Introducing the Universal Abundance Income
How we transcended fiat-based capitalism and incentivised right behaviour in 2035
A postcard from Gracey about money July 27, 2035
As technological progress, automation and artificial intelligence started affecting the number of people employed around the world, many countries considered a Universal Basic Income, or a Basic Income Guarantee. UBI is a periodic payment delivered unconditionally to all citizens on an individual basis, without the need to pass any kind of test or be employed in any capacity. Between 2015 and 2025 a number of governments experimented with various forms of UBI. In most cases UBI programs were introduced to address extreme poverty and the escalating unemployment problem. However, in some cases UBI was a very necessary and urgent action required to restart failing economies.
Over time, we phased out what you know as money, including all forms of UBI, and instead implemented unlimited income for everyone — we call it Universal Abundance Income, or UAI. Before I explain how UAI works, it’s important that I tell you what we discovered about money. These discoveries came about because we developed our right-brain thinking skills — which helped us to understand complex systems better — and because our education systems became less prescriptive, which allowed us to learn about topics outside of what we were previously permitted to learn about.
In your world, very few people know and can explain simply how the economic machine works. Even fewer people know and can explain how money works. Unfortunately, understanding money is not nearly as straightforward and as easy as it might sound. That’s because the entire system does not make logical sense. There are a few — seldom discussed — core truths about the monetary system in your world, which I’ve summarised below. I don’t expect you to easily agree with this summary, because the beliefs that everyone has about money are essential to keep the system operating effectively. You will see why I say this after reading the summary.
Five Core Truths About Money Between 1971 and 2021
- Money has no extrinsic value. It is not backed by deposits, gold or any other form of value outside of the system. Every dollar in existence is just bank debt or government debt wearing a label saying “money.” Money is a cultural creation based entirely on trust. Financial crises are not caused by a lack of liquidity but rather by a lack of trust. In your world trust is increasingly being eroded. Few people trust big corporations and even fewer trust their elected leaders and their government. Very soon, economic realities will cause the majority of people in your society to mistrust money itself. At that point you will need a system to replace money. That’s why we designed the UAI.
- Money is abundant. There is no limit to the amount of money — more can easily be created. However, the ability to do so is limited to a handful of people at central banks around the world, and more specifically, the Bank for International Settlements. It is a highly elastic system with no disciplinary anchor, other than the judgment of a handful of men. The average user of money has been led to believe that money is scarce, through a complex set of institutional, inter-linking systems that include registration, business and taxation. That illusion is carefully maintained with often repeated stories and images of poverty, both in the media and in real life. Poverty is a highly effective cultural meme, which will intentionally never be solved until money is replaced. Fear of poverty causes parents to continue putting their children through an outdated education system. Fear of poverty keeps salaried workers in a job they despise. Fear of poverty drives entrepreneurs to build businesses and keep them growing. These businesses keep tax revenue flowing to the government, so that they can continue to fund the illusion. Without the threat of poverty, the entire monetary system collapses. That is why “ending poverty” cannot happen unless you first “end money” — at least the money as you currently know it.
- Money comes from and exists only in computers. Money does not require a deposit of any kind to function. The question “where does money come from?” is not a valid question, because the question implies that money has real, tangible, intrinsic value. Instead, money exists as bits and bytes in computer systems. It is created by privately owned banks every time they make a loan, by simply entering the value of the loan into a computer. Decisions about what gets funded, and where society makes investments are made by a handful of individuals who have access to these computer systems. If you look objectively at your society, you will see that their decisions do not favour the public good. Investment and loan decisions are made to benefit a handful of largely unknown but wealthy individuals.
- There are no rules governing the creation of money. The illusion of scarcity is maintained by a system in which money is doled out in the form of salaries, investment returns, profit, dividends, pensions and other arbitrary forms of “income.” This complex system cleverly creates the perception that there are rules which govern the creation of money. However, at central bank level in your world, money is increasingly created at whim. The individuals who create money do not abide to a set of rules. They experiment at the expense of the public, and their strong preference is to approve loans for activities that promote private profit, rather than public good.
- Decisions about money supply are made by private corporations. As you’re reading this, an increasingly large number of people in your world are starting to understand that monetary policy is managed by privately-owned central banks. More and more people are recognising that money is a public utility and that its creation and allocation should be under public, not private, control. That’s why we eliminated the middlemen in our world and created our system of UAI.
