There has been reported a news that city officials of Odawara City of Kanagawa Prefecture, who are in charge of affairs of life protection service for the poor families, visited beneficiaries’ homes wearing a jacket which carries on signs saying ‘don’t disdain protection service’ and ‘they are dregs’. The fact has again exposed contradictions that the current life protection service entails.
A DRASTIC CHANGE IS NEEDED FOR GUARANTEEING BASIC INCOME
Principle of Indiscriminative Equality
What happened in Odawara City was criticized in this column of the February 7 issue, where Mr. Shimizu Hidehiro, a social welfare expert, told ‘the life protection service is the last fortress of defense’ and that ‘what had happened in the city explicitly violates Article 25 of the Constitution and shows lacks of concern on the human rights’. He accused harshly the authoritarian attitudes of the city office.
Article 2 of the Life Protection Law provides that people in need should have benefit ‘equally without discrimination’. But in reality the state maintains a policy to ‘reduce’ and ‘not increase’ the number of beneficiaries of life protection service.
In December, 2014, the Life Protection Law was revised so that grant money should be decreased and obligations should be enhanced for life sustenance. The administrative authorities check applicants severely so that money should go to ‘right persons in need’, confirming whether ‘a recipient is unable to work’ and ‘no relatives exist to help’. Strong prejudice prevails among the government officials and in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that ‘beneficiaries of life protection service are negligent in fulfilling social obligations’.
Especially those grown-ups are simply rejected by government officials, being told that ‘you are capable to work’. The administration authority shuts the entrance door and people in need eventually die of hunger as we know.
Reportedly, field workers in charge are embarrassed between protection of the human rights and policies of the authorities. Even if they are a good person who makes the best efforts, they cannot respond properly. The service system has fundamental failures.
In the current system an income gained from a job is deducted from the sum of Life Protection benefit, and eligibility for Life Protection is certified by city officers’ selectivity. Thus corruption arises and officials are accused of their acts.
Liberation from Feeling of Shame
Under these circumstances an idea of Basic Income (BI) comes out as a drastic policy to deal with poverty, a universal, minimum monetary service system to every citizen with disregard of limitations. Its fund is from tax revenue.
The BI integrates pensions, employment insurances and public supports into one scheme to provide with a certain sum of money on the regular basis. Therefore there is no need to check monetary and labor capacity of people. Incomes gained from labor belong to the person himself/herself. So incentives for a job surely go up, which is different from the current system.
The BI reduces administrative costs as it liberates applicants for life protection from the complicated procedures. In particular, applicants can be free from stigma that they are poor.
It is a realistic task to convert to a universal social welfare system.
March 14, 2017