This article uses a speech by Pavlina Tcherneva given during a discussion round as the basis for painting a bigger picture.
This lady from the MMT segment of discourse participants seems to agree with me that a combination of a federal Job Guarantee and a basic income would be best. If I understand her right, she doesn’t want the basic income to be universal, however, for fear of an inflationary affect. Personally, I think the risk of an inflationary affect is smaller than she seems to think, and that measures can be taken against it. Her macroeconomic view is important but shouldn’t be the exclusive angle from which to view corrective socio-economic measures.
Before I go into details, perhaps you may wish to listen to Tcherneva’s speech:
(Note: if the video linked above gets deleted, you may search the Internet for the title: “Marrying the Basic Income with the Job Guarantee”)
I can assure everybody from my personal experience that the idea of one-size-fits all NEVER works. Hence I, too, prefer a combined measures approach. I suppose the real point of disagreement between me and those who deplore universality of a basic income guarantee is a speculative one, namely this: the psychological political reality of it all. Pavlina Tcherneva sounds like she is glued to our antiquated puritan work ethic mentality and fears that a UBI would undervalue labor.
Personally, I worry more that dividing the people into deserving recipients and undeserving non-recipients is a far greater problem. This mentality has always provided a gigantic counter-push against welfare programs and will do the same against a basic income guarantee if it is not made universal. The other issue, which I already hinted at, is that one size never fits all, and whenever a small number of people (bureaucrats) are put in charge of approving or denying benefits for other people, all hell breaks loose with the result that (A) many are denied the help they need (and they are heavily humiliated, demoralized, and stigmatized on top of it), and (B) the system is quickly eroded and dismantled – even turned upside down – by politicians who ride the wave of public discontent and are sponsored by those plutocrats who want everything for themselves and nothing for anybody else.
I’d rather balance our currency through progressive taxation and safeguard against an undermining of shared prosperity by breaking up private sector monopolies, prosecuting price-fixing, and preventing price gouging in low-competitive markets like housing, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare, than deal with political impasses and backlashes arising from backward mentalities of envy, disrespect, and a worshiping of labor as an end in itself.
I absolutely agree with Ms. Tcherneva that we must change property rights. On the other hand, I find her utterly wrong in her fantasy that a job guarantee will give everybody wealth and assets. No, it won’t. It can’t! Anybody who isn’t young anymore and who has already been economically screwed all their lives (like me for example) is totally left out. It’s too late for an older impoverished person to catch up on wealth through employment in a few remaining years of labor, even if that labor might be more fairly recompensed than it was before. For us older robbed folks, our ships have sailed and sunk. That’s where using a second rail to stabilize the prosperity train comes in to help: Instantly changing the money flow is the only way to help the scarred old veterans of our inequality machine, unless we are instantly redistributing wealth, as well.
I sure wouldn’t mind being given a piece of land with a little house on it (or the building materials to build one). Of course that would be an even bigger restitution of economic equality and justice than merely leaking some of the current free money flow to poor folks like me instead of letting the rich get all the free money. However, I doubt our society is mentally ready to do that. Remember the ages of talk about giving land as a restitution for slavery to Afro-Americans? It never happened. People weren’t ready for that. We are not mentally there, yet, to boldly redistribute the nation’s wealth.
However, if we get serious about a UBI (and federal job guarantee) and don’t enable it merely through greater income taxation of the rich but rather go the extra mile of appropriating a large chunk of the wrongfully hoarded wealth assets of the rich for this purpose, thus redirecting dividends in the current free money system, we will actually have gone a long way in the direction of fixing our highly corrupted property rights and get ready to fix them some more — say with things like job-pay-with-assets and capping asset ownership as well as maximum incomes.
Money flow and assets are the two rails of our prosperity train. We must fix them both. And mentality is the key to all of this. Mentality tends to not change overnight, though. So we need to go in steps. The UBI and federally monetized, socially useful, non-profit jobs (such as to rebuild and clean up communities and make them more livable) are good first steps, one for the left leg and one for the right, so to speak. They should both be taken together, quickly to be followed by a job-pay-with-assets program. As our minds evolve to see assets as collectively generated wealth we all deserve to share in, and money as the economic blood flow for society rather than a measly compensation for painful labor, we will then be mentally ready to also cap wealth and incomes and realize a thriving society.
All this amounts to a non-violent, non-disruptive revolution taking us from our current system of widespread suffering to a world for us all to thrive in — except for medical and similar natural challenges still left to deal with, but with which we will finally be able to deal in full strength when our energies no longer mostly go into elbowing each other; clawing upward; kicking downward; pulling up the ladders behind us; rigging elections; bribing government officials; warping government, laws, rules, and rights; rigging the economy on behalf of a few; fighting back against all this outrage from the bottom; kicking water to stay alive; and so forth.
The path toward a bright future is one of gradual awakening and refining of our ideas. This takes baby steps.
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