Making a Health Argument for Guaranteed Income
Due to the high costs of poor health (for the individual and society) and because of the all the research showing poverty and income as a determinant of health, there's an argument to be made for a universal livable income solely from a health cost/benefit analysis.
The lack of a guaranteed livable income (basic income) affects people's health in 3 ways:
Poverty causes ill health and shortens lives
There are mountains of research showing income as a main determinant of health.
The costs of letting people, especially children, live in poverty are so vast as to be incalculable. And with all the research showing the links between poverty and ill health and with very high health costs, it should be obvious that political leaders and opinion makers do not want to discuss the connection between health and income. Instead, they hold onto out-dated ideologies regarding morality and 'hard work' which continue to shape social policy. Read more: High Cost of a Leaky Roof Society. Read more: The Manly Mythology of Hard Work.
A study done in 2001 in BC revealed that it cost $30,000 to $40,000 for one homeless person per year for service and emergency shelter costs with an average of $11,410 being spent just on criminal justice costs. (Volume 3, Costs of Homelessness in British Columbia, B.C. Government 2001)
Millions of jobs depend on the consumption of unhealthy products.
This is not a moral condemnation of products or people. This is not an argument to take away anyone's choice to eat crap food. But the opposite has happened: the option for a healthy society has been taken away because if large numbers of people choose to consume mostly healthy products, it would devastate the economy. Millions of direcct and indirect jobs would be lost (direct junk food jobs and downstream jobs in the medical and pharmaceutical industries). Compulsory crapitalism is not freedom.
The attempt to produce fuller employment by getting people to consume more products such as fast foods, tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks, donuts, caffeinated drinks, sugared foods, processed foods etc. has caused widespread ill health. Not only does the repeated consumption of certain products make people sick, it also makes all forms of life progressively sicker by polluting the air, water and soil that gives us all life.
The best example of the trading of health for jobs is the is the cola industry.
Ruining people's health and ruining the environment.
Harmful industries do not see themselves as impoverishing people and the environment, but as benefactors for the sole reason that they can say they create jobs. Jobism views any job-creating economic activity as success even if it destroys people's health and ruins or depletes natural resources. This is an ecocidal ideology that is totally disconnected from the reality of the natural world and our relationship to it.
Convincing people, especially children, to habitually consume soft drinks is part of a 'death-cycle' economy that rewards unhealthy and destructive economic activities while it destroys the very things that we rely on for life: the air, the water, the land.
In contrast, in a life-cycle economy millions of people would not lose their incomes (jobs) if masses of people decide that drinking water is 'the real thing' and not soft drinks.
Summary: Millions of people only have jobs because people continue to consume cigarettes, coffee, junk food, soda pop and the propaganda put out by mainstream media. Millions of others have jobs only because people are getting sick from from consumption-related causes. An economic system that is dependent on increasing consumption is dependent on having the 'freedom' to destroy people's health, children's health, and the health of the planet.
With a Guaranteed Livable Income (basic income) we will no longer have an economy that relies on destroying people's health to function.
Written by C.A. L'Hirondelle & J.S. Larochelle in 2004, updated May 2013
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