Earlier this month, I attended the weekly meeting of ‘Vendedores Libres’ (or free sellers). They are a group of people who try to make a living by selling goods on the city streets and on public transport. They are an estimated 10,000 street vendors active in the 21 square kilometre boundaries of the federal capital city of Buenos Aires. Occupying the public space is illegal without a permit, but the city administration has consistently refused to issue permits to street vendors. In the face of constant threat of eviction, and pervasive bribing, manipulation and violence, they decided to unite so that they could know their rights better, develop strategies to carry on their work without fear, and most essentially, being recognized as workers entitled to the same labour rights as private and public sector workers. Continue reading
Recent research has given us much better data on the difference in access to formal financial services between men and women. The figure below gives these gaps by region based on the Global Findex dataset. With this evidence for the gender gap, what we really want to know is: what it is about being a woman or man that creates the gap? That is, are these gaps the result of factors such as women having less education, lower incomes and being less likely to have formal employment? Or do they arise from legal factors such as property rights, inheritance rights, gender norms about autonomy, mobility, etc.? Or, perhaps women behave inherently differently and are more risk averse. Or does being a woman matter for another reason, even when all these factors are taken into account? If it does, then we might need to look further for other sources of discrimination in the market. These might include the behaviour of the financial institutions themselves.
Money For Everyone: Why we need a Citizen’s Income. Malcolm Torry. Policy Press. June 2013.
Malcolm Torry proposes in his book a convincing argument in favour of a universal basic income, or Citizen’s Income, defined as an “unconditional income paid by the state to every man, woman and child as a right of citizenship”. His argument is based on the premise that, in an ideal country, one should be entitled to a basic income in order to achieve basic living standards for all. Interestingly, this ideal setting is imagined to be UK-based, a sovereign state where citizens are also subjects, and the argument is then extended to its potential application to the UK system.
Are you tired of yet another revelation of fraud in the food industry or the banks? Are you paying less attention to those stories? Are you getting numb, thinking more and more ‘that’s just how the system works’? If so, congratulations! You’re learning to lower your expectations to meet the new normal: pervasive, institutional economic fraud. This used to be the sort of thing you read about in income-poor countries in Africa and South America. Continue reading