St Margaret's News October 2017 - Page 5

Idea for Elimination idea is simply to insure an income to cover the basic needs of food, shelter and education for everybody. This income would not be regarded as a favour but as a right and would be completely unconditional and without stigma. When an individual’s income fell below a certain level it would be immediately topped up. This sounds costly perhaps. However Rutger Bregman uncovered a study. amongst others worldwide, which took place in the town of Dauphin in Canada from 1974 for 4 years and whose results from 2000 boxes of papers were only analysed 25 years later. It showed all the social indicators going in a positive direction. School performance improved whilst hospitali- zation, domestic violence, criminal behaviour and mental health issues all went down. The only groups where paid work decreased were amongst new mothers and students. Other experiments in other places confirmed these outcomes. He suggests the rich need to stop pretending they know what’s best for the poor and do away with their paternalism. Instead of withering away because of a scarcity mentality the poor would be able to take control of their own lives. The money could be viewed as venture capital for the people. Then there is the question of how it can be afforded. He has calculated that it could be done for 1% GDP. Things like child poverty for instance have huge long-term expensive repercussions so potentially this would contribute to future savings. Other savings could be expected in the areas of health, criminal behaviour, education etc. Not only would this initiative free the poor but also the rest of us. Those languishing in meaningless jobs could choose to do what they would really like to do. The rising inequality of society would not be such an issue and more social harmony would follow. Martin Luther King didn’t say “I have a nightmare”. We need hope for the future with rising xenophobia and climate change as two of the difficult issues we have to grapple with. History teaches us thing could be different and this is a thought we need to embrace. Freeing the poor and their energies and talent could make a difference. Rutger Bregman’s philosophy on poverty is encapsulated in the statement, “Poverty isn’t a lack of character, it’s a lack of cash!” - Margaret Hunt (Editor: the TED talk mentioned in Margaret’s article is at talks/rutger_bregman_poverty_isn_t_a_lack_of_character_it_s_a_lack_of_cash) St Margaret's News 5 October 2017