Category Archives: basic income

Priorities in State Funding

Preliminaries

We have, in the UK, been subjected to a so-called “austerity” spending regime for about 7 years now, the burden (in reality) of which has fallen on the poorer citizens, if only because there is an almost irreducible minimum which anyone requires in order to survive in a basic civilized way in our society. It matters not that a statistician may say that the wealthiest have seen their incomes fall more than the poorest, because if a rich man has a discretionary income of, say, a half-million a year (and many have 10x that) and if that is reduced by, say, 20%, he still has hundreds of thousands of pounds beyond what is necessary even on an opulent level of expenditure. The poor man on a net income of, say, £10,000, suffers directly (meaning in terms of food, shelter, transport) if his income is reduced by only 10% or even 1%. The figures for income do not in any case take account of the huge rise in the capital of the UK’s wealthier citizens in the past decade or two.

It can probably be agreed generally that the State has and must have spending priorities, even in less “austere” times. While money is not the fixed or finite amount kept (as the simpler people seem to believe) in a large chest at the Treasury or in the Bank of England, there is, over time, a limit to State expenditure no matter what system of government exists.

The above being so, we should examine what should be the spending priorities of the proposed ethnostate. We already know the priorities of the present “Conservative” government: a reduced social security “welfare” roll, tax breaks for the wealthier citizens, expenditure on Trident submarines, HS2 high-speed train line etc.

The Expenditure Priorities of the Ethnostate

Firstly, the proper defence of the realm. That means defence services under British control (unlike Trident). In the absence of multilateral disarmament, that has to include nuclear weapons, though there are cheaper alternatives to Trident. A Navy which has the capacity to guard the British coasts (rather than those of supposed allies halfway around the world). An Army of suitable size for defence but not one to be used in support of American or Israeli geopolitical aims. The same for the Air Force. Defence in the wider sense too: internal security, meaning a police force which has as its aim the preservation of public peaceful order, rather than enforcement of some decadent pseudo-liberal agenda; also, security agencies focussed on protecting the public.

Secondly, a healthy population (that that population should be fundamentally white European is a given). The health of the population requires clean air and water first. That requires State regulation and supervision. After that, healthy food: State support in various ways for organic and biodynamic agriculture and horticulture; discouragement of unhealthy foodstuffs (eg via taxes, imposts etc). Then there is the question of encouraging the population to take moderate exercise: State funding of, not Olympic athletes and other careerists, but facilities for the generality of the population, meaning health clubs, sport clubs, swimming pools, properly-policed and well-kept parks (for walking exercise as well as general public amenity); National and regional parks, for the same reason. Information services to the public, ranging from general health education through to suitably-healthy food recipes etc.

Thirdly, funding for a health service. The overriding necessity for a healthy population, as well as the impulse to compassion, indicates the necessity for a free-at-point-of-use health service akin to the N.H.S. This blog post is concerned with spending, so here is not the right place to address the great changes that should take place in the N.H.S., both attitudinally and otherwise. Suffice to say that the health service must be properly funded, so that where the preventive health measures are insufficient, medication and surgery are available.

Fourthly, education. Education should be a matter for personal or family choice in terms of curriculum, type of educational philosophy or particular school or university, but the State should only subsidize what is useful for the State as instrument of the people, the nation, the race. Thus private/independent schools must be allowed to exist and (subject only to the welfare of the pupils) free from “national curriculum” and the like, but the State need not subsidize them beyond allowing them tax-free status, which they already enjoy. Likewise, students must be allowed to attend university freely in terms of choice of institution and course taken, but the State can choose which students, which courses, which institutions to subsidize. For example, it may be that the State gives the top 10% of students (however assessed) full tuition and maintenance grants, others less generous provision, still others nothing at all. These others would have to find loans or other funding. Another example: the State might decide to give financial subsidy to certain courses and not others: perhaps to Engineering and Chemistry rather than to American Literature or Gender Studies.

