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Hey, friends and neighbors. I want to talk a little bit about UBI (Universal Basic Income), disability, and the all-fired dignity of work.

So, I don't have UBI. I don't get any kind of cash benefits from the government. But I do have a very unusual income source: the internet.
I am Good At The Internet in a specific intersection of ways that lets me make a living that has ping ponged between subsistence levels and holy sugar I made how much tweeting for eight hours.
I'm not rich, but I can almost always get by and usually do better than that, doing stuff that is independent of any employer or set schedule or ability to leave the house or meet an arbitrary schedule.
As a disabled person... there have been stretches in the past twelve years where if I *had* been employed at a 9 to 5, I would have been fired. Especially since "9 to 5" these days is more like "32 random hours scattered through the week according to our needs, not yours."
But because I am AOL Keyword: Blessed enough to have talents I can monetize and the ability to monetize them, instead of starving to death in the street, I have been free to produce things.

Art. Knowledge. Entertainment.

Value for people's lives.
It is not because I produce value for society that I deserve to live... but... because I have the means to live, I am able to produce value for society.

Not always. Not with the same intensity or frequency all the time.
Now, I did something recently I haven't done for more than a decade: I got a job outside the house.

Well, a gig. I'm technically a contractor. I work on commission. None of this "if you've got time to lean..." stuff. I wrote two newsletter entries while at work today. I
I am writing this thread, right now, standing at my workstation in the bookshop. I'm standing because I want to stand - I have a couch that's comfy to sit and type at, and a station that's ergonomic for typing, and I'm free to switch off.
I went for this gig because I wanted something that would get me out of the house and out of my head, and I wanted a chance to become a part of my favorite local establishment, and because it sounded fun.
I could not afford to just... open a bookstore. Being an appendage of another business makes that possible. I couldn't afford to sink the time into getting it up and running, even when it's not my money, if it were my only income.
So what I'm getting at here is that I'm doing this cool thing, which materially benefits a commercial for-profit business and materially enriches the art and literature community around me, because I have an income that is separate from it.
We don't have a UBI so I'm going to have to be watching carefully how my time at the bookstore affects my income from my online sources. If my other income drops off and the bookstore's not bringing in enough... I might have to cut back from here. I'm optimistic that won't be.
I'm optimistic that won't be the case because I am a ROCK STAR, I've got my ROCK MOVES, I'm Alexandra Motherfudging Erin, and I've done more with less.

And my plan for the newsletter to help with the transition is going well.

(Subscribe to my newsletter:alexandraerin.substack.com)
So, when you think about something like a Universal Basic Income, the argument that comes up is: why would people work if everything is handed to them?

But the basics of life aren't everything. Survival isn't everything.
But when survival is taken care of, when you've got a firm foundation under your feet... what might you build?

People who want to tie benefits both to means and to work requirements speak of the "dignity of work".

When is dignity something you have to force on people?
The better the safety net, the more risks we'll take.

Money isn't just safety, it's flexibility. There are people who could work eight or ten hours a week and would happily do so, but their disability benefits make it all or nothing.

What if they just got it, regardless?
As a disabled person, I am working now *because I have enough money that I can afford to work*.

I couldn't do an hourly job, and the gigs I can get won't guarantee my survival.

The work I'm doing is creating value for local businesses and local artists...
...but I can't afford to create that value without an income that is independent of it. A paradox.

A UBI won't bankrupt the wealthy who must pay for it. When all that money gets spent, it's going to wind up in their hands, anyway.

It won't impoverish society, but enrich it.
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