A Universal Income needs a focus on citizen responsibility | Raf Manji | TEDxChristchurch

A Universal Income needs a focus on citizen responsibility | Raf Manji | TEDxChristchurch

Translator: Michele Gianella
Reviewer: Ellen Maloney Imagine a world where
there are 50 per cent fewer jobs. And now imagine a world where robots actually do all the work
and there are no jobs for humans. Seems kind of far-fetched,
but what would it mean? What would that world look like? Would it be a robo-dystopia,
or would it be a robo-utopia? I’d like to be frank. These are questions
that we have to consider. Futurists are now talking to us
about the potential loss of up to two billion jobs
in the next 15 to 20 years, the hollowing out
of our middle job market. Now, on one hand, as we’re seeing today,
there’s an an enormous amount of disrupted technology
coming down the chain: diagnostic advances,
virtual reality, 3D printing, bio, agri, and health technologies. They all have the ability
to disrupt our current systems. They also have the ability
to bring unimaginable benefits to us. We don’t know what they’ll be,
hard to see what the future is. They also all have the ability to entrench and exacerbate
existing inequalities. We’ve seen that the gains
have gone to the one per cent over the last 30 years, and that’s likely to increase. So that creates huge problems. We’re starting to see stagnant incomes and welfare systems
struggling to respond. The traditional policy responses
of the left and the right: austerity, cheap credit, which is the heroin
of our financial system, a welfare system which only operates
if you’re looking for work. If there are no jobs,
what are we going to do? We need to start thinking
about separating income from work. To many women, this is not
a new or revolutionary idea. (Applause) I hear you. (Laughter) Parenting, looking after the sick and elderly,
of whom there will be a lot more, volunteering in the community. A huge amount of unpaid work
goes on in our society, but also other things
like arts, culture, research, innovation. They all have a huge impact
and contribution to our society, but typically do not attract an income. One possible solution is to think
about a universal basic income. This would be a regular
monthly or annual payment to all citizens, as of right. It would completely eliminate
the welfare system, eliminate the processes of people having to go to multiple agencies
and fill out forms just to get food on the table. One of the first responses to this is, “Well, how are we going to afford that?
Where does all the money come from?” Let’s get that out
of the way straight away. In the last eight years, global central banks
have created 12 trillion dollars out of thin air. This is the balance sheet of all
the Federal Reserve Banks in the US. The balance sheet expanded
by four trillion dollars in six years so that they could buy bank assets and improve the balance
sheets of the banks. Where did that money come from? I’ll tell you. Literally, an Excel spreadsheet. If they can create that much money
to bail out the banks, I think we can find the money
to sort out a basic income. (Applause) There are trials going on
all around the world at the moment: in the Netherlands, in India,
in Canada, in Finland. And France just published
a report last week where they’re going to propose
three new trials, taking us from Utopia to reality. On that note, this is not
a new or novel idea. Talking of “Utopia,”
500 years ago, in 1516, Thomas More laid out
his vision of Utopia, and in his book he had
the first reference to a basic income. Fellow humanist
Jean Louis Vivès, in 1526, did some research in the city of Bruges on why poverty was such
a huge problem to eliminate. His conclusion in his book
on assistance to the poor was the only way to eliminate poverty
and crime and poor health, was to make sure everybody
had a basic standard of living. It seems pretty sensible, and a lot of other people
thought it was pretty sensible, too. The third President
of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, who wrote
the 1791 book “The Rights of Man,” and the 16th US President,
Abraham Lincoln, were all in favor of a basic income, whether it was in cash
or whether it was in land, to support a basic standard of living. Henry George, in his 1879 book
“Progress and Poverty” did some research into the land piece. He tried to work out why, in a period of technological
and social advance, did poverty increase. He came to the conclusion that a lot of gains went
to land owners and land prices. He suggested a single tax on land,
known as the ‘land value tax,’ which would support the ability
to invest in public infrastructure and pay everybody a basic income. Martin Luther King spent a lot of time
looking at George’s works, as he researched how he could solve poverty and exclusion
in the neighborhoods that he worked in. Again, he came to the conclusion that an unconditional
basic income for all people would be the solution. Richard Nixon, in 1971, tried to get it through
Congress and the Senate in his Family Assistance Plan. He got it through Congress,
but it was stopped in the Senate. One of the prime reasons for that is this concern that people
get something for nothing. As we’ve seen already, there’s a huge amount of unpaid labor that is not paid for in the economy, and it is actually
the backbone of our society. There’s even more. I’m very happy to think
about somebody out there trying to climb a mountain,
write poetry, create great works of art, or even sit on the beach surfing all day. I kind of like that. It’s part of who we are as humans. Even two of the greatest
laissez-faire Libertarian economists, Frederick Hayek,
author of “The Road to Serfdom,” and Milton Friedman, both understood, from a pure
economic efficiency and risk perspective, that actually, the guaranteed
minimum income was the best policy solution. They saw that the welfare system would not work, and was punitive
and dehumanizing, and that every citizen, as of right,
should have access to a minimum income. This aspect of rights
is really important to consider. It’s something that we fought for
as humans for a long time. If we go back to 1215 and “Magna Carta,” King John was forced to sign
