Food banks (and shelters) have become an accepted and normal part of every Canadian community. In the Great Depression soup kitchens were set up as a solution to what was expected to be a temporary problem. But something happened in the early 1970s that caused community kitchens and food banks to start up again with no end in sight. That something is complex and need not detain us here. Let us only say that the immedite effect was a condition known as “stagflation”, i.e. slow or no growth (and hence high unemployment) along with high rates of inflation.
That “something” also caused national public debts to take off. Here’s a graph of Canada’s public debt:An obvious cause of rising public debt was (and is) deficit budgets. When governments borrow to stimulate economic growth and increase employment that borrowing adds to deficits.
But there is and has been for some time, a factor that is causing less than full employment and that is productivity increase, typically by means of capital investment. The net is that fewer people are required to produce the same amount of goods or provide the same services. Even though productivity increases can result in higher wages for those with the skills to work with the new capital assets, typically income from all employment declines. So, overall income from employment down, income from capital ownership up.
This trend of increasing capital investment and decreasing wage income is being accelerated by the revolution in robotics and artificial intelligence. What this means is that fewer and fewer jobs will be required.
But in an economy that increasingly generates income from capital ownership and that insists on distributing income via employment, the result in increasing income inequality and poverty.
So, the need for food banks and community kitchens does not look as though it will decline in the foreseeable future: likely the need will increase. What is to be done? The larger solution is for more people to derive their income from capital ownership. Two structural changes are required: initiate the process with a minimum income and pay for it with a system of diffused capital investment. A third change, in support of stability in the resulting jobs-reduced economy is changing from schooling for jobs to education for self and social improvement, from schooling for subsistence work to education for leisure work (what some call building civilization).
A minimum income will reduce poverty in the short term while diffused capital investment will reduce income inequality in the longer term. In both the short and long term, community kitchens and food banks will become unnecessary.
If you’d like more information about a minimum annual income have a look at these links:
Let’s make food banks unnecessary!
Featured image source: Greener Village Community Food Centre