the disease behaves and develop a testing and tracing strategy. Unfortunately, not much of this has happened. And, far from coming to their aid, rich countries have outrun poorer nations in the race for PPE, oxygen and ventilators.

In many places, the human toll of the lockdown is already becoming obvious. Children go without vaccinations and crops are not harvested. As construction projects stall and markets are shuttered, jobs and incomes evaporate. The effects of prolonged quarantine on developing nations could be as harmful as the virus itself. Before Covid-19 rippled across the world, 15,000 children under five died every day in the global south, mostly of preventable diseases associated with poverty. Its likely that many more will die if their families are plunged further into poverty.

What can poor countries do in the face of this pandemic and how can rich countries help them? First, the systematic testing strategies that have been crucial to containing the epidemic and easing lockdown measures in Europe are equally critical in poor countries. In places where public health authorities dont have information about the spread of the virus and resources are limited, the response to coronavirus needs to be targeted at active hotspots. In this way, rather than imposing a universal lockdown, health authorities can identify the clusters where quarantine measures are required.

Second, developing countries must be able to improve the ability of their health systems to cope with a potential sudden influx of sick people.

And third, its crucial that poor countries are able to guarantee people a secure livelihood in the months to come. In the absence of such a guarantee, people will grow tired of quarantine measures and lockdowns will be increasingly difficult to enforce. To protect their economies from a collapse in demand, governments must reassure people that financial support will be available for as long as its needed.

In our recent book, written before coronavirus struck but with a title that is now eerily appropriate Good Economics for Hard Times we recommend that poor countries implement what we call a universal ultra basic income (UUBI), a regular cash transfer that amounts to enough for basic survival. The virtues of a UUBI are its simplicity, transparency, and its assurance that nobody will starve. It avoids the problems of many welfare systems that are designed to exclude the non-deserving, even at a cost to the needy. During a pandemic, when governments need to help as many people as quickly as possible, the simplicity of a UUBI could be lifesaving. Reassuring people that nobody will be excluded from subsistence aid also limits the feeling of existential foreboding that so many individuals in poor (and not so poor) countries are currently experiencing.

These ideas arent mere fantasy. The small west African country of Togo, with its eight million inhabitants and its GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of $1,538, is working on all these fronts. In addition to testing 7,900 suspected cases, the country is deploying 5,000 test on a random basis to assess prevalence. Health authorities will use the results to determine when and where to restrict peoples mobility. The government has also launched a cash transfer scheme linking an electronic wallet to peoples cellphones; it already has 1.3 million people registered and has sent money to 500,000 in the region of Greater Lom (the capital) alone.

The good news is that many countries, particularly those in Africa, already have the infrastructure to rapidly transfer money across a population using cellphones. Many people already use these systems in private exchanges, so government schemes based on this infrastructure can be up and running in a matter of days. If phone data indicates that some regions are experiencing greater economic distress, the transfer could be more generous in those places.

In fact, the greatest constraint we face isnt the feasibility of these measures its the willpower to finance them. Developing countries will need a substantial amount of help from richer nations if they are to pay for a UUBI. Some fear that their currencies will depreciate if they act aggressively, potentially spurring a debt crisis. Richer nations will need to work with global financial institutions to offer debt relief and additional resources to developing nations. Many developing countries will need to buy food and medical supplies with hard currency, which will become increasingly difficult because of faltering export earnings and collapsing remittances.

Given the unprecedented collapse in earnings that many people face, conventional fiscal prudence is perhaps less important now than it was in the recent past. Now is the time for governments to help citizens and economies by spending more, rather than less. The governments of developing countries may need to accept large budget deficits in order to finance a UUBI, at least in the short term. When countries begin to loosen their lockdowns and resume production, they will face extremely weak demand. Pledging that cash transfers will continue for some time in the future will allow people to go out and spend money when it becomes safe to do so. In turn, this will drive the revival of the economy.

None of this means that governments should simply ignore concerns about macro-economic stability. But a clear spending plan that responds to the immediate shock of coronavirus, in conjunction with a longer term strategy for how the lockdown will end, offers the best hope for preventing the present crisis developing into a future catastrophe.

Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee won the 2019 Nobel prize in economics for their work on poverty alleviation. They are the authors of Good Economics for Hard Times

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Coronavirus is a crisis for the developing world, but here's why it needn't be a catastrophe - The Guardian

Starvation in the time of Corona: momentum for the Universal Basic Dividend – DiEM25

The quarantine and cessation of economic activities as a result of this pandemic has put uberised workers on the frontline, and other kinds of precarious workers at even greater risk.

The COVID-19 crisis also has farther-reaching consequences: for example, the revelation of the scale of the underground economy (whether related to legal or illegal activities) in Europe, which some states prefer to ignore, while others include it in the calculation of their GDP. The increase in unemployment, the reduction in benefits to the unemployed and the increasingly restrictive policies for entering the European Union have led a significant part of the European population to fall back on the underground economy.

By definition, the underground economy consists of undeclared (and therefore also not taxable) economic activities that are difficult to measure. Legal underground activities are estimated to account on average for 17% of GDP of, while illegal underground activities are estimated to account for at least 3% of GDP. The COVID-19 quarantine and the resulting halt of the free movement of people and goods at both national and cross-border levels has left a significant part of the population without an income.

Beyond a more or less protective social safety net, European states have hypocritically relied upon humanitarian organisations, local associations and even the goodwill of local authorities to take care of those who have been left behind in the event of a hard blow.

But because of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic repercussions, humanitarian organisations and associations, which are already usually overburdened, are currently overwhelmed. These organisations and associations are themselves already suffering the repercussions of certain ultra-liberal policies. For example, one of the first measures taken by the Macrons government in France, immediately after its election, was to abolish the wealth tax.

In the past, taxpayers who paid this tax could reduce their tax burden by contributing to the budgets of humanitarian organisations. As wealth tax no longer exists, they no longer see any point in doing so, and humanitarian organisations are seeing their budgets significantly reduced. For the first time in its history of 70 years, the Emmaus aid association, for example, is calling for donations.

Schools also used to provide a safety net for vulnerable families that rely on the virtually free school lunch (13 cents per lunch in Paris for the poorest families) to guarantee their children one nutritious meal per day. With schools closed, many families are unable to feed their children, as no meals sold in shops are available at an equivalent price.

In the UK, it is estimated that this could affect 4 million children, i.e. almost 30% of school-age children. The same applies to students throughout Europe who used to eat at university canteens. At the same time, large supermarket chains are taking advantage of the opportunity offered to them by current confinement policies to drastically increase the price of food.

Whether in France, Italy, Spain or elsewhere in the European Union, children are hungry and families can no longer feed themselves. European governments alerted by their respective intelligence services are worried about the repercussions, such as major hunger riots that could explode in southern Italy, in the suburbs of large French or British cities.

These same governments have for decades tolerated the expansion of underground economies by reducing the number of labour inspectors and turning a blind eye to employers not declaring their employees and the trafficking of contraband to avoid social unrest. They have failed to offer lasting solutions such as creating more jobs and legalising immigrants.

Governments now seem to be surprised, or at least worried, about the resulting violence and repercussions of these increasingly ultra-liberal policies of which they were the architects. Worried about hunger riots, some governments are also concerned that criminal organisations may substitute the state in helping citizens and small businesses, and may definitely take roots in large areas of the economy.

DiEM25 has, from the outset, advocated not only the end of ultra-liberal policies, but also the introduction of a Universal Basic Dividend (UBD) that would accompany the foreseeable end of the job market as it was traditionally known after the war. It has to be said that although we at DiEM25 have often been labelled as dreamers, now most of our opponents seem to be coming to this exact conclusion.

Japan has just introduced a minimum income for every resident, national or foreigner, to cope with the crisis. Some mayors in California have also tried it and are now pleading to have it implemented nationwide to avoid the worst. Alaska is already offering it statewide. The Democrat candidate Andrew Yang based his platform on this policy.

The UN assistant Secretary General Kanni Wignaraja and the UNDP AP Chief Economist Balazs Horvath are pleading for a universal basic income within the World Economic Forum on 17 April 2020 declaring: rule number one of crisis management: when you find yourself in a hole, first, stop digging. They argue that social inequalities end up costing more by way of causing social unrest, mass migrations and the increase of extremist groups capitalising on them. The European Central Bank vice president Luis Guindos mentioned it as well. Even the Pope declared in his Easter letter that it might be time to consider universal basic wage.

Two days ago, more than 100 British MPs pleaded for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) after 30% of British children have been considered as lacking food; and Spain is taking steps to implement next month a basic income to help citizens weather the economic fallout due to COVID-19. The Spanish minister of economic affairs said we are going to do it as soon as possible. So it can be useful, not just for this extraordinary situation, and it remains forever. Other countries in the European Union are thinking about it, and left-wing parties are pushing them to do so. The major counter-argument is the burden put on the taxpayer to finance it.

For the time being, DiEM25 is the only movement offering a solution to the financing argument: we refuse that the universal basic revenue be financed by the taxpayers. That is why we advocate for a Universal Basic Dividend and not simply a Universal Basic Income, i.e. financed in the form of a dividend paid from a portion of shares of listed companies pursuant to stock market transactions or IPOs. We see this dividend as a fair toll payable to the public on stock exchange transactions, particularly from those companies benefiting from state support shares which would be pooled in a European collective fund that would itself produce a due return.

In the meantime, we would go even a step further in the time of COVID-19: what about helicopter money to be created by the ECB: this is totally realistic as it is estimated to 750 billion , an amount which Lagarde regarded as an amount which can be made available to the banks.

Revolutionary ideas? Not so much at a historical moment when only creativity and thinking outside of the box will allow European states and their citizens to survive this crisis.

Consider donating to a food bank near you, if you are able to. The image used in this article can be found on Twitter.

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Starvation in the time of Corona: momentum for the Universal Basic Dividend - DiEM25

Adam Schiff Says Trump’s Cult of the President Has Infected the Republican Party – Mother Jones

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

How the hell did we get here? Thats what Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) wants to know. The congressman and colleagues have introducedlegislation to set up a commission to investigate and identify how the Trump administration failed in its response to the coronavirus. (Based on our timeline of the first 100 days of Trumps response, theyll have plenty to look into.)

Schiff recently joinedMother JonesEditor-in-Chief and the Commonwealth Club to talk hiring Twitter trolls into top intelligence positions, and chat about his alternative to universal basic income. Real time oversight is vitally important, he says. Even if its hard to do meaningful oversight when youre dealing with bodies that dont particularly want to share the answers. But Schiff believes his experience from the impeachment trial has prepared him for it.

You can watch the full interview here, or read an edited transcript below.

Congressmen, at the end of the impeachment trial, you posed a rhetorical question to the Senate: You may be wondering how much damage the president can do over the next few months before the election. Then you said, A lot, a lot of damage. What were you imagining then and how does that square with whats happening now?

I dont think anyone anticipated that we would very soon lose more lives than we did during the Vietnam War, and its due to the incompetence and maladministration of this president. We grossly underestimated the damage that he could do.

The impeachment proceedings and then-trial centered around the accusation that Trump essentially extorted the president of Ukraine and then covered it up. How is that mentality playing out here?

Those that have been willing to say nice things about him have seen the Trump campaign take those statements and put them into campaign ads. We cant have any confidence that this president or his administration are making those decisions on the basis of science, on the basis of need, on the basis of whats in the best interest of the American people, but as we said during the trial, the one thing you can always count on Donald Trump for is, he will do whats right for Donald Trump, not whats right for the country.

