"O CANADA! Give Fire Victims a Basic Income Guarantee"

Sunday, May 8th, 2016 - by Karen Christine Patrick, New Mexico, USA

This is about the "aftermath." Caregivers are very aware of the "aftermath" of an incident and the often long road to recovery. I have been watching the terrible story unfold about the Alberta, Canada fire in Fort McMurray and how this fire has decimated much of the town. By today, as I'm writing this, the fire has doubled in size and is nearing, Saskatchewan. 

I've been an admirer of Canada, watching from here from the States how Canada has been leading the North American countries in proposing a Basic Income Guarantee. NABIG, The 15th Annual "North American Basic Income Guarantee" Congress is meeting this month in Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada (Thursday, May 12th to Sunday, May 15th, 2016). Canada, with it's new government under Justin Trudeau, may be poised to showcase a Basic Income Guarantee proposal first in the North American arena. Canadian B.I.G. advocates and interested officials have been in serious political discourse about testing a basic income guarantee in a city or town in one of it's provinces. 

I'm thinking that with 100,000 evacuees from the Alberta fires, many of them now homeless and jobless, it would seem a great way both to test the basic income guarantee and help the victims of a terrible disaster by issuing basic income cash cards, replenished once per month for at least one year, to the victims whose lives have been affected. It would be important and would speed up the process by waiving "means testing" and go in the spirit of an "unconditional" basic income to issue cards to citizens in the affected areas no matter what their income is at the moment. It would be useless to hold a person's income against them for the last few years when their home, job, business and city infrastructure is obliterated, structurally damaged, or environmentally contaminated. 

I would urge Canada not to let these people join the "precariat" class, which is growing every day as Global Austerity continues to tighten it's relentless and pitiless grip. The precariat class was identified by economist Guy Standing in his book "The Precariat: A New and Dangerous Class" which is defined as a growing class of people who's lives have been made unstable or precarious by changes in society and the economy. Living a precarious life means that what used to be a temporary setback in the past, loss of a job, loss of health, or family troubles, now becomes the path to "down and out" on a semi-permanent basis.

Having been a member of the USofA precariat class, having experienced some devastating setbacks, including loss of our home last year due to storm damage and degradation of the infrastructure in our neighborhood, I have found that the long-haul climb to a recovery is really difficult with financial disenfranchisement as part of the scenario. We "precariati" talk with each other and share our struggles with other precariati in solidarity, realizing systemic failure is at work with an insightful clarity born of hard experience.

We precariati see the stark reality of basic survival, not faulty assumptions that sounds plausible to the relatively "well-off" who tend to blame and shame those who are beset by financial struggles. This "blame and shame" strategy seems part of a program that demands there to be an underclass that "can't say no," that has to take any job offered. Now with a "jobless recovery" there might not be any job offered to say "yes" to. Another consideration is what many "awake and aware" in the tech sector have realized, that the "technological unemployment age" is upon us. Some of the very ones "tsk tsking" others are unaware that their jobs are at risk in the coming "Robot Revolution." Just recently, a convoy of driver-less trucks drove across Europe as proof-of-concept that robotized trucks can out perform humans, driving 24/7 instead of with mandatory safety breaks as for humans. The job of a trucker, a fairly well-paid job, is facing robotization.

Before this particular fire disaster, the social system safety net these families are falling into, likely already had "holes" in it. On my mind is the aftermath of these fires, how will help arrive to the victims? Here is true human need in a very raw form, right at the cusp of loss. A basic income program for fire victims would be the best course of action rather than "trickle-down charity." No doubt, these people will have to experience social services "means testing" which run's at a snail's pace, generally. They will be subject to agencies deciding what they need instead of allowing each family to decide how to go about their own recovery process.

Having been plunged into loss, falling from "normal" quite suddenly myself, it's a mystery to me the attitude of society. People that have been functional and independent before a disaster are deemed by society to be incapable of handling their own affairs after. Just because of a setback, albeit a devastating one, suddenly society deems it that they can't manage their own lives without an army of "deciders" in the system dictating the terms. A "decider" is a slang term for "A person who decides what is best."

It has been my argument, in talking about collapsing the bulk of benefits programs into a basic income, that advocates are at odds with an entrenched "decider class" that benefits by their being a dependency class. This class needs the poor to stay poor for its own reasons, for sustenance, paying themselves first before distributing funds to their client populations. Therefore, this distribution machine is motivated to create "learned helplessness" in the client population by haranguing, abusing, and creating ever-more-complex paperwork labyrinths to traverse in order to receive benefits.

