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Monday, December 3, 2018

Microstory 986: UBI Trials

In the early days, everyone was responsible for themselves, and their family. But our ancestors quickly realized how much safer life was when groups of families stuck together. Many traits humans carry today were formed thousands of years ago to promote survival. We use it for slapstick comedy now, but there’s a very good reason why seeing someone throw up makes you throw up. Involuntary vomiting is a result of bad food, so when it happened to one tribe member, those whose gag reflexes were triggered had a better chance of surviving, thereby passing on their genes. The ones who weren’t triggered to vomit as well, may have died of whatever poison was in the food, and never had children. Even yawning is believed to be have some sort of tribal evolutionary component, which would explain why it’s so fascinatingly contagious. So believe me when I tell you I understand why our predecessors chose capitalism. Their best means of survival was to distribute skill across the population. It was impractical for every single person to know how to make pelts, and cook, and hunt, and gather, and so on. Giving everyone a responsibility to focus on allowed our species to develop at a phenomenal rate. This has served us well, on the whole, for all this time. The best thing it’s done for us was to get us to a point of technological achievement so great, that we will soon no longer need to work at all. We have been unfortunately indoctrinated by society to believe we must work forty hours a week to be fulfilled. As an autistic person, I find it incredibly grating when I hear someone in the elevator talk about how it’s not yet Friday, or if it is Friday, how great it is that it’s Friday. As the song goes, everybody’s working for the weekend. So I know you don’t actually like your work, which is why it’s so baffling how fundamentally invested you are in it. I do my job so I can make money. I don’t personally care whether my clients get their pieces of mail. Why would I? It has nothing to do with me. If they stopped paying me, I would stop doing it.

A bunch of smart people out there have come up with brilliant alternatives to work, and these new plans are being tested in trials all over the world, as we speak. Money has no real value, which is why we call it a fiat. In our country, it used to be backed by gold, but even gold doesn’t have as much value as we think. The market is based on whatever arbitrary value we place on things, and it changes all the time. Gold has many uses. It’s probably in your phone. But it’s also in your jewelry, and jewelry doesn’t do anything. The only true commodity on the entire planet is labor. Everything comes down to labor, so what do we have if we get rid of that? You may think nothing, but in reality, it’s everything. A lack of work would allow us to explore hobbies. I would probably take up painting, even though I’ve never really tried it. I would go backpacking, and skiing, and I would write more. What would you do with your time if you didn’t spend twenty-six minutes commuting to work, eight hours working, an hour at lunch somewhere necessarily close to work, and twenty-six more minutes going home? Automation will allow us to receive the same benefits that human labor does today; more even. This automated labor will generate revenue for large corporations, and since those corporations don’t have to pay their workers, they’ll be expected to contribute to a government fund. The wealth from that fund will be redistributed to all citizens; possibly with variable conditions, like age or lawfulness. We can do this, but we’re going to need a dramatic shift in the general psyche. The 40-hour work week did not become standard in this country until 1938, and there is no reason to not lower it again. Studies have suggested shorter working hours would help stave off climate change, actually increase gross domestic product, and lower suicide rates. I know you’re all real big on fixing mental illness, since that’s the only reason for gun violence. I would like to say thank you to everyone who has created, or participated in, a universal basic income trial. Even when it doesn’t work, we learn valuable data, so we can institute something ubiquitous. I fear that, if we don’t ever do this, then we will all perish, and leave this world to talking sea otters.

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