farewell, my lovely (welfare state) – hello, my unconditional basic income?

A bit of a mix today.  First, the Telegraph informs us how “revolving doors” between government and private industry have begun to whiz round evermore speedily.  I discussed the issue over at Speaker’s Chair recently (the pamphlet I contributed to, along with other excellent contributions, is downloadable here over at revolutionise.it’s website), where I suggested the following (in the context of what Labour needs to do) as a possible solution:

[…] For the eighty per cent of civil servants who are probably struggling to give their best, we as a party would be better off looking to change the culture, opportunities and prejudices of the managerial class which – at present – is in the process of raiding the country’s coffers.

A huge programme of cultural readjustment would involve at the very least the following: firstly, legislation which prohibits any kind of revolving-door activities between elected government, unelected civil service and private industry; secondly, retraining and proper resourcing for all civil service employees – in order to allow them to recover a virtuous public-sector ethos; and thirdly, providing properly-funded and independent research facilities and resources for all MPs, so that lobbyists would lose their ability to try to control the agenda.

These measures might contribute to developing a government that works for all the country. Such decisions could lead to Labour not only winning the general election, but also the geographically wider argument and the grassroots discussions; while also governing behind the moral weight of the One Nation philosophy.

Meanwhile, the consequences of the powerful getting a hold of all the levers of representative democracy couldn’t be better illustrated than by this Independent article from September of this year on how the Dutch king, from his position of manifest privilege (compare and contrast with Uruguay’s president, for example) says a damning farewell to the Netherlands’ welfare state.  And whilst the Dutch at least announce their intentions to their voters, the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition here in the UK blasts antisocial broadsides at all and sundry (though mainly, in this case, the most defenceless sundry), as they continue to twist the knives of austerity in the alleged interests of fiscal responsibility.

Talking of which, have a look at a truly humane alternative to the Western European welfare state of yore.


You can currently find the corresponding website here.  As it says on the homepage:

On January 14th 2013, the European Commission accepted our European Citizens’ Initiative hence triggering a one-year campaign involving all countries in the European Union.

Before January 14, 2014, we have to reach 500 million citizens within the European Union and collect one million statements of support with minimum numbers reached for at least 7 member states. 20 member states are already participating in this initiative.

If we collect one million statements of support for Basic Income from the 500 million inhabitants of the European Union, the European Commission will have to examine our initiative carefully and arrange for a public hearing in the European Parliament.

As the video makes clear, an unconditional basic income as described would almost certainly be cheaper to administrate than our present web of usually means-tested benefits regimes.  It would guarantee humane minimums for everyone; it would allow the entrepreneurial instincts of those more interested in dosh than the rest of us to flourish on the basis of well- and securely-distributed income streams; and it would bring us all kicking and screaming out of the darkest wells of 19th century capitalism.

Interesting ideas, don’t you think?

I think so, anyhow.

And now to my final link of the day.  This, on Tim Montgomerie’s recent op-ed (in the paywalled Times I think) describes how our body politic might look if constructed from focussed start-from-scratch strokes of intellectual coherence.  Always a dangerous practice, that.  As PooterGeek suggests, the human being is generally a hotch-potch of incoherences.  But the exercise is curiously attractive all the same.

Myself, I find it easy to gravitate towards the Solidarity Party.  Only I wouldn’t use the logo suggested, and I wouldn’t call it the Solidarity Party either.  Not sure what I would call it, but whatever it might be called, it would have to include as a key identifying concept the idea of “societal efficiency”.  The reason why?  If we are looking to be social beings in our politics as well as our networks, we really do need to factor in Peter Levine’s definition of “Good Democracy” as well: to paraphrase very loosely, “not only inclusive but also efficient”.

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