You said its hard to tell if something is of corrupt intent or just incompetence. How are you untangling that right now?

This has been the story of the Trump presidency. You can say, Thats really not in the presidents interest to do politically, but he does it nonetheless because he thinks its good for him personally. He thinks its good for him politicallyits part of the myopia of this extraordinary narcissism we see.

Its certainly not in the national interest for Donald Trump to be out there postulating that maybe people should inject bleach as a way of killing the virus or pushing out untested treatments. The entire prism is not whats best for the country with this president, [its] whats best for him.

Is that in part because his aides and children are unable, or unwilling, to tell him the truth? Or are they living in a bubble of their own creation as well?

One of the points we made during the trial is that youre not going to change the presidents character. He is who he is. In terms of his family, Jared Kushner was asked about this grim milestone we are crossing where more people are dying of the virus and have died of the virus than died during Vietnam, and his answer was, Weve made really good decisions. Were doing a really good job. [That] was equally revealing in terms of this whole familys blind spot.

The most that we can do in Congress is try to mitigate and limit the damage, do vigorous oversight, and insist on accountability. We need to do that in real time.

Do you feel confident that you are getting forthright briefings from the intelligence community?

Well, it grieves me to say that the answer is no, that there has been a tremendous politicization of the intelligence community under Trump.

It has really reached its pinnacle with the appointment of Rick Grenell as the top intel official in the country, someone who has virtually no intelligence experiencehe was essentially a Twitter troll. He did what you do to get a high appointment in the Trump administration: You go on Fox, on social media, and make the most incendiary attacks on the presidents opponents and say the most exaggerated claims on behalf of the president.

I think it came as a surprise to most people that inspectors general who were supposed to be this firewall against intergovernmental corruption, or malfeasance of other sorts, could be so easily dismissed by the very people that they are reporting on. Is that something that happened before and what could Congress do to fortify those rules and laws?

The inspector generals system, which has been really integral to rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse in government and has a great success record, is a post Watergate reform. But like so many of the post Watergate reforms, theyve been obliterated by this president.

In the intelligence bill that were drafting now, we are going to have a provision that provides you cannot fire an inspector general except for good cause. Were going to also have requirements that if you do fire an inspector general, Congress needs to be informed of what they were working on when they were fired. The existing law says that when you fire an inspector general you have to give 30 days notice. Well the president did an end run around that so that they couldnt fulfill that last 30 days. Now that 30 days might have given the opportunity for the inspector general to make sure that investigations that were ongoing were not closed, swept under the rug, or made to disappear.

We are going to be putting in statute protections for the inspector generals going forward, things that we didnt think were going to be necessary, because we thought presidents would never do what this president is doingour own post Watergate reforms. Things that will be necessary when this president has gone to make sure that our democratic norms and institutions are codified, or protections are codified, so that they can never be assaulted the way that this president has.

Have you found any bipartisan support for such line of thinking thus far?

Given the slave like devotion of particular House Republicans, Kevin McCarthy doesnt cross the street without asking Donald Trump. That kind of sycophantic, slavish devotion to the president isnt going to admit of independent reforms.

What kind of accountability can Congress muster now under these circumstances? The oversight committeewhat can it do and not do in the immediate future?

There are two kinds of oversight going on in Congress that are going to be very important in real time. Real time oversight is vitally important. Theres a whole host of other issues thoughits very difficult at a distance to do meaningful oversight when youre dealing with bodies that dont particularly want to share the answers. Much of what we will need to know in the intel committee will be classified and therefore we cannot do it at a distance. We certainly dont have the secure video capability among all of our members around the country right now to be able to conduct such a hearing.

In the meantime, we are doing the kind of oversight that we can by requesting, requiring information by teleconference, by using the budget where necessary to compel answers. For example, an oversight committee looking at the problem with protective gear. They did a bipartisan briefing where administration officials acknowledged that there were shortages of protective gear and tests and that there are shortages in reagents and swabs. Its less visible to the public, which is a problem, because a very important point of the oversight is getting good information out to the country.

When you talked to my colleague David Corn during the impeachment hearings, you were shocked that it was quite obvious that when you started making your arguments to the Senate, that they hadnt watched the house hearing, and not just hadnt watched the full of them, but seemed to have it all kind of mediated through Fox. Do you feel that thats going on with this crisis?

House Republicans have become such a cult of the president that theyre not even capable of acknowledging the facts staring them in the face. We had to operate from the premise, which turned out to be all too accurate, that the senators were really not watching the hearings in the House. They were getting the topline from Fox, which was completely misleading.

Have you seen any conciliatory movement within the California delegation when it comes to the pandemic? Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunesdo the two of them, and you, and Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters ever come to any agreement about what needs to proceed in terms of representing the state of California?

I will say its been one of the biggest disappointments Ive had of the Trump administration, and that is, I had a much higher view of my Republican colleagues of their commitment to their own ideals, of their commitment to the constitution. They dont represent the Republican party anymore. They represent a cult of personality of the president. And so, I do think when the president is gone, I have to hope that they will return to being Republican once again.

COVIDs taken every inequity in our society and magnified it and increased it. What of any old fights may have a chance of being viewed in a new way by both members of Congress and more conservative constituents?

One thing I will say about what we ought to do right nowI was struck at the approach that European countries were taking, but also Asian countries. Where the government was guaranteeing payroll for businesses, large and small.

That seemed to me much more equitable, much more efficient. You didnt need a separate program for small business and one for large industry. You didnt need to overwhelm unemployment compensation. You didnt need to have so many people unemployed. And when this virus does pass, then who have to now go and find employment because people got to retain the jobs they had, even if they couldnt perform the work right now. That kind of a payroll guarantee is the best approach.

Do you think its via payroll or is it a UBI, a universal basic income, kind of start it up now, lets become Alaska?

Those are two good models for us to explore. Ive been particularly attracted to the payroll model because it has the effect of preserving employment. Theyre not also mutually exclusive. The stimulus checks are a form of universal basic income if you made them monthly. But I particularly think that the payroll guarantee is the right approach. America has made a choice to have millions and millions of its people now going to unemployment rolls.

Do you think election protection will be a part of the next stimulus bill?

Absolutely. I think we have to insist that in the next legislation that we take up, we protect the health of the American people, we protect the health of our economy, and we protect the health of our democracy. The American people have a right not only to be able to vote, but to know where their elected officials stand on the franchise, whether they are willfully trying to obstruct peoples ability to vote in this country.

So if the Republicans are determined to disenfranchise people, it ought to be abundantly clear what theyre doing so that they can be held accountable at the polls.

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Adam Schiff Says Trump's Cult of the President Has Infected the Republican Party - Mother Jones

Common Arguments Against Basic Income Don’t apply to the Emergency BI – Basic Income News

The economy needs injections of cash right now

The Guardian newspaper asked me to write an opinion piece about the Emergency Universal Basic Income (UBI). They changed my headline but otherwise, printed it as I wrote it.

America is in crisis. We need universal basic income now. By Karl Widerquist, the Guardian, 20 Mar 2020

Im reprinting it here in full:

A few members of Congress recently have suggested that the United States government institute an emergency Universal Basic Income (UBI) in response to the twin crises of coronavirus and the stock market collapse, which many economists believe could signal the start of a significant recession. UBI provides an unconditional sum of money from the government for permanent residents whether or not they work. Proposals for an emergency UBI vary. One common suggestion from lawmakers is $1,000 a month for adults and $500 a month for children for four months or more if the coronavirus persists. This amount would be an enormous help in this crisis.

Ive studied UBI for more than 20 years, and I find that opposition to it usually comes down to two main arguments: that everyone should work or that we simply cant afford it. Whether these are valid or invalid arguments against UBI in normal times has been debated for decades, but they simply dont apply to the emergency UBI during the current situation.

Right now, we dont need everyone to work. In fact, we need a lot of people to stop working. We dont want food service and healthcare workers who might be sick to go into work and infect people because they cant afford to stay home. In an economy where millions of people live paycheck-to-paycheck, an emergency UBI would give non-essential employees the opportunity to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, slowing the spread of the disease. The more people we have who can afford to stay home the better off well be, at least for the duration of the outbreak.

Most economists will agree that the economy needs injections of cash right now. When economies slide into recession, there is a multiplier effect as people lose their jobs and businesses contract, they spend less. Other people then lose their jobs or contract their businesses, and this multiplier effect continues. The economy shrinks, income declines, and money literally disappears from circulation.

Governments can help stop this process by creating money and injecting it into circulation. After the 2008-2009 economic meltdown, the United States government and governments around the world created trillions of dollars worth of currency out of thin air and injected it into the economy, usually by buying back their own debt, in an effort to stimulate demand and reverse the multiplier effect. Buying back government debt isnt necessarily the best way to stimulate the economy, however. The money goes mostly to people who are already rich, and they have very little incentive to invest that money when everyone else is losing income.

An emergency UBI is just about the best economic stimulator that exists in modern times because it gets money in the hands of everyone. No ones income would go to zero due to stock market-related layoffs or corona-related precautions. That income helps people maintain some of their spending, which helps prevent others from losing their jobs through the multiplier effect.

Congress should act now. An emergency UBI, providing $1,000 per adult and $500 per child, per month, for four months or as long as the outbreak lasts, can help everyone get through this critical time. The sooner our government acts, the sooner we start to recover. We dont know how bad coronavirus will get. We shouldnt have to worry about how we will be able to buy food and pay rent as well.

The economy needs more money and less labor.

We need people to spend money.

And we dont need them to work for it.

Karl Widerquist has written 980 articles.

Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justicethe ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIENs news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such asNPRs On Point, NPRs Marketplace,PRIs the World,CNBC,Al-Jazeera,538,Vice,Dissent,the New York Times,Forbes,the Financial Times, andthe Atlantic Monthly, which called him a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.Widerquist holds two doctoratesone in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquists writing is available on his Selected Works website (works.bepress.com/widerquist/). More information about him is available on his BIEN profile and on Wikipedia. He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for Basic Income News.

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Common Arguments Against Basic Income Don't apply to the Emergency BI - Basic Income News

How a Basic Income And Jobs Guarantee Can Save The Economy From Coronavirus – The National Interest

COVID-19 is both a public health crisis and an economic crisis. The measures taken to deal with the public health crisis threaten our economic well-being.

There is near unanimity among economists that the response to the coronavirus-induced recession must be aggressive. As stated by the subtitle of a new e-book on how to respond to the COVID-19 recession: Act Fast and Do Whatever It Takes.

Immediate implementation of a universal basic income combined with a job guarantee would help address our current economic problems and the public health crisis. The policy combination could also help us deal with climate change, which is both an ecological and economic crisis.

Current government response

For now, the government of Canada has chosen to rely on expanding existing programs such as Employment Insurance and the Canada Child Benefit. But these programs have pre-existing shortcomings, asnoted by Sheila Block, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Not all workers in the so-called gig economy qualify for EI. And many of these workers have lost all of the gigs that kept them financially afloat.

A universal basic income could provide financially precarious people with the money they need. And it would keep money flowing through the financial system.

Lessons from 2008 recession

The 2008 global financial crisis showed what happens when the money stops flowing. Deeply interconnected financial institutions seize up and threaten to collapse.

It tookmassive interventionby the United States Federal Reserve to prevent a cascade of bank failures. The Feds actions saved the financial institutions that created the problem but did nothing for the people losing houses and jobs. A basic income plan can be part of rectifying that mistake.

