Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot proposes a basic income as one of the great ideas needed to challenge corporatist orthodoxy:
A basic income (also known as a citizen's income) gives everyone, rich and poor, without means-testing or conditions, a guaranteed sum every week. It replaces some but not all benefits (there would, for instance, be extra payments for pensioners and people with disabilities). It banishes the fear and insecurity now stalking the poorer half of the population. Economic survival becomes a right, not a privilege.

A basic income removes the stigma of benefits while also breaking open what politicians call the welfare trap. Because taking work would not reduce your entitlement to social security, there would be no disincentive to find a job – all the money you earn is extra income. The poor are not forced by desperation into the arms of unscrupulous employers: people will work if conditions are good and pay fair, but will refuse to be treated like mules. It redresses the wild imbalance in bargaining power that the current system exacerbates. It could do more than any other measure to dislodge the emotional legacy of serfdom. It would be financed by progressive taxation – in fact it meshes well with land value tax.

These ideas require courage: the courage to confront the government, the opposition, the plutocrats, the media, the suspicions of a wary electorate. But without proposals on this scale, progressive politics is dead. They strike that precious spark, so seldom kindled in this age of triangulation and timidity – the spark of hope.
- But Digby notes that it shouldn't be much challenge for a renewed set of progressive ideas to stand out in comparison to free-market doctrine - as three decades of conservative political dominance in the U.S. have led to nothing but miserable policy outcomes for anybody but the corporate elite.

- Andrew Jackson points out the connection between inequality and poor health. And Owen Jones worries that the UK's National Health Service may already be dead thanks to concerted Conservative efforts to destroy it.

- Finally, John Ivison makes the obvious point that the most important factor causing Canada to be a climate change laggard is Stephen Harper's obstinate refusal to do anything but maximize short-term oil industry profits - and even Tasha Kheiriddin tears into Harper for his constant strategy of pitting economy against environment. But the most important reminder of the dangers of short-sighted resource exploitation comes from Yellowknife, where the public is now on the hook for a billion-dollar cleanup bill as a toxic mine falls apart long after the corporate sector lost interest.

[Edit: Added Ivison link.]


  1. I found Monbiot's most relative criticism focused on the need to end the scourge of corporatist media cartels. That, in collaboration with a corporatist state, like Cameron's or Blair's for that matter, is what keeps the populace cowed and vulnerable to manipulation.

    We in Canada are beset with the same problem, one that neither the Liberals nor the New Democrats deem worthy of mention. Only the Green Party has a specific policy platform calling for the dismemberment of the media cartel, media divestiture and the restorati9on of a free and democratic mass media in Canada.

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