Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Christine Jardine makes the case for universal basic income

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Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West and the party's Treasury spokesperson, took part in a Westminster Hall debate on universal basic income.

The Lib Dems adopted the introduction of a UBI as party policy at their conference last month.

Here is part of what Christine said:

Coronavirus has changed everything. It has changed everything in much the same way—this metaphor has been used a lot—as the second world war changed everything for this society. When Beveridge put together his report in 1942, a lot of people said that it simply could not work, that it was not sensible and that the country could not afford it. What on earth was he thinking about? And yet, immediately post-war, the Labour Government set about putting that Beveridge report into action. 

What I say today is that what this country needs now is that kind of vision, and that kind of willingness to take on a challenge and to change society for the better for the next generation. It is not an opportunity that we asked for; it has come in the form of a challenge—probably the biggest challenge that any of us will face in our lifetimes. But we also have to see it as an opportunity to make progress.

Why UBI? The reason I became a convert, frankly, has been the number of phone calls and the number of people who have come to me since March this year—every day, every phone call, every person who thought they were financially secure, every person who spent decades building up a company, every person who was self-employed but now finds that they are without the support they need for the future: all that has convinced me that the only way to tackle the issue fully and to make sure that everyone gets the support they need is through a universal basic income.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Christine, I am shocked that there are no comments yet. But it was almost by chance that I saw your blog, somehow -- I was exploring Lib Dem Voice, I expect. (I'm doddery, these days). But may I add what I sent this morning to LDV, as a personal comment addressed to you , please, as encouragement visible to all? Here it is:

The point is M M T. Much of the discussion on UBI revolves around the problem of paying for it. The asnwer, I believe, lies in Modern Monetary Theory.

I may sound like an obsessive crackpot, but bear with me a moment, please. Modern Monetary Theory does not mean Magic Money Tree: it is the very antithesis of that, carefully and convincingly exposing where Mrs May was wrong.

The book to read — a”New York Times Best Seller” — is “THE DEFICIT MYTH: Modern Monetary Theory and How to Build a Better Economy”, and it ends about one paragraph short of mentioning UBI , which does not appear at all in the very comprehensive Index (though implicit, we might have thought, in the book’s subtitle).

The Author is Professor Stephanie Skelton, a former chief economist on the US Senate Budget Committee. The key to her bold and provocative title is her explanation of the importance to a few national economies of being ‘sovereign’ currency issuers. The USA is such an issuer — and so, thanks to our declining to join the Euro, are we.

Prof Skelton’s book is written for the sensible layman, and not (primarily) for Economists : and in that, I consider, she has been very successful. MMT is not quite so ‘modern’ as it sounds, because it will sound familiar to those who read Economics in the 1960s and its Keynesian thinking. I urge all LDs to read it soon, before other parties do: they will find it harder to accept, so this is our chance to grab the baton (and mix a metaphor?).