Thursday, 10 October 2013

A Fable

It's not often I write a sequel but, hey, sequels sell. So today is a wee flight of fancy based on yesterday's discussion-provoking account of the BIG Party. Let's just say they did get into government…

It’s 2020 and the Basic Income Guarantee Party has been swept into power in a landslide upset and a rejection of traditional governance. The continuing rows between the Labour and LibDem coalition partners, despite an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons has caused an increasingly sceptical electorate to utterly desert them in favour of a whole new way.

Since the Labour and Conservative parties ended up with exactly the same number of MPs in 2015 and UKIP gained only five seats, even the LibDems meagre 31 returned members was enough to ensure the UK remains shackled to the EU forever. The Tories were frustrated at every turn from then on and many of their supporters simply packed their bags and quietly left the country.

As promised, trading on Labour’s “experience, track record and credibility” Ed Balls set about borrowing as much as the newly emerging prosperity would allow and began to quickly reintroduce levels of public spending last seen in the “no more boom and bust” days.  With the city lost to Frankfurt, educational standards at an all-time low and manufacturing back on the slide, the New-Old-New Labour economy reverted once more to utter reliance on a labour pool drawn from Europe’s poorest countries. Ed Miliband blamed all this on the “race to the bottom” he had accused the Conservatives of pursuing.

Wages fell, taxes rose and as property prices began to fall once more those who could disposed of their homes and joined the exit queues to buy up the deserted villages of Bulgaria and Romania. As houses in the UK were inevitably taken up by incoming migrant workers, the mood in Britain’s cities became rebellious. And finally, after a winter of rioting and looting the broken promises were swept away as the BIG Party took the reins of power in May 2020 and the UK breathed a sigh of relief.

Here at last, they thought, was a party they could work with. Brits on benefits carried on as before, sometimes forming cooperatives to pool their ‘free’ money. Low paid Brits simply left their jobs to the foreign incomers who they assumed would tend to the magic money trees. And for a few months everybody seemed happy enough, but Adam Smith’s invisible hand soon began to weave its spells and the lunacy of the basic income guarantee began to reveal itself.

As prices rose and productivity fell and the country could borrow no more, soon the basic income's value fell and left people with the old choices; heat or eat, health or happiness, sink or swim. But there were no jobs except the Nike and Apple sweatshops, imported to Britain because of the incredibly low wages, subsidised by the basic income guarantee. And these were all taken by the unregistered and unregulated migrant workers.

Far from being taxpayers, much of the remaining economy ran on a cash basis, hidden from the diminished resources of the exchequer. Those who could had already cashed in their pensions and left and as the money supply dried up, society reverted to barter and relied on the direct trading of attainable resources.

Eat, kill or fuck?

The world watched, fascinated, as Britain became the hottest show on the planet, maintaining its meagre financial worth by selling rights to a scripted reality version of a country turning back time. After a ten year run the production crews packed their equipment up and left the decimated population to return to the wild, protected by a United Nations embargo on any further interference with a species on the brink of extinction.


  1. Here's my alternative story

    i am convinced that nobody can sit idle for long, and those that can, are no major tax on society. a UBI alters the power Dynamic of market game theory. There is a reduced level of coercion in market underpinned by UBI, which in turn leads to an abundance in labour, which in turn reduces the cost of labour, which in turn reduces the general cost of living, which eases the burden of expense of providing a UBI... It's literally a whole new ball game then

  2. What I want to know is will all those on benefits get a free old sofa and broken down car to place on their front garden?

  3. As prices rose, budding entrepreneurs spotted huge profits to be made and battled with each other to supply the unmet demand. Productivity rose and prices fell and all thrived happily ever after. Oh how us true libertarians love the free market.

  4. Try this article from a top economist.....

    Quote from the article....

    quote from the article "So what are the merits of universal basic income? We have a system that has high unemployment, high underemployment. This would allow people to survive and to live, with dignity, assuming that other systems stay in place. It puts a floor under wages — people could say, “I don’t have to do that job if you’re not going to pay well.” People could pursue a lot of activities that are not particularly well paid but that have a lot of social use or personal satisfaction: art, creative work, volunteer work, working with people who have disabilities.

    So if we were a very rich world, which I think we are to a certain degree, it would be a remarkable way to make sure that people could maximize their ability to express themselves but also maximize their ability to participate in the communities that they live in in a full way. Stay home and take care of kids if that’s what you want to do. Take care of your parents when they’re old and sick.

    People sometimes refer to this as a kind of “Star Trek” economy — you just said, “Replicator, make me a ham sandwich.” There wasn’t any social conflict around production and consumption. And that, I think, is that kind of ideal in which this kind of a thing could play out. We are probably there in terms of the economics. We are very, very wealthy — we could afford to do this. But we are not there in terms of the politics.