Daniel Susskind ‘s book ‘A World Without Work rightly asks how do we share our combined income when clearly we can certainly no longer rely on ‘the market’ to organise its allocation. If indeed we ever could.
And we know that making an economic contribution through gainful employment is frequently and for a significant minority, unrewarding and low paid.
The author, in pointing out that 15 million people in the UK volunteer (and so do not appear in GDP), but still undertake useful tasks that need to be done, suggests we have to ask what gainful unemployment looks like.
Basically he thinks that in future, artificial intelligence will be so prevalent that few of us will have much to do and so a Basic Income will be required.
Personally I’m of the view that a Basic Income is required regardless – that would sweep away in one go most of the conditionality of citizens receiving government money. Thus, for example, Universal Credit recipients would no longer be required to decide on a ‘Claimant commitment’ with their ‘work coach’. Never mind that that universal credit comes with a built- in five week delay and is set at ludicrously low levels, the very language itself is that of charity and control. When in fact we should be electing government with a duty to create money for the benefit of everyone and not persist in playing off the good ‘workers’ part of the population against the other supplicant ‘shirkers’ part.
With the completely unnecessary awkwardness and stress this bogus conflict imposes it is no wonder mental illness is so pervasive.
When misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the monetary system is so widespread then these effects of trying to control spending on the one hand invariably lead to counterbalancing (or worse) expenses on the other. (Indeed I was recently amazed to hear – even during this pandemic – a Harvard Economics Professor say that all debt has to repaid by the public whether it was their own personal loans or government debt through taxes. Fortunately Steve Keen was on the panel and was able to inform him that governments own a central bank that creates money – individuals do not.) Meanwhile the average ‘hardworking’ citizen ends up as collateral damage.
Basic Income would do away with all the humiliating and purposeless bureaucracy.
Now that we are in the middle of a pandemic then the stupidity of the Universal Credit approach is even more evident – for many there will be no jobs to go to.
Instead of conditionalising people’s income, government should be issuing a secure income for everyone and then creating a diverse and prosperous local and national economy to ensure a modicum of universal prosperity post Covid and post Brexit.