Professor Ailsa McKay’s proposal for a basic income for all (Perspective, 20 February) is an imaginative and daring strategy for combating growing financial inequality.
No doubt she will be vilified by those who think everything should be reduced to the “bottom line” and commercial profiteering, but there is significant evidence to prove her case.
There are currently in the UK too few jobs for those who want them (witness the story of the record number of applications to the Nottingham coffee shop, your report, same day) and we are at the same time producing increasing numbers of young people with degrees who quite reasonably are seeking work which reflects their efforts.
As others have pointed out, the comments by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith about the young geology graduate who challenged the government programme requiring her to work in Poundland (a commercial operation well able to pay its own staff) were ill-informed and vindictive.
A citizen’s basic income (CBI) as described by Prof McKay would help restore dignity and purpose to those currently demonised by the right-wing – young people trying to develop a worthwhile career, older people forced into redundancy as they are too “expensive”, and those coping with long-term disability.
The vast majority of people want to contribute to wider society and have that contribution recognised.
The arguments against a CBI by Mr Duncan Smith and company could be refuted by a requirement for recipients to demonstrate what they were contributing to the wider community, by caring for the very young or very old, or the severely disabled, improving the local environment, coaching young people in sport or arts activities, and so on.
These are all vital goods for our society which are just as worthy of reward as making money.
(Dr) Mary Brown
It struck me as ironic that at the same time as the Irish prime minister apologised for Ireland’s government collusion in forcing unemployed young women to carry out unskilled work in laundries without pay, Iain Duncan Smith is defending the UK government’s practice of forcing unemployed people to carry out unskilled work without pay.
Perhaps Mr Duncan Smith is even now negotiating a deal with British laundries, in case the supermarkets decide they no longer need a constant turnover of over-qualified shelf-stackers.
Jane Ann Liston
I seem to recall, as a child, my catechism defined the deity as “omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent”. I am sure the Sage of St Andrews, Dr John Cameron, would modestly disclaim the third of those, but his letter (20 February) does seem to be scraping the bottom of his own erudite barrel.
He seems to be accusing the First Minister of “dissembling” over the term “free personal care” for party advantage and warns of unspecified “horrors” to come. Anyone who has dealt with the affairs and care of an elderly relative will have no doubt as to what is on offer (help with washing and grooming – important to the dignity of the recipient), and be grateful for it.
More seriously, though, Dr Cameron’s recent mocking claim (in your columns) that the words “creative” and “Scotland” are an oxymoron when linked was unworthy.
The organisation of that name (led by a now departed non-Scot, it should be said) certainly needs a shake-up, but Scotland is astonishingly creative for its size, which bodes well for the future.
Let us, by all means, keep the big debate lively, even humorous, but let’s not stoop to belittling.