Putting something called “UBI” aside for a second here... There was a puzzle in my mind that I spent years trying to solve. It related to ethics, and to the motivations of humanity. It dug deeply into things like greed, ego, envy, esteem, culture, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, value, etc... Mentally I climbed this mountain for years. Recently, I reached the top of my own mental journey. There at the top, to my surprise and now delight, a flag was already waiting for me. It seems as though it has been there forever. The flag was just waiting not only for me, but for everyone else who might climb a similar mental journey in their own way. The flag didn’t seem to care about my mental journey, or anyone else’s really, it simply stood at the top and read: “#BasicIncome” … UBI aligned with my own personal discoveries… I made my own climb without the idea of “Universal Basic Income”, yet profoundly this flag was already there waiting for me at the top… and I believe it is now waiting for everyone else too.
So what is UBI? “Universal Basic Income” — It’s just an idea.
For me, this is UBI:
Universal = Everyone.
Unconditional = Without other stipulations or prerequisites.
Basic = A foundational floor to survive, enough to provide vital food, clean water, and basic shelter so as to ensure social inclusion.
Income = A monthly amount, not from a pie, not of a division of a greater sum, but an amount ensured as a right, for being a human being, here on Earth.
This idea isn’t new, it’s been around for at least 50 years. There’s an international group tirelessly advocating it called BIEN (“Basic Income Earth Network”). Some claim the idea goes all the way back to Athens, BC.
I was introduced to the idea of Universal Basic Income indirectly.
While I was researching society and culture online I stumbled into http://reddit.com/r/basicincome from another linked “subreddit”, or community. At the time, a prominent writer and advocate Scott Santens had recently posted another article about UBI. Scott has written a lot more here: http://scottsantens.com — I now view him as the "Great Educator" of UBI and I have tremendous respect for him. Follow him at http://twitter.com/scottsantens
So… why am I vigorously advocating for UBI, instead of spending what little spare time I have making game art, music, creating things, inventing things, and doing other things I love?
Well, as it turns out, I love advocating for UBI, too… because I, like Scott, can see it as “a foot in the door” to a society where we ALL will have the freedom to focus primarily on what we love to do, whatever that may be. We should all have the freedom to express that.
Before you continue reading or leave, I hope you will consider coming back to this message with time to digest and reflect, and I encourage you not to treat it like a quick internet article to skim through during your lunch break. It really took me a long while to come to terms with many of my own moral understandings and existential struggles before finally reaching the top of my own mountain, leading to the eventual support and advocation of UBI. The key here is that everyone has their own mountain to climb before they too may be ready.
A landmark writing that increased my understanding of the imperative necessity of UBI was, indirectly, this deep essay on culture. I realized in this regard that UBI is a cultural elixir. It turns out that UBI was there all along, underlying many of the concepts I was dealing with, as if waiting for me to make up my own mind.
Another milestone along my journey up this mountain, before I discovered Universal Basic Income, was shared with me by my wife, Maureen, a Cultural Anthropologist and College Educator. This important video by Corporate Anthropologist Michael Henderson highlights key insights and alignment of ideas related to UBI:
Here are some of the key quotes, concepts, and takeaways from the video that I feel are important:
Ubuntu: “A person is a person because of people.”
“That who we are and what we do nowadays is absolutely because of the world we live in dependent on our ability to function well with others, to serve with others.”
“In a cult, a leader sees greatness in themselves, in a culture the leader sees greatness in the people.”
Taking the lessons that I digested from Henderson’s talk, I see UBI as becoming increasingly more imperative each and every day.
Make no mistake, UBI is political. I also recognize that the “foot in the door” that UBI is, may slowly be closing at this very moment.
This gives me, and should give everyone, a tremendous sense of urgency. While my journey up the mountain took me some time, as a society we may not have that time for much longer.
The MORAL choice
First of all, for me UBI is a simple moral choice before any other.
However, you may have to consider the “how” it can be done before you consider the “why”. I believe there is no need to overcomplicate it. For me, the “why” comes first, far before the “how”…
Here is the MORAL choice:
Do we as a society treat a human life as inherently valuable and has worth from day one? Do we as a society recognize that they should have the freedom to spend their own limited time on Earth displaying their own worth, in their own way? (How things currently do NOT work)
Do we as a society decide that an individual ONLY has worth or value once they can prove their own worth or value, as defined by another individual’s idea or concept of value… or defined by society’s definition of worth or value? (How things currently work)
One choice places YOUR OWN ideas or notions of self-importance, of esteem, of recognition, of greatness, of fulfillment over the worth of other people. It places the idea of worth as something to obtain through some action, actions defined by individuals or society as “proving worth”.