It might be difficult for you to accept these core truths about money. Money is as fundamental to civilisation as air is to life. That’s because money is what mediates almost all forms of social interaction. Money, in essence, incentivises right behaviour. There is always a great deal of denial built into an honest discussion of money, because nobody has any interest in seeing the global monetary system abruptly upended. It is relatively easy to abandon a stock market and very easy to abandon a failing bank, but it is intellectually very difficult to abandon an entire system.
Giving up on the idea of money is just as difficult as giving up a religion you might have followed for your entire life. Business schools and universities have been teaching financial and economic dogma just the same as religions do. Both in religion and in economics we’re taught to just accept things the way they are: we must have faith or face totally made-up consequences. But if you want to successfully transition to our world, you will have to give up on the idea of money. Fortunately it’s not as difficult as it might appear, and we have done so successfully. Before I tell you how, let me tell you about what we learned from your experiment with money.
Lessons Learned from the 50-Year Fiat Money Experiment
The 50-year period from 1971 to 2021 turned out to be an unprecedented global monetary experiment, which involved radically expanding the monetary base as a solution to a problem of too much debt. The debt was caused by uncontrolled growth — or as one economist called it in 1996, “irrational exuberance.” This paradoxical idea (creating money with no extrinsic value to repay debt) started reaching its limits in 2017 and the results of the enormous monetary experiment started rolling in from 2019. These results were the predictable outcomes of a structurally unsound, single reserve currency, fiat international monetary system. These are the lessons we learned from the experiment.
- Money does not necessarily have to be backed by anything tangible, including gold. All that’s required are tokens which can be used in exchange for real goods and services. The tokens need to hold their value reasonably well, which makes people willing to keep, store and use them. The tokens can take many forms including coins, notes, seashells, small pebbles or feathers. They can also be non-physical tokens which exist entirely on decentralised computer systems, which are not owned and controlled by middlemen.
- Money must have “scarcity” value. No individual or group of individuals should be able to conjure up money from nothing. Programmatic, democratically decided rules should dictate the creation of money. Gold historically addressed the store of value problem, but decentralised technological developments now enable maintaining a fair and just scarcity value, without the requirement of being backed by a scarce commodity.
- Abundance is a birthright. Every person born onto this planet has the right to lead a life where their every need is abundantly provided for. This birthright is part of the genetic code of the universe. Designers of systems which do not support this birthright have committed a crime against humanity. Just as the Nuremberg trials were conducted after World War 2, surviving supporters of fiat-backed capitalism were tried for crimes against humanity between 2025 and 2030.
How the Universal Abundance Income Works
The valuable lessons we learned from your monetary experiment allowed us to design a new economic system with five basic principles:
- The system must incentivise regeneration. In your world, progress is defined by increased productivity. Productivity is calculated by dividing average output per period by the total costs incurred or resources (capital, energy, material, personnel) consumed in that period. In our world, progress is defined by increased regeneration. What this means is that the system must be sustainable and contribute to the renewal, regrowth, or restoration of the earth or the community over long periods of time.
- The system must be trustless. In your world, your monetary system only functions as long as everyone trusts the central authority who issued and manages the creation of money. We use the word “trustless” in our system to indicate that there is no central authority. The public ledger constantly validates each part of the ecosystem and the validity of every transaction, without the need to trust any central authority.
- The system must be a global public utility, owned by no-one. The history of money is a series of crises and failures. In short, the issuer — the central authority — whether a kingdom or democracy, almost always reaches a point where they over-spend. All too often a war is involved, and the cost of the war invariably leads to some form of monetary manipulation and eventual collapse or restructuring. We solved this challenge in our world by removing the requirement for a central authority and turning our economic system into a public utility where everyone everywhere on the planet has equal access to funds. We made our system global because the human economy matters in relation to the biosphere in which it is embedded. What is more, we are all connected to one another and to all locales of our global civilisation. We recognised that damage to any part of that web ripples back to harm every other part too.
- The system must be holistic. In your world, wealth is measured purely by what is accumulated: assets, property, money. In our world, we measure wealth in terms of the well-being of the whole. We have eight ways to measure wealth: living, cultural, experiential, intellectual, spiritual, social, material and financial. Our wealth is only as good as the weakest link in any of the eight areas.
