Have you Ever been Swept Off Your Feet?

In both cases – whether the bubble was inflated with positive or negative energy – the participants in the bubble are being swept away further and further away from actual physical reality and start to see everything either ‘extremely negatively’ or ‘extremely positively’ – neither experience is grounded in reality – because the physical is neither positive or negative – it just is what it is.

And Then You Crash – Meconomics

In this little series, we’ve been investigating the phenomenon of inflation, how we in our daily lives participate in ‘inflating our reality’ and so, how we are on a personal level participating in the same principles/dynamics that we see playing out on a bigger scale when it comes to inflation, speculative bubbles and financial market crashes.

Welcoming New Life with Living Income Guaranteed

Comfort, security and nurturing are all things we wish are present when a baby comes into this world. Yet, these conditions are not a reality for many babies, as parents themselves like these things in their lives. In Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa, 3 to 5 babies are…

Humanity Washed Ashore

This was an excerpt of just one of the stories about the boy. Over the last few days, dozens have been written and published on various major news sites. What is more striking than the content of the posts, is the comments that are left on these articles. What is humanity’s response to such images, to such news?

Voting Fun – What does it Feel Like to Have a Say?

Now – before such increased direct political participation is a reality – let’s do a little test to see what it feels like. So – here are some mock-questions where you’re asked to give your input. Imagine that this relates to your direct reality (eg. your town) – and your answer has a weight that influences the outcome of the decision. Of course, in reality…

29 December 2013

Day 257: Living Income Practicality

Q: Will LIG result in the replacement of jobs by machines?

A: The foundation of LIG is to provide the necessary access to the living necessities as a human right, therefore if jobs are replaced by machines as an on-going trend, people will receive the LIG as a means to have their living needs covered. Therefore we don't directly endorse the idea of replacing human labor with machines as that is at this stage decided by each corporation's capacity to implement it in their business. However, also to consider that with LIG, due to financial security, many will feel more confident to start new business ventures, which will again create more jobs.

Q: How do we prevent those receiving LIG from being exploited by greed? For instance: Everyone working is receiving at least double the Living Income. What is to stop the price of goods from moving up so that it's not feasible for people on LIG to afford goods?

A: There will still be short-term fluctuations in the prices of various goods. However, when the prices of the commodities that represent living necessities follow an upward trend to such an extent the Living Income becomes inadequate – the Living Income amount will be increased. If the Living Income goes up, it means the minimum wage – which is defined as double the Living Income – will proportionally increase as well – thus increasing costs for firms. In the long-run it is therefore in firms’ best interest to expand operations in order to meet the increased demand rather than increasing prices. The period where inflation due to an increase in demand is most likely to occur is after the implementation of LIG. It is key, therefore, to ensure that the implementation is done in a transparent way, so that any increase in demand is not unexpected, but firms are prepared for the change and have defined strategies to expand their output.

Q: How will people be motivated to work and perform well under LIG?

A: The classical notion that money is what motivates people to perform well – where the more one earns, the better one performs, has been disproven – for perspective, watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc.
By setting the minimum wage at double the Living Income, every worker is recognized as a vital part of the company, which creates loyalty and a commitment to the goals of the company. It has been shown that when employees receive more than a subsistence income, a firm incurs less turnover costs as well as less costs relating to monitoring the employees. That being said, the relationship between employer and employee is likely to change as LIG increases the bargaining power of employees significantly; no-one will ‘need’ to work anymore. Currently – the threat to lose one’s job is often enough to compromise oneself within one’s job by accepting inferior labor conditions – because one knows that there are always others who will do any job just in order to survive – and thus one is replaceable. With LIG – working is no longer a matter of survival and employers will require to put in the effort to make jobs attractive by creating optimal labor conditions and treating every employee as an individual and not merely as a cog in a machine. The above-referenced video includes several examples of how appealing to employees’ sense of purpose creates far more effective motivation than the threat to lose one’s job.

Q: One point that came up for me is that with the Erasmus program in Europe many students travel to other countries for one year. The student is integrated into the local university system and learns about the culture and the language. In general students' mobility is highly supported by the EU. If there is a country that offers LIG at lower age than most other countries, then that country might see an influx of immigrating youth - would this play a role?

A: Being a student in a country doesn’t make one a citizen, and so, one is not entitled to a Living Income. Countries can specify whether permanent residents would receive LIG, as well as citizens – this could also go in stages, where initially only citizens can claim a Living Income and later, as more countries implement LIG, permanent and perhaps even temporary residents can receive LIG as the inflow of immigrants will not be as intense at that stage.

