EA Simplify

A post by friarmike put me on to the track fo the Evangelical Alliance’s ‘Simplify’ campaign, which I must admit to being completely unaware of previously.

The part of the campaign tht is the most attention grabbing is the challenge to get people to spend a month living on less, bringing down their economic consumption to levels which bear some comparison to the spending of those living on/off benefits. The idea is that the people concerned should be giving what they save away to charity.

However I may be accused of being too extreme here, but it strikes me that there are a couple of significant issues with this idea.

1) This seems like an exercise in economic tokenism. I’m yet to be convinced that participating in a month or week long exercise like this actually leads to people chainging their lifestyles for good.

2) The issue of simplicity must not be confined to economics, Friarmike says more about that in a comment below his original post, and I agree.

3) The economics of the experiment make no real sense, lets take my situation as an example – the experiment would allow me income support (£411.67 for a couple) and benefits (£389.63 for two children) which is an annual income of almost £10,000. At first I thought, gosh yes, that is less than I live on, until I read what you’re allowed on top of that… namely, rent, work related travel, council tax, bills and so on. In a month you’re looking at another £500 odd for that, taking us up to an annual total of £16,000 (plus a ‘just in case’ buffer). Now as a family we currently live on approximately £12,000 per annum which includes all those things and more, and I think we have a long way to go before we have truly economically simple lives. This doesnt make much sense to me, and to be brutal, it smacks of metropolitan middle class wishy washy ‘I wanna live like common people’. You cant get a real idea of what its like to live on a low income living like this.

Come on EA, you can do better (more radical) than this, don’t just pander to the middle ground, go for something more.

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