Recently there has been a big push to promote the idea of a basic income. I have already written about it in the article, Beyond Employment and capitalism in the world of AI: poverty or paradise? , but I find it important to add some more words.
There is a better idea than basic income. Just read on.
Basic income is not a workable idea. If fails within a decade of its introduction because of how international monetary systems work. Even if you introduce it in a vacuum, or even using bitcoins, it fails within a decade by its own design. It is a false good idea that will not do what you intend to do and because of that will not help people. It does not even get to the point of what money serves for: to have access to resources. So what to do?
Exchanging time for resources
Well, you first need to ask a more fundamental question: Why would you even have to buy resources… or work an entire life to obtain the money that allows you to own these resources?
Let us start at the beginning of our lives. We are all born equal. Why would you have more right than any other human being to own and use these resources? Because you have more money? Because you grabbed them first? Because your parents did something remarkable, became of high standing and because of that heritage you are too? Because you are smarter? Because you know better on how to use them? Because you spent time in the military? Because you have a better character? Because you work hard? Because you have more ability in charming a group of people to help you to do what you want to do? Those are all rationalizations distracting you from the fact that people, when they are born, are born equal. Equal in spirit and value and as a member of the human race. Communism and capitalism and all of their implementations are outdated ideas. In exchange for money to buy resources with, they force and lead people to waste most of their lives performing repetitive tasks that can be automated, instead of doing important jobs like spending time with other human beings or building the stuff we all dream to build but cannot afford because of lack of time and lack of resources. Exchanging time for resources is a waste of life and a waste of our time on this Earth.
Rethinking resource ownership
I think a resource ownership system, which our current economic systems do not aspire to be, has to respect this fact. There is no need for you to spend half a lifetime working to obtain a right or money to own the resources that form a house. So I propose a Habeas Area right: You own a quantity an area of all the landmasses on this Earth equally distributed between all humans alive. Per person this comes down to 20.000 square meters of land and all resources above and below it. Double the population, and you get 10.000 square meters per person on this globe. This is an objective quantity, can always be determined by counting the number of people alive, is not subjective and you don’t end up in endless moral or political discussions pointing blame; discussions tied to establishing how much money jobless people or sick people should be allowed to receive from the state through social welfare redistribution. The assumed laziness and bad character of the jobless and assumed success and exemplary character of the worker.
There is no need for redistribution, only for division.
Be mindful. This is not some minimum quantity that needs to be debated. It is all the resources of Earth, divided by the exact number of people alive. You do not need a government redistributing and deciding who should pay or receive and how much. You and everybody else owns the exact same quantity of resources that exist on this planet. Take a moment to wrap your head around that idea.
Now tell me that you can’t do anything with those resources even if part of it includes deserts and mountain ranges. If you are “lazy” you still conserve them for future generations. If you are “particularly active” you can use them to build or do…anything you’d like or is important to raise you family. Killing others and using violence to get more, will only be successful if others are not willing to defend themselves with the resources they have. They have the resources to defend themselves and they know they have this universal right. Defeat is temporary.
In this kind of system, automation does not become a tool to enrich individuals more than others. Any automation technology can be used to more efficiently extract or shape resources. In such a system everyone is a manager and custodian of his equal part of the resources on this Earth. International cooperation by civilians would become very easy. Only as far as it benefits you and fits your needs, do you decide to cooperate with others with a part of all of your resources. You don’t even need democracy to cooperate. You just need to find a peer with the same interests. Just as how cooperative peer groups on the internet already work together today. (By the way, do not think this would lead to a legal vacuum. A legal/rule-less vacuum will never exist, people will never accept that in their community).
Trading with an equal amount of resources
It also has some interesting aspects: to keep this equality, you need to make it a personal and inalienable right. This means that this quantity of resources is legally tied to your person. It cannot be exchanged with anyone. This makes it a non-transactional quantity of resources. That doesn’t mean you cannot trade, it just means that you can never loose the amount of resources you have. If you give something away in a shape or form your counterpart desires, the exact same quantity needs to be returned. The right is respected. Because today computers in the internet of things can keep track of basically everything, this can be verified without much ado. And even if things get lost, the basic calculation underlying the Habeas Area right, can always be made.
Trading with an equal amount of resources but a different value
Now someone might notice that we do not want the resources, but the functions or shape of those resources. You do not want clay, you want the finished vase, the house bricks or the ceramic pot. And we want the best pot, not a mediocre pot that easily breaks. So these two pots have a different value to us. When we would trade and exchange a pot, they are not equal in value and one is more desirable than the other. So it doesn’t solve the need for money as a form of exchange. True. We can still use money. But with Habeas Area you do have all the underlying resources to begin with and because it is your personal right, they can never be taken away with money, cunning or violence. Money serves as a means to exchange value. But you keep the underlying resource. The quantity of physical atoms remain with you. They remain yours. To make it very visual: if you sell a vase, the other has to give you a corresponding pile of clay from his resources. In actuality this can be arranged in a more abstract manner, but it is how the system would work.
Why is not losing your resources in trade a benefit?
Why is that a benefit? Well. Imagine you selling that beautiful pot and having to receive the same amount of atoms in return under Habeas Area. In that fashion you can never lose your quantity of resources. That is certainly not the case in today’s economic system. Smart people get you to sell your resources, in exchange for money. Only if you obtain money you can ever buy them back. But the buying power of money is very uncertain and volatile. It can end up never being enough to buy back your resources. This is precisely what happens in our economy. Eventually and gradually everybody ends up poor and free of resource-ownership.
Habeas Area eliminates the possibility of you becoming resource-deficient in the economic arena at any stage of your life. You will always be able to start again, act more responsible because you keep the same quantity of resources or even have enough acreage to build crops for food. You can always rebuild and this ability would be shared universally by every individual. It would be trans-formative for the fate of human kind.
A surplus economy
It would mean a person can always create a surplus from the resources he has. The surplus is the value he adds to resources and this surplus is what gets traded, not the resources tied to it, those merely get exchanged. Today we trade the value and the resources. Habeas Area forbids you to trade the resources, you can only trade the value.
A debt so large that it takes away your access to or control over your own equal part of the worlds resources, would become a legal and factual impossibility. Confiscation by a bank could mean you have to give up the value or specific shape of things, but you could never lose the land or resources tied up in it. They would have to give those resources back to you. Even better, because banks or corporations are legal entities, they cannot own any property. Only living people can. Corporations can still function perfectly, but they would only exist to the extent people temporarily give them access to a part of their resources. People could never be forced to keep their resources tied in a company. As a result companies would have the form of cooperatives with a changing capital of resources.
Because of these two facts, a living person can never end up with a negative resource account, a position where 99.9% of people today find themselves in today because the large majority does not own 20.000 square meters and the resources above and below it. With Habeas Area, all people would be wealthy. What nation could be potentially stronger than one consisting only of wealthy resource-rich people?
Because you have these resources and the time not spent on repetitive jobs, you actually have something to add if you and your community want to contribute on a project. Having resources without first having to acquire them, or fighting for a legal right to actually use them, is very empowering. It dramatically speeds up the time required to build up your life, that of your family, and that of your community. We would not be debating over how to get access to resources. We would be debating about how we would add a value and surplus to our resource. A different and better paradigm.
I think that is an idea worth sharing.
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