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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/30/16

What's Missing in Dialogues About Poverty?

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Author 11635
Message Elayne Clift

I wish Republicans who talk in cliches would understand important connections like these.

Judith Shulevitz raised an interesting approach in her Times piece. She pointed out that a number of countries are contemplating a "universal basic income" or U.B.I. A proposal in Finland, for example, would experiment with giving every adult 800 Euros (about $870) a month. Switzerland and Canada are among other countries calling for similar experimentation.

The rationale is that it's a way to reimburse people who lead productive lives, like mothers and other caregivers who don't receive money for what they contribute to society. (About thirty years ago a social scientist figured out that if women were remunerated for all they do their worth would be something like $40,000 annually. Imagine what that is in today's economy!) The U.B.I. also reflects "a necessary condition for a just society," as Shulevitz puts it. It's seen as a general entitlement in this framework. It's also been called "a floor below which nobody need fall."

Basic income proposals like this one from both right and left are not new but they are complex. It's something to think about while good folks genuinely strategize around ending poverty in our rich country. Of course, the Republicans who flap their cake holes about poverty would never consider such an idea.

The thing is, maybe it can help move them toward more rationale, responsible thinking about poverty alleviation. At least they might not dump it all on the states as nothing more than a local problem loaded with society's detritus.

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Elayne Clift is a writer,lecturer, workshop leader and activist. She is senior correspondent for Women's Feature Service, columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel and Brattleboro (VT) Commons and a contributor to various publications internationally. (more...)
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