For context and more information:

Living Income Guaranteed - the Proposal: http://livingincomeguaranteed.wordpress.com/the-proposal/
Living Income Guaranteed YouTube Channel - watch the hangouts: https://www.youtube.com/user/BIGuaranteed?feature=watch
Living Income Guaranteed Website: http://livingincome.me

22 December 2013

Day 256: Will LIG result in a Centrally Planned Economy with a Coercive Government?

This blog-post is a response to a Facebook Comment made in relation to the Living Income Proposal.

"Government is still government. Centrally coerced power nonetheless."

I suggest reading the blog ‘How Companies will be Nationalized and What does it Mean? LIG’ for more clarity on how we suggest nationalization is to occur – where it is NOT the government that would centrally own/control the resources ‘on behalf of the people’ – it would be the every citizen directly being a shareholder of the nationalized companies. This means that the companies will not be used in favor of the government – but in benefit of the population as a whole. Herein, no changes really have to occur in how the companies are operated today, the only difference is where the profit goes and who takes part in shareholder meetings. 

" "If we define competition as the ability achieve the best living condition in a society " has absolutely NOTHING to do with competition within a free market sense. Such fundamental misrepresentations / rebranding of words is disservice."

Competition for the sake of competing/winning is a disservice to society as a whole. This is what the ‘invisible hand’ doctrine is all about – that self-interested competitive behavior yields result that are favorable to others in society, which was not intended. However, currently this competition has, let’s say, ‘evolved’ to the point where the ‘losers’ in the competition literally lose everything – including those things that are supposed to be guaranteed human rights. This is where LIG intends to make a difference. Competition is useful from the perspective that it creates an environment where participants strive to create the best product and the best service – which in turn enhances the quality of life of the members of society (which is what is referred to in the quote you mentioned) but it shouldn't do so at the expense of an individual’s ability to provide themselves with living necessities.

"None of these terms mean anything. "Activation of the economy"?"

Simply referring to increasing economic activity, employment and productivity.

Who knows what standards they employ for not interfering with the "nationalization of natural resources". How do you qualify "interfere with public services"? Who the hell even determines what is objectively the "highest quality"? This is complete monopoly of resources, enstated through force / coercion / compulsion, with extremely ill-defined definitions of language. This is one step away from having a dictator.

You’re using quite a slippery-slope type of argumentation here – it would be a good example of ‘how not to do it’ in critical reasoning courses. Anyhow – monopoly of resources: no – it would be quite the opposite – resources would be owned by every citizen of a country and would no longer be able to be controlled by a few. Remember – it is not government that owns the resources, it is the citizens directly. Also – it’s not that we are suggesting to have only one company provide for instance electricity and that this company should be nationalized and that this company will now receive funds from the government that other companies don't - No – we encourage healthy competition between firms supplying the same/similar services – whether these are ‘nationalized’ firms (in the sense that is discussed in the Living Income Proposal) or whether they remain in private hands.

 A HUGE issue with this program, besides the mind-blowing idiocy in their understanding of basic economic concepts, is the perversion of price. I guarantee you if you linked a good description on how they intend to replace the price mechanism I'll blow it away in a second. Not even Zeitgeisters' resource-based economy can figure this out.

 You know how monopolies are kept in check in a FREE MARKET? Companies A, B, C, D. A uses profits / loans to buy companies B. Company C raises the price of his business since he knows that company A is trying to corner the market. If Company A tries to buy D he either already used so much of his $$$ or took on so much debt than company D can simply hold on and corner the market himself.

 Self-interest and FREE markets naturally limit these things. It is self-regulating.

How about collusion? A, B, C, and D form a union and agree to raise prices across the board. Guess what? The first company who defects from the pact and drops his prices gets the WHOLE market share. In return the other 3 companies HAVE to lower their prices as well.

Probably have never heard that in your entire life.

Please – I suggest you get your head out of your economy-books and rather do some real-life investigation. How can Nestle, for instance, have 12% of the WOLRD market if the free market is so self-regulating? Theory and practice are not the same thing. The free market is inherently not designed to take into account, for instance, living conditions – as you probably know – equilibrium wages have nothing to do with living wages – yet, how can we allow companies to set prices that adhere to market-principles, when it means they cannot pay their employees a proper wage? With LIG we suggest to make minor adjustments so that at the very least, everyone’s human rights are guaranteed and so that any worker is actually recognized as someone who participates in providing their labor for the benefit of society through producing goods and services, through a wage double the living income.

