While the nature, extent and content of BASE services may vary from society to society it is important that they are accurately described in order for the BASE system to work. The links for each service below lead to more detailed discussions of the individual services. See this site for more information on Universal Basic Services.
The delivery of a BASE service becomes a constitutional responsibility of the layer delivering the service, and so their clarity in understanding their responsibilities is vital. The default service provisioning layer for all services is the Community, but if the BASE description contains services they cannot deliver they can promote the responsibility up to the Region, Regions can promote to States and so forth.
If an element of a BASE service is promoted, it must be accompanied by the portion of the Income Tax revenues assigned to that service. This allows the responsible layer to be able to deliver the mandated services.
Assessing the average cost of delivering each element of each BASE service is necessary, in order to determine the tax revenues needed, and to provide for revenues to flow to the layer of government responsible for its delivery.
Food and Shelter
These are the most obvious elements of a social contract between people and while it is simple enough to describe their provisioning in an emergency situation, providing these services as part of a more stable social environment is a little more complicated than may at first appear. Nevertheless somewhere between food stamps and soup kitchens, healthy sustenance can be provided and somewhere between a communal shelter and subsidized housing, adequate shelter can also be provided.
We must not underestimate the vital importance of these most basic facilities. Lack of nutrition and safe accommodations are at the root of many of the ills that plague our societies and a concerted and serious effort in these areas is required to truly make progress. These are the foundation of our needs and they need to be properly met if we are to avoid waste in the rest of the BASE services. For instance, education for a hungry child living without shelter will not help them so much and their healthcare needs will be greatly amplified.
Increasingly healthcare is recognized as an appropriately universal service and while much debate revolves around the provision of the more advanced and expensive health procedures we think we can all just agree on the availability of basic preventative and remedial health services. We do not consider it part of our social promise to gold plate anyone’s teeth or provide long-term coma care but we do consider fixing a broken leg, assistance with getting off drugs, family planning and vision correction as within the domain of the social contract. Undoubtedly everyone will have slightly different ideas about what should or should not be included in the healthcare element of the social promise but we are sure that it is not beyond us to arrive at mutually acceptable definitions suitable to our context.
This was an interesting one for us because it certainly did not pop out in our initial review of our social promise that an unlimited bus pass should be a part of the social contract. However it did not take long for us to realize that without the ability to travel many, if not all, of the elements of the social contract start to fall apart. For instance, if food cannot get to us and we cannot get to food, then one of the most basic elements of the contract is null and void. Furthermore, if we cannot get to healthcare, to education or to a place of employment then our opportunity to make the most of our lives is more aspiration than reality. When you couple these facts with other elements, such as ecological responsibility, it becomes readily apparent that a public transport infrastructure is a necessary and important basic element of any society and it is access to and use of the public transport infrastructure that we propose is included in BASE.
Very often the opportunity to make the most of one’s life, or to recover from mistakes and misadventures, is dependent on the opportunity to develop and learn and it is for this reason that access to education is, we believe, a fundamentally important constituent element in the social contract. We take it for granted that public education is a fantastic good when provided for our children and we see no distinction in providing the same service to all members of society at all of our ages.
Somewhere between the health of democracy, fundamental rights of all citizens and everyone’s opportunity to leverage available resources to improve their lives, there are a thousand reasons why access to information is an appropriate and fundamental element of BASE. We envisage this service enacted through the provision of public access to a publicly provisioned, high-speed computer network infrastructure that everyone uses to access and share information.
It is self-evident that if citizens wish to live in a society governed by the rule of law, then legal services need to exist to provide equal protection under the law for everyone. The point of including it here, in this list of the elements that make up BASE, is simply to remind us that when we come to calculate the cost of providing BASE as part of determining the income tax structure we need to include these legal services costs.
So the basic principle of BASE is that all of the above services will be available free of charge at the point of need to all citizens. The beauty of linking the cost of providing these services to the income tax system is in the balance that it creates between the desire to provide more services and the incentive to provide all services as efficiently as possible. Removing cash from the system preserves the honor of those seeking the services and reduces or eliminates abuse of the system.
Even this cursory wandering through of the elements that make up BASE illuminates the extent to which there is ample opportunity to define the scope of the services and, of necessity, the scope will have to be adjusted to fit with the realities of the society within which they operate. However we believe that they are comprehensive in describing the elements necessary to fulfill the basic social contract between any people in any place.