The entrenched organizations that are the most agregious employ a strategy I've identified as "case stacking." Case stacking occurs when organizations intake a large number of cases to justify to their funding sources how overwhelming "the need" is. After the organization gets the funding and pays out salaries and expenses, they create a stringent strategy to mete out provision only to the most "deserving" and often in a time frame prolonged to the point where either that organization or it's financial institution benefits by gaining interest in their bank accounts by holding the funds for so long.

The priority of some organizations appears that they must show that they are "needed" for the sake of getting funded, either as part of a governmental benefits program or as a charitable organization using their client population as "poster children." When the pennies-on-the-dollar return is low for the clients, it begs the question, "Who actually benefits?"

The biggest problem with this decider "means testing" machine is how agonizingly slow it is while people remain in crisis mode. It is traumatic to be on this treadmill, taking a number, waiting in waiting rooms, filling out piles of paperwork, talking to burned-out social workers in a system that runs as at glacier speed. Energy and time wasted by the system could be better spent in real recovery activities, quickly finding housing, finding a new job, and or retraining, trying to make a stable household and community again.

Back to the "crisis du jour" in Canada. This is what I was reading today...

From the article "Fort McMurray fire: What we know"

"More than 1,200 escorted vehicles had made it out of town on Highway 63, headed for safety to the south. And, officials said, there was no evidence of looting by those who haven't yet been evacuated.

But Mother Nature may throw a big curve ball.

'There is a high potential that this fire could double in size by the end of the day tomorrow,' said Chad Morrison, a senior fire official in Alberta.

Alberta officials have declared a state of emergency as they scramble to relocate thousands of evacuees."

We can take some lessons in "housing first" homelessness programs that show that the faster folks get housing, the quicker it is to recover. They advise "rapid re-housing," after the incident which created the homelessness, quickly re-house the family first, then everything else is easier to fix after that. Having experienced several cycles of living in "crisis mode" I was advised by a friend, for the sake of myself and my kids, to try and return to a sense of "normal" as quickly and best as you can, even if it's a "new normal."  Quickly finding one's footing makes it easier to rebuild to another level of stability. 

I argue that a basic income guarantee is the first step in rapid re-housing and is the fastest way to recover in times of disaster. How many victims of natural disasters in the past, or those who've been affected by the disaster "global austerity" would agree with me?

For all the families in the Alberta fires I wish the best for the future. I hope that no one has been hurt or killed. I pray that the first responders who are dealing with an historic, horrific disaster be kept safe, and that the fire gets under control. I am hoping the leaders of Canada will jump ahead of the plan for testing a basic income guarantee under staid, "normal" conditions and go right to an implementation for a basic income for the victims of the Alberta fires at this time of monumental disaster.

Addendum 5-9-16: After thinking about it, whatever city the refugees of the Alberta fires are relocated to, perhaps the citizens of that city should have a Basic Income card also to help with housing also... if the housing market is anything like in the US, that large influx of people creating a demand for housing will drive up the average prices for housing which will impact everybody, but particularly hurt the poor, disabled and seniors the most. 

Karen Christine Patrick was a family caregiver for 20+ years including for her grown disabled daughter with multiple disabilities. She is an internet radio show host, a researcher into the paranormal, and advocate for the Basic Income Guarantee. She lives in New Mexico with her family and two hound dogs. Her favorite quote comes from H.W. Longfellow:

"Thine was the prophets vision, thine
The exultation, the divine
Insanity of noble minds,
That never falters nor abates,
But labors and endures and waits,
Till all that it foresees it finds,
Or what it cannot find creates!


    Karen Christine Patrick talks about her view of the world of caregiving, human transitions, the changing economy and the Basic Income Guarantee. 

    Invisible Disabilities and the B.I.G.

    Picture by Justin Brockie - http://www.flickr.com/photos/justinstravels/5955138372/sizes/l/in/photostream/
    Museum of disABILITY History, Buffalo, New York State
    By Karen Christine Patrick

    One thing learned in the caregiver realm is the range and types of disabilities and illnesses that require somebody to help, or preclude people from what is considered "normal" activities. Assessments for the levels of disability are very extensive, and most certainly go through daily activities that can be done by the person or where they need some help.