You require to consider that ‘pure’ free market principles are nothing more than a nicely formulated set of justifications the elite uses to continue abuse in the market. So, I suggest supplementing your studies with independent research, so that you can come to grips with what is really happening and how it doesn't match the economic theories. 

It's a big ol lie that the government "protects" you from monopolies and collusion. They kill the competition and FORM the monopolies. Governments take out the risk of monopoly by taking AWAY the risk. Ever hear of bank bailouts? Privitized profits and socialized losses? They only got that big anyways because of the government. The problem isn't banking. It's the coercive nature of government which traps people (under the point of a gun) to this fraud.

Again – we propose a very limited role for government with Living Income Guaranteed and suggest that as much as possible is done automatically to minimize the possibility of fraud and inefficiency.

Bureau of Standards? I mean the hell, it is not economically efficient of ideal to produce everything to the "highest-standard" possible. Should a lead pencil be made from Brazillian hardwood? Would wooden pallets for shipping all be required to be made from hardwood to withstand maximum weight load? Would we even have the existence of goods such as particle board / press wood / mulch (after all ALL of these were reinventions of waste products which had no productive use before...... but according to this theory we should have not have even cut the lumber before we planned what to do with the chips). You put this policy in place 100's of years ago and we'd have no such thing as cheese or whey protein because damn........ once you make the cheese we'd have to employ 100 researchers to find out what to do with the whey! Guess no cheese until we figure out the "perfect plan" eh?

Here you’ve taken words out of context. With the Bureau of Standards the intention is to go back to good-quality products. Of course, there is no purpose for a pencil to be made from Brazilian hardwood. But there is a purpose for a microwave to last for 50 years instead of 5. So – we’re here looking specifically at equipment/tools that are not actually consumer-goods in the sense of, for instance, food that is consumed – where you buy it, you consume it, now it’s gone and you have to buy more. Equipments/tools were originally designed/meant to last a long time, but as it was realized that if you make something to break – people have to come buy a new one – inferior materials started being used and tools/equipment started becoming consumer products in that you use it only x times/ for an x amount of time and now it’s broke and you have to buy a new one. Such behavior creates consequences not only for the current but for future generations as well, as it perpetuates a wasting of resources. So, the Bureau of Standards is a suggestion to ensure we do not waste resources on inferior products. This is something the free market does not regulate, because it is an external cost. Yet, it is absolutely important that we start pacing our rate of production to the physical if we want to keep living on this planet. It is not, however, a means for central planning. In the same way we have regulations for safe food-production – there should be a Bureau of Standards for quality tools/equipment because it is in everyone’s best interest.

The understanding of the fundamentals are completely whack. Even if you cut past this hogwash it ultimately is just coercive force / violence by the state put into extreme, pretty much Soviet Russia or Communist China. Centrally-planned, coerced ideals through "objective calculations" that seem good on paper but starve millions due to misallocation of resources.

Not really worth any more of my time. All of the 10+ pages from this program have been utterly shameful. If it wasn't for the fact that stupid people can "democratically" vote and enslave the rest of us under this type of tyranny I wouldn't even bother.

I suggest taking a breath – letting go of your fears, and with the perspectives given in this blog – read the proposal again – so that you may see it for what it is, rather than filter it through your mind – as you’re currently making associations and interpretations that are in no way part of the LIG proposal.

For context and more information:

Living Income Guaranteed - the Proposal: http://livingincomeguaranteed.wordpress.com/the-proposal/

Living Income Guaranteed YouTube Channel - watch the hangouts: https://www.youtube.com/user/BIGuaranteed?feature=watch 

Living Income Guaranteed Website: http://livingincome.me

13 December 2013

Day 255: How will Companies be Nationalized and What does it Mean? LIG

How will companies be nationalized and do you foresee any resistance?

Within LIG, nationalized companies would not be owned by the government – they would be owned by each person of the population directly. One of the great down-sides of nationalizing companies as how it has been done in the past, is that the government owns the companies, and thus – the companies are managed in a way to benefit the government, often creating inefficiencies due to corruption and fraud. With LIG – the government would be the vehicle to transfer the company from the private to the public sector – but the company would not be owned by the government, where the government then supposedly runs the companies ‘on behalf of’ and ‘in the interest of’ the people. No – each citizen would become a shareholder of the company and have the ability to perform their shareholder duties. The Liquid Democracy platform would herein be beneficial to allow such large numbers of people to participate in events such as annual shareholder meetings.

