Looking the Basic Income Gift Horse in the Mouth

Published on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin No. 1241, by John Clarke, April 1, 2016.

… Looking Deeper Into the Gift Horse:

As soon as you start to look into the question of Basic Income or, as it was often called in the past, Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI), you are immediately struck by the ease and enthusiasm with which free market thinkers and warriors of the neoliberal order have embraced the concept. From Milton Friedman to Charles Murray, the idea has found warm support on the political right. There are some clear and obvious reasons why this is so. Firstly, the very idea of a basic level of income is about establishing a floor and right wing proponents are confident they can locate it in the basement. A low and inadequate social minimum seems to them a great way of folding in existing, relatively adequate programs so as to, precisely, drive people into deeper poverty.  

Another attraction offered by a low universal payment to those who take the side of the capitalists is the potential role it could play in depressing wages. In a recent contribution to the Union Research blog on the issue of Basic Income, Toby Sanger, draws attention to the Speenhamland System, a wage supplement arrangement put in place under the English Poor Laws between 1795-1834, and the role it played in driving down wages. Low wage paying employers could rely on the tax base to pay their workers wages and employers who had been paying higher wages were under an incentive to lower them in order to obtain the same benefit. In the present context of vastly expanding low wage precarious work, this danger is one that should not be underestimated.

The right wing Basic Income agenda, however, sets its sights on more than cutting benefit levels for people in poverty and depressing the wages of the lowest paid workers. Potentially, it is a means to gut social programs and to decimate the workforce that delivers them. The notion is to use the basic payment to advance the pace of privatization enormously. This kind of payment would replace public services and all who received it would become customers shopping for their social needs in the private market. Not just income support systems, but public housing, healthcare, education and transportation are threatened by the parsimonious universal payment envisaged by free market Basic Income.

A Different Kind of Basic Income? … //

… We are in a period when capitalism and the governments that represent its interests are increasing the rate of exploitation and reducing the level of social provision. That is not about to change and any redesign of income support systems we confront will be all about furthering, not limiting, levels of social inequality. This is a particularly bad time for the lamb to accept an invitation from the lion to lie down. Basic Income will be no panacea and the fight for income adequacy will continue, of necessity, to take the form of social mobilization against an agenda of austerity and regression.

(full text).

(John Clarke is an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty OCAP).

(my comment: my only doubt about BGE is that the financial oligarchy will use this tool to reduce us all to our daily bowl of rice, thus cementing poverty for everyone. The only benefice: we would gladly be united … AGAINST it, thus a very good idea would be quickly out of discussion.
Fazit: BGE is only possible with absolute democratic control over the WHOLE world’s financial system, otherwise it will become quickly a nightmare
– Heidi).

Related Links:

Consider the daily running debate about this item on this blog: Basic Income Guarantee BIG – Revenu de Base – Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen BGE:

Basic Income on wikipedia in the following languages (some selected): en; de; (fr); es; it; nl; fi; sv; ru; ukpt; pl; hu; ar; da; no; ko; zh; el; ja; …

Economic related Swiss referendums:

about BIG:

about Monetary reform:

Let inspire you by unemployed workers union on Google Images-search;

Other Links:

Days of Revolt: How We Got to Junk Economics, 28.26 min, uploaded by The Real News;

The fall of America and Bernie Sanders 2016 – Chris Hedges, 72.40 min, uploaded by Azize Psp;

… and this:

uploaded by Fouch-o-matic Off Grid:

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