Food for thought…
An opinion, by Orion Carrier
(see extra links at bottom of page)

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What one social program can:

·        eliminate poverty,

·        reduce the cost of health care,

·        solve the student finance crisis,

·        save the government and taxpayers money,

·        promote a sound economy,

·        improve access to education,

·        improve labour relations,

·        reduce urban sprawl,

·        promote organic agriculture,

·        promote the arts, and,

·        help save the environment?

Guaranteed Livable Income!

In fact, Canada has already done a very successful pilot project in GLI!  The Mincome experiment, in the 1970’s, showed that only 3% of men on GLI quit work, while 5% of women quit (presumably to care for children).  Canadians are full of energy and want to work! 

Further, GLI has significant work-incentives built in—incentives welfare and EI have never succeeded in providing.

How would we pay for it??

Fascinatingly, research has shown that eliminating welfare, EI, and other costly bureaucracies alone would pay for GLI (Revenue Canada could administer it at little extra cost to the tax payer).  But how would GLI actually save taxpayers money?

Likely, the biggest savings would be in none other than… health care, today’s costliest social program!  Several very serious diseases contribute most to this cost—diseases caused or exacerbated by stress.  Recent studies have shown that work-related stress is the most significant and costly.  With GLI, unhappy workers could simply relocate, re-educate, or start a business, ultimately finding a happier way to contribute.  A happier workforce is not only happier—but healthier and cheaper!

Further, when resource-based industries such as forestry and the fisheries fail, or other vocations disappear due to advances in technology, GLI can assist displaced workers in re-educating themselves.

GLI would help reduce urban sprawl and pollution, as many families would return to rural areas to raise their children.  This could result in a reduction of destructive, toxic corporate farming practices, an increase of organic farming, and a reduction of organic food prices.  Not only would this create a healthier food supply, it would contribute to lower crime rates, happier more playful children, less adult stress from urban jobs, less commuting stress, etc.—all contributing to lower health-care costs, and even policing costs.  Imagine the quality of life.

Even voter registration could be eliminated as a cost-saving measure, since few would fail to register to receive the GLI—even those who currently don’t file their taxes!  How many other redundant government services could be eliminated?

Don’t look now, but even the economy would benefit from the population’s improved purchasing power, lowering government debt and taxes, and reduced absenteeism and labour strife.  Local, sustainable, small businesses would sprout up more readily, since upstart business owners would have enough for their personal needs as their businesses got off the ground.

Meanwhile, industries destructive to the environment, health and world peace would diminish, or cost the consumer more, as fewer people would want to work in the low-paying jobs or morally questionable circumstances.  More health care savings, anyone?

Other Benefits

The fact is, the rapid advance of technology has made 100% employment impossible without creating businesses and jobs that destroy health or the environment, or create war.  The work ethic, used properly, is a wonderful tool to help people stay busy, happy and healthy.  But the work ethic’s time as the only legitimate way to subsist is past.  It’s time for people to work for luxuries, not necessities, and it’s time for a shorter work week, so that all who want to may work.

Some other likely benefits of GLI include: finally, a recognition of the priceless work done by parents who stay home to care for their children—especially women; improved literacy; more choice for women facing unexpected motherhood—especially single women; promotion of the arts; a reduction of prostitution—at least where a woman does not wish to participate; a reduction in drug use and proliferation; a reduction in homelessness; a holistic approach to a reduction in panhandling; others??

Who’s Opposed??

Given the highly successful pilot project conducted in Manitoba in the 1970’s, it’s fair to ask: what went wrong?  Why don’t we have Guaranteed Livable Income today?  It’s that damn right wing, right?  Wrong.

At the May 2004 Voices On Guaranteed Livable Income forum, hosted by the Progressive Electors Association, what fascinated me was to hear GLI researcher and expert, Cindy L’Hirondelle, explain that the reason we don’t have GLI today is due to strong opposition from two interest groups: none other than… organized labour, and poverty groups.  Whoa!  It took me a while to think of why these groups would be opposed to a Guaranteed Livable Income.  Can you?

Conclusion

Let’s face it, like anything else, GLI will not solve all the world’s problems.  But consider stress, pollution, illiteracy, environmental degradation, questionable food, threatened health care!  It has been said that without GLI, this world is a place where no one wants to live, but that with GLI, the world will be a place where everyone wants to live.

It’s time to rethink how we do business.  It’s time for GLI.

Further Information

For more information about GLI, or to get involved, check out the following links:

Livable Income For Everyone (LIFE)

Standard Objections to GLI

The World Owes You a Living