this document by the barons of England. He wasn’t a particularly nice guy, and they were tired of his arbitrary rule
and lack of justice. Magna Carta really
is the foundation document for many of our civil
and legal platforms and frameworks. It’s set in to stage the idea that justice was something
that people could agree on and that laws could be made
by people and not kings. In the English Civil War in the 1650s, we saw further demands for the people
to be represented in a different way. To be represented at Parliament and to remove this divine right
of kings and monarchs to decide and dispense justice
on their whims. We saw this again
in the colonies in the U.S., when they declared independence, the French when they published
the “Rights of Man and the Citizen,” This citizen piece was important. People were laying down the rights that they felt as humans they deserved
from the State and from each other. But it wasn’t until 1919,
after the First World War, that we started to see social justice
appear on the horizon with the formation
of the International Labor Organization in the Treaty of Versailles. In this, labor exploitation,
working conditions, and for the first time, a living wage, was stated as something
that was important. This was further reinforced in the “Universal Declaration
of Human Rights” in 1948,theglobal Human Rights Charter. In it, it was made very clear that all people, as of right, were entitled
to a basic standard of living. This was something
that all nations signed up to. This was further reinforced in the 1966 “International Covenant
on Economic and Social Rights.” But one thing was missing
from this conversation: The idea that all people should have
a basic standard of living, as of right, was agreed on from a rights perspective, from an economic efficiency perspective, from a risk perspective. But there’s one person
missing from this conversation, and that is the citizen. “Civis romanus sum,”
I am a Roman citizen, made famous by J.F.Kennedy
in his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. That’s good, (Laughter) When we talk about rights,
we forget something. It’s a contract. It’s a two-way bargain, and the concept of duties is something
that has dropped out of our narrative. We never mention it, yet it’s in there,
in The Universal Declaration. The problem is, when they started drafting this document, which took a long time to put together, duties was up there
right at the beginning, along with rights. Through all the arguments around religion, culture, gender,
as we’ve seen earlier today, the issue of duties dropped down. It was only in the last few months that they suddenly realized
they needed to put something in, and it came in in Article 29. But it’s not something that we think of when we think of The Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, and this is important. We need to balance our rights with duties, because that’s what
being a citizen is about. That’s what the Greeks and the Romans
understood citizenship to mean. The right to be a citizen
came with obligations and duties back to the community,
back to each other. In 1762, before the French Revolution
and the Rights of Man, Jean Jacques Rousseau
published “The Social Contract,” and he grappled with this issue. He could see the argument for rights. He could see how important they were, but he was concerned
there wasn’t a proper bargain. “What did you give up? What was your relationship
with the State? What was your relationship
with other citizens? What duties were you willing
to give up and provide?” I think the problem we have at the moment
is that instead of being citizens, we’ve gone back
to those days of Magna Carta where we’re actually become subjects. In the economic state that we have,
there is no room for the citizen. We have somehow contracted out
our rights and our duties and have become subjects. The subject’s an interesting person. The subject is passive, is a victim, is represented, is served, is a beneficiary – I don’t like that word – and is, ultimately, a consumer. It’s easy, “Sit back. You’ll be served. You’ll be given stuff,
buy stuff on credit, and you’ll be fine.” Even the government in its communications
talks about us as consumers. That’s all we hear. The concept of the citizen has really disappeared
out of our lexicon. Yet, everything that we have is founded on that basic concept
of being active, of being responsible, of being creative, of being an agent, being a recipient – not a beneficiary – and being a participant. Yes, it’s difficult. It’s not easy, but it’s not meant to be easy. The Greeks didn’t think
it was going to be easy, neither did the Romans. This idea that we have
some kind of contract around our rights is extremely important because that’s how we influence
the society that we have. When we contract out those rights
and become consumers, we create a one-way relationship. Yes, we have guarantees around that. We have guarantees around our products. We have guarantees
around the right to vote, but in between we do nothing. That’s why we’re disengaged. That’s why we’re disinterested. That’s why we’re disenchanted. That’s why we’re fatigued. We’re not part of the system. It seems to me, 250 years on from
Rousseau’s Social Contract, 800 years on from Magna Carta, and 2,400 years on
from the birth of Aristotle, it’s time to negotiate
a new social contract. And It’s likely that a basic income
will be part of that conversation. We cannot resist the trends
of technological unemployment. We have to address a financial system
that is on its last legs. We have to build a system
that is more human, that recognizes us as social creatures,
not economic creatures. In that conversation, we will have to ask ourselves
some hard questions. It won’t be easy, but under those documents
and charters and declarations lie tens of millions of bodies,
maybe hundreds of millions. It’s something that we’ve forgotten. So we have a choice. You can take the blue pill and keep going along the same path
and you’ll get the same result. Or you can take the red pill and take a harder, more difficult path,
maybe the path less traveled, and become a citizen. The choice, my friends, is yours. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)


