Letter to the Editor – Universal Basic Income

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Dear Editor,

Re: Universal Basic Income (UBI)

It’s really sad to read how some people equate a basic standard of living with ‘communism’. I am a post-war baby boomer who has benefitted really quite well from this boom. I was brought up to expect to go to university, get a decent job, for which I would be paid decently so I could buy a house, have a family and retire in comfort. I have achieved all of these things.

However, recently my son, with his university degree, and his partner looked at buying a place to live (and forget about rentals). Both have decent above-minimum-wage jobs: they work 40+ hours per week, pay their income and social taxes (which go towards making Canada a safe and decent place to live), yet there is absolutely no way they can even contemplate buying a place without a massive injection of cash from his parents. Using the banks’ payment formulae (and including his parents’ contribution), almost all of his net income would be spent on paying for his mortgage and taxes. His partner’s income would pay their living expenses. One small expense – like visiting a dentist, for instance – would mean that they would go into debt. They get no other income from any government programme: they work hard, pay their dues but struggle to advance.  

There are very simple solutions to providing younger people with some hope: we all have to pay more for what we consume or property prices have to fall to reflect people’s incomes or incomes have to rise. Perhaps things have been too cheap for too long?  (I can hear the groans!)  And, none of us baby boomers want to see property prices fall, do we, as most of our equity is in our property?  So what is wrong with letting people have a decent income so that they can feel secure and enjoy life, not just exist through it…..enjoy life like so many of us have done. Is this not what UBI is about? 

I read so often that Canada is a caring society – really, when one sees the vitriol bandied about so frequently? Those old expectations have gone and if we are not careful, we will have (already have?) a generation of livid people who do not engage with others because why should they? They see little benefit from joining in when they spend all their income on existing (not living) and trying to get further ahead is met by roadblocks (put in place to protect those of us who are OK, thank you very much). Our valiant Premier is going to build 600,000 homes (they’re houses and become homes when people move in!) but who’s going to be able to afford to buy any of them? 

All levels of government and our society as a whole need to make sure that those who are 16 – 35/40 years old feel they belong, because, sadly, more and more of them don’t feel they do and that is a recipe for civil unrest. We all have to live in our communities and we all have to ensure that all feel they belong, so please let’s work to find solutions not just whinge when an idea for the betterment of us all is mooted.

Andrew M. Thriscutt

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