    The picture in the mind that comes with the word "disability" is somebody with something visible. One of the things that happened that often made me cringe when going out socially with my daughter in her wheelchair is that some well-meanitng, curious person would ask, "What's WRONG with her?" I would say, "Nothing is WRONG with her, but she was born with a condition (etc.) and maybe share a few things, but that is the motif in many people's minds that they see a wheelchair, cane, walker, something like that and something is WRONG. Which could result in helpful behavior, well-meaning, getting help with doors, or people making some space in the front for us. And my daughter's condition was visible. Once I got frustrated with one the agencies I had to deal with not realizing she was an actual person, not a theoretical one, and took her out for a day out of school to bring her to said office, make them have to make space in the office for her in her wheelchair as "Exhibit A" ... I really hated having to do that but I was at my wit's end with the "deciders" in that office and this did get results.

    I myself became disabled, but mine came on gradually and fit into the category of "Invisible Disabilities" and I became aware of an organization for people who "don't look sick" as one writer put it. People in this category of disability often experience it that it's much harder to get help or services because there is nothing to "show for it" as what happened in my Exhibit A story. Certainly people with mental illness, don't necessarily have physical traits to show for it. People with cancer, unless they are going through the visible effects of treatment, and many other disorders and diseases don't "show."

    Where the Basic Income Guarantee comes in is to not put people in that agonizing position of having to "prove" they are sick enough for help. They can work through their disability issues or recovery issues with dignity, having a basic way to live and not have that worry added onto the stress of what is already going on with their health. Some people have intermittent visitations of their conditions, not knowing when they are going to have debilitating bouts. Again, not fully disabling all the time, but enough during the bad times to preclude working full-time.

    There is much talk in the B.I.G. advocacy community of robotics replacing jobs and that a basic income is to be the logical response to technological unemployment. To this I heartily agree because most employers have looked to their workers as "human resources" which seems an impersonal term that implies that some how people are "units" that don't break down. Our bodies are not robotic, they can break down. Our minds, especially in this precarious age, also can suffer injury just from the stress of uncertainty as we are in times that are a changin'.

    We can affect a dignified change, we can acknowledge the humanity in our changes by choosing the Basic Income Guarantee to bridge the gap between living and work as we knew it.

    For more about the Invisible Disabilities Association goto invisibledisabilities.org

    PICTURE FROM Justin Brockie - http://www.flickr.com/photos/justinstravels/5955138372/sizes/l/in/photostream/

    THE DECIDER CLASS: Gatekeepers in the System

    by Karen Christine Patrick

    DECIDER from the Urban Dictionary:
    "A person who decides what is best."

    Twenty plus years dealing with "the system" in being the caregiver for my disabled daughter, then injury and being disabled myself, I have run the gauntlet of the "deciders" too many times to count. People who tell me that the Basic Income Guarantee is "socialist" have no idea what they are talking about if they are worried about "big government" or "the nanny state" because it's here already in the United States, alive, but not well. Instead of taking the cue from Martin Luther King Jr. and others, way back in the day, we went the way of the deciders. I learned this term recently, "deciders" from the Urban Dictionary online. Sometimes "slang" words pin it just right. Instead of self-empowered individuals making their own decisions as to provisioning their daily life, we have an army, many battalions of deciders who decide FOR grown adults what they should eat, what they should wear, where they should live... if they "deserve" anything they things they are asking for. In a recession, where one cannot just simply go and fill out a resume or application, and show up to the job, to get the money to buy what is needed, this is enforced "learned helplessness." The deciders have decided that we need them, and it's enforced.

    I can attest to "angels in the system" so for people in the social work class who are not only doing their job well, but still care deeply for people... this is not about you. This is about your co-workers who's body shows up to shuffle the paperwork, but their mind and heart are absent, who stick by the rules even if the "rules" are just guidelines, are badly trained or misinformed. These are the deciders who make of the system a labyrinth of despair. There are also the devils of the system, the ones for whom my mother said, "would break the wings off of butterflies." Our bureaucratic system acts as a dank, dark cellar system that warehouses human "resources" made from our most vulnerable citizens, the "precariat" with no other door to walk through. The potential for predation is truly there. Our "nanny state' is just the kind of hunting grounds for that darker type, a natural habitat for psychopaths and sociopathic behaviour that uses the rules as a ruler to whack you on the knuckles with if you get it "wrong" with a larger authority and less advocacy. The ability to decide the fates of people everyday, when one is frustrated and angry, to have a ready whipping post of authority of some kind, is too much of a temptation for some to resist, unfortunately.

