The following is an email exchange with a friend
Guy Standing on the interview insisted – and still does – that whenever means testing is used to determine a group who needs a basic income or similar benefit, there is a pretty high percentage of those people who in fact needed it and won’t get that support. And the woman next to him said there’s never been a fully functional means testing in the history of UK. So how does LIG fix this?
What Living Income Guaranteed proposes is making a simple question: do you have a way to get an income or not? It’s not going to be an extensive means-testing process as it is currently used for the various welfare systems which are mostly set-up to precisely give ‘the least’ to the ‘least amount of people’ which is Not our point at all.
Here it is to understand that the only reason why LIG proposes a per-request provision of a Living Income is simply for the smart use of resources. Of course if some government/nation decides that they do have sufficient to give to everyone, by all means they can of course do so. But we find it unnecessary to give it to someone that is already working that can instead be given an extra amount of income through raising their work-wage, which is part of the necessary incentives to keep people motivated to work, instead of opting to only conform with a Living Income.
We can also consider that the amount of money to cover the provision of a Living Income for everyone that requests it will be less than the amount that would be required every month/period of time to provide it for absolutely everyone. In this, the responsibility for corporations to provide higher wages will be part of their internal development benefit, wherein it has been proven that higher wages and better working conditions increase productivity levels as well as loyalty and trust to the business/corporation from the workers and consumers as well.
So the functionality of LIG is based on the best use of resources and simplification of tasks to provide it, which will be based on asking a couple of simple questions “Are you able to fend for yourself or not? Do you have a job or not” The answers to these questions can be ratified through the various data bases and means we have today based on the interconnectivity of the system. A quick search on an individual and you’ll know if they are employed or unemployed. It is not in our interest to make it difficult for anyone to be granted the right to live, we know how humiliating and time-consuming this currently is – we’re also interested in removing the current stigma that people get when they apply for welfare. Within this, it’s also about reminding ourselves that a living income is a living right, a human right that no one should be ashamed of asking for or claiming. The provision of it can be as easy as an electronic transaction once that it has been confirmed that the individual has no means to live, it shouldn’t be an arduous process at all, because there’s technology available to facilitate this.
So your idea of LIG-related means testing is the distinction between being employed or not will be used to decide. A rich unemployed land-owner gets the Living Income and a mother that takes care of her baby and has almost no money nor property of her own, gets the same Living Income. I still call this ‘imperfect means testing’. It DOES lower the amount of ‘required money generated by nationalized companies’ to an extent, because there are less people to divide the money to, so I’m not saying it won’t work. Anyway the nationalized companies have to have a certain level of product/service production to have a functional economy in a country. Heavily populated countries need a means to jump-start their necessity production capability, but also need to employ a hell of a lot of people in the nationalized companies at the same time. In a way it’s good that those countries that are overpopulated are less industrialized, because more machines means less jobs.
In some countries I believe they still will need more means testing than that. Guy Standing, even after having participated in implementation of pilot projects in places like India and Brazil, was adamant that there is enough money for basic income when corporate subsidies (and whatever else he mentioned) are diminished. He didn’t even suggest the tax changes as in LIG.
He spoke of basic income as something that only suffices to cover Needs of people who don’t have special requirements like disability. I’m not sure how much difference is between the money amount of Standing’s ‘basic income’ suggestion and LIG-suggestion. It seemed a lower amount that Standing suggested.
What is implied within this is that a rich unemployed person won’t ask for a living income – that’s why it is not ‘unconditionally’ given by default, but something you do have to request/ask for according to your necessity. It would definitely be a waste to give money to the rich guy that is unemployed. In this case the reasoning should be that because he doesn’t need the money, he won’t ask for it – that’s the idea and a point of honesty to be applied by the individual within the consideration of rather leaving that money to others that truly need it.
The productivity point is already a possibility – of course this will come with adjustments in relation to the current production/labor conditions, to make them environmentally sustainable and profitable without having to lose more money in for example extracting oil/gas and making of the end product less profit than what it took to produce it in the first place.
On heavily populated countries, you have to also see what percentage of those individuals will require a living income and which won’t. Another consideration is that it will depend on each nation where they draw the money from to cover a LIG system. We do propose this nationalization or a stakeholder process for all citizens to be eligible to one’s citizen’s dividends as it is being applied in Alaska. However when investigating Alaska and the industries you do get to see for example excessive logging of forests wherein it has become a sheer profitable scheme for the logging industry and the native corporations, with no environmental sustainability regulations – therefore this must be changed as well.