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    Tough crowd, frank joke…. nothing ……star wars joke nothing …….nothing till women comment. New Zealanders are tough…. That said a very good talk well executed.. Good work MANJI 1

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    David Kloos

    Yes, though citizens aren't engaged enough because they are stuck in a rut of escapism and deep unconsciousness of their true being which is reflected in the work or die paradigm trying to constantly fill cravings with more and more luxuries and more and more shinier objects, something a basic income could help bring to a halt or at least not enforce those who see the futility of it to join.

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    I love the idea of a universal income. However he is wrong about Central banks being able to magically make money. It will eventually catch up to us and even if these ramifications start in 5 years (i'm doubtful this long away), it will happen.

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    Paul Peterson

    In addition to a huge amount of unpaid work in our society, there is also a huge amount of highly compensated sloth. Rich rentiers do no work but collect vast incomes based on a system actively designed to channel wealth to wealth.

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    Ex Umbra

    Yet another case of let's take money from the rich and give it to everyone else. Thoughts:
    1. Wouldn't this render the vast majority of the population utterly dependent on the people who supposedly make up money out of thin air?
    2. How do you factor debt and currency inflation into this little scheme?
    3. Haven't they already tested a similar system before? Has any such society treated its people well?
    If I were put on this plan, I'd never move an inch. Contributing to society is hard, man!

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    my solution… #BasicIncome We pay for it by printing it! tax, interest, and debt free money! No strings attached! It is called Quantitative Easing for the average joe. One stipulation for inmates could be we fund a rehab program managed by the judicial and medical industry. Also we could supplement a stimulus amount for merit and aptitude based education. Plus A health care program with an emphasis on AI, R&D, prevention and cure's! Keep it totally separate and in addition to any other current entitlements, which those could be restructured according to qualification or ability to work and care for ones self, the elderly, or children!

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    Khannea Sun Tzu Von Thorne–Żytkow

    Interesting idea – but what if the Catholics or Pence start dictating what is "citizen responsibility" ?

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    Andrew Pilottos

    I've added this to a public playlist on universal basic income if you want to see more on this topic!

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    So i dont get it. It wont be unconditional? If thats the case then how is diferent then what we have today?

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    Joe Marks

    @15:00 red pill, but not if it's some kind of symbol for siding with the GOP. Both parties and all government needs to be automated immediately. Congress isn't known for minding when it comes to voting on their own raises, so they shouldn't mind getting another one with US, instead of us. The likely fear might be that it will be used as a protest wage, which it most definitely should be used for.

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    Whats wrong with using a fund to give loans for men with poor prospects to use a reversible vasectomy procedure like vasalgel. This ain't the 1960s anymore, all of our routine jobs have been destroyed.

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    Admiral Murat

    I don't like the way China is doing that system. They can discriminate against your credit score on anything even your friends credit.

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    Naturally Healthy Living

    Make UBI Guaranteed Basic Income $2500/month for every person on the earth Help Ending Poverty, Starvation, Disability, Old Age, Children, Homelessness, Health, Clean Water, Food

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    Robert Mulhern

    UBI is a bad idea. Where’s the money going to come from when the banks run out? If you tax just the rich since they will be the only ones working. The prices of services and product will go up. This will make everyone lazy that can’t find a job and give up. Then every country that goes with this will be a third world country. It amazes me how people fall for this stuff when they are being handed something for free. There’s always a cost, just outcome could be bad!!!

