The Bootleg Green

Switzerland and US interested in the idea of a Citizen’s Income

The Tory war on poverty is not quite what they would have you think. It’s not a war on poverty. It’s a war on those who are suffering in poverty. In the UK one of the most vulnerable groups suffering poverty are children. “ Ian Duncan Smith has set up a system of industrial scale attacks on families, which eventually results in children in poverty suffering abuse. They go hungry“, so argued Bedford Burrow, in his blog yesterday.

It would seem that around the world “thinkers” and Governments are starting to realise this is a problem that needs to be addressed. And it seems one of the ideas they keep coming back to is the Citizen’s Income. John Sutter in his CNN iReport, “The argument for a basic income” has a good look at what America is thinking. You might be surprised by what he finds.

The first thing to note is that the US has the second highest rate of child poverty in the developed world. The worst is Romania.  These figures come from UNICEF.  The Americans are interested in a Basic Income (Citizens Income) because child poverty costs the US $500 billion a year. No small amount.

Alaska have had something similar to a Citizens Income for 30 years

Alaska have had something similar to a Citizens Income for 30 years

So why the interest in a Citizens income to solve child poverty. Well it’s obvious that children are not the cause of their own poverty, they are children. But children depend on adults. So if the adults the children depend on are in poverty, if follows that children are the innocent victims.

Sutter then writes, ” For starters: This tidy, egalitarian concept isn’t new, and its support isn’t limited to the radical political left. Dig through the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s little discussed book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” published in 1967, the year before his assassination, and you’ll find an endorsement: “I am 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.” Milton Friedman, the Nobel-prize winning economist who was an adviser to conservatives Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, also supported a variation of the idea. ”

The Swiss are voting on whether to introduce a Citizens Income next year. One town in the US has already introduced its own local Citizens Income. And it seems to working quite well. It’s a way to share out the wealth amongst those who help to create it, the local community.

This is the basis of the argument. If you are part of a community that produces “wealth”, you are entitled to a share of that wealth. We all make a contribution. We are all entitled to a share.

Here in the UK, there is the crackpot idea, put about mainly by Tories, and not challenged by many, that we have a breed of Super Humans who are called “Wealth Creators”. WE do not. We have a community (Country) where everyone contributes to the creation of wealth. Not just a few so-called “wealth creators”. Every adult is entitled to a share of the wealth created here.

Sutter looks at the costs and the benefits and how it could work.

It’s an idea that’s catching on. The only reason you will not hear about it is that the “Wealth Owners”, and the vested “Power Interests”, don’t want you to hear  about it. You are going to get  the scare stories. Duncan Smith and the Tories will bash the “Something for nothing” drum. It’s what you would expect. The Tories whole existence is based on the idea that we have members in our community who are only deserving of poverty. Their benefit reforms are all about punishing the poor. And labour are too scared to propose something so radical.

In fact this is from The Guardian on 27th January 2015, The Green Party Flagship Would Hit The Poorest Hardest, say experts . If you read this you’ll find those  “experts” didn’t quite say that. So if the Guardian are a bit “scare tactic”, What will the rest do?

So it’s down to the Greens to propose an idea that’s so left-wing only the free market, neo-liberal US, and Switzerland, are looking into the idea.

Don’t expect  any other of the UK political dinosaurs to adopt the radical  approach of the  Greens.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

The old politics, what a problem, what are we going to do with them?

I know.  Vote  them out.

This is what the Green Party are saying on Citizens’ Income

EC730 A Citizen’s Income sufficient to cover an individual’s basic needs will be introduced, which will replace tax-free allowances and most social security benefits (see EC711). A Citizen’s Income is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship. It will not be subject to means testing and there will be no requirement to be either working or actively seeking work.

EC731 The Citizens’ Income will eliminate the unemployment and poverty traps, as well as acting as a safety net to enable people to choose their own types and patterns of work (See EC400). The Citizens’ Income scheme will thus enable the welfare state to develop towards a welfare community, engaging people in personally satisfying and socially useful work.


That’ll do for me. Oh, and Alaska have been doing something similar for 30 years.

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This entry was posted on March 4, 2015 by in Bedford Green Party and tagged , , .

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