If Canada had a guaranteed minimum income for every citizen, we could ditch employment insurance, food banks, housing assistance and many other parts of our social safety net.
If you received, say $10,000 from the government each year, you wouldn’t be rich, but you would never be poor either.
Ten grand is not enough to stay home on the couch every day but it does make most of our existing support systems redundant, and that’s one of the greatest selling points of a national minimum income. Imagine all three levels of government shedding processes and administration of all the programs we’ve put in place to deal with people in need.
Switzerland is planning a national referendum on the idea, and the Swiss certainly have a reputation for good money sense.
There will always be some people who cheat the system. In the case of $10,000 a year in income, there are going to be some who think they can sit at home and play video games all day.
Those unhappy stories should be eclipsed by all the good a minimum income could do for those who are struggling today, but there are always a few Grinches who need to find the bad in anything good. Like a pebble in your shoe, lay-abouts will cause some pain, but it’s a case of glass-half-full if everyone can make-do with the minimum.
If $10,000 would make life a lot easier for you, maybe you’re a senior or a student. To those groups, every dollar counts. Far fewer kids would grow up pressured to get a job right out of high school in order to bring home a paycheque. Adults who want to go back to school won’t be without an income while they study.
For someone who has just lost their job, the guaranteed income takes off some of the financial pressure and removes the desperate application for benefits and worries about whether or not you’ll qualify or when the first cheques will come.
For people with dreams – the entrepreneurs and artists – the minimum income could be the ticket to spend time on new ideas instead of working a full time job and trying to fit a passion into the weekends.
If you already make enough money that $10,000 more each year wouldn’t make life better, well, good for you. But if our society can afford it, it’s morally imperative that we look after the less fortunate.