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NEF - How do we create a fair economy?

Blog posted by : PERRY WALKER (10th September 2014)

A big question, but answering it was the aim of a recent event organised by the Workers Educational Association Yorkshire and Humber Region, with support from the Sheffield Branch and held at their Learning Centre in Attercliffe.

Using Crowd Wise, a way of promoting open and balanced debate that Idescribed in my last blog, the participants were given five options for achieving the goal and, perhaps surprisingly, ended the event in agreement.

The table below summarises the five options people were initially presented with. It also shows the result of the preference vote that took place at the start of the event. The right hand column shows each option’s score as a percentage of its maximum possible score (so if everyone had put a particular option top it would score 100%).

The intent had been to have a second preference vote at the end, to see how views had shifted after discussion. But this proved unnecessary, as there was consensus in the room. The elements of this consensus were as follows:

  • Raise money through a wealth tax and through stopping tax evasion.

  • Use it to fund a basic income.

  • Also use it to fund new priorities for public spending (health, housing and transport). These can also be funded by reducing public spending in some other areas, such as subsidies for the private rented sector.

  • The need to change the terms of the debate.

  • An acceptance both of the difficulty of achieving these policies and that what is happening in the UK is part of a global crisis that needs to be tackled at a global scale.

The experience of the small group who were advocating for option D illustrates the move towards consensus. They initially replaced the idea of a maximum wage with a wealth tax – this proposal was endorsed by everyone. After further reflection they shifted their support from a living wage to a basic income – an idea NEF is yet to work on, but interested to explore in future – on the ground that a basic income doesn’t consider entitlement.

So there was consensus in this event. But what about between events? If you are interested in organising your own debate on this subject, using this approach, we’ll come and help you. Leave a comment below or send me an e-mail.

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