    Our system of "benefits" is at the mercy of the deciders. Deciders decide at every step of any process. Deciders methodologies are a product of a system that provisions "departments with budgets' instead of "dividends for citizens", thus paying the deciders and the "clients" out of the same pool of funds. This creates a natural competition for resources, a contrived animosity, a power play-between "deserving" clients and the ones who decide who is deserving. There are always plenty of deserving clients, especially in a scarcity economy. This is problematic for deciders, because they are outnumbered. However, they are in the system and of it, and know what the clients do not know, know how to make sure that they are provisioned first, and the clients after. They are playing the insider game, knowing they must pay out something to be seen as productive and deserving of budgets, but also knowing the strategies to maintain the superior position and creating a system-within-the-system hierarchy that gives them maximum decider leverage.

    It's human nature, so they say, to take care of number one. No matter how many times the "non-discrimination" policies are printed on forms, documents and other paperwork, humans discriminate. Training for FBI agents include the idea of the power of "mirroring," a technique relying on the fact that we are most favorably drawn to, supportive of, those almost exactly like we are, with whom we identify. It would be the first tenet of decidership, if they are to decide, the are doing so on the basis of alike-ness subconsciously. Second, decidership is motivated by the tyranny of the urgent. Which is decided first, the client's paperwork on the desk, or the demand of a superior in the system? The third tenet of decidership is the fear paradigm. The overt and covert threats of loss of status, loss of the comfort zone, loss of job security, the more motivating it is to make decisions based on how the decisions affect them personally, rather than with any concern about any part of any particular case. I've observed personally that you are in peril if your case is being heard just after a budget meeting threatening cuts or benefits loss for the employees of the department. Or just before or just after lunch. It's a key point to ask the question, if you are in the system, are you a person, or a case?

    I didn't know the term for the procedure, but I invented one, "Case Stacking" what I saw watching what was going on in state government while living in a state capital city. I knew some of the state employees and heard them talk among themselves or complain about the way state business was handled. There was so much competition between departments, all requesting money from the state legislature that I saw this game that goes like this... human services departments are designed to process in as many cases as they can so they can show to the legislature during appropriations, "See, we have ALL these CASES. It's soooo overwhelming" and then when they get their budget amount assigned which of course will NEVER provision the entire case load, especially here now in the age of American Austerity. The game continues to the next level. What happens is then, the first provisioning out of the budget is to pay the employees of the department. In recent years, budget cuts were ordered on the backs of the state employees resulting in job cuts, furloughs, reduction of benefits, and workers having to help codify their jobs technically so that automation, phone bots, and websites can replace functions, or eliminate their jobs. Now you have pissed-off and insecure, defensive deciders even before any funds are then assigned to the clients.

    The constant drumbeat of how we need to save money and eliminate fraud, which is always pinned on the client population, never the decider population, is ringing in the ears as provider deciders meet with clients on the front line of the austerity war. The word "handicapped" was created from the idea of a disabled person having their cap in their hand, begging. We do have beggars on the street of our cities, but most of the cap-in-hand begging goes on in whitewash wall offices where it's hidden away. The deciders are in cramped state offices, with piled up in-boxes, on phones, on computers, having to make so many decisions on so many things that deciding isn't even personal so much anymore, it's a machine growing larger every day with a reduction in human components. The client is faced with navigating a system that is just like the classical labyrinth, running blind, basic human needs in peril, waiting for decider action for food, shelter, money for bills, healthcare. And there is a monster in that labyrinth, the "minotaur of minutiae", cowed by "the code" the decider's rulebook which shifts and changes often, like sliding panels in this labyrinth. It is fiddled with all the time by deciders at the upper echelons, elected deciders who have promised to "do something" about poverty, homelessness, starvation. They do almost anything but give money, the lifeblood, the first choice of trade, directly to people as a Basic Guaranteed Income, but would rather maintain the decider class.

    The decider class transcends all levels of society. The upper echelon decider class also presides over the activities of the middle class, deciders who decide things in your governments of all level, the cost of utilities to homes, deciders in financial institutions and banking, deciders in healthcare, education, professional licensing, taxes, getting permits, etc etc. These deciders are gremlins of another sort altogether who need appeasing with the paperwork having to be "right" and all fees paid, leaving the middle tiers also competing for that rubber-stamp, "Approved." The palpable fear of becoming poor, of falling into the ranks of the 'precariat" drives the compliance of the working classes.

