Basic income would solve so many problems

Posted on August 21, 2016 in Social Security Debates

ThePeterborough – Opinion/Letters to the Editor
Aug. 20, 2016.   Jenny Carter

I was glad to see the issue of a Basic Guaranteed Income raised in your paper, but sorry that so many people thought that it would create a class of lazy people and cause the rest of us to pay higher taxes.

Such a guaranteed income is probably the best, even the only, way that we can save our economy, and ourselves.

If people have no money, they buy nothing. If people buy nothing, businesses fail, creating more jobless people, in a vicious circle.

If people have no money they will be poorly housed, even homeless, and badly fed. They will probably be stressed out. They are likely to get sick, or have mental problems, or both. In despair, they may turn to crime.

If everybody had enough money to keep healthy and avoid the stresses of poverty, we would save huge amounts of money on medical care, and we would see our expensive prison population drop. Children would do better at school, and the pool of well-qualified citizens, anxious and ready to make their contribution to society, would increase.

We also have the problem that too many people with jobs find themselves in a highly precarious stuation, with intermittent or temporary work, wages unpaid or insufficient to live on, and an insecure future. They cannot make plans for their future, or take on a mortgage. Government needs stronger rules, and the will to enforce them. The floor provided by a minimum income would help to solve this problem.

This matter is becoming urgent as job after job is being automated. Mail delivery, retailing, and bank employees, for example, are being decimated by computer use. Taxi-drivers, industrial workers, and supermarket cashiers are under threat. Who will be next? Are we going to let the wage-costs saved by employers go to fatten their overseas bank accounts which are dead money, and do nothing to keep our economy working? Like robots, overseas bank accounts buy nothing.

There have been more pilot projects than suggested in your article, albeit not in Canada. This idea works. It does not discourage people from working. On the contrary, it makes them able to do so by allowing them to become healthy, well-educated, contributing citizens. We would all benefit from living in a more prosperous, more humane, community.

This is something all political parties could agree on. As dark clouds of unemployment, poverty, and recession, close in, we need it soon.

Jenny Carter, Hillcrest Ave.

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