Three trends that will create demand for an Unconditional Basic Income

THREE TRENDS THAT WILL CREATE DEMAND FOR AN UNCONDITIONAL BASIC INCOME

The digitization of our economy will bring with it a new generation of radical economic ideologies, of which Bitcoin is arguably the first. For those with assets, technological savvy, and a sense of adventure, the state is the enemy and a cryptographic currency is the solution. But for those more focused on the decline of the middle classes, the collapse of the entry-level jobs market, and the rise of free culture, the state is an ally, and the solution might look something like an unconditional basic income. Before I explain why this concept is going to be creeping into the political debate across the developed world, let me spell out how a system like this would look:

– Every single adult member receives a weekly payment from the state, which is enough to live comfortably on. The only condition is citizenship and/or residency.

– You get the basic income whether or not you’re employed, any wages you earn are additional.

– The welfare bureaucracy is largely dismantled. No means testing, no signing on, no bullying young people into stacking shelves for free, no separate state pension.

– Employment law is liberalised, as workers no longer need to fear dismissal.

– People work for jobs that are available in order to increase their disposable income.

– Large swathes of the economy are replaced by volunteerism, a continuation of the current trend.

– The system would be harder to cheat when there’s only a single category of claimant, with no extraordinary allowances.

This may sound off-the-charts radical, but here’s why you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it:

1 – The Middle Classes Are In Freefall
2 – Demand For Human Labour Is In Long Term Decline
3 – Cultural Production Is Detaching From The Market

How would we pay for it?

We could start by getting corporations to pay their taxes.
In an era when communities can create their own currencies, capital can sneak across digital borders despite being legally frozen, and economic production is increasingly decentralized, finding ways of fairly collecting revenue for the public good is going to be one of the big questions of the century, regardless of whether or not we have an unconditional basic income. Under the current set of rules, most developed world governments are bankrupt, but as the bank bailouts proved, the rules can be rewritten when needs be. Money is a device we use to help us allocate resources, it is a symbol and an understanding, seemingly solid in the short term, but flexible and evolutionary in the long term. If you burn all the notes in your wallet right now, you haven’t made the world any poorer, you’ve simply reduced your personal claim to available resources. There is always more money.

As has become increasingly clear, austerity is not working, and should never have been expected to work. An unconditional basic income would be the Keynesian response that should have been launched as soon as it became clear the financial sector had a rotten core. In other words, it would be a bailout for consumers.

Simulacrum

The digitization of our economy will bring with it a new generation of radical economic ideologies, of which Bitcoin is arguably the first.  For those with assets, technological savvy, and a sense of adventure, the state is the enemy and a cryptographic currency is the solution.  But for those more focused on the decline of the middle classes, the collapse of the entry-level jobs market, and the rise of free culture, the state is an ally, and the solution might look something like an unconditional basic income. Before I explain why this concept is going to be creeping into the political debate across the developed world, let me spell out how a system like this would look:

  • Every single adult member receives a weekly payment from the state, which is enough to live comfortably on.  The only condition is citizenship and/or residency.

  • You get the basic income whether or not…

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