Sophia Seung-yoon Lee, Professor of School of Social Welfare, Chung-Ang University
The Introduction of a ‘Basic Disaster Income’ Should Be Done Like This
In order to discuss a ‘basic disaster income’, the concept must be clearly defined first. Some people consider selective and temporary payments as a definition of basic disaster income, while others understand the term as more universal and regular. Both are correct definitions, however, it is important to choose which meaning basic disaster income we are going to discuss. According to what the government has said until recently, paying about 1 million won to the bottom 70% of the population, by income bracket
based on health insurance premiums, is a measure to prepare for the current COVID-19 crisis. I agree with this, however, there are 2 additional areas to be discussed. First, it should be provided to 100% of the Korean people, not only the bottom 70% of the income bracket based on health insurance premiums. Second, after the basic disaster income is provided to 100% of the Korean people, additional selective distribution is also required for vulnerable groups who need more help. If a school does not open, there will be economic damage cascading like dominoes, from teachers working at schools to those working at restaurants located nearby. Accordingly, a basic disaster income should not be paid only to some classes through a selective process, but to all people. After universal payments have been made in advance, selective payments should be made to those in need of more help though a meticulous process. We do not need to argue about whether the basic disaster income is universal welfare or selective one. It is just the matter the order in which the two types of payments should be implemented.
About Budget Limit:
First of all, a “budget limit” is a very important concept whenever we discuss welfare-related issues. In most cases, discussions take place on the premise that the budget is limited. However, a budget is a concept that changes depending on how much you will raise and how you will expand it. In other words, the budget is not limited, but it is something that we, citizens, can decide on. A budget limit is a fluid concept. In particular, the current disaster situation brought on by COVID-19 is historically unusual. In this situation, it is not right to discuss the introduction of a basic disaster income with the budget procurement method and the size of the budget we had before.
About Payment Methods:
Currently, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon has suggested mobile regional love gift certificates or prepaid cards, while Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung has suggested a local currency, which disappears three months after the payment date if not used, as a means of paying a basic disaster income. Many oppose such mobile gift certificates or local currencies because of their low effectiveness. However, in this situation, the goal should be to revitalize the local economy through local currency. Ultimately, the basic disaster income must follow the rule of being paid in cash. However, in the case of the current Korea, the regional economy has been hit hard by COVID-19. Using the given methods above will contribute to the revitalization of the local economy and also can ease income instability among individuals.
For CAU students who will read the topic ‘basic disaster income’, I hope we can all think about what the philosophy of basic income is. Basic income is the concept of allocating wealth generated by society together and sharing the prosperity we see in society, whether it is innovation or economic growth. I hope you will think about this concept and consider ‘how can everyone resist relying only on market income?’. In our society, there are also many things that are not priced, such as household labor, and environmental movements. If there are priced labor, that is, wage labor, we need also think about the value of labor that is not priced.
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income bracket: a category of taxpayers based on the amount of their income