Thursday, February 05, 2015

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Joe Gunn reminds us that ignoring the issue of poverty won't make it go away. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on a national campaign demanding a plan to deal with poverty at the federal level.

- Roderick Benns discusses the prospect of a guaranteed annual income with Wayne Simpson. And Whitney Mallett is the latest to look in depth at how the successful Mincome basic income plan might spread much further:
Critics of basic income guarantees have insisted that giving the poor money would disincentivize them to work, and point to studies that show ​a drop in peoples' willingness to work under pilot programs. But in Dauphin—thought to be the largest such experiment conducted in North America—the experimenters found that the primary breadwinner in the families who received stipends were in fact not less motivated to work than before. Though there was some reduction in work effort from mothers of young children and teenagers still in high school—mothers wanted to stay at home longer with their newborns and teenagers weren’t under as much pressure to support their families—the reduction was not anywhere close to disastrous, as skeptics had predicted.
The recovered data from “Mincome,” as the Dauphin experiment was known, has given more impetus to a growing call for some sort of guaranteed income. This year, the Swis​s Parliament will vote on whether to extend a monthly stipend to all residents, and the Indian government has already begun replacing aid programs with direct cash transfers. Former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich has called a BIG “alm​ost inevitable.” In the US, Canada, and much of Western Europe, where the conversation around radically adapting social security remains mostly hypothetical, the lessons of Dauphin might be especially relevant in helping these ideas materialize sooner rather than later.

There are other compelling arguments for a guaranteed income now. Despite record corporate earnings, most people are not benefitting. Wages are stagnant, unemployment is high, ​student debt and health care costs are soaring, and the job market is not rewarding those who are already employed with enough money for a decent way of life. The so-called ​Uberization of the workforce, in which workers are paid by the task rather than on a salary or under an established hourly rate—is increasing the precariousness of work. (And that's not to mention ​robots and artificial intelligence taking away jobs.) As the concept of universal healthcare spreads and minimum wage is debated, conversations around reconsidering or expanding social security are growing.
- Ryan Meili interviews Harsha Walia about the importance of building healthy connections between immigrants, refugees and our wider communities.

- Michael Adams and Maryantonett Flumian muse about some of the causes of low voter participation rates. But as Craig Scott points out, the Cons' message to (selected) voters that their democratic involvement isn't welcome can't be helping matters.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom rightly argues that even if the Cons would accept some parliamentary oversight over new CSIS powers, that wouldn't represent an acceptable tradeoff for the public. Karl Nerenberg offers four reasons to be alarmed by C-51. And the Winnipeg Free Press concludes that the Cons' terror bill risks far too much for no apparent benefit.

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