FOLLOWING last week’s discussion of the Enumivo project, this writer was able to conduct an online interview with the enumivo developer, to discuss and expand his ideas about the project. Here is the transcript of that interview (FM - Freethinking Me; ED - Enumivo Dev):
FM: Thanks for giving some of your time for this interview. I’m sure you’re pretty busy now that the project has picked up speed and yet you still have a million things to do.
ED: Well, this is how it is. I believe I have a worthwhile vision of how society, the world, ought to be, and I’m glad to share that with anyone willing to listen.
FM: Let’s start with Universal Basic Income. This is a pretty new concept and not everyone is familiar with it just yet. So, what is it and how does it work?
ED: Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the idea that everyone is entitled to receive a fixed and regular income. This is unconditional, meaning there are no prerequisites, other than being alive and human, for one to receive that income.
Some proponents of this idea come from the premise that as technology advances, especially in the field of robotics, automation will soon displace many people from their jobs and they would need a basic income to ensure their continued survival.
However, I have a deeper reason for advocating UBI. I strongly believe that all the material wealth in this planet ultimately comes from natural resources as raw materials. Just by being a citizen of this planet, everybody has a rightful claim and a fair share to its resources, just as we have the right to breathe air.
I believe that poverty is a huge injustice to society. Somewhere in the world, some obscenely rich guy is having a big problem choosing between buying a Bugatti or a Lamborghini while in another part of the world, someone is dying of dysentery because he had no choice but to drink dirty water. Fast food chains are throwing their excess inventory to the garbage bin while people elsewhere are dying of hunger.
If you think about it, the world has enough natural resources to sustain every single person living today. I read somewhere that a very rough and conservative estimate of the total value of the world’s resources comes up to around USD 500 Trillion. There are currently 7 billion people on earth. So if you divide that, each person has a rightful share of around USD 70,000. But some people live their entire lives without even seeing half of that amount.
No one should die of thirst or hunger. Like air, no one dies because they are not allowed to breathe. People should have a share of the earth's resources. It is a basic human right.
FM: That sounds like a utopian ideal. Will it ever work? How will it be implemented on a practical level?
ED: Well, yes at first it sounds very idealistic and we can immediately see many implementation problems. The early believers of UBI thought that it was government’s job to distribute the income. In fact, there are already some governments that have done small-scale testing of UBI like Finland and Alaska and they have shown quite promising results.
FM: Won’t receiving this income simply encourage people to be lazy because they are receiving regular dole-outs from the government?
ED: No, as I was saying, the initial findings from the experiments show that people do not stop working even if they receive UBI. I think this simply stems from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. When people have their physiological and security needs taken care of, they move on to fulfilling the next level (love and belongingness, esteem, self-actualization) which usually entails that they become productive and contributing members of society.
Now, the challenge is how to take this to a “universal” level which would mean for governments to take this to a national implementation, and later for different nations and governments to work with one another to take it to a truly worldwide implementation.
That is a huge challenge for any government especially since government officials change, and policies change, and there is always the threat of corruption or of cheating the system or of someone somewhere simply being uncooperative or not following the rules.
But then, we now have this wonderful invention called the blockchain, and it is the perfect vehicle for implementing UBI.
(To be continued...)
Disclosure: This writer was recently recruited to be part of the Enumivo Core Group as a volunteer. There are currently 9 core members working on different aspects of the project.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on March 02, 2018.
Latest issues of SunStar Davao also available on your mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Subscribe to our digital editions at epaper.sunstar.com.ph and get a free seven-day trial.