Finding employment has become a great ordeal for many people. As the world population grows, we start to realize it is impossible to find jobs for everyone. We’ve all heard many politicians blame it on foreigners, including president elect Donald Trump. However, deporting everyone of other nationality will not solve any problems at all, but will result in separation of races, loss of diversity and the creation of minorities. It is therefore important to look at our society critically, and wonder: Should we still strive for a full-employment economy, or perhaps find other solutions?
In the past generations, the concept “work” has changed dramatically. Our grandparents’ generation still believed in a certain trade running through the family: If your father was a farmer, you would probably be a farmer too. The generation of our parents lived in a time of possibilities: accessible universities for almost everyone and equal opportunities at high-end jobs and breaking through social classes. It seems that this process is reversed in our generation. Education now heavily impacts your future, as universities set higher requirements to pass.
This “reversement” of opportunities has been caused by many factors. Firstly, globalisation has resulted in an international competition, and lets face it, we’re not better than other parts of the world. Secondly, jobs have become a lot more technical than they used to be. Instead of many workers welding a car together, we now need IT specialists to write the programs for the machines that assemble the car. This leads me to the next factor that decreases job opportunities: there are simply less jobs due to technical advances in production. Other factors would include the growth of world population and the emancipation of women.
Now we have this problem of unemployment. A popular solution, as mentioned earlier, is to keep the jobs that are still available to ourselves. There is, however, another, more eccentric, solution: basis income. Basis income implies that everyone in a certain economy would receive a certain sum of money every month, without having to work for it.
I would like to make clear that this sum would not be sufficient to live luxurious of, but just enough to afford basic human needs, like water, food, electricity and basic housing. This sum would be provided by the government, which in turn will get its capital through high taxes on luxury goods like sports cars and tropical vacations.
The main positive effect of a basic income is that it will eliminate the compulsion of full time jobs, as it will provide enough capital to overcome a period of unemployment. Such phases of unemployment are not uncommon, as our economy is shifting towards a temporary employment economy, in which contracts of only a few years are signed. This means that everyone is constantly searching for a new job, which is extremely stressful. This can be seen in the sharp rise of burnouts of young people, as they cannot cope with the insecurity of income.
Another consequence of basic income is that it will automatically decrease wealth inequality. Wealth inequality is a major global issue at the moment. According to Oxfam, the disproportion has been increasing exponentially over the last decade, now the top 5% wealthiest people own more than three quarters of the global share. The sum needed to afford basic income, raised through high taxes on luxury goods, will directly balance the largest inequalities in wealth.
The most important consequence, in my opinion, is that people can start pursuing their dreams. We have completely lost our strive to experience the world, even though this is the first era in which travelling is accessible, because we are chained to our jobs till we are old enough to be let go. Why do we have to wait till we are too old to do the things we can when we are young? Especially with the forthcoming technology and growing population, not enough jobs will be available, so there should be enough spare time to live a fantastic life.
Most people will have noticed the link between basic income and communism, and might turn down the idea immediately. However, the two economic systems differ entirely. In the communistic system, there is no opportunity of a higher income. Everyone gets the same, unless you are in the ruling level of course. On the other hand, in the system of basic income, the opportunity of a higher income is not taken away, but decreased. This means that doctors will still earn more than garbage men, but garbage men will not lose everything if they lose their jobs.
I do not ignore the flaws in basic income. A large problem would be that it would have to be implemented at a global scale, as otherwise that people seeking easy opportunities would flood the specific area. On top of that, the transition to basic income would be difficult, and many people could temporarily experience a period of no income.
The main issue, however, is that it goes against one of the main values of our society: those who don’t work will not get anything. The system of being awarded for work is forced upon us ever since we are born, and will continue to force us to work.
In conclusion, full employment economy is a thing of the past. Due to many developments in the past few decades, more people will become unemployed for longer periods of time. A basic income policy would overcome such periods. On top of that, basic income would help us return to what we are supposed to look for in life: happiness.