February 3, 2018
If you were given $2,000 tax free every month for the rest of your life, how would you change the way you live? If you asked me, I’d start by questioning the fundamental driver behind having a job. In other words, I’d find a job that I like doing rather than a job that just pays me well. One that suits my talents and skills that I developed over my younger years, rather than one that guarantees to pay the bills. Multiply this by the 3.5 billion working people in the world and suddenly you have mobilised the entire world and their families to freely pursue the lives they want to live.
The social benefits are priceless. People no longer feel the consequences of unemployment as severely as they might do today. There is no longer a need for the traps of a routine that 9-5 brings. Quality of family life improves. Education becomes an end in itself, not a means to an end of getting a job. The focus is on living. As Keynes predicted back in 1930, the working week could be drastically cut, to perhaps 15 hours a week, with people choosing to have far more leisure as their material needs were satisfied.
There is also a tangible economic benefit. The United States alone could accelerate economic growth by an additional 12.5% over eight years driven by increased spending and more productivity generated by innovative industries.
This all sounds fairly left-wing, utopian and futuristic but there is a case for a ‘universal basic income’ (UBI) much sooner than later regardless of where you sit on the socio-political spectrum. In May 2017, the University of Oxford published the results of a survey of the world’s best artificial intelligence (AI) experts, who predicted that there was a 50% chance of AI outperforming humans in all tasks within 45 years. Today a majority of the leading economies are at peak employment levels. Even without AI, automation will inevitably result in mass unemployment across certain sectors within the next decade. More immediately, approximately 22,000 children die from extreme poverty each day. The adoption of a UBI system could well and truly stop this humanitarian disaster for good.
There are already a number of experiments underway. In April 2017, Canada started testing a version of basic income in the province of Ontario. We are already one year into Finland’s experiment of paying 560 euros a month. Similar trials have been started in Italy and Scotland.
These experiments have consistently demonstrated that the challenge of UBI is how it is funded. Many assume that UBI needs to be run by a government and that payments have to be made in fiat currency. That makes sense in the world as we see it today – nationalism is the biggest driver for how governments work and where money can be spent. However, UBIs that are designed in this way are limited and can actually exacerbate global inequality rather than solve it. We need to think bigger and better than that.
We ask our readers to start thinking outside of the box, not only in terms of accepting UBI as a concept, but also in terms of how it could be implemented.
In simple terms, why not have a UBI system that is run by a decentralised global body and pays in a universally-accepted cryptocurrency?
We are already halfway there. In 2017, the Pineapple Fund committed $5 million worth of Bitcoin to Give Directly, a charity that implemented the largest UBI program in East Africa, where 40 villages would receive payments for 12 years to determine how that money is spent. We’re halfway there in the sense that we’re moving away from government-funded models but we’re still using fiat.
Our vision is that Stellar will be the platform for the first crypto-based UBI that is successfully implemented globally servicing communities of all peoples and regardless of any borders.
If I were to receive a crypto as a monthly payment for the rest of my life, I’d choose XLM, primarily because it has high utility given it costs a fraction of a cent to use day-to-day, it’s fast and most importantly, I can exchange it into any currency or asset I need to over the Stellar network. As it isn’t only a currency in itself but also a means of transferring assets, Stellar thereby revolutionises and mobilises a futuristic barter system among global participants. This flexibility is key for global adoption.
We all have a responsibility to see UBI happen in our lifetimes.
We can make it happen by spreading the word and being early adopters. We need to leverage the best of blockchain technology in order to promote UBI globally. At the risk of sounding too rosy, naturally cryptocurrencies come with their own set of issues ranging from cybersecurity to crime protection. A clear framework needs to be established to educate users on wallets and private keys for example, and to reimburse those who may have been victims of theft.
So if you haven’t yet, take the first step by joining the Stellar inflation pool and benefiting from the 1% payout. It really is a win-win. Who knows, one day we just might see Stellar being adopted as the global UBI mechanism of choice.
If you liked this article, please consider donating even a fraction of an XLM!