Should Canada have a guaranteed annual income?
Does it make economic sense to provide each Canadian with a guaranteed annual income?
Sure, the question sounds like the latest topic from the Saint Ignatius debating club, but many analysts believe that the answer is yes, according to the Globe and Mail.
This week, a House of Commons committee on poverty released a report proposing a guaranteed basic income for Canadians with disabilities, on the model already available to seniors. Earlier this year, a similar report outlined how such a scheme would work for all low-income Canadians.
It has been tested with success in other countries, and now it has re-entered the Canadian political conversation.
Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, one of the more vocal proponents of no-strings-attached aid for the poor, argues that giving money with no conditions removes the stigma and shame around poverty, allowing people to focus instead on how to improve their lot.
Requiring the poor to prove continually that they are deserving of assistance or threatening to cut benefits without notice only discourages the risk-taking and confidence required to get out of poverty, he says.
Part of what's holding back a guaranteed annual income is perception and language. People don't like the idea of entitlement, when they hear guarantees they think of rights without responsibilities.
Even a more scaled-back GAI proposal that just replaced social assistance at a provincial level might still be very expensive, admits UBC economist Kevin Milligan.
Having a transfer large enough to satisfy those worried about the wellbeing of the very poor, and also a clawback rate small enough to satisfy those concerned about work incentives, might yield a very expensive policy.
Make sense to you? Or is a guaranteed income program just another misplaced Robin Hood policy?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money