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Why a citizen’s income is essential for real democracy

October 12, 2014

This isn’t going to be very polished. As much as I’d love to turn out perfectly crafted posts one after the other, I don’t really have the energy.

Which is sort of what I want to talk about.

There are so many things I would like to be able to devote time and energy to. So many causes I would like to be furthering. Campaigns I could see myself learning from and contributing to.

But I don’t have the energy.

Over the last two years I have been forced to confront the fact that I am, and have been for some time, quite severely disabled.

I sleep on average 10 to 18 hours a day. I run an Etsy shop and while I love it, I would love for it to be something that I do in addition to an office job. Seriously – I love keeping a tidy database, an immaculate calendar and a tiny filing pile. Genuinely. I know that is rare.

Once upon a time, I did a full day job, went out straight from work to do rock climbing or bouldering in the Peaks, then came home, cooked dinner and got in a good few hours of book / internet reading and maybe some crafting as well before going to bed and doing it all again the next day. (This was before I caught the politics bug.)

I could not even begin thinking of doing that now.

As I said above, there are so many things I would like to be able to get involved in. So many things I would like to be doing. But all my energy at the moment is sucked up by the task of survival. And I’m not even doing particularly well at that.

I’ve applied for PIP, but predictably it’s taking ages. If I had any independent income, I would not be reliant on my partners for literally everything.

I try to not feel guilty for eating when my partner frequently has to work overtime to make the household budget work. I want to be able to employ a cleaner so that at least once a week the floor is clean of dog hair. I want to be able to afford to get more pre-prepared or easy to cook meals so my partners don’t have to come home from long days, look after me, clean the house and then cook. I want to ease the load a bit. I want to carry my weight in the home.

I want to relieve the weight of this guilt and do something more productive with all that mental energy.

Something like make a fuss about the bullshit that’s still going on in Ferguson.

Something like supporting women in gaming in the other ‘why the fuck is this still a thing’ subject of #GamerGate.

Something like doing more reading, thinking, talking and blogging on the subject of queer and feminist anarchy. I’ve found everything I’ve read on the subject so far to be fascinating, but I can’t honestly say I have enough knowledge to claim anything but a passing interest so far. This is A Problem for me. A problem I don’t currently have the resources to solve.

Something like manage to hit the most basic of targets that I set for myself, like being able to do a single online food order for delivery each week. You wouldn’t think that would be that hard, but honestly, some weeks it feels like climbing a rope ladder to the moon.

Something like being able to read all the politics that lands in my inbox and decide whether I want to do what the writer is asking. At the moment it pretty much all gets archived straight off.

Something like help my friend Peter Garbutt unseat Nick Clegg in next May’s general election. (Seriously, the Greens have a decent chance in Sheffield Hallam, and Peter is an awesome dude who would make a great MP. Dear The Green Party, why is Hallam not a target seat? If I had more time and resources, I would be fighting for this.)

Something like reading newspapers again, so I was even vaguely up on what else I could find interesting and be working on right now were I not forced into survival mode.

With a citizen’s income, I would be able to participate more in politics. Helen Lewis may not be everyone’s favourite journalist, but she hit the nail on the head when she asked the other day How do we get questions of care up the political agenda, when carers are too knackered to complain? The same question can obviously be asked for those who need care and would love to be able to adequately compensate those who provide it for them, like me. Aaron Bastani made the point in a recent radio show that the Tory party feel able to ignore and stamp on the poor as much as they please because they are so desperately scrabbling to live that they do not have time to campaign against the political violence being directed at them.

I know that there are a lot of people who don’t want us to have a real democracy. Also that there are many criticisms of our current democracy. I would love to read them. I really would. So would many other people whose energy is currently uselessly expended on surviving within and perpetuating our broken system. A universal unconditional basic income, for adults and children, with disability allowances on top, would free up so much energy. The case seems to be in the process of being made for this idea.

I’ve joined the Greens on the basis of their support for the policy. I mention the idea when it seems relevant. I’ve written this. What else can I do, given my physical limitations?

It’s the worst kind of Catch 22.


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  1. Laura permalink

    found this via a letter to the Green Party, and just want to send virtual hugs and good wishes your way. I too want to support the Greens because of their support of Basic Income, but yeah they have rather cocked that one up.

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  1. Public Interest and the engaged citizen | fearlessknits
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