Monday, October 14, 2013

Living on "Basic"

In the SF novel Leviathan Wakes, author  James S. A. Corey (pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) describes a world where there simply aren't enough jobs to go around (sound familiar?) and that holding a job is a privilege and not a right (or even a requirement for survival).  Manufacturing is fully automated so there is no shortage of goods available.  Those who cannot secure employment live on what's called basic.  Essentially the government (in this case the U.N.) provides food, shelter, clothing and healthcare for every person on Earth.  People who hold jobs are paid above and beyond basic but they still receive the equivalent of basic from the government.  Everyone does.

Star Trek also described a world where money no longer served any meaningful purpose.

So what if we were to try this today?  Well, we might just find out.  Switzerland is voting on whether or not to provide every Swiss citizen $2,800/month.  The main reason the Swiss are embarking on this discussion is develop a leveling mechanism that should help alleviate the growing inequality they see as socially detrimental.
...[T]he basic idea is, no matter what you do, if you’re a resident — or in some cases, a citizen — you get a certain amount of money each month. And it’s completely unconditional: If you’re rich you get it, if you’re poor you get. If you’re a good person you get it, if you’re a bad person you get it. And it does not depend on you doing anything other than making whatever effort is involved to collect the money. It’s been a topic of discussion for several decades. Why is it happening right now? I think it’s obvious that it’s a reaction to the high level of economic inequality that we’ve seen. Most European countries haven’t had big increases in inequality at the same scale that we [in the U.S.] have, [but] some of them have had much more than they’re used to.
Nations with fiat currencies could all embark on this path with little or no risk of inflation.  There is more than enough to go around.

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