You will by now have noticed that basic income is the word on everyones lips. An economic proposition is only valid for as long as the context in which it was devised remains static and the British welfare system has had to deal with some seriously changed context. A system devised around a breadwinner/unpaid carer family model has had to adapt to the most significant reorganisation of human family relations in history, gender equality, the care economy emerged, disability rights happened, the housing boom created by a debt based economy, an ageing population happened. Thee panicked responses to this by policy makers have resulted in some of the most seriously nasty welfare reform in its history. This is generating crises including the undeliverable Universal Credit that the Labour focused anti-cuts movement wouldnt let us discuss because they didnt want anyone discussing consensus on austerity or discussing solutions that dont include doing what they say,.noone really knows what to do right now. So the left are using Basic Income as a euphemism for ‘I dont understand welfare, I don’t understand the labour market, I dont understand the economy’.
These are some questions to ask the white, male, elite educated, politically connected, lefty trying to sell you basic income.
1- Housing Benefit as a system tied benefits to rent rates, first covering your entire rent, gradually reducing the number of properties available, and in 2010 slashing this with huge consequences to the bottom third of rents in your local area. Despite this it is tied to rents in your area. It is tied to the housing market and responds to it. And even though the housing market has malfunctioned is still more less holding after 70 years. Because it can respond to the housing market and is calculated according ot changing rents. How will a set rate basic income do this? Or will another benefits system be required for housing costs. When this is all over we need housing benefit system to do this to act as an early warning system for housing market overheating. How will UBI do this?
2- The motherhood pay penalty. The motherhood pay penalty is linked to the labour market, and changes constantly. Our benefits system currently responds to this by calculating tax credits according to wages, and then housing benefit being awarded if you cannot meet your housing costs. This is directly linked to a changing economy. How will your basic income model do this, given that amounts currently given to working and non working mothers for housing mean that a 25k benefit cap was deemed arbitrary and unfair by IDS himself and has seen challenges in courts.
3- Childcare. The UK has no state provided childcare, and our childcare is the most expensive in Europe. Rates can vary according to the town and provider, from a few pounds a day for after school clubs, to 700 -800 a month for private day nurseries(per child)When the Tories cut childcare allowances to 70% from 80% it pushed thousands of women out of work. How will UBI respond to childcare provided by a variable market?
4- The costs of disability are not related to employment they are about how much additional money you need to be mobile, to buy special goods, products, things which allow you to participate in the world. How will UBI respond to this? Will there be an additional benefits system?
5-Inequality. While mainstream welfare literature has focused on labour market activation, our benefits system provides information aboiut the extent of inequality and should correspond to race, gender and disability faultlines. Our benefit system has never had equality acts applied to it and so we have never used htis information but to get out of the current crises we will need to use this information. How will UBI record this?
6- Unemployment. We are supposed to use unemployment data to measure unemployment, The willingness of people to sign on once a fortnight allowed the most accurate measure of unemployment available. Conditionality is not essential to this, and has actually destroyed this tool but it needs to be restored. How will UBI measure unemployment?
7- The post work world where 100quid a week is a utopia. In a country with falling birth rates and an aged and rapidly ageing population, with a care economy that has emerged because this labour is no confined to the private family unit because women are independent economic actors, how do you propose this work will be done? How does a care economy guaranteed to expand constititute a post work world? Is this not part of the post work world or will gender equality just be rolled back? Basic income is always argued for by people who live in aw orld where all the work just happens around them, and they dont notice it. They are either not from a class who do this work, or are leaving a class who do this work via elite institutions and media, and the idea of a post work world is one where they dont do these jobs. They still need to be done. A two tier benefits system means we will be conscripted to do them.
8-Care work is done usually by low paid women who have to outsource their own care responsibilities to do this. See question about childcare.
9-Inequality. When you have your two tier benefits system with UBI costing a fortune and us still needing the above benefit system, how do you propose to solve the issue of inequality and unequal political voices. Left wing media and ‘radical’ activists didnt notice that austerity was entirely about the financialisation of institutoins concerned with social reproduction, the state taking control over peoples lives, about the economic centre postion and not them, and the transformation of our benefits system including a Universal Credit system that everyone knew was undeliverable in 2010. They actively prevented htis discussion and demosntrated they had maintained their culture entirely in the trade unions and press who were supposed to represent this economy. THis is a demonstration of unequal power relations. Left wing media are representative of the middle class who will receive UBI and have political weight to fight for UBI at the expense of thos on the bottom layer of the two tier benefits system. Who will lose.The people who already have no political voice because of a left wing media culture rooted in elite institutions. How do you propose your two tier benefits system does not end with those on the bottom tier being abused the way the undeserving of Beveridges world were abused?
10- How do you propose to pay for UBI, when we needto keep the above functions and what services will have to be dissolved to pay for it. Will it be the structural invisible services of care, child protection and benefits for inequality who took the brunt while said lefties had fun with austerity and made careers off it?
11- How will you be deciding a figure? What measure are you using to decider how much is enough to live on. Do you know anyone who can live on the 100quid a week or 74quid a week so far suggested? Because even people on the lowest single persons rate of JSA need housing benefit to live independently. How are you finding a figure that releases 64 million people from work when the median wage is 27grand a year? Who will live on this 100 a week, is it just the poorest? Could you live on 100quid?
12- Financial instability. We currently have issues with financial instability and our benefits system will turn outo be a key institution which stabilises our economy. Which is only going to increase in importance as we consider the ramifications of the increasingly important care economy. It fulfils this function because it is a natual reflection of the market economy and the ceiling of any cash transfer system will automatically reflect the lowest living wage, As seen by housing benefit bill(see question 1). How will UBI do this?
13- Tax credit claims are the only recordable measurable and quantifiable subsidy employers who pay no tax receive. Measurement of this is going to be quite important if we cant tax capiatl because revenue raising. How will UBI do this?
14- If you need an additional benefits system to fulfil the above functions, what specific problem in the UK benefits system does basic income solve?
15- how do you propose, if UBI is a goer(its not) to prevent the level of state control that a universal basic income would entail being used to abuse people. It took 70 years for social security to transform into labour market activation and abuse of those already covered by equality legislatoin You are saying 64 million peopke should be handed to state control.. What mechanism do you propose to prevent this happening when the entire country is under state control?
16- Self employed people. We have more and more self employed people, many with kids. They currently can claim tax credits and amounts change accordiing to fluctuating earnings. How does set rate UBI address this.
If you get past question 2, Ill be very surprised.
UBI is a euphemism for I dont understand welfare, I dont understand what happene dto our welfare system and I dont know any poor people and will never have to live on it. It is a regressive transfer of money from the poorest to the middle classes, from women to men, from those suffering race inequality to white people, from those with disabilities to the able bodied. Our last benefits system held out for 70 years before the context changed significantly enough round it that we need to replace it. How long will UBI last and how will it respond to changing economic and social circumstancesthat cannot be predicted? How long before a right wing think tank use the ideas of these pointless lefty dipshits to liquidate our welfare state for good? It doesnt cost money to stop using our benefits system to abuse people. It saves money. It doesnt cost money to simplify our benefits system it saves money. Only by assessing how social and economic context changed during its lifespan can you assess what is wrong with it and how to fix it. UBI is a way to avoid doing that and is dangerous nonsense that would be paid for by generations of people who are not connected to these lefty dipshits. for the next 70 years.
By the end of question 2 the answer will be we will have two benefits systems. All that happend with this one was that it was built around unemployed men and then it turned out not to be about unemployment at all. For 70 years those on the bottom tier were the undeserving. They want this recreated.