Editorial – This would change everything

Jeff Burgar

Sure! Show us the money! Now!

We’re all in favour of our government sending us money. In fact, if any government, federal, provincial or even local, wants to make the so-called Guaranteed Income an election promise, heck, we will vote for them!

The idea is, instead of welfare, social assistance or disability programs, which are targetted to the usually deserving, every person in Canada would get a “guaranteed basic income.”

That’s right! Everybody!

And not crumbs either! The income would be possibly be in the amount of $15,000 to $20,000 per year. Simple. No strings attached.

If you work to bring in more, the “guaranteed” amount mailed to you would not change. If you were already making tonnes of money, you would still get the basic amount. If some people needed more, because of disability or serious medical expenses, they would get more. The “basic” amount would be just that, basic.

So, what’s not to like?

Many politicians don’t like the idea. They say they add up the numbers and it just doesn’t work. “Too expensive!” they shout. “It will bankrupt the country!” they scream.

But many people said the same about universal health care in Canada. Even though Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and other countries around the world are making it work, Americans are yelling their country cannot afford it. Today, the same is said of many of the housing and social programs, and even the immigration programs across Europe.

Twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement was argued mightily. Many good arguments were made. Among the best came from Canadian producers. Folks from British Columbia or Ontario wine country, grain or beef producers, spud growers in the Maritimes and more. All made the case Canadians, just because of natural weather advantages in the United States, would have problems competing with the vast production powerhouses of our southern neighbour. In the end, not only did Canadians compete, but they moved into that market and overpowered much of the best the U.S. had to offer. The pressure of NAFTA also forced those same producers to seek new markets. Lessons were learned, and lessons forgotten.

The NAFTA seemed to be a fiercely studied process and a fiercely argued piece of law. Are we doing the same with the basic income? No. Neither studied nor debated with any intelligence.

A test program in Ontario, with a $15,000 annual base, was just cancelled by new premier Doug Ford. Another example of not so intelligent debate is the States’ problem with health. President Donald Trump kept Obamacare from self-destructing, which it was well on its way to doing. That would leave only the rich with health care. Today, because of politics, he still has 30 million poor Americans without insurance. Better than just about everybody without, but no answer.

A guaranteed basic income is an even more advanced idea than universal health care. It is the idea of looking after our brothers and sisters. The arguments against this “guaranteed basic income” seem to be the same arguments trotted out against universal health care.

Is somebody lying? Is everybody lying? When we don’t want to even study it, we have no reason to believe anybody.

 

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