Can our society psychologically become an adult?
Staring into the abyss, I was adrift in the politics of the 2016 election. Since the economic crash in 2008, I kept a close eye on the trends and that’s what nervously lead to my hawk-eyeing of the 2016 election season. It was so difficult to ignore politics now. Suddenly politics was affecting our daily life.
I felt for many years that America was trying to be more grown up than it could seem to handle. If our society and culture collectively had a psychological age, the USA was an arrogant teenager trying to be a grown-up but seemingly regressing, and was so arrogant that an adult needed to come and “pull it by the ear” to set it straight. The choice that America made recently was as if to punish itself for being so immature, as if that punishment was the only way it could learn and then finally grow up. Then the question finally would come to mind: What is responsibility?
Amidst the political drama and barrage of conflicting opinions, there was a clear line from where I went from being hopelessly lost in the daily chaos, to being found by a dim light along the path forward. A switch inside my head was flipped.
Thankfully, there is indeed a huge grown-up lesson of which I will explain later in this writing. This lesson is waiting to be learned by the majority who remain curious, skeptical, and open-minded, and it’s not just for those in the USA, but everywhere.
This idea has been echoed by many that have come before, some have noted perhaps since Aristotle. Before I get into that though I will ask the still curious:
Can our society and culture become a grown-up? If so, how?
Step 1. Recognizing there is a problem.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I know that isn’t true because I know (though some would argue) most people, including the elderly, still appreciate facts. FACTS? This is where a few will undoubtably walk away from this writing.
This has to be the truth though:
The overwhelming majority of people have curious and open minds. Otherwise we wouldn’t have all the wonderful technology and knowledge we have today. People are curious and they want to learn. People like to see the evidence, and they do like to see the science. I know that as we can all continue to learn, as we have done before, so, too, can society and yes, even the USA, learn a new trick.
Since the 60s, it seems that to be pragmatic was to avoid the ruffling of feathers. In our current work culture in the USA, to be pragmatic and responsible seems to be working 12–14+ hour days. For some, it is not one job but three. For others, it is not one job but many gigs. For increasingly many, as budget-cut memos are given and your co-workers have been fired, you’re left wearing multiple hats just trying to make ends meet. I’m calling this a plate-spinning policy because people have started accepting the term juggling and wearing multiple hats and working late nights and weekends, multiple jobs or sporadic gigs as something that is entirely normal.
It’s not normal. None of that is normal. There is a problem.
As it turns out, this mentality began in the 1970s in the USA, when wages decoupled from productivity, and the effects followed in many other countries, except for Canada:
Notable Economists, such as Jared Bernstein, mentioned that this was caused by “social forces such as lessened worker’s bargaining power, a drive toward productivity with the least labor costs as possible, wage caps, and cheap immigrant labor”… others mention globalization, and some mention technological change. The debate continues to this day and is most likely a mixture of all of the above. However, one very compelling theory comes from Professor Eric Nilsson at the Department of Economics, CSU San Bernardino. Eric observed that most economists saw the changes but did not consider the result in ongoing business habits and norms once they were in effect:
Further, mainstream economists generally failed to ask why the decline in real wages during the second half of the wage control program continued on after the end of wage and price controls. Implicitly, mainstream economists assumed that the government role in wage setting during the years of controls had no lasting effect on the operation of the U.S. labor market. As an alternative to the mainstream focus, I offer the following hypothesis: Nixon’s wage and price controls set in motion the post-1973 decline in real wages of U.S. production workers. The government-imposed wage-and price-setting institutions in place from August 1971 to April 1974 shifted the balance of power between capital and labor. When these formal institutions were eliminated in April 1974, the government-caused shift in the balance of power between capital and labor was not reversed; rather, this shift in the balance of power was maintained and led to the decline in real wages that started during 1973.
Nixon’s wage and price control program led to an important change in wage-setting ideology nationwide. The federal government sanctioned — and enforced — the perspective that the “national interest” required wage restraint. Wage restraint, and business attempts to slow wage growth, was now not just something that benefited the profitability of firms; it was, in the minds of some, a patriotic action. At the very least, the new focus on wage restraint across industries provided a “focal point” that permitted firms to look beyond the particular competitive conditions within their own industries and to aim for wage restraint within their own firms. This was a small, but important, ideological change that contributed to efforts to keep wages low.
The government-caused shift in the balance of power between capital and labor was not reversed. Rather, this shift in the balance of power was maintained through informal institutions, and these informal institu- tions set in motion the decline in real wages that started after 1973.
Read more of this important study at: http://economics.csusb.edu/facultyStaff/nilsson/personal/Professional/Nixon.pdf
Upon closer inspection of the times, what made the situation worse was near the end of the strong economic growth period toward the end of Clinton years (late 1990s), when all the new technology caused feedback loops and then the dot-com bubble reached its peak and burst. It was at this moment that the Median Household Income drifted away from GDP.
* MODIFIED ADDITION IN BLUE = NASDAQ Composite Index (dot-com bubble and burst)
Ever since, while most of the country took on more credit card debts, student loans, home loans and other loans, what soon followed was the crisis which led to the crash in 2008. Meanwhile, since the dot-com burst, more businesses in america had become computerized as illustrated by its side effect, a term called “job polarization,” and as Professor Peter Temin at MIT points out: the middle-class slowly vanishes, while wealth inequality increases dramatically.
Less workers, more hours worked — “the new normal” — just one example from a technical industry.
Image from MIT Prof. Peter Temin’s new book
“The Vanishing Middle Class” http://news.mit.edu/2017/america-economy-decline-middle-class-0313
If you want to see much more evidence of the above graphs, just look here.
Sales dipped after the crash, people were reluctant to spend, and companies needed to stay afloat in the recession. While some companies held steadfast, (a more recent example linked regarding technological unemployment) many decided the best policy was to fire most of the staff and let the few remaining take on more work with the promise of a huge payoff later… despite increased stress, reduced health/well-being, and chaotic work environments.
Years have gone by and while so many of us are spinning plates so that we can buy dinner, global deals are occurring in 5-star resorts as bankers, oil barons, real estate tycoons, MLM moguls and enterprise investors increasingly buy media and lobby politics, and the bosses, many who were bailed out, are buying lambos and going hunting or golfing. Should we be mad? What’s more… as many small and medium companies stagnate, the big ones ate up the little ones. Thats just “the game”, they say.
It seems as though some made a choice to step toward a more ruthless society rather than compassionate one and in doing so, seek to profit.
Startups used to have big teams, now they hire a small handful of people and burn through Venture Capital money. If you can’t get VC money, you’re supposed to leap past increasingly big barriers to entry. The corporate and entrepreneurial culture seems to have changed from creating something of long-lasting value to creating something fast, getting rich, and employing a sound ‘exit strategy’.
Entrepreneurial culture shouldn’t reward ruthless (unhealthy) competition that pushes others down and out for selfish gain. Yet in a few of my own experiences, of which I (thankfully) opted out of- despite the (very real) promise of riches — it sadly did!
