New data released today show that the share of Americans with incomes below the poverty line stayed flat between 2013 and 2014 at 14.8 percent. Six years into the economic recovery, poverty and economic insecurity remain far more widespread than they should be—or than they need to be. This is because policymakers have failed to make decisions—such as increasing the minimum wage and strengthening collective bargaining—that would help ensure that low- and middle-income families get their fair share of the gains from economic growth. Instead of addressing the real problem, congressional conservatives are pushing hard for policies that would make the situation far worse for families, including deep cuts to public programs that promote economic security and opportunity.
In 1928, famed British economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would advance so far in a hundred years – by 2028 – that it will replace all work, and no one will need to worry about making money.
“For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem – how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.”
We still have thirteen years to go before we reach Keynes’ prophetic year, but we’re not exactly on the way to it. Americans are working harder than ever.
Keynes may be proven right about technological progress. We’re on the verge of 3-D printing, driverless cars, delivery drones, and robots that can serve us coffee in the morning and make our beds.
But he overlooked one big question: How to redistribute the profits from these marvelous labor-saving inventions, so we’ll have the money to buy the free time they provide?
But none of these factors compare to the way that poverty makes us sick. Prescribing medications and lifestyle changes for our patients who suffer from income deficiency isn’t enough; we need to start prescribing healthy incomes.
Decades of studies have shown that healthcare accounts for less than 25 per cent of health outcomes. The upstream factors that affect health such as income, education, employment, housing, and food security have a far greater impact on whether we will be ill or well. Of these, income has the most powerful influence, as it shapes access to the other health determinants. Low-income Canadians are more likely to die earlier and suffer from more illnesses than Canadians with higher incomes, regardless of age, sex, race or place of residence.
No wonder doctors and policy-makers are beginning to line up behind the notion of a basic income guarantee.
A thinktank, the New Economics Foundation (NEF), which has organised the event with the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics, argues that if everyone worked fewer hours – say, 20 or so a week – there would be more jobs to go round, employees could spend more time with their families and energy-hungry excess consumption would be curbed. Anna Coote, of NEF, said: "There's a great disequilibrium between people who have got too much paid work, and those who have got too little or none."
Why in the face of the reality of the consequences of fireworks would we as a people continue a 'tradition' that is harmful/dangerous to our children, our animals, our environment?
Are fireworks continued because they are an incredibly lucrative business amassing millions of dollars year in and year out? And why is it that countries have enough money for costly firework displays yet not enough money to take care of their citizens?
The Namibian Minister for Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Zephania Kameeta, has confirmed in an interview that his government is ‘strongly considering’ a Basic Income grant, adding that his ministry is in the process of finalising a concept paper on the issue.
Kameeta is a longtime proponent of Basic Income and former chairperson of the Namibian BIG Coalition. He was appointed Minister for Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare in March this year, sparking hopes among Basic Income advocates of progress towards its implementation.
In an effort to determine the state of the political system, the researchers included extensive policy data which was collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002. The report unsurprisingly found that US policy was majorly accommodating to its economic elite. Economic elites and organized groups which represent business interests, have substantial impacts on government policy, while average citizens have little to no influence.
Utrecht is partnering with a local university to provide residents with a “basic income,” which is enough to cover living costs, The Independent reports. The idea is to see whether citizens dedicate more time to volunteering, studying and other forms of self and community improvement when they don’t have to worry about earning money to survive. People who participate in the experiment won’t have any restrictions placed on how they choose to spend the money they receive.
It was thus decided to dramatise the condition of public finances, not only through disinformation campaigns, but also through falsifying statistics to aggravate public deficits and debt. “In contradiction with the official line rehashed by the media, there is no difference in the Greek situation compared to that of other countries in difficulty. In fact, the Greek situation very much resembled the situation in the US, Ireland or Spain. The Greek specificity occurred later in the extraordinary violence of the creditors, bleeding the Greek people more every day”. This violence was closely monitored. The commission is in possession of a confidential two page IMF document, from 2010, that describes the damage that will be done: wage and pension cuts, a fall in GDP and increased debt. As Eric Toussaint summarised, “The IMF was well aware that its policies would have terrible social and economic consequences.”
Gawker: It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation though, isn’t it? Which came first, the high wages, or the strong economy in the place that has the high wages? The typical rejoinder is, “higher wages drive down employment.”
NH: Show me an example. Show me an example of where high wages drove down employment. You show me a high wage place, I’ll show you a low unemployment place. And this is because the fundamental law of capitalism is: when workers have more money, businesses have more customers, and need more workers. The idea that high wages equals low employment, it’s absurd. And you have to understand that when somebody like me tells somebody like you that [high wages equals low employment] is the case, the only thing that’s true about that statement is that if I can get you to believe it, it would be very good for me. Which is why people like me have been saying it, again and again and again, and why people like me have said it at every point at which workers’ rights have been advanced. You can go back 150 years and literally find the same people saying the same thing in the same way. “If we have to pay you more, it will be bad for you.” And that’s because saying that is a much more polite way of saying, “I’m rich, you’re poor, and I would prefer to keep it what way.”
The new Finnish government has committed to a Basic Income experiment as part of its programme for government, published last month.
The commitment consists of one line: ‘Implement a Basic Income experiment’, in the ‘Health and Welfare’ section of the programme. The main party of government, the Centre Party and the new Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, are known to be supportive of Basic Income, but his new government partners, the populist Finns Party and conservative NCP have not spoken publicly on the issue. The scant reference to Basic Income raises some doubts about the government’s commitment to the policy. Nonetheless, this marks the first commitment from a European country to implement a Basic Income experiment and will be the first experiment in a developed nation since the 1970s.
