The social contract is not what it seems

There is a notable piece from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) ‘Imagining a New Social Contract’, on the desirability of having both a Universal Basic Income and Universal Basic Services. Indeed, I come more and more to the conclusion that this style of scheme is likely to be the only real way to offer a completely different agenda from government’s existing all-pervasive thinking – so called Neoliberal Capitalism.

Many ProgressivePulse readers may well have also decided that this sort of agenda is desirable.

If you need further convincing, both Universal Basic Services and Basic Income help affordability, the last by improving income just because there is a guaranteed regular weekly income that can be relied upon, and the former because it takes away the need for any income at all, at least for the relevant service provided.

There is, of course, overwhelming evidence that financial stress is bad for mental (and in the end, physical) health – see the ‘Inner Level’throughout. So our still current Prime Minister could avoid much of her extra expenditure on Mental Health (which she keeps promising) just by ensuring society was rather more equal.

After all, as the NEF article states:

The whole concept of the social contract, which is in free fall post-Brexit and needs saving fast, is that individuals agree to franchise some of their freedoms and decision making to the state in order to pool risk and build social goods and protections.

Again we have to take on board the defining mutuality of society, which, I’d suggest is an unavoidable consequence of society itself.

So we have to decide what is society for? Indeed what is democracy for?

If there is no social contract then does democracy even exist?

Increasingly ‘democracy’ seems to be a veil shutting down dissent because well, the people have spoken. The people interpreting in these terms invariably claim to know exactly what the people have said…

Regrettably the NEF doesn’t touch on this. But they do say:

The stampede towards market-based provision exposes this cruelty; when forced to pay people are driven deeper into poverty and become dependent on charity.

You are forced to wonder whether indebtedness is not part of the game plan to keep people under control. Thus modern democratic society becomes a ‘social contract’ not of consent, but duress. Which, it seems to me, is not really a social contract at all.

That is surely why we have had an investment banker investigating the workings of student debt, who is, quite selflessly of course, proposing longer repayment terms…

 

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