The Imperative for a Universal Basic Income
Updated: Apr 7, 2019
It seems to have gone unnoticed, or at the very least unacknowledged, by the political class worldwide that global wealth inequality has spiralled out of control; a phenomenon which only seems to exacerbate with each passing day.
The latest data from Oxfam (Jan. 2019) indicates that eight of the richest men (all men) own as much, if not more, as the poorest half of the world combined, 3.6 billion people, reflecting a trend which Oxfam have called “obscene” and which, to anyone following these developments, should be considered deeply alarming.
While wages have stagnated for the majority who rely upon them in western societies, the wages of those in developing countries, such as China and India, have risen, but only to the extent so as to lift vast numbers of people out of medieval levels of poverty. This trend, often touted by the World Bank, obscures the fact that the wealth disparity within these countries is also rising at nauseating rates.
The most frightening aspect of this entire debacle is that politicians worldwide offer absolutely no solutions in the way of mitigating what has become a global systemic crisis and instead appear to want to rush headlong into policies that even the most apathetic philistine can see will only prolong the calamity and make it harder, if not downright impossible, to fix in the long run.
Take, for example, Trump’s 50% corporate tax-cut, which will reduce the corporate tax rate to 15%. This enormous gift to the wealthiest in American society will only exhilarate what is already a steady race to the bottom worldwide for corporate giants that presently contribute far less than they should to the communities and societies they conduct business in.
These are the very corporations that will happily abandon communities that supported them and outsource their labour to China and other countries where people are treated as virtual wage-slaves, to be used, abused and drained before being tossed on the rubbish heap.
As the tech industry continues to boom and automation becomes more prevalent, the rising inequality between wage-slaves and rentier class will only swell dramatically as labour is increasingly treated as disposable and labour’s lobbying power and rights go out the window.
The drive to live, even in the most adverse of conditions is what enables man to endure against all odds and to adapt to the inconceivable. This is perhaps why abuses are tolerated for far longer than they should be.
The very minimum the impoverished public should be demanding is a basic minimum wage to keep people afloat while the wealth of our societies and our nations is being drained upward to the top 1%. Without a basic income the corporate monopolies will have no one to buy their products or services and the system, which is already balancing on a tightrope, will finally come tumbling down.
A universal basic income is not a long-term solution, however, as even at that we would only be plastering over a far deeper, potentially infected wound — that of systemic instability. When we continue to abide by an economic paradigm, that of Neoliberalism, which works only for the elite at the expense of everyone else, we will continue to experience crisis after crisis and crash after crash.
The oligarchs’ greed has surpassed their sense of survival, as they have not stopped even to consider the fact that once they have bled the masses dry and acquired all the wealth, they will have nobody who can afford to buy their products and services.
Are we willing to sacrifice human rights and human dignity so that Bill Gates can have another eighty billion dollars or are we going to force national so-called “leaders” to wake up to the fact that we are now at the precipice of a global catastrophe?
There is an imperative need to support the basic universal income as this is a step to acknowledging that modern day capitalism is incapable of doing justice to humanity and to the planet and to correct the economic imbalances that are bound to tip us all over the edge.