The other choice, does not. Instead, it places the idea of worth as something inherently there… from day one, with the freedom to display it through action, at will… the freedom to support others idea of worth too.
One choice assumes we know what is best for everyone.
The other assumes — if there is access to the tools for success — that people have inherent value from day one and should be free to display it in their own time, in their own way.
One choice states people should be ‘pigeonholed’ into society’s idea of worth, of greatness, of fulfillment, and likely that people are not very unique, there is a job “if the shoe fits” — you must do what is expected of you, otherwise you have no worth or value.
The other choice states that ALL people are truly unique, like a fingerprint, like the Earth, and should have the freedom to choose to show that uniqueness…that greatness, that fulfillment, in their own way, in their own time, if they want to.
One choice is arrogance. One choice is not.
One choice is real, true freedom. The other is not.
One choice states that in order to survive, people must do only what is expected of them by society… a society that might soon be controlled by a few powerful, influential, wealthy actors… placing their own definition of worth above any other definition of worth, potentially limiting growth.
The other choice states that because you are a human being, all the other human beings on the planet believe that you have worth from day one… to survive, to thrive, to live, to display your worth, to seek your fulfillment, to display your greatness, in your own unique way. You are free to choose what you help grow.
One choice states we should explore new paths, maybe even the stars.
The other choice states we are happy with how things are.
I recognize that people should be free to change their mind at any time, to go back and forth between these two choices.
I recognize that you are free to choose one or the other. You’re free to not look at it in such a black and white fashion like this. Maybe, when all is said and done, the answer may lie somewhere in the middle.
I recognize there are nuances and that things are not always so simple. There’s a spectrum to everything.
One thing I feel I must add that is very important, too… I recognize that I could be very wrong. I know that I don’t know everything. I know that I don’t know what’s best for everyone. I know that I have limits. I know that I could be very wrong about my own choice.
To that, I say… I’d rather be wrong about UBI and know it for sure, than to go on forever not knowing that there was even a choice that could be made.
With that said, I hope that you will choose the first option, of course… eventually…or soon.
Hopefully you have the freedom of some time to research and fully understand UBI, and that you may come to this conclusion on your own.
Yes, many will say that one is reality and the other is not — that we should face reality and stop advocating for UBI. That “UBI is fantasy.”
To them, I say “Who are YOU to decide if someone has worth, and for that matter, to decide who lives and who doesn’t?” …because for so many people, it’s not merely having the freedom (or some might say luxury) to display their own worth/greatness/fulfillment — for some, reality is facing life or death sitations on a daily basis.
Yes, we’ve come a long way in terms of society ensuring many people can now survive without fear of death.
…but look around, many aspects of our society now seem poised for regression.
That is probably the weakest response on Earth as to why we should stop advocating for UBI now.
“Stop now! Not everyone deserves to live, nevermind clean water, food, or shelter!” — “Why not?” — “Because that’s the way it is! That’s Life!” — “Who says so?” — “I say so! Society says so!” — “Who is society?”
WE are society.
So, that moral choice is why I began advocating for UBI, among all the other mental nuances I was investigating at the same time that came to align with the idea of UBI. That’s why I’m asking you right now to please consider choosing UBI.
The flag of the people of Earth.
I am grateful to have had the freedom… to be thinking deeply about this idea.
It took some time, but I’ve now come to an important conclusion:
We need to move into the modern age, now.
This modern age is one where we all accept that everyone on Earth must have the freedom to demonstrate their own individual capacity for greatness or fulfillment so long as it is not harmful to the rest of society.
I have come to the conclusion that we must put our foot down on the ground, stand up for everyone, and plant an immobile flag… the flag proudly proclaims that all people on Earth have the capacity for their own greatness or fulfillment — if given the freedom of choice on how to spend their own, limited, time. This freedom of choice can be provided by the foundational income floor, that is a Universal Basic Income.
This is not my flag, this is our flag… the flag of the people of Earth.
We need not argue over empiricism or innateness, instead we must ensure that the freedom to demonstrate individual capacity (for greatness or for fulfillment) is an intrinsic human right.
The rejection of the idea of Universal Basic Income is a rejection of the idea that ALL people have the capacity for greatness or fulfillment if given the freedom of choice on how to spend their own, limited, time on Earth.
Stemming from that is the false idea that “because you were afforded some freedom to demonstrate your capacity—that you are somehow superior to another human being. Or because you were not afforded some freedom to demonstrate your capacity — that you are somehow inferior to another human being.” — This is actually a rejection of individual freedom. It goes directly against UBI. It enables modern slavery. This is now the old paradigm, from a previous era.
