(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice – financialfairnessforsingles.ca).
There are several solutions that have been proposed to solve the issue of poverty and low income. Increasing the minimum wage is one solution. With AI and digital revolutions some proposals include living wage or basic wage as a partial solution to the possibility of maintaining level of job numbers as a result of these revolutions.
Living wage research has been helpful in determining what it costs to live in specific urban and rural areas. However, a living wage is a bare bones wage with no possibility of saving for emergencies or retirement. The living wage premise is based on adults working full time (one adult in one person adult family, one adult and one child, two adults and no children or two adults and two children family unit). However, if living wages are not based on OECD equivalence scales such as Canadian Market Basket Measure or MBM unattached persons and single parents are often the financial losers in these plans. (If single person household has a value of 1.0, lone parent, one child or two adult household has a value of 1.4, one adult, two children 1.7 and two adult, two children 2.0. It costs more for singles to live than couples without children).
“Andrew Yang on Universal Basic Income”
(https://baseandsuperstructure.com/andrew-yang-ubi) Excerpts from this article describes the UBI plan and provides some rather interesting insights from right and left political perspectives.
‘The plan is relatively simple. The government pays all US citizens between the ages of 18 and 64 a UBI of $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year. For citizens 65 and up, the existing Social Security system would be left in place.
Yang wants to pay for this system using four sources: a.) eliminating existing social spending (e.g., food stamps, disability, WIC, unemployment insurance, et al.), generating $500-600 billion worth of savings; b.) A value-added tax (VAT) that he estimates will generate $800 billion per year; c.) $500-600 billion in new tax revenue from UBI-generated economic growth; b.) $100-200 billion per year in savings from UBI-generated crime reduction and health savings.’
The article states that problems with the plan include: ‘UBI doesn’t pay people nearly enough, would eliminate social programs, encourage low wage and exploitative labor practices, and put more money into the hands of companies who prey on low income Americans.’ “A Leftist take on Universal Basic Income” (leftist-universal-basic-income-ubi) by same author says ‘Here’s what would happen if a UBI proposal got off the ground in the United States: it would get turned into the right-wing version. It wouldn’t apply to everyone, it wouldn’t pay enough to live, it would gut social programs, or possibly all three of these things.’ The author offers suggestions that better solutions are comprehensive health care, housing and food assistance and indexed minimum wage that is increased every year.
It seems that USA plans for social justice and equality of wages never seem to include equivalence scales like MBM outlined above so singles would benefit the least from the plan because it costs singles more to live than a two person household.
Alberta report on basic income
“An Alberta Guaranteed Income: Issues and Options” (May 2019) by Wayne Simpson and Harvey Stevens, The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary (https://journalhosting.ucalgary). Excerpts from the report include:
(From Summary) – ‘For all the job booms and wealth that have benefitted Alberta over the decades, nothing yet has been able to drastically reduce, let alone eliminate poverty in the province. The prospect of a guaranteed minimum income could help change that, and Alberta is particularly well positioned to roll one out and with relative ease and at a manageable cost.
An Alberta guaranteed basic income could be straightforwardly developed by revising the existing provincial tax system to make tax credits that are currently non-refundable into refundable tax credits, such that people earning below the minimum income-tax threshold will still be able to claim them as subsidies. This can be done while avoiding significant new funding and relying solely on budgetary measures to improve the fairness of the tax system.
Converting just a few non-refundable tax credits into refundable ones can produce a guaranteed annual income of over $6,000 for a single-adult family and over $9,000 for a two-adult family, with no significant new funding required. This would improve supports for 37 per cent of Alberta families, with the largest gains properly concentrated among the poorest households, and would reduce the rate and depth of poverty by 25 per cent.