    It is from the middle class where the recruits to the ranks of the decider class come from. I would wager most deciders don't like their jobs, especially any deciders with true human value and feelings left, the empathetic and kind, and knowing the deprivations of the system as they do, if they were not under threat themselves. Especially this would be true these days, in the scarcity economy of the "good job" that actually still, "pays the bills." Watching the grotesque show from behind the curtains has to be frightening and  heartbreaking. Those "angels in the system" are trying to save who they can, like rescuers on a sinking ship, as a triage team made by political necessity.

    What drives it all now, this scarcity-driven human-provisioning machine, is no longer basic "making a living" issues but a clear and present fear. Nobody wants to end up in the precariat class where the next level down is completely down and out, irretrievably lost. It's around us all the time, it is ourselves, friends, or family members falling into the pit, or just experiencing a failure to thrive, or not being able to be independent or able to formulate/maintain households. Our consensus reality show, political polemic, suggests it's some defect in the people themselves, but in reality it is the failure of human leadership pointing the finger at those who cannot fight back.

    We have an exciting idea to change the  whole paradigm, to implement that we want people to be re-empowered to decide for themselves. We have a way to disband the decider class, reversing the learned helplessness that permeates the economic outlook in this state of global austerity. Those those about to lose their decider jobs, we say, "It's nothing personal, we just don't want to need you anymore." The current system, having been given a large amount of resources is just not doing the job to rid of poverty, is not distributing resources fairly, nor is it fitting our notion that an economy is based on people making personal decisions. Not only do we need a Basic Income Guarantee, but, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, it should not be too low or it relegates a large group of people to being locked into poverty. This Basic Income Guarantee "floor" for people to stand on, we will completely change this decider/client paradigm.

    It becomes obvious that a lot of current members of the decider class, who have been dependent on a poverty class as a reason to exist, will lose their jobs. That's a good thing, isn't it? Those who work at processing poverty, who currently benefit by poverty because it has become an industry will be without a job when we eradicate poverty for real. But they will be provisioned by a Basic Income Guarantee until they transition to doing whatever comes next. Many social workers got into the field "to help people." They would be free to really help people in a hands-on way instead of a paper-pushing way. This might be a very satisfying thing in the long-run, especially for those who really, deeply want to make a difference in the lives of people.

    The day after a Basic Income Guarantee goes into effect, that does not mean people are not going to need each other, or that we won't need some deciders for people who truly are disabled or incapacitated, it's just that the process of helping or being helped won't have a huge complexity to it that creates false hope and false work. For the precariat, from peril-to-provision will be a welcome change. I think the Basic Income Guarantee is a good, humane decision, even for the people currently in the decider class ultimately.


    by Karen Christine Patrick

    We have refugees in my house this week, one is a dog we are dog-sitting for our friend who had a sudden death in the family. The other is an elderly neighbor who had three trees come down in his yard from a sudden storm as we get from time-to-time here in Texas. Friends and neighbors are likely to assist in the case of our elderly friend beyond putting him up for a few days. On a fixed income, he's going to have a hard time with the bill for the electrician to repair his power box that was torn from the house. We are working on this issue, but this situation but this had me thinking about "charity" in terms of short term or how it's seen as a crutch for the economy, the safety net when all others fail.

    Where I live, we hear about "faith based charities" like it's a panacea for the increasing austerity and appealing to the noble notion that giving is good (which it is) and communities ought to support the needy. Key word here is "ought"... in other words, it's voluntary and so people may or may not respond, fair enough. Also, people cannot be guilted into giving what they don't have. That's not fair, although some of the most generous people I know give sacrificially, and that is admirable. But as we go now in the "recession" LONGER than the Great Depression, and people are burning every resource they have now just for the basics, depending on charity is not realistic for an economy that doesn't allow for the accumulation of resources to be shared in the first place, generally.

    Charities can help people, but they need to be helped first before they can do that. With the economy down, most of the charities are very limited like never before. I think that giving to others is a wonderful thing, but it is important to acknowledge that charity can't make up for when an economic system is being mismanaged on the grand scale. Experiencing a move, I came from a community with much stronger charitable capacity than the one I am in now. I have seen that charitable capacity differs, community by community, according to the overall health of the local economy.

