Saturday, December 06, 2014

The search for economic freedom

In her important new book "This Changes Everything", Naomi Klein argues that we will not be able to avoid the worst-case climate change scenario if we continue to work within the "current rules of capitalism".

She suggests that one critical step towards escaping the clutches of capitalism and create a more equitable society would be to establish a Guaranteed Minimum Income - a system that guarantees that all citizens or families have an income sufficient to live on, provided they meet certain conditions.

The concept of the National Dividend was invented by engineer C. H. Douglas between 1916 and 1920 and subsequently modified by poet Ezra Pound and Buckminster Fuller. The basic idea (although Douglas, Pound, and Fuller differ on the details) is that every citizen should be declared a shareholder in the nation, and should receive annual dividends on the Gross National Product for the year over and above their earnings, to help bridge the gap between purchasing power and prices.

Bucky Fuller was quick to point out that the very notions of humans "having to earn a living" and governments' fixation on having to create jobs run counter to evolution which is fast-tracking humans towards increased unemployment as we learn (of necessity) how to do "more and more using less and less."

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

An interesting approach to achieving some measure of economic freedom by sharing the wealth of the commons can be found in a proposal put forward by Peter Barnes in his book "Who Owns The Sky: Our Common Assets and the Future of Capitalism".

The Tree Media Group is in the process of crowd-funding a film "Total Freedom" that explains why the time has come for an Unconditional Basic Income for All.


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