Left and Right Unite! – For the UBI Fight!

July 2024 Forums General discussion Left and Right Unite! – For the UBI Fight!

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    Yesterday I received through my letter box a leaflet from the local Green Party, one news of which, headed “Time For New Big Ideas” said:

    “The Council has backed the Green’s motion to trial Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI is a regular, non-means tested government payment to everyone, regardless of their income or work situation.”

    I have sent the following email to the local Green Party councillor:

    “Thanks for the leaflet delivered yesterday. I have a question about the proposed trial of this ‘regular, non-means tested government payment to everyone, regardless of their income or work situation.’
    Will the trial that the Council is calling for be a trial of this, i.e., of everyone in a selected area being paid for a period a non-means tested sum of money regardless of their income or work situation?”

    Watch this space for her reply so we can see whether the proposed trial would be of UBI or of something else.


    Ilhan Omar is set to introduce legislation on Friday that would establish a guaranteed income program.

    The SUPPORT Act “would first create a $2.5 billion grant program to fund local pilots in guaranteed income. These would run in hundreds of communities across the country from 2023 to 2027 and provide findings for a national program. The national guaranteed income program would start in 2028, sending $1,200 per month to adults making up to $75,000 per year, or heads of household making up to $112,500 per year, as well as providing $600 monthly per child. The payments would phase out for higher incomes.”


    jam tomorrow and means tested.


    I have been trying to work out exactly what is being proposed but it’s not a payment of $1200 a month to everyone (about £10,000 a year) as the Huff Post seems to be suggesting. That appears to be the maximum amount, the exact amount depending on your other income, even if most people might get something.

    A guaranteed income scheme is not the same as UBI of course but a scheme to bring everybody’s income up to a minimum level.


    Although not technically UBI, I think it is related


    Instead of scrapping the furlough scheme at the end of next month the TUC is calling for wage subsidy experiment which would protect workers against recessions, a new wave of the pandemic or the transition to a green economy by having 80% of their wages guaranteed by the state.


    I have now received a reply to my letter from my local Green Party councillor, Andree Frieze:

    “Thanks for getting in touch about this.
    Unfortunately, we are not able to bring in UBI trials at a Council level as they require support from Inland Revenue due to the implications over taxation. The motion calling for a trial was to show the Council’s support for it and to put pressure on the Goverment to consider it as an alternative to Universal Credit.
    If you’re interested in finding out more and supporting calls for UBI, do check out UBI Lab’s website – https://www.ubilabnetwork.org/. ”

    This website, which is made up of local groups mostly in the UK campaigning for a pilot scheme to test UBI describes this as:

    “UBI is a regular and unconditional payment given to everyone regardless of their income, wealth or work.
    A UBI could provide financial security for all, building more resilient economies and giving everyone the resources they need to thrive.”

    “Financial security for all” and “giving everyone the resources they need to thrive” — all that under capitalism?


    I don’t know if this qualifies as UBI but it is a universal and (very) basic income — everyone over 18 in Northern Ireland who applies is to be given vouchers worth £100 to spend in local shops.

    This is not new as it had been done in Taiwan quite a few times.

    The Northern Irish vouchers have to be spent in October and November, so that £50 a month or £600 a year if it really was a permanent UBI. Which realistically is about what UBI would pay if ever introduced as a universal payment to everyone.


    isn’t it what is called helicopter money.


    I suppose it could be seen as a mini version of it except that the consumers are not being given money which they can do what they like with (for instance save it). The NI scheme is handing out vouchers that cannot be saved (or spent on gambling) and which have to be used by a certain date. The aim is rather less ambitious too. It’s to help local shopkeepers rather than to try to relaunch the economy through stimulating consumer spending.

    I would say that it has more in common with local currencies, as the aim of both is to help local shops. Also some local currencies devalue if they are not spent within a given time period.


    Although they are being called “vouchers” people there will in fact be given a plastic card with £100 pre-paid on it which they can use in shops and restaurants (as long of course as these have terminals that can accept cards, as most will have these days).

    Anyone for labour-time plastic cards? Like the SLP of America and certain Council Communists who still think in these dated terns, for instance.


    Yet another experiment in a non-universal basic income scheme — you have to be poor to be eligible:

    “Participants would be chosen by lottery and the criteria for eligibility were simple: applicants had to be over the age of 18, live in the city of Los Angeles, have one or more dependents, and be living in poverty according to the federal poverty guidelines.”

    So just another scheme to tweak the Poor Law system.


    Not directly UBI but an article on the return of cash social security.

    Cash payments were a pillar of the U.S. safety net for much of the 20th century but fell out of favor amid criticism that they discouraged people from working. Democratic President Bill Clinton scaled them back, made them temporary and added a work requirement in 1996. Fewer than one in four poor families now get those benefits.


    Unlike universal unconditional proposals, which would have covered everybody, new city-based programs are small in scale, typically serving several hundred families, and are aimed only at low-income people.

    Some cities invite people to apply and then do a random drawing. Others focus on specific populations: St. Paul targets families with newborn children, while Pittsburgh says half of its 200 participants will be Black women. Durham, North Carolina, will provide checks to people getting out of prison. A program in Jackson, Mississippi, focuses on Black mothers in public housing.


    Unlike universal unconditional proposals, which would have covered everybody, new city-based programs are small in scale, typically serving several hundred families, and are aimed only at low-income people.”

    Precisely ! I think we can confidently say that UBI, in the sense of the state paying an unconditional income to everybody, will never happen. It’s pie in the sky as far as capitalism is concerned. And it won’t make sense in socialism.

    We need to tell this to those who advocate it. It’s a question of how we tell them. Do we tell them that they are wasting their time and everybody else’s and so delaying the solution to the problem they think it will solve? Or do we hold back and say that they are on the right track — of wanting to separate a person’s access to what they need from their contribution in terms of work — but that “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs” can only be achieved on the basis of the common ownership and democratic control of productive resources?

    As to the various small-scale experiments that are often mistakenly described as trying UBI, even they are unlikely to be adopted unless they can be shown to save money on administrative costs.


    Would it not be an idea to publish a party pamphlet on the subject of a Universal Basic Income as it is a subject that keeps on cropping up


    Robbo, I think the problem is that they keep changing the goal-posts on what they mean by UBI. Reforms of the Poor Law is constantly cropping up.

    The pandemic payments have shown that contrary to what ALB says capitalism can provide a slice of pie in the sky no matter how sliver it may be when circumstances are imposed.

    It isn’t impossible, simply improbable.

    Ever since Silicon Valley envisaged an automated, artificial intelligence run, robot operated economy, the tech oligarchs raise the prospect of consumers without the income to buy any products and so suggest a UBI.

    The Greens have joined the band-wagon of UBI as they too recognise the difficulty in eliminating fossil-fuel and carbon-emitting jobs yet don’t equate socially wasteful work in the same way as we understand it.

    Can society survive solely on service and leisure industry sectors? It is as unlikely as an economy based only on banking and finance.

    Perhaps the first step is to produce an educational introduction to UBI for Party members and then build up a pamphlet from that.

    I have ready a 2,350-word article on UBI for the WSM website for when the moment seems right to publish.

    If you wish to improve on it, I can send it to you.

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