As part of its exploration of alternative futures, Transition Towns in the UK held a followup session to the What If to What Is series on Universal Basic Income as a means to greater citizen involvement and to allowing individuals to make more fulfilling choices in the way that their lives unfold.
There were discussions about pilots rolled out on various models, notably in Alaska (redistribution of North Slope oil dividends to all Alaskans), in Stockton, California (cash payments to a group of citizens), in Kenya (not detailed), a vague reference to Canada (perhaps the Dauphin experiment), in Finland (also not documented) and others. The general lesson seems to be that there is a fairly immediate and positive impact in whatever community, and especially on the lives of those being supported, but none of the programs, except the Alaska distribution, has persisted beyond the pilot stage, nor have most of them risen to the level of universal programs.
Anne Coote (https://www.socialguarantee.org) argued forcefully that cash payments were susceptible to market distortions and tended to drain public coffers from the provision of Universal Basic Services: health, education, communications, child and elder care, housing, items not within the reach of those at the lower end of the income scale as individuals, but rightly part of the commons.
Also cited was the Preston Model, though it was not elaborated in a way that showed links to UBI/UBS
There was a certain amount of almost territorial sniping back and for between advocates of UBI and the UBS faction, but the general consensus seemed to be that there is a need for both individual disposable income and for common services available to all through common action/finance. There were also discussions of funding models, mostly related to sourcing greater revenues from the more fortunate and redirecting funds from programs that don’t currently serve the interests of the wider community.
It would be interesting to explore how our local folks perceive these programs, and how they might fit into efforts to build resilience into our local community. The implication is that there would have to be wider engagement getting into the realm of both provincial and federal jurisdictions for both the financing and the provision of the broader programs of both UBI and UBS. Under the current run of attitudes, it looks like a tough slog, but better to push to conversation in a constructive direction than to simply accept the status quo. Lots to chew on.
“To be positive is to be mistaken at the top of one’s voice.”