Sunday, April 17, 2016

Custodians of the Tree

Household income is the average total amount of income available to support all the people sharing a particular place of residence. Nakono estimates the average US household at 2.6 people, UK at 2.4, South Africa at 3.9, Nigeria at 4. The worldwide median household income is estimated (by Gallup) at about $10,000 (about £7,000 or R150,000). So for context on thinking about how much is enough to survive on, half the world's population try support an entire family on less than that.

I am getting excited by the spreading talk about a Universal Basic Income (UBI). I think it is an incredibly powerful idea. UBI is not welfare. It is a dividend on the common wealth of the planet. Everybody gets it, no questions asked. The wealthy often no longer live on salaries. They support their lifestyles from dividends. They don't suddenly start doing nothing. They start following their passions. They stop killing time with work for work's sake. Many still work because that is where they find meaning, but not because they have to. Not because they are trapped. My argument is that the point at which you are able to do that is much lower than most people would think. The obstacles are controlling how much you spend, understanding your priorities, and learning the lessons required to be a good custodian of the tree. Living off the fruits, but using some of them to plant more trees. Never cutting down the tree. 

In order to pay the average household a UBI that brought them up to at least the median worldwide household income, I think you would need between 10 - 20 times the amount required. You would need between $100,000 - $200,000 per family. That wouldn't stop people from still working to earn extra should they choose, or from jobs they have chosen for reasons other than financial necessity.

If that amount was held in trust with good custodians, the family would be able to live off that amount for eternity. The tree would generate fruit. The people would look after the tree some of the time, and create meaningful lives with the balance of their time. 

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