Calls for a universal basic income are coming from diverse quarters. Ken Boessenkool, a Conservative activist,demands itin bothMacleansandthe Globe and Mail, although he stipulated its a bad idea in normal times.

Petitionsdemanding a basic incomeare circulating on social media.

Pro-free market?

The call by some conservatives for a basic income isnt actually surprising.

Some advocates argue that its pro-free market policy because it prioritizes individual choice. Thats why prominent free marketeer Milton Friedmanadvocated a negative income tax, which is a form of universal income.

Somebasic income critics argue, however, that it would justify eliminating public institutions in favour of corporations. For example, opponents of government spending could target publicly funded education as no longer necessary because individuals can use their basic income to choose among private options.

U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Corteztweeted her concernthat a non-emergency basic income could harm vulnerable populations by eliminating other important government programs. Ocasio-Cortez added her advocacy for job guarantees, which she promotes aspart of a Green New Deal.

A job guarantee is not a new idea. A right to employment was part of U.S. President Franklin D. Rooseveltseconomic bill of rights. The Democratic Party included full employment in its1980 presidential platform.

Full employment doesnt fuel inflation

The pursuit of full employment was pushed out of the political mainstream and into the economic margins by economists who argued that if unemployment was pushed too low it would cause inflation to rise out of control.

In the decade since the global financial crisis, the unemployment rate in both Canada and the U.S. has steadily decreased. Until the current COVID-19-induced recession, unemployment was at a historical low. And yet, forecasted runaway inflation did not occur.

For decades before the financial crisis, the government did not intervene to increase employment. Relying on the advice of economists, they unnecessarily condemned millions of people to the misery of unemployment.n

With low unemployment and stable inflation, advocates of full employment have spurred public interest in a job guarantee. Levy Institute researcher Pavlina Tcherneva is a particularlyprominent proponent. Its also a key component of theModern Monetary Theorythats earned a lot of attention in debates about funding a Green New Deal.

Flattening the job loss curve

The precautions taken to flatten the curve of COVID-19 have pushed millions of people out of work. Yet there is an untold number of tasks that need to be accomplished to keep society functioning.

What if we hired artists to make posters extolling the virtues of hand-washing? Or photographers to produce glamour shots of our heroic grocers? What if we hiredlaid-off flight attendantsto help manage crowds at COVID-19 testing centres? Or hiredlaid-off autoworkersto deliver groceries to the quarantined?

A universal basic income ensures that no one feels forced into work. But most people want to contribute to society in a useful way. A job guarantee ensures that everyone who wants a job has one.

Climate action

Dealing with the COVID-19 recession requires us to create jobs that the profit-driven private sector will not. The same is true of the climate crisis.

Much of what needs to be done to transition from our current economy to a sustainable economy will not be profitable. That means the private sector will not take it on of its own accord. Government will need to fund the transition and the incredible number of jobs needed to accomplish the task.

David Andolfatto, a vice-president at the U.S. Federal Reserve, described the economic effects of COVID-19 responses as a planned recession.

Decision-makers knew actions taken to deal with COVID-19 would produce a recession. Given the planning to cause the recession, it is reasonable to use planning to mitigate its harms. That mitigation will allow us to begin the economic transformation well also need to address the climate crisis.

[Our newsletter explains whats going on with the coronavirus pandemic. Subscribe now.]

D.T. Cochrane, Economic Researcher, York University, Canada

This article is republished fromThe Conversationunder a Creative Commons license. Read theoriginal article.

Image: Reuters.

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How a Basic Income And Jobs Guarantee Can Save The Economy From Coronavirus - The National Interest

I’ve lived through plenty of social shocks this time we must learn the lessons – The Guardian

Nothing will ever be the same again, they say. Everything will change. The Covid-19 outbreak raises the hope that Britain has learned its lesson. The shock of a long lockdown and the horror of morgues in freezer trucks should shake sense into us, surely? The prospect of dying alone among 4,000 strangers gasping for air in the ExCeL centre ought to jolt us into better ways. I hope so, but I dont know so.

I have lived through plenty of nothing will ever be the same again events social shocks to the way we live, feel and think. Some great upheavals led to positive change: look how the Attlee government emerged from the deprivations of war. Aged five, I stood at the school bus stop in the great London smog of December 1952: no sunlight, fog so pea-soup thick we couldnt see the bus to flag it down. Though as many as 12,000 died, good came of it. The Clean Air Act cured my wheezing winters of pre-penicillin bronchitis. But the lesson wasnt learned for ever: 40,000 people a year die now from preventable air pollution in the UK.

The lessons seem blindingly clear: never again leave the public realm so perilously weak. We rely on it for life itself

Nuclear disarmers thought the Cuban missile crisis would be a never again learning moment, as Soviet ships steamed towards Armageddon but it wasnt. Instead, it was used as proof that mutually assured destruction works. Defeat in Vietnam should have taught the west that napalm and infinite firepower cant win an asymmetrical war against weaker countries guerrillas. But they went on trying, with Afghanistan and Iraq repeating the same western nation-building fantasies.

The great bank crash of 2008 was absolutely destined to end the financial greed and political hegemony of Thatchers 1980s big-bang city boys. But no. Bankers pay continued to rise, Sir Fred the Shred only lost his title. The price was paid by everyone else during a decade of austerity and voters backed it in four elections. The result was an incapacitated public realm, naked in the blast of this epidemic. It wasnt just the NHS and social care that were left unprepared, but every service crippled by cuts: public health, police, local government, the army and Whitehall all denuded.

Surely this time the lesson is well and truly learned? Dont shrink the state, local or national, when nothing else stands between the people and penury or even death. Coronanomics shows all private commerce relies on the state in the last resort, and that borrowing on a gargantuan scale is not, after all, impossible when most needed. When even Boris Johnson proclaims there is such a thing as society, surely he cant backtrack?

But after a lifetime of disappointments and bitter political reverses, who can be sure this surprise Tory spending splurge will break the stranglehold of austerity thinking once and for all? So far, each time the Daily Mail logic has seemed vanquished by its own contradictions, it has weaselled its way back.

But we have to live in hope or not live at all. Coronapolitics should guarantee the NHS returns to adequate funding: who would dare repeat the throttling it suffered in the past decade? After the BBC has proved itself most trusted for information, after its great resourcefulness in providing for locked-down children, and offering fitness classes, high culture and an archive of entertainment, who would dare threaten to whack it now?

Beyond those national treasures, newly nationalised rail looks unlikely to return to its failed franchising. The Brexit transition must surely be prolonged, and the deal eased. Companies avoiding their fair share of tax look set for tougher treatment after these bailouts, likewise those businesses cheating on national insurance by using bogus self-employment, while cash-in-hand tax-avoiders have found out the hard way that they get no help in times of need.

Meanwhile, those who have long advocated a universal basic income for the first time have a genuinely solid case, as emergency support schemes and the faulty benefits system leave too many starving. Expect the epidemic to force a fast solution to the festering social care crisis after a do-nothing decade.

How about the climate? Now we see the air clear across the world and Venice canals turn blue, a life without car, cruise ship and air-traffic pollution looks suddenly possible. As Extinction Rebellion calls off its planned spring actions, the virus makes its case instead.

But pause your optimism there for a sobering thought. The other side is investing in its own coronapolitics too, with the libertarian right ready to pounce, especially on the climate crisis. The Global Warming Policy Forum of Nigel Lawson uses the virus to call for immediate cancellation of 15bn worth of climate-saving energy costs, such as the renewables obligation and the climate change levy. Just watch whos tweeting and re-tweeting blame-the-EU and blame-the-UN messages. Brexiters relish the EUs early failure to help member states. The Taxpayers Alliance, a perennial enemy of the overseas aid budget, has called for it to be diverted to corona work. Despite the crippling 40% cut in local government funds, it wants corona cuts in council tax, as it always does. Deregulators are having a field day as inspections and regulations in all sectors are abandoned: suspending physical inspections of livestock in the Red Tractor scheme pleases the farmers. Now Farmers Weekly has called for footpaths to be shut down across their land, for fear of infection.

Under cover of the virus, all manner of things may be done that may not be undone. In the Times, Mark Littlewood, the director of the Institute for Economic Affairs, sees a silver lining in the waiving of the working time directive, driving-hours limits for lorry drivers, a pause in the 5p plastic bag charge and competition law suspended so food companies can collude. Perhaps they should become permanent features of our regulatory landscape, he writes.

So the virus is an easy pretext to double down on familiar agendas. No surprise that the Jehovahs Witnesses gleefully announce this pestilence proves we are living in the final part of the last days.

The lessons seem blindingly obvious: never again leave the public realm so perilously weakened as we rely on it for everything, including life itself. Never again let this grossly under-taxed and unequal country tolerate an economy that leaves half the population unable to weather storms. Lets hope enough people are shocked by the social deficits this virus has revealed. But then, looking back on past times when crises seemed to augur a better future, remember that old football fans adage: its the hope that kills you.

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I've lived through plenty of social shocks this time we must learn the lessons - The Guardian

Solidarity Economicsfor the Coronavirus Crisis and Beyond – The American Prospect

While theres widespread agreement that we need an immediate, massive stimulus and targeted economic supports to deal with the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus, theyre clearly not enough. We also urgently need to think long-termboth about the all-too-predictable things that got us into this crisis, and how we can refashion our economy and society as we eventually emerge.

Guiding our own thinking is a basic public-health principle that should have long been our standard for all economic and social policy: We protect ourselves when we protect others. We are being asked right now to limit contact, to work remotely, and to do this mostly to shield those who are most vulnerable. We are being asked to dig deep into government coffers and bear the future burden of debt so that we can bring quick relief for those often left at the margins. And we are asking businesses to step up (or forcing them to step up) to their responsibilities and adjust schedules, offer paid sick leave, and understand family demands.

But why is this good for a crisis and not for daily life? While we should stand together by staying physically apart in this time of pandemic, we need to give up the sort of social distance that has allowed so many to ignore homelessness, immigration uncertainty, and rural poverty. We need to come out of this troubling moment with a deeper commitment to each other. We need to realize that an ethos of mutual caring and support not only leads to better health outcomes, but also helps to generate a more vibrant and resilient society.

We need a new solidarity economics.

Our lack of social solidarity has been a key contributor to our vulnerability to the coronavirus outbreak.

Unprecedented levels of inequality have left large numbers of Americans unprepared for an emergency, with nearly half of the U.S. population unable to handle just a $400 emergency expense. That inequality has also distorted our health care system, where we can provide world-class end-of-life care to the wealthy, but have underinvested in the basic infrastructure of our public-health system, leaving us dangerously unprepared for massive testing and waves of hospitalization.

Partly driving that inequality and partly resulting from it has been a low level of inclusion. Long before we were told to practice physical distance, we were already practicing an acute form of social distance: Increasingly, we have been sorted by income, race, and politics. It has become easy for some groups to ignore homelessness or incarceration or economic despair, seeing those as issues facing others. And that hurts all of usfor example, research shows that when there is a rise in the racial generation gap (the difference between the racial composition of the old and the young), public investment in education falls. That damages the economy as a whole.

Exacerbating the gaps between groups has been a problem with information. The lack of accountability of our social media systems, driven by the drive for super profits in winner-take-all markets, has contributed to the proliferation of misinformation and conflicting advice. Fake news crosses the ideological spectrumno, Donald Trump does not actually own stock in a company the Centers for Disease Control uses for COVID-19 tests, nor did U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hold back coronavirus funding to run negative ads about Republicans, both popularly shared stories. But profiteering from political and social polarizationthe basic business model of Fox Newshas been allowed to take deep root.