    How about we get rid of all taxes? Then everyone will have cash to support them selfs. All this is doing is giving you back your cash you gave to the government. And after a while the cash will run out.

    This is so government gets bigger and bigger and controls everything we do. Where’s the freedom in this?

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    Charmaine Macdonald

    A thorough and convincing talk. We need to make this happen for ALL countries around all the world. Stop the corruption and start paying that money to the citizens, it can be done and should be done, it IS our human right!

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    Edward Price

    MONOPOLY ? Remember, the game ? Well with a few changes in thinking, that's how UBI could work. How would we pay for it ? Print it, Yes ! Pass GO – Collect $1,000 would be a lifetime process, not just a roll of the dice in a 3 hour game. By constantly adding money to the "bank" and dropping the goal of winner take all, the "game" could go on indefinitely. Not winning would be the mutual goal, although the rich would still be sitting on their piles of ca$h, the poor & middle class could make it round the board, monthly, with the help of UBI. If it will work on a board game, it will work in real life. The current economic system (Boardwalk & Park Place) only concentrates money to the top 1%, and the amount in the "bank" is limited, and inaccessible to most of the "players". Whereby the game ends……and society collapses, NOT GOOD ! The goal of UBI would be a game where no one can lose. And I don't think the rich, in their yachts, would be hurt if all those swimming, were given lifeboats. It's just the right thing to do.

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    Tiahnah Göbel

    Great talk! Thank you for stats and info I have not heard before that really creates a greater picture of this argument!

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    Bruce Allen

    I believe that the problem lies in the belief that money can, in any way, be used as a measurement of social value. We don't need money! We need to share resources
    equally and it is the concept of money and ownership which prevents that.

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    Creepy Girl

    Universal Basic Income can be a really good thing for the society as a whole. What if you had to meet certain criteria in order to get your basic income. One could be Voting, which is a big problem in todays society. Not everyone is voting is a big problem, but if you could be rewarded for it then everyone would do it.

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    Funkky Monkey

    Robots taking your job falls flat to the lump of labor fallacy, because there isn’t a set amount of labor in an economy…
    Either people will learn new jobs (serfs couldn’t run a modern continence store) or they will work on the machine that makes the machine.

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    John Dooley

    UBI needs a technological base in which to operate. If food and things are made almost totally by robots with a tiny human labour input competition will make food and goods cheap. Anything that can be replicated will become cheap. Caring, security and the performing arts will become dearer as these cant be replaced by robots or scaled up hugely like will happen to agriculture and manfg. Personal care and entertainment will be scarce and will command a premium for some lucky people.
    Football and sports have become huge industries in recent times where they were once a hobby or a low paid job. Many human activities will become monetised and start attracting salaries which are done voluntarily at one time, eg social workers were once volunteers and now are paid professionals. Many jobs will be created this way.

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    Peter Jolliffe

    the UBI is a useless idea…instead it must be made financially worthwhile for people to share the jobs/work we actually need/want people to do and so everyone can enjoy working LESS…there is no such thing as a shortage of jobs ….just a shortage of people sharing the work.

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    A M

    How come illegal aliens come to the USA can find work/job? Duh.. So your for illegals coming here to take jobs that do not exist? WTF are you thinking?

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    Ronwise Gamgee

    I think a UBI like the one proposed by Andrew Yang will allow us more leeway to actively engage in citizenry, instead of spending the majority of our waking hours working just to survive and having much less energy for anything else. IIRC, there was one quote Andrew Yang told Sam Harris in a Waking Up podcast that went something like this: "The Uber driver, working 16 hours a day, 6-7 days a week is a monument of misanthropy."

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    Eric Fortune

    –3:20 “How are we going to afford that? Where does all the money come from? Well, let’s get that out of the way straight away. In the last eight years global central banks have created $12 trillion dollars out of thin air. This is the balance sheet of all the Federal Reserve banks in the U.S. The balance sheet expanded by $4 trillion dollars in six years so that they could buy bank assets and improve the balance sheets of the banks. Now where did that money come from? Well I’ll tell you, literally an excel spread sheet. Now, if they can create that much money to bail out the banks I think we can find the money to sort out a basic income.”

