Note: Guaranteed universal income - GUI or Guaranteed Livable Income GLI - Introduction and list of other names here.
Anonymous question: Would essential necessary work still get done and organized if there were a guaranteed income?
Many notable thinkers have estimated that 50-80 percent of current economic activity is not actually productive, but is part of a system that needs a lot of busywork and waste to keep it functioning. See J.W. Smith’s The World’s Wasted Wealth. See also Buckminster Fuller’s Critical Path.
“We find all the no-life-support-wealth-producing people going to their 1980 jobs in their cars or buses, spending trillions of dollar’s worth of petroleum daily to get to their no-wealth-producing jobs. It doesn’t take a computer to tell you that it will save both Universe and humanity trillions of dollars a day to pay them handsomely to stay at home.” BF Critical Path
Questions need to be asked to determine what work is essential, what work is necessary and what work is beneficial.
See also The Manly Mythology of Work
antihuman_c I would write comedy, fix computer & broadband issues and plant trees (while planning the extinction of mankind obviously) (via Twitter)
_hazrul The same job I’m doing now. More willing to take risk though. (via Twitter)
trapdinawrpool I’d burn all the studies on poverty and hunger that I have accumulated but then that would greatly increase the threat of AGW
djhanks I would read and write and make and dig and think and learn and dance and sing and play and sleep.
perkinstony Youth football coach
On July 15th tweep @joepdx wrote: “OMG If I had a minimum basic income I would WORK so much: at the (tool) library, on the radio, writing news, landscape maintenance.”
Which leads to the question, if there were a minimum basic income, or guaranteed livable income, guaranteed annual income, citizen’s dividend, lifetime fellowship, or whatever we choose to call it…. What activities would you choose to do?
The idea that people are inherently lazy and would sit around doing nothing is improbable. The idea that people do however, reject soul-sucking work is apparent and could be considered a natural response to an unnatural structure imposed on humans as described in Ivan Illich’s “The Right To Useful Unemployment” and in The Unemployed Self .
In addition, what looks to others like ‘doing nothing’ can be part of a creative process. Pierre Berton in The Smug Minority wrote about famed Canadian writer W.O. Mitchell:
“For years my friend W.O. Mitchell has been wandering about the streets and fields of High River, Alberta, thinking about his work, which is creative writing. For a long time Mitchell puzzled and baffled his neighbors. “When are you going to work, Bill?” they’d ask him, and it was useless for him to try and explain that in his terms he was working. Work to them was ‘a job’ and one of the problems we face in an automated world of the future is this dangerous confusion of terms. “
People like doing activities that are meaningful; they don’t like doing things that seem to be draining their life away moment by painful moment with no meaning, or with a side effect of causing damage to other people or to the environment.
So if there were a guaranteed livable income, what things would you want to be doing? (Keeping in mind, people might need time to ‘do nothing’ before figuring out who they were before they became their job. Conversely, some people might need structure provided by a formally organized volunteer initiative.)
Respond via this blog (click on ‘ask me anything’ and will be posted asap, not automatic) or through twitter to @livable4all (You can also post a photo reply.)
If you look at the book For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich, Deirdre English, you’ll see historically women were mostly in charge of reproduction and fertility, until women were banned from being healers. (This is also an excellent book revealing the early history of the medical industry)
Not exactly a direct answer to your question, but I think going back one century isn’t far enough to get a perspective of the whole issue.
And there have been waves of pro-natal policies and anti-natal depending. The audio with Michelle Goldberg, link at the bottom of the article, has a lot of information about this history (and probably her book also).
Thanks for writing. Definitely check out the book, think it’s also available as an e-book too.
In the struggle for equality and social justice people often forget that a falling population means the remainder get a bigger share of the pie. I wonder how this has changed over the past century?