13 June 2013

Day 232: Putting Economic Theory into Practice with Living Income Guaranteed

Living Income Guaranteed as the Capitalist’s Answer to a Healthy and Wealthy Economy

Any economist is familiar with Keynes and the Keynesian economic model of a demand-driven economy. Keynes understood that money requires to move for an economy to thrive, in the same way that blood must flow for a body to be healthy.

An economy can be broken down into three basic flows: Spending, production and income – spending requires to happen for companies to be able to produce goods – the production of these goods then provides income to the employees of the companies that produced them. There is thus an undeniable link between spending and income. When too few people have adequate income, or when income is too low – too little is spent, too little is produced – and income reduces even more.
The ideal way to ensure spending is therefore to secure everyone with an Income.

Furthermore – capitalism can only work if Equal Opportunity of Participation exists. Unless Equal Opportunity exists, capitalism becomes a system of exclusion and deprivation – because Capitalism only ensures efficient production and distribution of resources for those with an income. Therefore – to prevent Capitalism from becoming a weapon, but instead, an actual management system as how it was intended to be – each individual should have a guaranteed income.

Furthermore – an economy will not only thrive through money movement, BIG pilot projects have shown that more children attend school, and thus, one will have a more qualified labor force in the future – increasing the intellectual capital in an economy.

A Guaranteed Living Income is a Human Right

Regardless of the economic arguments, guaranteed income is a basic human right. To speak of Basic Human Rights without securing the means through which to benefit from these rights, is useless.

The Equal Life Foundation therefore suggest that the Living Income one receives should be sufficient to be able to enjoy one’s Basic Human Rights, and thus, large enough for individuals and families to live a decent human life – meaning: one can live off a Living Income Guaranteed with dignity. This implies the ability to pay for one’s basic needs such as electricity, water, food and clothing – but also extends to the means to participate in our current society and thus includes things such as a car, a phone/cell phone and internet access.

Social Dividends

To fund a Living Income Guaranteed – a system of social dividends is ideal. In every country there are those goods and services that are vital for the basic well-being of the citizens of that country. Examples are basic resources such as water, electricity, raw materials, transportation and media. Such goods and services do not belong in private hands – but belong to each individual of the nation. Therefore – every citizen should be a shareholder of every company involved in the production of such goods and services.

This is not a new idea – as early as 1935, G.D.H. Cole, wrote the following:

“How will ... incomes be distributed? There are two possible ways - payments for work done, and 'doles', or, to give them a less coloured name, 'social dividends'. I believe the system of distribution will be a combination of these two, but a very different combination from that which now exists. ... There will remain, broadly, two sources of income - work and citizenship. Incomes will be distributed partly as rewards for work, and partly as direct payments from the State to every citizen as 'social dividends' - a recognition of each citizen's claim as a consumer to share in the common heritage of productive power.” (Cole 1935, pp. 234-235)

The dividends one receives from the profits of these nationally owned companies then form the Living Income Guaranteed. With each one being a shareholder, each one immediately also has an equal say in the activities of such companies – which is an application of direct democracy in the areas of life that are most important, which again solidifies and protects each one’s Basic Human Rights.

Incentive to Work

The inevitable question then comes up: If everyone receives an income that covers one’s needs – who will be willing to work?

This is where the Equal Life Foundation suggests an interesting solution. To provide incentive – the minimum wage should be double the Living Income. This means that anyone who has a job can not only fulfill one’s needs, but can enhance one’s quality of life through acquiring luxury items that would not be available on a Living Income budget. One can then afford a bigger house, a larger family, a second car, a bigger garden, more exotic and fulfilling holiday destinations, subscriptions to sports clubs and other leisure organizations, and so on and so forth.

Consequentially - as soon as one has a job – and thus, receives a wage that is at least double the income one would have earned from social dividends – one’s right to the Living Income Guaranteed falls away – simply because one doesn’t require it anymore. The social dividends system then functions as a National Insurance system – combining unemployment fund, life insurance and retirement funds all in one – where, one receives a pay-out based on the applicability to one’ situation.

Also read:

Day 415: Bailouts Are No Solution


COLE, G.D.H. 1935. Principles of Economic Planning. London: Macmillan & Co., 1935.

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