Ryan, Anne B.
Cultivating resilient and ethical prosperity with basic income.
In: TASC (Think‐tank for Action on Social Change) conference, Crisis to Opportunity , 19 October 2012, Dublin.
This paper examines the role of basic income in constructing a dynamic, diverse and democratic social economy. ‘Basic income’ or BI is shorthand for a regular, sufficient and unconditional income, administered by the state and issued to every member of society. BI replaces social welfare payments, child benefit and the state pension as we currently know them. It also extends to all those who currently receive no income from the state. Ideally, a BI would be sufficient for each person to have a frugal but decent lifestyle without supplementary income from paid work.
Basic income is a measure that could be implemented during the current crisis in Ireland. It is a step that is possible within the tax and money regime that prevails at the moment, even in the EU‐ECB‐IMF troika programme. By itself, it will not achieve all that we need, but it has a crucial role to play in the transition to an economy and society based on the well being of all and the sharing of resources for the prosperity of all.
The paper begins by calling for ecological and economic literacy, so that the concept of basic income can be understood in a wider framework of knowledge about:
• managing the resources of the world (the commons) for the benefit of all members of society
• basic securities as a pre‐requisite for sustainability and resilience
• work in its broadest sense, as any engagement with the world – paid or unpaid ‐‐ designed to change something or to add value to society or economy
• the wealth inherent in sufficiency.
The paper then examines the immediate benefits of basic income and the longer‐term possibilities for all kinds of work and workers. It also examines how basic income can support pioneers and seed projects that are already working towards a transformed economic and social regime characterised by greater equality, economic resilience and social solidarity.
The paper treats basic income as an essential and do‐able step in such a transformation. As a stand‐alone measure it would have beneficial effects. But it would have maximum effects if accompanied by democratic reform in tax and money systems.
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