Surely few will argue that poverty comes cheap. Poverty is a master issue found to amplify nearly all other forms of social difficulty from tooth decay to car accidents and much worse things like cancer and house fires. Public sector finances are merely the first, strongest indicator of the cost of poverty. In the case of Great Britain this effect is captured only too well in the new report at the link below. Serious stuff. Seventy-eight billion pounds worth.
Counting the cost of UK poverty
Joseph Rowntree Foundation (92-page .pdf file)
UK Big Boss Managers took until today to get paid the equivalent of a typical yearly wage for a working person.
“Fat cat tuesday” as top bosses pay overtakes workers
Fat cat tuesday 2016
Just as the joyful task of processing Finland’s basic income undertaking lifts off we encounter another endorphin-boosting news item on that very topic.
This one is from the UK, where things have been anything but progressive for a stupidly long time now. The Royal Society for Arts has released an initiative in support of a universal minimum income. The RSA is calling for about CAN$7500 per year with more for households that have young children.
Prestigious British think tank endorses basic income
Basic Income Earth Network (video 1:42)
image: CGP Grey via Flickr/CC
The Adam Smith Institute: apparently even this bunch of head-bangers gets it about basic income. They stopped gazing at their Ronald Reagan bobblehead long enough recently to write a report into what a good thing it is to level the playing field for real. These guys are major right wing cowboys: they would have provided intellectual support for such things as privatizing British Rail back in the day and for putting meters on daylight, mother’s milk and friendship. The point is not to be put off basic income when somebody objects to it from the right.
Press release: reform tax credits with a Negative Income Tax, says new report
image: surfstyle via Flickr/CC
US academic Alan Berube places Britain and America side-by-side in terms of their suburban poverty.
Suburban poverty in the US, in the UK
image: gavjof via Flickr/CC
April sees the eightieth anniversary of the start of the On-to-Ottawa Trek. We’d rather not wait to mention and think about the parallels between what caused the trek and where we are in 2015, they are that powerful. The trek was a social movement born of the immense difficulties of the Great Depression in western Canada. A large body of unemployed and disaffected men gathered and moved by rail toward the capital, orchestrated largely by the Communist Party of Canada, in order to protest their treatment at the hands of economic forces.
Just what a dramatic potential challenge to the austerity economics of the Canadian government the trek represented is largely forgotten. The tepid efforts of the federal government to do much for the unemployed beyond the provision of a system of labour camps offering a wage of twenty-cents-a-day provoked anger in many Canadians. The Tories botched their handling of the trek, which culminated in political scandal and the Regina Riot with two dead and over one hundred arrests. The next federal election saw the governing Conservatives punished with the loss of ninety-five seats.
Comparing the state of men labouring at twenty-cents-a-day to the interns and low wage workers of right now shouldn’t require much effort, whether you are the government or a working person. In fact, there would seem to be a continuity. Instead of railway boxcars we have, perhaps, the Internet drawing the ninety-nine percent together in a common cause; the fight against harmful impersonal economic forces that look set to overwhelm society.
The historian in us was drawn this week to black and white photos of men riding boxcars eastward. At first they seem like tokens of another world. Within minutes the same Twitter feed that brought us eighty years into the past delivered these two items.
Unpaid labour fits into Harper’s plan: Mallick
Employers embrace the warm glow of paying their staff enough to live on. The Walmart effect and the example of certain London local councils has led to pay rises for many. But poverty wages elsewhere could be hard to shift
image: On-to-Ottawa trekkers boarding rail cars in Kamloops, BC. Archives Canada via Wikimedia Commons