    Charity is great, but it's for setbacks. It does it's best work providing for life's unfortunate events, for the ability for the community to respond individually and collectively to what wasn't able to be provided any other way. However, more and more it's apparent that our system is broken at the top. Financial scandals and bank bailouts by the government means something is really, really wrong with the monetary system itself that needs corrected or the bailouts and "easing" won't do a darn thing. The people will lose trust enough, hopefully before "a crash" as our grandfathers and grandmothers told us about.

    Charity was not made to balance an imbalance in the social contract where we expect the wealthy to contribute, not continually hunt for loopholes and tax shelters. That doesn't mean they don't contribute at all, for there are many foundations and charitable organizations that court the wealthy to contribute. There is that tax benefit thing also further goading the wealthy to cough up the cash. Great. Awesome. More. However, by the numbers, we see a gross inequity where charity is just a cover up of a fundamentally unfair system of patronage, not unlike the feudal age. That is not just rhetoric on my part, we have a world where eighty individuals now have over half the wealth of the planet. That is mind boggling. And the laws, governments, economic advantages have the effect of an invisible funnel pumping money up the chain. The idea of a "trickle down" is a joke. The experiment is over and the results are in. What do we hear from our politicians? Austerity. Not just in Europe but American Austerity. Our leaders are whipping the donkey that knows it's about to go over a fiscal cliff.

    Yet Americans are very generous, to a fault. And the fault often is they get their heartstrings pulled to donate to charities who say they are taking care of people in need. However, people need to get some awareness about the world of the non-profits. Not all are managed well. I have done quite a bit of volunteer work and unfortunately have seen the dark side of charity. One important thing people should do is investigate the charities they give to. An important consideration is to see how much "pennies on the dollar" or by percentage, how much fundage goes to the client population, the people on the posters. One way to check is with the office of your state's Attorney General department. They have information of how much is being donated and how much goes to the needy.

    Fortunately, this is not the norm, but one horror story I can share illustrates where some can take advantage. I volunteered for an organization where the director was an alcoholic and regularly asked for donations of wine for fundraising events but always requested an overage and then CHARGED for glasses of wine at the event, thereby assuring that there was extra left over, that she took home for herself and gave to friends. Yikes! But it happens. The usual situation is that most charities are underfunded and overwhelmed. Mistakes and misunderstandings, stress and strain is common, burnout common and organizational strain complying to the ever-increasing demands of a state that would rather lean on charities instead of managing the economy properly and fairly.

    The truth is, nobody really wants to be on the receiving end of charity if they can help it. It's humiliating for most people. I've used those services myself, especially when I had kids, just to survive. Also, I have walked others through the process of getting help, from getting food stamps , applying for disability benefits, taking them to the food or clothing bank for the first time. It's not a fun situation, in the case of the food banks, I have had to help people with special dietary needs and so they are limited in what is there to take home because instead of being able to choose what they need from a store, they have to pick through what was donated and hope for the best. Ditto those going to a clothing bank. Hope it fits! Doesn't smell funny. I have to give kudos to the wonderful organizations that get this "right" and work really hard at it.

    But here is the situation, minimum wage and part-time workers are the working poor. They are working, but they are not making enough to make it. They require support EVERY month and now many have done this for years, decades, generations. Month after month, if you go into a store in a moderate to poor neighborhood and right around the first of the month, you will see what are the cheap eats  because those with food stamps will have emptied those sections and there will be rectangular holes on the store shelves where the bargains were cleaned out. This is not about how people are trying to survive, but how we have an economic system that has been systemically weak for a very long time.

    There are whole levels of our economy, organizations, and corporations that benefit by there being a poverty class. For example, banks by being the issuers of food cards are getting a kickback on each transaction. Almost all states could make the choice to create their own banks for dealing with state benefit programs like North Dakota has and thereby save money for the state government, but do not. Organizations and individuals that BENEFIT from there being a poor class are not likely to want to change the situation. If we have an industry that benefits from poverty, how are we going to get rid of poverty? I would love it if every person who works for an organization or BANK or business that works for charities would work themselves out of their job because suddenly everybody is doing so well, unless it's the kind of charity for emergencies and setbacks only.

    One proposal for abolishing poverty is the Basic Income Guarantee, giving a cash grant to every citizen just like we do with Social Security benefits. Those who benefit from poverty would find themselves out of work. But hey, they still would have a Basic Income Guarantee to live on when they no longer are needed for that kind of work. If you are employed because of poverty, you would want to work yourself out of a job, right? Am I right?