Not entirely new but certainly pushed along by the factors above has been a miserly commitment to social insurance. We have looked the other way as businesses expanded gig jobs with few if any benefits. We have settled for a limited social safety net that seems more aimed at saving dollars than saving lives. As a result, we have 28 million people without health insurance, and 44 million more with inadequate health insurance that imposes high deductibles and co-pays, preventing people from getting the treatment they need. With no mandated policies for paid sick leave, millions of people continue to have to work while ill, disproportionately including many workers in our restaurants and grocery stores, which contributes to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

And while it may seem odd to say about an economy that has spawned Google, Facebook, and Amazon, we have a serious problem with innovation. We spend billions on speeding up the delivery of consumer goods but have failed to mount the infrastructure needed to solve the problem of homelessness. We are developing medicine to treat diseases of the wealthy, but neglect research on infectious diseases that kill millions in poor countries of the global South. We are forging ahead with the development of high-end electric vehicles even as we continue to allow environmental hazards to wreak havoc on the health of marginalized communities.

In short, just as Hurricane Katrina revealed the underlying inequities and vulnerabilities baked into the economic, social, and physical landscape of New Orleans, the COVID-19 crisis is shining a light on deeply rooted problems in America. Moving forward will require not just emergency actions but attention to and alignment with efforts to fundamentally restructure how we build and sustain our economy.

We offered the starting frame for solidarity economics in our 2018 publication From Resistance to Renewal: A 12-Step Program for Innovation and Inclusion in the California Economy. There we pointed to a range of policy solutions that seem almost prescient today: Among them were universal basic income funded by a technology dividend, increased investment in basic science, expansion and improvement of the caring economy, full immigrant integration to bring people out of the shadows, rapid de-incarceration and re-entry of the formerly incarcerated, universal health insurance and portable benefits, social-housing programs to ensure long-term affordability, industry-wide wage boards to coordinate labor and business, and realigned tax systems that were both more progressive and more stable.

Just as important as the policy package were our philosophical starting points. We had three central pillars to our thinking.

The first was that the standard economic models of human behavior were outdated. The general assumption by most economists has been that people act purely (or at least largely) out of self-interest. For conservatives, the good news is that the market will coordinate all that selfishness to a blissful outcome, and so limited government is the best recipe. (Hows that working for you today?) On the left, there has been a corresponding take, in reaction to the dominance of laissez-faire. It has featured a strong belief that the state must act to constrain the worst instances of bad behavior and corral the economy into serving the common good.

But as has become evident in this and other crises, people also act out of impulses of solidarity with one another. The challenge is that we have structured our economic and political systems to either reward or tame self-interest rather than to promote our connection with one another. We will obviously need enforcement for people to stay home, but the differences in containment by countries in this crisisChina and South Korea versus Italy and the U.S.have resulted not just from such factors as the strength of government and the social safety net, but also from the balance that different societies strike between communitarian and individualistic values.

The second pillar of our thinking actually flows from the first: The old canard that inequality is perhaps politically unpopular but economically necessary is just thata canard. In fact, a wide range of research studiesincluding from such unexpected sources such as the Cleveland Federal Reserve and the International Monetary Fundhave shown that high levels of income disparities, racial segregation, and social fragmentation actually tend to limit the sustainability of growth in income and jobs. It turns out that mutuality matters.

We have, of course, been practicing just the opposite. Weve had a dog-eat-dog economic system in which short-term thinking dominates and venture capital is too often vulture capital. When societies and regions invest in all their members, by contrast, basic productivity rises. When there are trusting relations between economic and social actors, consensus on how to grow the economy increases. When businesses treat their employees, customers, and suppliers with dignity and respect, profits are stable and consistent. And as we now know from the principle of public health, when we protect the most vulnerable, we protect everyone.

The third pillar of our thinking was that the purpose of our economy is not just to generate GDP. Prosperity mattersbut so do security and community. Indeed, that was the secret of getting out of the Great Depression: Keynesian demand management to drive growth; the extension of a sense and the reality of security through, well, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and, eventually, the adoption of employer-based benefits like health insurance; and the reconnection of disparate parts of the nation through investments like the Tennessee Valley Authority.

We need that sort of triadprosperity, security, and communityin what will amount to this generations version of economic catastrophe and New Deal response. That response needs to be altered to fit our times. Growth can no longer come at the cost of the environment. The safety netas is evident from this crisisneeds to be universal and not employer-based, especially given the changing nature of work. And while the New Deal excluded African Americans and other people of color from a range of protections, partly to secure the support of Southern Democrats, this time we must ensure that community means all of us.

We are facing an immediate need to think long-term. In the same way that we need to flatten the contagion curve by spreading out the impact of the coronavirus, we also need to flatten the economic curve, linking short-term interventions with longer-term programs that provide security for families and community, strengthen connections between people and places, and grow employment and the economy.

To do this, policy needs to be brought together under another three-part frame: Lift the bottom, grow the middle, and tame the top.

For lifting the bottom, we need to provide immediate assistance to the most vulnerable among us, while using those interventions to build support for longer-term solutions. In the field of health, for example, we need now to provide a guarantee that everyone, regardless of income, availability of insurance, or immigration status, will be fully covered for the costs of testing and treatment for COVID-19, while using this to build the case for universal health insurance. We need targeted interventions for those most vulnerablepeople with disabilities, seniors, those with chronic illness, the poor, the homeless, and those incarceratedto build back the social safety net ravaged by Democrats and Republicans alike. Moreover, we should devise programs that include the undocumented and stress the public-health risks that have resulted from a broken immigration system that forces so many families away from needed services and into the shadows.

We should also now be providing paid sick days for everyone, including home health care providers, food-chain workers, and delivery drivers, who are providing essential services in our crisis, and are also highly vulnerable to being infected and further spreading the virus. But we should just as urgently stress that paid sick days and paid family leave be made permanent. Cash payments now are critical for people in need, as leaders across the political spectrum apparently realize. But rather than one- or two-time payments, we can and should guarantee a minimum basic income to all in need through the end of the economic crisis. That, in turn, can help us better understand the long-term benefits of some form of universal-income guarantee. Housing for the homeless, eviction moratoriums, and rent freezes are also needed now and can become the basis longer-term for much-needed rent stabilization and social-housing policies.

We need to think, too, about all parts of the working classfor example, those who work in what we call the caring economy. The coronavirus has made clear that those caregivers taking care of the most vulnerable are some of the most vulnerable themselves. What if we recognized and invested in them, providing training and better access to telemedical care and advice, and raising professional standards and wages. Wed improve our health care provision, reduce our vulnerability to future disease outbreaks (including simply the seasonal flu), and grow middle-wage jobs.

Or what if we devoted serious attention to the potentials of remote education and lifelong learning? The coronavirus crisis has made clear how not to develop remote-education opportunities, throwing teachers and professors immediately into having to run classes online with few resources, training, or curriculum support. But if done properly, remote education can play a critical role in making lifelong learning accessible to working people. As a percentage of GDP, we spend the lowest on adult workforce education out of all but two OECD countriesMexico and Chile. Most European countries spend two to five times as much as we do; Denmark spends nearly ten times as much. Investing resources here could both help our immediate education crisis and expand our middle class long-term.

Finally, we also need to tame the top. In the short term, that means ensuring that any public benefits to major corporations are conditioned on their maintaining employment levels; these should be in the form of loans, not grants, and should eliminate buybacks as an option for any company receiving assistance. A repeat of the financial crisis bailout is neither viable not desirable. Any stimulus legislation needs to prioritize employees, not profitsnot just now but in the long run.

Taming the top also means ensuring that the American public actually benefits from our nearly $700 million collective investment in coronavirus research that constitutes the basic science for developing a vaccineand that the results of such research be guided by policies of global solidarity and public health, rather than narrow nationalism and profiteering, which are already beginning to raise their ugly heads. In the longer term, it means restoring reasonable tax rates for our top-income earners, which were at 70 percent at the height of American prosperity in the 1950s and have now dropped so low that the top 400 income earners pay a lower tax rate than anyone else.

Ultimately, what a solidarity economics framework reminds us is that caring for others is not just the morally right thing to do. It both reflects our better angels and provides better outcomes for society at large. Whats true in a crisis is also true in the long haul: A deep commitment to mutuality and the common good is the right thing to do for both public and economic health.

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Solidarity Economicsfor the Coronavirus Crisis and Beyond - The American Prospect

Coronavirus: Iain Duncan Smith says dont bring in universal basic income during pandemic as it would be disincentive to work – The Independent

Iain Duncan Smith has rejected suggestions that workers should be given a universal basic income during the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that it would be a "disincentive to work".

The former work and pensions secretary said the proposal, floated by Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey on Wednesday, was also "unaffordable".

Under the proposed policy, people would receive a universal flat payment to help cover their living costs during the pandemic. Ms Long Bailey's proposal is for the rate to be set at the living wage.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

But Sir Iain, said his think-tank the Centre for Social Justice had "ran the numbers" and found that the cost would amount to an "astronomic amount of money" - with a basic payment costing the Treasury around 260 billion a year.

He suggested that the delayed Universal Credit scheme, his main legacy at the DWP, would be a better alternative and "was designed with just such critical moments in mind".

"One proposal being pushed around at the moment is the redundant idea of a Universal Basic Income," Sir Iainwrote in an article for the Telegraph newspaper.

"Let me say now, its unaffordable, impractical, produces massive disincentives for people to work and most importantly wont make any difference to poverty in this country.

"And even if that werent enough, this would not be the moment for such a massive upheaval of our welfare system."

Sir Iain said the taper rate of his own Universal Credit system should instead be lowered to pay more money to people who lose hours due to the pandemic and "put a floor underneath employees as government steps in and takes the strain".

Writing in The Guardian on Wednesday, the Shadow Business Secretary Ms Long-Bailey called for "a fixed payment made to all, providing everyone with a basic minimum income of at least the real living wage, for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic".

