Universal basic income in Southeast Asia

My research focuses specifically on women from the region who live below the poverty line, which, for East Asia and the Pacific, the World Bank defines as living on less than US$3.20 a day.

In Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam – among the poorest Southeast Asian nations – between 13% and 47% of the population is living in poverty. The number is significantly lower in better-off Brunei and Singapore.

On the whole, women in these countries fare well enough compared to their peers in other developing regions in terms of literacy, employment, political participation and the right to organise. But this has not translated into greater gender equality. …

In poor families in Southeast Asia, up to 80% of household income is spent on food, yet undernutrition remains a huge problem in Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Indonesia and, to a lesser extent, in Vietnam.

If women were provided with sufficient income to feed their families, it would translate into better nutrition, health and general well-being for children and others entrusted in their care, and by extension, their communities. Continue reading

Globalisation, France, USA, Brexit and Trump

At the heart of Guilluy’s inquiry is globalization. Internationalizing the division of labor has brought significant economic efficiencies. But it has also brought inequalities unseen for a century, demographic upheaval, and cultural disruption. Now we face the question of what—if anything—we should do about it.

A process that Guilluy calls métropolisation has cut French society in two. In 16 dynamic urban areas (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rennes, Rouen, Toulon, Douai-Lens, and Montpellier), the world’s resources have proved a profitable complement to those found in France. These urban areas are home to all the country’s educational and financial institutions, as well as almost all its corporations and the many well-paying jobs that go with them. Here, too, are the individuals—the entrepreneurs and engineers and CEOs, the fashion designers and models, the film directors and chefs and other “symbolic analysts,” as Robert Reich once called them—who shape the country’s tastes, form its opinions, and renew its prestige. Cheap labor, tariff-free consumer goods, and new markets of billions of people have made globalization a windfall for such prosperous places. But globalization has had no such galvanizing effect on the rest of France. Cities that were lively for hundreds of years—Tarbes, Agen, Albi, Béziers—are now, to use Guilluy’s word, “desertified,” haunted by the empty storefronts and blighted downtowns that Rust Belt Americans know well. Continue reading

UBI for India

The Finance Ministry’s economic survey estimated that a modest sum of $4 per person per month could reduce India’s poverty level from 22 percent at present to seven percent. The cost would be a mere two percent of GDP, or $42 billion, which is approximately the same amount the government spends in total on food, fuel, and fertilizer subsidies.
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British Medical Journal calls for a study of universal basic income

Recently, there have been increasing calls for dialogue on a universal basic income (UBI) from political parties, think tanks (including the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA)), civic activists, trade unions, and leading entrepreneurs such as Tesla chief executive Elon Musk. These calls are a response to growing income insecurity, some sense that welfare systems may be failing, and as a preparation for the potential effects of automation and artificial intelligence on employment prospects in industries that might be better served by machines.3 UBI-style pilots are planned in Finland, the Netherlands, and Canada as a potential answer to these questions and concerns.4

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The Deep Place approach to sustainable placemaking

Deep Place is a holistic approach to sustainable place-making. It is grounded in an empirical concern with how to achieve more economically, socially, environmentally and culturally sustainable places and communities. It seeks to overcome what it identifies as the harmful consequences of the current dominant Neoliberal economic paradigm. Although it is not anti-capitalist, it recognises the weaknesses and failings of Neoliberalism, which is exploitative of human and natural resources as factors of production. There has been a significant drive toward Neoliberalism since the 1980s, and the costs in terms of increased inequality are all too clear (Ostry et. al., 2016). The UK is now one of the least equitable countries in the world. Income inequality has been well above the OECD average for the last 30 years. The average income of the richest 10% is 10 times that of the poorest 10%. Between 2005 and 2011 the average income of the poorest 10% in the UK fell by a further 2%, and the share of the top 1% of income earners has grown from 6.1% in 1981 to 12.9% in 2011. (OECD, 2015)

Deep Place is based on the premise that the economy is socially constructed, and it therefore argues that it can be socially reconstructed. Even some of those who have been so closely linked to Neoliberalism, such as the IMF, are now appearing to accept the significant economic and social damage that arises from the inequality it causes. Key people within the IMF have now argued that policy makers should be more open to redistribution (Ostry et. al., 2016). At the same time, the Capital Institute has argued for a form of ‘regenerative capitalism’. They suggest that ‘…today’s greatest challenge is to address the root cause of our systemic crises – today’s dominant (Neoliberal) economic paradigm and the financial system that fuels it and rules it – by transitioning to a more effective form of capitalism that is regenerative and therefore sustainable over the long term’ (Fullerton, 2015, p. 12). Deep Place does not deny the complexity of global economic interrelationships; indeed, it fully recognises the difficulties and implications of managing and controlling these hugely complex circumstances. The impact of the 2007/8 Global Financial Crisis and the as yet not fully understood consequences of the decision of the UK in a referendum to leave the European Union, clearly illustrate the limitations of national governments to control such forces. That is why Deep Place is place-based. It argues that more localised action can often have a significant impact on strengthening community resilience against these external forces. In order to be most effective however, it contends that local action needs to be coordinated and fully integrated: it needs to be whole-place. Continue reading

Goodbye, American neoliberalism.

