Winnipeg Congress sessions Part two

piloting through tricky waters

While we were still up at the Neeganin center, we started to get to the big topic on people’s minds; the idea of pilot projects for a Basic Income. It was becoming clear that we have a pro pilot and an anti pilot tendency.

Karl Widerquist, always adamant against “cheap support”, pointed out that politicians are always looking for the cheapest way of telling people “yes”. However, a pilot will also give them a way to say no; ” come on, we already gave you a pilot!”

It is a way of holding off implementing a BI until interest wanes. A negative spin can also be built into the design of the pilot. There was some discussion of that, though there needs to be much more.

Most of the people present agreed with Karl that there was enough evidence now. Few supported the statement that it would be irresponsible to introduce a Basic Income without more study. However, I suspect that the minority who are infatuated with a pilot will not be easily dissuaded. It gives them a chance to play at being social engineers, getting mid level bureaucrats actually paying attention to them, massaging their egos a bit.

The data in the US studies was deliberately distorted to discredit a BI. News coverage of those old 1970s studies was also very negative-framing, as in “What if the government paid people to not work?”

John Mills from Hamilton in particular thought BI/GLI should be applied for now, and not waited around for until it becomes imperative.
Jurgen gets to actually help pilot a pilot

Jurgen De Wispelaere, who is Belgian but taught at MagiIl university in Montreal for some years, was on the board of BICN. He organized the 2014 meetup in Montreal. He has been involved with the international group, BIEN, for a long time.

Now he lives in England, but commutes to Finland to help the Finns organize their pilot BI project. The irony of this globe trotter is that he is worried that his home country of Belgium is going to disappear in the next few years. He has much to tell us about what he is learning in Finland. The of his video presentation will be especially valuable.

The first question to be asked, he says, is why should we do the pilot? This is because we need to roll out programs scientifically. There is a difference between a pilot project and a mere social experiment, as was the Dauphin/Manitoba mincome. With a pilot, you discover the problems and solve them, work out the procedures, and then expand the program. The pilot should be intended to be built up into a full scale program and this is a point which should be remembered.

Finland is presently under a center-right wing government. The Finns felt that a full BI would be too expensive and so decided to try a partial one, though still without conditions.

What they have discovered so far include the fact that a housing benefit will be impossible to integrate into a BI. As well, there a re huge legal issues, due to the Finnish constitution and European Union rules.

They are finding that the pilot is not so easy to do. They will need at least 10 000 study households for statistical significance, that is to make statistical analysis of results really reliable. Right now they do not have enough money to do the pilot/experiment properly. Jurgen says that if you are not committed to doing the experiment right, you are not going to get good results.

The guy who ran the original Mincome project

His name is Ron Hikel. He later went on to run a lot of projects for Canadian government and to teach university courses in public administration. He is still indignant about the five wasted years out of his life, and the waste of taxpayers money. which resulted when incompetent government never even analyzed the result of huge government spending.

Those who conducted the experiments were a bit naive and never expected the negative spin which could be put on them. They did not know which questions were politically important.

His advice to Ontario about a pilot? First, remember that a government commitment to a test is much different than a commitment to a program. Make sure you get objectives and means aligned. Get other governments involved. However, he also said that going it alone means fewer voices which must be pleased.

Here is a very important question to ask; will the pilot/ final program be on top of existing programs?

His advice to Basic Income activists; Publicly announce the aims so that it s hard for the government to wriggle out of them. Make clear that you expect the pilot to be widely understood, meaning widely publicized.

There will likely be a considerable effort to discredit the program. Civil servants will be concerned about having their own programs rolled up into the BI/GLI. Inevitably, someone will lose out and you need public policy decisions early on about who will lose.

It is important to avoid overselling the program. It is not a panacea for all social ills. However, if done soundly it will have a lasting and profound influence. But if it fails, Hikel says we will not see another chance in our lifetime.

Other things he spoke about were; the need to look into the U.S. experiments as well, making sure they are read. A problem in the Manitoba experiments were that it often led to harm or inconvenience to participants. They had to fill out over elaborate questionnaires. Also, interestingly, they were too much pestered by the press.

