A week off last week where I managed to switch off completely from work and other concerns (unusual for me if I'm at home) demonstrated to me yet again how productive and creative I become when free from stress, pressure and worry. This realisation brought me back to thinking about the idea of a universal basic income.
It's something that first occurred to me when I was about 12 and I remember asking my father why everyone didn't just get the money they needed to live on, and work for anything else. To my child self it seemed obvious! As an adult I never thought to google it and see if anyone else felt the same way, which is why I was so blown away by the article Freda linked to in this post the other day and other things I've found since. I didn't know it was an actual thing!
It all makes so much sense to me. I'm well aware of the arguments against it and the potential downsides, but I really believe that the benefits would far outweigh any negatives. When released from the pressure of making a basic living, the amount of energy that would be freed up would be enormous. You only have to notice how depleted your energy levels are when you're stressed to know how true that is. Human beings are naturally curious, creative, active creatures - just look at little children. That doesn't go away, but it does get squashed and bogged down by beliefs, conditioning and the drudgery of just surviving in the modern world.
Liberated from a big chunk of stress and worry, we would be free to follow our passions, do the things we love and are good at, and be happier, more productive people with time for each other and ourselves. Health would flourish and society would be stronger. Our sense of security would be greater and our attitudes to life and the world we live in would change. Integrity would take the place of fear.
I don't for one moment believe that people would just sit down and do nothing - it's against human nature. And even if a small handful of the population did just that, then fine, maybe it doesn't matter. Just another way of experiencing life and maybe the best that they can manage. And perhaps we all need a bit of time to rest. Let's not underestimate the power of the quiet, slow life either - the one that doesn't look like it's achieving much from the outside. A lot of insight and wisdom can come from that and wisdom is something the world needs.
But what about the jobs that no-one would want to do you may ask?
Well the way I see it is that everything would change. To take as an example refuse collecting. Maybe not everyone's dream job, but something that needs to be done, and given that not everyone is an entrepreneur and people would still be wanting to earn more money then there would be potential takers for the job. And perhaps that kind of job would become much better paid as people came to realise how valuable the service is. Perhaps with more of our time freed up we would take more responsibility for our own rubbish. Perhaps when given the time to create, other solutions would be found to dispose responsibly of rubbish or create less in the first place. Perhaps with more time, life would get simpler and maybe people would be growing more of their own food and producing less waste. Perhaps we would take it in turns in our own street to deal with it. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps... So many possibilities, so much room for innovation, so much space to value what people do.
When one thing changes everything else does too. The world would become different in ways we can't even imagine yet. It seems utterly ridiculous to me when there is another option, that human beings should still be struggling to live - quite literally in a lot of cases. We're here on the planet, there are plenty of other ways to die, why on earth should we make it a challenge just to survive? In this day and age do we need to earn the right to stay alive, or would our energies be better used in other ways?
We seem to have a fundamental belief that we should struggle just to be here. That we don't deserve for life to be easier. That it's not ok to be here if we don't have to fight for it or earn it. Well I don't believe that anymore. I'm not sure I ever really did. This modern world is so full of challenges, let's save our energy for those and let ourselves live a bit more easily. Just think of the things we could do!
So many thoughts on this subject, but I'll pause here for now. What are your thoughts?