In Silicon Valley, success seems to have morphed into a get-rich-quick game with a proper ‘exit strategy’ and not much else. Daily job alerts for openings near me are mainly Uber/Lyft, Life Insurance MLM’s, or a choice between Walmart or McDonald’s. Meanwhile, tent-cities pop up around the states and yet people earning unhealthy amounts in tech-hubs still can’t afford to pay rent.
Companies that are automating and hiring less are making more money— should we be surprised when machines or softwares are simply better at doing all the laborious hard work? That’s what they’re made to do.
Meanwhile, retail stores are closing at an alarming rate while Amazon and similar grow exponentially, all while entrepreneurs create gig marketplaces for “modern digital slave labor”, such as fiverr.com or 99designs.com… or IRL, Uber.
After staring at page after page of Uber and MLM Life Insurance job offers and occasionally applying to hundreds of local part-time gigs, I instead chose to keep going back to my entrepreneurial projects and for the past 10 years I’ve constantly had to ask myself to decide between: “Do I like or enjoy or even at least can tolerate this, am I good at this… OR… does it compromise my values? Is this moral? I don’t have to be good at it—or like it, I just have to do it anyways.”
There’s enough risk as is, we really shouldn’t also be forced to compromise our values as a prerequisite of “success,” of what appears now to be a only a glimpse of financial well-being, nevermind “success”.
When some of my projects failed, I kept going with others. Then, during occasional breaks and during my own daily manual labor tasks putting together decals, I found some time to use my spare mental energy to research and to think deeply about things, including the topics of this essay.
Apples to Oranges
Besides the above issues, the bigger problem in my opinion is that people in government positions, representatives (if that is still a thing), perhaps lobbied by corporate interests, decided (perhaps unintentionally but likely motivated by increasing profits) to apply this same plate-spinning policy toward government, which is by definition run by people, and fundamentally different than a corporation.
A large portion of America decided that it might be a great idea to treat government, which includes hospitals, clinics, schools, libraries, fire-stations, police services, clean water, roads, etc… and all the multitude of other important public services that we all pay taxes towards, to treat those like some kind of lean business in a hyper-competitive, dog-eat-dog kind of way, despite the very real ability of the government to appropriate and allocate funds based on the needs of the people.
Austerity is a choke-hold of important and necessary public services, squeezing the life out of them.
If you’re skeptical of the damage that austerity can do, you need only look at what happened in Flint MI.
Upon learning all this, watching the political mess in the USA, looking at all those growing economic inquality graphs, people like Bernie Sanders were pointing out issue after issue to millions of people.
Wealth Inequality Skyrockets
Tent cities began to pop up nearby and across the states, my business and my life were starting to be affected by politics, I met some unscrupulous profit-hungry individuals and was forced to take on morally-compromising projects and deal with morally corrupt individuals, our personal lives were starting to be directly affected by this culture and new kind of politics—I tried to avoid it, but all said and done at the time—I became very mad at Capitalism.
Do you remember those times? Well, they’re still happening.
It seemed as though greed had run amok and that there were just a few people to blame. What can we do?
Pointing Wrong Fingers, Part 1: The Elderly.
Who is to blame?
Many at this point would begin to point fingers at the elder generation, like the generation before them, “They’ve left us in this mess! It’s all their fault!” However, it is wrong to do so when the vast majority of them, just like you and I, were merely going about their day ensuring their own survival. Some media organizations have now decided it‘s a great idea to run dozens of opinion-pieces accusing the elderly or accusing millenials for ruining everything, pitting them against each other. This is obviously highly controversial, and what we saw was that controversy suddenly made a lot of money from ad networks very quickly, people got furious about everything and shared the links on social media, leading to more advertising revenue for many (already massive) media organizations.
This behavior is only getting worse. Blame and misdirection are running rampant. Increasingly, controversy and corruption are making more and more money.
Are your parents or grandparents really nefarious for looking after their own self-interest and looking after you while this is all going on? No. Absolutely not. It is discrimination to blame the elder generation, and it is wrong.
Pointing Wrong Fingers, Part 2 : The System.
Was the system to blame?
People at this point, as I did, would start arguing by saying: “We must do something, but what can we do?”
The first argument sounds like this: “Which is better, Socialism, Capitalism, or Communism?… what about Anarchism or x-y-z ism?” A lot of people start saying “Down with Capitalism! It’s the problem! It causes rampant greed and pillaging because of the extreme desire for profits!” If greed is caused by Capitalism. Then yes, Capitalism is probably the problem.
However, this anger is somewhat misdirected and only half the story.
Some things to keep in mind here are:
1) Many of us keep money (capital) in savings accounts, allowing us to have a choice when to spend or where to invest. If we didn’t have a savings account, we would still keep it in our wallet until we needed to spend it.
2) We live in a (now global) system of trade that is habitual. Before coins, people exchanged sheep or goats (and some still do).
Money is an intermediary and its value is based on how each member of society trusts that it remains as valuable as is necessary in order for a fair exchange. The other day, I sold an old canopy set in exchange for $10. I only did that because I knew I didn’t need it anymore and that I could later exchange that $10 for something else that I would need or want.
Right now, we can hate and blame money and how it is exchanged in a Capitalist system, saying that it causes greed all we like, but we still need that intermediate-value-holder called money, we still need to make trades, we still need to keep money in our wallet…otherwise we would all be bartering—or we’re somehow living on a Star Trek spaceship.
We don’t have a stateless or cashless society. Money is necessary.
Are greedy Capitalists to blame then?
Socialism & Communism put an emphasis on beliefs of a collectivist aspect of production being preferred over owning capital as an individual. That’s why you might hear some socialists say “we must seize the means of production” (ie. machines, robots, equipment, etc).
What happens if production is collectively run? Can we seize the means of production from the local dentist? Proponents will say “well, we actually see this happen successfully in cases like co-operatives like mondragon and worker-owned businesses.”
Capitalists will argue that this is taking away individual freedom, their focus will be on government enforcing things so they will say: “Government is taking away individual freedom!” I’m expecting lots of replies in this nature to this writing, either from capitalists or socialists.
The epiphany I had was that: Collectivists vs. Individualists… and Socialists vs. Capitalists… will argue forever, because what many Capitalists or Socialists or Communists or what-have-you fail to recognize is this:
People simultaneously appreciate both individual freedom and the merits and dignity of working/producing/creating as an individual… and simultaneously working/producing/creating together as a team to accomplish a common goal. People CAN and DO appreciate both.
The problem is that some appreciate the former more, and others prefer the latter more, because each of us are different and have different backgrounds. These ideas do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Of course, there are some… outliers… that hate both. Then there are some people who just enjoy arguing, and will do so until they go blue in the face, or until they make some money doing so.
