Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Discussion Group - Basic Income

We had a very lively discussion on basic income, a disarmingly simple idea, a guaranteed minimum income that is given unconditionally to everyone without work requirement regardless of wealth, income or age. On top of a basic income everyone can earn extra in a paid job. Basic income shall allow every human being to fulfill basic living needs.

We touched on the main Pros

  • It would reduce unemployment and the stigma correlated to it
  • It would tackle poverty and give dignity esp. to the poor and elderly
  • It would underpin non-profit, not-well paid and/or un-paid jobs (like charity work, creative jobs, care of children or elderly) 
And main Cons:
  • Too expensive to finance
  • People would stop working
  • No one would do low paid/unpopular jobs anymore
With regard to the last point, the effect of it might be that people would have to be paid much higher wages to do such jobs, which could then be seen as a positive effect.
We further discussed how close we are to making basic income reality in countries like Finland where 65% of parliamentary candidates were in favour of basic income or Switzerland. Even the Green Party in the UK talks about basic income in their current election manifesto. We concluded with the main obstacle/ open question of realising such a simple social idea:  Is basic income possible in the current political system of capitalism - a profit driven system, where the gap between extremely high paid and low paid jobs is still too high? We finally agreed that we as humanists lean towards the idea of basic income with its very humanistic values but we remained sceptical if the time and circumstances of this simple idea have come yet. “Stronger than a thousand armies is an idea whose time has come” (Oscar Wilde).  

The next meeting is on 21st May when the subject will be ‘World Population Issues’. All are welcome; we meet at 8.15pm at The Waterhouse, 67-71 Princess Street, Manchester, M2 4EG.
We are not booking a particular room but will aim to meet in a room at the far end of the building from Princess Street. It would be helpful if you would let John Coss know if you will be coming (email:secretary@gmh.humanist.org.uk or phone@ 0161-430-3463). 

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