In a previous post Clayton James asked me to provide more details of my vision of the Guaranteed Adequate Income. I have given this some thought and will try here to put down my thoughts on the matter in a fairly organized way. Firstly, I don't just want this for myself. I want this to be a Universal Plan, automatically issued to everyone in this country and someday to everyone in the world. On a planet this rich there should be no poverty, starvation or homelessness. To accomplish this we must start out small. I am suggesting starting on a provincial basis. We could do it in BC with what we have here. Once people in other provinces see how well it works here they will initiate it as well. Canada's example will lead other nations to create the same plan. This is what "Think Globally, Act Locally" means to me. The words of the title of this plan are very important to the vision so let us begin by taking them one by one and seeing what they mean. In this way I am hoping the details will be illustrated in a form easily read and understood. This plan will be Guaranteed to everyone who lives in the province. Every family unit, every single person living in this province will automatically qualify for the plan. This will guarantee the financial security of every person in the province. There will be no more poverty because poverty is not having adequate funds to have a healthy diet, adequate accommodations, adequate clothing and adequate recreation. Yes, we will have to work out what adequate means when we get down to setting the plan up. I cannot decide it for everyone all by myself. There are presently a few so called poverty lines, all of which are within a few dollars of each other. They are produced by different outfits using different methods. Any discussion about which one we should follow is a red herring. The real issue is adequacy. It will be agreed upon in due course by the society. We can use any of the present low income cut off lines as a starting point. Income is money, usually obtained by work or investment. The Guaranteed Adequate Income will be the investment. It is the investment in the people of this province. We will certainly see some returns from that investment as we would from any smart investment. I have been asked how we will pay for it. I think that we need to get rid of all of the plans we now have to get money to people in need for one reason or another. With a GAI we would not need OAS, GIS, CCP, Government pensions, Military pensions, Welfare, Employment Insurance, Worker's Compensation, and etc. We can put all the money that goes into the administration of those plans and into producing those cheques into the one pot. The savings would be enormous. Because everyone would automatically qualify for the GAI we would not need the legions of investigators to check people's eligibility. There is another great saving. We would not have to charge people with fraud and would save lots of money in court costs and lawyers fees. We would not have to lock people up because of crimes they commit out of desperation because they are poor. At $80,000 per year per inmate, that represents quite a saving as well. I think a little over four individuals could live on one inmate's allowance quite nicely. This would leave room in the prisons for the bad guys. I am sure everyone has read about the 20,000 profitable corporations in Canada that pay no income tax on their profits. They owe us billions. We should start to collect that money. We can collect the tax they owe this year and last year, then from the next year and the year before last year so it is not too hard a task for them to pay. It would look like this. Pay now taxes for 1996 and 1995. Next spring for 1997 and 1994. The year after that for 1998 and 1993. In twenty years we would have collected all the back taxes owed us. We have to wean business away from going to government to bail them out. If a business is not viable in the market place it should go belly up. The government has kept them afloat to keep people employed in many cases. Unfortunately, it has not worked. The business has been cutting back on staff and downsizing for a few years now. This only adds to the unemployment problem. Unemployment would not be a problem if we had a GAI. The problem with unemployment has been that the unemployed lack money. Not only do they find it hard to contribute to production when out of work but they cannot contribute very well to consumption either. If they could consume they would create demand and, therefore, jobs. In this way we can see that the GAI would be a driver for the economy. Who is most hurt in this province by the stopping of clear cutting in our forests? Loggers, right? Why? Because they cannot make money. What if we had a GAI? They would not then have to rely on helping the multinational corporations rape our forests and pollute our streams to live. The GAI would be good for the economy and the ecology. Fishers would not be desperate to fish, so the fish stocks could climb back to better levels. We could use methods for resource extraction that are more sensitive to the environment and more respectful to our support system. Poverty is blamed for a lot of the ill health that costs us so dearly in money and in human suffering. We could be a healthier province and save money in Health Costs if we had a GAI. Poverty is blamed for much of the crime that exists today. The desperation of poverty or the fear of it drives people to crime. If we had a GAI we could save lots of money. Police, courts, lawyers and prisons cost mega bucks. With a GAI we could save much of this money. It would go into the pot and be used for the GAI. What other effects would we see? Well, I believe we would see a redefinition of work. I think we would see people working for specific periods of time for specific material goals. Adequate may be ok for some people; but many people want more. And they would be able to work for more. They would be taxed on what they earned over and about the GAI at a flat rate. They would know what that rate is, would know how much they are getting paid and would know how long they would need to work to get to their goal. Even I could do a job I did not like for six months if I knew it was not for ever. And I have a very low tolerance for boredom. Other kinds of work would soon be recognized as valuable and may become paid jobs. There is a lot of valuable work done by volunteers. It is sometimes a way of exploiting people, I think. I never understood