Overton and Basic Income

Posted: 5th June 2014 by Khannea Suntzu in Uncategorized

Basic Income is idea that’s very difficult to compellingly sell to policymakers. Among policymakers I count the people that might have a sway on the acceptance and implementation of a basic income:

– elected politicians
– non-elected career bureaucrats
– governmental academics and scientists
– the banking sector
– career lobbyists
– (other) sponsors of the political process

other than that, the base electorate is also not inclined to vote for a basic income, since they will first visualize the tax burder it would impose on them.

For those of us who are convinced of the absolute necessity of a basic income (…) this remains especially frustrating. We know this is necessary and would probably keep society itself from unraveling, and the longer we wait to implement it, the more disruptive and traumatic the transition to this new societal paradigm will become.

Is there a manner in which we can hasten the implementation process of a basic income? As it turns out there is. The most decisive element in implementing basic income are the teeming hordes of middle class careerists working at governments and financial institutions. These are the decisive decission-makers (often more relevant in deciding political direction and policy than elected officials) and if these people would perceive a necessity for a basic income, we’d fast experience the idea being picked up and dragged through the “Overton” sequences of political acceptance.

So how can we effectively terrify these people in to wanting basic income implemented as quickly as possible?

Turns out we can, and we can do so legally. If we would be able to create a narrative of automation, where a small group of designers and programmers would create just a handful of token solutions that would significantly reduce work for these people in the next five to ten years (it need only be a perception that such technologies are on the way, it doesn’t even need to be real) then I guarantee you, the concept of a basic income will be on the political agenda next year.

Let me explain by example – Lets start by writing a half dozen vaguely academic articles that strongly argue the idea that very soon new forms of software will allow banks and ministries to lay off up to 25 to 50% of current employees. That’s right, this may very well be true but just the very point will strike existential terror in the hearts of the usually unperturbed. Imagine in a country such as the Netherlands a quick wave of new office automation technologies and AI agents affecting the work load of a million civil servants by about half. Imagine the urgency experienced by these civil servants. Normally these people wouldn’t give a damn about unemployment or “the unemployed”.

In turn thinks of the banks. Banks would be very concerned with mortgage defaults as a result of mass-lay offs. If we can impress upon the banking caste that lay offs are less than five years away, share holders at banks, respectively middle management, will become quite anxious to see their money returned and in turn would also be quite likely to push for some kind of redistributionist mechanism that would allow their clients to pay off their mortgage burdens.

You may see where this would be going – it would be an attempt to conquer the cavalier attitudes of people who think they are safe, and make these people realize they aren’t safe. Once they get that idea, it will be fairly easy to present the concept of a Basic Income as a solution.