BIEN Profiles: Kate McFarland, news editor
Kate McFarland has been a writer and editor for Basic Income News since March 2016 (after having began her volunteership as a content reviewer in November 2015). She was appointed as a member of the Executive Committee at BIEN’s Congress in July 2016. Additionally, she was appointed as Secretary of the US Basic Income Guarantee Network in November 2016.
At the time of this writing, Kate is nearing the end of her final(?) temporary paid appointment at The Ohio State University, where she has been employed in some fashion since 2002.
Kate grew up in the town of Lancaster, Ohio, until she moving to Columbus to attend school at (The) Ohio State University.
In college, Kate flirted with various social science and humanities disciplines, before eventually majoring in mathematics (with a minor in sociology) and then enrolling in graduate school in statistics.
During her first year as a statistics PhD student, however, Kate realized that she would never truly challenge herself intellectually if she failed to get a PhD in philosophy. Thus, on a whim, she started enrolling in graduate-level philosophy classes while completing her masters degree in statistics. She went on to complete a PhD in philosophy of language, remaining at Ohio State for the length of “professional student” career (primarily due to convenience).
Kate’s philosophical research focused mainly on the semantics, pragmatics, and sociolinguistics of disagreement. She did not work in political theory, and dissertation was unrelated to basic income. However, it would be true, if misleading, to say that her dissertation dealt with the “power to say ‘No'”: she wrote about the conditions under which it is conversationally appropriate for speakers to use the word ‘No’ when replied to something someone else said.
Never pursuing a career as a professional philosopher, Kate accepted a one-year teaching position at Ohio State, focusing on the teaching of ethics to engineering students, as a stopgap after her 2015 graduation.
In the summer of 2016, she was offered what could have become a full-time, permanent position at Ohio State’s Department of Philosophy. By the time, however, she was finally discovered that a world existed outside of Ohio State–thanks mainly to her growing involvement in the Basic Income movement. Not wanting to close other doors, she turned it down.
In 2017, she plans to continue leading her life as a open-ended journey, just the way she likes it.
INTEREST IN BASIC INCOME
Kate has actively followed the basic income movement only since late 2015. However, the seedlings of her support for the cause had developed at least by her teens.
As early as middle school, Kate adamantly rejected the notion that the main function of education should be to prepare students for jobs and careers; she insisted, on the contrary, that the attainment of knowledge and the development of one’s cognitive faculties were ends in themselves–and that education ought to be devoted to this end. Also in her early teens, she developed a fondness for underground music (e.g., especially, obscure 1970s prog rock) and an deep skepticism of the mainstream. Whether talking about education policy, music, or any other subject matter, she used “sell out” as a term of derision.
When she learned of the idea of a guaranteed minimum income, sometime around her freshman year of college, it immediately resonated with her as way as to preserve freedom and individualism without forcing individuals to conform to the demands of the marketplace. She saw it, in short, as a possible basis for a society in which no one needs to sell out. However, she did not further pursue the idea for many years.
Kate finally became re-attracted to basic income in mid-2015, when looking for a more radical, post-work alternative to the “Fight for 15” memes that her friends were sharing on Facebook. For her, promotion of the idea of basic income was a means to challenge societal assumptions about the function and value of work and jobs.
That said, most of Kate’s present work is not activism at all, but reporting. She maintains that, qua Basic Income News editor, she is not an advocate for basic income per se but instead an advocate for intellectual responsibility and integrity in discourse about basic income.
Her primary mission is not to convince people to that basic income is desirable but, rather, simply to disseminate accurate information about the contemporary movements for it. She approaches all of her research, writing, and reporting for BIEN with the same standards of intellectual honesty and rigor as she would have applied to any scholarly work.
For all her utopian visions of a post-capitalist society, Kate is still a pedantic academic at heart–a trait she hopes to wield for the betterment of the basic income community.
Top photo by Josh Diaz Photography