We Had Better Be Getting A Universal Basic Income Out Of This

I can’t imagine that I’m the first one to have this thought or to say it out loud, but I am a little surprised that I haven’t really heard it expressed yet.

When all of this coronavirus business blows over and things get back to normal (whatever that means), we need to think long and hard about a federal universal basic income. Something to which everyone is entitled once they hit voting age. An amount that a person can be reasonably expected to live on. Something tied to the cost of living rather than the arbitrary, out of line with reality pittance you get if you’re having to rely on a program like Ontario Works, for example. Something that will allow you to pay rent or a mortgage, to buy food and clothing, to make sure you have heat and hydro. A safety net so that people don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from if they happen to lose their job due to downsizing or a factory closure or a global pandemic. Something they can turn to if they can’t find a job once they get out of school or if there’s just no work in their field right now.

I’m sure that even after what we’re all going through now there will still be plenty of people who will crap all over an idea like this, but just think about it. Wouldn’t life be so much less stressful today if you weren’t having to deal with an overtaxed EI system? Wouldn’t you be so much happier right now if you weren’t having to navigate the rules of a slapdash emergency relief benefit that changes almost every day? If we had a single system, none of that would be a problem. We would all know what to do, because we would all be playing by the same set of rules on an equal field. It would be nice, it would be fair, and it wouldn’t be impossible. The money to make it happen is clearly there. All we need is the will.

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  1. I keep saying I wish Ford hadn’t cancelled that damned pilot, if only so we’d know if it was actually doing what it said on the tin. I’ll freely admit to being skeptical of the idea, but not because we can’t afford it or it wouldn’t be sustainable. As you said, clearly we can afford it–and not just provincially. It’s more whether or not it would have the almost guaranteed effects people said it would. I want to believe it would, but you know me. I’m an evidence guy. We all know a lazy welfare recipient. That doesn’t mean they’re the majority, that just means they exist. If, say, 10% of Ontario Works recipients are that way, does that translate to 10% of basic income recipients being that way? More? Less? Are those same recipients just lazy because they can’t afford to do shit, or because they don’t want to do shit? A Horwath voter would probably say the former, a Ford voter the latter. Awesome. One of you prove it.

    1. What little data people managed to get out of the pilot seems to show that it was working.  There were recipients who were able to go to school to upgrade skills thanks to the newly found flexibility, some who already had jobs got better ones, I think there were even a couple who started their own businesses.  And that’s not to mention the ones whose health improved because they didn’t have to stress over every decision, were able to afford better places to live and could buy food on the regular.  I think I posted about one of these studies not all that long ago…yes, here it is.

      Not that any of us could have expected what’s happening now, but it sure makes the decision to scrap this thing so early look even worse in hindsight.

      1. Like I said. I like evidence. And not gonna lie, if a basic income existed 3 years ago I might have thought twice about taking this particular job. I like being employed, but folks getting CERB right now are doing slightly better than I am. But I’m in a better position than most on these systems, and I know that. Granted I also considered going back to school before Covid, even while keeping this job (100% exempt employment income for the win), but if you give me the same choice with a basic income, I don’t even have to think about it. But that’s me personally. Guy next door might see it differently. Which is why after I’ve slept for about a week, I’m giving that study you linked a look.

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