Looking at the barrage of news on technological unemployment, we may get lucky and avoid the predictable denialism phase altogether. A lot of time gets wasted on denying things that are inescapable and basic income.is inescapable.
We may get lucky, as in “we might avoid a massively dysfunctional dystopian future full of mass-poverty and the consequences thereof“.
Technological unemployment is set to be a nightmare – especially in the next 2-3 decades. But it’s the only solution that is left. Basic Income will not make anyone particularly happy – far from it – but without most people will starve and be extremely poor. Basic Income is a proverbial “Occam’s razor” in terms of politically sustainable tool to keep society intact. Without Basic Income, things end. Democracy, liberal society. multiculturalism, economy, freedom, civilization, it all unravels. Hence yes, Basic Income is now functionally a certainty. It may not yet be widely discussed by our current governments but they know damn sure that this future is electorally inescapable.
Poor people may not sway politicians. Massively dysfunctional markets and mostly fictional financial systems might not do the trick. Even a super popular and well-organized occupy movement might not even be able to make a play for Basic Income. But one thing that will absolutely do the trick is corporations putting the thumbscrews on their political henchman and demanding “please tax the top incomes and redistribute – because nobody people are not buying our products”. I anticipate a push by liberal, IT-driven corporations like Google to start pushing for redistributive politics fairly soon. Think, Bernie Sanders with silent, insidious support from corporations that have a stake in selling modernity and high-tech products. Corporations that see banks and top executives get richer and they not being part of the insider cabals. Banks might even be becoming nervous the last few years – a lot of consumers might default, and real estate prices might tank. There’s ridiculous overcapacity in real estate, even in China.
But it won’t be easy. Basic Income is something completely new, and it is sharply at odds with our intuitive understanding of life, meaning, work, money, society. It will take a broad coalition, conceivably groups like academia, progress-savvy voters, humanist parties, unions, religions, consumer product companies, et.al. to make a push for this and even then politicians are the ones that will be the ultimate gatekeepers for its introduction. A few disparate experiments won’t do the trick, and we must accept that the existing crop of politicians will be pulling out their hairs when faced with the massive paradoxes introduction of a basic income is surrounded with.
Here’s a few
- Would a basic income in a political union such as the EU be have to be implemented in all member states, and if so should it be different per country, region or for people living in a city, vis-a-vis the countryside?
- What if some societies and governments degrade and start using basic income in sinister and fascist tool for conformity?
- Do disabled, 65+, children (etc) get a similar BI than people who are young, healthy and highly educated?
- Do we give women of birthing age a higher basic income? If so, how about women of Transgender origin?
- Do we allow politicians to leverage a lower/higher basic income to incentivize “societally desirable” behavior? (not smoking, not having children, having children, making your children have inoculations, religion, sexual abstinence, conservative heterosexual values, not playing WoW, not eating junk food (or, conversely – eating corporation produced foods because of lobbyists, etc.etc.)
- If someone goes through an enormous effort to live a low consumerist, sustainable lifestyle in some desert commune, do we penalize such a person by giving them a lower basic income? Or do we reward being plugged in to a grid people don’t want? What about conscientious objectors who refuse a basic income, and let the money accumulate in a bank account?
- Do you give immigrants and refugees a basic income (as high as voters), with the risk this will attract a mass influx of even more immigrants and refugees? What if you don’t and they come anyway, infusing society with extremely integration recalcitrant, desperate, hateful and dead-poor ghetto’s?
- Does someone who has lived all her life in the city of Londen receive a higher BI than someone living in East Cambridgeshire?
- Do ten people living in a commune each get the same income as someone living alone in an expensive house in the city?
- How to we avoid large numbers of people to “secede” from orderly society?
- How do e avoid alcoholism, drug abuse, unhealthy lifestyles?
- How do we avoid people moving massively when they receive a basic income?
- Do we keep rent control, health care insurance subsidies, child support, food stamps (et.al.) intact if people get a basic income?
