Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Roderick Benns reports on Ryan Meili's argument for a basic income:
Dr. Ryan Meili was in Kingston, Ontario, recently to talk to more than 100 people about the importance of the social determinants of health in an event that was hosted by Basic Income Kingston. The social determinants of health influence health outcomes for people and include many components that work together, including income and income distribution, education, unemployment and job security, among others.

Meili described a basic income guarantee as “an exciting opportunity” and a kind of “social investment to counter inequality,” pointing out that getting people out of poverty is the first social determinant of health on the list for good reason. While there are many models for implementing a basic income guarantee, he says the most important thing is to begin the process and invest in society.
Tackling the common question of whether or not a basic income would create a work disincentive, Meili says most people want to be productive members of society.

“But when we give people just barely enough to get by,” he says, citing social assistance models, it doesn’t have the same kind of positive impact, either for that person or for society. He points out that in a bare bones welfare model, someone might not have enough money left over each month to be able to take a train ride to explore new employment opportunities, as an example.

One audience member pointed out that a parent may need to quit their job to obtain the social assistance benefit of getting their child reading glasses, calling the choices that need to be made “dehumanizing.”
- And Nick Hanauer and David Rolf discuss how the loss of economic security is resulting in wider damage to the U.S.' working class, while proposing another set of intriguing policy ideas to reverse the trend:
Economic security is what frees us from the fear that one job loss, one illness—one economic downturn amidst a business cycle guaranteed to produce economic downturns—could cost us our home, our car, our family, and our social status. It’s what grants us permission to invest in ourselves and in our children, and to purchase the non-subsistence goods and experiences that make our lives healthier, happier, and more fulfilling. It gives us the confidence to live our lives with the realistic expectation of a more prosperous and stable economic future, and to take the entrepreneurial risks that are the lifeblood of a vibrant market economy. A secure middle class is the cause of growth, not its effect; in fact, our economy cannot reach its full potential without it. And a middle class that lives in constant fear of falling out of the middle class isn’t truly middle class at all.
We believe that seeing growth as a consequence of including more people in a secure middle class not only accurately describes the real economy; it can unite progressives in a new and important way. Across the broader progressive agenda—on immigration, on education, on civil rights, voting rights, marriage equality, health care, pay equity, the minimum wage, and on many other issues—the one thing that our policies all have in common is that they are fundamentally inclusive. For decades, we have promoted this agenda largely as a matter of fairness, but middle-out economics explains why our policies are also inherently pro-growth. It is through this theory of economic inclusion, this message that growth and fairness go hand in hand, that the various elements of the broad progressive coalition—social justice and labor, along with Silicon Valley and business interests—can unite behind a single, coherent, pro-growth economic narrative that puts us squarely on the side of the middle class. And crucially, this narrative will appeal to voters beyond the progressive coalition—independent and swing voters, many of whom value the promise of growth and employment over the ideal of economic fairness.

We must do more than just offer voters a new economic theory—we must draw a sharp contrast with conservatives by proposing bold new policies predicated on the economic primacy of the middle class. The Shared Security System is one such proposal. But more than just demonstrating an innovative solution to providing economic security that is adapted to the sharing economy, a bold new proposal like the Shared Security System would demonstrate progressives’ unwavering and unequivocal commitment to the middle class—to the proposition that growth and prosperity come not from tax cuts for the rich, but from inclusive policies focused on creating a secure middle class.
- DIW Berlin finds that in Germany like elsewhere, a job is no guarantee of escaping poverty. And Josh Hoxie reports on Ecuador's creative plan to turn large estates into a social benefit for everybody.

- John Perry discusses how needed investments in social housing can reduce the cost of offering other social supports. But the ONS points out that the current trend is in the opposite direction, as the increasing cost of home ownership is forcing more and more people into overcrowded private rental units.

- Seumas Milne writes that there's no reason for the people who stand to suffer to meekly accept decrees of austerity from out-of-touch governments. And Sarah Lazare reports on a growing movement of UK citizens who agree entirely and are taking to the streets.

- Finally, Ethan Cox interviews Bill McKibben about the Cons' obsession with enriching the dirty oil industry at the expense of our economy and our planet alike. And Lizzie Dearden writes about Pope Francis' call for a change from a culture of di

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