Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Emma Paling discusses how the security of a basic income provides the opportunity to escape an abusive relationship. And Jim Stanford collects four views of a basic income from Australia, including this (PDF) from Ben Spies-Butcher:
There are two broad ways that politicians talk about welfare and social services that create these very different dynamics. One way is to tell a story of shared need. We all get sick, we all need Medicare. We all get old, we all need the pension. Those needs are often experienced differently. Some people get sick more than others. But the story focuses on what we have in common, and the policy is designed to emphasise what unites us. This creates a politics of universalism, and it does so even when the policy isn’t technically universal. In fact, there is little genuinely universal about Australia’s social policy; the pension sits next to super, Medicare next to subsidies for private health insurance. But the politics of these programs is based on a story of shared need, and so powerful is that story that even governments that initially opposed Medicare now legislate to retain it, and both sides of politics feel compelled to defend the pension.

The other story is one of rule following and deservingness, and ultimately of division. We can see it most obviously with immigration. Our expensive, unaccountable and inhumane system of offshore detention is the end result a form of ‘wedge politics’ based on showing how some people are deserving and others are not. The logic of ‘queue jumping’ mirrors the logic of breaching and quarantining for Newstart – it suggests there is a legitimate way to behave to access help, and if you do not behave that way you are cheating the system and should be refused. Conditionality is thus the cornerstone of wedge politics, it is the mechanism both to ‘test’ deservingness and to demonstrate to the public the importance of recipients being deserving. Of course, in both cases the very mechanismsthat are overtly designed to ‘test’ deservingness ultimately cause everyone to fail. In the public’s mind all refugees are suspect, and all those on Newstart are stigmatised.

It has been a very long time since progressives have won a debate about wedge politics. Victories are much more likely when campaigns reframe their goals in the language of universalism – as in ‘marriage equality’ and ‘love is love’. Of course, income payments are not the only way to reduce inequality and establish dignity. Decent jobs and social services are also important. Basic income is not a magic bullet, and when it is pitched as a retreat from those claims, as cheaper than public services or a safety net for mass unemployment, it is clearly not a progressive claim at all. But in the world we have, income is a basic social need – like health, education and housing – and income from employment is not guaranteed. In the short run, at least, it is an essential part of any progressive vision.
- The Equality Trust introduces its push for an Ownership Charter toward a more democratic economy in the UK.

- Jesse Eisinger writes that there may be a reason why the authors of extensive criminal activity around Donald Trump expected to avoid answering for their actions, as it's only the increased scrutiny of the political context that's led to the investigation of the type of white-collar crime which all too often goes unaddressed.

- Finally, Christo Aivalis examines some of the aftereffects of Maxime Bernier's announcement of a new, hard-right federal party. And Brent Patterson highlights the need for a serious response to Bernier's move to tap into the xenophobic sentiment that's done so much harm in other developed countries. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:59 a.m.

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.