This idea of simultaneously having individual freedom while working on a team as something we should probably appreciate much more, but it seems hard for some to grasp. Being a snare drummer in drumline taught me the simultaneity of honing your individual skill for the benefit of the team. The same can be said for many sports, such as baseball. Not everyone has a high respect for entertainers in a band, but the same lesson applies in sports, in the workplace, and so many other places. It is the reason so many people have so much respect for hard “work”. I put the word work in quotes because there’s something many people forget about the word.
In order to illustrate several points about work, winning, and simultaneity, I’m going to tell a short story about an important lesson I learned while in drumline. It’s an important lesson and it’s part of who I am, and I am thankful for the experience.
Some of us were quite arrogant about our position in the marching band, but the reality was that in order to produce a fine half-time performance and go on to win the tournament, everyone had similar work responsibilities: refine your muscle-memory, have some passion for what you were doing, and spend the necessary time to fail and then improve. You do this and we all win — and win, we did!
The definition of winning in this context was outperforming the other contestants by individually executing a strong performance and thus overall displaying an entertaining performance for the audience and judges.
It was hard work. We spent the time to refine. One of the best memories of my life was celebrating with so much pride that my drumstick broke after our 1st place win in the regionals (soon after I left, our band went on to be 1st in the nation and played at the White House).
Here’s what people forget about hard work, pride, and success.
It becomes very easy at that point to gloat and claim you did all this yourself. “Yeah, I’m the champ!”
The biggest lesson I learned about hard work and pride is: There’s no way to experience that same feeling of success without the multiple passionate and dedicated coaches, without everyone being dedicated in their own way, without having the necessary time for practice, without having the support of friends and family, without a safe place to practice, without people being honest with each other, without a bus to arrive at the performances, without the mutual respect and encouragement of coaches and members, without the necessary tools and equipment provided to us to help each individual succeed (and all the other foundational things I didn’t list), so that we may all succeed and have a feeling of purpose.
The biggest lesson I learned there was: success, work, and pride…isn’t all about the accomplishment, it’s also simultaneously about the journey.
You don’t have to succeed by pushing others down.
It’s simultaneously about your individual efforts and your team efforts. Hard work in order to succeed and feel pride and purpose is never only by ones own merits, there is always something or someone that has helped one succeed. We need each other.
There’s a lot of people I admire, wealthy people, too — who do great, wonderful, respectable things for society — but the idea of success that is purely based on money is the most selfish concept of success there can be.
What all this boils down to is that an individualist will argue with a collectivist forever because their worldviews conflict. If there is a revolution — hopefully non-violent— with the goal of taking power from a few individuals and giving it to collectivists — what is then to stop individuals in that new society from attempting to gain power and form new hierarchical structures? The table would just keep turning—like it always has.
Another point is: If you just can’t see how there are some good aspects in our system of trade, such as social-enterprises, social-entrepreneurship, NGOs, CBOs, credit unions, startups that overall benefit the community, businesses that overall benefit the community, or co-operatives, etc… there’s no reason for me to continue writing. I should really just stop here. But this leads me to the next point…
Pointing Wrong Fingers, Part 3 : Greed.
Is Capitalism bad, or is greedy Capitalism bad?
Many will argue at this point that the system has given so many people financial freedom, we’re living in the best society history has ever seen— well, many of us are anyway — to claim there is anything wrong with Capitalism and proceed to propose any solutions is to them considered naïve idealistic fantasy.
But they totally ignore how many aspects of Capitalism are failing so miserably, and can push so many down while doing so, and this is actually ignoring many of the growing problems.
Once again, is it right to blame people and call them nefarious psychopaths for looking out for their own survival and, by extension, self-interest? Most individuals simply prefer the path of least resistance, especially when they are just trying to survive on a daily basis.
Occam’s Razor says the simplest answer is usually the correct one.
The truth is that there are good and bad aspects of Capitalism.
Take social-enterprise and the growing #socialentrepreneurship trends, for example. Capitalism actually allows co-operatives, social-enterprise, and non-profits to function within it’s system of trade. Surely you’ve heard of goodwill.org!
However, many new social-enterprises struggle to survive in the first few years most likely because founders have to survive off instant-noodles and daily survival-anxiety, the scarcity mentality, barriers to entry, much like other startups and tend not to make nearly as much profits, at least at first. Many nonprofits are forced to emulate for-profit business models that emphasize meeting the desires of the board and overhead costs, instead of being able to focus on providing critical goods and services to communities.
Okay, so if Capitalism is capable of social-enterprise and companies that aren’t 100% about profits before people, why don’t we have far more of that?
Now some will say “it just isn’t as cool” and others will say, “GREED! That’s it then. Greed is the ultimate enemy, we must eradicate greed, and money causes greed!”
When I was much younger, I wrote a piece of music called “Destroy Greed.” I was angry about greed and it was a way to vent that anger. Many years went by and the same idea stuck with me — that many of the problems we face in the world may be due to greed. Many people would still agree with this statement. Years went by. I went through school. I started working. As I grew up I took on more of what we like to call “more responsibility,” that is, making sure you have enough income to survive “on your own”. I went about my days thinking “What can we do to solve many of societies major problems?” I started thinking about the root causes for so many problems, starting with greed.
I asked the following questions “What exactly is greed? Greed is very bad. Why are people greedy? What is the motivation behind greed?”
You can’t tell a greedy person that greed is the problem because that is saying ‘they are the problem’ — not the system we’ve tried to create to provide freedom for everyone.
If you had a leaky boat, would you say the boat is the problem, the captain is the problem—or try to fix the leak before everyone drowns?
Right now most people ignore the leak as if it doesn’t exist, and they keep blaming the captain while the entire boat is sinking.
The problem is not the existence of wealthy… or greedy people. It’s that our current societal culture seems to fuel egotism, and that’s probably because there is something very important missing from our society. We all have this feeling there is something missing, but what is it?
What’s really quite scary, is that the main driver of greed and egotism is to reinforce a person’s feelings of perceived superiority.
The motive of some to remain greedy is to feel superior over another because they are conditioned to do so. If money can be used as a tool to maintain power over others, then greed is used to increase that power and increase feelings of (false) supremacy. That sense of superiority, a display of egotism, is only emboldened by those who choose to accept it as real, even though it is merely a display. An act. A sharade. Something children do until they grow up.
There is something hugely important missing from our society, and it is causing a mental and cultural crisis: https://newint.org/columns/essays/2016/04/01/psycho-spiritual-crisis/
If culture is habit, then what we have now is a society that is increasingly habitually demoralized by constant competitive pressures. This can lead to far more problematic issues, like spiraling into dangerous addictions.
What we have today is an increasingly egotistical and materialistic society where everyone is comparing everything, putting others down to feel superior (social media isn’t entirely at fault, it’s merely a communication tool, but it amplifies comparisons via imagery and video) and trying to “one up” everyone. Advertisers and big corporations know this and that’s why they pay athletes and celebrities to speak highly of their products. Advertisers and brands make shareholders happy by playing into egotism heavily because the reality is that currently it works: people “buy into it,” and it makes more money.
