UBI vs AI
In the waning days of summer I ponder the question of universal basic income, or UBI as it is currently labeled, and seriously debated. A number of books have been published on the subject in the past few years and some politicians are advocating for its implementation.
My favorite proponent, Andrew Yang, whose book, “The War on Normal people: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income is Our Future,” proposes $1000 a month for all adults between the ages of 18 and 65, and social security past that age. Rich, poor, working stiff or unemployed, drug addict, criminal, black, brown, red, yellow or white, get their monthly check. The idea of punishing those who do not comply with society desires, needs, rules, is so deeply ingrained in America’s Christian psyche that such a plan is unthinkable to most.
Others, such as Chris Hughes, who’s book is, “Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn,” are niggardly. He would allow only $500 a month for all adults in a household earning less than $50, 000 a year. I have vision of households mushrooming to 15, 20 people on his plan. He was one of the dorm guys at Harvard along with Zuckerberg who came up with the Facebook plan and he’s felt guilty ever since for all the money he’s raking in. People just need a little boost,he says. It’s not about money, it’s about choice. One is freer to choose with that $500, he believes. I think the bar has to be higher for the possibility of choice to come into play. Five hundred dollars a month does not buy independent choice, it doesn’t even pay the rent.
I like Yang’s plan, who incidentally has filed papers for 2020’s presidential run, because it has a component entitled human capitalism, wherein a person could gather Social Credits for creating programs that improve our lot. The idea behind both men’s plan is a turn from using money as a value system. People will not stop wanting to make more money, but the choices on what to do will be wider, and depending on individual makeup, more interesting, stimulating, To be sure, some will find a way to make it work so they can live solely on their stipend.
Measuring and Inspection
For the morally squeamish about UBI, I relate the program initiated in the Liberian slums where researchers gave a $200 stipend to addicts and criminals. No, they did not spend it on drugs, but subsistence needs long neglected and for legitimate enterprise.
Universal basic income should not even be debated, but accepted as a given, and it’s eminently possible if priorities are changed. Our present system was given a big boost by Jesus, and other godheads when they declared, or words to the effect, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.” Better to look to one’s soul for salvation. The pandemonium this has unleashed on the world is beyond horrific. Caesar’s power became the madness we inhabit today.
The Beauty of it All
What on earth is the purpose of government whether aristocratic, oligarchic, autocratic, military, or theocratic, if not to foster the well-being of its people? Wars for power and resources? Elite decadence and corruption? How can a country declare itself rich when it does not take into account the number of its people living in poverty.
Some form of UBI is on the horizon as the present system is no longer feasible, but the punishing god is not through with us yet.