What is to be done? First we must try to tell the truth and a condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. For 40 years, neoliberals lived in a world of denial and indifference to the suffering of poor and working people and obsessed with the spectacle of success. Second we must bear witness to justice. We must ground our truth-telling in a willingness to suffer and sacrifice as we resist domination. Third we must remember courageous exemplars like Martin Luther King Jr, who provide moral and spiritual inspiration as we build multiracial alliances to combat poverty and xenophobia, Wall Street crimes and war crimes, global warming and police abuse – and to protect precious rights and liberties. Continue reading

Basic Income trial at Ontario

A Canadian province is to run a pilot project aimed at providing every citizen a minimum basic income of $1,320 (£773) a month.

The provincial government of Ontario confirmed it is holding public consultations on the $25m (£15m) project over the next two months, which could replace social assistance payments administered by the province for people aged 18 to 65.

People with disabilities will receive $500 (£292) more under the scheme, and individuals who earn less than $22,000 (£13,000) a year after tax will have their incomes topped up to reach that threshold.
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How the destruction of industrial Britain casts a shadow over present-day public finances

A new report by Christina Beatty and Steve Fothergill, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University

  • UK manufacturing employment has fallen from 8.9 million to just 2.9 million overthe last fifty years, and 500,000 jobs have disappeared from the coal industry. This has destroyed the economic base of many communities, especially in the North,Scotland and Wales.
  • The main effect ofthis job loss has been to divert vast numbers of men and women out ofthe labour market onto incapacity related benefits, these days Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) which accounts for almost 2.5 million adults of workingage. The highest claimant rates – 10per cent or more of all 16-64 year olds – are nearly all in older industrial areas.
  • ESA and the additional benefits received by ESAclaimants – Housing Benefit and Disability LivingAllowance for example – are a £30bn-plus annual claim on the Exchequer.
  • Low pay in former industrial areas depresses tax revenue and inflates spending on in-work benefits. Spending on Tax Credits, for example, exceeds £850 a year per adult of working age in much of older industrial Britain – double the level in parts of southernEngland.
  • The Treasury has misdiagnosed high welfare spending as the result of inadequate work incentives and has too often blamed individuals for their own predicament, whereas in fact a large part ofthe bill is rooted in job destruction extending back decades.
  • The welfare reforms implemented since 2010, and strengthened since the 2015 general election, hitthe poorest places hardest. In effect, communities in older industrial Britain are being meted out punishmentin the form of welfare cuts forthe destruction wrought to their industrial base.
  • Across most of older industrial Britain the loss arising from welfare reform is expected to exceed £750 a year per working age adult by 2020-21.
  • There is an alternative – a genuine rebalancing ofthe economy in favour of industrial production and a revival of regional economic policy.
  • Policy makers need to take a long-term perspective, look at the differences between places, and stop thinking in silos.

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Poor growth and/or increases in inequality owe as much to global forces as domestic policies

Note two things here. First, there are a lot of dots with very low income growth, low enough to deserve the label “stagnant”. Second, wherever similar-coloured dots are on an upward slope, higher-income groups left their lower-income compatriots behind. Aside from the very lowest deciles (who are often cared for with welfare benefits), that very often seems the case. Again, Lakner and Milanovic looked into this, and wrote: “Some examples with particularly low real growth rates among rich economies include almost the entire lower halves of the income distributions in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Greece and the United States. They all had overall 20-year growth rates of less than 20 per cent which translates, in the best case, as 0.9 per cent per capita annually.”
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Real wages in the UK have fallen by more than 10 per cent

Real wage change (%) Employment rate change (percentage points)
Greece

-10.4

-9.0

UK

-10.4

0.6

Portugal

-3.7

-5.4

Italy

0.9

-2.3

Czech Rep

1.1

1.0

Ireland

1.6

-7.9

Spain

2.8

-8.5

Netherlands

3.4

-1.7

Denmark

4.0

-3.2

Lithuania

4.3

5.5

Israel

4.3

1.9

Finland

4.3

-3.8

Belgium

4.4

-0.7

Japan

4.7

2.6

Latvia

4.9

-3.0

USA

6.4

-3.4

Austria

6.5

1.2

OECD average

6.7

-0.6

Slovenia

7.2

-4.3

Australia

7.2

-0.7

Hungary

9.3

5.9

Canada

9.4

-1.7

Sweden

10.1

-0.7

France

10.5

-1.8

Luxembourg

11.1

-1.2

Switzerland

11.3

0.5

Slovakia

12.3

0.9

Estonia

13.4

2.2

Germany

13.9

5.1

Poland

23.0

4.5

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The effects of poverty costs the UK £78bn a year

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) estimates that the impact and cost of poverty accounts for £1 in every £5 spent on public services.

