Wednesday, 18 January 2017

An urgent necessity

Guy Standing argues that "the 20th century income distribution system has broken down irretrievably."

"Globalisation, technological change and the move to flexible labour markets has channelled more and more income to rentiers – those owning financial, physical or so-called intellectual property – while real wages stagnate," he writes in The Guardian.

"The income of the precariat is falling and becoming more volatile. And chronic insecurity will not be overcome by minimum wage laws, tax credits, means-tested benefits or workfare. In short, a basic income is becoming a political imperative," he says.

Noting a range of pilot programs under way around the world, he stresses that "pilots can only test certain behavioural aspects of paying a basic income and seeing what people do differently."

On the other hand, UBI proponents "rest their case on more fundamental justifications – social justice, freedom and economic security" which cannot be tested by pilots.

Nevertheless, he notes that several pilots showed positive effects. "A well-known experiment in the Canadian town of Dauphin in the 1970s showed that recipients of the basic income suffered less from ill-health and mental stress," for example.

Moreover, in the largest Indian pilot, about 6,000 men people in eight villages received a small basic income for 18 months. Four positive effects were observed: benefits to welfare, positive equity effects, positive economic effects, including more work and labour, raised productivity and output, and reduced inequality, and finally, there was a growth in secondary, self-employed work.


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