Guaranteed Minimum Income Debate: The Debate on Living Wage
Guaranteed minimum income is a social welfare system established by governments to ensure that people have enough money to live on. This program can come in various forms like minimum wage, students loans, state pension, and disability pension. It is a system designed to keep people from poverty. France, the U.K., and Germany have plans in effect. Switzerland will soon vote on a plan while the U.S. currently has none. While it’s intent is noble the details of this measure are often debated. Because of this different countries have different approaches. Even within individual nations there’s disagreement over the matter.
The arguments for it is that having enough to meet basic needs will eliminate poverty thus reducing crime, allow people more financial flexibility, and allow them to enjoy more leisure. In his book; Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, Martin Luther King Jr. stated; “I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” Namibia introduced a basic income guarantee and economic activity increased while crime decreased. People also believe that distributing wealth equally to all citizens would produce a feeling of equality. They also say that by implementing this sort of plan it would create a system that would be simpler and cheaper than the government programs already in place.
Those who oppose it state that only 50% of the income would be spread around leading to more people benefiting from the plan than others. This would defeat any attempt to promote feelings of equality. They also say that people are affected more by what they lose out on than what they gain. This could lead them to focus on not what they gain below the 50% mark but what they lose above it thus spreading discontentment. The opponents of guaranteed minimum income also point out that the money has to come from somewhere. This would either be from raised taxes, which not everyone might be able to pay, or from other countries buying goods and resources from the one with the plan which wouldn’t work if the price of these things dropped like with Russia’s oil in the 1990s. This also doesn’t cover the cost of putting the plan in to action.
Everyone wants to fight poverty and one of the ways that people have come up with to do that is with guaranteed minimum income. However, not everyone can agree if this plan is the right choice or even what is the right way to impediment it. To figure out the best way people need to come together and decide what they are trying to achieve and how they are going to do it.
Watch this video about Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefit (GMIB)
“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”
–Where do we go from Here: Chaos or Community?, Martin Luther King Jr.
With all due respect, Mr. M. L. King, Jr., but is it really that simple?
Guaranteed income in its most basic definition is social welfare for the working class.
In this system, the government dictates a monthly universal wage for all its citizens. This insures that the members of the country’s working populace are given an income enough to meet the basic needs of every individual in each family. The hope being that by setting up a standard, all workers would be elevated to a proper, more decent kind of living situation.
The ultimate goal of this initiative is to eradicate poverty but is that goal even realistic or possible?
Incidentally, Switzerland, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, is aiming to find out soon. The Swiss are prepping up to vote on whether or not they will allow their government to dole out 2,500 Swiss francs, equivalent to 2,800 U.S. dollars or 1,750 Euros, monthly to all of its 8 million registered citizens.
Of course, there are pros and cons to every radical scheme. Numerous debates, discussions and ideas on the topic of universal income has been said, heard and published. Every idea is worthy of consideration and both sides of the argument have their strengths and weaknesses.
There are those who, like Martin Luther King, Jr., believe that this is the simplest, most obvious answer if you want to feed the hungry and alleviate the status of the poor, even achieve peace and order. To them, such a program would result in the stabilization of crime because everyone will not want.
Others who favor the scheme see this as an opportunity to follow their true passion in life. Since no one needs to be a slave to the paycheck anymore, they can work on what really makes them happy and not what makes the most money for them.
But then, of course, there are also those who think that the Basic Income Guarantee or B.I.G. idea is actually a bad idea.
A lot of dissenters insist that the concept of universal income is a fairy tale. To even consider voting on it is a waste of precious time, not to mention, a waste of the tax payers’ money.
They believe that this concept is just too good to be true and that it will never work in a million years. They argue that this universal income guarantee, instead of battling poverty, would most likely inspire mediocrity among the people. “There is no such this as a free lunch” they say and this is a sure recipe for disaster.
So you see, it really is not as simple as it may seem. The arguments present a lot of questions. The implementation poses a lot of what ifs. In order for any government to even think about taking a step on it, a lot of considerations must be carefully reviewed and processed.
It is Utopia if you can live in a place where money is not the measure of your worth but instead, they see your value based on your contribution to society as a human being. Too bad there are no guaranteed morals. Utopia is still so far away.