Two other odd bits of information about the mincome; the program was run entirely by contract workers, with no civil servants involved at all. Many people refused to participate because the income supplement was not high enough to bother with, and many dropped out for the above reasons.

Daniel Blaikie

Mr. Blaikie is a fairly young NDP member of parliament for the Winnipeg area. He talked about the NDP and a Guaranteed Annual Income, as the NDP seems to be calling the concept.

He also talked about his fight to keep the word socialist in the NDPs masthead, at their convention a few years ago. There seems to be a misconception that it has actually been dropped.

Blaikie also claims much responsibility for getting a commitment to study a GAI onto the party platform. He admits that party leadership in practice do not pay much attention to their party’s platforms.

He understands that we cannot just cut a cheque for everybody and the poverty problem is solved. For example, it will not substitute for a housing strategy. Thus, left parties need to get into the debate. Otherwise it is left to the right wing as an excuse to divest from everything ‘social’.

There is a need to strike while the iron is hot. But right now we are getting studies done everywhere. There is no need to keep proving that it works. Get it done and in place and deal with the imperfections later.

He is aware of of something called Marxism, and the Marxist objection to a BI. The super radical objection to a BI is that if the people get it, they will not become miserable enough to rise up. However, Blaikie notes that there is nothing in Marxism about a Basic Income, so there is no theory about what happens next.

If I had the chance, I would have pointed out that Marx would have approved of a BI/GLI. Further, I would have pointed out that Marx never said anything about violent revolution; that came from a later generation of communists.

However, I did not get in on question period. A lot of the limited time was taken up by the doofus who says he lived on the street three years by choice, just because he did not feel like working. He is as phony as all hell, and has a special bug about leftism and Marxism.

Worse, he is staying in the same dorm as me and I have to listen to his nonsense about how he lives on an island in Georgia strait and spends all his time doing community work. He has this very libertarian view of government.

Miles Corak

I spend too much time in front of the computer these days, because I subscribe to so many twitter and blog feeds. Periodically I prune them but end up adding more. After listening to Miles Corak ‘s spiel I subbed into his blog. Since I do not want my sitting time or gut to grow any more, I compensated by unsubbing from a blogger who had grown less interesting lately.

Corak is the kind of thinker I like, who gets right to the core of something. He is an economics teacher at the University of Ottawa. Some of his best points were;

The trouble with upward mobility, is that for someone to move up someone else must be bumped down, unless the economy is growing.

The general belief is that there is no glass floor for the wealthy, and so no need to deliberately bust up the top percentile. The focus is on raising the bottom.

But is there a contradiction here? If here is no growth, where does the bottom rise to? Will a BI need growth? Will it create its own growth? What if growth is not possible, there is an absolute limit to it?

I found that a very useful and disturbing way of looking at it. It is not about where the tax money will come from to raise everyone out of poverty, but the percentage of the total pie? Will it come from the wealthiest, or from the middle class?

Toward that, Corak also had something to say about the design of pilot BI projects. They will be site specific. What will what is happening in that particular community being used as lab rats effect the results? He noticed that the economy in Manitoba, especially agriculture, was booming during the mincome experiment.

What if a BI was tried out in a core poverty community, or in a middle class community? He is another theorist who understands that a BI cannot be studied in isolation, so how useful would the results of the study really be?

The Texan

This guy was fairly interesting, and a bit exotic with a real Texas accent and a kind of preacherly tone. He was not a totally obnoxious libertarian redneck. He did get the concept of civilization.

He was aware of technological unemployment and had the idea of society as one big corporation of which we are all shareholders. So we should get a ‘dividend’. I’ve heard that before; social crediter speak.

He wants to put a $400 an acre tax on all land. It seems not to matter if it is in a desert or a downtown. This sounds much like the ‘Georgists’. Us Canadians were too polite to ask him how that would work.

