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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.
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