Lately, I’ve been thinking about money. And I’ve been thinking about working. As readers know, I tried working last month. It turned out really bad for me.
But as kids graduate high school and college this time of year and they start turning to the job market, I’ve began really thinking about whether it’s even just to require that people work–literally work–for the basic necessities of life. This is especially true in America, where we have the ability to provide things to people without them having to work.
I’ve thought a lot about things like Basic Income. And it’s not just the automation issue that motivates me. It’s the fact that in order to have any necessities of life–let alone luxuries–people must toil for “the man.”
Currently, the workplace and the culture of work permeates our society. People try–and sometimes fail–to climb the ladder of “success.” And “success” is often measured by one’s ability to perform certain tasks for a business.
When did we forget to enjoy our lives? When did we stop thinking that leisure time was “extra” and not a requirement?
I know many people who work 40 hours or more each week. 40 freakin’ hours. Or more. This is at a time when Keynes anticipated a 20 hour work week. Imagine: 20 hours of work and the rest for what you will. That sounds a lot more like it. (Granted, I still don’t know if I’d be capable of such activity.)
We need to remember Keynes’ vision–his projection. It was based on the fact that the American worker is so productive that all we really even need is a 20 hour work week. It’s well-known that pushing people over that threshold of productivity leads to waste, boredom, burnout, and more. The 40 hour work week is bunk and needs to go.
Let’s replace the current standard. Let’s advocate for a shorter work week. Let’s advocate for a Basic Income. Let’s take pride in leisure instead of work. In the end, your body, mind, spirit, family and friends will thank you. And you will have more time for hobbies and developing yourself focused on things other than marketability.
It’s estimated that about 7 million jobs will be lost due to automation over the next 10 years. Many of these jobs are cashier and general retail jobs. Already, Walmart has stores that are completely cashier-free. The savings in having automation is partly what drives these advances.
Many people worry about lost jobs. And the people hit hardest–if we don’t do something–is and will continue to be low wage earners.
A UBI is a solution that nips this right in the bud.
It’s time for UBI to become a more mainstream idea.
I first read about UBI over 8 years ago in graduate school. Back then, it was an idea in the philosophy world that didn’t seem to gain much traction. I liked it, however. So much so that I became an advocate for UBI, having volunteered for Basic Income Earth Network and written about the success of UBI-like programs used by Native American tribes.
Most of the arguments for UBI fit nicely within the capitalist framework. So don’t let anyone tell you it’s a form of socialism or communism. There are various proposals to funds a UBI and current estimates are that a UBI–one that really only covers basic needs–would be about $800-1,000 per person per month.
This is not nearly enough to live The American Dream, but it’s enough to keep people from going hungry.
There’s plenty of justification for UBI. The idea has been fleshed out enough over the years that there are more than enough arguments for it.
The real questions are those yet to be asked and answered, such as: At what age does a UBI begin? 18 years old? Or working age (16)? How will a UBI be funded? Exactly how much should a UBI be?
I ask people, “Would you like to win the lottery?”
They say, “Yes!”
I ask people if they support a UBI and they say, “But, but, but…”
There’s not a whole lot of difference, except a UBI would be about 800.00 per month (according to proposals I’ve read). Not millions of dollars.
It would allow you to stop hitting the snooze button and actually get some sleep. It would make companies compete for you–instead of you competing with other people.
There’s literally thousands of reasons to support a UBI.
Most people who support a UBI are simply against coercion and they think we are currently coerced into working. Others argue that technology is taking our jobs, anyway, and that automation will only increase, so why not have a UBI.
I personally think that uncoupling labor from money would be a good thing. People would be more free to develop their own unique skills and not have to develop skills for the labor market. It could totally transform what kind of people we are. (I think for the better.)
Of course, there are issues of poverty, as well. Currently, there’s a lot of inherited wealth in our country. It’s hard to climb up the ladder, especially if you are not an already well-to-do white male. With a UBI, extreme poverty could be almost virtually eliminated. And companies hire people, typically, with a certain pedigree. A UBI would make us more egalitarian in these respects.
UPDATE: If you’re one of those people who wants to know how we will pay for a UBI, it’s actually pretty simple. Tax meat. Tax pollution.
For the past month or so, I have been involved in the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline. I have done many things with this movement, and wish to incorporate my activities into my professional experiences. As you will see in my previous post, I wrote a Letter to the Editor which was published in the Daytona Beach News Journal.
In addition to fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline, I have also started doing editing work for a Basic Income website. I haven’t done as much work on this as I would have hoped because the Dakota Access Pipeline movement got in the way of that, but I have edited a couple of pieces on Basic Income.
I have been wondering about how to incorporate my volunteer and activism experiences into my resume. I will be doing that soon.