But he rejected some of the usual flaky ideas about funding a BI. He recognized that resource prices are unstable. Their extraction is polluting. They are unevenly distributed. The aim should be to minimize the use of resources.

Wealth is the outcome of civilization, of people acting in unison. All must give so that all must receive. Amen, brother.

However, he feels people should not get a GLI until age 25. After that, they shuld get $16 000 a year, in U.S. money.

Someone suggested to him that financing a BI/GLI was not really a problem; there was plenty of untaxed wealth. He replied that if you created a BI based on taxing wealth, it won’t fly with Americans.

So that is where it stood and he flew back to America.

My session, with Elizabeth McGuire and Brandy Moore

Elizabeth McGuire is one of the organizers of the strong Hamilton BI group. She did an excellent presentation about how a BI should work. She was a tough act for me to follow. After me was a C&W singer from Saskatchewan called Brandy Moore who had a song about a guaranteed income for us.

We had a quite formidable argument for a more pro active BI/GLI movement, not quite in line with the executive committee. I think that is why we were lumped together and the session not filmed. I will recreate my participation in a subsequent installment of this series.

Elizabeth said that all these studies should be shelved. BICN should demand that there be no wastage of money by out of control bureaucracies. She echoed a lot of what Karl Widerquist and Ron Hikel said. These studies are an excuse to freeze discussion about BI and people are falling for it like chumps.

Other points Elizabeth made were; unions once campaigned for a forty hour work week. Why not campaign now for a 15 hour workweek? Someone shouted back that her figures about the hours needed to maintain present living standards, were optimistic. They may be but we can certainly use a shorter workweek. Start with thirty hours?

I love these front line social worker types, ones who are not working for a political network and are not administering contracted out welfare. They really tell it like it is.

Her model for Basic Income would make redundant about &165 billion in social costs and require another $30 billion a year in new revenue. What the amount of the grant is, she did not say.

Another of Elizabeth’s models I loved was her way of getting local government on side. You do not ask them for a pilot. You get them to endorse the concept and press higher government for it. The natural allies are the board of health, emergency and community services, the city’s general issues committee and the city council as a whole. She also added public housing organizations. It is important to have a large group of people who can make it out to events.

My own presentation was well enough received. I was worried that some people would not like what I had to say about the American BI people and the state of The States in general. I did not have a prepared speech, just notes, which was good because I did not know how much time I was going to get.

Everyone adored Brandy Moore. She said that she was originally from Vancouver, but went to Regina in 2001, on April fool’s day. She thinks that might have been prophetic. She may indeed have made a foolish move because it seems Vancouver has become a center of the music business. However, it is horribly expensive to live there.

But Brandy is one of those people struggling to make a living in the music business. She actually makes a living as a data entry clerk working through temp agencies. She does not like the way she is treated.

She is none too prosperous and is not even sure how she is going to get back to Regina. She put out a bowl to collect donations and it filled up. I put a fiver in. She promised to continue to make herself prominent as she lobbied or the money to book a studio to record the “Because I’m Alive” song.

They got her to sing again at the closing plenary and she got more applause. Some people had the idea of making the song BICN’s official anthem, which caused her to let out a whoop. I do not know how her idea of BICN funding a studio recording will work, given the politics of the organization. The core group tends to put the kibosh on anything except this cycle of congresses.
Brandy’s web site is at http://www.brandymoore.ca/ Her plenary performance of “Because I’m Alive” is at https://vimeo.com/168468430

Paper for “Commitment to Community” on strategies for ensuring funding for poverty reduction initiatives.

I wrote this for the “commitment to community” group which is run by the social planning council to try to pressure the city government for more social spending. Especially, for more funding for the social agencies which make up social planning council. They did not get far with the city budget process ths year.

I also ‘tabled’ this at the social planning AGM the next day and it did not get much “take up” there either. I will send it around to some of the groups which make up planning council or have been lobbying the city for more social spending.

What I have proposed, essentially, is that they have to demand a large increase in city revenues if they are going to get anywhere at all. This should not be a really hard sell because anyone with any brains can see that this is exactly what must happen.

