I woke up the other morning in a maelstrom of thought. It coalesced into something that’s been said before and I believe holds the key to the future.
Jack Ma recently gave an interview in which he stated that they way we respond to the coming revolution in artificial intelligence is to teach our children more art, music and sports. A recent NASA study indicates that we’re all born as creative geniuses and we’ve self selected, through our educational system, to squelch those abilities.
Wealth is a human construct. We’ve created an all encompassing, scarcity based culture around money and things. The allure of stuff is a manufactured distraction. Through the power of advertising you’ve been convinced you don’t have enough. You need a bright shiny new car. That gorgeous house on a lake. The newest iPhone. And in order to get all those things you need a job that pays you more and more money every year. So you can buy more, better stuff. You’re stressed out because you just don’t feel like you’re succeeding enough. So you aim for the next rung up the ladder. More money. A nice Beemer. The best house on the block. And you still aren’t satisfied.
You’ve been conditioned to judge yourself against everyone else. And you always find yourself coming up short. Just like everyone else. It’s a manufactured “Ground Hog Day.” You are Sisyphus, pushing the rock up the hill only to see it roll back down to the bottom. Just like everyone else.
Ask yourself what do you really need? Some food, a warm place to sleep, something interesting to do and some company. Really, that’s about it.
Some have said the secret to happiness is in dedicating yourself to others. But you know what? Every one of us that has a job is already dedicating themselves to others. You show up for work, put in your time and make x dollars for you and x times a couple hundred for the owner(s) of the company. That’s service, no different from the nurse in the hospital or the garbage man on the street. There’s obviously a difference in the actual versus perceived value of any particular job but it’s all service, nonetheless.
See, the problem lies in what is the incentive to do the work? In our culture, the incentive is money. There is no other value placed on the activity by society. This results in us shoving all different shaped pegs into the same round hole. That causes stress for anyone that is shaped differently. The incentive should be joy. Otherwise, it’s all stressful.
Now, compare this to the five year old at the table finger painting. What is the incentive here? It’s unbridled joy. And nothing else. I want some of that joy. And I think everyone else does too.
It’s a remarkable argument for a guaranteed basic income. Give everyone just what they need to live life to a certain minimum standard. If they want more, they’ll work to get it. But there’s really no reasonable argument that can be made for letting people freeze or starve to death. Not when one percent of the population holds more wealth than the bottom sixty percent.
With such a safety net, even the poorest could afford to chase dreams. Creativity would flourish. We might even enter a new age of enlightenment. All those minds set free from drudgery to explore new ideas and opportunities!
It’s time for a new paradigm. I think something like this is worth considering.