In terms of the process of nationalization – herein the laws of a specific country must be consulted. In countries where nationalization occurs through providing compensation to the current business-owners, we suggest this would be the last investment for which personal income taxes would be required. The government would then purchase the companies on behalf of the people, however still with taxpayers’ money – which implies the company belongs directly to the people.

What does it mean in effect that a person owns an equal share in a country's national companies?

We suggest that every citizen becomes shareholder of those companies that are nationalized as part of a nation’s national heritage. In being a shareholder, each citizen owns an equal part of the company and hence:
-    Each citizen has an equal vote in important decisions, such as nominating directors.
-     Management and daily operations are likely to remain as they are.
-    The companies and their management are directly accountable to every citizen.
-    Citizens can submit shareholder resolutions.
-    The companies serve the interest of the shareholders, which means: they serve the population as a whole.
-    Government officials play no privileged role in the management of the nationalized companies – they are citizens and thus their role equals that of every other citizen.

In terms of receiving dividends, every citizen has a right to receive a Living Income Guaranteed, funded by the profits of the nationalized companies, when they have no other means of supporting themselves (as determined by the particular means-test of the country).

So the share-income from National companies does not work as stock dividends do in today's world, if those who have sufficient means to support themselves have their Shares but don't get LIG?


07 December 2013

Day 254: Only for the Brave: Living Income Guaranteed and the End of Warfare

Q: Within my studies I touched upon international relations and there is a point I learned about which I see could be a concern regarding the point of the redirection of military budgets.

The point is similar to a point in the animal kingdom where the majority of decisions/disagreement/tension is resolved not through actual violent interaction, but rather through intimidation with large size, vicious displays etc... where one animal simply submits within self-preservation.

The USA has a large capacity for such intimidation which can be seen as preventing attacks from its smaller and less capable 'enemies' due to the fact that the US can annihilate them and they do not have the means to prevent this or retaliate in any substantial way. If the USA redirected the military budget, many could look at this as a form of weakening/weakness placing the USA in a more vulnerable position to be attacked due to its lessened ability to intimidate others or defend itself.

A: The offense-defense game in international political affairs is played by creating a continuous process of intimidation through potential military interventions by the world’s hegemons/ world powers upon nations that represent an obstacle to their expansionist greed. This is how ‘pseudo enemies’ are deliberately created to give continuation to a warfare industry that enables profit to be made upon these constant calls for the necessity to intervene in the name of peace and democracy in other countries or defend themselves from 'potential terrorist attacks' which is mostly a fabrication of such threat to keep the military industry in place.

  This continuous provocation forces the nations ‘under the mire’ to arm themselves as well to have the means for defense. This ever present tension between nations is what creates the belief that each nation should always be ready and prepared to go to war, when in fact wars only represent the interests of a few that benefit from it, since war is always implying death and destruction using the public’s opinion as manufactured consent to support it in the name of fighting against terrorism and national defense; other reasons include fighting certain nations that do not comply to the views of imperialist-powers and so represent  an obstacle to their own imperial position. However throughout history we’ve witnessed how wars are justified consent to commit crimes against humanity including the use of tax payer’s money to fund such destructive enterprises.

 For example, If the USA redirected their military budget to fund a Living Income Guaranteed,  those with common sense would not perceive it as a weakness, not intimidating and invading others  for the sole profit of few corporate elites, realizing that the nation is already having a weak economy due to most of the funds being directed for military purposes for the illegitimate benefit of a few, instead of strengthening the economy at home if such funds would support individual's financial security.

Q: I can see a point of fear wherein citizens might resist this point due to being seen as a militarily weak country vulnerable to being taken over, having resources taken or populations enslaved, much like the US and other countries have perpetrated in weaker countries in the form of such things as colonization in all its dimensions.

How can this fear be addressed?

Do you think that this is a real threat that could actually happen? If so, what do you suggest as a counter measure?