Intro

I have been watching this group for awhile. What you are doing is getting you nowhere. You do not correctly understand the situation you are working within, nor do you know what your ultimate goal is.

The city government can do nothing to reduce poverty. The provincial government can do little. Ending poverty is within the power of the federal government with its control of monetary and macro economic policy.

Local government can relieve the worst effects of poverty. It can also provide citizen’s organizations with the basic resources with which to promote real poverty abolishing measures to the federal government. That is all local government can do.

But to do that local government needs to have sufficient fiscal resources. Right now is the worst time to ask the city of Toronto for more spending. It is faced with a fiscal crunch due to inadequate revenues.

The revenue problem is the result of the disastrous “amalgamation” of Toronto twenty years ago, which must be undone. It is not the purpose of this paper to go into the details of the problems of Toronto governance. Yet ultimately this must be dealt with by removing the city from further destructive interference from the province and establishing a more democratic internal governance form.

Lack of democracy allows a privileged class to control local government and block increases in revenue which are critical to enabling the city to carry out its functions. The property tax in particular is grossly unfair and must be reformed. Renters pay three times the property tax of home owners.

The home owners pay far too little tax, even compared with other municipalities around Toronto. They are getting a free ride at the expense of the lower income people, and to an extent, from the residents of the surrounding municipalities. Yet the wealthier home owners are a minority in Toronto.

The key is for people to begin demanding more direct democracy from the city government. This means, more public decisions made by referendum. This is a step toward more participatory democracy. A democracy that is both direct and participatory is called a deliberative democracy. The public deliberates and decides, and commands government to carry out.

solution

A first step to democratic development in Toronto is to demand referendums on key issues, and since the revenue crisis is the biggest problem facing the city right now, a referendum is needed in order to resolve the issues within the budget crisis. This should be the strategy of the Commitment To Community group and the social planning council, and other allies it can draw into the campaign.

Nothing else is likely to break the fiscal deadlock in the city. The austerians have the ability to stop any tax increase in council, no matter how justified. The decision must be taken away from council. A referendum must be demanded to break the deadlock, mandating a reform to the property tax system in the city.

The reform would have three main features. It must insure that enough funds are raised to meet the cities needs, in line with other municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area. It must correct the extremely unjust, three to one, imbalance between renters and owners in the city, and the injustice to lower income people generally. And it must put budget power in the hands of citizen councils, in line with participatory budgeting principles in other municipalities.

In future budgets must be set, not according to how much the cities budget can be squeezed down, but on how much the residents of the city, as a whole, can afford to pay. The city must seek to maximize its fiscal capacity because there will never be enough money to do all that could be done. There is a huge capital backlog at present.

Rather than being set up to increase as the land is more intensively used, the property tax should be set to decline as it is made the best use of. This will greatly facilitate planning. But best of all it will allow relief for people who genuinely cannot afford higher taxes, such as the retired and disabled, and the unemployed.

Allocation of revenues must be put under the control of local budgeting councils, according to the Porto Allegre model. This also facilitates the decentralization of the city government which is urgently needed.

strategy

All labor and social agencies in the city with an interest in stable city spending have thus an interest in supporting such an initiative. The provincial government and the other GTA municipalities also have an interest in ending the endless headache caused by the austerian foolishness of the Toronto council. Most of the Toronto electorate would vote for such an initiative as most would pay less taxes and have better services.

A powerful coalition could be developed around this idea. It requires some leadership skill on the part of its organizers. If it were developed from active citizens and front line social workers, it would be free from the objection that it is one level of government intruding on the jurisdiction of other governments, or a special interest group seeking special advantage for a few.

It will take enormous work and resources to bring this off, but nothing else is going to be effective. Do the people now working with C2C want to go on being ignored year after year, perhaps to make themselves feel better for having made some token effort? Or, do they believe in themselves enough to do the job which needs to be done?

Winnipeg congress sessions Part one

Before we even started we had a snag. Somebody with mobility problems tripped coming down the stairs into the plenary room. They had to call an ambulance for her, but I was informed that she was all right.