When people have limited access to resources, greed automatically becomes tied to egotism and envy: “I’ve got this, you don’t, therefore I think I am more important than you!” Money in the eyes of the culture of our society is then being used as a measuring stick for power (and a metaphorical stick: fear of being homeless or starving). To be selfish in order to survive is a natural instinct. Selfishness is part of the human condition, we need to be selfish to look after ourselves, and we have done so ever since we started walking around on two legs… but where there is scarcity there is also egotism, envy, and greed, they are defensive mechanisms.
We need to face the fact that to be occasionally selfish is part of being human, and that greed may simply be a by-product of a less-than-perfect system among other nuanced reasons. Greed is diminishing the importance of other humans and encourages feelings of (false) superiority.
I know we have computers and smartphones and excess, but I acknowledge that not everyone has warm, clean water to shower in. I refuse to believe that since I do — and was, for a while, forced to be somewhat-aggressive to put myself in a better position to have access to those same things — that I am somehow better than other people. That should not be how things work.
Money and greed aren’t the problem: the problem is a false sense of superiority, which is a defense mechanism of artificial scarcity and a byproduct of scarcity mentality.
Some people seem to have chosen to step toward a future that is more ruthless because they stand to profit more from it.
We now have the capability for abundance, but in greed’s wake lies artificial scarcity, artificial limits to access to resources as a method of power, and thus increasing wealth inequality. We also come to see this mentality reflected culturally.
We see this mentality reflected in our entertainment through artificially created competition, and artificially created interpersonal conflicts, on ‘Reality TV’ for example, these forms of conflicts are designed to be controversial and could arguably be viewed as normalizing interpersonal conflict and conditioning the public for a more ruthless reality despite so much evidence to the contrary and despite alternatives.
“But often the shows are less interested in celebrating merit than in re-creating an ideology of ruthless individualism in our living rooms and Twitter hashtags.” — “Depicting a shortage-ridden world rationalizes zero-sum competition and exploitation as necessary responses. It naturalizes selfishness as survival. This is not merely indoctrination; the narrative fits easily with ideological constructions we’ve already absorbed and we are already living with, in response to the economic inequalities capitalism already sustains.” — Britney Summit-Gil is a PhD candidate in the communication and media department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
People are conditioned from an early age to seek out ‘fame and fortune’ (very much driven by egotism) and this mentality only makes ‘the greedy’ even more money.
The problem now is that this has gone on for so long that a large group of people have simply inherited such greedy ways of life and mentalities without even knowing it, until that way of life is threatened, of course.
Do they even know what greed is, or do they even care? The have the power, the time, the comfort, simply not to care at all. Some seem to have completely lost empathy for those not in that same situation.
Are those bad people? That’s highly debatable.
The truth however is, there may always be greedy people, there may always be people who want to feel superior, there will always be people who worked hard and will clutch onto what they created and not want to ever share… but that doesn’t mean we should as a whole society allow for widespread suffering, for widespread poverty, poverty as structural violence, poverty as worth-ism, because just a handful of people want to be greedy and feel superior.
I believe this lack of misunderstanding on how greed is connected to feelings of false superiority is why you get the two extremes (collectivists vs individualists) arguing endlessly about ownership: one feels that someone who worked hard for something should be allowed to “own it” — the other feels that “we should all work hard and all own it”…. these two types really, really argue!
Arguing endlessly like this gets us nowhere fast. While I am not arguing in favor of greed, the reality is that we should seek to allow for both situations to occur simultaneously without it being detrimental to anyone in society.
The reality here is that the solution to all these problems then cannot be system abolishment… or table turning. That’s endless. There need not be violent revolt and incarceration. There will be no such thing as equal outcomes. Some will always have more than others—because that is reality.
We probably won’t be able to eradicate greed or superiority… but we can significantly diminish the effects of both.
We need to create a society that allows for social mobility and ever-flowing changes in wealth and financial positions for everyone, instead of one that continues to stagnate and regress toward low mobility for more and more people, toward reduced wealth-flow for all but a few, and increasing wealth inequality for the majority for the foreseeable future.
There is a massive potential to hugely reduce poverty and suffering, which are both a result of artificial scarcity and it’s symptom: greed. First, we must accept that we have a problem…
Step 2. Accepting the (cultural) problem.
So, what’s really going on here, why are we in such a dire situation that seems to be getting worse each day? Why do people get more attracted to profit-hungry companies? Why isn’t the situation already resolved in Flint, MI? Why don’t more people start social-enterprises? Why has there been a wage vs. productivity decoupling since the 1970s, why do we keep enacting failed austerity policies, why does corruption and controversy seem to be increasing? Why is our President seemingly heading toward authoritarianism? Why is he chummy with Russia? Is Putin leveraging supremacists, or are they leveraging him? What the hell is going on? Why are people starting to ignore scientists while 97% of them say we’re bolting toward catastrophe with climate change (global heat death)?
The answer is that while many of us are trying to get through each day merely surviving and looking for that next payout or paycheck, there is an important element missing from our current culture and our current system of trade. There’s something missing that shifts the motives for starting a for-profit organization in the first place, that shifts the motivation behind someone looking to bolster their esteem, a huge missing piece that will fundamentally change the idea of Capitalism and our culture as we know it, for the better.
We can shift the motivation of some to initially seek to obtain esteem:
from obtaining power for one to instead empowering all.
But before we can fix the problem and make that cultural shift, we must first accept that we have a problem.
We have a cultural problem, but we need to stop beating ourselves up for things that are outside of our personal control. Everything is not fine, but it’s not your fault… we need to be able to accept that.
Many of us are currently forced to do things we hate and we need some understanding of that fact. People are hating on each other for “not being responsible” when society is letting them down. We need help, we need help with moving towards less stress overall in our lives. Consider this too: people get lied to and act according to those lies, can we blame them for falling for those lies? No.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, it’s wrong to assume everyone can be good at math for example, when they may excel in other areas. Often people who are proficient in math struggle in other areas.
Value, dignity, respect.
What if we could give people the time and freedom to find out exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are and how they can meaningfully participate in society and be valued for who they are and what they do?
Right now our society seems to value math and logic skills over associative thinking and emotional ones, as if math-proficiency is indicative of ‘superior’ intelligence. It is not superior, it is different. A healthy society would value both.
Right now we have a society that is forcing people to discard who they are so that they can be “responsible adults” and fit into a pre-set notion of what is dignified and what deserves respect.
When artists are forced to take a job for a living, for example, they get extremely defensive. This is because people who are not artists themselves want to assign a functional/work value and put a pricetag on something that inherently has no price because it is priceless. But to many it is seen as useless, so nothing special, it isn’t appreciated. To the artist and to those who enjoy art, these artworks have tremendous value. Don’t get me wrong, peoples value of an artwork itself changes based on several factors, such as the rarity, or the ‘notability’ of the artist. That is a bit different. We value art—but do we really value artists and the work they do?
