01 November 2014

Transcending False Dilemmas with Living Income Guaranteed – Part 3 – Tools of Intervention

This post is a continuation to the blog-posts:

Transcending False Dilemmas with Living Income Guaranteed – Part 1
Transcending False Dilemmas with Living Income Guaranteed – Part 2 – Sustainability vs Full Employment

Please read them first for context.

Example 2

‘The government has two kinds of policy at its disposal to correct market failures: fiscal policy and monetary policy – not using these policies means letting the free market dictate economic conditions.’

Most economists have come to accept that the free market is the ideal way of conducting economic activity – let market forces dictate prices and output and don’t try to control these forces, because they eventually create the best outcome for everyone. Most economists, however, have also come to accept that there are certain situations in which intervention is called for – to correct market failures and inefficiencies. Looking at only the national economy – the ways in which intervention happens, apart from declaring laws that set standards, minimum or maximum requirements, quotas, etc. – fall under the categories of either fiscal policy or monetary policy.

Fiscal policy refers to those policies that have to do with tax collection and government spending. In overly simplistic terms: if the government sees it is needed to increase output and income/employment – it can implement expansionary fiscal policy through reducing taxation and/or increasing government spending.

Monetary policy refers to those policies that have to do with the rate at which money is released into the economy. Here the government has no authority, it is the central bank in each country that influence interest rates to either contract or expand the economy.

Both kinds of policies, when used to achieve a certain goal, always have certain drawbacks in other areas. In other words, the usefulness of their application is always limited by the nature of the free market principles – where their use becomes a careful balancing of adjustments here and there to ‘kind of’ have ‘some’ movement in a certain desirable direction.

Problems such as poverty, deprivation, insufficient incomes and job insecurity, to name but a few, cannot be tackled directly from within this economic paradigm – to do so with the use of fiscal and monetary policies would in most countries require substantial interventions – and create substantial drawbacks, crippling the economy in other areas, and over time, undoing its own efforts. So – what can we do? This is just how it is, right? This is just the nature of economics, right? ‘Sorry for those fellas struggling to survive, but there’s really not that much we can do for you. Sure, in theory you have certain basic human rights, but looks like it’s just not gonna happen.’ In brutal terms, that is the attitude that has been adopted when it comes to our economies and the intertwined question of human rights.

At the Equal Life Foundation, we take the guaranteeing of human rights very seriously – in our view, they are not optional and they should not be seen as variables that are dependent on the grace of market forces that may or may not grant these rights at some points in time. Seeing that the conventional paradigm and available policies lack the capacity to ensure these rights, it became clear that it was necessary to step outside of this paradigm and dare to look for alternative measures that CAN guarantee human rights, yet won’t result in the crippling and destabilizing of the whole of the economy.

Providing a Living Income to those who are unemployed or retired through the profits of companies that are considered human rights companies and national resources companies is exactly such a measure. It’s not a fiscal policy, because it is not funded through taxation and it’s not a monetary policy, because it is not funded through printing more money. Fascinatingly – if a measure is none of those two – and it’s not purely free market… ‘well… well… then… it has to be communistic!’ Lol. Yet, it’s not communistic, because the economy will still operate according to free market principles, there will be no centralization of ownership – there will be decentralization – and the role for government would become smaller than it is now.

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