Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Universal Basic Income

The faster technology advances, the greater the divide between those who have and those who have not.  While this seems to have been a trend through most of recent history, it is not an inevitable outcome of technological growth, it is instead the symptom of a diseased political and economic ideology that dominates western civilization.

While some point to statistics of improved living standards in thirds world countries, this ignores the reality of environmental destruction and class privilege.  Statistics can be incredibly misleading, viewing a whole nation as a single number can cast a powerfully optimistic view of how people live, poverty is eclipsed by the extreme wealth of the upper class in almost every country in the world.

To condemn any individual to a life of poverty is an unspeakable crime, yet so many of us turn a blind eye to the suffering of others and use economic myths to explain why certain individuals deserved to fail.  Yet, it requires asking why such an efficient system of production requires that a certain percentage of people fail to survive?  It is not a result of scarcity, but a result of greed and privilege.

It is also obvious that poverty has a destabilizing effect upon social order of any kind, with this being said, one might wonder how poverty is allowed to continue forcing people to take desperate measures to survive when it is obviously in everyone's benefit that every person has food shelter clothing ect.

The state uses much of its resources to separate the haves from the have not's, either through war or welfare bureaucracy, but the time has come when we must ask ourselves the simple question:  Why are we still doing this in 2014?  We are living with incredible technological wonders, riches are everywhere beyond our wildest dreams, yet government policy still reflects a medieval mentality.

There is one obvious solution, to do away with the problem in the simplest most efficient method possible, forget jobs, forget loans or education.  These are all ultimately trickle down theories, they all address the problem from above.  Instead, we must deal with the problem where it actually is, on the dinner table and in the pocket of most people on this planet.

The solution is a universal basic income, a guaranteed basic wage with no strings attached, no requirements to fulfill, no bureaucracy to drain resources.  Simply a check in the mail for every individual on the planet to ensure that every family has food, clothes, and a roof over their heads.

When people hear this idea, the first objection is usually something like

"if you take away peoples incentive to work, everyone will be lazy".

This notion goes completely against human nature, every human has something productive that they like to do, even if it does not make money.  Also, based on the economic realities of today, many cannot find or qualify for jobs that they want to do, so what is there to worry about?

Another objection is imagining that we can't afford to give money to everyone, but a quick examination of the prison system reveals that poverty is costing us far far more than simply giving a base income to every person ever could.  People who have nothing are driven to crime in order to feed their families, this leads to a predatory justice system that takes advantage of poor people and uses them as free labor to produce capitol for the few in power.

The cost in money alone of maintaining this system of imprisonment is astounding, and very obviously wrong on so many levels.  Do we really want to live in a prison society?  Do we want the specter of imprisonment to forever float above our friends and family?  If not, than we must search for a solution, as well as look for the root cause of these realities.

The universal basic income is the simplest solution possible, it is fairest solution possible and the most efficient.  The positive benefits for humanity are impossible to fathom, we would be propelled quickly to a star trek future, where poverty is a sad memory and people are free to follow their creative whims.

The political, social and economic hurdles to achieving this goal are huge, but it has to begin somewhere.  The real difficulty is to snap people out of their every day states of mind and make them realize that the future can be beautiful and different.  It is up to us to spread the word and educate people about poverty and its solutions, because no one wants to live in a future that is just a high tech version of our super class stratified economic system.

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