The Catalan basic income generates “social justice” and will allow “to live with dignity”
“We have a society in which there is a wealth that has been developing for thousands of years, but that only a few hands have enjoyed and concentrated. It is a matter of social justice try to ensure that people can live with dignity”, explains Sergi Raventos, director of the Office of the Pilot Plan to Implement the Universal Basic Income (UBI) in Catalonia. In an interview with Informationthe Doctor in Sociology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona has given all the details of this novel and original test of the Generalitat with which he intends to grant 800 euros to each adult and 300 to each minor in order to end poverty.
The Pilot Plan is a small experiment that adds to “the more than 200 projects around the world that have tried to study the viability of the UBI”. “There are many ways to justify a basic income. Generated wealth, social inheritance and common goods have been theorized for a long time. In this sense, this aid is a small share of that wealth that has been generated over decades and centuries“, bill.
In the project, he details, “2,500 people will be randomly selected from all over Catalonia and 2,500 people from two small municipalities.” He is therefore a “double pilot”. “The idea we have is that all the people who are part of a household are going to receive the UBI (elderly, young, women) with the aim of explore and analyze what happens when in the same family and in the same home everyone receives a UBI, if their relationships are modified or remain the same”, reflects Raventós.
Raventós: “In a scenario in which ‘nobody depended on anyone else to exist’, people could make ‘freer’ decisions, even considering the rest of the social conditions'”
In a scenario where “no one depended on anyone to exist”, people could make decisions “more freeeven considering the rest of the social, religious and gender conditions”, continues the director. “For example, young people could emancipate beforewomen will have more options to escape situations of violence or toxic relationships Being financially independent, the employees would have more ability to negotiate their wages and working conditions by not depending on their payroll income to survive, among other incentives,” he argues.
Raventós highlights the importance of guaranteeing that everyone’s existence is guaranteed: “What people should have is a starting base that makes us equal and let us start from the same place. From there, we’ll see how far each one can go. Depending on your talent, your studies, your cultural capital or your contacts, you can make or break. What cannot be is that people go out to the streets to look for work in a desperate way and what they find are very limited opportunities with absolutely precarious pay and appalling conditions“.
Will be assigned to all residents unconditionally
The most important difference with the rest of the benefits is that “an unconditional and universal individual basic income is a monetary allowance that is granted by the fact of residing in the territory where it is distributed without any other additional criteria: neither for being poor, nor for being a person with a disability, etc”, maintains the sociologist, who insists that it will not require registration or “procedures with many papers, a lot of bureaucracy”. The RBU does not require these procedures because “would be obtained by the fact of being“.
Migrants will also access the benefit if they can prove that they reside in Catalonia in some way. “The padrón is the requirement to access everything, but we also know that there are people who are not registered anywhere. For this reason, it will be worth having some document that shows that they are living there: reports from social services, endorsement from NGOs, that their children are in school. Since we cannot change the Immigration Law, there will be a criterion of this style”, adds Raventós.
Although it is the most ambitious project in Europe, it will nonetheless have some very considerable limitations, he assures. First, the number of years: “Let’s say that with a forecast of 24 months, citizens are not going to venture to make radical changes.” “It is still something strange that a family receives the basic income and the family next door does not. That is, things are going to be seen but not exactly as if it were something that was already widely spread,” she warns.
One of the great unknowns and however that can be put to the basic income is the issue of financing. Where will all the money come from without the aid implying an imbalance for the Public Treasury? Raventós, aware of the criticism, defends the proposal assuring that the viability of the UBI would necessarily be accompanied by progressive tax reform“where whoever had the most would pay taxes according to their wealth.”
Financing and fiscal regulation
Regarding how this income will affect the income statement of the beneficiaries for 2023, the director of the Pilot Plan Office explains that The possibility of these people being protected or exempt is being negotiated with the General Directorate of Taxes “so that it won’t be any inconvenience for them to have their income from work already part of this benefit.” “If this is going to be a problem, there will be people who will back down,” he says convinced.
“We are negotiating, but at the moment we do not have a definitive answer. That is, we can’t announce anyone’s tax exemption yet“, he says. In any case, there would be people who would still gain even if only a little. But it is also known that there may be more or less differences between having a favorable tax treatment or not.
Financial stability improves mental health
One of the ideas that Raventós has investigated the most during his academic career is in the relationship between economic inequality and deteriorating mental health. A premise that he specified in his doctoral thesis ‘Socioeconomic inequality and mental health: the proposal of a basic income to protect and promote mental health’.
“If the experiments that have already been done all over the world have shown anything, it is that people improve in well-being, psychological quality, stress reduction. This benefit gives you psychological security, it gives you peace of mind, anyone can see it. It is a guarantee, a coverage, an insurance that we would all have and that in some way would allow people to be better”, he affirms.
Universal basic income versus guaranteed work
Faced with the culture of the old workerism based on the idea that Work dignifies, basic income is committed to the right to a dignified existence. “There are some who see work as something wonderful, there is a tendency to overvalue the world of work and what I think is that we should be talking about the right to a decent life. If that right is guaranteed with a benefit, a guaranteed aid, a pension or a salary, one thing will be as worthy as the other”, he declares.
Then he adds, “let’s not mythologize according to what jobs. There are jobs that are not worth mythifying, on the contrary, the employment conditions of many citizens are quite deplorable. So what is guaranteed work? If everyone had a guaranteed job and it had been something of their choice and interest, perfect. But in the vast majority of cases this is not the case.
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