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Resolution H2O: Universal Basic Income
By: Marcus Perriello | Our Voice Contributor
“Nothing is free in this world.” “If you want it, you have to work for it.” “Get a job, you lazy bum!” Statements we’ve all heard at some point in our lives; all of which are the result of the supporting psychology of our capitalist system. We’re born. We grow up. We work. We earn money. We pay our way through life. We die. This is the prescribed standard of living as dictated by a system that has grown out of the greed and ambition of a handful of capitalists who sought wealth and power, and got it.
While the vast majority of people are not so ruthlessly ambitious, those who are have to one degree or another imposed their ruthless ambition upon those without, leading to a dysfunctional society separated by the age-old Class structure. It is the golden rule of Capitalism that whomever has the gold makes the rules. Yet, most try their best to live by the philosophical golden rule of doing to others as they would have them do unto them. Try to take what someone else has, they push back against you for the sake of self-preservation. Offer to do something or exchange something for what you want that the other has, they are more open to parting with their material gains upon your satisfactory completion of your end of the agreement.
Theft vs. Trade. Two conflicting behaviors that can easily become intertwined in a capitalist system. A system where the incentives are built in to engage in a race to the top among an ever-expanding sea of humanity and a finite amount of resources. This is how capitalism eventually eats itself up and destroys society along with it. Without the proper checks and balances, capitalism does this while using an ever-expanding resource (money) that is designed to be limited to maintain its value and therefore its viability in a global market. Inevitably, this means that there is an ever decreasing number of people who can live a comfortable and stable life while more and more of the masses suffer unbearably as time goes on and resources deplete.
Because the Hydrodollar system is designed to operate as an infinite resource tied to the health and abundance of our natural resources, it provides the ideal platform from which a Universal Basic Income can be implemented. UBI would not only provide the incentives to repair the environmental damage that capitalism has brought us, but it would also help the environment to thrive again. Imagine an economic system providing us with more natural resources by strengthening the ecosystem that we as living beings depend upon for sustenance and survival!
In our traditional capitalist system, there are always the “Haves” and the “Have-Nots”. Since those with the gold make the rules, those individuals are able to form the societal infrastructure to their own advantage and keep the mass of people from living their lives with dignity. They use law enforcement for physical oppression. They use politics for legislative and philosophical oppression, leaving the people with little-to-no recourse for being wronged.
As a result, most of the people are left to compete for the breadcrumbs that are thrown at them by the well-to-do elites. With a Democratic Socialist platform, using the Hydrodollar system, all the incentives are in place to thrive both as individuals and as a society rather than competing for the basic necessities of life.
There are more factors at play in this situation than whether or not certain people wish to work. Every living being on this planet values their own life and will engage in a means of self-preservation when necessary. As beings with the ability to reason and rationalize, we have it within us to get passed these primitive instinctual behaviors and move forward in a progressive manner that benefits all people. Instituting a Universal Basic Income ensures that all citizens have the basic necessities of life provided. Without having to spend money and energy on getting needs met, all people will have the same equal opportunity to reach their maximum potential.
We currently seem to live under an ancient ideology that while we have a right to live, we somehow do not have the right to freely access the resources which are necessary sustain life. By extension, this means that those who control the means for sustaining life are dictating to us that we in fact DO NOT have a right to our own lives. This is quite possibly the most important and unspoken constitutional and humanitarian crisis in the world. It also illustrates the need for a Universal Basic Income to provide the necessary foundation from which all people can truly have both their right to life and the platform from which they can grow and flourish in their own ways.
It is often dismissed in politics that giving people “free money” is immoral, unethical, and will lead to a stagnation in economic growth. Some who are against UBI theorize that people would just sit idly, collect their incomes, and drink their lives away without a care in the world.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Economic recessions occur when enough people have lost the purchasing power necessary to stimulate economic growth which leads to a loss of jobs, closing of businesses, and begins a self-perpetuating cycle of decline that could easily have been avoided if the people had something to keep things stable such as a Universal Basic Income. What a Universal Basic Income does is ensure a baseline standard of living that keeps all people fed, clothed, housed, healthy, and educated. Whatever people wish to do beyond that baseline is completely up to them. it is also inherent in human nature to move forward and make real progress. Everybody needs to be active in some form or other. It is not in our nature as a species to sit still and do nothing. Our bodies and our minds are designed to be in constant motion, thereby dispelling the argument that a UBI would lead to stagnation.
