Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


UBI could increase human well-being and help save the planet

Universal Basic Income could increase human well-being and help save the planet

Anthropologist Jason Hickel believes basic income could be part of the solution to this problem of the pervasiveness of the growth mentality. He presents UBI as forming part of a strategy of "planned de-growth," which he believes will "increase human well-being and happiness while reducing our economic footprint."

For too long, Western society has been enslaved to the concept of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) being the sole indicator of economic progress on a national and global scale. The big problem with this is that GDP does not accurately measure the wellbeing of our people or the wellbeing of our physical environment. This is because GDP fails to account for the negative consequences of this ‘growth’ focused economy such as environmental degradation or the social costs of a capitalist system such as unemployment or poverty. We need to escape from the confines of the GDP paradigm that essentially legitimises and favours a mentality of ‘growth at all costs’ as this approach simply does not increase the material or emotional wellbeing of all humans in this country.

"Curbing advertising, taxing carbon, a basic income, and a shorter work week" can be part of a strategy of "planned de-growth." (Photo: Generation Grundeinkommen/flickr/cc)

As some tech giants throw their weight behind the idea of a universal basic income, the anthropologist says it's a key component of a strategy to break the "addiction to economic growth [that] is killing us" and the planet.
Offering his views this week on BBC's "Viewsnight," Hickel, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics and author of books including The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions, says "we can't have infinite growth on a finite planet."

That argument—which others have made as well—should be clear by evidence of the "climate change, deforestation, and rapid rates of extinction" taking hold, he says.
The primary blame, according to Hickel, rests with "over-consumption in rich countries," and addressing that entails "planned de-growth," which will put the reins on "our plunder of the earth."

Hickel stresses that he's not referring to austerity, as the goal of "de-growth" is to "increase human well-being and happiness while reducing our economic footprint."

A blueprint to achieve that goal, he says, includes "curbing advertising, taxing carbon, a basic income, and a shorter work week."

"We need an economic model that promotes human flourishing in harmony with the planet on which we depend," he says.

The idea of a universal basic income is gaining attention worldwide as a potential solution to this ‘growth paradigm’. Hickel explains how UBI could help with de-growth in an op-ed for the Guardian this year:

“We already know, from existing experiments, that a basic income can yield impressive results – reducing extreme poverty and inequality, stimulating local economies, and freeing people from having to accept slave-like working conditions simply in order to stay alive. If implemented more broadly, it might help eliminate “bullshit jobs” and slash unnecessary production, granting much-needed relief to the planet. We would still work, of course, but our work would be more likely to be useful and meaningful, while any miserable but necessary jobs, like cleaning the streets, would pay more to attract willing workers, making menial work more dignified.”

Hickel goes on to say that perhaps the most important aspect of UBI is that it could help turn the tide on the spread of fascism so prevalent in our world right now.

“a basic income might defeat the scarcity mindset that has seeped so deep into our culture, freeing us from the imperatives of competition and allowing us to be more open and generous people. If extended universally, across borders, it might help instil a sense of solidarity—that we're all in this together, and all have an equal right to the planet. It might ease the anxieties that gave us Brexit and Trump, and take the wind out of the fascist tendencies rising elsewhere in nativism that is spreading across much of the world.”

It seems that UBI has potential to assist in this ongoing struggle to rein in a rampant growth centric economy. It certainly will not be the full picture and there is an alternative viewpoint that UBI could even increase consumption due to people having more income. However, it seems likely that any measure that increases the overall wellbeing of Kiwis will have positive impacts on our ability to do what is right for humanity and the planet by making more conscious consumption choices.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

This article builds on: Universal Basic Income Needed to Break 'Addiction to Economic Growth Killing Us'Published on Friday, August 11, 2017 on Common Dreams by Andrea Germanos, staff writer.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Commercial Scoop User? Help Scoop Survive (and Thrive!)

The ScoopPro licensing terms require that commercial users of pay a reasonable fee in order to access the Scoop site so that this same information remains free and accessible to the wider public regardless of their disposable income. More>>

Joseph Cederwall: Building a Community Newsroom

A combination of new technology, ideas, institutions and business models and a renewed energy and commitment by the Scoop team, means Scoop aims to be at the forefront of the development of this renaissance that we term ‘News 3.0’. More>>


Scoop 3.0: Saving The News

Scoop Co-Founder Alastair Thompson - One of the saddest aspects of the decline of the news industry, not just here in NZ - but everywhere, is that it often seems invisible, in large part because news is a confidence business... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Democratic Leadership And Trump

On the big picture, the poll predictions were dead right. In the end, the Democratic Party won a clear victory in the House, and lost as expected in the Senate, where it had been defending at least 10 seats in regions that had voted heavily for Trump in 2016. More>>


From Lascars To Skilled Migrants: Indian Diaspora In NZ/Aus

More than half a million people of Indian descent live in Australia and New Zealand. The history of the Indian diaspora in these countries is older than many might imagine, going back 250 years. More>>

  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog