The Citizens’ Income Trust is arranging a meeting in a House of Commons committee room, some time in 2014. However, Caroline Lucas has declined to take part. I understand her reasons. She is already doing far more than ought to be expected of any one individual. But this is important. Somebody must take up the invitation. One obvious possibility is Jenny Jones, who will take her seat in the House of Lords before 2014, though she is not exactly at a loose end either.
The CIT will provide a workmanlike introduction. I understand they have even produced costings recently. But there are three areas which should be included in the presentation by whoever does represent the Green Party. One sign of the overload with which Caroline is trying to cope is that she has not had time to read Dynamic Benefits, Towards Welfare that Works as I advised her and others to do in my blog of 28th December 2012. This report was published by the Economic Dependency Working Group of the Centre for Social Justice, a Think Tank set up by Iain Duncan Smith whilst he was still in opposition. If you click the link, (please do) ‘Dynamic Benefits’ was published on 16th September 2009. It is in the right hand column of ‘Publications’. ‘Dynamic Benefits’ was supposed to be the basis for IDS’s so-called Welfare Reforms. It proposes a ‘Universal credit’. I say ‘was’, ‘so called’, and ‘a’, not ‘the’ Credit because of the difference between the proposals in the second part of ‘Dynamic Benefits’, inadequate and flawed though they were, and the nasty, bungled reality as it emerges.
But the first part of ‘Dynamic Benefits’ is truly remarkable. It is a thorough, devastating examination of the evil effects of means testing which could form part of the case for a Citizens’ Basic Income without amendment. Here is a typical passage:
Economic dependency is reinforced by factors beyond work. Being part of a family, owning a home and having some savings are all protections against economic dependency. However, the current benefits system penalises these life choices, particularly for those with the lowest earnings.
The rest of the report is a tortuous, though quite skilful attempt not to come to the Citizens’ Income conclusion. But not only have the Labour and Lib Dem Parties, and the Trade Unions failed to spot this serious weakness in the government’s plans, and so have fallen for the ‘anti-scrounger’ rhetoric, the Green Party is not exploiting it either! As the graph at the top of this page demonstrates, once the public has grasped that means testing is a form of taxation, massive on tiny incomes, tiny on massive incomes, Iain Duncan Smith’s paying taxpayers’ money to firms who force the disabled to compete with the able bodied for non-existent – or bogus – jobs will collapse.
It is sometimes put to me that the Citizens’ Basic income is difficult to get across to the person in the street. That problem has now been solved for us, as I explained in last Friday’s blog (18th Oct), by the energy ‘trilemma’ – de-carbonization, security of supply, and affordability. A periodic lump sum to everyone can guarantee affordability without keeping prices down artificially. Once people get used to the principle, a full Citizens’ Basic income will follow quickly
Of course the Citizens’ Income Trust could use either of these two arguments, but one which they never have, is that for the Green Party, it is a possible underpinning of an ecologically sustainable economy. Scary stuff.