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Guaranteed Annual Income: A Bourgeois Solution To A Working Class Problem

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Workers need to organize amongst themselves and with other communities of oppressed people to occupy the space for real change.
Workers need to organize amongst themselves and with other communities of oppressed people to occupy the space for real change.
Much like the fascistic supporters of Laissez-Faire Capitalism who call themselves libertarians, the zealous and obstinate supporters of a Guarantee Annual Income love nothing more than to move the goal posts when defending bourgeois solutions to working class problems.
Just as the fascist supporter of Laissez-Faire capitalism says "That's not a real example of Laissez-Faire Capitalism" when we refute their fascist ideas, the zealous and obstinate supporter of GAI will say, "that's not a true example of a Guaranteed Annual Income" when we Refute their claim that such a program is a solution for many of societies woes.
 
Honestly, I cannot blame those who want a "sunny ways" solution foisted upon them from on high, nor can I blame blue collar Jane or Joe for being hoodwinked and bamboozled into believing such a program will lead us all to the promised land. With the rise of fuzzy mitten liberalism, it is not surprising that such a warm fuzzy idea would be suggested by the ruling class as a solution. Make no mistake my friends, GAI is not a solution to the oppression and exploitation experienced by the Lumpen and the Proles!
 
Let us be honest with ourselves, the fact is, we have a GAI in Canada and eventually we will all get it. We call it old age security, it is a guaranteed income for all Canadians over 65 and it does not work!!
 
In 1924, as a result of Canadian workers demanding that the state look after all Canadians once they reach a certain age, Parliament struck a committee to study the idea of giving a guaranteed income to Canadians over a certain age. In 1927, Canada passed the "old age pension act."
 
Old Age security in Canada, as the name suggests, is meant to give security to those in their later years. One would think that because it is 2015, seniors who are on the Guaranteed Annual Income, known as "old age security", would not be living in poverty: this could not be further from the truth.
 

Today in Canada, over 600,000 seniors live in poverty: Approximately 1 in 4 single seniors lives in poverty. Since the mid 1990's, the gap between seniors revenue and the average workers revenue has expanded. Seniors are having to depend more and more on Non OAS pensions and other sources of revenue to survive. We have been told time and again that Guaranteed Annual Income, will save people from poverty but as  we have seen from Canadian seniors on OAS, this simply is not the case. We have been sold a fuzzy mitten that is full of empty promises.
 

The reason why a Guaranteed Annual Income does not work is simple: it was never meant to challenge the egregiously inequitable structures of Capitalism. Capitalism, by it's very nature is a system that separates workers from owners and accumulates the "profits" produced by the workers into the hands of those who live off the workers' labor. A Guaranteed Annual income is a revenue program: it is not a price control program! As long as their is no attempt to control the prices of goods and services such as food, housing, transportation, etc, a Guaranteed Annual Income will never work.
 

To put it another way, If the gap between the rich and poor were to be minimized through state intervention, it cannot be done solely by controlling and administering the incomes of the citizens, the state would also have to control and administer the living costs of individuals and families. I might be convinced to tolerate such a system if it were practical in the West today but the fact is that over the past 40 plus years we have seen the death of the post-war social contract and the domination of the Washington Consensus, with it's privatization, de-regulation, and union-busting. One would have to be nuts to think society would embrace such a Soviet system.
 
Should not workers have a right to decide how we go forward and what it is we produce? at risk of sounding redundant, a revenue program by the state that does  not incorporate price control mechanism will only cause capitalists to raise prices or minus the GAI from workers' wages. This is exactly what capitalists did when a Guaranteed Annual Income was first tried back in 1795.
 
In 1795, in England, the parish of Speenhamland provided a Guaranteed Annual Income to all its citizens. It was based on the price of a loaf of bread. Other Parishes adopted this program and within a few months the boss's simply subtracted the amount of the workers' Guaranteed Annual income from their pay. After 2 years, Speenhamland ended the Guaranteed Annual Income because it was a complete failure.
 
So if a Guaranteed Annual Income is a Bourgeois solution for a working class problem and it does not work, what would be a solution for workers to rise out of their oppression and exploitation? Well, like I hinted at two paragraphs ago, decisions need to be made in proportion to the degree in which people are affected by the decisions. The idea that workers and the oppressed should not be the agents of their own emancipation is an idea that is intrinsically oppressive!!!
 
So how do we workers emancipate ourselves? How do communities of oppressed people emancipate themselves? Workers need to organize amongst themselves and with other communities of oppressed people to occupy the space for real change. Real change will not come by way of "sunny ways". We must occupy that space for change by building spokes councils, empowerment committees, job boards and federations and confederations that are based on voluntary association. Essentially what we need to do is build organs of dual power so that when our elected officials make an attempts to implement an unpopular program, we have the ability to veto it and implement a better program. With organs of duel power we the workers and other oppressed communities not only have veto power, we also have the power to decide if we want to see the state structures of power dismantled.
 
So as far as I see it, we have one choice, that is for us workers and oppressed to emancipate ourselves. Anything less would not be a choice but rather manufactured consent. Anything less would be to die on our knees.
 
                                                                                Aaron Doncaster

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