Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World
Roderick Benns, 2016
Fireside Publishing House, Cambridge, ON
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s announcement this morning of a three-community basic income pilot project would seem to move us happily to the forefront of one of the most interesting social policy developments in ages. It also attaches some extra timeliness to an encounter with activist Roderick Benns’s book on the topic.
Basic Income is a compendium of interviews, short articles and Q&A sessions on basic income. Benns supports a model based on a negative income tax in the amount of fifteen- to twenty-thousand dollars a year. (The Ontario pilot looks set to utilize an amount of seventeen-thousand dollars annually) A number of delivery models are possible for a basic income and the idea is to reform a patchy, outdated welfare system and place a minimum economic floor underneath all Canadians. The book functions as an intellectual diary logging the upward curve of interest basic income has enjoyed in Canada (and globally) over the last two years.
Benns is a true believer in the nicest sense of the term. His efforts are from the heart. Basic Income is peppered with the names of patient activists and the high profile Canadian political figures being drawn to this topic. Words from people in social difficulty describe how their lives might have been improved upon by a basic income and add some moral urgency to this policy matter.
Canadian mayors appear very frequently in Basic Income. Their words lend this book, and the concept, great strength. Mayors all over the country were canvassed by Benns in regard to a citizen’s income. Many weighed in with full enthusiasm, providing supportive quotations based on direct community knowledge. Indeed, the testimony of mayors from every corner of the country is the strongest component of this book. The municipal level of government is the one closest to the daily lives of people and who better than mayors to advocate common sense approaches to poverty and hardship?
The age of Internet search engines makes the lack of a table of contents or index somewhat excusable. The page at the end for further resources is a slim offering, however, considering the importance of social media and the Internet to activism. Basic Income is very important for content over format, even if the latter could be improved upon cheaply and quickly, in our opinion.
Three years is the length of the basic income pilot confirmed today for Ontario. Benns’s book offers readers a good tool for understanding and measuring this pilot and the progress of basic income around the world. No doubt Benns will be watching closesly and sharing insights.
Buy his book and visit his online project: precariouswork.com
Giving more people an opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead. Ontario basic income pilot to launch in Thunder Bay, Hamilton and Lindsay
Last week progressives held a public debate in Toronto on the matter of basic income. Some of us think such a thing could stop poverty dead while helping us cope with automation. It was great to see over two hundred people turn out for a live event on behalf of ideas and policies for a better society. We are big on basic income here but heard powerful moments of caution from the negative side of the debate.
There is a fear that a basic income could be a poison chalice of sorts. Austerity regimes might use the implementation of a basic income to sweep away what is left of the social contract. An effective amount is required to prevent that. Basic income also needs bolstering by other mechanisms that support social justice. That includes everything from good public transit to strong post-secondary education systems and more in between. Basic income won’t work in a bubble.
Ontario embraces no-strings attached basic income experiment. Province to follow trail blazed by Manitoba in the mid-1970s with plan to lift people out of poverty with unconditional monthly payments
Transparency legislation is the recommended tool for clarifying, and then presumably doing something about, the gap in incomes between men and women in Ontario. Looking quickly through social media and the mass media there appears to always be lots of dumb commentary denying the entire idea of a pay gap by gender.
Yes, there’s plenty to consider in regard to who gets what in the economy and why they get it. Factor in race and things become even more complex. Complexity, however, should not mean ‘impossible to comprehend fairly’. The incentive is a common sense one: when women do well in the workforce everybody benefits, children, partners, other women, pets, and yup, even the men.
Ontario urged to tackle gender pay gap with transparency law. Gap between men and women’s pay has barely narrowed in three decades, advocates say
Who is minding the gap? New data show the split in annual earnings between men and women persists in Canada, Tavia Grant reports. If the trend isn’t addressed, long-term drawbacks for our economy will be unavoidable
Equal pay day: a wage gap fact check. How would someone go about finding the true wage gap numbers across gender and race groups in the US? Mona Chalabi investigates on Equal Pay Day
These are reasons why we need Equal Pay Day
A business of any size should be able to realize a benefit in worker behaviour and community image by paying a little more than minimum wage. That’s the simple (and lovely) idea behind the living wage movement, represented in Ontario by a non-profit advocacy group or two and, it would seem, a small-but-growing number of employers. This can only be a good thing.
No, the beer isn’t free yet, but for Canadians, it’s only fitting that a brewery is among the early adopters of living wages! Now to get the big players in every sector doing this. If someone works forty hours a week and is still in poverty something is wrong.
‘Treat your staff right’: pay employees a living wage, new business alliance says
with 2 videos
For a while now we’ve suspected the term ‘middle class’ to be almost functionally useless outside of perhaps the occasional nostalgic descriptive exercise. This recent essay on the Canada Without Poverty web site looks at the term.
image: Donkey Hotey via Flickr/CC
A really strong piece from a Finnish source on how necessary and amazing basic universal income will be.
It’s not just about automation and robots…
Basic income and the new universalism
The Next Era tulevaisuustalo.fi
image: Adventures Into the Unknown/Tom Simpson via Flickr/CC