Mar 012018

As we campaign against Universal Credit, it’s important to remember the pitfalls of Universal Basic Income and why this isn’t an alternative vision of social security that we should be fighting for.

DPAC ally John Clarke from Ontario Coalition against Poverty sent this feedback from his recent trip to Vancouver where he was invited to talk about the dangers of support for UBI:

“I got back last night from Vancouver and what I saw and experienced there was quite incredible.  I saw appalling levels of poverty and destitution and inspiring resistance.

I was brought out to BC to give a talk at Simon Fraser University on the folly of left wing support for the neoliberal trap of basic income.  As in the UK, where Scottish pilot projects and interest in the policy by the Labour Party is giving progressive credibility to BI, moves by the NDP Government in BC, with the support of the Greens, poses similar dangers. The video of the session at SFU may be of interest to those who are challenging this neoliberal wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Posted by Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University on Tuesday, 27 February 2018

The homeless shelters in Toronto are bursting at the seams and the misery spills out onto the streets. However, the visible destitution on display in Vancouver is far worse than anything I have seen here or when I was back over in London. Yet, there is resistance. I was given the honour of speaking at a meeting of the residents of a homeless tent city that has been established and maintained for eight whole months. I held discussions on how a coast to coast movement to resist austerity and demand housing can be taken forward. It was truly a great trip that filled me with both anger and hope for the struggles ahead.”

To read DPAC’s position on Universal Basic Income, see: Concerns with UBI [Please note a full article with references will be coming soon.]


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 Posted by at 22:41

  4 Responses to “The folly of left wing support for the neoliberal trap of basic income.”

  1. I wonder how many people listened to the whole debate? Clarke’s basic argument is ‘we can’t win the kind of UBI those on the left are calling for because we don’t have enough power so we have no choice but to continue the defensive fight over the current benefit system. And support workers in the fight for $15.” How does that help disabled people fighting to get what we need? How does that help us combine forces with all the other pepole (most people) suffering from the effects of austerity to win against it? I liked the Asian woman in the discussion who said ‘We have to fight for 100% of what we want” – Clarke is like, ‘let’s do half-measures because that’s all we can win’. Fuck that.

    It’s funny, what John Clarke is calling for: removal of punitive surveillance of people on benefits, levels high enough to live on … sounds a lot like the left version of UBI. It is bizarre that Clarke is so keen on attacking UBI when it gives us all a) something rather than the nothing people are facing right now b) a way to connect with and build our power as we’ll need to with people who are not in our position.

    My life was saved several times by simply having my rent paid and food money coming in, no extra – but no hassle from DWP about finding work or whether I could do any or not. I was also lucky to have enough community around me to fill in the gaps, who cooked for me, listened to my rants, kept me out of the bin.

    When do we go on the offensive about the world we want? These defensive battles are losing – people are dying, it is not enough anymore (was it ever?) to complain about how bad things are.

  2. Hi Kerrie, I know and appreciate your feelings of despondancy, demoralisation, being demonised, of helplessness, apathy and deep, deep concern. That’s the way this government and others want us to feel. They want us to take our ownlives and save them the problem of giving us benefits that make our lives livable, worth living for. This and successive governments have not created a level playing field for the disabled. They never did. Yes, the disability discrimination act was brought in. It was and is useles. One little section makes it legal for enployers to not employ disabled applicants. If it costs too much for them to adapt the working area. They are exempt.

    The media has demonised us and employers won’t employ disabled people because we are seen as a burden to society and not able to do the same job as a normal able bodied person. We can and some have done. Not many, not nearly enough to show just how hard workers we are.

    A basic income is just that. It will allow us to exist, if that. There is a hope that those who do get a basic imcome will also find work. Work is becoming rarer and no one has realised this yet. The unemployment figures are a little lower this month. This is the start of the downward slide. More and more AI and other technical programs will reduce the ammount of workers required. This is the tip of the iceberg. Companies largest single cost is hiring employees. Reduce them and the profit soars.

    What happens to the workers? tH

  3. I have a problem with this generalisation. UBI has both left and right support, but there are also left and right opposition to it as well. As the co-ordinator of Left Unity’s Disabled Members Caucus I’m arguing against this neoliberal trap.

  4. There is def a pattern with whats going on here with people being pushed into poverty and with whats going on in the usa….no doubts at all about that 🙁 ……my partner lives in the usa and is disabled and the cuts being made to vital disabillity funds for disabled peoples services and the disabled claimants income is a disgrace and it mirrors exactly what the tory government are doing here in the uk(fact) im disabled and live here in the uk and have witnessed first hand how inhumane things have gotten for us who are forced to struggle as a form of punishment because we can not work due to our failing bodies(disabilities)…how with all the evidence of many people left to die/ me included….how?have these leaders got away with their harsh treatment of punishing us is beyond me…..seems to be accepted in our society today as thats the only conclusion i can come up with as even the places we seeked/depended on to help us have turned their backs on us as they have been closed down….i along with many other disabled people around the world have given up hope that the very people making our lifes hell will ever be brought to justice as its been allowed to go on for far too long as everyone sees whats going on but nothing ever happens in our favour to stop it…..we dont even have the UN on our side as all they do is warn….we never see action taken….only the death toll going up further/more punishments dealt to the disabled claimant 🙁 ….i tell people now in my situation to give up fighting as the leaders that are doing as they please to us have power/money…..we have nothing(not even hope) as we watch these leaders in a court room every week taking more and more away from us(fact) 🙁

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