Most people keep getting poorer because most people are liars. For example, everyone would love to have a basic guaranteed income (or Universal Social Security) but almost everyone pretends that he would not.
Here’s an article titled, “What Would Society Look Like with Universal Basic Income?”
What would you do if somebody gave you a few hundred pounds each month to spend on whatever you wanted? Would you quit your job? Retrain and look for a better job? Spend more time with your kids? Get those vital repairs done on your house? Eat better food?
The “Mincome” experiment in Canada proved that when people are given a basic guaranteed income, they work more, not less. Plus there have fewer health problems and fewer social vices (spousal abuse, substance abuse, burglary, etc.).
Basic income – the proposal to give a flat payment to every citizen – is an old idea. It has been around for centuries, and for centuries its proponents have largely been dismissed as utopian, or insane, or both.
Yes, because the peasants cope with their (self-induced) misery by habitually whining that “it can’t be done.” They use such sayings to rationalize their hate. They say, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” even though modern finance capitalists are dedicated to getting a free lunch — i.e. reducing everyone to debt slaves.
However that insanity is gradually becoming a political reality. Finland is considering giving its citizens an unconditional stipend of €800 a month and the Dutch city of Utrecht is carrying out a similar experiment. Switzerland will hold a referendum on basic income in June.
These items are false ruses by politicians to assuage the masses as they are crushed by austerity. Even if there is a referendum on a basic guaranteed income (which is very unlikely) it will be rigged to say “NO.” This will further convince the peasants that, “It can’t be done.”
In Finland it is mathematically impossible, because Finland uses the euro and has a severe trade deficit, which means the government is continually going further into debt. Where would the money come from for a basic guaranteed income?
It is possible in Holland (even though Holland uses the euro) because Holland has had a huge trade surplus for years, such that each month an average of 5.3 billion more euros flow into Holland than out of it.
Even so, I doubt that a basic guaranteed income will become a reality in Holland. But at least this author is talking about it.
The British and American governments, of course, could easily pay for a basic guaranteed income.
By the way, if rich people and their puppet politicians won’t let us have a basic guaranteed income, then why do they let us have Social Security? Because, up to now, there has been a limit to how badly the rich can crush us. If elderly people were literally dying in the streets, then the peasants might revolt.
Campaigns to get the idea taken seriously are sprouting like mushrooms around the world. In the US, the tech start-up funder Y Combinator is earmarking money to test the theory. In Germany, a crowdfunding initiative called Mein Grundeinkommen (“my basic income”) to give a basic wage to as many people as possible has attracted over a quarter of a million contributors.
I salute the author’s enthusiasm, but let’s remember that the wealthy only feel wealthy as long as they are far above the peasants. That’s why the wealthy do everything necessary to prevent the masses from having a basic guaranteed income.
“Basic income is about power, about letting it go,” Michael Bohmeyer, a former entrepreneur who runs Mein Grundeinkommen, told me. “It’s about trusting people. It gives them the freedom to say no and to ask the question: how do I really want to live? Basic income is not a left-wing idea, or a right-wing one. It’s a humanistic idea. It strengthens human beings against the system and it gives them the freedom to rethink it.”
Yes. Basic income is not about finances. It is about trusting each other, rather than hating each other. It’s about maturing past the childish attitude of, “If we had a basic income, then everyone would sit around doing nothing!”
A basic income would empower the masses and unleash their energy. People would no longer have to tolerate low wages, or stay in abusive jobs. They would have the freedom to dream, to become creative entrepreneurs, and to experiment with new ways of living. They would have the life they secretly dream of.
That is the sort of freedom that sounds like blasphemy to conventional, liberal, “free-market” economists.
Such economists demand a free lunch for the rich, and slavery for the rest.
Today’s individuals have the freedom to choose how they are exploited – but they cannot choose to escape exploitation, unless they are born wealthy. Basic income seeks to change that, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because the coming labor crisis may soon leave world governments, whatever their orthodoxy, with no other choice.
There is no coming labor crisis, since there will never be a shortage of slaves to exploit.
“If we don’t disconnect work and income, humans will have to compete more and more with computers,” Bohmeyer explains. “This is a competition they will lose sooner than we think. The result will be mass unemployment, and no money left for consumption.”
The rich don’t care about that. They make their money by gambling in the casinos such as stock markets. Half of mankind already lives in cardboard boxes and shantytowns. What do the rich care if 90 percent of mankind lives like that? The system won’t “collapse.” Instead, the slums will simply become larger.
With that in mind, Bohmeyer began an experiment in anti-capitalism that has been more successful than he could have imagined. So far, 39 people, chosen at random from a pool of applicants, have received €1,000 a month through the scheme – and almost none has spent the year twiddling their thumbs. One quit his job at a call center to retrain as a pre-school teacher. Another found that the removal of daily stress about work and money cleared up his chronic illness. Others found fulfilling jobs, after they had given up on the prospect years earlier. Almost all have been sleeping better, worrying less, and focusing more on family life. What would society look like if that sort of freedom were available to everyone: if advances in technology and productivity could benefit not only the very rich, but all of us?
What would society look like? Better than the current society.
Basic income is simple, practical and radical. It’s simple because it is the only concrete, even vaguely workable solution that has so far been offered to tackle advancing inequality, an ageing global population, and the encroaching end of wage labor as we know it. It’s practical because it has received positive coverage from almost everyone, from Financial Times columnists to feminist campaigners, from libertarian techno-millionaires to young, left-wing organizers. And it’s radical because it requires us to rethink the economic and ethical framework of neoliberal capitalism that has governed our lives for generations. All that it requires is that we trust one another.
That’s the core problem: trusting and loving one another. There is more than enough money for all. We only need to let go of our hate and our selfishness.
The organizing principle of modern economics is that without the threat of starvation, homelessness and poverty, people will not be motivated to work. In this view there is no such thing as individual gumption or community spirit. Human beings, left to their own devices, will inevitably sit on the sofa and eat crisps until the species collapses into a quagmire of entropy and episodic television. Fear, therefore, is necessary.
Yes, that’s the view of most people and of the “free lunchers” (i.e. rich parasites). This view is false, and it is designed to rationalize our hate and our selfishness.
The notion of an economic system based on trust and mutual aid rather than fear, shame and suffering sounds like a fairy tale. But as more and more jobs are automated away, as mandatory wage labor collapses as a method of organizing society, even the most conservative governments may find themselves with no other option.
That’s a nice thought, but here is a different option; one that is more likely…
We have a choice as a society and as a species. We can choose to let fear and suspicion run our lives, as we all struggle harder each year to survive in a collapsing economic system on a smoking planet. Or we can choose to trust each other enough that everyone can share in the rewards of technology. The latter is blasphemous and unthinkable – but it may also be the only practical choice we have.
Yes it is a choice. Margaret Thatcher was a liar. There is always an alternative. It’s a matter of choice. Will we ever make the choice? Maybe. Maybe not.
By the way, a guaranteed minimum income probably could not work unless there was also a guaranteed limit to maximum income. Otherwise everything for sale (including life necessities) would be bidden up until the basic income was in the poverty range again.