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Devion's Views #209


FROM MILLIONS TO BILLIONS TO TRILLIONS TO... (posted May 18, 2020)

And then, "It growed like Topsy" - a quote from the anti-slavery novel "Uncle Tom's cabin" by American author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, published in 1852. There's a legend this book triggered their civil war.

                                                        There was a time when...

 - Kings, Queens, Emperors and Tyrants, without sufficient 'wealth' in their treasury, were constrained from declaring war on their perceived enemies.

 - Governments required gold (stored in places like Fort Knox) to back up the value of their currency and treasury. This acted as a constraint from going into debt to pay for "things"...like war.

 - Individuals, companies, organizations and institutions who did not, or could not pay their debts, were dealt with by the courts.

And then someone-somewhere came up with an 'Eureka' work-a-round; a way to pay for stuff 'they' otherwise could not afford. A financial methodology; a 'shell game' effectively used to purposely confound and confuse that enabled 'passing-the-buck' on to others. A diabolical innovation; the birth of twin debt-monsters - Income Tax and Credit Cards.

Income Tax came into existence in Canada on July 25, 1917 - to pay for the First World War.

Income Tax came into existence in the US on August 5, 1861 - to pay for the American Civil War.

Noteworthy: The omni-present connection between war and Income Tax (to replenish treasury coffers).

The first universal Credit Card (which could be used at a variety of establishments) came into existence in 1950.

Inevitably, the twin-monsters caused debt to grow and grow - "It just growed like Topsy" - by millions, then billions, trillions and inevitably, sometime soon...quadrillions.

Confronting the sudden onslaught of the uncontrollable worldwide pandemic has made many citizens, companies and corporations no longer care about the exponentially growing debt, so long as "their" needs are cared for by governments.

And consequently, the way government has managed the crisis (so far) highlights the absence of any limits or constraints on the increasing debt-load and the crushing financial burden left for future generations.

And, therefore, dear reader there may be no better time than now for elected politicians to "seriously" consider the following notion...

                                                    The idea of a "Guaranteed Basic Income"

The idea has been floating around since 1516 (Thomas More, "Utopia") - provide everyone with the means to afford basic-needs. Then, the poor won't need to resort to stealing (to survive) and become criminals.

Those who advocate against such a utopian-concept might pause to consider this - once convicted, these "criminals" are housed in prisons, fed, and have all their health needs cared for...paid for by guess-who? The overtaxed middle-class taxpayer! That's better care than many seniors warehoused in nursing homes receive.

For decades, politicians and planners have argued over whether Canada should replace the existing social-safety-net, the federal employment insurance (EI) and provincial welfare programs, with a 'guaranteed basic income' aimed at lifting all Canadians out of poverty.

Thinkers on both the left and right have long embraced the belief that poverty is wrong and we should end it.

For the right, in cold economic terms, poverty is inefficient; an impoverished population is a drag on economic growth.

For the left, want in the midst of plenty, is immoral.

Ironically (and more or less by accident) the COVID-19 emergency demonstrates how easily and quickly a (temporary) version of a 'guaranteed basic income' can be implemented.

In only a few weeks, the creation of the Canada-Emergency-Response-Benefit (CERB) offers just about anyone dislocated by the current heath emergency $2,000 a month.

Proving that even in today's fractured political environment with a ruling minority government dependent on support from the other political parties, when pressed, elected politicians can work collaboratively and effectively to move legislation quickly through the people's house and get financial help into the hands of hard-pressed citizens.

It's predicted that going forward, tens of thousands of workers will be casualties, joining the ranks of the unemployed as a result of the pandemic's impact on thousands of self-employed, small and large businesses across the economic spectrum. And, at the same time the cost of just-about-everything will rise.

Given the public's (likely) current pre-disposition, there will never be a more opportune time for elected politicians to do something big, bold and beautiful; continue to work collaboratively and implement the creation of a permanent 'Universal Guaranteed Basic Income'...and damn the torpedoes!

From the devastation and upheaval caused by COVID-19 could there be a more laudable (worthily) goal than lifting all Canadians out of poverty...by 2021? Unless that is you may have an alternative to suggest.

UMMM, pardon me monsieur Ronald, I'm totally confused.

Pourquoi?

Well, monsieur Ronald, you seem to be suggesting all government has to do to achieve the laudable-worthily goal is print more money.

Non, non, non, mon ami, that's the old fashioned way to do it.

Pardon?

It's much more sophisticated now. Today, "money" is created algorithmically in the Cloud...comprende?

No, monsieur Ronald, I do not comprende. It appears you're describing "manna falling from Heaven". 

Actually that's an appropriate descriptor.

The only difference between the manna of biblical times and now is government uses contemporary technology to create the "manna".

Think of it as just another form of the old "shell game" used for centuries by those who rule to confuse, confound and legally pick your pocket.

You mean we're being screwed...again?

You got that right! 

Any more questions?

No, thank you, monsieur Ronald. I now comprende and have a headache.  

                                        FOUR MAXINE-ISM'S TO BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY

1) "If you ain't laughin', you ain't livin'!"

2) "A household hint - stop dusting and you can use your coffee table for a message board"

3) "Most people you see in lingerie stores, you wouldn't want to see in lingerie"

4) "Even doctors make mistakes, mine asked me to undress"

In the meantime hang in there...Be calm. Be kind. Be caring. Be compassionate. Be considerate. Be safe.

Keep busy. Keep active. Don't let your mind or body atrophy.

We are all in this rickety life-raft together; just keep on rowin', smilin', singin', lovin' and hopin'.

Ron Devion, No Guts, No Glory