    ~Raf Manji

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    L Gorman

    Remember Greed is NOT good. Our future is coming fast .. like it or not. AI .. products and services are going to be cheep. Power will be cheep. The definition of "jobs" will change. Like it or not because of AI, millions of jobs are gone. Think about self driving cars .. think about the power of the sun and now how we are harnessing it.

    Things are moving along very fast right now and many of us will have
    trouble psychologically adjusting to a new "format" . This is bringing
    about Universal Income at the same time our human race will become more
    open .. better thinkers .. Head knowledge is just that .. head
    knowledge. We need to understand are true potential, its happening.
    Open your mind to it .. it is going to be very tough to begin with …
    just like the caterpillar turning into an butterfly .. I know it sounds
    .. crazy .. its coming. .. I see one huge problem with this .. we as the human race will have to control population .. I just hope that we can handle it.

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    David Garrison

    I don't like this guy. Here we're talking about a universal basic income as
    a rite that will give everyone the potential to contribute to society.
    People discussing this subject say research shows that UBI will
    encourage people to participate in some way to the economy.
    Yet here is this guy referring to an archaic document that demands
    something in return when the wealth of the ruling class rest on the
    shoulders of the poor and the working class. I would tell you what
    he could do for me. However, not in this forum nor, in polite company!

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    Heather Strong

    There will always be people who disrupt good ideas. There are vulnerable people in the world who will protect them from the thieves?

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    M I


    “To many women, this is not a new or revolutionary idea.”


    I’m someone who always looks for ways to do something useful & contribute – work – for the betterment of society, but ironically (given his applause), the number of times a woman has told me that, because I don’t get ‘paid’ I don’t ‘work’, is countless…

    …the looks I get when I ask them, sometimes mothers, why is that mothers don’t work…

    …yes: I have balls.

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    Does anyone consider inflation?
    Will this be given to citizens only?
    How much is $1,000 worth if everyone has it?

    Yes, We have record high unemployements now. I just wish both sides spoke on this more. Because it can be manipulated if the wrong side does…

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    capital punishment

    Why make robots to take jobs so they can make things no one can buy because they don't have a job.will the robots be buying the things their making? Ding ding yang is stealing this idea for himself.

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    George MiLo

    The start of a guaranteed income, benefits and living aid, could start as simple as food and rent vouchers. Once their food and shelter is secure, people will find ways to create way to make money.

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    Greedy Girl: if you make UBI contingent upon voting, then the right to vote becomes the duty to vote and that's what commie countries have. Bad idea. Term limits and an end to lobbys, would make politicians less corrupt, no motivation.

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    And all this occurred in 1913, the advent of the federal income tax. I wonder if there's a correlation here, mmmm?

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    So many RICH people are saying “ALL people need a Universal Basic Income” and rent is $3,000+ when the wage is $10+-! While capitalism is destroying the EARTH, so we really NEED to do something fast, because the POOR 95%+ can’t do anything! So here’s an idea: the richest people (5-10-20-whoever will) could start buying up EVERY CORPORATION, and then combine into ONE, and then DELETE ALL MONEY! Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, who else(?) have said all people need a UBI! 36 million people starve to death every year! We must eliminate every vehicle and most roads NOW, and almost everything! We know there will be NO JOBS AND NO WORK FOR HUMANS! Every nation must start NOW building ONLY TOWER CITIES CONNECTED TO MAGLEV TRAINS! And if there are a few rich holdouts, tell them they’re free to go build their homes on the moon or Mars, but from now on there is no wage system on earth!

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    Evian Wahter

    I didn't get to here the numbers he said but a generous estimate of the yearly cost is 210,000,000,000 trillion. Lol we can do this? haha I'd appreciate it. XD

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    Janos Abel

    How about the duty of society to recognise the unpaid work of parenting without which society could not reproduce itself?
    This is a typical posturing of a well heeled intellectual and mainstay of the status quo.
    "…our duties to the state…"?? What is the state? Who is it? Who runs it?

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    Ron Morina

    Why no one is mentioning Jacque Fresco from the Venus Project? He gave his entire life to finding solutions for Humanity and its the best so far. Shame that he is not mentioned anywhere in TED. Now days we have Peter Joseph from the Zeitgeist movement ( RBE) which he has the best explanation or solution.

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    The Finnish experiment was NOT a proper UBI. It was not unconditional, it was not universal, and it did not cover basic needs. It was a half arsed sham. Scotland are gearing up to try UBI trials in Glasgow and Fife in the next few years though.

    A Basic income acknowledges the value of an individual as a human being rather than just their labour.

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