Fifthly, transport. It should not be the business –and certainly not a priority– of the State to fund luxury travel for the few. Concorde was an error, albeit that it was a tremendous technical achievement: State subsidy so that a relatively small number of extremely wealthy persons could save time crossing the Atlantic to New York or Barbados. Subsidy in development, in manufacture and in terms of ticket pricing. Wrongheaded all the way through. HS2 is a less-egregious but similar error. Transport must be improved in the UK, not by “high-speed” rail, but by a web of more ordinary or standard rail lines. These can be supplemented by a further network of branch lines, probably light rail and ultralight or narrow-gauge rail. Technology is moving to the point where these can be unmanned trains, especially on branch lines where safety is not a major issue.

There should be dug a network of very wide canals for freight transport. These will also have environmental benefits and might also be used for passenger transportation.

The possibilities of lighter-than-air travel (Zeppelins) have not been fully explored. This form of transport might have great use for commuter and other passenger transportation. Government may need to help.

Bus travel should be maintained, at least at a basic level, throughout the country. It knits together rural and urban areas and may need subsidy.

There is an argument for local or even regional travel to be free up to a certain radius. Modern technology in terms of ID cards, pay cards etc makes this administratively possible.

Sixthly, though its place in the list might be disputed, Basic Income. The level at which this can be paid depends on the overall economy, but it is now becoming clear that, with advances in robotics and computerization, the nexus between work and pay is loosening. Citizens, whether old, sick, disabled, unemployed or otherwise, all need a basic amount of money in order to exist. A “floor”. The regressive “welfare” “reforms” of recent years are absurd and unreal as well as being unjust. It is time for the State dismantle the huge (and hugely expensive) DWP bureaucracy and to keep only that which pays out money (as well as a core of investigators to deter real large-scale fraud).

The above list should enable the State to promote a healthy, sheltered, fed, clothed and protected population capable of advancing toward a higher level in terms of evolution.

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The Future of Work and Pay

It was, I think, that great genius Rudolf Steiner who first made the point that work in ancient times (meaning here the 4th Post-Atlantean Age which finished in the early 15th Century AD) was a matter, fundamentally, of slavery, or, to put it another way, of bond. The typical worker was a slave or serf, who worked because he or she was forced to work. There was no pay as such, but some form of food, shelter and clothing was provided. Any monetary reward was in the form of discretionary gratuity, not a matter of right. The worker belonged to the owner or master.

Not everyone was a slave, obviously. Apart from the slave-owning classes, there were those who were free citizens or subjects, who worked in various fields and were paid for doing so, but these were a minority.

Over the centuries and particularly since the Renaissance, in our 5th Post-Atlantean Age, the typical form of labour is that of paid work. The worker works and, in return, (i.e. transactionally) is paid money. This did not suddenly change in 1415 (supposedly the notional year of change from 4th to 5th Post-Atlantean Age), but was gradual and in some respects even today is not complete. For example, it was until very recently common in the UK for farm workers to be paid small wages, but to receive free accomodation, tied to the job. The “tied cottage”. Likewise, there have been retrograde movements alongside the general movement forward. The various Communist-inspired societies of the 20th Century were in that sense backward, but found that people would not work or work effectively as slaves. Thus, in the Soviet Union, “War Communism” did not last long and was replaced by the New Economic Policy in the 1920s. Stalinism tried to turn the clock back by collectivizing most agriculture and by having millions literally slaving in the so-called “GULAG Archipelago” of labour camps, but at the same time had to pay most workers at least some form of salary. In the Soviet joke, “we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.” In some parts of the world (some Caribbean island etc, parts of Russia too) the slave or serf of the 19th Century was only forced to work for the master’s benefit for part of the week, the rest of the time being free to farm or forage for himself.

The Soviet labour system was of course partly an outcome of previous Russian history. Few now know that serfdom in Russia was actually brought in, in its harshest forms, after 1400; indeed, the strictest forms were introduced after 1600: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serfdom_in_Russiahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serfdom_in_Russia.

