A Few Words More About Basic Income

I have written previously about the necessity for a measure of Basic Income in the UK, about how some limited examples of it have in fact existed for decades (eg Child Benefit) and in one case since before the First World War (basic State Pension). I make no apology for returning to the subject. It is important.

When someone inherits a vast fortune or lives off a trust fund, few say “he will now do nothing and be idle and useless”. In fact, few of such heirs and/or trustafarians are idle. Whatever may be said about David Cameron-Levita, one charge hard to make stick is that he is or was idle. His careerism may have been taken at cruising speed only, but he did not sit back and treat life as a holiday. He worked hard for 25 years or more on his career, however badly that turned out for the British people. The trust monies he lived off, the rumoured £40M he inherited, did not make him notably lazy, bearing in mind that he had no need to work at all.

Then take the example of Zac Goldsmith. Again, there is much to disparage in him, but it cannot be denied that someone who inherits a rumoured £400M or more has no need to engage in politics, work as an MP or do anything. Yet he does do these things.

Lottery jackpot winners rarely do nothing. Some (arguably absurdly, bearing in mind the wealth they have won), start businesses, others even carry on in the same jobs they had when they needed the money paid as remuneration.

As Adolf Hitler said, the essence of European man is creative work. It is immanent or inherent. Basic Income (whether at a level that truly covers all living costs or only part) is simply a recognition that the individual needs money and that not all persons are able to earn it, that not all people are fortunate enough to inherit it. More than that, the Basic Income idea understands that society pays in other ways in the absence of Basic Income: social security bureaucracy, with its attendant costs (salaries, equipment, buildings etc); court and prison costs; the huge costs of paying out “assessed” and carefully-doled-out benefits and so on.

The individual in receipt of Basic Income has a measure of personal security which is at present known only to those who have trust income, inherited capital etc.

Some studies indicate that even a very limited measure of Basic Income (as little as £50 per week) has a very positive effect on the recipients and society. It is a step-change, from neo-Victorian pennypinching to a modern approach that looks at things in the round.

Already, many who work full-time in the UK cannot live or live decently on the pay they receive. It is topped-up via working tax credits, by child benefit etc. Robotics advances may take away 30% of UK jobs in coming decades. It is time to implement some element of Basic Income.

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