In 2018, you are going to read a lot of studies. They will basically tell you that a Universal Basic Income is a great idea and more effective than any other method of combating technological unemployment, the death of the Middle Class and the automation of the future of work.
They won’t discuss why these things came to pass or why governments and business leaders allowed this to happen. They will say Basic Income is the solution for all people, no matter their circumstances.
How Wealth Inequality Destroys Lives
They don’t propose a solution to wealth inequality, they only show a way to prevent all out mass social unrest and chaos, something that would inconvenience the state and elite. The bottom 60% of the economy, well what do you suppose is in store for us with the rise of robots, machine learning and automation that is even difficult for us to fathom before 2020?
California might get a lot of sunshine and easy access to VC, but they aren’t blessed with a lot of common sense. They don’t know the pain of rural America, much less the underclass or warped narrative primed by Facebook algorithms or the new media that’s dehumanized by advertising agents and propaganda hackers.
What if receiving a basic income is actually humiliating and is our money for opioids and alcohol, and not for hope that we can again join a labor force that’s decreasing while robots and AI do the jobs we once did? Imagine you’re an average citizen circa 2030, you couldn’t afford college and the jobs you used to do, no longer exist, what then?
This isn’t the America your Grandmother lived in and moved to to call upon a Dream for a better life.
Perils of the Robot Economy
The problem lies in the fact that there won’t be a whole lot of “new jobs” for the blue and white collar workers to adapt to once they sink and become part of the permanent unemployed via technological unemployment. It’s hard to fathom even a “robot tax” being enough to make up the difference or how consumers stimulate the economy enough without actually having much (if any) discretionary income.
The “technological underclass” become neither active participants in the Automation economy, nor active consumers of the goods and services it produces. Though don’t worry Walmart and Amazon will have a special category for you.
Millennials already know they have been scammed and will never see a pension, given the proximity to technological unemployment rising to likely over 20% in the next twenty years, there might be a case that the entire global economic system may be in jeopardy. Is giving away money really the answer?
California and it’s powerful ultra-elite spokesmen are remaining ultra positive about UBI, as if $1,000 is a solution to the neo-capitalism that their products, automation and the evolving Artificial Intelligence of the future will create.
AI and Assuming People are Dumb at Math
With housing rising in major urban centers, more folk living paycheck-to-paycheck, rising debt to income ratios and less discretionary spending, combined with many other factors, the idea of a UBI (about the same as a meagre pension) saving us, sounds pretty insulting and absurd to a lot of people.
UBI is like californiacation without a continguency plan. What if we dealt with wealth inequality and created an actual system where wealth redistribution took place instead of turning into a welfare state where Artificial Intelligence backed socialism impinges on our freedom (even our freedom for dignified failure). Giving the choice of maintaining our pride and a life of poverty, many of us have actually chosen to subsist on a basic income already since 2008.
Universal Basic Income and Corporate Social Responsibility
Since when did capitalism care about the down trodden and the poor? If we are to believe that automation and robots really will steal our jobs an unprecedented numbers, we should call Basic Income for what it is, a way to curtail social unrest and a post-work “peasant uprising”. It’s not to help people become empowered creators, artists and social entrepreneurs, it’s to help them not hold a huge grudge towards Billionaire for replacing them and changing their lives forever, for the worse.
Getting $1,000 just for being alive, isn’t a privilege, it’s a death sentence. We are already seeing the toll of the death of the middle class on the opioid epidemic, on the rise of suicide, alcoholism and early death all due to in part of the stress of a declining quality of life since the great recession of 2008. Many of us believe that the automation economy will hit the declining Middle class about 4x as hard and won’t see a return to normal levels.
We can pet the robot dog now, but what happens when we grow up to a world where our skills have become obsolete?
Humanity Vs. the Rise of Robots
As robots and AI speed ahead in their evolution and ability to self-learn, humanity’s ability to keep up and learn new skills declines in comparison. If we have to compete with machine intelligence at every step of the way, there’s little chance our skills will remain in demand, for a great multitude of professions.
A Basic Income that neither reinforces gainful employment, community volunteer work or skill-building activities — but rests solely on a flat fee imperative that everyone is deserving is not unlike dreams of utopia of old. However, where does one get the money to be able to achieve this? Our social services, healthcare and education are already in pretty dire shape (in case you haven’t noticed). We do have a civic responsibility to solve technological unemployment and the consequences of a vast increase in AI in the world in which we live, but giving people money to play video games (or whatever they do) might not be the answer.
The Decline of a Broken System
People would have to define their own meaning if we were to arrive at a post-work world many believe we might arrive at in decades or more likely (centuries) from now. Social media and our mobile devices already divides us from reality under the pretext of algorithms and notifications that depict a humanity already struggling to find its spark and motivation in an increasingly mechanical world. Perhaps giving them $1,000 to keep doing that, isn’t the wisest decision.
Payments as a solution to a broken system is not the same as fixing the system, and while Elon Musk’s is good at giving us novel solutions, Silicon Valley is not especially able to give us a caring and humanistic Artificial Intelligence. It’s hard to fathom the robots will have much more of a soul, to give us “organics” a helping hand. In a world where many of us won’t have health insurance when we’ll be at our most vulnerable, a world where social unrest and hysteria is likely to be at a far higher feverish pitch, I’m not sure throwing $$$ at the growing underclass is the solution, either politically, economically or in terms of corporate social responsibility.
What if Democracy and Capitalism are Cracking?
By the time we collectively realize that the entire system is very broken, it might be too late to repair. Democracy at that point, might have failed in the U.S. at least. Riots and protests followed by the rise of a more authoritarian state that looks more like China’s social credit system is quite likely to come into being. The failure of a Basic Income initiative could trigger these events that would lead the U.S. to such a police state.
Short-term fixes are never very successful strategy at maintaining your authority in a corrupt system. Universal Basic Income is a panic-mode solution to a state, to leaders and to tech firms that neglected to realize the impact of that their companies would have on society, government, consumer trust and ultimately the economy of the country they are supposed to be serving. In that light, Basic Income programs could be the ultimate act of desperation that leads to the death of Capitalism itself.
We live in such an era of uncertainty, even we can’t fathom the world of scarcity and poverty that automation and AI will bring to the majority of Americans. The decline of the percentage of those in the labor force and the fact that each year machine learning and robots are getting smarter, depict the world that’s quickly approaching. And there’s nothing our politicians or talk of a Universal Basic Income is going to do about it.