- If someone spends their entire basic income the day they get it do we save them from starving – or do we place loads and loads of irresponsible people on day one on some form of protective custody?
- Does a person in a long term coma receive a basic income, or does the person caring for that individual receive a basic income?
- Can (part of) a basic income be garnered by debt collectors, and if not, do we allow prisons to take the basic income of their inmates? Why? Why not?
- Can a country with large state debts decide (or be compelling by, say, the WTA) to low a basic income, even if that basic income is voted a constitutional right – even if that basic income is already too low to live of? (say, Greece, most developing nations)
- What do you do if Basic Income, once implemented, triggers mass-inflation and sharply increased costs of living? Do you keep increasing it?
- … and the zillion euro question – what if competing states (Say, Russia, China, the US under a Trump p;residency) decide to let their people starve rather than give them a Basic Income?
(do know any more for this list, let me know)
And there’s a lot more, increasingly esoteric problems with introducing a Basic Income. At the moment the doubt kicks in, the opponents of Basic Income will respond with their gut-based instincts and try and push politicians to not implement it. I am thinking of vicisously conservative voters, people in relative privilege, pensioners, protestant work-ethic fetishists, fiscal fundamentalists, the typical economist, libertarians (Stefan Molyneux comes to mind), the Koch Brothers, Tea Party radicals and other assorted populists, businesses and corporations who benefit from low wages and desperate workers (agriculture), racists (who won’t be able to stomach brown people getting free money), social darwinists and Ayn Rand aficionado’s and many others.
But what’s so treacherous, there are quite a few left-oriented groups that do not like basic income. Unions don’t and many leftist politicians may turn out staunch opponents. Most socialist parties and unions world-wide don’t like basic a basic income, at all – it would reduce voter need for their services as defenders of the lower classes. Or worse – a lot of government bureaucrats might already be smelling the imminent consequences of implementing a basic income – a society with a basic income needs a lot less bureaucrats. A civil servant glued to his or her seat would be terrified of a basic income.
I am ideologically very progressive, a socialist-libertarian, a materialist atheist, a futurist and a transhumanist. I look at the future with a decades of experience in the field and from what I have been reading I am sold, but that signifies an understanding and conviction that’s easily conveyed to opponents. And the resistance mobilized against BI may mean decades of a href=”http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/11/boomers-deaths-pnas/413971/”>dystopian squallor, an end to the middle classes world-wide, more populism a la trump and berlusconi, more racism (ditto), more hatred of “hand-outs” and “dead-beats” and ultimately an increasingly disparate world. It may get a lot worse before it gets better.
The question now is how long it will take, and that depends on good strategies to sway the politicians. But they have a lot to gain, electorally and privately, from keeping basic income at bay as long as they can. They will try and wait it out as the current capitalist system unravels and they’ll maintain a “wait and see” attitude. Basic Income is something that, once implemented, is something that’s next to impossible to de-implement. Oncce you implement a basic income, very quickly it will be regarded as a human right, be “constitutionalized” and be utterly irreversible. People fight tooth and nail to defend rights that have been “achieved”, and rightly so.
There will one day be a future where this current perverse, insider system will be dismantled. We’ll demolish the “perverse incentive” banking sector, bailouts, the revolving door, the bloated Big State and when we do, we will see a society where money is not created as a fiat instrument of politicians nationalist hobbies, but rather money is created based on citizenship and people receiving a share in the relative success of society – much as if citizens are the actual shareholders in the achievements of the state. Like it is supposed to be, frankly., In that future it won’t be a corrupt society in orbit around banks, but rather corporations, government and banks being forced to orbit the economic wants and needs of their respective voting citizenry,
When? The longer politicians play “hard to get”, the worse conditions in our society will deteriorate. If we get lucky, it will be 2025 but I am not betting on it. If the process proceeds sluggish (more likely) it will take till 2050. But not much later and not much longer. Quote me if I am still alive by then.