» basic income ¦ What You Can Get Away With

Political Illiteracy – Chris Dillow wonders about the connections between economic crisis and political crisis.
Custard Creams Are Cheaper Than Cous Cous, But You Can’t Expect A Fucking Baroness To Know That – Eating healthy isn’t as cheap as some think, and just being poor is expensive.
The legend of the free labour market – the idea that there was a period when governments didn’t interfere in labour markets is a myth, according to Flip Chart Fairy Tales.
The next affluent society – “The problem of capitalism is no longer making enough stuff but, rather, finding consumers affluent enough to buy it.”
Another open letter to Russell Brand (this one’s shorter and not shit) – Stavvers on the real problems with Russell Brand, which aren’t anything to do wit how hot or cold someone’s lunch might be.

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mphbasicFirst of all, let me just say thanks to everyone for their response to my post yesterday about basic income. There clearly are a lot of people out there interested in the idea, so I’ve been spending a bit more time thinking about how we can take it forward.

I think there’s two main areas that we need to work on, though within those areas there are lots of other issues to be dealt with: policy and promotion.

Policy is the discussion of just what type of basic income we want to see, from the question of do we want a universal basic income, guaranteed minimum income, negative income tax or any of the other variants that have been proposed through what sort of level it should be set out to how does it get paid for and implemented? From what I’ve seen in the last day, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the basic idea, but perhaps a lot of differences about the detail, and that’s something we need to discuss.

Promotion is the question of how do we get from where we are to getting a basic income policy adopted by the party. There are educational issues of how we get information out there to people about what basic income is and issues of how do we want to go out and take the discussion to people to win the argument for basic income. It’s also about getting supporters on side who’ll take up the idea in Parliament and out in the press, as there’s a bigger argument to be won than just the one in the party.

Both of those issues are linked, and we have to be careful not to get into a chicken-and-egg situation where we discuss ourselves into permanent inaction: ‘we can’t go out and publicise basic income to people until we have our policy right, but we can’t get our policy right until we talk to people and find out what version they want’

So, to move on the discussion from the ‘that’s a good idea’ stage we’ve reached, I’ve created a couple of groups to discuss the issues some more and hopefully get us moving on.

There’s an email list on the Lib Dem list server which you can find out more about by clicking here. If you’re registered with the list server you can subscribe there, otherwise you can do it by emailing sympa@lists.libdems.org.uk with ‘subscribe basicincome’ in the main body of the email and no subject line.

There’s also a Facebook group called Liberal Democrats For Basic Income, which you can join by following that links and clicking ‘join group’.

Hopefully, those two should cover most people’s preferred options for discussing, sharing and planning, but if you have any other suggestions or proposals then please speak up and let us know as I don’t want to exclude people from discussions, but hopefully we can now start to move forward and get some things done!

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basicincome

We will work towards the eventual creation of a new ‘Citizen’s Income’, payable to all irrespective of sex or status… Unpaid work will at last be recognised as valuable. Women caring in the home, for example, will receive an independent income from the state for the first time. The Citizen’s Income will be buttressed by a single benefit for those in need, unifying income support and family credit, with supplements for people with disabilities and for child-care support. These reforms will ensure that every citizen is guaranteed a decent minimum income, whether or not they are in employment.

So what bunch of crazed radicals came up with that policy? Well, it’s from the 1992 Liberal Democrat manifesto.

Yes, Citizen’s Income (also known as Basic Income and many other names) was Liberal Democrat policy for a while, until it got dropped in 1994. Despite some people wondering if it might make a return under a previous leader, it’s remained in the Home for Former Policies ever since.

(If you what to know more, the Basic Income Earth Network and Citizen’s Income Trust are good places to start)

Recently, though, I’ve noticed lots more people talking about the idea, especially in terms of thinking of new ways to run and organise the economy, and the more I read and think about it, the more I think it’s not only a good idea, it’s a great liberal one. What better way to free people from poverty, ignorance and conformity than guaranteeing a basic income for everyone? If you want opportunity for all, why not free them from worrying about how they’re going to meet their basic needs? A fairer society where people have the chance to use their opportunities to develop new ideas can lead to a stronger economy because people had the chance to get on in life rather than being ground down as they sought to simply support themselves.

And I’ve run out of party slogans to use here, but I think you get the point. What we need, though, isn’t just to sit around and agree that it would be a good idea, but work to actually make it happen. I think it needs to be more than something that just floats around in the ‘that would be a good idea’ cloud, but to get it into party policy, let alone getting popular support for it and making it happen, is going to require work to do so.

So, to try and push it forward, I think we need to find a way to get supporters of Basic Income within the Liberal Democrats together and talking about it so we can set out a path to achieving it. I’m open to suggestions on how we go about doing that – email lists, Facebook groups, blogs, forums, Twitter hashtags, posted newsletters, conference meetings and whatever else are all possibilities, depending on interests – but I think the important thing is getting organised and doing it, not waiting around for something to happen.

So, if you’re interested, say so in the comments here, or let me know some other way – there’s links to my varied social media contacts at the side – and we’ll come up with some way of getting us all talking and planning. If there’s enough of us, who knows what we might achieve?

Richard Hofstadter and America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism – Not just limited to America, of course.
Robert Reich: “Paid-what-you’re-worth” is a toxic myth – “Fifty years ago, when General Motors was the largest employer in America, the typical GM worker got paid $35 an hour in today’s dollars. Today, America’s largest employer is Walmart, and the typical Walmart workers earns $8.80 an hour.”
Why American Eggs Would Be Illegal In A British Supermarket, And Vice Versa – It might not sound that interesting, but here’s a look behind the scenes at how regulation has affected food production differently on both sides of the Atlantic.
Good Riddance, Fred Phelps – And that’s how you write an obituary for a repulsive individual.
A nation of slaves – “Today, in the political discourse of the west, it is almost unthinkably hard to ask a very simple question: why should we work?”

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