In The Guardian, of course, a reply to which being:
“The solution he proposed was what he called a “universal pension for life”, or what we now call a universal basic income.”
Excellent, we now have this. It’s called the welfare state. Wages for an unskilled worker in Dublin in 1900 were some 20 shillings a week. That’s, accounting for inflation, some £350 a week today. Obviously, a rough number. The benefits cap is some £390 a week currently.
Note that our unskilled labourer isn’t quite what Shaw was denouncing as that poverty, that destitution. But still, we’ve a guide there. Society today is so vastly richer that what, back then, was considered a basic working wage is today what people do get, around and about, as a universal income. No, I don’t say that everyone gets near the benefits cap today but there’s certainly no one at all living in Shaw’s poverty.
So, we’ve done it.
What’s left is relative poverty, not absolute poverty. Note that even Barbara Castle agreed, 40 years ago, that true penury had already been abolished back then.
People really do, as here, forget quite how poor the past was, quite how different their definition of poverty to our.