Category Archives: NHS

Universal basic income (UBI)

Amazon has revealed its latest plan to automate American workers out of existence with its futuristic machine controlled grocery store.

According to a study by Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, the use of robots and other manufacturing efficiencies was responsible for 88% of the 7 million factory jobs lost in the United States since peak employment in 1979.

The Economic Security Project (ESP) – a coalition of over 100 technologists, investors, and activists – has announced that it is committing $10 million over the next two years to explore how a “universal basic income” (UBI) could ensure economic opportunities for all.

Elon Musk, the iconic Silicon Valley futurist, predicts “There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income or something like that, due to automation.”

With political uncertainty across the Western world highlighting rising levels of economic inequality, many others across the political spectrum are considering adopting UBI in the future, giving everyone a guaranteed minimum payment. In the 21st century to date there have been pilot projects in America, Canada, Namibia, Uganda, Kenya, Brazil, Holland, Finland, Italy and Scotland, described briefly in Wikipedia.

UBI – one of three main economic reforms?

James Robertson shared news (scroll down to 4.The Practical Reforms) of a meeting of the North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress at which there was co-operation between supporters of two of the three main reforms in total money system reform – land value taxation and basic income. Alanna Hartzok, General Secretary of the International Union for Land Value Taxation, expressed a hope for future meetings at which supporters of all three policy proposals could discuss the relationship between reform of the money supply, introduction of land value taxation and the replacement of welfare payments by a citizen’s income.

UBI – life enhancing?

Just as Green parties everywhere have said for many years, Elon Musk expects that UBI will enhance life with ‘ownwork’: “People will have time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things and certainly have more leisure time.” Others, however, believe that without the need to pay for rent and basic necessities, people will not be motivated to work and will not make good use of their basic income and free time. Cynics will – and do – dismiss ‘the happiness agenda’ (Layard, Norberg-Hodge) and the recent Landmark study which found that most human misery in the Western world is due to failed relationships or ill-health rather than money problems and poverty.

If accompanied by a more comprehensive education?

The findings indicate the need for a broader education, giving some concept of good marital and parental relationships, an understanding of the country’s social and taxation systems and the development of expertise (until the Plain English Campaign succeeds) in interpreting official forms and negotiating online applications.

Increasing apprenticeships and retraining for those who become redundant is worthwhile but far more input is needed. The Sure Start focus involving parents and children from the earliest days was working very well until funding was cut by the coalition government in 2011, instead of building on its success.

Harrow mothers campaigning after 4 Sure Start centres had been given notice to quit

There are now 1,240 fewer designated Sure Start centres than when David Cameron took office – a fall of 34 % according to figures obtained by the Labour Party in a Freedom of Information request. The North East and London have seen the biggest fall in numbers, with over 40% of centres closing. The closure rate is increasing countrywide and councils have listed other centres which may well have to go this year.

Compensating for the cost of UBI

A total audit would balance the expense of an enhanced Sure Start programme and the cost of UBI over time, by quantifying:

  • reduced expenditure on the NHS and prison service due to the improvement in mental and physical health
  • and lower expenditure on policing and social services due to less stressful household and neighbourhoods, diminishing the intake of legal and illegal drugs and reducing crime.

So, in the foreseeable future, will 3D printers and robots take care of the necessities? And will basic income lead people to begin to improve relationships with each other and the rest of the natural world?

 

 

 

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A move in the direction of collaboration? NHA Campaign Team: Come on Jez, you can!

nhap header (2)

A call for co-operation from the National Health Action Party’s administrator has arrived and the reply included the video link forwarded by Lesley Docksey – to Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Tredegar – with the comment: “brilliant summing up of Bevan, housing and health etc”.

Deborah Harrington, NHAP administrator, replied, after seeing the video, that she is cautiously optimistic, but that NHAP knows people who have had ‘proper’ conversations with JC about the NHS and have come away saying that he knows very little about the reality: “We can’t expect overnight transformations of the Labour Party. It’s more than just Jeremy Corbyn and as it stands his NHS advisors will be mostly from the wrong side of the argument . . . so steeped in privatisation, where will any public service voices come from?

The writer, however, has more confidence in his ability to select good advisers from every sector, including those who will share this common concern about the NHS – and he really needs input on other issues, for instance the minutiae of current dairy farming problems.

A discussion before the event

A discussion before the Tredegar address

Deborah continues: “Despite that crackingly good speech I still hope he takes up Clive’s offer”.

The administrator is appealing for members and supporters to “overflow the inboxes of Jeremy Corbyn and Heidi Alexander with NHA words of wisdom”. Continuing:

“Ask them to embrace a better politics and work with the NHA to reinstate the NHS.

“We are not metamorphosing into a pressure group – we are still a political party. But this is our big chance to get Labour’s health policy back to Bevan’s Basics and we believe that Labour’s best chance is to work with the NHA; not rely on the only too willing advice of New Labour’s old guard or the management consultants who sell themselves as experts in NHS ‘reform’.

“Clive has already written to Jeremy Corbyn, the new opposition leader and will be writing to Heidi Alexander to welcome her to the post of Shadow Health Secretary and to offer NHA’s expertise and evidence based advice to create a health policy we can all be proud of”.

Mr Corbyn will probably agree that as they say, his landslide victory and the welcome appointment of Heidi Alexander do not erase Labour’s failure in opposition to defend the NHS since the Health and Social Care Act in 2012 or their own destructive policies of Private Finance Initiative, Unsustainable Provider Regime and the introduction of an internal market that paved the way for the fragmentation and sell-off of our NHS”.

Further points from the NHAP mailing:

The NHS is under threat:

  • Devolution of health services to Local Authorities (taking the N out of the NHS)
  • Integrated health and social care with no proper funding and in an unstable landscape of health provision.
  • The displacement of public health to chronically underfunded Local Authorities.
  • The closures and the threat of still more downgrading and closures to hospitals and services.
  • The introduction of US style care organisations.

We’re calling for an NHS that is:

Publicly Funded

Publicly Owned

Publicly Provided

Publicly Accountable

Write now to Heidi Alexander, heidi.alexander.mp@parliament.uk, or send a letter to Heidi Alexander, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Write now to Jeremy Corbyn, corbynj@parliament.uk, or send a letter to Jeremy Corbyn, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.