Universal Basic Income and the Past/Future of Work
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an innovative and forward-thinking solution to many common challenges facing Americans.
Every person adds un-monetized and often unacknowledged value to the world around them every day through the time and effort they put into maintaining their families and homes, being there for their friends, volunteering in their communities, random acts of kindness, and more.
A stay-at-home parent works harder and longer hours (and does more important work) than I did at even my most well-paying place of employment, but there’s not yet a reliable system in place for compensating them for their service to humanity and society. Let’s change that.
In order to engage in a complete discussion on the benefits of Basic Income, it behooves us to look at the history and future of industry and work.
Manual labor became known as a necessity not only for the good of the consumer marketplace, but for the workers to be able to survive, support their families, and establish their roots.
Working hard to provide, even if it meant dealing with unpleasant or dangerous work conditions, exhaustion and depletion, and sacrificing personal goals and dreams, became ingrained in many cultures as, “Just the way things are.”
These work ethics were and are even seen by many as a noble virtue. And you know what? There is absolutely virtuous nobility to be found in making wise sacrifices, working hard, and serving our families and society.
There may also be some nobility in being able to recognize that the world is changing at an increasingly unprecedented pace.
The work tactics that used to best promote the survival and well-being of our families are already more obsolete than a lot of people have yet realized, and the trend is bound to continue.
Technology is changing the nature of work. Computers and automation make work more efficient, and in an increasing amount of cases, remove the need for humans to do manual labor at all.
McDonald’s makes more profit if they buy some machines to take customer orders rather than paying cashiers what their time and effort are truly worth.
Since profit is currently the ultimate goal of most businesses, we’ll see automation replacing more and more positions.
This creates a problem for many people who are socialized to believe that working jobs they don’t really care for to survive is, “Just the way things are.”
But it’s not just the way things are. Not anymore.
Technological evolution is not the only shift happening in society. In the United States, there’s also a radical shift happening in human priorities.
Boomers and Millennials
Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) don’t keep their qualms with Millennials (born between 1981 and 1994) a secret. The Boomer generation largely mastered hard work, and often perceive Millennials as lazy and defective.
Millennials are not inherently lazy, and are in no way defective. They are the product of a generation of parents and teachers that have told them that they have to function in a way that is not at all congruent with their own sensibilities, skills, and worldviews.
Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Likewise, if you pull a primate out of a tree and judge it by its ability to breathe underwater, there are going to be problems.
There’s nothing wrong with being a Boomer (primate, in this analogy). And there’s nothing wrong with being a Millennial (fish).
We now live in the world where we have the knowledge, resources, and innovations in place to let each generation live in accordance with their own sensibilities.
Millennials have a deep-seeded need to be themselves. They don’t see the value or utility in sacrificing their dreams to work a job they hate. And that’s not a glitch in their judgment, either. It’s a natural reaction to them seeing the way the world is changing, but being infinitely frustrated with the current limitations of systems of government, capitalism, family, and society in general.
Well, good news, Millennials: You can be yourselves. You can live your dreams. You can find innovative new ways to work and support yourselves and your families. You can invent new concepts of families altogether. You don’t have to be bound to hard labor that means nothing to you. You are valuable, and I salute you.
And good news, Boomers: You can be yourselves too. You can live life the way that makes sense to you. You can spend the rest of your lives working hard for what you believe in, and building stable and affluent homes. You are valuable and I salute you.
Solving Age-Old Problems
Basic Income, combined with a newly-refined and customized approach to educating, training, and guiding our young people, will be a game-changer on many levels. A literal life-saver in many cases, lowering the financial pressure that drives so many humans to suicide, addiction, domestic conflict, and more. Basic Income will free anyone of any age up for living more meaningful, free, authentic lives.
UBI in the United States is currently being championed as the Freedom Dividend by 2020 U.S. Presidential Candidate Andy Yang, who proposes $1,000 a month be unconditionally given to every adult ages 18-65.
I think it’s a great idea personally, but every voice matters, and I have heard many people say that they don’t want Universal Basic Income, while several others say that $1k a month is hardly a drop in the bucket next to their financial hardships.
The Abundance Annuity (Flexible Basic Income)
That’s why I propose Flexible Basic Income, otherwise known as the Abundance Annuity.
$2k per month available (but simple to opt out of) unconditionally for any U.S. citizen from ages 0-200.
The Abundance Annuity is not free money. It is compensation for the previously un-monetized value that people generate for their families, friends, communities, the environment, and society altogether.
Yes, even a baby generates value to the world. Their smiles and laughter can melt the hardest of hearts. Their very existence teaches their parents or guardians new life-enriching lessons that help them become more responsible and mature.
This is a new paradigm that will be hard for some people to accept. That is why it is imperative for an option to opt out. And for those who adamantly oppose their tax dollars going towards other citizens’ Abundance Annuity, should have the option of designating their tax dollars for governmental expenditures that they believe in (Flexible Tax Allocation).
But How Will We Pay for It?
Andy Yang proposes a tax on companies that produce automation technologies to pay for a portion of his UBI proposal. That’s a great start.
Remember, Mr. Yang wants to provide UBI for Americans ages 18-65, while I’m proposing to make it available for Americans ages 0-200.
By opening up an optional Basic Income to people past retirement age, those who opt in will no longer need traditional Social Security benefits, which frees up a substantial amount of money for the Abundance Annuity.
Many people have spent their entire working lives envisioning their retirements, and if they aren’t comfortable with the proposed new paradigm, then by all means they should be empowered to retire in the way that works best for them.
Better Living Through Reinvention
The HICKS/YOU 2020 campaign is 100% about meeting the needs of 100% of individuals by reinventing the system for the benefit of all.
The Economy is an invention. Some will say, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
But it is broken, woefully so. It works for some people, but we can redesign it to work for everyone.
If we can truly do that (and we can), why on Earth wouldn’t we?