- David Olive offers his take on what a basic income should look like - and is optimistic that Ontario's ongoing experiment should hit the mark:
A UBI would be pointless in the absence of existing supports. In the Ontario pilot projects, the payout for a single person will be $1,689 per month. That’s still short of living costs. Average Toronto rent for a two-bedroom apartment ($1,450 per month) and a Metropass ($134 per month) leaves just $116 per month for food, clothing, prescriptions and other costs.- Meanwhile, Emily Mathieu notes that rising rents and other costs are driving the working poor away from Toronto. And Dennis Raphael discusses the importance of political choices in ensuring physical and mental health.
The model devised by Segal, a longtime advocate of UBI, is a sound and cautious one. Its payout is not that much higher than current welfare support under Ontario Works, whose payouts equal about 45 per cent of the Low Income Measure.
But the Segal payout, combined with existing welfare, is enough to lift recipients above the poverty line, ensuring substantial income for workers in precarious jobs and for those in the unpaid workforce. The latter includes tens of thousands of volunteers, whose social contribution is of immense value but doesn’t show up in GDP stats.
A well-designed UBI equates to freedom. Freedom from exploitative employers. Freedom to launch a small business or develop an invention despite a lack of employment income. Liberation from the “poverty trap,” where taking a paying job means surrendering welfare and other benefits. And freedom to escape an abusive partner relied upon for room and board.
We’re coming back to UBI now because the “social contract” between employers and workers lies in ruins. The decline of unions has consigned powerless workers to exploitative workplaces. And the tax system has been perverted to liberate the wealthiest 1 per cent from paying their fair share.
Income inequality is a widespread crisis. How we handle it will be a defining factor in shaping the 21st century.
- Angus Deaton discusses how extreme inequality leads to unstable and unrepresentative governance. Peter Waldman highlights the importance of in ensuring that any jobs provide both stability and a reasonable standard of living - as political spin about auto industry jobs in the southern U.S. states has led to little but exploitation in the face of minimal unionization and corporate-owned governments. And Harold Meyerson calls out the corporate media's bias against a fair minimum wage (among other basic protections for workers).
- Daniel Tencer writes that the next stage of trade negotiations with China is likely to include demands that Chinese employers be able to import workers on their own terms, while seeking to eliminate any talk of human rights or national security.
- Finally, David Rider examines the Ontario Libs' secrecy around their Hydro One selloff - which includes hiding information about who has been involved in the privatization and at what cost. And we should expect similar secrecy - and reason for suspicion - if Bill Morneau follows through on the federal Libs' continued musings about privatizing airports and other public assets.