Saturday, June 04, 2022

Jubilee - A very suitable word?

Great words get borrowed and highjacked for quite different purposes.  'Jubilee' was originally 'a year of emancipation and restoration'  (OED) in ancient Jewish history when people who had lost their family land through debt and poverty went back to it with all debts wiped out. It was a time of  great rejoicing and was unmistakably introduced by people going through the land blowing ram's horn trumpets announcing 'Proclaim Freedom'. It was the ultimate levelling of wealth from the time of the previous Jubilee after which some people had prospered whilst others fell into poverty. See the Bible: Leviticus 25:8-10. The purpose of Jubilee was to reset the economic  imbalances and was pointedly political. It restored control to the people. 

There were not to be kings to accumulate wealth to themselves and their court, and the repetition of cycles of Jubilees would guard against permanent accumulations of land control and enable the poorest to become self-sufficient again. You were not able to purchase land ownership rights, only the harvest rights for limited years. The system guarded against anyone assuming kingly status through wealth which would endanger freedom and the common good. 

Amazing enlightened times! The entire Jubilee year was to be a holiday. Our recent Jubilee celebrations, whilst fairly acknowledging that our Queen as Head of State has been a benign and gracious holder of the office, achieves nothing in the spirit of the original Jubilee for ordinary people. Apart from one day's holiday. 

Maybe news from Ukraine will point the way to a revival  of a people-centred Jubilee ideal? Alexander Rodnyansky, a Cambridge Professor, is now Economic Adviser to  Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine and The Spectator 4 June 2022 reports: 

    'he says he is interested in establishing  universal basic income throughout Ukraine: a fixed cash payment for residents rather than a network of welfare benefits which leads to inefficiencies in the system...We could be the first.'  

Jubilee years have been celebrated - quite bizarrely given the origin - for some centuries to note anniversaries of rule by monarchs. Why not a people's Jubilee in the spirit  of the common good?  We are not able to re-apportion land ownership in our day but land values are identifiable and could contribute to a universal basic income. See elsewhere on this Blog as to how it could be done. Recapturing the 'Proclaim Freedom' spirit of the original idea with a Peoples' Jubilee by  establishing a Universal Basic Income (also know as Citizen's Income) is needed.  

posted by Charles Bazlinton, 4 June 2022   Author: The Free Lunch - Fairness with Freedom.    

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