Not too surprisingly, my previous post here was similar in nature to a lot of other posts that are showing up in progressive blogs around the globe, all saying essentially the same thing:
"This could be our best chance for a better world!"It's all very heartwarming and uplifting. It gives us hope for a brighter future while we are trapped in our own homes, unable to socialize, unable to reach out and hug one another, unable to share the joy of being alive in-person with others. A new world is possible!
"During lockdown, the pollution cleared and the birds were singing, showing us the environment that is possible!"
"We've had to lots of time to think about what's important. Now we just have to make that happen!"
Please, don't kid yourself.
Personal changes to your life will be wonderful. They may bring you happiness and renewed purpose. They may shine new light in your tiny corner of the world. Don't get me wrong - that is awesome! But how are we going to take this opportunity that you see and actually do something with it? What are you actually going to ask your leaders to do that hasn't fallen on deaf ears before? What do you think is really going to happen?
Whether we follow China's timetable and end the lockdown by the end of May or whether it drags on into June or July, when we do get the green light to return to normal, we will sprint for it. The marketing might of every industry on Earth will be pulling us back into their line of thinking with every fibre of their very powerful being. And we'll go back to the old status quo, not because all of us want to, but because we don't know how to fight that. We don't know anything else. The world we want hasn't been done before. We don't know where to begin. This is all unprecedented.
Economic catastrophes, on the other hand, are not unprecedented, and governments have been continually refining how to restore their monetary paradigm. After the economic crisis of 2008, and for the next four years, the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and others started madly creating money out of thin air in order to avert total economic collapse. Multiple trillions of dollars were printed with nothing but a prayer for the return of economic growth for decades into the future to back them. And by their measures, it worked. Meanwhile, the social values got worse. Entire countries suffered austerity measures that they have yet to come out from under, millions more displaced peoples wander the globe seeking refuge from conflict and devastation, and populism has made a mockery of democracy and past advances in social justice and environmental protection.
This may be an opportunity to move forward, but all precedents point to a move backward - a loss of past gains and even deeper entrenchment in maniacally obsessive economic growth. We are nowhere near the end of this crisis and look at what your government has already started. The business bailouts have begun and the pitches have already started to have our economies roaring back sooner rather than later. No-one on the news or in authority ever questions that objective as being what we all want.
On the flip side, those who long for change have no meaningful plan. They are split between climate change activists, environmentalists, social justice seekers, spirituality practitioners, and biodiversity promoters. Everything that they call for threatens jobs and the economy. Yes, that is the point, but that point is lost on those that fear for their lives and understand that jobs and the economy are the keys to their survival. I said it in my previous post, but it's worth saying it again:
The bulk of the world will never change its value system until it sees a real benefit in doing so, but the only way to see that benefit is if you are using a different value system.I do not doubt that the scope of this pandemic, the pause effect on our lives, and all those other effects on the common person will have an impact. At best, there will be many more who are drawn to a desire for change. But chances are, the only real outcome will be a slightly higher proportion of the world population being distressed with the direction we're headed in. Climate change and all the other global disasters will be back on track in no time.
Except for One Possibility...
Personally, so far, I see one chance for change. One.
Consider what attributes any real change agent would have to have:
- Something that did not directly threaten the status quo paradigm.
- Something that, at face value, might even look like it would support the old status quo.
- Something that had been tried already and shown to have success potential.
- Something that does not immediately lower the corporate bottom line or the power of the super-wealthy.
- Something that already has support on both ends of the political spectrum.
- Something that could easily gain broad support from all the people.
- Something that suited the circumstances.
- Something that could start small and had the potential of being a total game changer.
We must have jobs, preserve jobs, create jobs. It's a policy with universal appeal because losing our job is the ubiquitous modern-day fear that the non-wealthy have in this country. What if I lost my income? What if my savings were wiped out? What if I want to retire? Jobs are equated with basic survival. And so every single decisive move that any government wants to make gets weighed against the all-important job question because they know that's the deal maker or breaker. So how might we ever escape this paradigm?
With a guaranteed basic income.
I am convinced, more than ever, that a guaranteed basic income (GBI) would be humanity's foot in the door that leads to the change we all want. Free survival removes the survival imperative of having a job. It is our best, most pragmatic, most realistic shot at turning this massive cruise ship around. I see it as a first step towards restoring human values and literally changing our world. Describing that process would take more time than I have in a single blog post. I already posted a case for how a GBI might work in Canada, and what the benefits would be. That article also addresses some of the common objections. Note that a GBI does not replace jobs - it simply begins to change our relationship with them. Perhaps in a later post, I will attempt to extract more from my second book-in-progress so that the pathway can be more comprehensively laid out.
Meanwhile, to all of you who have been reading my posts and others, cheering on the visionary writers, and spreading your hopeful optimism - to all of you who can truly see this tragic pandemic for the huge opportunity that it is - where are you going to start?
Let's throw our collective weight behind something that might actually achieve that brave new world. Demand a federal guaranteed basic income. That's where I think we should start. And start now.
That's my idea. I'd like very much to hear others...