Is It time for a Grand Experiment?


 With an estimated 50,000 Nova Scotians, over 500,000 Canadians applying for benefits, and an estimated 20% of employees  suddenly finding themselves out of work with no fault of their own, is it time for the government to try an experiment they have been musing about for years?

We have been predicting disruption to the work force for many years now. We thought it would come from technology, to our surprise it comes from nature. The effect is the same – depression era unemployment.

As a solution for this problem, many thought leaders, social scientists and economists have been suggesting a simple and proven to be effective solution.

Guaranteed income for all. The way this works is every citizen with a social insurance number gets a monthly check from the government that enables them basic income for food, shelter and transportation. There is no bureaucrat looking over your shoulder asking what you are doing with the money. People are trusted to do what is in their best interest.

I know this is a big ask of government, right now they are doing a lot of good things to deal with Corona Virus. And it is a major mind shift to go from absolute control over everything to trusting citizens to do the right thing. But we have been showing them we are trustable. We are looking out for our fellow citizens and helping those who need help. We are being responsible.

There is an opportunity right in front of us. Many social science experiments have proven that the best way to get the most out of people is to trust people to do the right thing.

The fear our bureaucrats have is that when people are given money that covers their basic needs, they will be lazy, stay at home and live off the government. The bureaucrats  feel they can’t trust us, that they have to be in control over our lives.

There have been several experiments with guaranteed income and it has been shown that it has had the opposite effect. People do more for the economy and each other when they can stop worrying about basic survival.

Once people stop worrying about their basic needs, they are free to pursue more ambitious desires. They go back to school and improve their skills, they try entrepreneurial things they have been dreaming about, they have more confidence in themselves which enables them to reach out to employers and be more productive. It frees up the creativity of the masses to find their own way of being productive. Citizens become more engaged in their communities and politics. The economy grows. Crime declines. There is no downside.

The only losers with guaranteed income are some government employees who have a lot less to do because we don’t have to fill in so many forms and they don’t have to keep checking in on us.

Human nature is to be productive, creative, industrious and meaningful. It is part of what makes us happy. Only the very few go against this trend. Why not take advantage of this opportunity and release the best of human nature for the benefit of our society?

Mr. Trudeau, introduce a guaranteed income.  Have courage, give up on band aide solutions and trust us.

Seeing as the government is going to spend billions on giving people short term support that keeps people in the world of anxiety, I wonder if now is the time for the grander experiment? Lets ask our government to provide of guaranteed income that releases citizens from anxiety and frees up their creativity, productivity and entrepreneurial spirit.

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