The High Costs of a Leaky Roof Society
by C.A. L'Hirondelle - Feb.26, 2013

photo by J.S.Larochelle - Vancouver BC 2002

A Guaranteed Livable Income is a solid roof for the future.

It should be obvious that building a cheap roof on a house to "save money" instead of investing in a well-built roof is a foolish strategy because short term savings are soon obliterated by costs from on-going leaks and repairs. A leaky roof is the opposite of an investment since the damage extends beyond the roof to ruin the entire structure and contents of the house.

Yet it is this disastrous "penny-wise, pound-foolish" strategy that society follows when it comes to dealing with poverty, because a universal income allocation at a livable level (aka basic income guarantee, citizen's income, guaranteed annual income) is regarded as being 'too expensive'. Instead we have the endless and extensive costs of poverty which extend beyond the individual to all of society.

We need to flip how we think about a universal livable income from seeing it as a cost, to seeing it as a thrifty and wise investment for the future.

It is thrifty because:

  • it eliminates costly and intrusive welfare bureaucracy;
  • it saves people's lives from being wasted on unproductive soul-sucking "jobs for jobs' sake";
  • it saves the environment from being trampled in the futile pursuit trying to provide a living wage job for everyone who needs one;
  • it saves people's health from being ruined by constant stress.

As an investment it would have huge long-term benefits because poverty stymies and corrodes human potential and creativity –especially when one considers the impacts of child poverty.

photo C.A.L'Hirondelle Victoria BC 2002

A guaranteed livable income would also have a health-enhancing multiplier effect because people would have more ability to do all kinds of beneficial unpaid work, including caring for their own health, the health of their family and friends, their social communities and their natural environments.

Cutting social and economic supports for people in the name of short-term fiscal pain is absurd upside-down thinking.

Leaving holes in the roof to get bigger and bigger does not result in long-term gain; it only ensures the entire house ends up in a rotting heap of destruction. In comparison, investing for the long term is stunningly cheap and is the simplest and fastest way we can stop our society and our environment from eventually collapsing.

If we want to talk of immediate monetary savings, these would show up first and most dramatically in our health care system due to the well-documented (yet well ignored) evidence that poverty takes an enormous toll on people's health. We can either realize that a guaranteed income is a fundamental part of any functioning health-care system or we can watch it collapse under the weight of a leaky roof economy.

A society that favours shoddy leaky roofs over solid non-leaky roofs also ends up with many spin-off costs:

  • entire industries of leak-repair charities (food banks and a multitude of help-the-needy services and projects);
  • entire industries to study the frequency of leaks, types of leaks, and types of damage, etc. (significant parts of the social sciences, think tanks, economic pundits etc,);
  • and finally, the large, costly and overburdened industries dealing with the constant crises caused by all the leaky roofs (hospitals, policing, social workers, etc.).

Without implementation of universal livable income, our health, environment, political, legal, and even education systems will buckle and break from the burden of a 'leaky roof economy', because without the good roof, everything rots, corrodes, corrupts and collapses.  

Repairing these leaky roofs only gives the illusion of a solution, since the repairs are but a temporary patch on poorly-made roofs that were flawed from the start.

Rather than constant, complex and costly patchwork, we need an entirely new roof model; one that is based on simplicity, efficiency, strength and resilience, one that will provide a positive environment for health, democracy and creativity to flourish for the long term. A guaranteed livable income for everyone is the well-built roof designed to last and not leak.


With thanks to Richard Pereira for our email conversation on this topic.
and to Gen.H. finding typos !

Thanks to Simsa0 for this related article: Towards an Economy of the World-Ingrained Self

Related articles:
Economic Foundations & Environmental Progress
Guaranteed Income Makes Fertile Ground For Green Ideas
Vested Interests as a Barrier to Change
Crapitlism - A Definition and Cure

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