Speakers' Corner - "Forget benefits... I'll give everyone £15,000 a year"
The Post has invited all 12 of the candidates for Bristol's elected mayor to contribute to Speakers' Corner. In the second of this series the self-styled independent Eric Mutch, also known as Corrupt Self Serving Lying B'stard 4 Bristol Mayor 2012, offers his views.
INVESTING in "Team GB" athletes resulted in a record gold medal haul at the Olympics. Invest in every man, woman and child on the planet and what would that do? All people have unlimited potential.
All people have unique talents and passions that they can contribute to society. What we need to do is find ways that get people to realise this potential, so that, individually, they can live fulfilled happy lives and together we, as a community, can reap the rewards of living in such a society.
The unconditional basic income is an investment in people.
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Gift people enough resources to live on, and then see what sort of society they create.
If elected mayor, I will pay every adult resident of Bristol an unconditional basic income of £15,000 every year, index linked to inflation, eradicating poverty and giving them the time and the freedom to do stuff just for the love of it.
If they earn extra money doing this stuff, that's an added bonus.
They will receive this annual unconditional basic income whether they are working in other paid work, non working or retired.
I will fund this annual unconditional basic income by introducing a tax on all spending. A small percentage tax whenever money is turned over, transacted or spent.
Here's an example.
The Government gifts me £5. I pass that £5 round a group of ten friends. By the time the £5 comes back to me, it has been "spent" ten times. Creating a turnover of £50. If the government taxes that turnover at ten per cent, it raises £5 in tax. Hence, balancing the books.
Question: Surely the unconditional basic income, just encourages laziness rather than hard work and social mobility?
First. If the concept of the unconditional basic income encourages laziness, why would any right-minded parent pass on an inheritance to their children?
Second. Define work?
If work is about earning a wage, why is there a term "voluntary work"? Voluntary work doesn't receive a wage. Neither do parents, who stay at home, working very hard, nurturing children and contributing many hours of unpaid work towards the family well-being.
If work is about "contributing to society", we need to define contributing, does it matter if the contribution actually creates any value in the world? or is contributing just "doing something"? There are a lot of "jobs/work" that don't contribute anything of value to the world as far as I can see. The manufacturing of land mines, arms dealers and call centres, to name but a few.
So what is work?
I think work is doing something you feel passionate about, that contributes something of value to society, and I think the vast majority of people on an unconditional basic income would use their time to do just that.
A recent issue in Bristol has been the forced closure of care homes, in the name of austerity.
If everyone received an unconditional basic income, maybe more people would decide to use that extra time and freedom to care for their relatives themselves, or maybe with less need to "make a profit" we would see more "social enterprises" springing up to provide services for those in need of them.
If we lived in a society where people were passionate about their lives and what they were doing, we would live in a more fulfilled, creative, dynamic and peaceful world. So ask yourself , "what would you do just for the love of it?"
How do we fund it?
Meeting people's basic needs will bring about a happier, healthier, creative and dynamic society, with less crime and the resulting reduction in Government spending.
The current budget for quantative easing (printing money from thin air), welfare and pensions is more than enough to fund a £15,000 unconditional basic income for everyone.
If the UK economy can fund an average wage of £26,000 a year, that same economy can fund an unconditional basic income of £15,000 a year for everyone (£26,000 is an average wage mind. the basic wage of an MP is £65,000 and that's before all those flipped second homes and expenses)
Most importantly, there are enough resources to meet everyone's basic needs. If the current economic system can't cope with that, then that system is useless.
Obviously no system in itself can create a "better" society.
As I've said all people have unlimited potential, and that includes the potential to be angry, greedy and disrespectful as well as courageous, respectful and wise.
Human anger causes war, and human greed leads to economic meltdown, but by giving people time and freedom to do the stuff they love and feel passionate about, the unconditional basic income is a step in the right direction.
Tin hat on.