Scott Santens Profile picture
May 1, 2018 16 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Today is #MayDay and #InternationalWorkersDay and #LabourDay and beyond recognizing the past victories of the labor movement in achieving milestones like the 8-hour day, we really need to talk about the future of the labor movement in a world increasingly automated by machines...
As automation continues, potentially eliminating 1/2 of all existing jobs by 2030, eroding security & buying power through the growth of part-time jobs, low-paid work, temp labor, gig labor and freelancing, unconditional basic income represents the ability to empower ALL workers.
The ability for everyone to say NO to any & all employers would have an undeniable effect on bargaining power. It'd mean greater profit sharing, higher wages, shorter days/weeks, improved working conditions, more flexibility, etc. UBI can even function as a universal strike fund.
Achieving UBI would be achieving new voluntary contracts on more equal footing between employer and employee, including the empowerment of the employee to become their own employer through UBI's functioning as venture capital for entrepreneurs, and effective demand for customers.
UBI would mean a solid floor to stand on instead of a net full of holes to fall through or be trapped in. It'd mean a new age of greater equality, productivity, and innovation, where all are finally free to pursue the goals they wish to pursue, and ALL work would be recognized.
As it stands now, only paid work is recognized as having value. Why? Shouldn't the labor movement also care about reproductive work, care work, volunteer work, and civic activism? Isn't it time we started recognizing all the important labor going unpaid of which there is so much?
SEIU's former president believes UBI is the future of the labor movement & the policy we must all together now strive for in the 21st century. He's also not alone. Unite the Union, UNISON, GMB, TUC, and more, these are unions with millions of members who are now fighting for UBI.
This century, the labor movement will require winning #BasicIncome as a new key victory, so as to not only win the gains of technology away from only continuing to fall into the hands of owners of capital, but to actually return to achieving a previous goal - more leisure time.
The labor movement was never about more work. It was about MAKING WORK WORK FOR WORKERS. That goal has been lost. What happened to the 3-day week or the 4-hour day? Why are we talking about creating more jobs for people instead of more work for robots?…
Why is it that more than a century after achieving the 8-hour day, we're now back to working around 50 hours on average in a country that is around 3x more productive as it was in 1950? Everyone should be working LESS NOT MORE when we can do more with less. So what's going on?
What's going on is that we're all being robbed. We're being robbed of our share of the growing economic pie. We're being robbed of our time. We are sitting and watching as more and more of the productivity growth goes to the top, forcing everyone to work more to not fall behind.
Does it make sense that as tech improves, humanity should be forced to work harder? Of course it doesn't.

Does it make sense that as work is automated, organized labor should fight for jobs? Of course it doesn't.

What makes sense is a fight for income.…
What makes sense is a fight for a redistribution of power. EVERYONE should have the power to refuse to work for another as a condition for their existence. The right to exist is unconditional, and so no one has the right to command your wage labor with the threat of destitution.
What unconditional basic income achieves is nothing less than profoundly historic. UBI is the declaration that all wage labor should be fully voluntary, all work, both paid and unpaid should be recognized, and that the goal of technology is to increase our control over our time.
As we celebrate Labour Day we should thus also be looking years down the road at what kind of new day we could celebrate decades from now? Perhaps someday, once we have freed ourselves of the fear of unemployment, every May 2 at midnight, we could celebrate the End of Labour Day.

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More from @scottsantens

Sep 26, 2018
I just walked into a store, picked up something to eat, walked out, and automatically paid for it. No lines. No cashiers. No human interaction whatsoever. Relatively cheap prices. And in my 9 mins of shopping I created valuable data based on what I looked at. This is the future.
Something I want to stress here too is that I created data even by NOT buying things. What did I do? What did I look at? What did I almost buy? What did I pick up and put back? I could have bought nothing and still enriched @amazon with my ambient data.…
I included the above link for a reason, because I recommend reading it. The point here is that with pretty much everything you do, you're creating data and metadata. This data feeds and trains AI. AI starts doing your job. You just trained your own replacement. UBI is your right.
Read 9 tweets
Sep 7, 2018
You know how those who don't know any better can hug something to death? That's what those who love capitalism but hate #BasicIncome remind me of. Automation is here. We must now decouple income from work. Not implementing UBI means capitalism eats itself. Capitalism *needs* UBI.
Meanwhile, those who hate capitalism and want it to die, and who subsequently don't like UBI because it will save capitalism, are like butterfly lovers who hate caterpillars who believe caterpillars should die. Yes UBI will save capitalism, but from UBI postcapitalism can emerge.
So again, #BasicIncome is not left or right, it's forward. If the right prevents UBI, the economy will become starved of currency for market exchanges. If the left prevents UBI, they may get revolution, but mass suffering will occur, and fascism may result instead of socialism.
Read 13 tweets
May 10, 2018
"It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages."

Money is meant to circulate through economies. Customers buy stuff. That money becomes wages. Those wages buy stuff, etc.

Here's a diagram of how this works.
As factors of production become machines, factor incomes are reduced, which in turn reduces personal consumption, which in turn further reduces factor incomes.

Automation breaks this system without the provision of income external to the loop, aka unconditional basic income.
If you love the idea of decentralized market economies and hate the idea of unconditional basic income, you've got a real problem on your hands because the former requires the latter. Markets require customers who require money. As money goes to fewer hands, markets break down.
Read 9 tweets
Apr 27, 2018
Yes, an unconditional basic income sufficient to start everyone each month above the poverty line will most likely require more taxes in some form, BUT the amount YOUR taxes will increase is unlikely to be larger than the amount you receive in UBI, unless you're in the top 20%.
And that's exactly what makes the most sense because it's only the top 20% that have been gaining a larger and larger share of the US economy as a result of the technological advancements that have been transforming our economy for decades. UBI should reduce 80% of tax burdens.
One of the most important things to understand about the US economy is that it pretty much stopped working for you back in ~1973, no matter how hard you may have never stopped working for it. Where is your share of our ever-rising productivity? It certainly isn't in your wages…
Read 5 tweets
Apr 24, 2018
"Why should the rich who don't need it get Unconditional #BasicIncome (UBI) too?" asks the person who would never think of suggesting that public K-12 schooling and access to police & fire protection only be made available to those households earning less than $100,000 per year.
Don't worry about the rich when it comes to UBI. They will all be net payers, paying more in than they get out, just as they already do with schooling where they pay for public school but instead opt to pay even more for private school. The universality of UBI is its strength.
It is not wasteful to provide UBI to those who don't need it. First of all, who are you to say who needs it and who doesn't? Secondly, trying to save money by doing so creates stigma and divides the population, weakening the program. Programs for the poor are poor programs.
Read 6 tweets
Apr 16, 2018
If we put jobs underneath a microscope, we see they're comprised to varying degrees of income, work, purpose, and security.

Once we realize this, it's that much easier to understand that what we need isn't jobs themselves, but what they're supposed to provide us.

An unconditional basic income not only provides the income component of jobs directly, but it also better enables the earning of additional income, especially compared to welfare programs that punish the earning of additional income through withdrawal of conditional benefits.
Unconditional basic income better enables all forms of work by recognizing and making possible unpaid work as an option currently reserved only for those who can afford the option. UBI creates more work choices, and allows people to choose the work that's the best fit for them.
Read 5 tweets

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