The usually busy Royal Mile in Edinburgh is empty as people stay away from public areas amid the coronavirus outbreak on 13 March

Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS

Ho bart's Amusement Arcade in Westward Ho!, Devon is offering toilet roll and soap as prizes in grabber machines

Rob Braddick/SWNS

An empty platform at Farringdon Station in London the morning after the Prime Minister said that Covid-19 "is the worst public health crisis for a generation"

PA

Shopkeepers Asiyah Javed and husband Jawad from Day Today Express, in Stenhousemuir, Falkirk are giving away facemasks, antibacterial hand wash and cleaning wipes to the elderly in a bid to stop the spread of Coronavirus

Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS

A usually busy street in Cambridge is empty as people stay away from public areas amid the coronavirus outbreak on 2 March

James Linsell-Clark/SWNS

A hand sanitiser dispenser is seen inside the stadium during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on 8 March

Getty

Maaya Indian Kitchen in Milton Keynes is offerig customers a free roll of toilet paper with every takeaway order

SWNS

Oliver Cooper[L], was sent home from school for selling spurts of handsanitiser to fellow pupils at 50p a time. He poses with mum Jenny Tompkins by their home in Leeds

Ashley Pemberton/SWNS

Empty toilet paper shelves at a supermarket in London on 12 March

EPA

A member of the public is swabbed at a drive through Coronavirus testing site set up in a car park in Wolverhampton

Getty

A passenger wears a protective face mask as she travels on a bus in the City of London

AFP/Getty

A Southampton fan wears a face mask before the match against Newcastle United on 7 March

Reuters

A loudspeaker placed in grounds of St Mary's Catholic Church in Broughattin, Dundalk, County Louth ahead of funeral mass later this morning. The loudspeaker has been placed in the grounds after the Catholic Archdiocese said that funerals and weddings should not exceed 100 attendees within the church building

PA

A hand sanitising station set up outside Cheltenham Racecourse during day four of the Cheltenham Festival on 13 March

PA

People wearing protective face masks walk across London Bridge on 11 March

AFP/Getty

The usually busy Royal Mile in Edinburgh is empty as people stay away from public areas amid the coronavirus outbreak on 13 March

Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS

Ho bart's Amusement Arcade in Westward Ho!, Devon is offering toilet roll and soap as prizes in grabber machines

Rob Braddick/SWNS

An empty platform at Farringdon Station in London the morning after the Prime Minister said that Covid-19 "is the worst public health crisis for a generation"

PA

Shopkeepers Asiyah Javed and husband Jawad from Day Today Express, in Stenhousemuir, Falkirk are giving away facemasks, antibacterial hand wash and cleaning wipes to the elderly in a bid to stop the spread of Coronavirus

Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS

A usually busy street in Cambridge is empty as people stay away from public areas amid the coronavirus outbreak on 2 March

James Linsell-Clark/SWNS

A hand sanitiser dispenser is seen inside the stadium during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on 8 March

Getty

Maaya Indian Kitchen in Milton Keynes is offerig customers a free roll of toilet paper with every takeaway order

SWNS

Oliver Cooper[L], was sent home from school for selling spurts of handsanitiser to fellow pupils at 50p a time. He poses with mum Jenny Tompkins by their home in Leeds

Ashley Pemberton/SWNS

Empty toilet paper shelves at a supermarket in London on 12 March

EPA

A member of the public is swabbed at a drive through Coronavirus testing site set up in a car park in Wolverhampton

Getty

A passenger wears a protective face mask as she travels on a bus in the City of London

AFP/Getty

A Southampton fan wears a face mask before the match against Newcastle United on 7 March

Reuters

A loudspeaker placed in grounds of St Mary's Catholic Church in Broughattin, Dundalk, County Louth ahead of funeral mass later this morning. The loudspeaker has been placed in the grounds after the Catholic Archdiocese said that funerals and weddings should not exceed 100 attendees within the church building

PA

A hand sanitising station set up outside Cheltenham Racecourse during day four of the Cheltenham Festival on 13 March

PA

People wearing protective face masks walk across London Bridge on 11 March

AFP/Getty

She said the system would "assist employers, who would then top up salaries to the level a worker currently earns" and "would provide a basic protection to all, and guarantee much needed consumer spending power to help keep people and businesses afloat through the crisis and until we recover".

She added: "This country is facing an unprecedented shock: its time to move mountains. We must actually do whatever it takes to keep people safe and financially supported. People deserve nothing less than the same level of reassurance that the government has already afforded to business."

Originally posted here:

Coronavirus: Iain Duncan Smith says dont bring in universal basic income during pandemic as it would be disincentive to work - The Independent

We face a war against coronavirus and must mobilise accordingly | Free to read – Financial Times

This article is part ofa series in which leading commentators and policymakers give their views on alleviating the devastating global slowdown

The writer is a former president of the European Central Bank

The coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy of potentially biblical proportions. Many today are living in fear of their lives or mourning their loved ones. The actions being taken by governments to prevent our health systems from being overwhelmed are brave and necessary. They must be supported.

But those actions also come with a huge and unavoidable economic cost. While many face a loss of life, a great many more face a loss of livelihood. Day by day, the economic news is worsening.Companies face a loss of income across the whole economy. A great many are already downsizing and laying off workers. A deep recession is inevitable.

The challenge we face is how to act with sufficient strength and speed to prevent the recession from morphing into a prolonged depression, made deeper by aplethora of defaults leaving irreversible damage. It is already clear that the answer must involve a significant increase in public debt. The loss of income incurred by the private sector and any debt raised to fill the gap must eventually be absorbed, wholly or in part, on to government balance sheets. Much higher public debt levels will become a permanent feature of our economies and will be accompanied by private debt cancellation.

It is the proper role of the state to deploy its balance sheet to protect citizens and the economy against shocks that the private sector is not responsible for and cannot absorb. States have always done so in the face of national emergencies. Wars the most relevant precedent were financed by increases in public debt. During the first world war, in Italy and Germany between 6 and 15 per cent of war spending in real terms was financed from taxes. In Austria-Hungary, Russia and France, none of thecontinuing costs of the war were paid out of taxes. Everywhere, the tax base was eroded by war damage and conscription. Today, it is by the pandemics human distress and the shutdown.

The key question is not whether but how the state should put its balance sheet to good use. The priority must not only be providing basic income for those who lose their jobs. We must protect people from losing their jobs in the first place. If we do not, we will emerge from this crisis with permanently lower employment and capacity, as families andcompanies struggle to repair their balance sheets and rebuild net assets.

Employment and unemployment subsidies and the postponement of taxes are important steps that have already been introduced by many governments. But protecting employment and productive capacity at a time of dramatic income loss requires immediate liquidity support. This is essential for allbusinesses to cover their operating expenses during the crisis, be they large corporations or even more so small and medium-sized enterprises and self-employed entrepreneurs. Several governments have already introduced welcome measures to channel liquidity to struggling businesses. But a more comprehensive approach is needed.

While different European countries havevarying financial and industrial structures, the only effective way to reach immediately into every crack of the economy is to fully mobilise their entire financial systems: bond markets, mostly for large corporates, banking systems and in some countries even the postal system for everybody else. And it has to be done immediately, avoiding bureaucratic delays. Banks in particular extend across the entire economy and can create money instantly by allowing overdrafts or opening credit facilities.

Banks must rapidly lend funds at zero cost tocompanies prepared to save jobs. Since in this way they are becoming a vehicle for public policy, the capital they need to perform this task must be provided by the government in the form of state guarantees on all additional overdrafts or loans. Neither regulation nor collateral rules should stand in the way of creating all the space needed in bank balance sheets for this purpose. Furthermore, the cost of these guarantees should not be based on the credit risk of thecompany that receives them, but should be zero regardless of the cost of funding of the government that issues them.

Companies, however, will not draw on liquidity support simply because credit is cheap. In some cases, for examplebusinesses with an order backlog, their losses may be recoverable and then they will repay debt. In other sectors, this will probably not be the case.

Suchcompanies may still be able to absorb this crisis for a short period of time and raise debt to keep their staff in work. But their accumulated losses risk impairing their ability to invest afterwards. And, were the virus outbreak and associated lockdowns to last, they could realistically remain in business only if the debt raised to keep people employed during that time were eventually cancelled.

Either governments compensate borrowers for their expenses, or those borrowers will fail and the guarantee will be made good by the government. If moral hazard can be contained, the former is better for the economy. The second route is likely to be less costly for the budget. Both cases will lead to governments absorbing a large share of the income loss caused by the shutdown, if jobs and capacity are to be protected.

Public debt levels will have increased. But the alternative a permanent destruction of productive capacity and therefore of the fiscal base would be much more damaging to the economy and eventually to government credit. We must also remember that given the present andprobable future levels of interest rates, such an increase in government debt will not add to its servicing costs.

In some respects, Europe is well equipped to deal with this extraordinary shock. It has a granular financial structure able to channel funds to every part of the economy that needs it. It has a strong public sector able to co-ordinate a rapid policy response. Speed is absolutely essential for effectiveness.

Faced with unforeseen circumstances, a change of mindset is as necessary in thiscrisis as it would be in times of war. The shock we are facing is not cyclical. The loss of income is not the fault of any of those who suffer from it. The cost of hesitation may be irreversible. The memory of the sufferings of Europeans in the 1920s is enough of a cautionary tale.

The speed of the deterioration of private balance sheets caused by an economic shutdown that is both inevitable and desirable must be met by equal speed in deploying government balance sheets, mobilising banks and, as Europeans, supporting each other in the pursuit of what is evidently a common cause.

Read more:

We face a war against coronavirus and must mobilise accordingly | Free to read - Financial Times

Beware of a lopsided lockdown – The Hindu

I am willing to go hungry if there is no other way to stop this virus, but how will I explain that to my children? We heard these poignant words two days ago from Nemi Devi of Dumbi village in Latehar district, Jharkhand. Her son and husband, both migrant workers, are stranded far away. In village after village, many other women expressed similar worries. And that was even before the Prime Minister announced a drastic 21-day lockdown, from Wednesday.

The enormity of the coronavirus crisis is gradually dawning on India. For you and me, it is still in the future. But for many informal-sector workers and their families, the crisis is already in full swing: there is no work, and resources are running out. Things are all set to get worse as the privileged hoard with abandon and food prices go north.

Hopefully, the Central governments decision to impose a 21-day lockdown will prove right in due course. But the lockdown (a virtual curfew) is crying out for relief measures, including income support for poor families. As it happens, most of them already receive a limited form of income support: food rations under the Public Distribution System (PDS). Under the National Food Security Act, two-thirds of Indian families (75% and 50% in rural and urban areas, respectively) are covered. In most States, including the poorest, the PDS works not perfectly, but well enough to protect the bulk of the population from hunger.

The PDS is the countrys most important asset in this situation. It is essential to keep it going, even to expand it, in terms of both coverage and entitlements. Fortunately, India has gigantic excess food stocks. In fact, it has carried excess food stocks (more than twice the buffer-stock norms) for almost 20 years, and this is the time to use them. Nothing prevents the Central government from, say, doubling PDS rations for three or even six months as an emergency measure. That will not make up for most peoples loss of income, but it will ensure that there is food in the house at least.

Some bold steps are required to make food distribution effective. For instance, biometric authentication (fingerprint scanning) is best removed at this time it is a source of exclusion as well as a health hazard. Distribution needs to be staggered and tightly supervised, to avoid crowds and cheating at the ration shop. Dealers who are caught cheating must be swiftly punished. All this is well within the realm of possibility; the main thing is to release the stocks without delay.

Having said this, the PDS is not enough. For one thing, many poor people are still excluded from it. Large-scale cash transfers are also required, starting with advance payment of social security pensions and a big increase in pension amounts (the Central governments contribution has stagnated at a measly 200 per month since 2006). Here, one possible hurdle is the payment system. Many pensioners collect their pension from business correspondents (BCs) a kind of human automated teller machine (ATM), who dispenses money on behalf of the bank. The problem is, unlike ATMs, most BCs use biometric authentication rather than smart cards. And mass biometric authentication could accelerate the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Ideally, biometric authentication should be abandoned for now. Even if it is not, many BCs may vanish for fear of infection (most of them are poorly-paid employees of poorly-regulated private entities). Under both scenarios, something has to be done to ensure safe crowd management at the bank. New payment arrangements are also possible. For instance, social security pensions could be paid in cash at the panchayat bhavan on a given day of the month, obviating the need for everyone to go to the bank: this has been done in Odisha for years, with good results. Cash could also be disbursed, with due safeguards, through anganwadis or self-help groups. Cash transfers need not be limited to social security pensions. Revamping the PDS and social security pensions would go a long way, but a significant proportion of vulnerable families are likely to fall through the cracks. Further, food rations may prevent hunger but people have many other basic needs; they will need money to cope with this spell of unemployment.

Coronavirus | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

There are several possible ways of extending the reach of cash transfers beyond pensions. For instance, money could be sent to the accounts of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act job-card holders, or Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) beneficiaries, or PDS cardholders. How these lists are best used and combined is a context-specific question, perhaps best handled at the State level (my sense is that in many States, the MGNREGA job-cards list is the best starting point).