I also have some walking problems and was still using a cane at the time, but I did not have too much trouble with these steps. The venue was supposed to be accessible but one wheel chair bound person was not too happy with the ‘access’ arrangements.

I noticed her often at the back of the hall, sometimes having difficulty getting noticed in order to ask a question. I talked with her at the airport. It seems the wheelchair lift was a rickety affair that she did not trust at all.

identity politics

The next calamity to befall the conference was to insult the aboriginal community who had supported the congress strongly. This is what I do not like about identity politics; it leads to hypocrisy.

Yes, we were on the ‘traditional’ territory of the Anishnaabe nation. Six other ‘first nations’ also live in Manitoba, which has the highest proportion of aboriginals in the country. Yes, Canada is a ‘colonial settler’ country.

Once upon a time the ground Winnipeg is built on was the traditional territory of whoever the Anishnaabe chased out or annihilated. A cursory reading of evidence suggests to me it was the old “mound builders” who were likely ancestors of todays Dakotas. London, England was founded as an imperial and settler colonial project of the Roman Empire on the traditional land of the Celto-Germanic tribe of Belgae.

History is not kind to people who are sitting on land more powerful people want. We are not all going to give the land back and go back where we came from. But the Injuns of Canada rarely resisted European civilization and usually tried hard to find accommodation with the ascendant culture. What was done to them was totally unnecessary.

The worst was the aggressive effort at cultural extinction and assimilation. Do not call it genocide, that word should not be cheapened. It was a disastrous social engineering experiment which has left the first people psycho-socially dislocated. They now cling desperately to the shreds of their previous culture, to try to regain a sense of themselves, and should be encouraged to do so.

However, I find the current trendy practice of inviting some Uncle Tom-Tom to come and play his drum at liberal-progressive functions to be condescending. The individual thus engaged for this event had travelled abroad conducting talks on aboriginal culture. He had some things to say about the significance of indian rituals and I wish he had more time to say them.

But we all stood up as he did a Lakota ‘honor song’ of the kind once played to greet delegates of an assembly. It does indeed put you in the mood for serious deliberations, even if you do not know the words. But then he was hustled out, to come back at the end and give us a good-bye theme. I assume some money got put in his jar, like he was a hired performer.

Then the shit hit the fan. Some people had some serious objections to the wording of an instruction sheet for the bus trip to the Neeganin center the next day. We were told that nobody could take their cars and we all had to keep together for “safety concerns” because of “risks in the neighborhood”.

This all sounded to me a lot like the slurs against the old Regent Park, before it got redeveloped. I used to live near Regent park, attend community events in Regent, and walk home from there after midnight. I never had the slightest trouble.

The next day I walked out of the Neeganin center despite orders and took a short walk around the neighborhood. It was drab but very quiet, almost uninhabited. In fact there were few aboriginals even inside the center, other than the ones speaking, dancing, or cooking and serving dinner. Maybe the police swept them all up for our visit, like we were the Olympics.

We heard some speakings about how the pre- white man aboriginals had run their economy on Basic Income principles. The material wealth was drawn into a common pool and distributed according to a “from each according to ability, to each according to need” basis.

Actually, most societies since the dawn of time have operated that way. Western civilization since the advent of capitalism has most seriously deviated from that. But such civilizations are an exception and generally do not last long.

I noted one very good line in this. If the aboriginals had kept control of the resource revenues which were taken from them, they would be today as wealthy as arab sheikhs; except they would not act like Arab sheikhs. They would use the wealth to look after everyone.

We were told that we needed to be part of the decolonization process. That is, to make a society for “needs, not exploitation by people living somewhere else.” No arguments there.

Then we got exposed to some aboriginal high culture. I really enjoyed this, because each performance came with a talk on the significance of the art form, and the skills required. We went from Inuit throat singing to Metis fiddling and the students of an aboriginal cultural dance school.

The plains indians seemed to have a special dance for just about everything. Some of them require great skill and athletic ability developed over years of practice. I hope the school prospers and is able to revive these almost lost art forms.

