Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- David Masciotra offers a cultural case for a basic income:
Reward, purpose and meaning are the abstractions meant to pacify the poor and the working class. The rich have wealth, comfort and pleasure. They also have a universal basic income. In Jacobin, Matt Bruenig recently reported that 10 percent of national income is paid to the top 1 percent of income earners as capital income. It is curious that no one worries about the mental health defects they will experience due to lack of meaning.

What provides most people with the greatest satisfaction, nourishment and fulfillment is high-quality relationships, creativity and contribution to a cause of personal conviction. Conservative commentators argue that the removal of an incentive to “work hard” is a potential problem with universal basic income. It is actually a benefit.

Few people could afford to live solely off of their UBI payment. So, while they would still have careers, they might have more time and energy to devote to the passions and priorities outside of their careers. They could dedicate themselves to the artistic or artisanal project they once felt too tired to consider making part of their weekly routine. They could enjoy more time with family and friends, and they might have the necessary surplus of energy to volunteer for charities and political campaigns that they support. Leisure might also become more abundant, and offer treatment for the addiction of careerist madness, along with the cutthroat competition of many offices, that leads Americans to sacrifice millions of paid vacation days every year.

The belief that most people, if given some free money every month, would transform into gluttonous sloths requires paralytic cynicism. Critics of the UBI are correct that most people want to feel the joys of accomplishment and importance, but it is stunningly narrow to believe that the average adult will spiritually and intellectually profit solely in traditional employment. It is more likely that the typical person will devote available time and energy to pleasurable and purposeful activities, even if they do not pay well or at all.

Universal basic income will not create a utopia — poverty will still exist, and many people will still spend too much time at what one Swiss economist calls “bullshit jobs,” but it will provide the poor with relief, and push everyone else in the direction of work-life balance, and overall sanity.
- Dan Levin's article on British Columbia as the "wild west" of Canadian politics is well worth a read - though it's of course worth noting that nearly all of the same criticisms apply to Saskatchewan's lack of fund-raising rules (and associated party payments to the Premier).

- Meanwhile, Murray Mandryk rightly questions why the lowest-paid public employees in Saskatchewan are bearing the brunt of the Saskatchewan Party's attacks on workers. And Anne Kingston discusses how the spread of private paid blood donation in Saskatchewan stands to affect Canadian health care more broadly.

- Finally, Tabatha Southey rightly recognizes the need to limit the use of "fake news" to content known and intended to be fictitious, rather than merely using it as a catch-all response to stories which contradict one's own preferences.

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