Words by Guy Standing
My dream is that every one of us in every community should have an individual basic income given as a right without conditions.
We are faced by incredible inequality. Globalization and the technological changes have resulted in a terrible model of capitalism which a tiny plutocracy is exorbing and taking billions out of it leaving the rest of us to squabble over a diminishing amount of income.
It used to be that when you had a capitalist economy, the share of income going to profits and the share going to labor was relatively constant. But in the last 30 years, all over the world, the share going to capital has gone up, the share going to labor has gone down. There is nothing out there which is reversing this trend.
Millions of people are suffering from chronic insecurity. People feel stressed. They feel that they don’t have any sense of control of their lives. You are living a life of indebtedness where one accident, one mistake, one illness will lead you to being out on the streets. If you haven’t seen anyone like that, you are blind.
We are faced with a perfect storm of factors which is suddenly making the advocacy of a basic income almost mainstream.
The reason I have always fought for a basic income are three-fold. Public wealth is created over generations. And any of us know, or should know, or have the humility to know that our income and wealth is fundamentally due to the contributions of previous generations much more than anything you or I do ourselves. And therefore if you allow private inheritance, we should also have public inheritance as a social dividend on public wealth created.
The second justification for a basic income is that it would improve and enhance our sense of freedom - the freedom not to be dominated by figures of authority be it abusive husbands, bureaucrats, government officials, or whatever.
It would be ecologically sustainable because it would encourage more people to spend more time doing work that is not labor. Labor uses up resources in jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. The work we do in our communities, caring for our relatives, caring for things around us, is more ecologically sustainable.
The third justification is that it is a means of providing people with basic security. Without basic security, all of us become irrational. We are unable to deal with the stresses of life. But if you have basic security, you not only deal better with stress but you are more tolerant towards others, you are more altruistic.
It gives people a sense of control of their time so that the values of learning and public participation grow. So that the values of citizenship are strengthened, rather than just surviving.
If you have basic security, you work more, not less. And when you work, you are more productive and more cooperative, not less. It is a lie to say that if we had basic income security, we would become lazy. On the contrary, it will release the energies, the dynamism inside ourselves and inside our communities.