Across the world there has been a resurge of reimagining the future. Since the collapse of the capitalist system in 2008, many politicians, authors and economists have become concerned about the future of the economic landscape of the world over. Whether this is because of reasons of profit and growth, or those of worrying about the poor and how workers will survive. All of these reasons are valid since the cracks of the capitalist system have continued to splinter. Capitalism no longer has the reputation of being the natural order. Some want to replace it and others want to help it continue.
Universal Basic Income is one of the ideas being talked about to reduce inequalities and the broken economic system.Since the financial crisis, the richest people in the world have got richer and the poorest have got poorer, the riches 26 people in the world own the same as 50% of the world’s poorest people. In the UK most people at work are finding it difficult to make ends meet. We see it daily with the reports of the increase in food banks, the number of working poor and the increases in personal debt.
Furthermore, whilst these things have happened the state services have been hollowed out in the name of austerity. The public services that one could once rely on are now at their bare-bones fighting for survival. This is illustrated in the UN report on how damaging austerity has been for the UK.
Universal Basic Income is a scheme where everybody receives a basic income from the government no matter how rich or poor they are. It is not a benefit but a citizen’s right to ensure that there is a basic quality of life for all in the country. Several research projects found, contrary to popular belief that people will spend it all on drugs and cigarettes, that people actually spend the money wisely and that by having this money it allows them to concentrate on their life rather than paying debts. They then become more active citizens, who are less likely to engage in illegal activity, and more likely to contribute to society whether that be through volunteer work or the simple fact of paying taxes. Here is an explained from Norvara Media
This policy has been debated, tested and examined by both sides of the political coin. In the coming years we will probably see this policy adopted and implemented in various ways to suit the political agenda of whoever is in power.The idea behind universal basic income is incredible and to imagine a world where no one has to worry about lack of money or resources is one that I like. However, I think there is a huge hurdle that we need to get over first: Universal Basic Services.
Universal Basic Services:
the provision of sufficient free public services, as can be afforded from a reasonable tax on incomes, to enable every citizen’s safety, opportunity, and participation.
Doesn’t sound too bad , does it?
Universal Basic Services obviously isn’t as attractive as free money for everybody. Universal basic services is the idea that the services, that are provided by the government, are not-for-profit and are free to everybody in the country. This would include housing, public transport, car parking, electricity, gas, water, childcare, healthcare and medication, education and social care for those that need it. Whilst this might sound utopian, or even communist to some people, these are the things that are going to help people now.
Wouldn’t it be nice not to worry about going homeless or having to worry about paying for sanitary products? Not only would this help people to stop worrying about the necessities, but it would also increase equality for minorities groups, poor families and women. Not having to stay in toxic relationships so that you can keep the house over your head would help people in places where they feel trapped. Or, not having to quit work and your financial independence to look after a child or sick family member, which normally falls on women. These things would increase everyone’s quality of life. Freedom of choice is only good for people who have money to pay for it, true freedom come in the form of not having to choose between food for you or your children.
Mental health issues induced by poor social settings and poorly contracted work would decrease. People would not need to resort to terrible contracts and low pay offered by bosses who only want to look out for their profit margins. There would be less stress in home about rising rents, childcare costs or unemployment. The less social stress a person has the less they are likely to become mentally unwell.
A society that has what it needs functions better and can be more productive, people would be able to be active parts of the local economy. Paying taxes is not a burden it is part of society. This is a society that I would like to live in, one where everyone is cared for and no-one goes without the basics. One where we don’t have to worry about living pay check to pay check. No one should feel bad for using public services. A society that we can look after and be a part of. A place for people not profits.