Like most things, people spend time translating from thought to reality though, if it can’t make money in our system it is hardly appreciated or valued.
Now consider that anything could potentially be taken to the level of art, yet culturally we only seem to value certain arts. Art however, is a critical component of history, our humanity and symbolic communication. In the context of financial stability, art is without doubt cast aside.
Sure, that’s reality you say, but to those who are ‘full-on-artists’ — that’s who they are to the core of their being: forcing them to put a price on their art and participating in a culture that seems to have a completely different value system is like forcing a comedian to be a full-time clown.
That’s extreme, and extreme views often don’t take into account context. Is it any wonder artists may get defensive?
The reality is that Artists, Musicians, Doctors, and Farmers all have the potential to be life changing and profound depending on the frame of reference or context.
In the context of financial stability, our culture seems to devalue art. Is this a byproduct of a culture that is constantly forced to “earn a living”? We tend to associate art with leisurely effort, and tend to bundle it in with leisure time, even though it takes time, dedication, work, and effort to make art (or music, or videogames, or films, or novels).
Right now and for a long time our culture has held “work” up on a pedastal and treated those who do not work, who do not have a job, as if they do not exist.
The latest 2017 national budget proposal states: “Work must be the center of our social policy,” implying that work must be the sole provider of wellbeing. If you do not work you should suffer.
We might as well say: “I work, therefore I am.”
There is something profoundly wrong with that.
Work and the motivation to obtain esteem.
Work has become national pride in the name of enabling more work, of glorifying job creators and giving them all the power, rather than national pride in the name of societal, human betterment, purpose, and upholding the value of a human being and what one could accomplish, regardless of if they have a job or not.
Would the motivation to obtain esteem through art be different if we didn’t glorify jobs and work as defining human value, as validating an existence?
The work of an esteemed Surgeon or Doctor, for example, is esteemed because society deems it so incredibly valuable, moreso than merely the financial value. They might say “I did the work, I’m exceptionally skilled, I am valued, I contribute — why can’t you?” — but that is applying and comparing their own self-worth without context of what society deems valuable or considers worthy of esteem.
Why does our culture seem to have a misunderstanding of the motivation to obtain esteem? The motivation to obtain esteem: Is it for money above all else? Are they a Surgeon because they want to be wealthy? Or is it to benefit society and community? Is it for both? They must come to their own realization that the work they do is esteemed because society deems it so incredibly valuable.
Did the Wright Brothers invent the airplane because they wanted to be “job creators”?
No. They created the control system for the aircraft so that they could prove it could be done and because they were inventors that wanted to advance society forward.
That’s what science is about. Advancing humanity forward, progressing into higher standards of wellbeing. It goes beyond politics or system. They did not do it for the sake of making more money or more work, for work’s sake.
Shouldn’t we be highly alarmed when our culture begins to diminish the values of what makes us human — our individuality, our uniqueness, our creativity, our thoughts?
We actually prefer not to put a price on thoughts — they’re priceless, like works of art, because sometimes they can be truly new and unique.
We know that most people have inside them the capacity for greatness.
An unhealthy society is one that only sees thoughts as valuable when those thoughts make money.
An unhealthy society is one that only sees people as valuable when those people make money.
Have you heard someone insultingly use the phrase “precious snowflake”? This is a belittling and patronizing way of saying “you’re nothing special, you are not a unique snowflake, you are no different than anyone else.” Consider the next time you get into a discussion where this occurs, consider the motivation for childish name-calling is likely with the interest of selfish profit and self-promotion—and you begin to see why one would blurt things like “snowflake”.
We are all unique and yet have so very much in common —all at the same time. It’s not a paradox, it’s reality.
I once thought you need bad actions to appreciate the good ones. The truth is you don’t need aphids on a rose to see how beautiful it is.
We don’t need work to tell us how valuable we are, just like we don’t need credit scores pushed on us to remind us how valuable financial institutions think we are. Our current culture is increasingly putting the biggest emphasis on financial success and to be more specific: numbers and scores, that is, credit scores… and now there’s this atrocity with social media analyses thrown into the mix.
On top of all of that, we are starting to see the possibility of groups of people in the spotlight that have superiority-complexes who believe society is of a Social Darwanist nature, which has been proven false. Nevertheless, they are gaining more power and starting to make the rules in the name of “bipartisan” compromise. Do we even know if they really truly are a conservative or a neoliberal, or does it even matter?
There are examples where society accept forms of intense ruthless competition normal such as: an accomplished pianist, an accomplished olympic athlete, an accomplished professor, an accomplished mathematician, an accomplished doctor… the well-accepted and encouraged drive to show superiority over a competitor appears in just about every sport and many forms of entertainment (singers/rockstars).
Is there anything wrong with this? I don’t think there is anything wrong with celebrating humans pushing their own individual limits, in the interest of entertainment or sportsmanship, in the context of benefitting society. The problem comes when the motivations for work and the drive to be superior come from profit-first and people/community-second and when financial “success at all costs” is detrimental to health and well-being of society. Worse so when the motivations to financially “win the game” or even worse yet to simply financially “get skin in the game” are detrimental to the community as is the case with many ventures these days.
This path forward is beyond dangerous because it begins to associate financial success to individual success — which are truly two completely different things. That to me is a deranged culture, a deranged society.
Placing a score on something like a human life is intrinsically immoral. It encourages people to falsely believe that one person is, at any given moment, superior or inferior, despite all of us having the “potential energy” to change the world.
When you are assigned a score that can be manipulated by forces outside your control (as some have already experienced with credit reports), this could have the devestating consequence of completely extinguishing the potential for someone to make a positive impact in the world.
This is exactly what kind of dark reality a supremacist would want to maintain while they are at the top and in control.
Do we want this near future?
Do we have to soon survive through it—just so we know for sure what to (somehow) avoid?
The real problem we must all see is that there is something missing from our system that gives people the power to push back against greed, against corruption, against regression, against stagnation, against ruthless financial competition that benefits the few at the cost of the many, against devaluing of culture, and against the worst of all, supremacy.
What if we don’t face these issues? Well…we head fast towards major societal problems like led, mud, feces, or mercury poisoned waters, limited food supplies, not much access to doctors or healthcare, extremely limited access to internet or education or knowledge, mass unemployment, increasing division, increasing conflict, increasing corruption, broken infrastructure and sewage systems, lack of shelter or extremely deteriorated living spaces. How do we know that would happen? You need only look at some of the devastating conditions in developing countries.
Divisism stems from Superiority. What we are increasingly headed towards is a society and culture with ingrained superiority or supremacism.
Step 3. Moving forward. Growing up.
This is the big grown-up idea I’ve been alluding to, and some of you reading this will have no doubt have some reflexive reactions to it, and that’s actually normal, because most of us are skeptical. On top of that, is the science to prove that people will respond negatively to something that challenges their worldview. You must be willing to proceed with an open mind. You must recognize that this idea is now increasingly backed by science and new evidence.