An even more powerful approach would be if Alberta were able to persuade the federal government to combine a similar program federally with the provincial guaranteed basic income, converting non-refundable credits into refundable ones and eliminating the federal GST credit. A combined federal-provincial guaranteed annual income would increase dramatically to over $13,600 a year for a single-adult family and to over $19,000 a year for a two-adult family. The disposal income of the poorest 20 per cent of Albertans would increase by more than 50 per cent under the combined plan, while the rate of poverty across all Albertans would be cut by a substantial 44 perr cent. Among single parents and non-elderly and elderly couples, poverty would be eliminated completely. And while two-parent families and non-elderly singles would continue to be in poverty, its rate declines significantly and its depth would be reduced by more than half.’
The report ‘offers two models: one that includes selected non-refundable tax credits but excludes current Alberta refundable tax credits; and one that includes both selected non-refundable tax credits and the refundable credits’ (including Alberta Child Benefit and the Canada Child Benefit in the second model).
The report does talk about Low Income Cut-offs (LICO) and Market Basket Measure (MBM). They state that LICO has been replaced as Canada’s official poverty measure by the MBM. However, (page 3) certain versions of statistical reports did not allow them to calculate the MBM measure, so they adopted the traditional LICO measure of the incidence and depth of poverty in the report.
Opinion Letter on above report
In an opinion letter “A basic income that reduces poverty is doable” (alberta-could-afford-a-basic-income-that-reduces-poverty) by Franco Savoia and Jeff Loomis, Executive Directors of Vibrant Communities Calgary and Momentum, respectively, they state:
‘Alberta is a prosperous province, but our poverty rate has hovered around 10 per cent for decades, costing the government more than $2 billion each year….
In recent years, the guaranteed income supplement for seniors and Canada and Alberta child benefits have been credited with reducing poverty rates. Some have gone as far as to call these programs a basic income for seniors and children.
For many in the social services sector, a similar program for adults aged 18-65 is a logical next step…..
Despite this, basic income critics point to the prohibitive costs associated with implementing such a program, noting that governments just don’t have the money. However, new research from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy shows that Alberta could actually afford to do it. Supported by a research partnership with Calgary’s Social Policy Collaborative, economists Wayne Simpson and Harvey Stevens have come up with an Alberta basic income program that wouldn’t require the province to spend any extra money or increase taxes…..
….the Simpson and Stevens program is financed entirely through modest changes to tax policy. By turning five existing non-refundable tax credits into a single refundable credit, the authors suggest that the province could achieve a basic income that would increase the incomes of roughly 40 per cent of Albertans, reduce poverty by almost one-quarter and eliminate poverty for single parents.
But, as always, the devil is in the details.
A notable element of the proposal is the decision to keep in place the current income support system — a choice that some basic income advocates may not support. Many envision a basic income as a better — and simpler — alternative to existing income supports, which are complex and often needlessly bureaucratic.
Also concerning is the redistributive impact of the tax reform required to create the program, which would result in increased tax pressures for middle-income earners.
These shortcomings aside, the Simpson and Stevens proposal is proof that basic income is more than a pipe dream in Alberta. And though the proposal wouldn’t eliminate poverty completely — it would leave many non-elderly single Albertans below the poverty line — it would be a significant step forward in our efforts to make poverty a thing of the past. As the basic income conversation evolves, both in Alberta and across the country, the School of Public Policy report has contributed valuable insight. We’re excited to see where the discussion goes.’
Shocking statistics show that in one of the richest provinces (Alberta) there were in January 2014, 33,000 Alberta Income Support program (excluding AISH) recipients of all ages. Alberta Income Support program in January, 2017, had 54,374 recipients and in January, 2018, 57,003 recipients. Makeup of claimants in 2017 and 2018 include individuals 69%, lone-parent families 24%, couples with children 5%, and couples alone 3%. Totals do not say how many are turned away and do not include those who on verge of poverty.
It is a sad fact that regardless of what financial manipulations are applied to minimum wage and living wage or basic wage models, singles or unattached persons always appear to come out as the financial losers. Until Market Basket Measures, etc. are applied so that one person households benefit equally to other households, social injustice and income inequality will remain for single persons. But then who gives a damn?
(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles. It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).