Thursday, February 26, 2015

So there is still the problem of violence

People seem to be talking about a Universal Basic Income Guarantee. I think the conversation is a good thing and this idea may indeed be the revolution.

But it seems to me that there is still the question of violence.  The entire global economy is founded on violence (of varying types and degrees). There is the direct violence of U.S. (and soon to be Chinese) imperial wars to control natural resources and markets.  But there is also the internalized violence that causes most people on the planet to get up every day and go to jobs that they don't want to be doing. The market is violence -- if you fail to follow the rules of the market (go to work, earn money, pay you bills), you and your family will be evicted, jailed, homeless, starving, and/or left outside to freeze.  So we internalize the violence and force ourselves to do unpleasant things in order to avoid the (even greater) external violence.

A universal basic income guarantee rightly aims to remove violence from the system. But literally, once you take violence out, no one picks strawberries. And garbage collectors would need to make $100,000 a year. Which might be fantastic. It would get rid of all the bullshit jobs that David Graeber talks about.

Okay, fair enough.  But if the universal basic income is adopted in only one country (or just a handful of rich countries) -- don't most of the lousy jobs just move to poorer countries? And don't rich countries then have even more incentive to oppress poor countries in the attempt to keep prices down? So in solving the problem of bullshit jobs in one country -- have we merely moved them to another (which is what we do already, but this would just accelerate that trend). Said differently, does a universal basic income lead to even more neocolonialism rather than less? Does removing the internalized violence in the first world just amplify the external and internal violence in the third world?  

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