The outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and elsewhere, including confirmed cases in New York and other states, is an additional argument in favor of Citizen Dividends.
When everyone has a guaranteed basic income, we’ll be much more able to stop the spread of the disease. And much better prepared to cope with whatever happens. If it becomes a pandemic, in particular, basic income can be a critical component of public health.
In this case, moreover, to get the maximum benefits from the basic income, it ought to be universal. We in the United States will benefit directly if Mexicans also have basic income. And Guatemalans. And Canadians, Chinese, and so on.
Before I write about why this is so, here are a few headlines that, by themselves, tell a large part of the story;
U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu New York Times
Mexico Takes Powers to Isolate Cases of Swine Flu New York Times
U.S. Steps Up Alert as More Swine Flu Is Found Washington Post
In Mexico, Young Adults Appear Most at Risk: Capital Grinds to a Halt as Suspected Deaths Rise to 103 Washington Post
Swine Flu Outbreak Could Deepen Mexico’s Recession Washington Post
Suppose there is a pandemic here in the United States, and government orders the closing of airports, train stations, shopping malls, and other public facilities. What will happen to the people who work in those places or commute through them? How will they cope with the lost income and other disruptions in their lives? What about their families? Their communities?
Imagine that for your family, your neighbors, your community, your town or city. Imagine that for your workplace, company, industry.
What if public facilities stay closed for a few weeks, or a month or longer?
Now suppose we have Citizen Dividends and everyone has some guaranteed income independent of any job. At the very least, there will be much less fear about how to manage financially, much less stress about how to pay the bills.
Secure income independent of any job will give people the resources to adapt by, for example, working from home by computer and phone, homeschooling the children, rescheduling vacations, planting gardens, organizing community support networks.
Containing a pandemic will require everyone’s cooperation, and Citizen Dividends will affirm that we’re all in this together.