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Basic Income and the Roboeconomy

Basic income is seen as a solution to economic disparities and poverty. Banks make companies compete, which then lobby for government support and take it from the groups with weak representation, the jobless, elderly, disabled and young. My dutch right wing government has taken money away from social services and culture, while big companies reap the benefit.

Holland has a basic income, it has WW and Bijstand, its money people get when they have worked or when they have nothing to fall back on. It’s not enough to rent a place in the city any longer, although you do get subsidy for that. The problem is rents are rising fast because banks lobbied for rules that made rental homes a good property for institutional investors. Because of that, and because banks obstruct building of affordable homes, people are suffering.

A basic income means you allocate part of the resources of the market towards an individual without any conditions attached. An important contaxtual parameter is the opportunity to earn by doing a job for anyone in a society. This opportunity is shrinking due to automation, it has for a century. Time and time again economists have lied and said ‘new jobs will be found’. It turns out, for the highly optimized core of industry jobs have disappeared and if they exist they have become less valuable. So the job pool is smaller and you’d earn less. New technology like AI is going to make that trend continue.

The basic mistake that I think is being made when people propose or fund basic income experiments (like the boss of Twitter did today). Is to think that you can start with money. Hand out money to people and it will be fine. No doubt if you hand out money to people (or social security) they will be fine — BUT — that money is still hunted as described in the first paragraph of this post. You give money without conditions, that money is not going to companies that can lobby to stop your basic income experiment. You’re not up against one company or corporation, against ALL of them. Strangely they do not want the money to pay more wages! Truth is the want the money to pay of debt and increase their competitive edge, a competition they are forced into by the same banks that put them into debt (but that’s another story)

So how do you do Basic Income right? You generate the necessary resources, you don’t just take from the market (by handing out cash), you bring something to the market. A basic income initiative should start with a project that produces a thing everybody can use, so they will all trade their products for it. The first and best thing that comes to mind is energy. You produce energy for the market to make products and render services. This may sound roundabout, but it is not. Because once you build a solar power plant that earns your basic income funds, nobody can touch them. No lobby can try to take them away (they can of course lobby to access the energy).

Jobs are changing and it is unavoidable that even task that are considered highly complex will be done my AI and computers. This is fine, this is the Roboeconomy, as long as people do not compete for the same resources with those automated machines. They do now, because both people and machines depend on fossil energy. Machines sometimes directly, people through the food production system and for all the products and services they use. If you compete with machines owned by a company that can lobby and change laws, you’re going to lose. The best thing is to get out of that race, by ensuring you either have energy to sell yourself, or are supported by a self sustaining production mechanism.

This way of thinking also applies to pensions, because there people are saving fossil credit (money) that for sure won’t be buying fossil fuels in 20 years time. Another way of looking at it is that if you walk the Earth, the Earth must provide your food, and this requires a piece of it to catch sunlight, use water and be fertile so plants can grow. Plant growth is energy production, conversion of solar energy. Now we trust enough plants are grown by a massively fossil fuel dependend industry. To cover our needs we need to ensure the energy is there, to either grow food (make ferilizer etc) or produce other things we need. This will be increasingly challenging because of climate change, but the sooner we look at our support system this way the bigger the chance we can revers or manage this threat.