As for something such as drinking one’s life away, consider the real reason why some people do that today. Time after time throughout history, we see examples of heightened drug use, including alcohol, during periods of economic decline. When the economy is booming, people are doping and drinking less because they’re busy doing other things. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, all manner of temporary satisfying activities see a rise in popularity during hard times because it is a means of escape; a release from the pressures and stresses of everyday life in a capitalist culture. Studies show that when people are given money, they put that money to use, thereby generating economic growth. Even if some people do wish to sit idly and not work, with a Universal Basic Income they are not inclined to stoop to a life of crime to get their basic needs met, and if they wish to spend their time doing things like taking vacations, going to casinos, drinking, or whatever, they are still aiding in economic growth, thereby contributing to society.
Polls and studies consistently show that the majority of people want to move in a more progressive direction, including getting off of fossil fuel and moving towards a Green and Renewable energy infrastructure. Most also wish to legalize cannabis – some even wish to legalize all drugs. Everyone agrees that we need to address our crumbing infrastructure, which gets a rating of D+. Teachers are striking across the country for better wages and more efficient educating tools. The list of demands and indications of the need for societal change goes on.
What a Universal Basic Income can do for all concerned in scenarios such as these is it provides all people with the means to sustain their lives with comfort and dignity, thereby taking the strain off of employers having to address the grievances of disgruntled workers. UBI also allows employers to remain competitive without using workers as disposable pawns in their capitalist ledger measuring games.
With the Hydrodollar system providing UBI, society can restructure itself however it wants with no harm to anyone. Another factor that shows the need for Universal Basic Income is the elephant in the room that is Automation. People continuously seek the means to make their daily lives easier, not harder. Less stress means healthier living. Our natural reactions to stressful environments illustrate this point all the time; yet because of the way our economic system is set up, we are forced to endure greater and greater hardships… needlessly. One of the reasons why UBIe is not a fundamental human right yet is due to the way the world’s monetary systems are structured: they must be static in order to maintain intrinsic value. Through the Hydrodollar system, that hurdle is cleared and UBI can effortlessly become a fundamental human right.
It is an axiomatic fact that there are, and will always be, more people in the world than jobs. So to legislatively, philosophically, or even practically pass judgement on people who are, for whatever reason, not an active member of the workforce is not only immoral and unethical, but also cruel and inhumane.
Ensuring all people’s basic needs are met is the first step towards a prosperous and harmonious society free of war. The Hydrodollar is designed as an unlimited resource tied to the global water table. As more resources are generated by a more plentiful and healthier fresh water supply, more supplies will be able to meet their growing demand. This, in turn, would mean more jobs and higher intrinsic value to the currency, thereby making economic growth and social prosperity mutually assured.
Naturally, one concern comes up at this point: Overpopulation. Bill Gates argues that when people are more active… when they have the means to not only meet their basic needs but also to work towards their own vision of prosperity, population figures don’t expand as much. At times they even decline. Using this argument, it can be reasoned that while people are more active in the outside world, they’re not as engaged in reproduction as they would otherwise be if they had nothing else to do. On the other hand, with more people and more automation comes the need for people to work less. What would initially have taken 8 hours for one person to do can now be done by two people in half the time to compensate for the 8 hours of a single worker. Professor Richard D. Wolff of Democracy At Work illustrates this point, beautifully.
Even with a healthier lifestyle that comes from both automation and a Universal Basic Income, people can still reproduce to the point of overpopulation and put greater strain on natural resources. It is at this point that I see the need to expand ourselves beyond the confines of our home planet and consider the prospect of planetary colonization; an issue that often goes unmentioned and is more the product of Science Fiction at the present time. But much of what was once Science Fiction is now a reality… even if not in the fashion it was originally illustrated.
To ensure our future as a species, we must first solve the problem of needlessly fighting among ourselves over the most trivial and basic things. Using the Hydrodollar system removes the incentive for combating each other over these necessities and provides the motivation for mutual cooperation and living in harmony. Such a feat would inevitably allow us to have the abundance necessary to attempt off-planet colonization.
Who knows what the future will truly bring.
Perhaps in the future, money will be a concept people only learn about in history books. We may find that through the natural course of evolution, humanity’s basic needs could take on a number of different forms. In order to know for sure, we must first undergo the task of ensuring a baseline standard of living for all people, and a Universal Basic Income in a capitalist society is the first step towards achieving that goal.