A letter from Lyn Lovell to the Central Somerset Gazette
In your last issue, Malcolm Burton pours scorn on the Green Party policy of Citizens’ Income. He says it would go down well with the feckless and indolent and why wouldn’t we all become feckless and indolent?
Well, for a start, I’m quite sure that Malcolm Burton would not be content to live on an income that catered only to his basic needs! But actually, these feckless and indolent people would be much more likely to supplement their income by WORK if they were not caught in the “benefits trap”. We all know that currently, if you get paid work, you lose your benefits and even if you are a bit better off financially at the end of the day, you have to work such long hours on minimum wage that you have no time for having a life. No time to enjoy yourself, no time to spend with your family, no time to be creative in any way. Most people are enslaved by this system which requires us to put our lives at someone else’s disposal.
If people didn’t HAVE to work in a factory or a supermarket etc for peanuts, then maybe the employers would have to pay a bit more to entice them. Especially for the Very Horrible Jobs! And if they had the Citizens’ Income as well, then they could work say, 15-20 hours a week so that they could still have a life. Of course, more people could then have jobs. Share the work and share the pay. People could then find work that suited them rather than becoming a cog in the slavery machine. Jon Cousins wrote very eloquently about this in your issue of March 12th. And maybe we should be grateful that there are those who are content to live on a very low income, because they free up jobs for the rest. Usually they also work, although they may not get paid for it. Very few people actually do nothing. It’s boring.
Then there is the issue of the “magic money tree”. Obviously there will be people who will object that universal benefits such as these cost too much and give money to those who do not need it. It is surely not beyond the wit of financial wizards for taxes to be adjusted to ensure that most of the extra outlay would be clawed back. Initially everyone could end up getting exactly what they get now. Gradually the minimum might be increased, though that might not be necessary if people could supplement their basic income with legal work. Administrative savings would be huge of course, including all the snooping and legal costs.
Another interesting possibility is that a good proportion, perhaps half, of the Citizens’ Income could be paid in Local Currency, such as the Bristol Pound. If local taxes can be paid in local currency (as in Bristol) then local businesses would have no objection to receiving local currency in payment. Possibly globalized companies with international shareholders to consider might not be keen, but surely that would be all to the good. The money would stay in the local community and circulate there, producing advantages all round – and the Government could save half their benefits bill.
So there are many advantages to the Citizens’ Income. Do not dismiss it out hand. Think about it!
After all, every human being has the right to food and shelter without having to grovel or live in fear.
Lyn Lovell is a Green Party member living in Glastonbury.