Op-Ed; Opinion

Basic Income can change humanity for the better

Written by Anca Stănescu

The saying goes that every person is the change he or she wants to see in the world; that every good action has an impact on others; that we just have to want to change something and we can do it. Is that really how the world works?

What if each human being is empowered to change himself or herself for the better, perhaps the world just improves on its own.

How many of us really have the freedom to actively think about making the world a better place? How many people can enjoy the certainty of a decent life, peace, time and a lack of worries about day to day life? The world could change itself for the better if the Earth’s nearly eight billion people all enjoyed this kind of freedom.

This state of freedom is attainable and it is called Universal Basic Income.

Universal Basic Income implies that every human being has the right to life. Many will say that the right to life is already the most natural right of the human being, guaranteed in the constitutions and conventions of the world. Is this really the way it is?

In order for us to live, we need food and water in the first place. However, as long as food and water are not free resources, but assets in the possession of someone who will only provide them to us in exchange for an amount of money, how are we still guaranteed the right to life if we do not have that amount of money? We are not. The right to life is an obsolete clause in an agreement concluded between one seller and nearly 8 billion buyers.

Next to food and water, we need walls and a roof. We also need some utilities, such as a heating system of our home, so we don’t get sick and therefore are able to exercise this so called guaranteed right – the right to life. And we would also need to know that we are entitled to these few basic resources without conditions, that we can enjoy them for the entire duration of our life (to which, of course, we are entitled) and they will not be taken away from us, so we don’t get sick of the thought that we have to struggle to survive, and therefore we can exercise our right to life. We do not get any of these when we are born. Everything has to be bought. And everything is bought with money. All these basic resources only ensure a decent survival – not happiness, not self-esteem, just survival.

So the right to life, written on paper, means nothing as long as survival must be bought with cash. And if life must be bought, then let’s all, unconditional, guaranteed and continuously, have that amount of money, enough just to cover our basic needs. Let us all have a universal basic income, a sufficiently large amount of money obtained unconditionally and (perhaps) monthly, to provide every human being with the possibility to buy the floor of existence – food, water, shelter and access to utilities – in such a way that on this floor anyone can voluntarily and creatively build new levels of existence.

No, people will not stop working and productivity will not drop, because once the basic needs are fulfilled, human beings will have other needs too. We will continue to work in order to satisfy the needs on the upper levels of the pyramid, which only in the presence of a universal basic income could really become needs to make the world a better place.

In a world where no one has to worry for survival, every human being has the freedom and the power to change for the better. Maybe the saying should go that the world changes human beings for the better, and not the other way around.

 

Anca divides her free time between writing on a science blog and gathering basic income supporters. She is an early advocate of basic income in her country, having launched in 2016 the first Romanian website devoted to the promotion of basic income fundamentals.

References:

http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

https://medium.com/basic-income/if-we-no-longer-force-people-to-work-to-meet-their-basic-needs-won-t-they-stop-working-3996442b7585

 

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The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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