For this reason we must know and recognize the main opponents of Universal Basic Income. One of those opponents are those who believe in Social Darwinism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism — (more reading here: http://christienken.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Neoliberalism_Tienken_2013.pdf)
We should also be well aware that some neoliberal ideologues are harnessing Social Darwinism to their cause, as well as potentially those that believe in abolishing government and public services, such as some anarchists, or extreme libertarians being pushed on austerity and neoliberalism. Another word for this is Supremacism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supremacism
When you stand firm with the idea that all people should have the freedom to demonstrate their individual capacity for greatness or fulfillment, so long as it is not harmful to the rest of society — that the freedom to demonstrate individual capacity is an intrinsic human right — the people who wish to control and maintain power over others individual freedoms will fight against it tooth and nail — we must make every effort possible to show this enslaving ideology is false, and part of the old era.
“It’s like the fuel is all already out there. It’s just a matter of lighting it.” ~Scott Santens
We stand on the shoulders of giants.
Real magic happens when many imaginations begin to visualize the same results.
The idea of choosing UBI is the idea of stepping into a new era for humanity.
I hope you will join me, and other passionate advocates, in choosing UBI, and in advocating for UBI, in your own truly unique way, in your own time.
If you like this message, please follow my account at http://twitter.com/mark4ubi
If you would like to help fund my efforts please consider supporting me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/mark4ubi
One way you can join the movement, is by opening a Twitter account, and begin tweeting why you think UBI is important, be sure to include the hashtag #basicincome — which will likely be retweeted by advocates all over the world.
“If the internet gives everyone a platform for a voice, #basicincome gives a canvas with no boundary — a magnum opus in your field of choice” @ubisticker tweet
“Know when someone says “I believe in you”? That’s the idea of #basicincome, not just for a few people, but for everyone.” @ubisticker tweet
“We MUST DEMAND #basicincome AS IF it is clean water, because for some people, it really is — the difference between access & no access.” @ubisticker tweet
The movement to enact a Universal Basic Income is already underway.
In 2017, Pilot studies are occurring all over the world.
Scott Santens writings are informative, inspirational and thought-provoking. He often tweets updates from: http://twitter.com/scottsantens
Here are a few of his recent tweets regarding UBI research:
“After the Dauphin experiment, it was discovered that it’s Basic Income Guarantee resulted in a 8.5% decrease in hospitalizations” http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/12/23/mincome-in-dauphin-manitoba_n_6335682.html
“Researchers were surprised to see a jump in home ownership as a result of people getting a #basicincome guarantee in the 1970s.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/1970s-manitoba-poverty-experiment-called-a-success-1.868562
“Babies born healthier due to better maternal nutrition was an observed effect of the 1970s #basicincome guarantee experiments.” http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/12/23/mincome-in-dauphin-manitoba_n_6335682.html
“When Namibia tested universal #basicincome, all crime was reduced by 42%, illegal hunting by 95%, malnutrition from 42% to 10%.” http://www.bignam.org/Publications/BIG_Assessment_report_08a.pdf
“When universal #basicincome was experimented with in India, recipients were 3x as likely to start a business or self-employ.” http://isa-global-dialogue.net/indias-great-experiment-the-transformative-potential-of-basic-income-grants/
“ In 1970s Dauphin, #basicincome resulted in High School enrollment exceeding 100%. Dropouts used the money to choose school over jobs.” http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/12/23/mincome-in-dauphin-manitoba_n_6335682.html
“Some of the most amazing evidence for #basicincome is an observation that kids grow up to have more positive personality traits” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/08/the-remarkable-ways-a-little-money-can-change-a-childs-personality-for-life/?utm_term=.4942da607d26
“When unconditional cash transfers sufficient in size to be considered #basicincome were given in Lebanon, social cohesion grew.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-santens/universal-basic-income-wi_b_8354072.html
“children were better fed and more attentive”
“Police statistics showed a 36.5% drop in crime”.
“Poverty rates declined from 86% to 68% (97% to 43% when controlled for migration).”
“Unemployment dropped as well, from 60% to 45%, and there was a 29% increase in average earned income, excluding the basic income grant.”
“basic income grants […] may jolt the poor out of the poverty cycle, helping them find work, start their own business, and attend school.” http://www.bignam.org/Publications/BIG_Assessment_report_08a.pdf
GiveDirectly: Research on Cash Transfers
Cash transfers have been shown in independent research to be one of the most effective ways to alleviate poverty.
Big List of Basic Income Books
Cash transfers: what does the evidence say? A rigorous review of impacts and the role of design and…
Cash transfers have been increasingly adopted by countries worldwide as central elements of their social protection and…
(Modified Declaration to fit 2017)
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke highly of the guaranteed income.
Why everyone should have a basic income — Guy Standing https://youtu.be/NNHAgXy5dxQ?t=16s
This is not my idea, this is our idea. This is our choice.
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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