10 Jan 2008 • 1,917 views
In the news here in the uk, the Conservative party are proposing that the long term unemployed should be forced to work for their benefits.
Tory leader David Cameron says he wants to end the "something for nothing culture".
Here is what I posted as a response yesterday in the BBC's Have Your Say
(the max number of characters they allow is 500).....
The something for nothing culture? Is that people born into wealthy families? People who can afford to spend their every day doing as they please because life's lottery has bequeathed them an inheritance?
It's the 21st century and it's time for radical forward thinking ideas, such as a Minimum Basic Citizen's Income, payable to all and not linked to work. There are many more important things in life than mere employment.
Out of the 2,652 published comments in that BBC thread, it's possible that I was the only person to go Off Message and propose a basic Citizen's Income. Here's how a couple of people responded specifically to my post...
[PetsR4Life] from Chudleigh wrote (09 Jan, 2008, 21:19 GMT):
"Planet Earth calling Russell Higgs! Where exactly do you suppose the money for this MBCI will come from? In case you hadn't noticed, money for the lazy doesn't just appear; it comes from those who work, in the form of something called 'taxes'."
and Marlene from Pendle wrote (10 Jan, 2008, 02:36 GMT):
"Who would pay for it? Yes, the 'mugs' who work for a living and pay the taxes that support this country. That's the silliest idea I have ever heard!"
Both of their posts began by using up half their allotted number of characters to quote directly from my original post, therefore multiplying the chances of somebody actually coming across my point, so thanks for that Marlene and [PetsR4Life].
Here's how I attempted to reply to them, which sadly the BBC chose not to publish (it's a "fully moderated" "debate")...
A Citizen's Income would be a BASIC income. Just as with current benefits it simply prevents starvation, it is not any kind of luxury. Most people would opt to supplement it with a wage.
How might it be financed, you ask? One such idea is based on the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, where every Alaskan citizen receives an annual income from their oil profits. In the UK we could perhaps share the profits from some of our own top earning assets.
Meanwhile I haven't read all of the 2,652 comments that the BBC chose to publish, but I'm left with the impression that far too many of them propagate a delusional idea that people on benefits live in some kind of luxury, plus of course there are plenty of spiteful mealy mouthed references to "immigrants".
Later I might expand this post by adding a few examples of the predominant mood of the "debate", or you might want to dive in and sample some of the venom and mind bending levels of ignorance for yourself...http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?threadID=8100&edition=1&ttl=20080110201347
but right now on the subject of benefits I have these thoughts to add...
Surely one of the main puposes of welfare benefits (or one day a Citizen's Income) is to dampen the chances of a large powerful angry mob assembling and causing extreme mischief. It is in the best interests of the government to minimise the possibility of large numbers of desperate people uniting over excess hunger and extreme homelessness and becoming revolutionary rioters.
Benefits keep enough people from starving and from being homeless etc, and therefore benefits function to keep enough people passive, like pets in a way. The workers are mostly comfortable slaves and the unemployed are mostly harmless pets. From that perspective current welfare benefits are a "useful investment" and "money well spent".
and here's some CITIZEN'S INCOME links...http://www.citizensincome.org/http://www.bepress.com/bis/http://www.etes.ucl.ac.be/BIEN/Index.html
including their list of international Basic Income networkshttp://www.etes.ucl.ac.be/BIEN/BIEN/Recognized_Networks.htm