Universal basic income (UBI) is a simple idea: give people a small amount of money so they can at least survive. This isn’t a radical idea yet it keeps getting blocked by governments who despise….government. The argument for UBI keeps growing as more and more studies point out that it greatly improves recipient’s mental wellbeing and their employment opportunities. What’s more is that supporting people before they need to access welfare programs governments save money.
This is what California found in their recent UBI study.
Here in Ontario we started a basic income research study which was swiftly cut by the Conservative government. Hopefully smarter governments who actually work for people will pick up where Ontario failed and California found success.
Mental and physical well-being improved, with reductions in depression and anxiety recorded. Households were able to avoid or limit their exposure to financial ups and downs often experienced by low-income families, especially in the event of unexpected costs.
SEED found that those in the UBI trial “experienced clinically and statistically significant improvements in their mental health … moving from likely having a mild mental health disorder to likely mental wellness over the year-long intervention”.
But one of the most potentially significant findings was that people in receipt of the $500 UBI payments were more likely to find full-time employment.
At the start of the project, in February 2019, 28% of the UBI recipients were in full-time work. That had risen to 40% a year later. The SEED trial included a control group, not in receipt of the payments. In that control group, full-time employment increased by 5% over the same period.
Unions have got a bad reputation in North America for reasons I don’t understand. Counterintuitively, large corporations have convinced millions of workers that their jobs are negatively impacted by workers helping each other. It’s been proven that when CEOs talk about how much they make their average wage goes up; those same CEOs don’t want their own workers doing the same. Indeed, silicon valley CEOs went out of their way to ensure that the people they hire cannot even get paid more at other companies.
Today is May Day and a good chance to think about the history and value of the labour movement. We still need to work together today for a better tomorrow and this is a chance to celebrate our successes.
Top executives of leading tech companies secretly agreed among themselves not to hire each other’s employees, thereby restricting wages and job opportunities of the very people to whom they owed their success.
Government investigators discovered the conspiracy and brought charges against the companies, using antitrust law to protect labor rights.
Paying workers a reasonable amount of money works out well fro economies. Raising minimum wage is happening in a few jurisdictions throughout North America and the results are coming in that the wage increase for the lowest-paid employees benefits everyone. In Ontario the minimum wage was increased last year and economic growth continued unabated, so much so that unemployment is now at a 18-year low in the province.
“It is tough to find a lot of evidence that employment has been negatively impacted,” said Josh Nye, senior economist with Royal Bank of Canada. “In terms of the minimum-wage hike, it has come at a good time when the economy is able to absorb that. Demand for labour is so strong and labour market conditions are quite tight. Employers don’t have much of a choice,” he said.
The minimum-wage hike has helped boost paycheques. In Ontario, the average hourly rate increased 4.3 per cent to $27.16 over July of last year. Across Canada, average hourly earnings rose by 3.2 per cent to $26.61.
Underemployment runs rampant in too many sectors of our economy; and this contributes to a long-term unsustainable economic system. For example, people born in the 1980s are now the brokest generation since the Depression (for reasons why see this post). With these problems in mind, some thinkers are calling for a radical solution by providing jobs to anybody who wants one. It’s like universal income but for work.
To advocates, the payoff from this kind of program would be immense: In a single stroke, the government could not only eliminate involuntary unemployment but also alter the private job market. The wages and benefits at guaranteed public jobs would effectively set a floor for private employment. With more workers fully employed at higher wages, there’d be less demand for social services like food stamps. And although the program would require a significant initial investment, it would ultimately spur economic growth, as workers go out and spend their new paychecks.
Advocates of a jobs guarantee are clear on the need for on-the-ground leadership. The CBPP plan calls for federal administrators of a jobs guarantee program to work closely with state and local governments, and it advises that project proposals be developed “in conjunction with community leaders, local government officials, labor organizations, and local residents.”
It’s Wednesday my dudes, which means you’re likely midway through your work week. If you’re looking for a boost in productivity and happiness you may want to consider working for yourself. People who are self-employed report being happier than people who work for bosses in a recent in study about workplace happiness. Of course, being self-employed isn’t for everyone but if you’re looking for a change maybe it’s time to strike out on your own!
Professor Warr said: “Professional workers who are self-employed really value the autonomy they have. They have the freedom to innovate, express their own views, have influence beyond their own role and compete with other companies and people.
“They really get to use their own expertise, so don’t seem to mind working long hours. They can find meeting high standards really fulfilling.”
Co-author Professor Ilke Inceoglu added: “Being engaged in their jobs makes people feel energised and pleased with their own contribution.
“Measuring how engaged people are in their work is therefore a really useful way to gauge their wellbeing and shows we must move beyond just looking at job satisfaction.”