Valuing income [GAI]

Posted on in Social Security Debates

TheGlobeandMail.com – Opinion/Letters to the Editor – Re: Minister Eyes Guaranteed Minimum Income To Tackle Poverty (Feb. 5):
Feb. 08, 2016.   Melissa Dvorak / Frank de Jong / Sid Frankel

It truly is time to have a public discussion about a guaranteed annual, and adequate, income for all Canadians. We have some of the basic elements in place (social benefits, graduated income taxes). We agree that, in principle, no one should go hungry or without shelter, but the bare-bones nature of most of these supports means that we have to supplement public programs with food banks and shelters.

The only argument against some form of GAI appears to be a moral one – that people would grow lazy and not work. That could be resolved by allowing people who work and also get the GAI the opportunity to keep most of the money they earn through work. To really address poverty, we should stop pretending, by throwing money into welfare and homeless programs, and start investing in people through a guaranteed annual, adequate, income.

Melissa Dvorak, Winnipeg

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A GAI, yes, but not if it is financed by raising income, sales, business or any other deadweight, economy-damaging taxes. Rather, it should be financed by capturing some of the economic rent – wealth that is created by the community and which should, in any case, be returned to the community. I suggest we call it a “citizen’s dividend.”

Frank de Jong, Faro, Yukon

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Because it is universal, a GAI would avoid the discrimination and stigmatization suffered by many welfare recipients. Also, it would increase personal freedom because use of the money would not be directed in a specific way. And it would compensate those involved in unpaid care work (mostly women), unlike current income-support programs that tie eligibility to labour market attachment.

Sid Frankel, Winnipeg

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