The biggest chunk of the £78bn figure comes from treating health conditions associated with poverty, which amounts to £29bn, while the costs for schools and police are also significant. A further £9bn is linked to the cost of benefits and lost tax revenues. …

The JRF report, called “counting the cost of UK poverty”, estimates that 25% of healthcare spending is associated with treating conditions connected to poverty.
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Resolution Foundation: Why did we vote to leave?

There are six key takeaways.

First, living standards matter. Reflecting on the results three weeks ago, we noted that recent changes in living standards hadn’t played much of a role – despite the contention that people were angry about the post-financial crisis squeeze on living standards – but that deeper rooted economic differences did. That finding is confirmed in our more detailed investigation, with employment levels proving the indicator with the strongest link to tendency for an area to vote Leave. A 10 percentage point (ppt) rise in the employment rate within a local authority is associated with a 1.7ppt fall in the leave vote. Areas where high numbers of people are out of work voted to leave.
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Brexit reading list

‘If you’ve got money, you vote in … if you haven’t got money, you vote out’

Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions

We can’t leave the negotiations with Europe to the Tories

Labour is partly to blame for the racists’ capture of the EU debate

A farmer’s guide to Brexit

It’s NOT the economy, stupid: Brexit as a story of personal values

The Tory leadership election is a sort of X Factor for choosing the antichrist

John Harris’ Progressive Alliance speech

Why did we vote to leave? What an analysis of place can tell us about Brexit

Britain’s Limited Options

Right-Sizing The Financial Sector In Post-Brexit Europe

How David Cameron’s Plan To Screw Labour Cost Him The EU Referendum

Reversing Brexit

At which step do you think that this whole ‘Brexit’ farce will collapse?

A response to Paul Mason’s ‘Labour: The Way Ahead’

Labour is stuck but the people who want to leap to a new politics are scattered across the party

Austerity is the cause of our economic woes. It’s nothing to do with the EU

 

 

Brexit: ever growing economic inequality and the public spending cuts that accompanied austerity

The outcome of the EU referendum has been unfairly blamed on the working class in the north of England, and even on obesity.7 However, because of differential turnout and the size of the denominator population, most people who voted Leave lived in the south of England.8 Furthermore, of all those who voted for Leave, 59% were in the middle classes (A, B, or C1). The proportion of Leave voters in the lowest two social classes (D and E) was just 24%.8 The Leave voters among the middle class were crucial to the final result because the middle class constituted two thirds of all those who voted. Continue reading

Basic Income, Bullshit Jobs, Poverty and Military Spending

To begin with, basic income would give us all genuine freedom. Nowadays, numerous people are forced to spend their entire working lives doing jobs they consider to be pointless. Jobs like telemarketer, HR manager, social media strategist, PR advisor, and a whole host of administrative positions at hospitals, universities, and government offices. “Bullshit jobs,” the anthropologist David Graeber calls them. They’re the jobs that even the people doing them admit are, in essence, superfluous.

And we’re not talking about just a handful of people here. In a survey of 12,000 professionals by the Harvard Business Review, half said they felt their job had no “meaning and significance,” and an equal number were unable to relate to their company’s mission. Another recent poll among Brits revealed that as many as 37% think they have a bullshit job. Continue reading

American Poverty

Recently, the Brookings Institution published a report looking at the same idea but giving it a different name. The paper, builds on research from the British economist William Beveridge, who in 1942 proposed five types of poverty: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. In modern terms, these could be defined as poverty related to housing, education, income, employment, and healthcare, respectively. Analyzing the 2014 American Community Survey, the paper’s co-authors, Richard Reeves, Edward Rodrigue, and Elizabeth Kneebone, found that half of Americans experience at least one of these types of poverty, and around 25 percent suffer from at least two. Continue reading

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights and Peace movement

King addressed the issue of the relationship between the struggles for peace and civil rights in his Riverside Church speech. He began the speech by addressing the criticisms of those who suggested that it was not his “place” to speak out against the war:

“”Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,” they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known my commitment, my calling or me. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.” Continue reading

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Critiques of Capitalism and Militarism

America’s celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. typically focus on his civil rights activism: the nonviolent actions that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The last few years of King’s life, by contrast, are generally overlooked. When he was assassinated in 1968, King was in the midst of waging a radical campaign against economic inequality and poverty, while protesting vigorously against the Vietnam War. Continue reading

Global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades

Nafeez Ahmed, “Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?,” 14 March 2014, Guardian

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
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