Activist Karolina Nadolska proposes a new vision for society’s economic development.
PICTURE IT: December 2040 AD. The automatic truck just delivered my grocery ordered by my refrigerator. Upps … I forgot to send it a reminder about our Friday Steak Party. I wanted my refrigerator to order six T-bones from the nearby lab that specializes in beet-colored T-bones. Some of my guests are coming by the robot driven 6.0 Get You There Taxis (damn – I always loved talking to the taxi drivers in big cities, no more.. ). In this world more and more people are either unemployed or employed by marketing agencies, social platforms, entertainment companies, ideas labs etc.
OK, so this is the bone chilling image usually produced in the Universal Basic Income (UBI) campaigns. UBI is proposed systemof social security that regularly provides each citizen with a sum of money unconditionally (not to be confused with other concepts like minimum wage).
But it is more than that technical view of the world. It is a basic redefinition of social space. UBI or a basic income will contribute to a healthier society and more productive society. Couldn’t your work – whatever it may be – be more effective if you didn’t have to worry about meeting rent? The list of those who could more effectively contribute to a more democratic and equal society is long: those who work in NGO’s or civil society will be compensated for their work; mothers staying home with their kids will be finally appreciated; artists who after a long career in search of self-expression end up with a (minimum) retirement to finance a new installation for the local park; kids with bright minds would finance their higher education. The UBI would also improve the safety of society with decreased acts of violence, theft, and aggression. Why would you steel bikes, wallets if you get a guaranteed sum of money every month?
Who would pays for this utopia, you may ask? In France, if we combine all aid: RSA, housing allowances, family allowances, unemployment, single parent, minimum age, disabled, student scholarships, etc. the savings in administrative processing of aid and control of what is already obtained provide a basic income to every French in the amount of 398 Euros (532 USD) per adult and 192 Euro (265 USD) per child. This is what Marc Basquiat, engineer and economist, calculated at the end of six years of work on the issue. But this of course may cause a fight from thousands of unionized bureaucrats who want to hold on to their comfortable office jobs. It is not easy to transform society for those with entrenched interests (it took decades for communist systems to topple, and their economic dismantling will continue to take decades).
Another objection comes to mind: if you get the money without working, everyone will stay home! However, when people are asked about it, the results are surprising. To the question “Will you still go to work after receiving a Universal Basic Income? 60% of respondents answered “YES”. 30% answered that they will continue to work, but maybe part time or not under new circumstances. Only 10% answered that they would consider traveling, taking care of others or going back to school. However, if asked: “If we introduced a basic income, do you think the others would go to work?” 80% answered “NO!” Several authors make a connection between this concept and the women right to vote or the abolition of slavery. “If we abolished slavery, who will work? ” Only a select few had the vision of labor change.
We are now on the cusp of another revolution. And what is revolutionary in UBI is its unconditionality. With the industrial revolution came the ideas of minimum wage, fight against child labor, later social state. They all gave conditions – do A and you will be paid, supported for it. UBI, on the other hand, is a reflection of a post-industrial revolution where fewer and fewer “hands” are needed for production. But more and more grey cells for innovation – not only in the lab but also in the structure of healthy, involved societies with little social exclusion. This is how the leaders of the initiative in the European Union define UBI: universal, individual, unconditional, high enough to ensure an existence in dignity and participation in society.
Join our debate! Check on the official site for the EU citizens initiatives – UBI http://www.basicincome2013.eu/ubi/basic-income-a-cultural-impulse/.