RE: Does the World Need a Universal Basic Income? Could Steem Power It?
I like the idea of Universal Basic Income as an interstice between capitalism and communism. My thoughts are fairly close to this Jacobin article from January.
All of this, however, rests on one condition: that the level of basic income is high enough to eliminate the need to work for a wage. Otherwise, people would still be forced to labor under a boss, and most of the features that make it potentially emancipatory would disappear. A parsimonious basic income could even depress wages since workers would require less pay to subsist.
Considering the fundamentally different political implications, a basic income above and below the level of a livable income should be treated as different proposals. We could call them a livable basic income (LBI) and a non-livable basic income (NLBI).
Some specific proposals are mentioned...
The fundamental dilemma of a basic income is that the more achievable version — in which basic needs go unmet without supplementary paid employment — leaves out what makes it potentially emancipatory in the first place. Indeed, many commentaries cite basic income experiments to argue it does not significantly reduce work incentives.
This contradiction is directly tied to the fact that a basic income only addresses the question of distribution, while ignoring that of production. The kind of freedom from work — or freedom through work, which becomes “life’s prime want” — that an LBI envisions is, in all likelihood, not compatible with capitalism’s requirements of profitability.
The dramatic strengthening of working-class power under a robust LBI would sooner or later lead to capital disinvestment and flight, since capital can only make profits through exploitation and won’t invest unless it can make a profit. But slowing production would undermine the material basis of an LBI.
The only way out is to continue producing even if one can’t make a profit. Thus, an LBI would sooner or later force onto the stage the age-old question of the ownership of means of production.
Of course, as with any state program, it has the potential to prove disastrous to the working class... I agree with you that Steem, or something like it, might be a good vehicle to help provide for us all.