All governments are obsessed with controlling inflation and creating full employment. Both these ideas are based on false conceptions of economics.
We live in an age of disinformation. Spiritualism was born in chicanery when two young girls from Hydesville, New York duped their parents and then the world, but today psychic nonsense is big business with the likes of Colin Fry and Uri Geller raking it in thanks to a combination of human gullibility and a venal mass media. It is though not only the spirit world where fraud, deception, vested interest and plain gullibility run riot. Economic myths are among the most enduring, and always have been, and unless we do something about them soon, we risk seeing social deprivation and far worse on a colossal scale.
Most self-styled radicals and social justice advocates waste their time and energy on non-issues like fighting sexism and lobbying for special privileges for some, eg affirmative action. The net result is a larger bureaucracy, increased social controls and wasted resources. Programmes designed ostensibly to alleviate poverty have actually succeeded in fostering it, including the benefits system in the UK; welfare in the US.
Then there is the minimum wage, one of the most ludicrous pieces of legislation, which destroys jobs. What though can or should the government do about people who are trapped in very low paid jobs, like those McDonald’s workers currently in the news in the US?
McDonald’s has handled this situation very badly PR-wise; instead of the apparently insensitive or outright callous advice it has handed out, it would have done better to point out that most of these jobs were never intended to be jobs for breadwinners, rather for students to top up their grants (or loans), for teenagers to make money at the weekend, and for housewives to earn pin money.
At one time, a man could have made enough money to live off by cleaning tables or by pushing a broom, but that era is long passed. A detailed explanation why can be found here, but the bottom line is that technology coupled with repressive taxation has made such jobs obsolete and rendered the unskilled, semi-skilled or even skilled people who once performed them unemployable. Many, many such jobs have disappeared thanks to new technology. What company or government department now has a typing pool, dedicated teams of switchboard operators or even filing clerks?
The result is that today, very, very few unskilled jobs pay or can pay anything like a living wage. The only real solution to this is Basic Income, a non-means tested income paid to every citizen as a right. Properly applied this need not be inflationary, and by destroying the poverty trap it will make even those low paid jobs at McDonald’s attractive.
There are now groups lobbying for Basic Income all over Europe. There is even a Basic Income movement in Brazil.
If Basic Income is not instituted, the lot of the poor will become even more desperate, and taxation will cripple those highly paid professionals who remain.
There is currently a campaign to bring about debt-free money in Britain for 2014; if this is done and this money is spent into production, it will create real jobs. Combining this with Basic Income will both reinvigorate the economy and lift the underclass out of poverty.
The other, social benefits of this would be far reaching. Many of those who can’t find real jobs in today’s highly technological economy turn to crime including small time drug dealing. Unemployable young women end up hiring out their bodies for men to abuse. These people are a massive drain on the economy, particularly the courts, the prisons and social services. With an unconditional Basic Income, the incentive to engage in petty crime, drug dealing or prostitution would be greatly reduced. This would free up police resources to track down real criminals, and free up other resources that could be used elsewhere
[The above op-ed was first published August 7, 2013; the associated and totally unimportant image has been omitted.]
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