Posted by Jason O on Apr 25, 2012 in Irish Politics
Many years ago, when I was still active in politics, the concept of a Basic Income for every citizen was a very live issue. Interestingly, although it started out as a left wing concept, people on the right started to become interested in it as a means of getting better value from the social welfare budget. Indeed, many of those on the left who initially advocated it used to cool on the idea when they realised that if every citizen was granted a no-questions-asked universal payment, it would allow for the radical dismantling of the social welfare system, including very substantially reduced numbers of civil servants, as the need for policing and processing would be hugely reduced.
Of course, there were other issues. Even with huge savings made by abolishing most social welfare payments, and cutting the public sector pay bill, it would still require large amounts of taxation to fund it. Secondly, if every citizen were to receive it, including those in work, to ensure universal approval of it, and it were to be generous enough to fund a relatively decent lifestyle, what would stop large numbers of people just becoming layabouts and parasites living off the backs of others? I don’t know the answers, but as a concept it is worth further examination, and perhaps could be the bridge between right and left in terms of setting a minimum standard of living upon which no citizen shall fall beneath.