Ben & Jerry's might seem like an unlikely target: with its origin story of two tie-dyed hippies fighting for survival via guerrilla actions against a larger ice cream corporation, fair trade sourcing of ingredients, celebrated treatment of animals in their supply chain, and a social justice verbiage laden mission statement. Many years later, and now under the control of the Unilever corporation, the ice cream company generates nearly $600 million in annual domestic revenue and operates internationally in 25 countries. Yet Diaz is far from the only migrant farmworker experiencing wage theft, overcrowded, unsanitary housing, and poverty wages in Ben & Jerry's supply chain.
The toll of Australia's bipartisan anti-refugee policies in death and suffering is rising. Since May more than 3000 Rohingya refugees from Arakan state in Burma (Myanmar) have turned up on the shores of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, having either swum ashore or been rescued by local fishing boat crews. An estimated 7000 more are trapped on boats that have been described as “floating coffins”.
Abandoned by people smugglers following a crackdown by Thai authorities, and towed out to sea by the Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian navies, the refugees are lacking food, water and fuel and their boats – not designed for long-distance voyages – are sinking. Hundreds have died from hunger, dehydration, drowning, or in fights over the small amounts of food and water that the navies have given them.
This is Australian policy at work. When Australian politicians talk about their “war on people smugglers” it is code for “war on refugees”. It is the language of racist “dog whistling” – what is meant is clear but no actual admission is made. Likewise with claims that “stopping the boats” is based on concerns for maritime safety. If anyone had doubts, the horrific fate of the Rohingya refugees should dispel them.
Australia has continually demanded that its south-east Asian neighbours assist it in its “war on people smugglers”. This is what Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have done and the current maritime holocaust is the result.
Conceptualizing violence within the frame of hate makes it easy to mistake symptom for cause. Hatred is not the root cause of racism, misogyny, homophobia, violence against transgender people, violence against disabled people, or economic cruelty. Hate is a predictable consequence of deeply rooted, historically persistent forms of these maladies. They are foundational to institutionalizing hierarchies of power. Unnoticed and unexamined, they permeate mainstream culture.
Hate violence is also symbolic: It declares the superiority of one group of people over another. Those targeted are symbolically presented as psychically or physically disposable; the violence is a ritual of degradation.
In the last year, the airport workers, employed by Aviation Safeguards (ASG), a company contracted by airlines British Airways and Delta, have protested allegations of wage theft and intimidation by ASG, after workers received a letter from their employer stating their jobs could be terminated for participating in union activity, which the National Labor Relations Board ruled illegal. Bueno and other workers said that despite pressure from management, they were not afraid to speak out for higher wages and union representation, and against unfair labor practices.
"Although an agency would initially have to be set up by governments to administer the program, it would operate independently of the private and public sector as a ‘commons trust’ that could conceivably manage a range of shared resources—from land, fossil fuels and atmospheric carbon storage, to the electromagnetic spectrum and intellectual property. According to calculations by Barnes based only on a specific selection of shared assets, the program could provide every American citizen with as much as $5,000 a year.
The real advantage of a social dividend from resource rents is that it would facilitate, rather than impede, the creation of a more equal society that embodies the ethic and practice of sharing. Unlike the standard basic income proposal, this alternative approach would not compete with existing welfare budgets, and it would therefore complement solidarity-based systems of social protection.
The social dividend also acknowledges that all citizens are entitled to a fair share of co-owned wealth and resources, which is a commonsense proposal with the potential to dramatically reform economic systems and enhance social cohesion. Since the value of common resources would be shared more equitably, social dividends present an important systemic solution to poverty that can counterbalance the injustice of a global economic model in which wealth predominantly flows to the richest one per cent of the world’s population."
Former bishop Zephania Kameeta and prominent advocate for basic income was just appointed Minister of a new Ministry for Poverty Alleviation.
Zephania Kameeta is known to be one of the pioneers of the Basic Income Grant (BIG) Coalition which started a worldwide known basic income experiment in the rural town of Otjivero in 2007. He even influenced the German Protestant Church in their move in support for basic income, BIEN Germany’s Ronald Blaschke reminded in a recent blog post. Kameeta has repeatedly pushed the government to step forward the idea.
As the general elections are approaching, the idea of basic income just breached an unprecedented milestone in Finland, with nearly 65.5% of all parliamentary candidates publicly supporting the policy.
The report released by national media YLE is based on direct answers from candidates collected through an online platform launched. 1,642 running candidates participated – for a total of nearly 2,000. Among other questions, candidates were asked if they agree with the following statement: “Finland should implement a basic income scheme that would replace the current minimum level of social security.”
The short version, however, is that our cannibalistic economic model, indifferent news media, sagging voter turnout, general cynicism, religious derangement and fundamental addiction to a cognitive dissonance that motivates so very many to slap aside stone-carved facts staring them in the face, is going to put this whole human experiment into a shallow, unmarked grave.
People talk about "Destroying the planet," which is a hoot. The planet isn't going anywhere. Even the environment may recover in one form or another. The equation we are busily erasing from the blackboard - for profit while encased in a suffocating bag of ignorance - is ourselves.
This is how you die of Dumb.
In January 2015, the Pew Charitable Trusts published "The Precarious State of Family Balance Sheets," in which the incredible conclusion is reached that virtually no one in the United States has ready cash reserves to cover two months of lost income. Clearly, most of the top 20 percent have other assets, stocks and bonds, real estate etc. on which they can draw, and they seldom lose their jobs without good severance packages. But 80 percent do not have enough reserves to last more than a month, and half of them do not have enough to last two weeks.