Hi everyone – long time, no write. How are you all holding up in this year of the Lord 2017? It’s a daily struggle to maintain some sort of sanity in this post-truth world.
On one hand, not much has changed. The same players are waging wars and murdering poor people in the same regions. War is still the planet’s number one business. There are more refugees than ever, escaping violence or poverty, or both.
On the other, politics is officially now a reality show with hourly updates to keep us occupied and bemused. Getting your snarky observation of the day to go viral on Twitter for 8 hours seems to be the most anyone is capable of doing about that. I know that because checking in with the global progressive hive mind has become my safe space.
There is no escaping this presidency. You can’t ignore it. You can’t even look away. So here we are, the planet’s best and brightest, hopelessly riveted by the follies of a 70 year old grandpa with creeping dementia and casual racism.
Everyone who is capable is documenting it, of course. Everybody has an opinion. There is more or less a global consensus that this is a joke, but serious. A serious joke. We take comfort in the daily affirmations of smart people that our feelings are more or less true. Some mornings I start playing a political podcast on my phone before I even go into the bathroom(!) I am absolutely addicted to feeling sane, informed, and part of the solution. It’s like every morning my mind is erased and I have to build up my understanding of the world all over again. It’s exhausting. It’s unproductive. I need a new game plan.
I keep coming back to this quote by Buckminister Fuller, inventor, architect, and systems theorist, who worked across multiple fields to broaden his understanding of the world. While it is vital to work to document injustice, corruption, and the shortcomings of the current hierarchies, that is the job of journalists. As citizens it is our duty to stay informed and process the information in order to do better in our daily lives. That’s how progress come about. But I feel like we are on a dead end street. We can move forward but the wall is there and we are going to hit it. The only way to avoid impact is to change lanes entirely.
Climate change is our canary in the coal mine. If we continue to live the way we do today, we will raise the temperature 2 degrees and over. With that change comes permanent droughts, food shortages, mass migration from the equator regions. There will be storms and floods, sea level rise. Half the world is still desperately poor. 8 men own the combined wealth of the 3,5 billion poorest people across Africa, Asia and South America. If every person on the planet lived like the average American we would need 5 planets worth of resources to fuel it all. Earth Overshoot Day, the day on which we have spent our yearly allotment of resources to keep us alive, comes earlier and earlier each year. In 2016 it was on August 8. Automation is already displacing workers, and as high as 50% of the workforce will be unemployable by as early as 2050. 9 billion human beings, the low estimate, will be seeking shelter and looking for food in a world not designed for us to thrive. It’s not going to be a good time.
But ok, this may be the most apocalyptic version. Maybe human ingenuity will prevail. Maybe we will beat our addiction to oil which forces us to be buddies with extremist regimes. Maybe we will invent large-scale biodegradable plastics. Maybe we will stop relying on war as the premiere business model for elites. Maybe we will find a gentle way out of late-stage capitalism. Maybe. So we’ve gotta try.
Look, even Mark Zuckerberg, one of the 8 individuals mentioned above, is trying to visualize a world beyond what we have now. Sure, it’s a pretty meaningless gesture on his behalf and all the wealth flaunting he does (What’s up, Kauai?) and it doesn’t help that he looks like an android while doing it, but the idea still matters.
Universal Basic Income is not a new idea. It’s almost 500 years old. It allows you to be a shareholder of planet earth. A handful of humans take land and natural resources to transform them into habitats and useful items for humanity at large. Most other humans are employed in the chain of transformation. The surplus profit that is created from this chain is currently going to the very top – those owners* of nature and all resources. The rest get pittance. The majority get less than $5 a day.
*Whether or not people should be allowed to privately own vast natural resources is a discussion for another day.
Universal Basic Income is the tax that those people would pay to us, every one of us, shareholders of earth. It would allow the general population the freedom to choose their work more carefully, and hopefully the bullshit jobs would go away all together. It would eliminate the need to invent jobs for the sake of “the economy”. It’s a guaranteed, minimum, survival paycheck for being an alive human being. Food and shelter, no more, no less.
It’s an idea worth being fired up about. And that, at least, is something productive we can do. Let’s talk about it. Learn about it. Spread it. Make it trend on social media. Force media people and politicians to take a stand, an actual for-the-people stand. To help get the conversation going, and to thank everyone still reading my sporadic updates, I am hosting a giveaway of this year’s most revolutionary book – Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bergman. I have two Kindle ebook copies up for grabs so click this link or the image below to enter.
Contest ends June 9, 2017. Participants must be over 18 and live in the US. Sorry to all my international readers – I’ll figure out another way to host it next time. Even if you can’t enter, or don’t win, I really recommend this book – easy to read and wildly inspirational in these dark days.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I am more active on Twitter these days so that’s the best place to find me if you’d like to chat @honeythatsok Until next time, stay sane.