Vail Daily letter: Universal basic income and the Industrial Evolution |

Vail Daily letter: Universal basic income and the Industrial Evolution

Intrigued as I am by the financial direction of our country, I’ve recently studied articles about the effects of Silicon Valley upon us all. The interface of technical advancement today is closely parallel to the U.S. and British “revolutions” from 1766 to 1870. Layoffs were then a cultural reality and families displaced.

In England, criminal offenders were offered a choice: Suffer in an overcrowded jail cell, or travel to Australia and work off your sentence building roads and bridges in “paradise.”

Today in Finland, initial trial plans are afoot for a 2,000-person test of the “IT displaced” to be paid a universal basic income that vacillates around $587 per month and is designed to cover the basics of life until reemployment. Participants are able to pursue private enterprise dreams, earning other money on the side, untethered by the restraint of basic support costs.

The program was enacted with close voting margins, the opposition claiming it to be another entitlement plan. The Swiss, faced with the option of a similar plan, said no.

Early intentions are minimal. Recipients will retain benefits but are urged to find part-time work as a supplement to this non-taxable stipend. The current welfare states in most countries are bureaucracy-bloated and expensive, and Tesla founder Elon Musk supports this plan, along with ex-Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

Voter resentment, however, continued for the nay folk, contributing to measurable social unrest among those unaffected by the “transition” for employees in manufacturing, labor and the mundane to the cloud.

In Japan, they have created a very responsive real-time cyber robot acting as a policeman, able to give directions and answer tough questions at the push of a button on it’s chest — in force (no pun) by 2030.

So, we have the displaced envisioned, as follows, worldwide: Drivers, assembly-line workers, office support folk and customer service people replaced by avatars.

Already, the homeless gather in creeks in Silicon Valley, on the freeways, hidden. Ex-silicon chipmakers are now repairing bikes and cleaning houses. Are we creating two Americas?

Pat Mitchell


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