In Russia, as in the United States, the problem with slavery, serfdom and similar forms of servitude, was their economic inefficiency and social demerit. In North America, which had had, from its beginnings in British colonial rule, slavery applicable only to blacks, there was, nonetheless, a lesser form of “slavery” or “serfdom” known as “indentured servitude”, which applied to white people (usually English): https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Indentured_Servants_in_Colonial_Virginia. This form of forced labour lasted until the end of the 18th Century but had largely died out by the time the USA declared itself independent of Britain. At one time, over half of the white population of Virginia (where the system was probably at its most common), was forced labour. Indentured servitude was finally outlawed by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; it continued elsewhere (notably in the Caribbean) until the mid-19th Century.

Even in the late 20th Century, there were attempts here and there to introduce forced labour as an economic model for the whole of a society. The Khmer Rouge “Year Zero” society in “Kampuchea” (Cambodia); North Korea (in part); rebel-held parts of South America. The generality of the world, however, had, by 1989, moved on. Russia and China moved to a typically “Western” pay-for-labour system. Europe had been evolving such a system for many hundreds of years.

The 6th Post-Atlantean Age will bring in, as a general way of life, the system of “work as free gift”. This seems Utopian today, of course. The Greeks and Romans (even their greatest thinkers) could hardly if at all conceive of a society without slavery; neither, it seems, could some of the landowners in the Americas or the Caribbean as late as the early 19th Century. Thomas Jefferson himself struggled with the practicalities of a society without slaves: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson#Slavery.

Now, when we speak of the 6th Post-Atlantean Age, that will not start until about 3500 AD, long in the future. However, just as paid work existed even in Roman times (even in the Roman Republic, some 1500 years before the start of the 5th Post-Atlantean Age), work as free gift can exist in places even today. When people volunteer for work in charity shops, on environmental projects etc, we see small flashes of that future world.

Consciousness is vital: to volunteer for a charity is something of the future; however, to be forced to work in a charity or elsewhere, in order not to have State benefits cut off, as in the policies implemented by Iain Duncan Smith and the Jew “Lord” Freud, is something from the previous Age and can properly be described as evil (being, in the “theological” sense, in error).

“Man cannot live by bread alone”. Profound words which, however, leave out the necessary addendum, “Man needs bread in order to live on Earth”. In the earlier Age, “bread” (i.e. the means of earthly subsistence) was supplied (in principle) by the owner of the work force. In the present Age, “bread” is bought by the work force for money and in return for work. In the future Age, work will be given freely. In return, the society will give freely to supply the necessities of life. Karl Marx had an intimation of this in his famous axiom, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_each_according_to_his_ability,_to_each_according_to_his_need.

We in the more advanced countries stand in 2017 at a point where computers, robotics and the organization of society generally is leading to a situation where many forms of human labour may very soon not be at all required and will be taken over by inorganic or hybrid machines. What then happens to the huge numbers of people displaced from the labour market? The conventional answer, the “Iain Dunce Duncan Smith” answer is that such people (possibly half the population of the UK by 2050 or even 2030) will be forced to “seek [non-existent] work” or be more or less starved and made homeless.

Not only is the conventional approach unjust, but it will inevitably lead to social and political upheaval on a scale not seen for decades, if ever (at least in the UK). There has to be a social mechanism by which people are supported economically whether they have paid work or not. Here we have, at present, “tax credits” and other forms of social security or “welfare” benefits, including the “unconditional” or “non-judgmental” forms such as Child Benefit and State Pension.

Basic Income must come and eventually will come. It will enable people to exist, at least on –indeed– a basic level without needing to sell their labour in order to survive. Not all will offer work somewhere where it is needed, as a “free gift”. Some, however, will. It is a question, in the individual as in society at large, of the evolution of consciousness. The key point is that Basic Income is a societal and an economic necessity.

Aspects of the New Society

Political and economic organization

The basic template will be taken from the guidance given by the great mind of Rudolf Steiner, in his Threefold Social Order, sometimes called the Threefold Social Organism or simply Social Threefolding: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_threefolding.

In other words, the key is finding the right relationship between the functioning of the economy (fundamentally private rather than State-run) and the rights of citizens. That does not mean that a few strategic economic areas or enterprises, or those of direct impact on the population (eg some utility companies, some railways etc) can never be State-owned or at least heavily State-regulated.

