Migrant deaths

“Is the Basic Income relevant to migrant deaths? The principle on which it is based most certainly is.

The EU official responses ‘show how great a culture shift is needed. We need an understanding of the forces driving such desperate migration, but especially why it has intensified now. Today’s (Saturday 25th April) Independent provides a very thoughtful examination by Boyd Tonkin: War, famine and drought- the unholy trinity behind mass migration..

Whilst Tonkin is careful to point out that correlation does not prove causation, he does cite a study pointing out that the rise of Isis followed an unprecedented drought in Syria from 2006 to 2010 leading to drastic population shifts, and that Boko Haram has emerged in an area losing 1,350 square miles of land annually to desertification.

Once upon a time, many centuries ago in most of Europe, but within living memory in the areas now giving rise to mass migration, every family had access to land, or at least some sort of access to food. That is no longer the case, and for most it is impossible. Until better ideas are proposed, it seems obvious to me that every individual, world-wide, should  receive sufficient to make it unnecessary to damage the environment in any way. This must be accompanied by a cultural understanding by individuals world-wide of the need to stay within ecological limits. The transition will be fraught. Many cultures, not just the dominant capitalist one, are based on very different assumptions. Limiting family size, though absolutely essential, will not easily become the cultural norm in Nigeria or Kenya.

In case this seems fanciful, I must remind readers about Otjivero, where a Basic Income scheme transformed an impoverished rural society. Please give better ideas before dismissing this one. That experiment is focussed on extreme poverty, but could easily be adapted to incorporate eco-factors.

It is of course impossible to disentangle the immediate causes of migration from underlying factors. But whether abuse of ecological limits is already a factor or not, the sheer scale of inequality world-wide must be reduced. Migration is from poor areas to rich. The cultural shift must happen, and soon,  if Baroness Anelay’s response on behalf of the British government “Rescuing them will only encourage others” is not to be the only option left.

I wish the Green Party well in the imminent elections. I am about to deliver a few more thousand leaflets. After all, it is my adopted son (daughter?). but she is wayward. It is the only party even mentioning the climate, or TTIP, both of which will have more impact on our future than any of the topics concerning voters, but the Party could have incorporated a few sound bites which would have given a glimpse of our wider original vision without losing any of the support it has gained:

“The Green Party was formed in response to warnings that we were at risk of trashing the Earth’s life support systems.  There are factors in the migration crisis which indicate that this is already beginning. As this will eventually cause an economic downturn, it would be better to manage it rather than clear up a foreseeable accident.

“The Green Party’s Basic Income scheme will play a part in this. It is part of a world wide movement. Although tailored to the British situation, and in particular as an answer to the disastrous and unspeakably nasty government policy which the Universal Credit has failed to underpin, it does embody our wider vision for a sustainable world.

“We tell the better off bluntly, reducing inequality means that they will pay more in tax. but we approach them in sorrow, not anger. Green measures will take only what is necessary to give every individual enough to live without damaging the environment (whilst making work pay), and to ensure sustainability for future generations.”

Meanwhile the Green Party continues to give wrong answers. If you haven’t thought of the Basic Income, or at least not thought through its consequences, then the Living wage is a good idea, and Zero hours contracts are evil. But the Living Wage does rely on economic growth, which increases the risk of more climatic damage in Africa, and Zero hours contracts only became evil when this government brought in draconian benefit sanctions.

Whatever happens, this can be rectified at leisure after the election. At leisure? Those boats are going to keep coming across the Mediterranean.

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