    If people still want to help, I think it's wonderful that the B.I.G. is going to unleash a wave of volunteerism like never before. I believe in the philosophy that humans will "get up and do stuff" and freed from drudgery jobs by automation and robotics, supported financially to get the gas to get in the car to go to where one volunteers will mean more people will have the time and ability to volunteer. We will re-define charity in terms of hands-on help instead of dollars and cents.

    Check out more information for the Basic Income Guarantee:

    B.I.G. in the United States: http://usbig.net/

    B.I.G. internationally: http://www.basicincome.org/

    Whatever happened to Economy B?

    by Karen Christine Patrick

    Support B.I.G. Now... http://usbig.net 

    We are in such a time in the economy that a big light is shed on our the values of society. Decades of materialism in the United States has taken its toll on our values about basic human rights and needs. I happen to be in the position of a family caregiver of disabled and ill family members so I have a certain perspective. Right now, we have "jobs for pay" and "work for life" and both are being devalued as the economic situation spirals downward. From my perspective, I don't see this situation as a "recession" but a Greater Depression. I don't see a "recovery" just by what is going on in my life and that of my friends, neighbors and loved ones. Not at all.

    In my past, when I was a stay-at-home mom, there was talk of something called "Economy B." I am a pretty good researcher and I now cannot find out where or who coined this term. Basically, the idea was that there is an Economy A which is global commerce, the economies of countries, industry, trade and JOBS for PAY. Economy B was the idea of the underlying human work that was not for pay such as raising a family, taking care of homes and property, volunteer work, taking care of the disabled and elderly, civic involvement, advocacy, etc. Basically, humans getting up in the morning and "doing stuff." As long as the economy A was humming along and people could get by, then Economy B could be resourced to do human work not for pay.

    The situation has changed quite a bit. Minimum wage workers have to rely on benefit programs as the "working poor", the middle class is shrinking, people rarely have full time work or rely on benefit programs that are overrun with the needy, people have downsized almost down to nothing, think Tiny Homes are a good idea, are in fear of homelessness, are unable to support family members, etc. most regular folk know this or are experiencing this.

    When you find yourself lost, it's wise to retrace your steps and see where the wrong turn was. For America, that wrong turn was to bail out the top and hope it trickled down instead of resourcing the bottom and raising everybody up to a workable level of trade and interaction. We have three waves of changes that were not accounted for affecting human Economy A work. One was the first Great Depression which had the aspect that innovation in farming and the industrial age inventions reduced the amount of human work needed to create goods and services. In the era when that was happening, some analysts of the situation at the time were already suggesting some kind of basic income to keep the poor as consumers so as to help them stay connected to the economy while the ones that are able to could upgrade their skills. The second big wave is technology and the computer age which has drastically changed clerical busy work ... newspapers are dying, management of commerce is becoming more and more automated. And the third big wave is upon us, the age of robotics.

    All of this innovation is really great, when it's considered how it's relieved dangerous and tedious work BUT the people have not benefited from the innovation, corporations have. The B.I.G. idea re-balances the system so that everybody can be involved in trading again. That is the idea to get Economy A going again.

    I know it freaks some people out that people would get "free money" and they quickly think of addicts and lazy people, and other negative stereotypes. Those situations of addiction and learned helplessness exist already so what we are seeking is human empowerment for those who get up and "do stuff." Economy B is still there, just now it is being squashed by economic pressure. An example is things like volunteers are quitting because they don't have the gas money to get to the food bank or hospital where they volunteer, or have had to take more part-time work to survive so cut back on volunteering. OR the charity they helped has folded due to lack of funds. I worked in a volunteer center and heard these stories and it was heart breaking because people wanted to help. I am so amazed at the generosity and energy of everyday people but these times are crushing to the spirit.

    In the caregiving realm, family caregivers are now sometimes are having multiple loved ones to care for, sandwiched between children and parents, caring for a spouse, being called on because they are "available" and others are scrambling for work. Also, the medical system already has found out it can improve the bottom line by cutting short hospital stays and teaching family caregivers to do higher skilled nursing care at home. We have a broken medical system that is trying to function with less physical human hands to do the work in the medical profession so family caregivers are trying to take up the slack and that is taking it's toll.

