August 24th 2019
Bad Person/Bad Idea
It is often said in politics that you should play the ball, not the man.
i.e., criticise the idea as opposed to the person.
But sometimes the two go together. Think Trump! Bad idea/bad person. Therefore, inside my mind there is a circle of ‘acceptability’ and ‘respectability’ and those political stances within the circle are acceptable and respectful. I accept and respect the political positions inside the circle. The circle contains positions I agree with and disagree with. The latter = acceptable and respectful opposition. So for me, liberal Conservatives would be acceptable and respectful opposition thus inside the circle. (I take it they currently oppose UBI. I will return to this point in a moment). Donald Trump on the other hand, is well outside the circle as he is a criminal child.
Liberal Conservatives are fine on important issues like being free of prejudice concerning LGBT, they are anti racist, and at least regard climate change as real. Moreover I think they will convert to UBI due to their concern for societal stability. But I don’t think Trump gives a damn about societal stability hence I wouldn’t even trust him to introduce UBI if society was collapsing. This attitude of his is already evident concerning climate change.
With regards to members of the general public… EDL style racists and homophobes are outside of the circle. They are bullies. There is a danger of extremist political radicalisation the longer that politicians take to make UBI a reality. (thus increasing the number of bullies in the country). For those people who consider themselves ‘Hard Remainers’, I would suggest that at least some of the support for Brexit derived from people who felt politically left out/ignored/forgotten about etc. The technological revolution will massively increase the number of such people as more and more of them witness their livelihoods being stripped away from them. Thus there will come a point in time (definitely in the 2020s) when liberal Conservatives (whom are currently in my circle) have to decide whether they want to be part of society (inside the circle) or join Trump style maniacs (outside of the civilized circle). Almost all of them (or all of them) will convert to UBI as will those who are currently self-defined progressives but whom, for whatever reason, have failed to see the obviously huge AI iceberg right ahead.
Are people economically selfish or do they possess a social conscience?
I am a supporter of generous level Universal Basic Income. (UBI) Hence, in part, I will look at this question in terms of UBI policy.
At times its difficult to disentangle self-interest and social conscience even though they are often discussed as opposites. Hence I think its important to state the following… I think that almost all of us are economically selfish to a certain extent (materialistic). When I refer to “social conscience” I am meaning empathy and understanding for those on low incomes and high anxiety due to low income and poverty. Social Conscience therefore means an understanding and relative or strong empathy.
So I have already stated that I think people are economically self-interested. Some also possess a social conscience. Let’s now look at this issue in relation to UBI. I think UBI will probably become a reality due to the technological revolution. I am certain it will become a reality if the tech revolution becomes a reality to the extent I think it will. i.e., Strong AI taking vast swathes of the jobs previously carried out by people who were economically comfortably off. So I have implied that the comfortably off will get more and more economically insecure and develop the attitudes of the traditional working class as they come to understand and empathise with the plight of the economically deprived. This is a case of the previously comfortably off realising that the capitalist system no longer works for them. Some of the previously comfortably off will have to fully experience the anxiety that goes with low income… e.g., struggle over paying the bills… before they fully understand. Suffering is a powerful educator in this regard. Indeed, UBI will not happen if middle class suffering does not happen. If the vast majority of the comfortably off remain comfortably off then that demographic will not vote for UBI.
You could argue that this is ‘all’ just self-interest. To show that there is some reality to ‘social conscience’ we must look at those who started off in the working class but came into money. (e.g., career advancement, winning a million on the lottery). Some of those change their attitude and become economically right wing. Thus they were always economically self-interested and would probably admit it. Others take an attitude of “I’ll never forget my roots” and they maintain support for eliminating economic suffering. This is because they continue to understand the suffering. (Human empathy).
I think if you experience economic hardship you understand the suffering and therefore you are egalitarian. However, you may be purely self-interested and this may be demonstrated if you come into money. So all I’m saying here is…
… you are far more likely to be egalitarian if you have experienced the suffering associated with poverty. It develops understanding. It is learned. (that can of course lead to psychological conditioning that will not just go away for some people as easily as it will for others). So the words ‘more likely’ are relevant here. Because some people, once out of a the suffering, easily forget about it… = self-interest. They are like those guys who can finish a long term relationship with a woman and then get a new one without any period of mourning for the ending of the previous relationship. While others will go months or years without being able to even consider a relationship with another woman. However, in terms of economic self-interest and social conscience I am saying that almost all (even those with social conscience) are economically selfish/materialistic.
If you are born into privilege and you feel confident, you do not suffer anxiety, you have no experience of economic poverty, and you are of high status… then I find it very unlikely that you will be possessed with a social conscience. You will be highly likely to be purely self-interested. There will be one or two exceptions who make the effort to learn about the life of millions of others who live in the same country as themselves. But the vast majority of those who are born into privilege will never develop understanding concerning this issue.
August 22nd 2019
In the U.S. there are now three Democrat Party Presidential candidates pursuing a policy of $250 per week/$1000 per month Universal Basic Income. Andrew Yang is the most well known for this policy. But Marianne Williamson, who also endorses this policy, is no unknown. She has 2.8 million twitter followers. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/21/candidate-marianne-williamsons-plan-to-give-adults-1000-per-month.html Tulsi Gabbard also supports UBI.