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#7: The colossal problem with universal basic income | Top 10 2019
Continuing the countdown, Big Think's seventh most popular video of 2019 explains why universal basic income will hurt the 99%, and make the 1% even richer.
Douglas Rushkoff is the host of the Team Human podcast and a professor of digital economics at CUNY/Queens. He is also the author of a dozen bestselling books on media, technology, and culture, including, Present Shock, Program or Be Programmed, Media Virus, and Team Human, the last of which is his latest work.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: For a long time I was a fan of universal basic income. And the logic I had was that I always hear politicians talking about, 'Let's create jobs for people. That's what we need is jobs, more jobs,' as if that's what's going to solve the economic problem. So the government is supposed to lend money to a bank, who can then lend money to a corporation, who will then build a factory in order for people to have jobs. Do we really need more jobs? In California, they're tearing down houses as we speak, because the houses are in foreclosure, and they want to keep market values high. The US Department of Agriculture burns food every week in order to keep the prices of that food high, even though there's people who are starving and people who need homes. We can't just let people have those homes. Why? Because they don't have jobs. So now we're supposed to create jobs for people to make useless stuff for other people to buy plastic crap that we're going to throw away or stick in storage units or end up in landfill just so those people can have jobs so that we can justify letting them participate in the abundance. And that's kind of ass backwards.
So I thought, well, shoot, rather than creating useless jobs, what if we just let people have the stuff that's in abundance? Just let people have the houses. What's the problem with this? And UBI kind of goes along that lines of, well, if we have more than enough stuff, if we don't need everybody working all the time, then why don't we just let people have income? Or at least go to a four-day workweek or a three-day workweek or a two-day workweek. If work is the thing that's scarce, then why don't we mete that out and say, 'OK, we've got these 10 days that you're allowed to work this year. So come on, come onto the farm and do that work, and then you'll have to find something else for you to do the rest of the time.' But in reality, it's not like that. If we were really that efficient, then we wouldn't be destroying the planet with pollution. What we've done is found ways of making stuff and doing things that require very little labor, but externalize a host of other problems to a whole lot of other places. So we could 3D print or something, but where do you get the plastic goop for your 3D printer? What mine in Africa is it coming out of, and which topsoil is it destroying? You know, when we're going to run out of topsoil in 60 years, it means that we're not actually using the appropriate labor intensive permaculture solutions in agriculture and all that. So first off, that whole idea that we're moving towards lower employment is a myth. We've faked lower employment through extremely extractive, exploitative, polluting, and unsustainable business practices.
And second, I was giving a talk at Uber, and I was talking to them about the problems with their business model and how they're putting all these drivers out of work. And here they are, these freelancers working for the company, basically training the algorithms that will be replacing them without any profit participation in the end-game company. And one of the guys got up and basically quoted back to me a passage from my own book, "Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus" he said, well, what about universal basic income? And when I heard it coming out of their mouths, I realized, 'Oh.' So universal basic income isn't just a way to help people have the money they need to survive and have time to innovate and come up with other solutions. It's becoming an excuse for companies like Uber to not pay a living wage to their workers. So what's the idea? Oh, we'll get the government to print more money to give it to workers for them to spend with us. So what really happens what is universal basic income? It's just a way of perpetuating our roles as consumers at the bottom of the pyramid, not as owners. If we're going to go to anything, I would say, what about universal basic assets? What about actual participation? What if the workers owned the means of production? So you don't just give them a handout so that the money ends up in the same corporate coffers and going into the same shares. That's not the point. What universal basic income does, if you look at the whole model, is allows the people who own the lion's share of our world to own more and more of it. We just print more money, and more of it goes up to the top. That's not the way to get long-term equity. Sure, Social Security, welfare, the dole, all those things are fine for those in need. But it's not a great long-term economic strategy. It's really just a Band-Aid on extractive corporate capitalism. How do we get to extract more? We'll just print more cash for us to extract.
- Big Think's #7 most popular video of 2019 features Douglas Rushkoff, who says universal basic income is a band-aid solution that will not solve wealth inequality.
- Funneling money to the 99% perpetuates their roles as consumers, pumping money straight back up to the 1% at the top of the pyramid.
- Rushkoff suggests universal basic assets instead, so that the people at the bottom of the pyramid can own some means of production and participate in the profits of mega-rich companies.
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- Universal basic income: $12,000 for every U.S. adult, every year ... ›
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Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.