Coronavirus | Pandemic fallout revives talk of universal basic income

These are just some examples of possible emergency measures. Many other valuable suggestions have been made, relating for instance to midday meals, community kitchens and relief camps for stranded migrant workers. The first step is to make relief measures an integral part of the lockdown plan. Failing that, it may do more harm than good. For one thing, a hungry and enfeebled population is unlikely to fight the virus effectively. A constructive lockdown should empower people to fight back together, not treat them like sheep.

Finally, Centre-State cooperation is essential. Many State governments have already initiated valuable social-security measures, but they are far from adequate. The Central government, for its part, has been struck with inexplicable paralysis on this. Adequate relief measures require big money (lakhs of crores of rupees) from the Central government. Implementation, however, should be led by the States. They all have their own circumstances and methods. The Central government is unlikely to do better on their behalf. If it foots the bill, that will be a good start.

Jean Drze is Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics, Ranchi University

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Beware of a lopsided lockdown - The Hindu

Lockdown to fight coronavirus is going to hit most Indian workers very hard – Livemint

With at least 250 million Indians going into lockdown from Monday morning, one question looms large - what will precariously placed workers do?

The share of those in India with precarious jobs is far higher than is commonly believed to be the case. According to the most recent labour statistics, 25 percent of rural households and 12 percent of urban households rely on casual labour as their main source of income. Casual labour was defined as a person who was engaged not in a fixed, but in a casual manner in another person's enterprise and, in return, was paid daily or periodically.

But this doesnt mean that other jobs are stable. Over 40% of those in urban areas are now in regular" or salaried jobs but these do not necessarily come with job security. Over 70 per cent of salaried employees in the non-agricultural sector had no written contracts, and over half were not eligible for paid leave. The share of workers not eligible for paid leave has grown steadily over the last 15 years, from a minority at 46% in 2004-05 to being the norm now. Nearly half of salaried workers in non-agricultural jobs are not entitled to any social security benefits including health care.

Self-employed work too is not the sort of entrepreneurial businesses that the term tends to conjure. Most of the self-employed in urban areas are solo workers who work 55-56 hours a week and make around 14,000 per month

Would the impact of the janata curfew" on March 22 have been blunted by the fact that it was a Sunday? For the average Indian worker, Sunday is just another day. Most workers across different forms of employment work nearly seven days a week on average.

Nor is there much in the bank to rely on as a buffer. The median rural family had under 4 lakh in total assets, while the median urban family had under 6 lakh in total assets, including all their household possessions.

Shocks can easily push vulnerable people into poverty, and in the absence of education, physical and social capital, people from marginalised communities including Dalits and Adivasis, are particularly in danger of falling into poverty.

What then can the government do to mitigate the impact of lost wages for a workforce that largely counts on its day-to-day earnings? The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommends extending social protection and supporting employment retention to protect against job losses and worker hardship during the pandemic.

But for those who do lose wages, the most widely suggested solution currently is an income transfer, something that is being discussed even in developed countries hard hit by COVID-19-imposed lockdowns. The most recent National Sample Survey on consumption expenditure (not released by the government) found that the average monthly per capita expenditure in urban areas was a little under 4,000. In the 2016-2017 Economic Survey, then Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian authored a chapter outlining what a Universal Basic Income could look like. At 12,000 per month, it would wipe out poverty (based on older 2011-12) estimates, he suggested.

Yet, access to banking remains well short of universal, despite the Modi-era expansion. According to the World Banks Global Findex Database 2017 , while 80% of adults had a bank account in 2017, just 43% of them had made a withdrawal in the past year.

In-kind transfers would be another way to go, but reaching the poorest remains challenging. The Economic Survey noted that [a]n estimate of the exclusion error from 2011-12 suggests that

40 percent of the bottom 40 percent of the population are excluded from the [Public Distribution System]. The corresponding figure for 2011-12 for [the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme] was 65 percent". States that targeted less and universalised more had lower leakages and better success at reaching the poor.

India does not have to look far for a combination of targeted and universal, cash and kind assistance. Kerala and Uttar Pradesh have announced one months free rations, permission for advance drawing of welfare pensions and 1,000 in cash for those who are poor but do not receive pensions.

As a fifth of the country wakes up to life under lockdown, all states will need to draw up similar plans.

Rukmini S. is a Chennai-based journalist.

Continued here:

Lockdown to fight coronavirus is going to hit most Indian workers very hard - Livemint

Life, Liberty, and Basic Income | Opinion – Harvard Crimson

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Founding Fathers penned these words in the Declaration of Independence and laid forth a vision of what America could be. There is hope in these words hope for a world in which all people have their basic needs met, have the freedom to make their own choices, and have the opportunity to pursue a meaningful life in their own way. We have not yet met this vision, but I believe that we have both the ability to achieve it and a moral obligation to do so. We need universal basic income in order to guarantee these rights to all Americans.

UBI advocate Scott Santens has noted that Poverty is a legal status Poverty is being legally excluded from having sufficient access to resources to exist. The existence of poverty is an unnatural violation of peoples right to life. It should not exist and it does not have to. In the United States today there is enough food for people to eat and there are enough beds for people to sleep in. The issue is that basic needs like these cost money. Survival costs money. As a society, we have decided that those without money should not survive but we can change that. We have a moral duty to change that. Not only do humans deserve, as a right, the basic necessities of survival, but furthermore, nobody has the right to come between a person and what they need to survive. A universal basic income can eliminate poverty entirely by giving people the ability to acquire their basic necessities and ensure the right to life for all Americans.

But survival is not enough; someone in prison has their basic needs taken care of, but that life is not enviable. People also have a right to liberty, defined here as freedom from coercion. In other words, it is the ability to say no. The choice between work and starvation is not a choice at all. That is not freedom. We have decided to structure our society such that most people have no choice but to sell their labor in order to survive. When a persons life rests in the hands of their employer, they are not free. While we have many protections for workers, we have not abolished this one-sided relationship and the unjust coercive power that comes with it. UBI liberates people from financial dependence on others in every kind of relationship: freedom from exploitative work, abusive partners, and more. Critics of UBI claim that it would reduce peoples desire to work, but that very criticism reveals that much opposition to UBI comes from those who stand to lose their coercive power over others. If someone would quit a job once their basic needs were met, they were only working that job to meet their basic needs to survive. Therefore, they were coerced into the job by the threat of poverty and did not take the job by their own free will. UBI gives people the chance to be truly free.

What will people do with their newfound freedom? Anything they want. Many people will keep their jobs; people often enjoy the structure, community, purpose, or extra income that comes with a job. Some, once they receive the financial security of UBI, will still work, but will quit their second or third job or limit their hours in order to do more of whatever they enjoy. Others will stop working entirely because those jobs are dangerous, exploitative, or otherwise unpleasant, as they should have the right to do. This reduction of work should be celebrated; our society can function perfectly well without much of the work that people are forced into today. Many people will then have more time to pursue the activities they find most meaningful. UBI recipients will spend more time with their kids and families. They will care for elderly and sick relatives. They will volunteer and start businesses. They will become artists and writers, journalists and students, dreamers and doers. We waste untold potential and systematically crush the human spirit because we force people into needless drudgery just to stay alive. We deny an integral part of the human experience by denying people the chance to create, to explore, and to pursue happiness.

Critics have disparaged UBI as free money or a gimmick. What they fail to realize is that money is not the point of UBI. Money is a means to an end: freedom. Freedom from poverty, freedom from coercion, and freedom to strive for self-actualization. Basic income is not charity or welfare. It is a right. We have both the ability and the obligation to end poverty, ensure liberty, and give every American the chance to find their own version of success. We can finally live up to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and secure these natural rights. There is no reason to wait. The time for universal basic income is now.

Matthew B. Gilbert 21 is a Computer Science concentrator in Adams House. His column appears on alternate Thursdays.

See more here:

Life, Liberty, and Basic Income | Opinion - Harvard Crimson

Eliminating Child Poverty With a Government Check – The New York Times

INVISIBLE AMERICANS The Tragic Cost of Child PovertyBy Jeff Madrick

Its a paradox of American childhood poverty that experts routinely devise the most complex solutions for it or in recent parlance innovations most of which are elaborate, costly or otherwise impractical to implement.

Jeff Madrick is an exception to this rule. In his new book, Invisible Americans: The Tragic Cost of Child Poverty, he argues for a solution for children so simple that even a child could understand it: Give poor families money for their kids. In clear, spare prose, he lays out a proposal for something akin to a basic income guarantee for parents of children under 18. Poor children have many requirements, but above all they need money, he writes. He returns to this point repeatedly: Child poverty is too punishing and harmful to wait years for results especially when cash distributions can help today.

Madricks idea is essentially a subset of universal basic income, a concept championed by an increasing number of prominent Americans from the presidential candidate Andrew Yang to the conservative social scientist Charles Murray and the Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Madrick, a veteran journalist and economic analyst, imagines a government-funded allowance to families that would equal $4,000 to $5,000 per child each year. Every family with children would get some money, which would avoid the problem of only offering the stipend to the guardians of poor youth. After all, there are millions of near poor and struggling middle-class families as well, trying to pay for their kids out of stagnant incomes. (According to current guidelines, a family of four living on $25,750 or less qualifies as poor; realistically, Madrick argues, the number should be closer to $50,000.) In addition, he would have the allowance ladled out according to a principle of non-paternalism; in other words, it would be unconditional, like love.

If you are now crying Lets do it! consider this caveat: Naysayers would be legion. Theyd range from bootstrappers who insist a monthly dividend would discourage even decent people from working to those who harbor a more realistic fear that corporations would exploit a governmental allowance for children so they could continue to underpay employees who are parents. Madrick concedes these points, writing, Direct cash aid is denigrated by both the left and the right as a waste and inducement to laziness and abuse.

Nevertheless, the staggering number of American children who are destitute 17.5 percent and the even larger fraction who are near poor, should induce us to stop squabbling and to see the issue as a moral tragedy demanding a direct response.

With welcome brevity, Invisible Americans stitches together much of what the lay reader needs to know about American child poverty. It offers a mini-history of organizing and social programs, and of punitive attitudes toward the poor. This last includes moralizing about mothers needing more discipline and blaming a culture of poverty rather than structural failures. Madrick also throws shade on our bipartisan obsession with refunding the taxes of our poorer citizens rather than just giving them and their families money. The earned-income tax credit, he rightfully gripes, has been mostly designed to get poor parents to work.

Reading Invisible Americans, I did sometimes want to get closer to the inner and outer lives of Americas poorest families. While Madrick briefly sprinkles in a few tales of individual penury, several marked by their subjects shame and lingering physical pain of one adult who was raised too poor to afford dentistry, he writes, His mouth still hurts we dont get to know any of these people well.

But Madrick does not aspire to narrative journalism here. He is more interested in informed indignation. The reason for his outrage is clear: Ending childhood destitution was a political centerpiece of the Great Society, yet now it is rarely mentioned, especially by politicians. If our leaders absorbed this books urgent call, perhaps they would discuss poverty and act to ease it once again.

See the original post here:

Eliminating Child Poverty With a Government Check - The New York Times

Andrew Yang Expects ‘Many’ of His Supporters to Back Sanders in Iowa: We ‘Have a Lot of Overlap’ – Newsweek

Andrew Yang told an Iowa roundtable of reporters Wednesday that he would not be surprised if his supporters went over to Senator Bernie Sanders' camp during the Iowa caucus.

