image Family Dining (early 17th century) via Wikimedia Commons
image: war workers’ housing in Toronto in 1945 from City of Toronto Archives via Wikimedia Commons
Glass is more full than empty 3-page .pdf file
Senior Tory Hugh Segal was in the GTA this week advocating for a guaranteed minimum income. With an election underway you’d think we’d be all over this. Kinda weird, since a guaranteed minimum income “…could pretty much eliminate poverty entirely.” With a bit of a push?
image: bystanders help motorist in bad conditions – NARA via Wikimedia Commons
image: Library and Archives Canada
Most advocates of guaranteed national minimum incomes argue in favour of such a tool as a direct way to combat the ill effects of poverty and social difficulty in complicated economic environments. Business arguments in favour of minimum incomes are perhaps more important in certain places when it comes to seeing them enacted. We were really intrigued to come across a piece at Falkvinge & Co. sensibly advocating for minimum income from the point of view of high technology management and digital entrepreneurship in a dangerous, fast-moving future economy. That economy will feature serious insecurity for working people while being rich in opportunities and rewards for innovative behaviour in new environments. The country, city or region that best nurtures the dynamic players in the risky new world will be the ones to thrive. How best to do that?
Falkvinge.net is as close as you can get to the forward-most positions of the new economy. Perspectives and opinions there are edgy and sensible. How will a new Bill Gates evolve if she is trapped in a dead end job in the suburbs, wasting all her time and energy getting to and from insecure work that barely pays for a minimum dignity of life? How will the rest of us find our way as well? A guaranteed minimal income could help organize the most powerful aspects of the future economic life of places willing to adopt one. This argument is pure business: pure self-interest of a radical kind.
What a contrast to the embarrassing words of those who fight increased minimum wages in North America, let alone a guaranteed universal income, on the basis they would hurt business or reduce personal incentive to participate in the economy. This piece makes a case for a guaranteed income as a powerful tool that acknowledges reality and supports high quality entrepreneurship in a decentralized, increasingly open source world . This profoundly reverses opinions like those of TV businessman Kevin O’Leary. The latter’s recent cranky assertion that global poverty and the spectacles of wealth will somehow inspire future entrepreneurship seems quite mentally ill when read next to material such as this:
Infographics are fantastic things. They function like road maps to keep us from becoming lost in complex issues. Citizens for Public Justice whipped one up last year allowing Canadians to make a speedy and direct comparison of the social welfare system with its possible replacement: a guaranteed income. The GLI or Guaranteed Liveable Income emerges right away as a cheaper and less nasty way for Canadians to look out for those in social difficulty. The immediate cost of a GLI is more than balanced out by the reduction in costs accrued to society for the impact of crime, poor health and poor mental health incurred by social difficulty. Not to mention the bureaucracy and poor efficacy of current social welfare programs. We’re talking about billions of dollars and more importantly, the bedrock quality of life here.
The British Medical Journal looked at food costs and the diet/public health relationship in ten countries recently. They confirmed that it costs individuals more to eat fresher, healthier foods but that not making better diets part of public health policy will have high social costs. For a Canadian family the household budget requires an extra two thousand dollars a year to stay off a less healthy diet. With over 1300 comments and several thousand “shares” in just a couple of days CBC online coverage of the report seems to have struck a note with Canadians.
See also: (355) Meal break with Jack Monroe
image: Van Tol Retail via Wikimedia Commons
We like to keep an eye on other countries at suburban-poverty.com. The comparison of social conditions, especially in the other English-speaking countries, lends some insight into where Canada stands, helps us avoid the Fortress North America mentality that appears from time to time. Via the Guardian site today we find Britain looking at an increase in food bank use on the part of people holding jobs. If any one thing undermines the idea of a global economy shaped by neoconservative values it is the phenomenon of those in employment in poverty. An equation straight out of the nineteenth century.
image: tinned beans by Gordon Joly via Wikimedia Commons