UK Housing Leader Urges a Basic Income for All
|January 23, 2014||Posted by Staff under Editorials|
This 2014 excerpt of the Housing Assoc.’s Charitable Trust blog, Jan 15, is by Matt Leach, HACT’s Chief Executive.
The idea is simple – rather than imposing ever more complex (and sometimes punitive) welfare benefits on the poor, it would be more straightforward and practical to guarantee every citizen a flat basic allowance, which would be unaffected by any earnings they gained on top of it.
With jobs increasingly being squeezed out of economies by technology, and real wages in developed economies largely stagnant as income levels amongst the richest continue to grow, increasingly we can make more goods and services than we can afford to buy with the wages most of us are getting paid.
Some 10,000 UK citizens signed a recent cross-continent initiative to get the Basic Income on the agenda at an EU level. Is it time housing providers became part of that debate?
Ed. Notes: The author, who is an affordable housing leader, mentioned the question of funding an extra income but did not mention the solution of using the value of land, the stuff that housing sits on and that swells and swallows so much of most family budgets. Already places like Aspen CO and Singapore do capture a slice of that “ground rent”, via taxation, and use some of it to help make housing affordable for residents.
It’s a huge font of funds for government to tap, since people spend so much for natural assets like locations and resources and EM spectrum and ecosystem services. Of course, if society as a whole were to receive that spending, then lenders, speculators, and absentee owners would no longer be able to capture it. A small price to pay for economic justice!
If government were to recover the socially-generated value of nature, and of the privileges it grants such as corporate charters, there’d be no need or excuse for counterproductive taxes. Taxes on earnings, sales, and buildings could all be repealed. And if the citizenry were to receive a share of surplus public revenue, there’d be no need or excuse for wasteful and addictive subsidies. Corporate welfare and white-elephant infrastructure projects and such could all be eliminated.
With Land Dues instead of the whole array of taxes, and with Citizen’s Dividends in lieu of bureaucratic subsidies, everyone could delight in the disappearance of mindless work to automation. Universal material security would become a norm, letting the worries of econo-man slip thankfully into the past. Ah, blessed geonomics!