The existence of a Basic Income would make it possible for more people to pursue them as a vocation.

As for BICN, it has the problem of groups run mostly by volunteers. That is, things get done by amateurs when they really need to be handled by professionals. We get needless mistakes which harm the cause we are trying to promote, such as needlessly offending social elements we want to be aligned with on one hand. Then on the other hand trying to be politically correct with them and coming off as patronizing.

the Kingston group

Kingston has one of the earliest established and most active local BI groups. I understand they were the first group to get their local council to endorse the idea of a BI. This is now being imitated all over the country. Now, however, they are awake to adoption of such BI resolutions as “cheap support” which is often a substitute for supporting the “living wage” campaign.

A second speaker from Kingston spoke about “Essentialism and Feminism”. Essentialism is another of the old ideas from Aristotle that have so messed up western civilization, that everything has its one correct use. This includes women who are supposed to stay home and raise kids while their husbands support them.

But she did not like identity politics either. As an example of the way it leads to abuses, she talked about the radical leftist tactic for disrupting meetings which we do not see so much of anymore. She recalled when a university students union held a conference on feminism and brought in some pricey speakers.

The super lefties crashed it by bringing lunatics in to rant and then giving them cover when the chair tried to bring them to order. “I will not allow you to silence this [ black woman, Lesbian, etc]”. Finally they had to close the meeting. Some of the student organizers were left literally in tears.

I wonder how well BICN would cope with an attack of this kind. I know a couple of occasions where speakers for BI have been “bushwhacked” by leftists ranting that BI is an excuse to abolish all social programs. They do not seem to deal with it well.

But her point was that some degree of essentialism is necessary and women really do need someone to provide the economic security within which to be able to raise children in this time of economy. She now recognizes the irony in the relation between feminism and the need for a husband.

The object of feminism is economic independence. BI best serves that aim. But she still does not like the idea of full time mothers.

Of course, this gets into one of the criticisms of BI, that it breaks up families and eliminates the role of the male provider. I wonder how you would square the social conservative view with a BI; give it only to the husband? The point of her presentation seems to me to be that essentialism means there are no possible compromises about some things.

continuing on

Spending ten hours a day mostly listening to people talk gets wearing. The talks start to blur in together. Only the strongest points stand out.

Someone asked rhetorically; are we and Milton Friedman talking about the same thing? When we talk about jobs do we mean labor or work? Labor is the commodity which capitalists buy. Work is what people do, paid of unpaid, to keep society going.

The left critique of BI has always been that it is not sufficient in itself. In the 1970s, BI was supported by the right and “castigated” by the left.

Now the aim of BI is to create more “equality” between people but now jobs are migrating offshore, creating an unequal power balance between owrkers and employers.

I decided to say something about this. The time honored solution for technological unemployment and job offshoring has been;

1) Reduce the work week without loss of income, by increasing hourly wage.

2) Bring offshore jobs back onshore. And fuck the World Trade Organization.

The response to me; well, people are working less hours at particular jobs now, but they are having to get two jobs in order to live.

I had no opportunity to respond to that. Sigh! What did they do thirty years ago, when overtime was not paid? Charge the employer! Back then wages from one job were sufficient, but some people still wanted more and worked two jobs.

The limitations of “one question each” is that you cant follow up and get into a dialogue.

Another example of this is where someone talked about reducing work weeks to thirty hours. One of these libertarian types jumped up all red faced and barked “would the state decree this?”

This was totally stupid. Why should ‘the state’ not decree something like this? It decrees there will be no child labor. It decreed maternity leave. It decrees a minimum wage.

But people there just ignored him.

More papers

Someone informed us that a reason used in Manitoba for denying a raise in the welfare rate, was that some welfare families would be better off than than some working families. This sounds a lot like the “less eligibility” doctrine of workhouse times. However, the obvious counterargument is that if this is so, then wages are obviously far too low.

