Homelessness, Poverty and an Unconditional Basic Income W. Robert Needham January 21, 2007 Position Statement: 1. The economic system, capitalism, is a private sector governance system that seeks profit as its one responsibility. As the economic system evolves fueled by technological change and associated reorganization private sector collectivization of the means of existence results (greater power and wealth and security for few). The system generates a variety of social costs including: unemployment, inequalities in income distribution, poverty, homelessness, deaths in workplace, environmental destruction (less power wealth income and more insecurity for the many). These social costs may be described as “evils.” Job and income insecurity within the system call out for a decoupling of income from production or work. 2. There is a public sector governance system, the state. The state is ostensibly democratic and concerned with fairness and equity. The state may or may not interfere with 1 to promote the common good. The state has to answer why it does not act when citizen’s job and income insecurity call out for a decoupling of income from work. 3. In theory the two systems of governance are contradictory in so far as 2 is supposed to be democratic and 1 is hierarchical and non-democratic. 4. In fact we find that 1 dominates 2 and this makes for corporatism —a merger of state and corporate power that is properly labeled anti-democratic and indeed fascist. 5. A UBI is a device whereby citizens are made more central. (Ideally in a people’s democracy 2 would make 1 the servant of the people and turn upside down the current reality that the system uses people for its ends). Based on the notion of equality rights of citizenship every man woman and child is given annually a certain amount from the national product. The amount given is called a UBI. The UBI is not taxed. Incomes earned over the UBI level are taxed. A properly funded level of UBI (at amounts not less than agreed upon poverty level) would make Canada fairer, more efficient and more democratic. The UBI is not a panacea but it is a necessary ingredient to restore a semblance of democracy. 6. UBI funding will comes from a variety of sources including rolling into the UBI existing income security programs and unemployment insurance. Guaranteed security from cradle to the grave has implications for organizations that have benefited (profit) from the insecurities of life. Diagram: Profit as Root of All Evil Note: This diagram and associated commentary, including material from Marx Schumpeter and McLuhan, is found in the document: http://economics.uwaterloo.ca/needhdata/Profit%20as%20the%20Root%20of%20All%20EvilREV.pdf Profit as the Root of All Evil: The Devil is in the Details W.-Robert Needham © 2006 Tec hnologic al Change s : cons tantly wash acro ss a s ‘m ediu ms with mes sage s.’ Increas es i n pro duction makes sca rcity of comm odities disa ppea r. The real prob lem is d istri buti on a nd a ssuri ng that each pe rson share s in the ben efits of techno logi cal ch ange . Prices and Costs Capitalis m as Fa scis m : "Fascism shou ld m ore a pprop riate ly be cal led corp orati sm b eca use it i s a merge r of state an d corpora te power." Private en terpri se capi tali sm i n contro l of the sta te i s th e roo t ca use of p roble ms. Never privatize! Th ere i s no free market only power and always s hirking of s oci al re spon sibi lity b y thos e with power. War for Markets and Ma rk et Sha re s : Compe titi on i s de stroyed and repl ace d by p rivate mul ti-se cto ral coll ectivizatio n of the mea ns o f existence. Imperi alis m exte nds the process from the local to the n atio nal and inte rnati onal level s und er th e ‘g loba lizati on’ labe l.. p1 Tota l Profit Social Costs a re Sys temic ally Gene ra ted yet a re not Counte d in Business Costs : Unem ployme nt, ineq uali ties in income distributon, poverty, home less enss dea ths in workpla ce, enviro nmen tal destruction, etc. All re quire Governme nt i nterven tion . AC 1 UBI : Note tha t at lea st four o f th e ab ove social co sts can be addre ssed , at lea st i n part, b y an Uncond itio nal Basic In com e. A UBI impl ies real freed om for al l. Bu t de bt sla ve ry con tinu es re quiri ng e xtra a nd b asic ins titu tion al chan ge.) Tota l Business Costs AC curve Q1 Output Levels Profit = (p 1 - AC 1 )Q; pric e is set and administe re d to markets ; de mand dete rm ines supply; since e ach price conta ins some i (interest) people a re debt sla ves from c ra dle to grave) Commentary: Marx, Schumpter and McLuhan. Washing acro ss o f waves of creative destruction is the med ium and the message.