Category Archives: basic income

Aspects of the New Society

Political and economic organization

The basic template will be taken from the guidance given by the great mind of Rudolf Steiner, in his Threefold Social Order, sometimes called the Threefold Social Organism or simply Social Threefolding: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_threefolding.

In other words, the key is finding the right relationship between the functioning of the economy (fundamentally private rather than State-run) and the rights of citizens. That does not mean that a few strategic economic areas or enterprises, or those of direct impact on the population (eg some utility companies, some railways etc) can never be State-owned or at least heavily State-regulated.

Population

An advanced society cannot be built on a backward population. The UK and other European societies of the future can only exist and advance if at least fundamentally European. The mass immigration from outside Europe has been disastrous and has greatly set back (especially Western and Central) Europe and, therefore, the world. However, we are where we are. We cannot say “10% of our population is non-European and so we cannot create a better society”. It has to be admitted that at some level, the non-European population within the general population might be so numerous that society can only decline or collapse. Tipping-points exist. The UK may not be very far from that tipping-point now. Certainly the major cities are close to it. For the purposes of this blog post, though, we must just keep in mind that there is an iron necessity for a (fundamentally) European population.

Education

According to the principles of the Threefold Social Order, education is within the spiritual-cultural sphere. It should be run neither by the State nor for private profit. That is not to say that it should not be regulated or unable to accept private monies via fees etc. It should not be taxed but accepted as having charitable or at least non-profit status.

It might be objected that, in the UK, private education tends to perpetuate social differences. There is some truth in that, but not much. The major drivers of inequality (apart from race and culture) are those of family capital and income. The education of children is rather a red herring in terms of the equality-inequality debate. There is also the point that parents (and children themselves) have the right to choose. The fact that choice may be rationed by available money does not destroy that right, but challenges both the State and society as a whole to make the means available to support educational choice.

The whole concept of the university “degree” should be looked at. This is a mediaeval concept which has probably outlived its usefulness. Bachelor, Master, Doctor, these have more in common with the Europe of Nostradamus than the Europe of 2017. In the UK, the true value of a university degree has been lowered (indeed rendered in some cases valueless) by award inflation and the mere fact that half the population now has some kind of degree.

Methods and conditions of work

The citizen must be protected from exploitation. That is a primary duty of the State. That means that maximum hours must be laid down. There might be flexibility within that, for example by laying down a weekly maximum of hours (say, 40 hours, but it might be 35 or even 30) but permitting the employer/employee to agree how those hours should be fulfilled within the working week: 5 x 8, or 4 x 10, even 3 x 13.33, or a work-week split into different hours on different days.

There is an argument to keep at least one day, traditionally of course Sunday, relatively free from work and commercial activities. There must be a rhythm to the week and a fallow day promotes that. Obviously, there are exceptions which would have to exist.

Basic Income

Robotics, computerization, automation are developments, the advantages of which are going mainly to a few within society. At the same time, they are destroying, for many, work as a way of getting even a basic living (in the UK, this was recognized years ago and led to the introduction of Working Tax Credits etc). The nexus between work and pay is dissolving.

The answer is the introduction of a measure of “basic income” not in any way dependent upon or conditional upon work done, availability for work etc. In that way, most of the expensive bureaucracy around social security or “welfare” can be eliminated: large buildings in every town, huge numbers of low-grade staff doing repetitive work processing applications, snooping  on and monitoring claimants etc. Whether a basic system should have tested aspects added for disability etc is a matter for debate. As to the amount of money given, again a matter for discussion. Perhaps £10,000 or £15,000 per person per year on present values.

In the UK, Basic State Pension is a form of Basic Income which already exists. Child Benefit is another form of Basic Income. Neither are conditional upon the income or capital earned or held by the recipient.

Contrary to what many still believe, basic income has the potential to free “entrepreneurship”, volunteering and ordinary “work more to get more” within the working-age population.

Transport

Here we are hostages to technology. It may be that driverless cars will soon exist in large numbers. It may be that lighter-than-air craft will be brought into service on a scale hitherto unknown. We do not know for sure. As matters stand, it seems clear that new initiatives are required in the field of railways (including driverless, light, ultralight and miniature), as well as wide canals for passenger and freight transport. There are trains in tubes being developed in the USA which may travel at 800 mph. All one can do is keep open to the future of transport while suggesting suitable policy for now.

Religion or spiritual belief

Religion should be (and is, in more advanced parts of the world) a question of individual choice. It is not for the State, or a dominant theocracy, to lay down what a citizen should believe or adhere to. However, that does not mean that the State cannot regulate or ban certain practices of religious groups. Thus toleration of religion as such need not import toleration of backward practices such as genital mutilation.

Conclusion

These few paragraphs are not meant to be a comprehensive manifesto but a springboard for ideas.