a modest proposal: basic income edition

Shower thoughts. And dishwashing thoughts.

Awrite, so one of the right-wing objections to the idea of “basic income” (“everyone gets enough money to live on”) is that nobody has to work for it. And that there are a lot of jobs that need doing that nobody would do for fun.

I have a suggestion for getting around this. Everyone who gets the Basic has to spend one day out of the week working… in one of those jobs. Four days a month gets you enough money to not need to take any other job, if you live a modest life. With “enough” determined by regular examination of how much it costs to live where you live and not have your living situation be a deep cause of unhappiness.

How these jobs are determined could vary. Ideally every citizen has some voice in what jobs are allowable for this. Some jobs are for the state. Some are for private industry – businesses could come to the Basic Job Bureau and apply have people come work for them. But there is a price for the businesses that do that; if you take advantage of the free-to-you low-level employee provided by Basic, then you have to do the one day of Basic Work as well. Whether or not you want to. With your pay shared out to all your employees instead of going into your pocket.

There are probably many objections to this, starting with “yeah good luck getting the rich assholes who’ve never worked a day in their life to agree to it”. There would also be exceptions to the “everyone” parts of these. My hope would be for there to be more exceptions made for people just running on Basic than people with multiple employees.

Bureaucracy would include things like “keeping track of what people end up doing well and taking pride in, and who is an early bird or a night owl” and “making sure everyone gets whatever training is needed for this week’s Basic Job” – I could see you ending up with a monthly rotation of gigs rather than something new every week, for instance. Maybe sometimes your Basic Job is working alongside someone doing the same thing for the first time, and training them. And also “making sure that no Basic Job requires risk to life and limb”.

Anyway, I am sure other people have had thoughts like this. But I had them today while cleaning myself and the dishes and felt like sharing to see what kind of reactions I get.

  1. I’ve personally never believed in the idea that if everybody gets basic income, nobody will do dirty jobs that need doing anymore. Those jobs will just pay more until it’s worthwhile. Crab fishermen and SCUBA welders get paid good money for their jobs.

    As a disabled person I live on a little less than most people propose giving as UBI and it’s enough to get by but not enough to live a really satisfying life. I mostly get along by mooching off my family and friends for lifestyle benefits like my car and new computer. But I know other disabled people who don’t have family and friends or the ability to work occasionally, and they get by playing World of Warcraft on outdated computers.

  2. I don’t think many people would choose to live on UBI alone if they could work, but they probably wouldn’t want to work as much or as hard unless they were really passionate about their field.

    That said, if it doesn’t work out we could try mandating everybody take turns helping at neccesary jobs like you said. It’s not a bad idea. I just worry for people who can’t or just choose to half-ass it.

    Thanks for listening.

  3. Yeah the obvious exception to having everyone do a basic job is that not everyone is physically or mentally fit for doing them, or can’t necessarily do them on a schedule even if they are fit for it. And once you start having to make exceptions, you have to draw a line for where the exceptions are acceptable.

    I think releesquirrel’s posts make a really good point, that like… these “basic” jobs, if they’re actually as essential as they seem to be, would have wages that rise to compensate for it, and I hvae no problem with it. I’ve always felt really weird about how my tech job salary pays way more than, say, a sanitation worker or a teacher. Those jobs actually do something to help society, while my jobs only help rich people get richer. Which is I guess why capitalism values my shit more highly.

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