Universal Basic Income, or Basic Universal Alternative?

The Green Party of England and Wales have just concluded their autumn conference, held this year in the pleasant Yorkshire town of Harrogate. One of the meetings I particularly wanted to take part in was titled “Universal Basic Income. Its time has come”. The main speaker was Guy Standing, someone who has apparently been promoting Basic Income for about thirty years. Although this gives him cause to claim some proprietorial rights for the idea, the Greens’ version of the same thing, known to us as Citizens Income (CI), has been a cornerstone policy for about forty years.

UBI/CI proposes that everyone should receive a guaranteed regular income – whether they need it or not. I’m a relative newcomer to the idea, learning about it for the first time when I first joined the Greens about three years ago. I couldn’t believe they were serious. Having ploughed through most of the Greens’ considerable number of policies, and agreed with just about every one of them, (CI) struck me as too ridiculous for words – the sort of thing some evil conspirator might plant like a bomb, waiting for the right moment to detonate it.

But perhaps it was me; perhaps I should find out more about it.

Whilst the intentions of CI are unquestionably right and good and humane – an attempt to eradicate poverty – the proposed solution of CI is full of flaws. Nevertheless, the concept of UBI/CI appears to be gaining a lot of traction all around the world. It has been tested in…

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