top of page

All swans are white


As part of the Public Conversation on Intergenerational Solidarity and Equity, the moderator of the debate on public services and policies asked how a Basic Income would be implemented. My answer: You skipped over the first question you have to ask yourself: what does Basic Income offer? You have to see what it's worth before you consider how much it costs and where to get the money to pay for it.

Let us assume that we believe in the benefits of Basic Income. It is then a question of figures, an accounting exercise, to demonstrate how to implement it.

Most economists have reservations, to say the least, about the possibility of financing a substantial basic income. When you advance the figure of $20-25,000 for every adult in Canada, they all fall off their chairs.

Economists defend themselves from being biased. Their premises, they say, are not ideological. They are reasonable. "Canadians would never accept that!", "It's utopian!"

Guy Standing writes that "According to Albert Hirschmann, any new social policy is first criticized as futile, perverse and dangerous. It will not work, it will have unintended negative consequences and it will jeopardize other objectives."

Let's replace the assumption that Basic Income is not feasible with the statement: "All swans are white."

This statement is impossible to prove. At most, it can be disproved by discovering a black swan.

Economists Robin Boadway, Katherine Cuff and Kourtney Koebel show how a sizeable basic income [$20,000] for adults could be financed largely, if not solely on the basis of converting a number of existing non-refundable and refundable tax credits into a basic income. The authors develop a pan-Canadian, federal and provincial plan.

It's the black swan.

bottom of page