What if you didn’t have to work?

Cross-posted from The Fearless Heart, a guest post by BayNVC outreach manager Anna Barnett: 

How would your life change if you knew that your basic needs would be met no matter what? If earning money wasn’t necessary to keep a roof over your head and food in the fridge, what would be possible?

Screenshot from the My Basic Income Project

Screenshot from the My Basic Income Project

… let me stop right here for a sec. If this question gets your imagination churning, click here and write down whatever comes to mind. You’ll be entered, for free, into a raffle that me and my friends are setting up to give away a year’s guaranteed income to one random person. Then you can come back and read the rest of this.

Back? OK. So, this premise – that you could be taken care of regardless of what you’re doing – is part of the fictional world in Miki’s “Wisdom Tales from the Future,” where she imagines a society that’s organized around meeting human needs and doesn’t coerce anyone to play their part. Amazingly, the idea of meeting basic needs unconditionally has been getting more and more attention as a real-world policy proposal. You might have heard that Finland is making plans to pay every citizen a no-strings stipend. The name for this not-just-a-dream program is Universal Basic Income.

A lot of economic arguments have been made for basic income, and they come from a really wide range of worldviews (here’s an eloquent summary from a CNN columnist). Martin Luther King and Milton Friedman both called for it as a direct solution to poverty. Much of the recent buzz, especially among the technophiles here in the Bay Area, is about smart robots that will soon replace most people’s jobs, meaning there will have to be some other way for people to make a living.

What’s talked about far less – my sense is it’s almost taboo to go there – is just how wonderful it would feel, and how transformative it could be, if we all chose our work willingly. Miki’s Wisdom Tales are a rare exception in daring to think this out loud and taste the relief, the giddy freedom of it….

 

Read the full post here.

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