Here is the idea:
It is time at this very moment for each and every one of us to make it an absolute societal imperative and to individually decide today: that nobody on Earth must experience the survival-fear (or daily scarcity mentality and lack of individual power) of losing their main source of income and/or not having food, clean water, or shelter for them or their family, so that we can each focus on bettering ourselves and bettering our society: by ensuring a foundational floor of income for every human being, every person on Earth.
It is time to make Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a reality.
It is time to choose a near future where each human is ensured a foundational floor of income, so that they may display their capicity for fulfillment or greatness in their own way with the limited time they have remaining on Earth.
It is time to reject science denial, and to respect science and evidence and empower each of us with the open access to knowledge and the freedom to make the choice: to live a meaningful life, and/or to choose to play a part in facing the biggest challenges of our time head on, to give us all the power to do so with the limited time we have left, so that we or the next generation can experience life avoiding suffering and despair and ruthlessness.
Naïve idealism would be believing that this “ideal” is imperative yet somehow impossible, and that “now is not the time” and this “feel-good” idealism has no place “in the real world” that we need the bad to appreciate the good, society is dog-eat-dog, “get real”, and so on and so forth. This is now a childlike mentality, careless, immature, and avoiding massive responsibility clearly for selfish gain.
It has to be done. We can no longer afford to be psychologically and culturally young and naïve anymore. The time for this idea is already behind us, it’s almost too late —for goodness sake—we must step into a new age where we are psychologically old, wise, and skeptical, right now.
We decide collectively what the real world is.
Many of us have already decided to step toward a better future for all.
We must be psychologically aged and think critically and be skeptical and be doubtful yet pragmatic.
We must respect the evidence and examine the evidence, and act accordingly and be vocal about it, either through speech, writing, video or otherwise.
It is time to grow up.
This is a very grown-up idea: it is this simple idea that we should treat every human, every person as innately valuable, that a foundational floor is mere respect for who we are, so grown-up that it actually dates back to ancient times. It is claimed that this idea was put in practice in Ancient Athens. It’s not only a really grown-up, responsible, pragmatic idea, but it is the definition of responsibility.
We have a responsibility to look after our planet because truthfully, the reality is that right now our planet is what keeps us alive. We need to go beyond politics. We are the Children of Mother Earth, but now we must grow up and be Adults. We have the responsibility to respect and value each other, because we need each other. We have the responsibility to trust not only the evidence itself, but the institutions that uphold science and its history. We have a responsibility to push back against stagnation and regression, and instead step forward toward increasing improvement for all.
That is the real definition of responsibility.
This idea is called Universal, Unconditional, Basic Income. UBI.
BASIC INCOME IMPACTFULLY EXPLAINED BY RUTGER BREGMAN
Because we rely on money as an intermediary method to hold value in exchange for something else; because we need our society and its systems and architectures to continue flowing and growing; because we need a firm standing and a foundation to build our technologies upon; because people need each other and can do amazing things when they work together; because without a foundation people are stripped of power, we must ensure that everyone has the freedom to play a part in society if they so choose.
That requires they have access to necessities such as clean water, eyewear if necessary, access to clinics or the doctor to maintain health, proper nutrition, so that they are not fighting day and night for these basic things. An amount of money above the poverty line ensures access to the basics like decent nutrition, like toothpaste and shoes, like education to be able to read and obtain and share knowledge, to infer and share new thoughts.
The wide variety and multitude of problems we face in our society at this moment in time are mostly connected to money, to greed, and are thus a byproduct of a society that does not have a foundational income floor, or UBI. Lack of UBI could be the one, simple thing exacerbating many of the problems of yesterday and today.
UBI is this new kind of thinking that Einstein once hinted at. It is the realization that simultaneity is not just for science books. Something big is only impossible when we lose faith in each other. Lose faith in each other is exactly what someone who is greedy, through a false sense of superiority, would want us to do.
If we can choose to enact the WPA, if we can choose to go to the moon, then so too can we choose to enact UBI.
It is time we listen to MLK.
Allowing anyone to go without decent education should be considered human abuse.
Allowing anyone to go without food or clean water, to suffer, should be considered human abuse.
Forcing people to work jobs that cause them to discard who they are, that they are extremely uncomfortable with (which causes depression and demoralization), or via the threat of homelessness and starvation—should be considered human abuse.
We have homeless college students and veterans in wheelchairs in the streets of America because of this ridiculous mentality that “it’s all because of their choices”! Anyone who is poor has simply “made bad decisions” — that is black and white binary thinking, and it is now part of an old era.
If we aim to eradicate poverty we must realize that:
There are no poor people: instead there are only people who do not have a foundational income floor yet. There are no poor people: only people that do not have a guaranteed income yet.
What UBI amounts to is freedom to enjoy a normal life, but more than that…
With a foundational income floor, UBI, we will be free to not only live a normal life, but to thrive and grow, and take on the greatest challenges, and impending dangers, of our time. To reinvigorate a new age of productivity and innovation, in the name of bettering humanity, not in the name of creating new jobs for the sake of creating new jobs.
The implementation of UBI would touch on nearly every aspect of what is currently culturally wrong with our society in a healing manner. Everywhere money provides access to a need, UBI will affect. Anywhere money opens a door, UBI will affect. Culture relates to just about every aspect of how our society currently functions overall on a micro and macro level. UBI would be a cultural elixir to reverse the effects of demoralization and empower the next generation.
Whoever you are, “the bottom line” is that an Unconditional Basic Income will give you more time.
With Basic Income in place “make a quick buck” businesses would be replaced by “this is my passion” and “let’s change the world” businesses. @basicincomenews
If you are out of a job, the money will give you extra time to improve your resume or portfolio for the job you really are passionate about. If you freelance, the money will give you the time to provide higher quality work or focus on work you are passionate about, increasing your chances for higher pay and more respectful clients. As a freelancer, Basic Income will give you the time, and thus the feedom, to say no to underpaying or abusive clients. If you are still employed and are looking to train to increase your job placement, the money can provide extra time when you need it to take extra courses and work towards certifications. If you are a business owner or entrepreneur the money can give you extra time to research and provide innovations that meet new or existing demands as well as provide time for networking, it will also change the dynamic of your relationship with your employees and produce more passionate and engaged working environments.
Basic Income can help you find extra time to take care of errands and duties at home, as well as duties to properly care for your child. Basic Income can provide the necessary time to make sure the people you rely on to help raise your child are trustworthy and/or properly attended to. If you are a parent you know it takes a village to raise a child. More time with your children means more stability with your family.
Right now, at the time of this writing, I personally have a small Basic Income, an extra $60/mo in addition to my main income source. This extra income is already helping me feel more free and far less stressed on a daily basis because it helps me cover some basic monthly costs and I am starting to feel more relaxed about those bills and they’re now pushed to the back of my mind.
The same is happening in a pilot study in Finland. The same has been mentioned by other individuals who have a basic income. This has a clarifying and amplifying effect on what I choose to focus my daily time on.