The fact that technological unemployment is one of the reasons that many are supporting the provision of a basic income is a good thing, however with that comes the realization that we will still require human-hands to work on things that are innately humane to do, such as teaching, psychological support, community planning/activities, more ‘out of school’ type of education similar to what we do, because people will have the time to research more, get more involved locally and politically to effectively change the fabric of our society.
We do agree there is sufficient money of course – every country spends on countless diverse programs to ‘fight poverty’ in non-sustainable ways, so LIG is intended to cover that fuzzy spectrum of societal change not only with money, but with the rest of alignments at a social and political level that we also propose.
We do get into the taxation point because it doesn’t make sense to cut your income while getting a raise and on top of that, pay taxes for every transaction; why not simply cutting income taxes and rather implement taxation per transaction? In this there’s no need to create a difference between taxing ‘the rich and the poor’ as that furthers the divide we also want to ameliorate. It’s simple: if you handle large quantities of money, then you should pay your tax on such transaction. If you consume small amounts, you’ll pay small taxation fee accordingly. You can expect a taxation hangout in January too.
The amount of money will vary from country to country – or in some case states. There have been numbers established for South Africa for example, however this will be up for each LIG team in each country to decide what’s best to propose. Of course in here one has to consider the government’s capability to cover it and the economic sustainability of it, also whether there still would be any other ‘welfare’ systems in place, which is not our idea. What we suggest is to funnel down all welfare systems to a living income system and reduce much of the ongoing bureaucracy and general hassle to ask for unemployment or any other social security benefit.
So the amount of money has to be tailored in a way that it is sufficient to cover all needs as a human right, and in this, we don’t impose quantity per se, but a minimum standard of quality.
Let me know if this clarifies the point to you.
There will always be those who ask for LIG even if they have money stashed away, unless cash is removed from the system. Well even then there is a possibility to stash something else that can’t be tracked but that’s where the population need to be educated, that the system can be trusted, for the first time, corruption is not needed for survival.
Not sure what you mean by quality vs. quantity. Overall it was clear.
I agree, and that’s a transitional process we will still have to deal with until the survival-greed mode is slowly but surely realized as a fear-driven tactic that was useful in the old paradigm, but not anymore where one’s right to life is simply guaranteed, the safety-net will always be there for everyone, whenever it is required – and that’s the certainty that will take time to seep into people’s minds and awareness.
So Education is a primary point along with the Living Income provision – I’ve said this many times in the hangouts as well – and precisely this trust has to be also developed with time. It is only normal to consider a process wherein just as a recently freed animal, it will fear every other human around until through time and consistency we realize that we can begin trusting each other again, as we will no longer be enemies or competing against each other for survival.
Corruption is also coming from a distorted sense of values, which will also be corrected once that is it realized one does not need to cheat in order to have more, because your needs are guaranteed; in this one will also develop a better sense of responsibility to our community, realizing how we can also support the system with one’s integrity and honesty in how we live and interact within it. This will be encouraged first through establishing transparency and openness of information for all the public to access public treasury accounts as well as directly participating in deciding how to allocate this money, such as participatory budgeting. These are some of the measures that can be implemented in an immediate manner to begin solving the ongoing distrust toward any form of institution: we have to fix it from the inside.
By quality I mean that: if you give money to people and your products and public services are negligible, it will be equal to nothing. So the provision of money comes along with a restructuring, an alignment and correction of all public services that are currently not good enough – at least I speak from my surroundings here – and raise the quality standards of our livelihood. This also applies to the lack of quality in products, the lack of good labor conditions, lack of proper infrastructure, the lack of quality jobs and education facilities that actually support our individual and collective development.
So, giving a certain quantity of money will have to go hand in hand with ensuring that the quality of living is a priority, instead of maybe giving a large sum of money to buy low quality products, have a low quality lifestyle with no education on how to best use your money, which would result in further problems.
Education as part of our individual responsibility is essential to understand what it means to take responsibility for being a supportive member of society, which extends to the kind of lives and activities we dedicate ourselves to –this will be each one’s responsibility and choice as well.
As you can see, the benefits of its application will be known for a fact once that we collectively agree to take the first step to test it out. This is why if you agree that we need these changes in our society, join us in our endeavor to take responsibility for the system we’ve created and walk it step by step to a process of change that we can all be aware participants of.
This is our chance to change things, let’s use it wisely
Join us and Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed: The Proposal