Thursday, June 23, 2016

Start Small

A Universal Basic Income is the most powerful tool I have heard of to chip away at some of the big problems we are facing in the world. Paired with the hard work of Community Building, I think we can start to really appreciate the world we live in and the people we live with. One of the biggest challenges is implementation. Even once you are convinced by the idea, how do we do it? 

Even most privileged people aren't financially independent. Most privileged people also live hand to mouth, they just have big hands and big mouths. Most wealthy people don't feel wealthy. They set their benchmarks above them. They aspire rather than learning from people who live better with less. A large chunk of the Global wealthiest 1% live in America and rage against the American wealthiest 1%. They think the rich should pay more tax, but evidence suggests very few people even give 10% of their earnings away. Wealthier people should pay more. Not me. Unless you are Bill Gates, there are always wealthier people to point the finger at.

You may not be Bill Gates, but...

If someone earns about £180,000 a year, but spends (or aims to spend) £200,000 a year, they are further from financial freedom than the 72% of people in Langa (Cape Town), who support a family of 3 on less than R3,200 a month (about £1800 a year). There is a wealth of knowledge and emotional intelligence in 'poorer' families on how to make do on less. There is resilience. There is life competence in being able to do many survival tasks that the wealthy outsource. And outsource is kind if it is basically just something you are incompetent at.

To finance one Universal Basic Income set at that small level, let's round it up to £2,000 a year, would cost between £20,000 and £40,000 if you can generate real returns on capital of 5-10% in the long term. A lump sum of £30,000 could finance one if the capital was put to work. Alternatively, there could be groups of people who do it together. I had a guest conversation with Valerie about 'Common Change'. That could be a model that works. GiveDirectly already makes it very simple for you to give as little as $1 a day to one person. Directly. See 'Our World in Data' for an overview of how many people this could assist.

$1.90 a day is the international measure used for Absolute Poverty. In 1981, more than 50% of the World's population lived below this measure. That figure is now 14%. We are making progress, but that $1.90 is still tiny and if you live in areas where the poverty is concentrated it is still very obvious. There is a lot of work to do.

A Universal Basic Income is not a hand-out. It is not the same as the years of blind aid that have failed with people throwing solutions at the problem. I see the practical way of improving our communities as starting to see people. Starting to build relationships. Real ones based on respect and friendship. Not a case of one person helping the other. Building relationships allows two way learning. It gives the £180,000 earner perspective. It shows them the importance of relationships, family and time. It enriches their world.

There are governments starting to look at how to implement UBI, but I think it can also start from the ground up. It can start small. We can start by extending our bubbles and building friendships with people facing all of life's challenges. One friendship at a time. We can start by figuring out how to fund one Universal Basic Income at a time. 

We can start small either straight from bigger pockets or by creating muses.

Start. Learn. Tweak. Start. Learn. Tweak.

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