A creative professional’s take on Universal Basic Income

Among the first political advocates for the Basic Income idea were conservatives.

I have been listening and reading as much as possible about this idea and the weirdest of wierd facts is the number of non-leftist types that are behind it. I mean, Andrew Yang blasted it into public consciousness with his one thousand dollars a month promise, but it was certainly around prior to that!

It was during the Nixon administration that the idea was first tabled (after the second bill of rights anyways). I mean, Nixon!

Milton Friedman, the guy behind the “no free lunch” wanted a work fair idea for workers that would endure working class people never slipped below the poverty line.

The first point to make is that this idea has actually been around in one form or another since Utopia by Thomas More in 1516 and then Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man in 1791. And now our former Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has advocated for it. It’s been backed by tech giants like Elon Musk, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey as well as activists like Noam Chomsky and Robert Reich.

I’m not as great at coming up with financial details to combat the frequently asked questions like “hey, I don’t want to turn into a member of the former Soviet Union!” I can promise you that neither do I, but I’ve never been great at the intricacies of tax and the economy so I have to defer to someone like Scott Santens who works on this stuff full time, has a blog on Stitcher called The Scott Santens UBI Enterprise and has a FAQ on the front page of his website at http://www.scottsantens.com

You can also check out some deep dive podcasts on NPR (which I completely appreciate leans left, though not always) Anyways…

Is Universal Basic Income too Utopian to Work?

Universal Basic Income – Why and How?

These are just from a search but there is lots more, with a growing bi-partisan advocacy.

The “why now?” couldn’t be more clear. We have had a blast from how things can change suddenly. Just like the potential effect of automation, robotic or just in terms of how our civilization advances, we have experienced how the financial rug can be suddenly pulled out from under you.

For myself this happened ten years back, with continued changes similar to Covid. I remember a manager at the McDonald’s that I worked at, the same one where I was once taken into the office to go over my 100% Medical, Dental and Life Insurance, saying “well, you’ll get your 40” referring to the 40 hours a week that of course every full time employee gets.

This wasn’t generations ago; this was the mid-nineties. This was back before I had the twin kick of stomach issues, hearing loss and arthritis that threaten to shut down my ability to do any non creative job at all.

One of the buildings I clean now is a side contract, but it used to be my main one at 10 hours a night. Now it’s about an hour and twenty, full of empty, cobwebbed vacancies. One of the main offices in that building will be going on the 28th so I have asked my employer if there’s anything else out there because that location will end up being less than a half hour a day. Back in those nineties you could not be brought in for anything less than three hours.

So I think it’s fairly clear, especially now after Covid, that things are not like they were in the 80s.

I don’t believe that UBI would reduce incentive to work because we are no longer generalists like we were. Imagine an interviewer asking you now “why do you want to work here?” and you just saying “Oh I applied everywhere, I just need a job!”

Yeah, you’d be out the door quick.

UBI would give everyone the keys to the drivers seat of their own lives. It gives everyone the ability to say “I love this…I want to work here!” or to refuse work that is exploitative. Money is essentially value and it would give a sense of value and belonging. You get this when you do a busking set. No, it’s not “all about money” but when you make that first twoonie ($2 coin here in Canada) you feel better. You dont feel like a shlub. You feel like your life is right and you are appreciated. Financial lack creates stress, anger and division. It says that you are competing with everyone around you. This is further compounded by the bragging you see on social media of all kinds, even if it’s not meant to be.

Aren’t we supposed to do the things we want to do as if money wasn’t an object?

For myself I think it’s clear that I would want to work on music, but I absolutely want to take it beyond that. I want to study creativity on a deeper level in my leisure time and report back to everyone here. I want to take what I’m singing about to the next level. At present I have from essentially nine am to about one in the afternoon in which to incorporate everything. I am a cleaner so I have tried making use of YouTube premium and podcasts to learn while I’m working, but of course that’s not the same thing.

“You can’t do the job if you don’t have the equipment” – Paul Ironhorse, War of the Worlds

I have been a full time artist before (I still play professionally, but was also making money full time as a pitch writer through Canada Media Fund) and I can tell you that without even a second’s thought that artists have more than enough actual work to do to take up the classic eight hour day. In a previous blog I talked about Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA who spoke of being “an eight hour guy.” I need to put at least two hours a day into my principal instrument bass (that’s being generous) and then at least an hour into keyboards, guitar, drums and voice. So were at six and I haven’t even touched composition of any kind, which is not unusual these days. Then there’s promotion, research/reading, exercise to make it so you can at least get on stage as an older performer. So were at nine hours approximately.

I work every day. I have a wall calendar where each day has a blue dot for when I’ve practiced and that includes Christmas. This is because I am made to feel that unless I’m taking it to the next level I have financially no chance.

I am absolutely certain that I am not alone. I do believe this is the thing behind many of the crazy Instagram posts where people attempt to go viral. I might be another “dime a dozen musician” but if i am then i certainly not alone.

I like what one lady said on Twitter about UBI…that has only been echoed by not just Scott Santens but this article on the possibility of a creative and cultural renaissance…

https://www.mic.com/articles/125420/basic-income-studies-higher-minimum-wage-and-living-wage-creative-renaissance

Presently Canadians are being harrassed by fraud that tries to make use of the idea that they are in trouble with Service Canada which is undoubtedly about the Cerb benefit and how they are “in trouble for doing it wrong.”

What if we all got that money? All of us. Regardless of reason.

Wouldn’t there ability to make people scared drop through the floor. Most crime comes from fear.

“Constant fear of scarcity, aggression as its child” Sting

There’s the fact that income dictates health, and that health dictates income in a circle which you learn about in the first term and first year of sociology 100 at the University of Victoria.

If everyone is protected from the “Wolves at the door” that Roland Orzabel refers to on his Tomcats Screaming Outside album (a reference to his Tears for Fears successes keeping him in good financial stead) then people in poverty are not just more easily preyed upon but they dont feel the need to desperately take some kind of action. This is one I know about only too well. Like I mentioned in my song Precipice from my album The Goldblacks (of which I also blogged about previously) if feels like your life is on Niagara River floating past Goat Island towards the brink. In a state like that people will of course do anything.

Hell, they’ll even write a blog about it.

Thank you for reading. If your interested in this please share this blog or any other media you find the most compelling with your network.

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

If you are interested here are the links for Canada based petitions…

https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/petition/details?Petition=e-2821

http://www.leahgazan.ca
(If you are interested in the Guaranteed Livable Income version)

http://www.ubiworks.ca