There will be no brake on climate change, we will not be putting Life at the center, if there is no social justice and we do not ensure the survival of all humanity. Today it is possible to end NOW, with a stroke of the pen, with the poverty in the world if a universal and unconditional basic income is launched for all people. And we know that there is plenty of wealth for it.
On the right of all human beings to survival and the possible implementation of a basic income, we spoke during the World Forum for Water, Land, Climate and Diversity, (Foro Mundial por el Agua, la Tierra, el Clima y la Diversidad,) organized by the Argentine senator Andrea Blandini on this World Environment Day.
Here is the video of the intervention.(in Spanish)
Today, on the World Environment Day, in which we defend putting life at the center of our values. Today we cannot ignore that there will be no brake on climate change and there will be no care for the planet, for everyone’s home, if there is no social justice, if the life and survival of people is not defended at the same time and as a priority.
Then we can talk, for example, about universal and quality health coverage, free education for the entire population, etc.
But we need to ensure – first of all – the survival of all humanity … that every person, by the simple and sacred fact of being born, has the means to survive (roof, food, energy, etc.)
We need all people to have living conditions that are equal to the dignity that comes from being born human.
It sounds obvious, but it is not. And even if it is recognized in some articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as in article 25.1, this right has not yet penetrated the collective imagination, (at least,in certain regions of the world ) as it was the case for other rights, such as the right to education, the right to health …
Furthermore, it is “naturalized” and “normalized” that millions of people die due to lack of food, water, and we justify them because of bad luck at being born in certain places, because of the mismanagement of their individual or collective possibilities, because they do not they want to work etc.
What is fundamental so that we are not too scandalized to the fact that so many and so many human beings die as a result of the poverty and the precariousness? Why hasn’t this right developed like others?
From my particular interpretation, because it touches a central piece of this system in which we live, a predator of life in general. We are talking about what would question the private property and the myth-by the way-on which it rests, and which says « you will earn the bread with the sweat of your brow”.
And here we come to the current moment and why a universal basic income is being demanded, by numerous specialists and social movements, from different parts of the planet.
It is evident – and this has been the demand for decades – that an answer needs to be given to the increasing robotization and mechanization of employment, due to the elimination of jobs, remuneration that this implies, and therefore, because it is no longer sustainable. because the equation employment = subsistence is in question.
I make a point: we need to differentiate employment and work.Employment is paid work and work is all activity, much of which – by the way, in most cases, the one that maintains and develops life – is not paid: care (developed especially by women) volunteer and solidarity work, a large part of artistic work … But it is NOT the subject at hand today.
This employment = work equation has been further broken with the pandemic, when millions and millions of people want to work and cannot, which inexorably implies being condemned to depend on charitable, humanitarian aid -where it has been able to get started- … or starve.
It is evident that the equation employment = subsistence rotates, we have to look for alternatives. By the way, alternatives will free us, not enslave them even more, as occurs in most jobs.
It is then, when the voices are raised and begins to claim a basic income, as we said.
We warn that, in many cases, we talk about basic income, when in reality we are talking about income or aid for the poor, and this mix is done, in many cases, in an intentional and interested way to confuse.
When we talk about basic income – I insist – we are not talking about aid for the poor, which, by the way, has been shown to finally chronic poverty. And that, definitely, are the crumbs that this capitalist system allows itself to “give away” to those who steal in a systematic, shameless and immoral way. We are not against the aid that is allowing millions of people to eat today, but we know that “it is bread for today and hunger for tomorrow.”
When we talk about basic income, we are talking about a universal, unconditional, individual, sufficient and permanent basic income, that is, we are talking about an income, an allocation that the state would deliver -in principle- and that would be the same for the entire population-from the richest to the poorest-and we defend it to be so; That it be UNIVERSAL because we seek that it be recognized as the first of human rights, the right to survival of the body, of life …
In addition, a basic income is UNCONDITIONAL (it is given to all people without having to demonstrate whether they have assets or not, if they are willing to work, etc.).
It is also INDIVIDUAL (it is given to every person as soon as they are born, not to families, as is usually common in the case of aid for “poor”).
When we talk about basic income, we talk about what has to be a SUFFICIENT allowance to be able to subsist in decent living conditions (that ensures a roof, food, energy …)
And finally, we demand that it be PERMANENT, not implemented to respond to the current pandemic, for example.
In short, we are talking about rights, the right that protects every human being to live and live in decent living conditions, we are not talking about charity or aid for the poor.
And this, the implementation of a universal, unconditional, individual, sufficient and permanent basic income can be implemented today and NOW because there is more than enough wealth – for the first time in history, as so many economists and specialists have shown with their studies – so that all humanity lives in decent living conditions.
And why distribute that wealth-which grows exponentially just thanks to the advances in robotics and technology, by the way? Because wealth belongs to EVERYONE. And this for two reasons: because it is a consequence of the historical accumulation of the work of thousands of generations throughout history, and because the entire population of the planet contributes-in one way or another. That is why we speak of income, because the wealth that belongs to all of us rents and as a consequence, must not be returned.
By the way, humanists demand that machines work … the problem is not employment or lack of employment, the problem is to ensure survival.
And the problem to ensure this survival is not the lack of wealth. The problem -as we well know- is in the accumulation of that wealth in fewer and fewer hands.
A universal and unconditional basic income is not the economic paradigm to which the humanists of the world aspire, but it does constitute a stepping stone in the redistribution of wealth and IF it would ensure to eliminate the poverty with the storke of a pen, NOW.
For this, we need mobilized populations to defend it and courageous politicians who are willing to put it into practice.
A basic income is in line with a new conception of the human being, a human being who can display all his intentions in a flight of colors without limit … if he frees himself from enslaving jobs or from the lack of it.
A basic income can help open the way to a society, to a humanity, in which no human being is below another, in which we relate-paraphrasing the thinker Silo– « treating others as we want to be treated .. And, with that, let’s begin to free ourselves ”
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Translated from Spanish by Lulith Van.