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Guaranteed Income

March 27, 2016

The province of Ontario is putting it into place.  The federal government in Ottawa is studying it.  It’s a guaranteed income, a single social payment that’s intended to replace many smaller social payments.  Even just the reduction in bureaucracy should result in quite a saving.  Why don’t we do it?

There certainly is opposition to a guaranteed income.  Some people fear that poor people, the ones receiving the payments, would waste the money.  Never mind that poor people are the ones who know best how to make their money go as far as possible, the ones who really know how to budget.  It’s actually the wealthy people who waste their money and who don’t have to budget.

Some say that a guaranteed income is unfair.  “I never got it when I was starting out”, they will say.  Of course, some of these same people inherited money from their parents, or had their education paid for by their parents.  The world has changed.  People starting out with nothing are likely to end up with nothing as well.  Many of them already require social payments just to live.  Combining all of the payments into one is not a big change.

Some are concerned that a guaranteed income will create a sense of entitlement among those who receive the payments.  Saying “the world owes me a living” is the fear.  Recipients won’t work because they no longer have to.  In practice, this doesn’t happen.  People who are able to, will work, provided that jobs are available.  Just like everyone else, they do want to be self-sufficient.

Of course, some people believe that government handouts just don’t work.  It’s because poverty is the fault of people who are poor.  Nothing wealthy people or the government can do will ever change that.  This is a very old attitude.  It stems from the idea that poverty is the result of bad genes, and that bad genes are inherited from parents who also have them.  We know now that that idea is bad science, and is false.  Still, the attitude persists.  It’s the people who have that attitude who are unlikely to change.

Is a guaranteed income a socialist concept?  Of course it is.  All social payments are socialist concepts.  Many of them are also good ideas.  Many of them are essential ways to treat other people in a humane and respectful manner.  Combining all of them into a single social payment is also a good idea.  If you believe that socialist means the same as communist, and that communism is the enemy, you have some outmoded beliefs that you should reexamine.

We have dozens of government programs now that make payments to people for specific purposes.  Why not just give them the money and let them decide how to spend it?  Is this such a radical idea?  Sure, there will be a tiny minority of people who will abuse this freedom.  The vast majority will benefit from that freedom.  If it can be done at a lower cost to the government, or to taxpayers, a guaranteed income will be even better.  I, for one, will welcome it.


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