John Rook from Calgary gave his talk about Maslow’s hierarchy. Sometimes called Maslow’s ladder, this has become a set piece of sociological discussion. When people’s physical needs are met, they turn to being concerned about safety, when they become safe they become concerned about love and acceptance, then about self actualization.

I think he delivered pretty much the same spiel at the Toronto conference in 2012. The effect of a BI would be to shift the underclass from ‘ survival ‘ mode, and I think he means here, from meeting physical needs, to self actualization mode. I think that is a bit optimistic. My own experience has been that you have to get used to one level, which takes a little while, before you start thinking about the next one.

Rook also notes that the big problem with the present system is the overlap and duplication of services. I thought, he should talk to somebody like John Stapleton in Toronto, who thinks our present welfare system is a brilliant creation brought about by many generations of enlightened progress and innovation, which should not be lightly tinkered with.

now buy some of our papers

At the end of the first day, we all came back to the plenary room and were urged to check out the Basic Income Studies Journal, by one of its coeditors. Yes, it is a nice little journal, but in the internet age you are not going to get too many people to pay $40 for a ten or twenty page article. There is stuff just as worthwhile online for free.

I have an idea for the BI studies journal; get away from the academic publishing racket and just put out a free electronic newsletter. Oh, no, he did that too. He even tried recruiting me into it at the Montreal congress in 2014. The trouble with that has been that it contains little that is of any interest. It is just cheerleading for BI.

There is a need for a better communications medium for BI. More about that.

in the hallways.

One guy I chatted with while nibbling brownies, thought that there were too many old people there. I suggested to him that it was only old people with the money and time to get there. He seemed to buy that.

I talked with Karl Widerquist about my problems getting and keeping in contact with people. He said he had a lot of problem communicating with people on the net as well. He thought the problem was spam filters.

As well, some people will try to ban whatever they do not like. At one point he had to change his e-mail address, which for some reason had been tagged as a spam source. Perhaps because he, like I , often send out messages to a lot of people at once.

He suggested I change my own e-mail. However, I would have to do that regularly and then people would have to find me again. Perhaps I should have a second address just for high volume sendouts.

Friday the 13th

This auspicious day started off with me trudging across the campus against strong winds and some snow. I do not want to disparage Winnipeg weather to greatly. It was quite balmy the evening I arrived, but deteriorated into the weekend.

Then I was treated to a totally disgusting account of of U.S. welfare “reform”.

There is the EITC program; Earned Income Tax Credit. All it does is subsidize bad jobs and keep people tied to bad employers. This is what American conservatives came up with as an alternative to a Basic Income when it was seriously proposed in he 1970s.

Canada has its own version of EITC, the Working Income Supplement WIS, though it is not as obnoxious as the American version.

Even more disgusting is the “Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” created by the Clintons in 1996. This is the idea that people would be able to get only a few years of welfare assistance in their lives. There was little control over how states actually spent the money. Some used it to fund programs to promote marriage.

The policy never did really come into effect. It has been fiercely resisted by the poor and their advocates in the U.S. It also runs up against the reality that cutting the poor off welfare does not make them disappear.

the caring economy

This was the next talk I attended; not quite so grim as the first. There is a need for a new “caring economy” in which both children and the natural environment are cared for.

It is hard to get people to take this idea seriously. Some economists say the idea is too simplistic. Others say it is too complex.

There is still the problem of people trying to over intellectualize the concept of caring economy. Yet other people think at a bumper sticker level.

Getting specifically to poverty elimination, the American presenter from Minnesota said that most welfare reform in the U.S. was about forcing women to get married and have kids.

Specific to the Manitoba mincome experiment, she noted that the problem with its design was that it did not consider social interactions. It was all about labor reductions, as if these do not interact with business decisions.

In other words, if the hours worked declined as a result of a guaranteed income, is it because some people said “fuck you, boss, I’m gonna stay home and watch TV ” or because some employers said, “fuck it, this mincome is making people too uppity, so I am moving out of this town.”

She concluded by recommending the book; “moral Economy” by David Calnitsky. She described it as excellent about why people “join” welfare of mincome. You will have to read the book to discover just what she meant by that.