Right now, there are amazing individuals like Scott Santens, who have crowdfunded a real Basic Income, he is choosing to spend this level of freedom to raise awareness for this profoundly simple yet powerful idea. UBI. I learned about UBI through http://reddit.com/r/basicincome but it is thanks to Scott’s writings and advocacy that I now know and have learned so much more.
Innovation comes from spending the time to research and combine new ideas to develop a new solution that meets a new or existing demand. The present is about creating feedback loops that benefit the few. The future is about creating feedback loops that benefit all. UBI applies to individuals as it does to small business in the regard that it allows some increase of time spent on things that the individual or small business is motivated by. As such UBI would spur on new and innovative social-entrepreneurial enterprise because it offers the freedom of extra time (and by extension motivation) for innovation, it is also likely to increase social cohesion and crowd-funding of social entrepreneurial projects which can have a healing effect on culture and the economy. Crowd-funding would likely be a huge part of future project financing when UBI is in place. Social networks would transform to enable much bigger, more well-funded projects that benefit larger groups of people.
You might be thinking right now, “well, how can UBI really take on the big problems you’ve outlined above”? But here it is, there already exists evidence that shows UBI breaks down barriers to entry and pushes back against regression by spurring on new community and purpose-driven projects and creates a multiplier effect in the formation of new economies.
UBI is not some preferred policy but in fact the only way corporatists and non-corporatists, collectivists and individualists could ever peacefully co-exist.
I hate to break it to you, but America seems highly unlikely to get UBI right first because of the extreme individualism, neoliberalism, and social-darwanistic founding of social policy in the USA and now with powerful opportunists pillaging the government and a portion of child-like individuals in the US profiting as a result while everyone else suffers, and a pervasive culture of valuing work above that of a human life.
The first country that successfully implements Unconditional Basic Income for all of its citizens and inhabitants will change everything and be seen as a true leader…and the international global race to do UBI right is already underway.
Wherever UBI happens, it has the potential to heal other nations.
We should advocate for UBI regardless, because wherever it is done successfully — those individuals will have the time necessary to develop the technology that will be necessary to fully expand the positive effects of a real UBI to other parts of the world. It’s up to you and I to make sure it happens successfully somewhere in the world. You won’t be alone, you would be among a very large and increasing group of well known individuals, advocates and supporters around the world and around the net.
We need to stop thinking “Sadly, it will never happen here” and instead we need to start thinking that “It can happen, somewhere in the world, and when it does, it will change everything”… and we should do everything we can to encourage that — as fast as possible.
You may still have doubts this idea isn’t quite right, you may have heard prominent economists speak out against UBI. It takes a firm understanding of UBI to see how it can truly work. There are so many misconceptions and understudied individuals find themselves embarrassingly blurting out against UBI without doing their homework.
Economists use past data to inform future policy. How can that work out all the time if economics itself is constantly changing at accelerating rates, especially now with automation increasing rapidly? This is why many economists don’t like UBI, because the ‘field of economics’ would change (again) and that means they would need to change too. Economists need to grow up too, and many already have.
Some who focus heavily on zero-sum logic and prefer a ruthless economic worldview claiming the rules are firm (even though they’re being abused) argue vehemently against feasibility of UBI.
“If you give somebody a dollar, that dollar has to come from somewhere,” -Jason Furman
This could be the most damaging logical fallacy of all. Zero-sum means one persons gain means another persons loss, but that’s just not how the economy actually works. Money itself might be zero-sum, but the market, trade, and the economy is not. The truth is that money supply in our economic system is often created. Banks invent money out of thin air all the time because the U.S. treasury has not been backed by gold since the early twentieth century. There’s tons of IOU’s and credits that can just vanish in finance, there’s entrepreneurs who set arbitrary prices every day.
Focusing on how government may or may not respond to the economy is sidestepping and ignoring the many issues that UBI addresses such as poverty, health, financial inequality, loss of jobs due to automation, coercive elements of culture, demoralization, homelessness, and the list keeps getting bigger.
So lets take a moment to consider who else would argue vehemently against UBI.
The mentality is “I worked hard/toiled hard/suffered hard — so should you.” That mentality is in defense of their perceived self-worth in a culture that believes that financial success is the same as human worth.
Which is a lie.
Listen carefully: the truth is out, the act is over.
To them any proposed “game change” where others would need to “work less than I did” is seen as unjust or unfair. “I suffered to get what I got, so should everyone else”- “I did the work, now you must pay your dues!” it’s a reflexive, defensive, knee-jerk reaction to the idea of UBI: they’re just saying that “people wouldn’t work, they’d be lazy and unproductive” (which is completely false) not really to discredit the merits of UBI, but to instead illustrate and reinforce defensively that they worked hard and deserve what they have.
It’s really just a pat on the back when you think incorrectly that UBI is synonymous with “moocher”. That’s really derogatory in the context of poverty. The reality for so many “in the working world” is that they are literally fighting for survival on a daily basis (overworked), though they might not realize, accept, or admit it. Taken with this context: when they think of other people “failing to fight” like they’re fighting every single day, how could they not think of themselves as stronger and better (superior)?
Those that have fought for many years and are now “resting on their (wealth) laurels” — people around them respect them more and hold them in “high regard” and esteem. The term “respect your superiors” is echoed in the hallways, it is literally spoken in many workplaces. Truthfully, is there anything wrong with that if the work they’ve done is beneficial to the community and those who work there are healthy and happy and it wasn’t detrimental to other parts of the community? Shouldn’t they then be held in esteem and considered highly valuable members of society?
Should we be mad and angry at them when their position or status that they worked so hard to obtain is perceived as a threat upon learning of the idea of UBI? No. Should we be mad that they likely don’t know what it is like to live in poverty and that poverty itself can be a trap? No. All we can do is inform.
One line of attack against UBI is that rich people don’t deserve UBI, that is a waste because “they don’t need it.” The moment one utters “but rich people will get it, too!”, they reveal not only a strong sense of envy of the rich but also a potential belief that out of perhaps spite or malice those individuals are not only undeserving but should be segregated or isolated from funds…from “this new type of society” despite the clear goal of respecting everyone equally, unconditionally.
But what drives this anger? Could it be that when individuals in society feel deep down or intuitively that this unfairness is indeed built on a false sense of superiority, and that in retaliation the desire is there to want to balance things out, for justice? The entire reason for unconditionality and not targeting is to ensure equal opportunity.
Targeting solidifies the false idea, the complete fantasy, that there can ever be a well paying job for every single person, and that we know what the right work is for people despite their uniqueness, and that we know what is best for everyone despite everyone being different, and that we think we can create work that pays well for everyone despite not examining the purpose of the work itself. To me that is truly delusional thinking.
