Why We Can Support Guaranteed Annual Income

By Shragge, Eric | Canadian Dimension, August-September 1994 | Go to article overview

Why We Can Support Guaranteed Annual Income


Shragge, Eric, Canadian Dimension


It is unclear exactly what the Liberal government intends to do with its reform of social security programs. But given the whack they have taken at the unemployed in the recent budget, we should expect a reform that is regressive.

It is likely that there will be less income for the poor and the unemployed, and greater requirements to get it through various workfare or training schemes. The primary target of the reform will be Unemployment Insurance (UI).

There will be a tendency on the Left to defend UI programs. In the current context this is a necessity, particularly if the reform, as expected, constitutes a further attack on the unemployed.

At the same time as defending past gains, however, the Left has to look beyond a defensive posture and explore some of the issues and alternatives. The reform is an opportunity to put wider issues into the public arena and challenge some of the assumptions that have shaped the current income security system, and argue for ways to go beyond it.

I write this article as an activist who will be involved in this important public debate. I am throwing my support behind the idea of a Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI), not to exclude other progressive means of attacking poverty, such as job creation, but because I believe a return to government-led full employment is not on the agenda.

Because of changes in the labour market such as the growth of part-time work and the types of jobs that can be described as |MacDonald's' capitalism, a discussion about the type of support people should receive is crucial.

Of course, it is equally unrealistic to believe that a GAI such as the one I argue for, is what the government has in mind when it alludes to the idea of a GAI. The Left has to begin to construct an independent vision of the type of society it is promoting. I put the following ideas forward to stimulate debate and to challenge us to renew our vision and understanding of the questions of work, income, and the distribution of wealth.

UI: First principles

Unemployment Insurance was a working class demand in the struggles of the 1930s as a response to the breakdown of work and local social assistance programs. Although UI was not implemented until after World War Two, the principle of the federal government playing a key role in income support programs was established in the 1930s.

UI was viewed as a leap forward. Those in the industrial working class could escape the dreaded means test and the control of the local welfare offices or charities. UI was established as a right for those with a strong attachment to the labour market. It rewarded that attachment with benefits higher than whatever was provided by the local welfare program. As a consequence, two categories of recipients of income support programs emerged - those on UI and those on local welfare.

UI in its origins is based on the assumption that there should be one type of benefit for those workers temporarily unable to support themselves, while the dependent poor should be tied to traditional workhouse welfare.

UI was designed to provide the male worker with temporary income until he was able to find new work to support his family. UI was created as a |malestream' form of welfare during a particular period of high employment in which it was assumed women would stay in the home performing unwaged domestic labour or, at best, part-time work outside the home.

The means test was replaced by a work test in which eligibility was established by contributing to the UI fund for a pre-defined number of weeks. The work test was a more desirable way of establishing eligibility because there was less discretion involved. Contributions acted to secure UI as a right. However, life as an unemployed Canadian is never that simple. Despite the principle that contributions over a given number of weeks act as an entitlement for benefits, the use of bureaucratic rules and regulations, and the interaction between claimant and agent, reintroduced discretionary awards. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Why We Can Support Guaranteed Annual Income
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.