, 38 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
The case for a universal basic income, open borders, and a 15-hour workweek vox.com/policy-and-pol… Time for some hope, inspiration, and ideas for #auspol and the future. 1.
Imagining utopia, writes Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, “isn’t an attempt to predict the future. It’s an attempt to unlock the future. To fling open the windows of our minds.” 🌻2.
Rutger Bregman: ‘We know that every milestone of civilization — the end of slavery, democracy, equal rights for women — were all utopian fantasies in the past. So the point is to come up with new utopias: visions of a radically better society.’ 3.
“Progress is the realization of utopias.” Oscar Wilde. 4.
RB: ‘Every utopian vision starts with the injustices of today. For eg. nowadays there are millions of people working in jobs that they don’t really care about. They’re writing reports that no one’s ever going to read or building financial products that only destroy wealth.’ 5.
RB: ‘How would a society look like where people actually have the freedom to decide for themselves what to make of their lives, where work and play become the same thing? And then you can arrive at different things.’ 6.
RB: ‘You can say, well, we need a radically shorter working week. Maybe we need to implement something like a basic income. But it really starts with: What are the problems you’re facing right now? You’re sitting in the office and you’re just depressed.’ 👈 7.
This header by the journalist, Ezra Klein, is brilliant: ‘There’s no one human nature. People change based on how you treat them.’ 8.
RB: ‘I’ve had lots of debates about guaranteed basic income with lots of people. You always end up discussing human nature. People believe others are just lazy and need to be forced to do work.’ #ubi 9.
RB: ‘Right now we’ve designed so many of our institutions — our schools, our prisons, our democracy — around the idea that people are fundamentally selfish. The American republic, is based on the idea that people are selfish.’ #auspol 10.
RB: ‘One of my favorite examples is a Dutch organization called Buurtzorg. It’s a neighborhood care [organization]. Since 2006, they’ve built this organization, now with 15,000 employees, of nurses and they’ve ditched all the managers. So there are no managers in the company.’ 11
‘...It’s just self-guiding, self-directing teams of around 12, 13 nurses. They manage themselves and it’s cheaper, it’s more effective, clients are happier, etc. And it’s based on this whole philosophy that if you trust people then you don’t need to manage and control.’ 12
Ezra Klein: ‘Critics say when you bring up Scandinavian countries that they have high levels of social trust because they’re very small and homogenous. That as you become a larger, more diverse country people just mistrust each other more. What do you say to those critics?’ 13.
RB: ‘Let me give you one example. In the Robber’s Cave experiment from the ’50s there were two groups of kids going to summer camp and they had this immediate war. It’s always used as an example of how groupish people are even when they’re 5 or 6 years old.’ 14.
RB: ‘But there’s a really interesting new book out by Gina Perry who went into the archives and found that the researchers had already tried this experiment but didn’t publish the first version because the kids became great friends.‘ 👈 15.
RB: ‘Same is true for famous experiments like the Stanford prison experiment. The archives have opened up, and it turns out that for 50 years, it was basically a lie. Human beings also have a great capacity for friendship and overcoming group boundaries.’ 16.
RB: ‘Universal basic income is all about the freedom to make your own choices. That’s the most important argument for it. Being able to say “yes” to the things that you want to do, to be able to say “no” to the things that you don’t like.’ #ubi 17.
EK: ‘It has always struck me that the case for UBI is typically made in dystopian terms, where I think the case is very weak, instead of in utopian terms, where I think it’s quite strong.’ 18.
‘..A disagreement I’ve had is that if automation is going to take every job, then UBI doesn’t do all that much for you. If you’re driving a truck making $75k a year and the robots took your job and now you get $12k or $15k UBI, that’s not a good situation.’ This. 19.
‘..Whereas, if the idea is that we should just build society differently — that everybody should have the basics taken care of; so that people are able to search for jobs that fit them, and if they can’t find one, you don’t have to work a terrible job in order to eat.’ 20. #ubi
RB: ‘I absolutely agree with you. I think the automation argument is probably the worst argument for basic income out there. We should never underestimate capitalism’s extraordinary ability to come up with new bullshit jobs.’ Hahaha 21.
Gah, imagine this 😳 RB: ‘There’s a concept by David Graeber, the American anthropologist, where theoretically we live in a kind of dystopia where we’re all just pretending to work, sending emails and writing unnecessary reports, and the robots are doing all the real work.’ 22.
RB: ‘Two economists from a Dutch study called: ‘Socially Useless Jobs’ have shown that there are four-times more bullshit jobs in the private sector, than the public sector. We so often hear the story about the government being wasteful.‘ #auspol 23.
‘..But if you ask people themselves, those in the private sector are much more likely to see their job as useless. They often have wonderful LinkedIn profiles, went to Ivy League universities, have excellent salaries. They work in marketing, finance, etc.’ 24.
‘..Still, at the end of the day, if you give them a beer or two, they’ll admit that their job is useless. If we rewarded people for the value of the work they do, I think that many bankers would earn a negative salary while many nurses and teachers would be millionaires.’ 25.
EK: ‘I’m very skeptical that computers are going to replace care jobs because I think that we are very good at inventing more care jobs. The analogy I always use here is we have a lot more yoga teachers now than we did a couple of years ago.‘ 26.
’..By the logic of automation, there’s no reason to have all these yoga teachers. You can just go on YouTube and get a video from the best yoga teacher for free. But people go. The future of our economy is going to be more deeply in service jobs.’ 27.
‘..Right now, we have a lot of jobs that do a lot of work for people, but we’ve cleaved them off from a sense of social status, respect and value. We’ve attached that value to these other jobs that people suspect are not creating anything for anyone.’ We’re doing it wrong. 28.
RB: ‘As technology advances and factories become more efficient, it’s only logical that we start paying more money to nurses, teachers and care workers — because we can afford it. I think that in any utopian society, it’s only logical that the size of government increases.‘ 29.
’..As the private sector becomes more efficient, we can actually afford to have better health care and a better educational system, etc.’ I’ve been trying to word this myself for some time. Where are the spoils of progress going to go if not back to the people? #auspol 30.
RB: ‘Economists talk about how it’s some kind of problem that government is not efficient enough compared to the private sector, but I think that’s actually the point.’ 31.
‘..The point of the future is that we can have a huge amount of inefficiency because that’s what makes life meaningful. Good care [on its own] is inefficient. You have to talk and have a meaningful relationship. If you want to make healthcare more efficient you destroy it.’ 32.
EK: ‘People work for status. They work for meaning. They work because they want more money than they have. It’s not clear to me what UBI would do to disrupt that.’ 33.
RB: ‘Maybe in such a society, where everyone has an opportunity to work, we won’t call it work anymore. We’ll just call it play because, let’s be honest, we’re not doing this podcast for the money.’ 🤔 34.
RB: ‘If you look at the ideological history of this thing called work, it’s work that contributes towards GDP. The GDP could’ve included unpaid work in GDP but they chose not to because mostly women were doing it.‘ 35.
‘..So, [GDP] is a highly ideological definition of work that economists chose [in the 1930s], and up until this day, we still use this indicator of economic progress.’ This drives me crackers. 36.
EK: ‘The idea that if, in addition to doing paid work, you are also caring for children, then you should take a wage penalty, is wild. If you are working a hard job and caring for a kid, society should not be penalizing you for that — it should be rewarding you for that.’ Yes. 37
I really enjoyed that, read it in full for other nuggets of interest, these were just my takeaways from the interview. There’s a podcast too. Basically, our utopia for the future is born out of the injustices of our times, or today. End. 🌼
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