While a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed Senator Sanders in a virtual tie with former Vice President Joe Biden, with 21 and 23 percent respectively, Yang only garnered 3 percent of the poll.

"I think that Bernie and I do have a lot of overlap in support so it wouldn't be surprising to me if many of our supporters head in that direction," Yang said.

"I frankly think I'd have a hard time getting them to do anything that they're not naturally inclined to do," Yang said of his supporters. "I think most people are going to show up on Caucus Night with a few top choices in mind and I imagine if I'm not viable at their caucus that they know exactly who they're going to go to."

Iowa's caucus is structured in such a way that candidates must receive 15 percent of the vote. Any candidate who does not hit that benchmark must throw their support to a candidate who did receive at least 15 percent of the vote or align themselves with a non-viable candidate in order to boost that candidate's final ranking.

Yang said that the campaigns of other presidential candidates have asked him for his support.

"I think some campaigns have reached out to our team," Yang said. "My team will sort out what the heck is being conveyed."

Newsweek reached out to Yang's campaign for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Like Sanders, Yang's campaign platform presents some progressive policies. Yang is a proponent of Medicare for All and an aggressive stance on combating climate change.

Sanders has been critical of Yang's proposal of a universal basic income which would give every American adult $1,000 per month. Yang's basic universal income would allegedly be paid for by the implementation of a value added tax of 10 percent. That tax would be levied on "the production of goods or services a business produces," according to Yang's website.

"We take a very different approach from Mr. Yang and that is I believe in a jobs guarantee," Sanders told The Hill in August 2019. "There is an enormous amount of work that has to be done all the way from child care to health care to education to rebuilding our infrastructure to combating climate change to dealing with our growing elderly population."

Part of Sanders' jobs guarantee would depend on the enactment of the Green New Deal, which would allegedly help rebuild the U.S. infrastructure and build a new energy system that would be 100 percent sustainable.

Yang's climate change plan calls for moving away from fossil fuels and creating a 100 percent emissions-free electric grid for the country by the year 2035. His proposals also aim for a methane recapture rate of 85 percent, the activation of new nuclear reactors and passing a "constitutional amendment that creates a duty on the federal and state governments to be stewards for the environment," said his website.

Continued here:

Andrew Yang Expects 'Many' of His Supporters to Back Sanders in Iowa: We 'Have a Lot of Overlap' - Newsweek

Find ways to improve the revenue of farmers: Congress – The Hindu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi government should implement a minimum income guarantee scheme to boost rural consumption, on the lines of what his party had promised before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and a national farm loan waiver to tackle rural distress, the Congress said on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference as part of the Congresss special series on the Union Budget, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan asked the union government to spell out its measures to double farm incomes by 2022.

Mr. Chavan demanded reduction in Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates on agriculture inputs to less than 5% and said the government should announce measures like universal basic income to put more money in the hands of farmers and the poor so that their consumption increases.

The party demanded that petrol and diesel be brought under the GST regime. He said the Centre had earned over 13.5 lakh crore by way of taxes on petroleum products in the past five years.

We demand that the government should put more money in the hands of 95% of the poor who live in rural areas and help improve consumption through schemes like MNREGA. The government should also bring a universal basic income scheme to ensure that there is direct benefit to people and money should go into their accounts directly to help improve consumption levels, Mr. Chavan said.

The Congress leader also raised serious questions about the Centres procurement policy, minimum support price, functioning of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the crop insurance scheme. I want to give some figures. In 2019-20, the total amount disbursed as compensation to Kharif crops is 153 crore, while the premium collected by the insurance companies is to the tune of 25,853 crore, he said.

Mr. Chavan said that for the farmers income to double by 2022, the agriculture sector would have to see a compound growth rate of at least 12% annually, while it was only growing at 2.9%.

How will Indias dream of becoming a $5 trillion economy be accomplished, Mr. Chavan asked and asserted that Indias official data had now come under the global scanner for its credibility. There is a lot of jugglery of figures going on and, therefore, the credibility of India is being questioned, he alleged.

Mr. Chavan also said the Centre was in default when it came to paying the States share of taxes and claimed that the union government owes 15,000 crore to Maharashtra alone.

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Trump to let states overhaul Medicaid for the poor, seeking to change Obamacare without legislation – Washington Examiner

The Trump administration released guidelines Thursday for letting states accept a limited amount of money to cover poor people in exchange for flexibility in spending the funds.

The program, commonly known as a "block grant," is an approach long favored by conservatives for limiting spending on Medicaid, which pays for healthcare for poor and vulnerable people. Democrats, however, criticize the idea as stripping healthcare benefits from needy people.

Thursday's move is the latest example of Trump administration efforts to overhaul Obamacare after the Republican-controlled Senate failed to pass legislation to do so in 2017.

Joe Grogan, director of the Domestic Policy Council, said in a phone call with reporters Thursday that Seema Verma, who runs the Medicaid program, had worked "vigorously" to change Medicaid absent of congressional action. The administration is framing the move as one that will "protect and strengthen" Medicaid.

The Trump administration is calling the program "Healthy Adult Opportunity," and it's expected to face legal hurdles. Under the current Medicaid structure, the federal government matches a majority of what states pay for Medicaid every year. The change proposed by the Trump administration would mean the federal government gives states a set amount of money each year instead.

The plan applies only to the Medicaid expansion population that gained coverage under Obamacare. Before Obamacare, states varied in who got Medicaid, but the program generally went toward pregnant women, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Those groups still get Medicaid now, but the program added low-income people as well, who qualify if they make less than roughly $17,000 a year.

Conservative lawmakers have opposed the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid, saying that the program should pay for healthcare for the most vulnerable, and alleviate massively long wait lists in states for people with disabilities who are seeking housing and community care. Fourteen states have not expanded Medicaid, in part because of this philosophical difference, but also as a political stance to oppose former President Barack Obama's healthcare law.

States that participate in the program will need to regularly report back to the federal government to show how beneficiaries are doing. They would not be allowed to limit Medicaid enrollment but would have to stick to the Obamacare income rules.

Under the guidelines released Thursday, states would be allowed to exclude certain types of prescription drugs or ask patients to try cheaper versions before moving to more expensive ones, but they must continue to cover all drugs for mental health and HIV. The current Medicaid program requires that all drugs be covered, so the move would put Medicaid more in line with private health insurance practices.

Critics, including Democrats, say block grants amount to cuts to the program. They also have warned that states may incur costs that they don't expect, including if a high-cost drug hits the market or in the case of a natural disaster.

Todays announcement is the cruelest step yet by the Trump administration to slash American healthcare and dismantle basic safety net programs like Medicaid, said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Alaska are among the states that have considered the block grant trade-off. States wouldn't be able to change right away but would need to apply for the program and then go through an approval process with the federal government. Once states get the funds, however, they wouldn't have to apply for as many changes when deciding how Medicaid dollars are spent.

Under the current structure, federal officials have a lot of say about how states spend Medicaid dollars since the federal government covers the majority of costs. State officials have complained that Medicaid is inflexible and doesn't allow them to meet the various needs of their residents. Every time officials want to make a change to the program, such as letting more people receive substance abuse treatment, they have to go through a long application process with the federal government.

States have complained that filing waivers is cumbersome, involving piles of paperwork and months of work with no guarantee of approval. It can involve top officials from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget, as well as state officials and governors.

In the phone call with reporters Thursday, Verma said the administration's latest move was also intended to help Medicaid become more sustainable.

"Medicaid is the first or second budget item for states, crowding out other priorities such as transportation and education," Verma said.

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Trump to let states overhaul Medicaid for the poor, seeking to change Obamacare without legislation - Washington Examiner

P.E.I. groups say basic Income should not replace addictions, other supports – The Journal Pioneer

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I.

Two organizations that serve marginalized people said they support a basic income guarantee pilot in P.E.I. but said such a program should not replace existing supports for people facing addictions and mental health issues.

The leaders of the Native Council of P.E.I. and the Upper Room Hospitality Ministry offered their thoughts and recommendations on the possibility of a basic income guarantee to members of the legislative standing committee on poverty on Wednesday.

The committee is tasked with providing costed recommendations related to a basic income pilot on P.E.I.

Basic income is an experimental anti-poverty policy that would give a cash payment to all individuals who earn below a certain amount, regardless of whether they already have a job.

Lisa Cooper, president of the Native Council, and Matthew MacDonald, a policy analyst, offered recommendations related to off-reserve and non-status Indigenous people on P.E.I.

We are now the most impoverished, more impoverished than those that live on-reserve. And this is often forgotten in most programming, be it in P.E.I. and in Ottawa," Cooper told the committee.

"The funding doesn't seem to come to us."

MacDonald said individuals facing addictions and mental health issues would need additional supports if they received the basic income payments.

"Without proper supports in place like timely access to mental health and addictions support, such individuals, participants in the proposed project may be at risk of endangering their health with a new source of income," MacDonald said.

MacDonald said the specific barriers faced by off-reserve Indigenous people should be kept in mind.

He referred to a 2015 Supreme Court of Canada decision that found that the federal government had a duty to recognize the treaty rights of non-status people, or Indigenous people who may not be a registered member of a band.

Cooper and MacDonald recommended that a basic income pilot be offered to individuals within the age group of 18-64, that it consider people from diverse and marginalized backgrounds and that the model be a negative income tax model.

This means it would be offered to people who earn below a certain amount. Both also suggested community organizations be directly involved in recruiting for the pilot and offered the services of NCPEI for this purpose.

Mike MacDonald of the Upper Room Ministry also said a basic income program would benefit low-income individuals he sees every day.

The organization runs a soup kitchen that serves 12 meals a week, as well as a food bank.

But MacDonald also cautioned against looking at basic income as a replacement for other social services, such as mental health and addictions counselling, housing supports and education programming.

Basic income is not the only answer, but its certainly part of the answer, MacDonald said.

MacDonald said he believes such a program should be offered for people living in poverty throughout P.E.I.

He said having a cash payment that would help people take care of their food and shelter needs would relieve a lot of stress.

MacDonald said his organization tends to offer support to many individuals within the age range of 18-64, but also said some as young as 15 are also fed.

He said he has noticed an increase in recent immigrants accessing services and said this group accounts for about 15 per cent of his clients.

Stu.neatby@theguardian.pe.caTwitter.com/stu_neatby

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P.E.I. groups say basic Income should not replace addictions, other supports - The Journal Pioneer

5 Psychological Forces That Turn People into Political Hacks | Aaron Pomerantz – Foundation for Economic Education

Theres really no denying that we are in a time of deep political division. With everything from the impeachment proceedings to a contentious election cycle that began as soon as the midterms ended, it seems we may have indeed become the divided republic the American founders feared. Though there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future, there are key psychological forces affecting our political discourse and decision-making that, if not addressed, guarantee our political system will not improve.

Tempting as it might be to just blame politicians and pundits in DC for the rise in tribalism, the truth is that these psychological forces affect us all, regardless of age or background. If we truly want to see change, we must examine how each of us is affected by these forces and learn to break free of them. The consequences of doing so will be far-reaching and impactful.

The old adage that two heads are better than one is generally true. However, in groups where unity and conformity are valued above optimal decision-making, groupthink may occur.

Groupthink is when individual critical thinking, personal beliefs, and ideologies are abandoned in favor of whatever the group believes is the best idea. Any doubts or questions about the decision-making process are ignored or quashed in favor of the groups survival. This is especially true when the group making the decision feels threatened by an extreme us vs. them situation, something clearly experienced by both parties in the current political climate. Decisions made under such circumstances are often disastrous.

