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A basic income scheme for everyone


ERA member Doris Phelps has drawn our attention [1] to a statement by Prof Guy Standing, of the University of London, who is co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN). He calls on politicians to make ambitious social reforms towards ensuring financial security as a right. He argues for an unconditional basic income as an important step to a new approach. If politicians fail to take the necessary decisions, he predicts a wave of anger and violence, and the rise of far-right parties. Here is the relevant extract [1]:

“The only way to provide sufficient economic security is to do so through providing every legal resident in society with a basic income as a right. This is what great utopians have advocated, the likes of Thomas More, Tom Paine and Bertrand Russell, and has been supported by distinguished economists.

” Critics have screamed that it is unaffordable, would reward idleness, and slow economic growth. We may soon find that we cannot afford not to have it. The idea that every person should receive a modest monthly payment is gathering legitimacy. ”

In his best-known book The Precariat (2011), Standing blames globalisation for plunging ever more people into the precariat, which he analyses as a new emerging social class, suffering from job insecurity and also identity insecurity and lack of time control, not least due to workfare social policies.

In our view, a basic income scheme could be operated as part of a package of economic reforms.

In particular, the scheme could operate in parallel with a guaranteed employment scheme, with a basic income available to non-participants, along with a more generous payment to those able to participate.

1. D. Phelps, Advertiser, letters – 19 Oct 15

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