December 23, 2011

My Gift To The World: A Basic Living Income For All

This gift will add value, dignity, and respect to the world
It is the season of giving, and generosity rules the day. I feel good. So good that I have decided, in all my benevolence, to give all of humanity a basic living income. That is my gift to the world this year.

According to the Basic Income Earth Network, a basic income is one that is "unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement."

The idea of a basic income is one that has been around for a while. For good reason - it is one of the most just and effective ways of battling poverty.

Providing a basic income to all is an effective way to restore balance to our present situation in which global income inequality continues to grow. The World Bank reports that almost half of the people in the world live on under 2 dollars a day and a fifth on less than a dollar a day. Such poverty has devastating consequences.

The average income of the richest 20 countries is thirty-seven times greater than the average in the poorest twenty - a gap that has doubled in the last forty years. Within the richest countries the gap between the richest and poorest is also growing, which is causing great discontent, as it should.

Inequality is a breeding ground for discontent, misery,
and potential violence
It is time to narrow the income gap, and help alleviate the suffering attached to systemic poverty, and the well-meaning but misguided charity efforts organized to deal with it. We need to begin to discuss wholesale changes to our system in order to increase fairness and justice.

Often, talk about guaranteed annual income - if it happens at all - is directed at national implementation. Indeed, in Canada it is being discussed as a way to address the fact that 10% of the population struggles below the low-income line.

Both a House of Commons committee on poverty and the Senate have released reports recommending exploring a basic income for certain groups such as the handicapped, or  all low-income Canadians. I am heartened by the fact that this discussion is taking place in my homeland.

However, I would like to think big - bigger than the national level. We live in a globalized world, so let's take this thing global. I would like to see this basic benefit extended to all of humanity.

We could consider it each human's share of the bounty provided by the earth's resources, and our own technological advances. I will let the economists figure out exactly where the money will come from.

There is clearly enough cash in the world to make my gift a reality. All we need is the compassion and political will to implement what is perhaps the most just and effective way of eliminating poverty.

I am imagining a world where every human is provided, as a basic right, the means to provide themselves and their families with the necessities, without enduring harsh, judgmental systems designed to support bare survival rather than dignity and growth.

I am imagining a world where we all share in the bounty of the planet. A world where we take care of each other. A world where everyone has enough.

That is my gift to the human family for this year, and one which I will continue to work toward in the coming months.


  1. All I can say is..........B E A Utiful!

  2. Merry Christmas! I think a lot of people read your blog but don't comment. I think it's because you cover everything well and it's not controversial because it's true so we all just kind of go, yeah, I agree and don't comment.

    Just thought I'd let you know I like your blog!


  3. Poor to Rich and Jen,

    Thank you for your comments - little gifts they are.

    I am glad that some of these ideas resonate with you. It gives me hope.



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