A: The fear of attack from outsiders is a propaganda-point in order to gain public support for wars that only have economic interests for few elites behind them. Instead of going to wars, the US and other power nations could focus on signing International treaties and create a sustainable global economy through implementing LIG in each nation, so that no wars are required to keep a non-sustainable economy at survival state. When the people of imperialist regimes grasp the real agenda behind the militarism and wars and do not participate in invasions and occupations, other countries no longer feel they have to protect themselves from the bullies/power nations of the world, the propensity for war will be significantly reduced.

For context:

Living Income Guaranteed - the Proposal: http://livingincomeguaranteed.wordpress.com/the-proposal/

Living Income Guaranteed YouTube Channel - watch the hangouts: https://www.youtube.com/user/BIGuaranteed?feature=watch 

Living Income Guaranteed Website: http://livingincome.me

06 December 2013

Day 253: Living Income Guaranteed and Means Testing

Q: What information will be gathered to determine whether a person can receive a Living Income Guaranteed?

A: This question pertains to another question, which is: who will receive a Living Income?

The purpose of LIG in its most basic form is to provide a Living Income to those individuals who are unemployed or retired. Similarly to how the system works in most countries today – if you are unemployed and want unemployment benefits you require to register yourself as unemployed. Therefore, those who are registered as unemployed will receive a LIG. Those who retire and wish ‘retirement benefits’ would also make it known that they are retiring – hence with LIG – those registered as retired will receive a Living Income.

If within a country it is seen that it is viable to extend LIG to a wider range of recipients, additional criteria can be specified, for instance: anyone who is a student, or even every child (where the funds would first be available to the parents and only at a certain age become available to the child) in order to replace child support grants. Within such a system, additional information will have to be available – and thus, a greater degree of information integration should be in place. In some countries information integration is already quite extensive and if the resources are available, it would be a viable option. Other countries will first require to grow their economy and information infrastructure in order to expand LIG to a wider range of recipients.

Another way of expanding LIG is to tailor the Living Income to individual needs. For instance, an unemployed person with a chronic medical condition that requires continuous treatment will have higher monthly expenses than a healthy unemployed person. Where possible, the Living Income received by those two individuals could be different in order to provide each one with a more equal living standard. Such individual tailoring will require even more information access as it requires a detailed overview of every person’s expenses. Whether such expansion of LIG takes place will depend on the will of the people: a more equitable distribution of LIG is possible, but it would require individuals to allow a greater degree of information transparency. In many countries the tax return system is already so detailed that such information sharing would not be seen as an issue. Of course – in order to not make LIG too expensive, it would again require a certain level of automatization and integration of information, interlinking the information that is available by various institutions through for instance an electronic identity card, a card with a chip that can be linked to bank accounts, etc. This would allow the LIG allocation system to run the relevant calculations and equations according to the information attached to each person’s ID. Instead of going through the tiring and costly process of completing forms, each one would for instance have an ID card reader at home, place the ID card into it and upload the information to the LIG allocation system. Again, where such technology is not yet being deployed, an online system that ties all the information of an individual together by ID number can be used.

One must remember that information sharing is generally resisted by individuals when it comes to income tax collection. The tendency exists to hide information in order to not be charged a higher tax rate. With LIG, we suggest no personal income tax be charged and information sharing would be done from the perspective of receiving benefits in the form of Living Income. As such, we don’t foresee great resistance towards this point. Also to remember that eligible citizens would have a RIGHT to a Living Income but not an obligation to claim this right. Hence, if a person declines the right to a Living Income, one would not share one’s information and this person will not be taken into account by the LIG allocation system.

Recipients of LIG are not required to show that they are actively looking for employment and there is no limit to the period of time that one is supported by LIG.

The question also involves a second question: How can it be verified that a person truly deserves a Living Income?

What would happen in a scenario where a person registers as unemployed in order to claim a Living Income when the person is in fact still employed and receiving an income at least double the Living Income? This pertains to information integrity and would be the responsibility of the institution that registers a person as unemployed. Measures can be taken to contact the previous employer in order to verify the person is indeed no longer employed and bank account transactions can be monitored. Another scenario is where a person is registered as unemployed and works ‘under the table’, where the combined income of LIG and the wage received enable a person to live a luxurious lifestyle. Such points will only effectively be eradicated once money is entirely digitized and no transactions can take place without there being a record of it in the system – which is a point that any country that implements LIG should work towards in order to minimize abuse of the system. One must remember however that employment in informal commerce is often motivated by the need to survive. With LIG, such motivations would fall away as one can live a dignified life through receiving a Living Income.

For more information on the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal - please read this Document and visit http://livingincome.me.