Somewhat conversely, some people argue that “I’ve paid my dues, now you expect me to take care of you? That’s theft! UBI is theft!” just one of the many common misconceptions. Those individuals believe that taxation is theft/coercion (they’d rather live alone in a forest shack it seems). But is paying for public services like schools, libraries, traffic lights, police, hospitals and so on really coercion or theft? That is absurd.
For a fast-increasing number of people, the debate is long over.
UBI is pro-science, and UBI is pro-humanity.
Yet the debate continues for everyone else who have never heard or fully understood the idea. The only main proposed alternative to a UBI being pushed is a Job Guarantee (JG), an economic proposal that the state should provide jobs for low-income or unemployed individuals, and for the people who’s jobs have been displaced by automation (which is increasing rapidly)… but a Job Guarantee ignores how the state has been bribed, coerced, and lobbied to the benefit large corporations, leaving a potential for a massive conflicts of interests and increasing revolving door problems.
Do you like the idea of credit or payday loan companies lobbying for Sesame Credit-like ideas to become law? I sure as hell don’t. Not only that, focusing on arguing “skills & opportunity” is a misdirection/distraction from the merits of UBI: it shifts the discussion to who decides what skill and opportunity is — instead of attempting to grasp the root problem of the motivations to obtain money or esteem in the first place.
Put really simply though, JG is pigeonholing.
We’re better than that as a society- we’ve grown up.
In the old era view, the prerequisite to freedom is that you are forced to either:
1) Slave for someone else to survive, so that you can… maybe later (no guarantees) have the freedom to express your individual capacity for greatness.
2) Risk your livelihood for many years — in a competition or scheme — 9 out of 10 fail — but, if you’re successful, gives you the false-belief that you are somehow superior than other human beings and that “you did it all on your own” — only to realize that what you created took other people’s help (or sales) to create- and that it was based on the demands of the needs of the public (what people are willing to pay for), and that your individual freedom to express your own capacity for greatness or fulfillment has been suppressed for years. If you fail, you risk it all again, or go back to 1.
3) Have some form if income or inheritance — that allows you to invest and slowly increase your distance from other “slaves” while you slowly lose empathy for those who “can’t do what you did” giving you a false-sense of superiority
4) Get given enough to survive, either by inheritance, luck, trust fund, or something else. (see number 3)
5) Get given a garage (or space) by the grace of family (or someone else) as a private space to work on number 2).
We don’t have any natural enemies left on the planet that threaten our lives or safety… Rather, we’ve decided that instead of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to express their individual capacity for greatness or fulfillment, we would rather have each other as financial enemies.
People treat modern life like it is some cruel sport, despite increasing abundance, despite a simple choice we (some of us) have already made: the freedom to demonstrate individual capacity for greatness (or fulfillment) is an intrinsic human right.
The old era of thinking is now over.
UBI is a human right. A foundational income floor is a necessity and it is a global moral imperative.
UBI is a choice between a future of freedom or a future ruled by Social Darwinists.
If you’re still hung up on Socialism vs Capitalism—it is my firm and continually strengthening belief that UBI will bring the required change, a market lubricant and cultural elixir — more than just a bandage — an upgrade, a keystone in the bridge toward a better society.
We need not “burn everything to the ground to start over”. If the owners of capital that are greedy want to continue being greedy, they will be left alone to their own peril, because those with UBI would be empowered to say “NO!”
It wouldn’t happen overnight, there would not be suddenly millions laid off. It would be a gradual time of planned adjustment which is much better than a sudden and chaotic change.
People would be free to create co-operatives or be productive in other ways over time, UBI leaves a door open to individuals sharing ownership of organizations.
There would still be dignity in work, why wouldn’t there be?
People who are asked “Would you stop working if you got a UBI?” resoundingly say “No, I’d still work!” Studies have shown that when people have adequate time to recover from stress they actually bounce back more productive. So-called ‘long-term loafing’ is a symptom of demoralization that the current system produces. Leisure is inherently different from long-term loafing.
Evidence of UBI pilots show that productivity increases and the potential for social entrepreneurship and an economy that has far more purpose can propel us into a brighter future.
For the majority that respects evidence, the evidence exists and the research is increasing in 2017. The cost of not implementing UBI is enormous. To think that it can only be funded via one method is short-sighted and unimaginative. To think that it’s unnecessary is… entirely insulting to those whose lives are already changed.
UBI Research Links — UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME EVIDENCE
In India, for example, “basic income grants led to small-scale investments — more and better seeds, sewing machines, establishment of little shops, repairs to equipment, and so on. This was associated with more production, and thus higher incomes. The positive effect on production and growth means that the elasticity of supply would offset inflationary pressure due to any increased demand for basic food and goods.” In Alaska and in India, inflation was reduced.
Without UBI, you will be punished for caring, for shedding your ego, for being selfless instead of selfish. UBI will give any system of trade a heart. It is simply more realistic to adopt a bottom-up change than to keep fighting for a path that undoubtedly would lead to some kind of ugly violent revolt or worse yet, ugly yet entirely useless revolt.
With UBI we instead build upon what has come before.
UBI would empower individuals the same way that social networks like Twitter are giving people a voice to reach wider audiences.
The evidence for UBI has shown the potential for increased liberty, emancipation, better education, better pay, more entrepreneurship, the potential for more crowdfunding, an eradication of poverty, a strengthening of democracy, less crime, less fraud, less stress, more time thus more innovation, more rewards for unpaid contributions to society such as caregiving, less bureaucracy, more small business growth, more economic activity, more startup resilience, more non-profit resilience, the list goes on… but what is ignored by almost every economist is that all of the above would produce an amplifying effect on the health and productivity of citizens with a massive potential to amplify economic output.
UBI would be a canvas to display your capacity for greatness, there would be no boundary to the size of your canvas.
For when you give humanity a foundational platform that enables success, there are then no limits to what we as a society can accomplish, because there are no limits to knowledge itself except the artificial limits some are now wanting to create. UBI is thus a profound shift we can make as a society to transition into a new era of health, prosperity, knowledge, and innovation.
Thankfully, there are more people that respect and appreciate evidence than do not. We need to reach them as soon as possible.
That is why myself and others have taken to medium.com and Twitter to attempt to reach and galvanize as many people as possible. Twitter is a simple platform that allows people to share what they are doing and why, and this messaging is shared to reach wider audiences, that is why it is conducive to change. When each new person speaks up about UBI, so then do we all move faster toward a better future for all. That change is already underway, and you can join in and participate.
Sharing how you are making a difference can actually make a huge difference right now. I recently launched an initiative that encourages a twitter advocate group for every passion or topic on @ubiadvocates.
I encourage you to join the movement in your own way, the same movement which is now over 50 years old since the Basic Income Earth Network was formed, to enact Basic Income in your country.
Join the movement today.
It’s time to grow up. It’s time to reach higher. It’s time to step toward a better future for all, faster. Make the choice, speak up for humanity, speak up for UBI.
Read more of my writings published about Universal Basic Income:
Read about the existing evidence supporting UBI:
Become a UBI advocate! Join the UBImovement!
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