Some psychosocial consequences of the introduction of a universal basic income

15.06.2019 - New York, US - Juana Pérez Montero

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Some psychosocial consequences of the introduction of a universal basic income
Reto Thumiger, James Felton Keith, Juana Pérez Montero y Marta (a quien agradecemos la traducción)

With the title A Day of Perspectives from Utopia, Pressenza New York celebrated the ten years of the Agency in a Conference in which three panels have been developed: on wealth -in which basic universal and unconditional income-, women and disarmament. [French]

Within the Universal Basic Income panel, we have put into context our positioning as a News Agency and explained some of the possible consequences of applying a basic income and the historic opportunity to implement it. The following are the comments presented and added as a basis for the debate that took place afterwards.

Why does Pressenza defend these causes, such as a universal and unconditional basic income, disarmament or feminisms… causes, by the way, intertwined with each other?

We start from the fact that journalism is subjective and this is inevitable. From this affirmation and accepting the condition imposed on us, we have decided to make journalism at the service of life and the liberation of the human being, journalism from a viewpoint of peace and nonviolence, humanist journalism that does its bit to eliminate pain and suffering in the populations.

In this context, everything that goes in the direction of ensuring subsistence seems fundamental to us. And, from there, it is coherent to defend measures such as the implantation of a universal and unconditional basic income for all people.

We have seen the documentary Unconditional Universal Basic Income, Our Right to Live directed by Álvaro Orús; Reto Thumiger has recounted the similar experience set in motion in Germany and the benefits of it; James Felton Keith has spoken of the value that all human beings have for the fact of being so and the right that protects us from the big companies -like Facebook, Google, etc.-. JFK has defended this measure in its electoral programme as a candidate for Congress by giving each person a basic income of 1000 dollars.

We would now like to delve into some of the individual and collective consequences we might experience if a universal basic income were to be implemented. We clarify that these annotations are extracted from the comments of people who have benefited from this measure and also from people with whom we have worked in workshops during the last months and to whom we have asked to imagine what their life and the life of their loved ones would be like if their subsistence were assured.

Although it is difficult to understand the scope in time, between the individual and social consequences heard, we highlight the following:

  • Elimination of poverty and, consequently, aporophobia; elimination of the stigmatisation and criminalisation that accompanies those who do not have sufficient material resources.
  • The personal and social empowerment of a growing sector of the population. For example, women and all sectors that recognise themselves in a different gender from the traditional ones would see their situation significantly improved.
  • Significant decline in physical and mental illness.
  • Decrease in suicides, clearly related to lack of resources.
  • Elimination of all fears associated with the present and the future when food, shelter, etc. are not assured.
  • Having the feeling that we are part of the community and that the community protects us. This breaks with the feeling of loneliness and also with the individualism that has brought us so much harm.
  • As a consequence of the above, the enormous energy that could be released would allow us:
  • To gain the freedom to decide about one’s own life, from the ability to negotiate wages to the liberation of time to devote oneself to what one needs.
  • Increasing social justice as a consequence of wealth redistribution.
  • To be available to fulfill the deepest and most cherished aspirations.
  • To bring out the best in each person and put it at the service of the community.
  • To have more energy to live in peace and to be able to connect more easily with states of inspiration.
  • To see the other as an equal, with all the right to subsist by the fact of being a person, with the possibility of having the same opportunities that we claim for ourselves, would be an enormous qualitative leap towards a more humane society.
  • If we are able to think, feel and act in that direction, we are making an inner revolution that – in one way or another – is going to be projected on a social level, we would be setting in motion a nonviolent revolution.
  • A measure such as the implantation of a universal, unconditional, individual and sufficient basic income would lay the material basis for building a culture of solidarity and nonviolence, would help to achieve personal and social reconciliation, would lay the foundations for building a more awakened, more critical and self-critical, more intentional society.
  • And when we talk about all this, we are not only referring to the victims, we are also thinking about the perpetrators, because they would have the opportunity to repair the damage they are inflicting on the immense majority of the population, redirecting their lives, thereby winning the entire society.

Summarizing what we have seen, we can say that we are in a historic moment in which great technological advances generate more wealth every day, while causing greater unemployment.

These great advances, which worry so much, seem to us humanists to be a great opportunity to free ourselves from the slavery of employment and we demand “Let the machines work“,[blog in Spanish] as the thinker Mario Luis Rodríguez Cobos (Silo) affirmed. The problem is not whether there is work or not, the issue is to ensure that all the population has covered subsistence.

And today this is possible because there is enough accumulated wealth so that all the world’s population can live in dignified living conditions. A wealth that is the fruit of the work of thousands of generations and of the population that inhabits the entire planet today (it is easy to understand an example: the telephones that we all have in our hands work thanks to the coltan that comes out of Africa). The wealth is not of a few, they accumulate it in a crazy eagerness and they have to return it, as JFK commented before.

Today it is feasible and, to do so, we must continue to disseminate this proposal wherever we are, because we need enlightened populations who choose courageous politicians who are willing to put this right into practice.

We expect them not only to defend a basic income but also to take the necessary measures to make it a reality.

We are, as many people recognise, facing a civilisation crisis. So let us build a new civilisation on a par with human beings.

 

Translation Pressenza London

Categories: Human Rights, International, Nonviolence, Opinions
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