“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

William Shakespeare is a writer for most human experience. You could not help but think of that line from A Midsummer Night’s Dream the other day reading a commentary on guaranteed basic income. Who the writer was is not important. The approach was serious. He wrote of a guaranteed basic income as being charity. That is the most destructive statement he could make. Should the attitude fester, a critical step forward for our society could suffer further delay.

But in the article, the commentator goes on to talk about another subject. It was a hatchet job. The article offered no insight into the subject of guaranteed income. There was no argument pro or con. There was no proof offered. It was as though a passer-by suddenly threw a brick through a large window and calmly continued to enjoy his otherwise uneventful stroll.

You could test the concept of guaranteed income forever and you will never know until you do it what it will really cost. And similarly, you will never know just how much it will save.

We are talking considerable savings in healthcare, education, support as well as welfare. Guaranteed income payment replaces many piecemeal programs run by government that always left the recipients scrambling for more. These programs were never charity—they were a necessity.

We live in a society that demands compassion and understanding. We live among some of the most charitable people in the world. They are educated and caring. They welcome the newcomers who contribute so much to our society. They are demanding of government to do the job for which it is elected. They contribute their time and money to charity and make a fairly clear distinction between the role of government and the role of charity.

In health for example, it is the government that provides facilities and funding for basic research. It is the charities that seek the funds to direct the researchers to specific health concerns of our society.

A guaranteed basic income is exactly what the words imply. It is to keep the recipient fed, clothed and provide adequate shelter. That looks after the needs of the body. There are also the needs of the mind and spirit of the individual. They are part of our society and need to be able to partake in what our society offers. To assume that bare necessities will suffice is wrong and cruel. We have to make the individual part of our society.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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