this when I was volunteering. I was enjoying the work I did and knew it was important to people. Now I believe I ought to have been paid for it. All fifteen years of it. Never Mind! I believe there would be a renaissance in arts and crafts that would give rise to a huge cottage industry. This would be very satisfying for people. They would work at their craft or art and be able to sell it and make a little extra. They would pay taxes on it, of course; but not so large as to be a burden. I don't believe healthy people can be idle for very long. I have never managed it myself, though I may have appeared to be idle to the casual observer. Because a certain percentage of the population would be willing to live on the GAI alone for periods of time there would be jobs left open for those who wanted them. People who wanted careers would still be able to pursue them. I believe education would become free of charge to people of all ages. Teachers would be paid, of course, but would no longer need to teach people who did not want to learn. Schooling would not be compulsory. Learning could become fun again. I am rambling now. The ramifications of a GAI are widespread and exciting. My mind reels at the vision of the world with a GAI. The changes would be so great and beneficial. Rich people would need to learn that being rich is not all it is cracked up to be. They would have to pay their taxes on their incomes and when they died they would have to give us back their chips. Their children could inherit their companies if they were going to run them. If not they could be sold and the proceeds taxed heavily. Don't forget that the rich would get the GAI as well, so the children would not be hurting financially. The personal effects of the rich person who dies would naturally stay with the family. Their art and furniture and etc. would be theirs to keep as long as they wanted. I suspect most of it would end up in museums named after them in a very few generations. In a very few generations I believe the urge to be rich would die out. The urge to contribute to our society and to our world would flourish. Having billions of dollars does not really make people feel better about themselves. It just makes misery easier to escape from. Poor people commit suicide. The rich go to Betty Ford. I have babbled on too long, probably, about this vision. I know there will be some who are so invested in the protestant work ethic they cannot see this vision. It will seem like the ranting of a lazy person who would just like to sit back and do nothing. If they knew me they would know that I have not been able to, nor have I wanted to, do that for any length of time. One of the great barriers to actualizing this vision is the "work ethic". This idea that we have been convinced is right and noble that we must make our bread by the sweat of our own brow. The whole idea that we must pull our own weight is something we have been sold. The idea that we must be independent and not lean on society at all for our living or we are bums and must feel shame is an outmoded tool for our times. The idea that we can be proud and feel better than others, who are not working and who must lean on the society, is often the only thing that keeps some of us going. I wish I had a nickel for every time I have heard someone at the end of an argument about working say, " Well at least I support myself and pay my own way." Their pride is the last argument they have and when they lose their job and find it necessary to collect Employment Insurance or Welfare, they are devastated. I have sat with grown men in pain and tears who have been proud that they were good workers. I have counselled these men so they would not commit suicide. Hopefully, I have been successful. Genesis 3:19 talks about eating by the sweat of thy face or something like that. It is one of the things God told Adam and Eve when He kicked them out of the garden. It was part of their punishment for eating the apple. Up until then they just had to lay around all day with nothing on and eat whatever they picked. Work is God's curse. In the beginning of the industrial revolution when people were being kicked off their land to make room for sheep in Britain and sent to the cities to work sixteen hours a day in the textile industry, a minister named Calvin started to preach the work ethic. He took a few pieces of the bible and tried to make people more able to accept their lot in life with them. One was the bit about earning their bread by working. They were told that work was ennobling and they were noble and could be proud to be paying their own way. They were also told not to gather treasures here on earth because their reward would be in heaven. This idea also comes from the bible. The people who owned the factories paid no attention, of course. They knew better. They knew that the first person to be told to pull their own weight was likely a galley slave on the end of and oar attached to a very large boat filled with trade goods and rich people. We have been pulling a lot more than our own weight. We have been helping people get rich and governments that have budgets of billions of dollars per year. Not even rich people are financially independent. How could a poor working stiff make it? The rich are dependent upon the laws that allow them to get rich and to keep it. They are dependent on the stability of governments and economies to keep their money. They are dependent on their tax consultants and lawyers and financial advisers and friends to maintain their wealth. Most of all though, they are dependent on the docile worker, who puts in his or her time and is satisfied with the pay or too scared to ask for more. I am not painting all rich people with the same brush here. I know people who have money and are more ethical and caring than many poor people. I know there are rich people who contribute to the good of society and value people more than fortunes and the things they can buy. Most of the rich people are rich through no fault of their own. They have inherited it. Some, mind you have become rich through having the good fortune to get in on a good thing at the beginning. Bill Gates is one who comes to mind. I don't think anyone gets rich anymore by selling scraps of cloth, the way some people started earlier this century. Let's face it. Some of Canada's and the United State's richest people got that way by illegal means. Rumrunning was a very lucrative pursuit for at least a couple of Canadian families.