Why we urgently need a world-wide Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI)

elderly man buys buying produce at grocers

All human beings need to have food, water, shelter and other essential things to stay alive. Currently most people in the world cannot meet their needs for life and health directly, they need money to get the things they need to stay alive.



Today, the consequences of not having money are deadly. Poverty kills. However poverty is not the result of scarcity — there is in fact more than enough for everyone to meet their needs for health —but poverty results from theft of the commons, and privatization.

See: Colin Tudge - Feeding the World is Easy happy graduates

People are repeatedly told that the only way to escape poverty is to get a good education and then (compete for) and get a good-paying job. It's understandable that many people will find the idea of giving people guaranteed livable income offensive.


However, there is overwhelming evidence that it is impossible for every person in the world who is poor (over half the world's population) to win a living wage job. A massive increase in jobs would demand a massive increase in consumption and accelerated waste and pollution of natural resources. To continue believing in the 'economic growth-full employment' solution, in spite of massive evidence to the contrary, only accelerates the continued destruction of poor people and the planet.

Large mall in downtown VancouverThat almost unanimous belief that jobs are the only viable solution to poverty -- we call "jobism". Globalized industries destroy local economies, but most importantly, they DIVERT time, energy and physical resources away from people's essential needs to non-essentials. (i.e building more hotels and shopping malls instead of housing; depleting water sources to make soft drinks)

There are numerous critics of the current economic system (environmentalists, peace activists, anti-corporation activists, social democrats, socialists, sustainable development advocates, etc.) who describe how economic 'growth' and 'development' impoverish people and the planet. However, their solutions do not address the immediate urgency of the situation.

It is not enough to say being downsized is painful, or to put promote voluntary simplicity, anti-consumerism, or environmentalism (essentially telling people "I have my way to get what I need, but you need to sacrifice your livelihood"). We must also so say how the millions of people who currently get their livelihood from harmful and unsustainable industries will feed themselves and their families.

Without a GLI, it will be impossible to stop environmental destruction as billions of people are desperate to escape poverty. People are forced to take any available job regardless of the impact on nature.



Without a GLI, it will be impossible to create a peaceful, healthy society millions of people rely on jobs in the massive military industrial complex. Millions of others rely on 'crime' and social strife for jobs in jails, courts, social work etc.



a handful of prescription pills

Millions of others rely on people continuint to consume tobacco, alcohol, junk food, soft drinks, violent video games and junk entertainment. Millions of others have jobs because people destroy their health from these products.


Without a GLI there is no way to create a peaceful, healthy, society.

Many people feel that the money system is a great tyranny. But the paradoxical solution is to destroy the exploitive power of money by giving everyone money through a guaranteed livable income. At some point society could create a non-money economy. But people need to 'stay alive' to create such change, and people 'right now' are losing their health and are dying because they have no money, and no alternative way to meet their needs. Only with a GLI, can we have the 'time' and a way to eat, to free our creative energy and create a transition to a life-cycle economy.

A guaranteed income can be considered economic harm reduction. People will be able to stay alive while we figure out how to create an economy that is in harmony with the natural world. Only if we call a moratorium on the current destruction of people and the planet, can we hope to have the time and energy to change things.


If we try to change things without a GLI it means only a few will be able to participate in this process -- usually people who have enough to eat, have a good place to sleep, and do not have dependents, do not have limited mobility or health problems. Hardly a 'just' way to create social change. This problem cannot be solved with charity. People rightly resent charity and the vast power imbalance it creates.

The attempt to end poverty with economic growth, job creation, charity and welfare has failed miserably. If we can't provide either decent ecologically sustainable jobs for all or decent incomes for all today, then we are sacrificing billions of people to early grave by poverty on the altar of the ideology of the job.

A GLI is absolutely necessary to ensure that all world citizens have enough money to buy nutritious food, decent housing, health and dental care and all the other things that we all need to stay healthy and live full lives.


A GLI is also necessary to provide the social conditions needed to create democracy -- which cannot be legitimate as long as we live without basic economic security (a secure supply of the things we need to stay healthy and alive). Without basic security we live with the constant fear that we will lose our livelihoods; under such conditions all people can be manipulated by the promise of jobs and money in return for political support.

Without a guaranteed livable income there is no grounds to negotiate a way to share, and to spare, the world's natural resources in order that we may make a transition from a death-cycle economy to a life-cycle economy.

Back to: Introduction
Part 1: Facts First
Part 2: The Jobs Paradox: How Jobs Cause Poverty
Part 3: The Consumption 'Solution'
Part 3a: Health
Part 3b: Environment
Part 4: The Glut of Goods
Part 5: Automation
Part 6: Deliberate Unemployment