Tag Archives: UBI

Dystektopia

Momma Path straightened up from her work in her garden and tapped the screen attached to her wrist. Down the road, she’d heard the driverless shuttle squeak to a stop and expected young Nicholas to come running up and around the house to find her minding her rows. When he didn’t show, the GPS pinpointing his Patch-Trak flashed his location—cousin Ben’s house across the small Appalachian valley.

Oh, that’s right, Friday night at Ben’s.

Despite the shift to being a Ward-State, the country’s school calendar remained stuck in the 1800’s. Summer became a free-for-all and Momma Path’s large farmhouse and barn transformed into school-age-mayhem central. One more week and Nick and the others will finally help me sow our greens and victuals.

At eighty, Polenna Path had, as most folks who shared her geriatric tendencies, benefited from guv’ment’s research and subsequent distributions of “health-gevity” programs. “Healthy to the end,” had been their chorus. Little had they realized, that for most, the end now came much later in life. Her morning ritual included twenty minutes of exercise and scrounging through her weekly Ward package looking for the bright-yellow blister packs and gulping her dose along with a peanut-butter protein bar that came as standard fare.

She set fists to hips and regarded her plot. A quarter acre cordoned off from the deer and rabbits, tilled to uniform rows, with the heads of corn and squash seedlings leaning toward the early June sun. When her wrist chimed, instead of glancing at the screen she spoke openly.

“Who is it?”

A guv-droid voice, sounding like the historical filmstar Julie Andrews, spoke, “The caller is Regina Walker, Ben’s mother enroute from her residence.”

“Accept. Reggie, how are you dear? I hope Nicholas is behaving himself. I’m sure those two are bracing themselves for next week. I only…”

“Momma Path, what do you mean? I thought Ben and Nick were going to spend the night at your place. I see Ben’s tracker, he’s right there on your front porch.”

~~~

100 years into the future, technology’s promise has been fulfilled. A form of UBI, Universal Basic Income, has been implemented, funded by the incredible advancements of work automation. The United States has become the fifth nation to implement the Ward-State. Those who wish it can work as they like, educate themselves as they see fit, pursue pastimes and the arts to their heart’s desire, in a word, retire. Ward benefits include medication, food and a stipend for housing, clothing and sundry needs.

Capitalism’s strangle hold on the working-poor has given way to government managed communalism. The financial cast system continues to influence the lofty regions of political office where only the richest of the rich believe they still hold sway. In general, however, corporate entities innovated themselves out of their own profits — they automated themselves out of existence.

Momma Path has witnessed the change. She welcomed the release of worry yet still distrusts the surveillance state she knows watches her every move. Today, that distrust proved critical.

 

 


Influence, impact, effect

A time ago, don’t ask me when, we, Martina, Jessie and I, were talking about UBI – Universal Basic Income (okay, we weren’t specifically discussing UBI, but near enough), and Jessie mentioned that she thought the struggle of the classes was power based. I, offhandedly, read through her comment not really having any reply at the moment (not that I didn’t reply, mind you).

However, on retrospect, I circled back to that theory: empowering all of us, giving each of us agency to affect our own lives, enough such that we can witness and claim responsibility for the changes, this would be a good thing. And that’s noble and admirable and, if it could be done (like in the Scandinavian countries) then maybe that’s the answer.

What prompted this latest doffing of words was thinking about myself as the curmudgeon that I’ve become. Yes, I’m a self-professed stick-in-the-mud, the proverbial “get off my lawn” old man with suspenders and a cane (well, maybe not the cane, um, or the suspenders). But I’ve grown less and less tolerant of fools over the years. And here’s the thing; Martina talks about criticism (here) and I wonder:  perhaps there’s simply some aspect of influence here. A “hey, he looked!” type behavior humans crave. More generally, we humans want to know we’ve impacted our world, left a mark, had an affect, effected others — in some way.

With criticism, that affect is negative (generally). With a curmudgeon like me, just seeing the teenagers flinch, that’s a kick in the pants, now isn’t it? (I don’t really do this, but I know you know someone who does.) The thing is, we crave influence. We yearn for self induced change in the world. Poke this thing and it cringes. “Hmm, I feel a little better (although it may not).”

All of social media is focused on this. You post a woodgiewoodgie (whatever to wherever) and what do you expect? A response of course. Trolls post the most foul and incendiary tripe. Why? For impact, for a response: “They — anybody — replied, responded, grimaced, smiled, screamed, cursed, cried, cheered!”

Do we crave power? Or influence?

And, to bring this back full circle, (circles in circles), is there a means to alter the economics of countries such that we provide for expanded influence, agency in how we govern and direct our own lives? Maybe, however a UBI’esque effort comes to be, if we provide every human the ability to change their lives –however they care to — maybe that will be enough.


A tale of two billion dollars

A monetary story

Let’s do an experiment. First we’ll hand out bundles of 500 one hundred dollar bills to wealthy couples who own expensive homes and drive expensive cars. We’ll do this until a  billion dollars is spent. 20,000 wealthy couples will have been given fifty grand as gifts – gratis.

Next we’ll do it all again but this time we’ll target a different class of people.

This time we’ll visit any area that has been hardest hit by poverty, unemployment, off-shoring of jobs, etc. We’ll search out mothers and or fathers with a child or two in tow. If they live near the poverty level we’ll hand them $1,000 without a blink. One billion dollars gifted out in $1,000 increments. A million recipients.

Six months pass. We call a random 100 of the wealthy couples. We ask them how much, if any, of the money is remaining. We find out that in nearly every case, the money had been invested in some brokerage or investment account. They’d taken the gift and saved it.

We next called 1000 of the poor families that we’d given $1,000. Again we ask how much, if any, of the original gift remained. We find that rarely was any of the money was left; they’d spent every cent.

In this experiment two billion dollars was injected into the economy. The first billion, that gifted to the rich, was effectively lost, sequestered into bank or investment accounts. That first billion vanished from the economy. Eventually it might return, but for now, gone.

The second billion drove the economy. For the most part every dollar gifted to the poor was returned to the economy by immediately being spent. That billion dollars began to circulate as soon as we walked away from handing it out. Wherever it was spent it invigorated the local economy. That billion dollars had a direct and immediate impact on the economic health of the nation.

Now a rationalization. To the first part we’ll switch out the gifts to the wealthy and replace them with tax breaks, loopholes that are given to the wealthy. To the second let’s just call it what it really is – it’s welfare.

Lesson learned? To stimulate the nation’s economy, to drive the velocity of money to increase the liquidity of commerce should we hand gobs of cash to the rich or support the working, struggling poor??