Population

An advanced society cannot be built on a backward population. The UK and other European societies of the future can only exist and advance if at least fundamentally European. The mass immigration from outside Europe has been disastrous and has greatly set back (especially Western and Central) Europe and, therefore, the world. However, we are where we are. We cannot say “10% of our population is non-European and so we cannot create a better society”. It has to be admitted that at some level, the non-European population within the general population might be so numerous that society can only decline or collapse. Tipping-points exist. The UK may not be very far from that tipping-point now. Certainly the major cities are close to it. For the purposes of this blog post, though, we must just keep in mind that there is an iron necessity for a (fundamentally) European population.

Education

According to the principles of the Threefold Social Order, education is within the spiritual-cultural sphere. It should be run neither by the State nor for private profit. That is not to say that it should not be regulated or unable to accept private monies via fees etc. It should not be taxed but accepted as having charitable or at least non-profit status.

It might be objected that, in the UK, private education tends to perpetuate social differences. There is some truth in that, but not much. The major drivers of inequality (apart from race and culture) are those of family capital and income. The education of children is rather a red herring in terms of the equality-inequality debate. There is also the point that parents (and children themselves) have the right to choose. The fact that choice may be rationed by available money does not destroy that right, but challenges both the State and society as a whole to make the means available to support educational choice.

The whole concept of the university “degree” should be looked at. This is a mediaeval concept which has probably outlived its usefulness. Bachelor, Master, Doctor, these have more in common with the Europe of Nostradamus than the Europe of 2017. In the UK, the true value of a university degree has been lowered (indeed rendered in some cases valueless) by award inflation and the mere fact that half the population now has some kind of degree.

Methods and conditions of work

The citizen must be protected from exploitation. That is a primary duty of the State. That means that maximum hours must be laid down. There might be flexibility within that, for example by laying down a weekly maximum of hours (say, 40 hours, but it might be 35 or even 30) but permitting the employer/employee to agree how those hours should be fulfilled within the working week: 5 x 8, or 4 x 10, even 3 x 13.33, or a work-week split into different hours on different days.

There is an argument to keep at least one day, traditionally of course Sunday, relatively free from work and commercial activities. There must be a rhythm to the week and a fallow day promotes that. Obviously, there are exceptions which would have to exist.

Basic Income

Robotics, computerization, automation are developments, the advantages of which are going mainly to a few within society. At the same time, they are destroying, for many, work as a way of getting even a basic living (in the UK, this was recognized years ago and led to the introduction of Working Tax Credits etc). The nexus between work and pay is dissolving.

The answer is the introduction of a measure of “basic income” not in any way dependent upon or conditional upon work done, availability for work etc. In that way, most of the expensive bureaucracy around social security or “welfare” can be eliminated: large buildings in every town, huge numbers of low-grade staff doing repetitive work processing applications, snooping  on and monitoring claimants etc. Whether a basic system should have tested aspects added for disability etc is a matter for debate. As to the amount of money given, again a matter for discussion. Perhaps £10,000 or £15,000 per person per year on present values.

In the UK, Basic State Pension is a form of Basic Income which already exists. Child Benefit is another form of Basic Income. Neither are conditional upon the income or capital earned or held by the recipient.

Contrary to what many still believe, basic income has the potential to free “entrepreneurship”, volunteering and ordinary “work more to get more” within the working-age population.

Transport

Here we are hostages to technology. It may be that driverless cars will soon exist in large numbers. It may be that lighter-than-air craft will be brought into service on a scale hitherto unknown. We do not know for sure. As matters stand, it seems clear that new initiatives are required in the field of railways (including driverless, light, ultralight and miniature), as well as wide canals for passenger and freight transport. There are trains in tubes being developed in the USA which may travel at 800 mph. All one can do is keep open to the future of transport while suggesting suitable policy for now.

Religion or spiritual belief

Religion should be (and is, in more advanced parts of the world) a question of individual choice. It is not for the State, or a dominant theocracy, to lay down what a citizen should believe or adhere to. However, that does not mean that the State cannot regulate or ban certain practices of religious groups. Thus toleration of religion as such need not import toleration of backward practices such as genital mutilation.

Conclusion

These few paragraphs are not meant to be a comprehensive manifesto but a springboard for ideas.