- The system must be a self-organizing complex adaptive system. In our world, there is no hierarchy of command and control in our economy. There is no planning or managing, but constant feedback from analysis of big data permits a constant flow and fluctuation of the money supply to best serve society and the environment. Being in balance is essential to systemic health, and the economic system must maintain this balance.
With these principles in place, we were able to design an entirely new monetary system. The big difference between your system and ours is that in your system you are required to work for an income; in our system, everyone is rewarded by how well they live their life, as indicated by their Abundance Score. At the end of every month, every person on the planet receives the equivalent of $2,000. This amount works similar to UBI in that no job and no special conditions are required — everyone who has applied receives the basic amount. In addition, each person who feels they require an additional amount — either as a once-off or on an on-going basis — can request any additional amount they would like. The process works similar to the way you request a loan in your world: your Credit Score is first assessed to see whether you are eligible for a loan. In our world, your Abundance Score is checked to see whether you are eligible for the additional amount.
Four Examples of Universal Abundance Income
- A wealthy person (according to your standards) requests an additional $100,000 to purchase a new car. The request is denied because a) they consume more than they produce and b) they horde more than they gift.
- An average person (according to your standards) requests an additional $10,000 to repair a neighbour’s roof. The request is approved because a) their consumption is generally in line with what they produce and b) they have a track record of gifting more than what they use for their own purposes.
- An unemployed person (according to your standards) requests an additional $2,000 to celebrate their daughter’s 18th birthday. The request is approved because a) they spend two hours a day simply playing music in the local park for the enjoyment of everyone there and b) feedback from their peers is consistently positive because of their willingness to help with small tasks that require no specific skills.
- A poor, unemployed person (according to your standards) living in a remote area with little infrastructure requests an additional $5,000 to build an extension to their humble home. The request is approved because a) they spend five hours a day regenerating their community by maintaining a communal vegetable garden and b) their use of fossil fuels is non-existent.
For more on how the Abundance Score is calculated, see here.
Money incentivises inequality in a profit-driven society. Universal Abundance Income incentivises holistic living in a transcendent society.
Big Questions to Explore
- What is the difference between fiat money and commodity money? Ask Google
- What is monetary madness? Ask Google
- How much money is there in the world? Ask Google (but bear in mind that the answers concern credit, not money).
- Where does money come from? Ask Google
- What are the rules governing the creation of money and who maintains the rules? Ask Google
- What is coin clipping? Ask Google
- What is seigniorage income? Ask Google
- What was introduced at the Genoa International Monetary Conference of 1922? Ask Google
- What was agreed at Bretton Woods in 1944? Ask Google
- What was the Nixon shock and how has it influenced world economies today? Ask Google
- What are Special Drawing Rights? Ask Google
- Why do Arab oil-producing nations price oil in dollars instead of in their own currency? Ask Google
- How has the US dollar managed to continue its role as the world’s reserve currency? Ask Google
- How does securitisation work in relation to mortgages? Ask Google
- What effect did Special Investment Vehicles have on the credit crunch? Ask Google
- What role did shadow banking play in the financial crisis of 2008? Ask Google
- What is the difference between a fiat monetary system and a commodity based monetary system? Ask Google
- How does the Bank of England describe money in the modern economy? Ask Google
- What is a chartalist monetary system? Ask Google
- What is helicopter money? Ask Google
- How many Ponzi schemes have existed throughout history? Ask Google
- Who coined the phrase “irrational exuberance” and what did it refer to? Ask Google
- What are the principles of capitalism? Ask Google
- What is a regenerative economy? Ask Google
- What is a post-scarcity economy? Ask Google
- What does trustless consensus mean? Ask Google
- What is biomimicry finance? Ask Google
- How do the four laws of Marxism explain the failure of capitalism? Ask Google
- Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller
- Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller
- Irrational Exuberance by Robert J. Shiller
- Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler
- Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler
- The Winner’s Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life by Richard H. Thaler
- Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason
- The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return by Mihir Desai
- After Capitalism by David Schweickart
Postcards from 2035 is a series of profoundly simple interlinking ideas describing life in a highly desirable society, where everything and everyone is advanced, happy, intelligent and problem-free. It’s a blueprint of the world we need to create. The best thing you can do to help us get there is to share with your friends and get the conversation started with the questions this postcard has raised.