Truth or power, which gets you further?
To the Editor,
I have recently written about missed opportunities for truth to be spoken to power and this sad story is about power being used to deny the value of truth.
In spite of an election promise to continue a social experiment to measure the value of establishing the benefits that a Basic Income can have when given to individuals in a community, this experiment has been cancelled by the newly elected government before any results could be measured.
I recall that a much wider program based on “microloans” to mostly the women in communities started in Bangladesh in the 1970s and has resulted in the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to its founder, Muhammad Yunus.
He set up village banks (grameen banks in local language) which charged what sounds like a high rate of interest of about 20 per cent p.a. But some 96 per cent of loans were paid back.
In Ontario, government money was provided directly to individuals and families, inevitably with much paperwork. However, the important thing is that both systems of payment would lead to the money being spent on locally based services.
The local service provider would likely spend the same money on other locally based services. Thus, a large fraction of the money spent would circulate, perhaps even several times, within the community with the expectation that general poverty would be diminished or overcome. In time, the children of the community shoemaker would no longer go barefoot.
Unfortunately, the work done by a sizable team of people planning and participating in the experiment has been trampled on and discarded and we will not know whether this process could be useful in eliminating poverty. We should remember that an all-party supported motion to eliminate child poverty was passed in the Canadian Parliament in 1989 and we are still a long way from achieving its aim.