The Politics of Implementing a UBI
Shelly Fagan
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There would be a job available for everyone who wants it if the public understood what it means to live in a consumer based economy. That job is “consumer”, and it is the most important job in the economy.

Capitalism runs on sales, and sales depend upon consumers who depend upon their incomes, so capitalism is cutting its own throat when it knee jerks to old assumptions about “earning” a living in dealing with both employees and customers. We are currently experiencing a shift in the long standing tug of war between workers and employers that will change the rules of the game, finally. The important part, the pay, is now being rapidly disassociated from the work, but the falsehood that we live in a meritocracy where anyone can succeed and set their own pay with effort is deeply rooted in our national psyche to the extent that fully a third of citizens that are eligible for safety net benefits do not apply for them. We can try to position this as a war on workers being waged by employers, but that falls apart when we examine the voting patterns of the workers.

This is why I don’t believe we will get to the goal of UBI directly. The best path to UBI is a universal job guarantee that is funded by the federal government but managed by states and local leadership. It preserves the important dynamic between self worth and contribution to society that has been in play for thousands of years while still serving as a vehicle for moving currency into the economy. After many decades of ignoring any task needing done that didn’t directly contribute to a corporate profit there is no shortage of jobs that could be assigned to workers who could feel productive by their accomplishment. One only has to take a short walk in any city in the nation to verify this. These are also things needed to enable us to advance as a society, so it won’t be make work projects only intended to provide an excuse to pay participants. Talents and training could be fully employed for decades without running out of useful projects that make our economy stronger.

The one thing that will hold back either UBI or a job guarantee is the general misconception of how our economy is funded. As long as we give validity to the “how will you pay for it?” question that immediately arises in any discussion of either we will encounter opposition from the most politically formidable force possible, the wealthy. That is because they understand that we are coming for their wealth as soon as we do the math. At the first detectable glance toward their wealth as a funding source they will buy another Congresscritter or two and that will be the end of the effort. This enticement of their opposition is not necessary, and they fully understand that but it has been in their favor that we don’t, until now.

If you are an advocate for either UBI or a federal job guarantee and think you are going to fund either with taxes you should save your energy for yoga, drum circles, or something else productive. The concept that taxes fund government is the lie that has held back progressives and workers for a half century, so it isn’t going to be the path forward to something as fundamentally earth changing as UBI. Taxes have never been a revenue source for funding our government, but they became even more irrelevant when we left the gold standard and adopted a sovereign fiat currency. Taxes now only serve to extract (cancel) currency from the economy as a protection against inflation. Currency is created to fund all spending by the federal government and that creation is not revenue constrained. The issuer of the currency doesn’t need, or use, our currency to spend.

If you don’t have a firm grasp of macroeconomics and how it relates to a sovereign currency then please step back from any advocacy of UBI, as you’ll only contribute to the opposition. You’ll end up losing precious sleep as you compute the gyrations of mathematics to find funding for your plan, and none of them will work or stand a snowball’s chance in Hades of being implemented. The simple answer to “How will you pay for it?” is “Just pay for it”. Once that light clicks on in your understanding of economics you’ll see how important it is, and you’ll be able to offer a workable answer to the question that shuts down opposition. I would strongly suggest that you begin with watching this video that explains the dynamics of how a modern economy works. It is not a theory or movement, but just a description of how it already is presented by a very well credentialed macro economist and it is empowering, but you’ll have to forget a lot of what you think you know.

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