Universal Basic Income, also known as UBI, social credit and Basic Income Guarantee, is not a new concept. However, it is being looked at newly by the State of Hawaii as a solution to how AI (artificial intelligence) is likely to take over many of their jobs.
Having lived in Hawaii, I understand why the concern there may be greater than for other places. My experience showed me that the income disparity between wealthy mainlanders who bumped-up real estate prices in Hawaii, and everyone else who had to work for a living, was crazy severe. To survive a cost-of-live higher than the San Francisco Bay area at minimum-wage levels, I observed that most locals had to work more than one job just to survive. Today, I imagine this disparity is even greater.
UBI is a dividend-type proposal similar to the one in Alaska since 1982 via the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation distributing an annual share of oil revenues to each resident of the state (including children in the family). In 2007, the amount to each resident was $3,269 and in 2016, only $1022.
Former Democratic Congressman, Dennis Kucinich, a proponent of this economic strategy for every American, not just Alaskans, said after former Treasury secretary Henry Paulson announced the 2007 $700 billion bank bailout:
“Since the bailout will cost each and every American about $2,300, tomorrow I will offer legislation to create a United States Mutual Trust Fund, which will take control of $700 billion in stock assets, at market value and not higher, convert those assets to shares, and distribute $2,300 worth of shares to new individual savings accounts in the name of each and every American.”
According to another UPI proponent, Richard C. Cook, former Treasury employee and author of the book, We Hold These Truths, (for which I wrote the forward) one of UBI’s most recent sources is Scottish Major C.H. Douglas. In 1918 he was an industrial engineer who authored the book, Economic Democracy, which addressed the gap of purchasing power for the average person, and therefore the need for government-distributed dividends.
Cook, in a Global Research article, discusses “Credit as a Public Utility: The Key to Monetary Reform,” asserting that social credit “should be treated as a public utility, like water, electricity, and clean air.”
“A citizens’ dividend could work wonders in rebuilding the economy from the bottom up, including small business and local agriculture. To assure that dividends are spent for necessities, they could be issued initially as tax-free food, fuel, and housing vouchers from a government recovery account not dependent on taxation or borrowing. Rather the backing for the vouchers would be the productive potential of the economy. This way new economic production could be generated without bank loans. The vouchers, when spent, could be funneled into a network of community savings banks that would re-lend the money at zero percent interest.” (Richard C. Cook, “How to Save the U.S. Economy,” Global Research)
At the time, in 2007, when Richard Cook asked me to write the forward to We Hold These Truths, the social credit concept sounded good to me: a practical solution to the purchasing-power gap Americans had continued to suffer in the early to middle 2000’s. That said, in 2017 I am no longer a fan of social credit having had the time to look into it more deeply.
Would this government strategy create economic justice providing a spiritual basis for the economy as Cook and others suggest? Or would it simply be the next step towards larger government and its increased control over matters of our personal lives? And how exactly would social credit affect the national debt? The UBI, in my view, is short-sighted; it would enhance, not end, the grip financial elites already have on Central Banking, a system destined to underwrite a world government with a world currency.
Frederick Hayek in his 1960 book, The Constitution of Liberty, predicted that egalitarian redistribution would end up only as a new approach of the “old aims of socialism.”
Visionary? No. Short-sighted wishful thinking? Yes.