Jack Saturday

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Anti-Job Quote Of The Week 2

Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.
Henry David Thoreau


  • Hello Adam Buick:

    First you wrote:

    “… a system under which farm labourers on poverty wages had their income supplemented from the poor-rates. The result was predictable. Farmers were encouraged to keep, and even to extend, paying low wages. The payment from the poor-rates became a wage subsidy to employers.”

    Then you quoted Raventós:

    “Basic Income is an income paid by the state to each full member or accredited resident of a society, regardless of whether or not he or she wishes to engage in paid employment…” (my emphasis)

    Mr. Buick:

    Please consider this: A basic LIVABLE income would flip the “supplement” model. A basic income would indeed constitute a base, in which case wage-work of any kind would be supplemental. No one would starve or go homeless if they forewent their supplement, therefore they could tell the exploitive farmer to get stuffed unless he or she paid decent wages (never mind stopped the bullying and sexual harassment and unpaid overtime etc etc). If the farmers wanted to continue with farming, they would have to comply.

    With a basic income, you wrote, “those workers who currently get no extra income from the state (those without a dependant family) seeing their take-home pay from employers tend to fall by £10,000.”

    I can’t find the logic in this assertion at all.

    “Of course it wouldn’t be as simple as this since in many cases the extra state payment would be compensating for the abolition of family allowances, but there would in general be a strong downward pressure on wages and salaries.”

    “Extra state payment?” This doesn’t sound like a basic income.

    “…the incentive of workers to fight against wage reductions is considerably reduced…”
    Clark and Kavanagh

    Just the opposite. I think perhaps Clark, Kavanagh et al and yourself have missed the central link between low-wage labor and their exploitive employers: the lash of need is the incentive of the wage-slave: the need to eat, be clothed, and have decent shelter that forms a dependency of employee on employer. A guaranteed LIVABLE income eliminates that gross dependency, thus automatically empowering any and all people to reject undesirable commodity labor. Furthermore, unions would be less needed because the individual would herself be empowered.

    The consequence would be that the incentive of workers to fight against wage reductions would be considerably enhanced.

    “In pay negotiations they [employers] would point to the state payment as evidence that they did not need to pay so much in wages or salaries to maintain their employees’ accustomed standard of living.”

    Maybe they would, and then those who want to supplement their basic income with commodity labor wages would turn around and say, “OK, I guess you’ll have to find somebody else, because though I may want some extra money for this or that, I ain’t gonna take crap from you.”

    Again: it is dependence and dependence only that puts exploitive power in the hands of employers. A basic livable income ends that gross power imbalance.

    A “supplement” or dividend that is not livable, of course, would result in the same imbalance as today, the handle of the lash of need in the hands of the employer.

    Here’s something you need to dig up even more assumptions to discern: a Guaranteed Livable Income would lift people from their identity as “workers” and return them to being citizens, mothers and fathers, artists, lovers, gardeners, writers, what-have-you. People would be human beings, and “workers” only if they so chose. In such a situation, those offering their labor power could call themselves “workers” if and when employers paid them what they figured their free time would be worth, and furthermore treated them like human beings.

    Catch the drift? Think about it.

    “Labour and similar governments have always failed.”

    So Scandinavia is a failure, while Britain and the US are successes? Perhaps you would do us the kindness of telling us what you mean by “success”? If it coincides with Winston Churchill’s description, “when the rich men are at peace within their habitations,” then I guess we are on different planets— besides, if you can find a rich man who is at peace, let me know.

    Part of my definition of social success is “when the kids are warm and fed, and the mothers or other caretakers are not driven by the lash of need away from their kids to sell themselves, and women and men have free time to think and create, and decide to which enterprises they wish to contribute their labor.”

    You mention governments “shooting themselves in the foot” if they abolish the lash and make commodity labor voluntary. It maybe argued that relieving citizens of the rather ugly consequences of said lash may be beneficial to said citizens, who after all are the employers of governments in democracies.

    Your concluding words to the effect that “this is capitalism, this is the way it is, this is the game, so we can’t change it” isn’t an argument at all.

    Something has to change, indeed everything is changing. The onus is on us to contribute to directing the change to something better than the present “capitalist success” which seems to be succeeding in destroying life on this planet.

    As for “where is the money going to come from?” --

    Mr. Buick, as long as we use money, it’s going to be spun out of thin air, just as it is today—you know that— but we’re talking distribution.

    Jack Saturday

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home