Lord Freud has a despicable agenda, and his recent remarks on lower rates of pay for the disabled are consistent with it, but the idea per se is not necessarily evil.
The trouble is everybody, Freud himself, the questioner who provoked the comment, and those outraged by it are all proceeding as though they had not heard of the Citizens’ Basic Income, or at least had not thought through all its implications.
Before I go further, perhaps I had better explain that my 5-week blog silence was initially due to a holiday and then visiting far flung relatives, but it is currently bedevilled by computer problems not yet resolved, so at first I may not be able to respond to the comments I hope this will provoke.
No doubt the many disabled people who still have not heard of the Citizens’ BI were more offended by Lord Freud than most. I would be if all we could envisage was demonization of anyone who cannot find work, and a starting assumption that anyone claiming to be disabled is probably shamming, hence the nightmare system of workfare, draconian benefit sanctions on trivial pretexts, and disablement assessments carried out by medically untrained clerks with ‘fit for work’ quotas to fill.
But assume the sane millennium has arrived. No one has to work, but everyone who can is better off if they do. It no longer matters whether there are enough jobs to go round. All jobs, including those that need doing, will find their own market price per hour – too low and no one will bother, too high would mean competition for them, but that of course will not happen.
The Citizens’ BI does not actually destroy capitalism, but it does remove capitalism’s power to exploit. It gives individuals bargaining power.
Try to think of yourself as disabled in this new world. You want to work. Like everyone else you want the self respect, satisfaction, and social contacts it normally offers, quite apart from the money.
You do have skills, but your disabilities may mean that you are slower than most others, or need periods when you cannot work. But in this new situation you can price yourself back into the market by offering to work at a lower hourly rate.
Let’s run it past a few disabled people.