A Guaranteed Basic Income for All

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. supported a Guaranteed Income:

“In addition to the absence of coordination and sufficiency, the programs of the past all have another common failing — they are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.

I’m now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Momentum is growing for a basic income guarantee (also known as a guaranteed minimum income). The government of Finland has proposed replacing welfare benefits with an 800 Euro monthly payment to all citizens.

WATCH: Martin Luther King Jr. advocating for Guaranteed Income

As you saw, a basic income is not a new idea (a pilot project took place in Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970s). So why the surge in interest?

The rising Precariat will demand a new social services support system

Work has become more precarious. Inequality is growing. Technology is putting more jobs at risk. These factors require us to confront the flaws of our social welfare system, which features unemployment insurance and welfare systems designed for a different time.

More and more people are living paycheque to paycheque

The high level of workplace stress shows that our social welfare system is coming up short. As reported by Benefits Canada, a survey by State Street Global Advisors showed that, “Nearly 60% of employees are emotionally stressed and distracted by their financial situations; 37% acknowledged financial stress has caused their productivity at work to suffer; 25% have missed work due to stress that stemmed from their personal financial situations; and nearly 50% are living from paycheque to paycheque.”

Rather than piecemeal, inconsistent, and overly complex social welfare programs, a basic income is a payment from the state directly to individuals, designed to provide a stable income to all regardless of employment status. This would go a long way to addressing workplace stress, and improving mental health.

More and more part time jobs

With part time, contract, and low-wage jobs on the rise, the financial security of a basic income would cover the unpredictable gaps in employment that are increasingly common. A basic income would also empower individuals to seek more fulfilling work, and put more pressure on employers to create healthy workplaces. A basic income could rebalance the relationship between employee and employer, as employers would know workers would be less hesitant to leave an unhealthy environment.

If provided at a level that cuts the poverty rate, a basic income would also boost the economy, by putting more money in the hands of low income individuals, who spend a higher proportion of income gains than those at higher income levels. Finally, since dealing with the consequences of poverty is costly to government, a reduction in the poverty rate could save the state a considerable amount of money.

The system is broken, we need new perspectives

As the world changes, the systems governing our lives must change as well. If more money is put into an outdated system, it will be difficult to create sustainable improvement.

While respecting past achievements in reducing poverty and expanding opportunity, we must always be willing to let go of systems that are no longer effective. Addressing the issues of unemployment, welfare, and poverty will require a new approach.

Read more about a Guaranteed Basic Income

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