We are pleased to invite you to participate in a workshop on Universal and Unconditional Basic Income (UUBI), which will be held at Parque de Estudio y Reflexión Toledo, Spain, on April, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th, 2017. Within this workshop, we would like as well to launch the European Network of Humanists for the UUBI.
Just in case that you have scarce or none information on this subject, we would like to share our conviction on the fact that it is a profoundly humanist tool, since it grants dignity to the human being by the mere fact of existing as such, without the need of being dignified by doing some kind of work, or rather by having a job.
The UUBI has been and is frequently mixed up – often intentionally – with minimum incomes and other conditioned subsidies granted by the state to the unemployed and/or people with very low income. This confusion originates not only from the neo-liberal right, but also from the traditional left, who sees the UUBI as the end of the class struggle, the working class and work as the central factor of fight and meaning of life.
The UUBI is an income paid by the State to each full member of the society, or resident, even if they do not wish to work in a remunerated job, regardless of any other source of income or whether they are rich or poor, and regardless of with whom they share their lives. The UUBI should be compatible and complementary, and not substitutional, with other universal and unconditional benefits, such as public health and education. That is to say, its implementation should not lead to any loss of public services or social rights (education, health, dependence situation, housing, etc.) which are fundamental to a Social State to be considered as such.
Today it is possible to guarantee an UUBI to the entire population, financing it in several ways: by way of an increase in taxation, which would make the richest 20% of the population pay for this allowance; or by taxing the shares in public offerings of stocks; or by an increase of indirect taxes to those who consume the most; or by taxing financial transactions (Tobin tax) and polluting emissions; or fighting against tax fraud and tax havens; or through a mixture of all or some of them.
On the other hand, the UUBI allows us to bring into question several beliefs deeply rooted in the system: the first one (which we have already mentioned) is that work (rather, employment) dignifies human beings; the second, coming from the Bible, condemns us to earn the bread with the sweat of our brow; the third, which states that the meaning of people’s lives is work; the fourth is the equalisation between employment and survival; and the fifth, that the current wealth belongs only to its “legal” owners, the large multinational companies and global financial lobbies.
Undoubtedly, the UUBI would favour the carrying out of vocational, voluntary and artistic work, would allow the professional training, the care of the children, the elderly and the disabled, and would give women victims of gender violence an economic independence which would allow them to move away from their aggressor. In addition, it would not discourage people from seeking a job, because the UUBI would not be lost in case of finding it, as it happens with conditioned subsidies, which are intended for unemployed people. In all the studies and experiments carried out (for example, in places as far apart as Canada or Namibia), the UUBI has significantly reduced the rates of mental illness and delinquency.
From another point of view, the UUBI could be considered as a dividend for the accumulated wealth produced by the work, development and progress of thousands of generations throughout history. This wealth should by own right be enjoyed by all Human beings, without exclusions. According to most studies, the increasing automation of work brought about by the development of technology will make redundant 50% of current jobs in 20 years’ time. Paradoxically, more and more wealth is created without human intervention and the costs of obtaining it are decreasing until approaching zero, thanks to this technology. And yet, if we continue to be guided by current social and economic schemes, this exponential growth in wealth will increasingly concentrate on fewer hands and will condemn vast human numbers to misery.
That is why it is so important today to build people´s awareness about the urgent need to implement an UUBI for all and everyone. It is not an illusion or an impossible dream; with the vast resources available at present, the worldwide UUBI is absolutely feasible. It is necessary for this alternative to be known with clarity by more and more people, for them to put pressure on their governments in a non-violent way towards its implementation. The UUBI will finally by all means be implemented, because it´s being increasingly discussed in many different scales, since it is perceived as the only plausible alternative for the coming future. In addition, it gives us, humanists, an excellent opportunity to present our principles and points of view.
Finally, we want everybody to realise that a future without work, which will be carried out for the most part by the machines, will not be a tragedy for human beings. As long as we all receive a UUBI, this fact will leave us free energy to consider in what conditions we want to live, what we really want to do and which is the meaning of our life.
We ask those who are willing to participate in this workshop, to confirm their attendance by Friday the 7th of April 2017, so that we can arrange their meals and accommodation. To find the Park of Study and Reflection Toledo, please follow these indications: https://goo.gl/maps/pcuMHwzERfF2
A very big hug