I mentioned last post that I am no longer posting. However, every once and a while I come across a link that I think is so important that I believe it needs to be acknowledged (and disseminated) — this one is: an economy that works.
We are badly in need of a way to understand the nature of modern economy such that we develop a maturing of our culture. I think this is: it explains the impact of neoliberalism and the changing nature of our economy, especially the rise of gross dissatisfaction in how we live our lives. It also strongly advocates, amongst other suggestions, the need for a guaranteed basic income, a concept and process that is gradually being shown to markedly improve living conditions, despite the fears that it will encourage people to become lazy.
Having researched laziness as part of my PhD, I strongly believe that people are not naturally lazy, that they only move in this direction when they become overwhelmed with their lives and give up, conditions that are being augmented in major ways by our current economy. What is suggested here is actually a prescription to reduce laziness while improving human lives in many ways, perhaps ending the insane ways in which we create poverty and dissatisfaction in our lives, even reducing global warming via an effective stance to our culture.
Guy Standing on an Economy that Works for Everyone (20161126)
It is a long article, and well worth reading.
8 thoughts on “An Economy That Works”
It has taken me some time to come to grips with and put into words my disquietitude with the need for a myth on which to base the society following the distruction of earth’s current societies through global warming. I believe that it is fair comment that this society cannot be allowed to assume that there are gods or a god or God whose texts are divine writ which cannot be questioned. We can easily see the mess any of the current religions have made of our situation. I realize that religion goes back in human and hominid history perhaps as much as 100,000 years with the hunter-gatherer group leader sometimes also being the shaman. The shaman was able to use secret ways to convince the group followers that he had “magic” powers. In this way, then as today, the shaman (or priest, minister, pastor or imam) could convince the members of his group that he had supernatural power which then justified his right to tell them what to do. Unfortunately religions are not alone in causing the problem.
We have the political situation where we have 195 groups of people which are recognized as nations and almost as many differing ways of governing these groups. None of the various systems are seen by a larger or smaller minority of any one group to be a satisfactory means of governance. It would seem that if the new society were to have any chance to avoid reverting to barbarism a single political system would have to be developed which would have a real support of the vast majority of the people left on the planet.
A further major problem is one of language. Currently there are almost 7000 living languages with more than 400 languages being spoken by more than one million people each. These 400 languages represent 94% of the world’s current population. Even with the best of translators creating a single story, document or myth would be a Herculean task. Even if this story were were based entirely on scientifically provable facts, so long as the myth has to stand with the same meaning for all people I fail to see this as a possibly achieveable thing. Even if by some miracle all the remaining people on the planet spoke English, different areas produce different meanings for the same word. Just ask a person who speaks perfect Parisian French to talk to the average Québécois in the language each regards as True French and they will both think that the other is speaking gibberish. English has the same problem.
While I have only touched on just three of the problems there are many others that I see, such as the need to create a single culture where there are now thousands of distinct cultures and countless more which overlap the major ones. Even currency can be a problem, indeed, is currency even necessary? In fact, should there be anything but joint ownership of all skills and resources? Where do the sexes fit into the scheme of things?
In addition to this, what kind of provisions should be made so that the survivors of the full effects of global warming will be able to relearn at least some of the good things that our society has to offer? How many generations would it take for the hand to mouth survivors to lose the ability to understand any writen or pictorial means of passing on information? Should there be a real push to develop artificial intellegence to the point where the world’s knowledge up to now can be preserved for those generations who will no longer be able to directly communicate with our current languages and or written word?
I have no answers, only questions.
Lots of truth, John. I could also add that most people, when faced with such problems, shift to some form of acedia: fearfulness, laziness, and/or self-righteousness. It is certainly easy to see many examples of this in our current culture.
And like you, I have many questions, and no real answers. Yet I know that change often comes in surprising ways. So I continue to wonder.
In fact, even my sitting down to write about the problems as I see them is a form of acedia. I do believe that unless we manage to do something in a material way that does at least tend to help correct the problem(s) we are failing ourselves.. I can sit here at my keyboard and come up with all sorts of reasons for doing nothing. I am in my 25th year of retirement and my next birthday will see me in my 81st year. I am “too old” to do anything active to help the cause. I have “too few degrees” after my name to be able to persuade any person of note in academia that my thoughts are meaningful. I do “not live near” the sources of power in my province.
But, there are still things I can do. I can talk to my friends about the coming problems. I belong to a number of organizations where I can hope to influence others of the seriousness of the climate change problem. I can attend municipal council meetings and help the individual councilors learn about the coming problems and give them suggestions as to what they can do about them.
While the things I can do actually may count for very little, at least it means that I am doing something, probably not enough, but more than I would do if I let myself succumb to acedia.
Utterly true for me also, John. One of the reasons I have done my blog has been to be in action, even if a small action. I could use the blog to complain (which would be acedia) or I can use the blog to clarify my thoughts and present them to others in the hope that dialogue and action may ensue. As it happens, there has not been enough action so I move on (at least for a while) to something else.
Currently I am engaged in a Listening Ministry at one of the downtown shelters and I am engaged in an activist group that provides low-grade security for climate marches and rallies. Like you, they may not count for much, but I engage where I feel I can contribute, trusting that change comes in unexpected ways. Always I strive to have “high intention (of what i can do), low attachment. (of outcome)”
I was going to leave some information about BIEN in my last comment but I assumed you would know about it and I was right. I had read the article you sent some months ago and I get somewhat irregular e-mails from the group. To my mind this article makes much sense and no matter what capitalist eyebrows are raised, if we get the robotic and artificial intelligence developments that I have read about, by 2050 there will be very few employable people on earth. Many or probably most professional people will be replaced by robots because the amount knowledge needed to qualify for the professional position will be too large for any brain to be able to cope with other than a robotic one. In my not necessarily so humble opinion it would appear that we are facing not only the destruction of the current civilization through global warming or if neoliberalism has its way, the entire world will be dominated by a very few people whose wealth would make Croesus blush. The biggest problem that they will face is that their wealth will be worth nothing because there will be nothing alive to spend it on. While this a somewhat different problem than global warming, unless something is done in both fields I can see only disaster ahead for our grandchildren.
Again, thanks, John. Yes, I am strongly in agreement with the idea of a guaranteed basic income for every adult on the planet (BIEN being an acronym for Basic Income Earth Network). Capitalism, especially neoliberalism, cannot survive — we have reached the limits of growth for this planet, and if continued, I agree the wealthy will have no place, or people base, for their wealth — we will be extinct except for a small number who have the wealth to create a temporary bubble of technology so as to survive, at least until the technology fails. The only aspect where I question your comment is in the development of AI; I do not anticipate that a robotic world will be able to develop emotional intelligence (perhaps without people we may not need such), and hence some human skill development (I hesitate to use the word “profession”) will still be needed.
The following is taken from and is a modification of “The Serenity Promise”. It suits me.
Give me the strength to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting challenges as a pathway to peace,
Taking this world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that things will be right as I do right by the people and things surrounding me.
In this way I find happiness in my life and
I am at peace.
Works for me, John. Thanks.