More support for basic income. But would it work this time?

by | Mar 31, 2016 | News

Serge Halytsky

new poll suggests that Ontarians are warming up to the idea of guaranteed basic income that the provincial government plans to introduce as early as the next year.

If implemented, that would guarantee basic living income to everyone, regardless an employment status.

What would it mean to Ontarians?

Basic income is “much more complicated and difficult than politicians appreciate,” Loren Brandt , a University of Toronto economics professor told Humber News on Thursday.

“The proposed policies have a similarity with earlier negative income taxes that were experimented with in the ’70s in the U.S. as a way to provide support for families in need, but not discourage incentives to work,” he said.

Economists both from the left (such as James Tobin, James Kenneth Galbrath) and from the right (including Milton Friedman, Frederick Hayek)  have recommended that the government provides some sort of guaranteed income, Angelo Melino, also a UofT economics professor told Humber News in an email.

“The conservatives wanted a guaranteed minimum income that would replace other social programs (welfare, unemployment insurance) that are costly to administer and argued that a guaranteed income was less distortionary than a guaranteed minimum wage,” Melino said.

“At the end of the day, the conservatives felt a guaranteed income replaced a large number of progressive policies that would promote growth and be less costly,” Melino said.

“The new policy planned for Ontario could be the most expensive if other policies are left in place,” Melini said.

Others also spoke out agains the Liberal government plan.

“We had welfare state back in 70s,” Irene Szcorla, a Toronto retiree told Humber News. “It was scrapped then. Probably because it was too expensive. Yet, we just have to repeat those mistakes all over again!”

“Short answer: no,” Milan Cobanov, a student of Mises School of Economics and libertarian told Humber News.

“Ideally, the government provides no defence which has either the right or the obligation to take from some and give to others.”

The poll by Forum Research suggests that 41 per cent of people polled support basic income, 33 per cent are opposed, and 26 per cent were not sure.

The poll was a random sampling of 1,225 Ontario voters.