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Jan 7, 2017

Basic Income: a Must for Equality

From "Random Gifts of Art", ink by Tim Holmes
I first ran into the idea of a basic income in Europe. This is a concept of economic life that gives every person a subisdy for simply being alive. While our Capitalist Drill Sargent screams at the idea, currently every baby who enters the capitalist world is greeted with the same fundamental assumption as a baby seaturtle: you have to sprint for your life to economic safety before you get picked off by poverty. Wouldn't it feel great to live in a world where instead, every baby hears: "Welcome to humanity! We're glad to have you and here is your lifetime grant just for being alive!" The fact that we don't allow ourselves to think like this comes from our firm attachment to the model of scarcity that underlies capitalism: if there's enough to go around, how we be able to get richer than our neighbors?

While Basic Income is no cure-all, it proceeds from a reality of modern life that we've yet to acknowledge: there's enough material comfort now for everyone, but with automation, not enough jobs to provide income. Basic Income proceeds out of the idea of abundance, that everyone is valuable and deserves a small stipend for doing nothing at all but being alive. With most all workers being outsourced by robots in coming years, paying jobs will vanish. So what is an unemployed humanity to do?

Basic Income would force us to grow up and value humans for their authentic gifts instead of the work they produce, which is how we rightly value machines. Social competition teaches us to hate slackers, but in an age of unemployment that becomes meaningless. We'll outgrow that childish attitude as we become aware that people have inherent differences that really do sometimes call for differences in accommodation. Basic Income would not only replace that but would give everyone a chance to work toward their own personal dreams rather than simply stave off social poverty. We'd best be thinking about how to survive in a world without broad employment! Here is a great place to start the conversation. Add your comments below.


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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.