    The Basic Income Guarantee could financially support critical work that is currently unfunded and likely to continue to degrade due to lack of support. It's time that our country and humanity recognize human work that uplifts all of our families and the humane condition by creating a floor to stand on financially for individuals and families.


    by Karen Christine Patrick


    1) YOUR LOVED ONE BECOMES SICK OR DISABLED AND NEEDS FULL-TIME CARE. You now have to care for them, take them to all the doctor appointments, be there when they go in and out of the hospital, learn nursing skills to do at home because the insurance won't pay for at-home care, inpatient care, or respite care. During this time, you either take a sick leave from work or you quit your job. Caregiving is now your full-time job whether it pays or not. The B.I.G. for the caregiver means you can sort our your new life situation, learn your new tasks to help your loved one, and figure out your options.
    2) YOUR LOVED ONE IS THE BREADWINNER AND GETS SICK OR DISABLED. Both you and your loved one need a Basic Income Guarantee because otherwise the chances of being homeless or in deep poverty are very high and added on top of all the caregiving duties and issues. The B.I.G. for the caregiver and the loved one takes the financial terror out of the equation of illness or disability.
    3) THE DISABILITY BENEFIT INCOME IS TIED TO THE LOVED ONE AND THE SITUATION GOES INTO TRANSITION. You are the caregiver, but the income is going to the sick or disabled person and either they pass on or get put into full-time nursing home care. Now you have no income for yourself and are deficited professionally for the time you took to be a caregiver and maybe your skills are too stale to get work other than caregiving. The B.I.G. means that there is some kind of income that is not tied to job expectations of continuous employment which is discrimanatory against women and caregivers.
    4) THE CAREGIVER BECOMES A CASUALTY OF THE CONDITION OF THE LOVED ONE. A type of PTSD that happens when you go through the shocks, stress and physical injury and stresses from the rigorous job of caregiving is called Caregiver Stress Syndrome. Many times an illness or disability ultimately creates two patients in need of care instead of just the one. A B.I.G. means more income to be able to pay for respite care and other services that would keep the caregiver from being crushed by the heavy load of stress caregiving is today.
    5) THE LOVED ONE RECOVERS, BUT NOT FULLY, OR THE CONDITION RETURNS. You want to make room for the recovery as the caregiver, but you are always "on call" in your life for when or if the loved one's condition worsens or comes back and requires help again. The B.I.G. means you can "be there" in the ups and downs of the illness or disability and not worry about being financially deficited.
    6) THE CAREGIVER IS A PART-TIME OR INTERMITTENT CAREGIVER. You are a part time caregiver. The loved one only needs part-time help but part-time free caregiving and part-time work is not a sustainable situation for employment and a liveable income. The B.I.G. means you have a sustainable income whether or not you want to be part-time or full-time helping your loved one.
    7) THE CAREGIVER IS A FEMALE. You are a female in your family. Seventy-percent of the time, females in families are expected to be the caregivers of children, sick/disabled family members, a sick/disabled spouses and sick/disabled parents. That makes it very difficult to keep sustainable work going or a career. Work traditionally done by the female for the family is still unpaid and not counted in economic statistics in many countries, though that work is vital to society and is even recognized by the medical profession as vital to patient support and recovery. With a B.I.G. in place, all human work is honored as contributing to society and to the family unit whether or not done by a female or male.
    8) THE CAREGIVER IS THE SPOUSE OF THE LOVED ONE. You are the spouse of a disabled person. Spouses cannot apply for Medicaid Personal Care for being a full-time caregiver for their sick or disabled spouse. Disability might be tied to the disabled or sick spouse, leaving the other spouse at the mercy of the condition and situation that creates stress, resentment or the potential for abuse or neglect. The B.I.G. supports the family in times of illness and disability which should be a recognized family value that should be respected by our society.
    9) THE CAREGIVER WISHES TO STOP DOING DIRECT CARE FOR THE LOVED ONE. You want to quit caring for that person for very human reasons, often due to the consequences of the stress of the job. Sometimes the stress and personality issues are such that you would like to stop doing direct care, but you might be working only part-time, or not at all, and cannot get a job or find housing. Both you and your loved one might really benefit from separating households for very human reasons but cannot because of the financial situation these days. The B.I.G. gives families flexibility in deciding what is the best care plan for the ill or disabled person, giving some dignity of choice for all parties concerned.
    10) YOUR LOVED ONE DIES. You not only have to deal with the pain of the loss but also your caregiving status has left you unable to find new work or you have to lose your house and sustain other losses to downsize to a new situation. Or many caregivers face the spectre of homelessness. The B.I.G. concept supports those seasons of life where there is acute grief and a need for spiritual renewal and a time to sensibly transition into the next sustainable life situation.