Citizens’ Income

Grace 1I find this Green party policy attractive. My sister called it ridiculous, because unaffordable and not giving proper incentives, as well as that the party had no power to implement it. I feel that it will appeal to a particular kind of personality, and rational persuasion of its value will be more difficult for others.

It will appeal to communal people, like me. We like “everyone to get along”, and have a high level of altruism. Perhaps altruistic is a better word. Altruistic people build strong communities. Individualists look out for themselves. This is not because they are bad, but because of their character, and has advantages for the whole community as the individualist seizes advantages no other has seen- as long as those advantages are not to the detriment of others, but benefit the Relative Least Advantaged Person.

Grace 2The communal person will see that only a hurt or damaged person will seek to be a freeloader, or feel unable to better themself by working for additional income. The individualist might see attraction in freeloading and be suspicious of others being tempted. The Green party sees the informal sector- people doing each other favours- growing, a highly communal view.

Initially, the citizens’ income would be partial, not including housing costs, and housing benefit would remain means tested. HB would be extended to cover contributions towards mortgage repayments. Eventually, the CI would cover housing costs, taking account of the variation of housing costs across the country, from high to insanely high.

Grace 3To me, the stress of the constant threat of loss of income to benefit sanctions makes a person less likely to find work. There were 554,000 sanctions in eight months to June 2013, a 10% increase on a similar period in the previous year, on 2.5m JSA claimants at any one time. We need more carrot, less stick. The CI would achieve Beveridge’s ideal of a reliable safety net which would not stifle initiative or incentives. Now, we have no safety net. There would be incentives to take part time work. More people could undertake higher education or training. The tax system would be simpler. Redistribution of income from the wealthy to the poor would increase the flow of money, as the poor spend more of their income on basic services.

Now, employers pay low wages and the state makes them up with tax credits, but with a CI it would be easier to change jobs, and so employers would have to pay realistic wages to retain staff.

How would it be paid for? By replacing current benefit payments, reducing administration costs in the tax and benefits systems, and improving economic efficiency. Because fewer people would be caught in the poverty trap, more would be practically available for work. Multinational companies do not pay tax on profits created in Britain under the current system.

Much of this is cribbed from the Citizens’ Income Trust.

2 thoughts on “Citizens’ Income

  1. I love the idea too. I’m not sure what’s happening with the referendum on it in Switzerland, but I’m eager for them to give it a go so we can see a working model. I think it’s the kind of revolution that we need to shake up the way we structure society and view each other.

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    • I had not been aware of that. Thank you.

      A year ago the activists provided the necessary 100,000 signatures to trigger a referendum, but I cannot find that it has been held. Reddit (yeah, yeah, I know) says the process can take more than two years, as the Federal Council then Parliament has to discuss the proposal and make a recommendation.

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