Closely related to the phenomenon of groupthink is group polarization. Groups are something of a gestalt entity in that they are often greater than the sum of their parts. Being part of a group can intensify our attitudes and beliefs in a phenomenon known as risky shift. The group discussion feeds into itself, and we become more extreme and polarized.

Both groupthink and group polarization are commonplace problems in todays political society. Both sides of the political spectrum have become less and less tolerant of dissent, and both are being pushed further toward extreme beliefs.

We must overcome the dangers of groupthink and group polarization by valuing principle over conformity.

We see this on the left, where even supposed moderate candidates like Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg support extreme positions on gun control, environmental policy, and health care reform. We see it on the right as free-market and small-government values give way to economic protectionism and the expansion of federal power. In both cases, these attitudes can be observed to not only affect the politicians who make decisions but also their constituents.

Now, conformity is not an inherently bad thing. We all conform to questionable family traditions over the holidays for the sake of peace. However, while ugly Christmas sweaters are harmless fun for those who enjoy them (personally, I dont get it), this isnt the same as sacrificing our individuality to the whims of a political group.

Both groupthink and group polarization can be alleviated by devils advocates and their assertion of individual beliefs and opinions. If we want to break free from political tribalism, we must overcome the dangers of groupthink and group polarization by valuing principle over conformity and by not being afraid to speak outeven if it threatens the unity of our political groups.

One of the most unique features of the American political experiment is that our founding documents explicitly lay out the belief that all people are created equal, each possessing intrinsic and inherent value, worth, and dignity. Political discourse over the last decade, however, has largely operated contrary to this ideal. Both sides of the aisle lament this loss of civility in politics, and theyre both right.

Political rhetoric and behavior have served to dehumanize our opponents on all sides of the political spectrum. Phrases like trumpkin and libtard all dominate the political discussion. Even words like fascist and socialist have been divorced from their original political and economic meanings, instead becoming labels to affix to our opponents to justify treating them however we want. We behave as if simply holding the wrong political opinion makes one less worthy of the respect and dignity due to all human beings.

Nobody wants to sit down and have a discussion with someone who dehumanizes them.

Such dehumanization thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as our behaviors and attitudes toward other people can actually shape them to conform to our preconceived notions. By treating people like they are subhuman, we end up inspiring them to behave in just such a fashion. We thus perceive our initial dehumanization as justified even though we ourselves are part of the problem. This continues the vicious, self-supporting cycle that has dominated American politics over the last decade.

Ameliorating this problem is both simple and difficult. The golden rule is well known but rarely practiced, especially in an atmosphere as divisive as our political society. However, it is imperative that we do so not only for the moral purpose of respecting human dignity but also for the practical purpose of allowing actual political discourse and decision-making. Nobody wants to sit down and have a discussion with someone who dehumanizes them.

This is not to say that we cannot and should not disagree with other viewpoints and ideas. However, we must do so in a way that attacks the ideas, not the people, and recognizes the truth of innate human dignity. We should resolve to follow the golden rule even when it is difficult (as it surely will be) and refrain from dehumanizing our political opponents.

Heuristics are mental shortcuts that we use in everyday life to conserve our cognitive resources. Ordinarily, heuristics are adaptive, positive strategies; we simply dont have the time or resources to actively think through daily habits like driving home from work or how to behave in a meeting. When overused or misapplied, however, heuristic thinking can be disastrous, especially in terms of political decision-making and discourse.

One powerful example of heuristic thinking gone wrong in politics is the availability heuristic, where we judge the prevalence of a phenomenon based on how easily we can call it to mind, regardless of whether our mental representation reflects reality. For instance, both violence and crime are at an all-time low and decreasing. The world is getting better.

However, if you look at political rhetoric and decision-making, you wouldnt think this was the case. Because we can easily call to mind examples of mass violence or dangerous criminals, we think these are commonplace occurrences even though they are not. The result has been that we encounter and treat others not as individuals but as mere representations of abstract stereotypes that are unlikely to reflect reality.Thus, we might make decisions divorced from reality. In politics, these decisions become uselessor even dangerouslegislation, from the zero tolerance criminal justice policies pushed by Attorney General Barr, to potentially disastrous red flag legislation.

Another example of maladaptive heuristic thinking is the representativeness heuristic, where we judge people based on how well they conform to our mental representations of stereotypes. This can be seen in the recent generation wars between millennials and baby boomers, exemplified in both the Ok, Boomer craze and categorizing all millennials as snowflakes.

The same principle can be seen in how we treat the abstract notions of Trump supporters or liberals, to say nothing of ethnic stereotypes. The result has been that we encounter and treat others not as individuals but as mere representations of abstract stereotypes that are unlikely to reflect reality.

Heuristic thinking is good for small, everyday decisions. However, when it comes to politics or people, it utterly divorces us from reality. To make our political society better, we must all engage with those around us in an honest, effortful, and appraising way, not simply continue relying on mental shortcuts.

Any decision we make involves what are known as construal levels. Construal levels refer to the psychological distance between us and the concepts in play, with distant concepts thought of abstractly and idealistically (the high construal level) and close concepts thought of concretely and practically (the low construal level). While the high construal level can be helpful for coming up with an idea or setting a goal, the low construal level is equally necessary for making and implementing any sort of decision.

Modern political discourse and decision-making are entirely wrapped up in the high construal level. The border wall? Mexico will pay for it! Dont ask how that will happen or why it hasnt already. The trade war? That will help us beat China, although what it means to beat China has never really been defined, and weve already begun to see the negative consequences of protectionist economic policy. Free health care and universal basic income for all? Well figure it out when we get there, even if these ideas are economically impossible.

Its all well and good to discuss abstractions, but without a plan to realize them, nothing will be accomplished.

However, the best example might be the Green New Deal, which contained not a single shred of practical considerations for its implementation and exemplifies high construal level thinking without any consideration of practicality.

Again, the solution to such problems is both simple and difficult. In such an idealism-driven political society, we dismiss naysayers who question the practical implications of political plans. However, in all political discourse and decision-making, we must consider both construal levels. Its necessary to consider high construal level ideas when setting goals. Even the lauded idea of small government is a high construal level goal since it is incredibly distant from our current reality.

However, without a willingness to think on the low construal levelto think about the practicality and feasibility of plans and goals, including what might potentially go wrongno good decision can be made. Its all well and good to discuss abstractions, but without a plan to realize them, nothing will be accomplished. We must not only think about high construal level ideals but also low construal level realities, and we must demand that our government and representatives do the same.

Psychological reactance is what occurs when we are told we cannot do a thing and, resentful of a perceived threat to our freedom, proceed to do precisely what we were warned against. As with the aforementioned phenomena, reactance is widely observable across the political spectrum.

When we are told that perhaps mocking and attacking children is inappropriate behavior (especially from adults in positions of social or political power), the immediate response is to simply double-down and attack them harder, be it Greta Thunberg or Barron Trump.

When words like retard are condemned for being insensitive toward the disabled, the immediate reaction is to protest in the name of freedom of speech, disregarding the fact that just because you can say something doesnt mean you should. We must instead focus on furthering and defending our own beliefs and values in a measured and principle-driven way.When protesters bring up the systematic problems of police brutality, the response isnt to thoughtfully consider these issues but rather to celebrate the police as an institution even more unreservedly and even threaten those who protest them.

Of course, when our actual freedoms are threatened, there is nothing wrong with defending them. Indeed, it is right and necessary that we do so. But when we base our entire political personas on triggering the other side, it is neither conducive to discourse nor likely to produce any sort of change.

Rather than basing our political identities on ideas and values, we instead become pure reactionaries and often break the laws of good taste (to say nothing of the golden rule). Rather than basing our political discourse and decision-making on pure reactance to our opposition, we must instead focus on furthering and defending our own beliefs and values in a measured and principle-driven way.

Breaking free from political tribalism does not have a top-down solution. We cannot change the behavior of the big people in Washington, DC, nor can we change the behavior of others around us.

However, we can resolve to change our own political attitudes and behaviors. All we can do is choose to work against the psychological forces impeding our political discourse and decision-making. If we choose to do so, the effects will not be confined to ourselves alone but will also have far-reaching effects all the way to the top.

We have a choice before us: to continue the patterns of thought and behavior that have brought us to such a contentious political situation or to make a change. After all, in a representative government like ours, it is not ultimately up to politicians or pundits but to we the people to, and please pardon the truism, be the change we want to see in the world.

After all, the most basic level of society is the individual, and if we can practice individual self-governance, these changes will have a greater impact than any one of us could imagine. If we truly want to address the deep political divisions, partisanship, and tribalism, that sort of fix must begin with ourselves.

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5 Psychological Forces That Turn People into Political Hacks | Aaron Pomerantz - Foundation for Economic Education

WAYNE YOUNG: Island voices must be heard – The Guardian

Their voices ring like a call to action throughout the 24-page Vital Signs report, a thoughtprovoking reflection of how Islanders view their quality of life in 2019.

Overall, we measure up pretty well but through expert commentary, relevant data and most of all voices of Islanders, the report makes it clear theres still plenty of room for improvement. Voices like an anonymous participant in one of an Island-wide series of focus groups last summer who said diversity should be embraced and promoted.

While there is richness in the differing opinions, ideas and experiences that come with immigration and diversity, however, the participant said more still has to be done.

we need to fight fear, racism and bigotry with facts.

On the issue of poverty, an East Prince participant observed quality of life is based on more than income.

I tell my kids we are rich in love. Not everything is monetary value.

To fight poverty, the report offered possible solutions, among them, a basic income guarantee or livable wage, a fairer tax structure for lowincome Islanders and tying housing costs to income. Whats not needed is more study, said a Central Queens participant.

Weve been studying it to death and nothings happened.

The focus groups had plenty to say about housing. Clearly, some seniors are struggling.

Seniors cant leave their homes because theres nowhere to go, one participant said. They also cant leave hospitals because theres nowhere to go.

Again, there was no shortage of possible solutions, from intergenerational housing for seniors and students to more cooperative housing and publicprivate partnerships with more rental units geared to peoples income.

Under the theme Belonging and Leadership, some see a lack of meaningful input and participation into the planning process.

There are too many smart people with little sense who have never lived in rural P.E.I. making decisions, a participant from Eastern Kings suggested.

The perception of a widening rift between city and country, especially among rural Islanders, was addressed in a commentary by UPEI history professor Ed MacDonald. Although farm population continues to decline (3.1 per cent in 2016 compared to 63 per cent in 1931), he said it is agriculture that maintains the patchwork quilt that is intrinsic to Islanders quality of life.

And, he said, if the perception of two islands where there was once one cannot be bridged perception will become reality.

Health and well-being, of course, was a major issue addressed in all focus groups. Many participants called for a more collaborative approach to health care among government, practitioners and community, and to address the root causes of many health issues, like poverty and food insecurity, low educational levels, loneliness and lack of public transportation.

Money is nothing if you dont have health, an East Prince participant observed.

The Vital Signs report, a collaboration between the Community Foundation of P.E.I. and UPEIs Institute of Island Studies, offers a timely measure of Islanders wellness and quality of life.

Legislators would be well advised to carefully review the voices of those quoted in the report and to factor their observations into future decisions.

Voices like theirs should be at the forefront of the policy making process.

Wayne Young is a freelance writer living in Summerside.

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WAYNE YOUNG: Island voices must be heard - The Guardian