View on Basic Income

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By Iwanjka Geerdink

Note: The word ‘money’ is used in this article for those currencies which provide for debt, inflation, speculation and possession focus.

During 2009 / 2010 I acted as campaign leader for a new national political party ‘Nieuw Nederland’. I met Jan Frank Koers during that period, he had just written a book under the same name. In that book I read about the concept ‘basic income’, I hadn’t heard of it before.

In the previous year I had put my vision on paper regarding a concept named ‘flowconomy’. In that economic sphere people and things are serviced to be maximally fluid (instead of ‘blocking’ fluidity which seems more and more to happen in a ‘iconomic’ sphere). A reason for designing this word was the analysis phase during writing a book named ‘Diagnose Levensklem’, on my own experiences in life, and analysis on society: Why is it that for example 10% of Dutch population takes anti depressants? It is not abut ‘some individuals’ getting ‘jammed’, it is about a whole society getting ‘jammed’. And things like ‘debt’, ‘expensive housing’ (rent), ‘mortgage’ and ‘sickness based social security’ are part of these jams, often: I met quite some people who seemed to solicited for mental sickness diagnosis by their doctors, in such they did not have to ‘suffer’ back in jobs and situations they could not bear anymore. And I met a lot of people who where ‘locked’ into their jobs, did not dare to switch because than you do not get a ‘permanent’ contract, you never know if you can pay your mortgage, etc.

So… many people trapped.

That was one of the reasons to create the word ‘flowconomy’. In such a sphere there might be no more a distinction between ‘being employed’ or ‘self employed’ or ‘having a social security, and not able to work’. On the latter aspect, ‘not able to work’: Our economy feels to become more and more ‘crazy’ (pressure, competition, demanding and… not fulfilling). One of the reasons for this seems to be that their feels not to be a real sense in much work we do. We work to pay rent. Or the rent on a mortgage. Here we come on the connection with the ‘interest-parasite’: more and more of our effort / labour is ‘consumed’ by the collective interest paying. I once read about villages in America where the citizen hall could not pay their policy and fire-arms department anymore, because all the collected village-tax was needed to pay for the rent on loans. That makes clear what is happening on all levels in society.

So… a lot of work is actually ‘stupid’ work, sort of created by ourselves to just make an income to pay rent.

And… what is ‘work’? In this article ‘work’ is defined as doing something for your fellow citizen, or better ‘community’.

A way out of the above described ‘trap’ seems to be, to go back to the base of economy: Land. And make this our birth right again. Land which is free of paying rent. And step by step we can rebuild the economic layers on it again. This will take time. And that is not a problem, it took 2000 years or so to create our nowadays economy, so if we can reform it in 100 years, we do a good job. Yes, hopefully in between climate change and pollution did not kill mankind, we cannot afford to sit and stare…;-)

OK., back to basic income. In 2009 I made the connection between basic income and the flowconomy idea, and saw that the basic income idea could fulfill parts of the flowconomy concept. So I decided to share the basic income idea as well, and I did a lot of campaigning on it…

To be clear: I am a promotor of the basic income ‘spirit’: I did about a half year semi-full time campaigning for it in 2010, and spent more than 15.000 euro’s in the political campaign. This campaign resulted also in having many conversations with people and more in-depth investigations, and this also gave new insights and considerations. These considerations I want to share here with you.

Considerations on the basic income concept:
1. About UNCONDITIONAL basic income: The reciprocity value gives as implication that if one wants to receive unconditionally, one should be wanting to give (or serve) unconditionally as well. When I ask people it they want this in return of an unconditional basic income they generally say ‘no’. So, for me the aspect ‘unconditional’ does simply not ‘work’. In that sense ‘conditonal basic income’ remains as a concept.

2. About using money in the concept: From long-term transition concept it is felt that we should rely on concepts which are part of that long-term migration vision. Using ‘iconomic money’ (debt & inflation based) we put our selves again in the ‘dead lock’. So from this perspective it seems more logical to talk about ‘Basic income facilities’ (and bypassing the money instrument). The ‘basic facility economy’ layer actually has been inspired on the Basic Income vision (see this economic vision paper, which describes a two layer economy): A. The basic economy layer providing for the basic living needs, B. An economic layer which ads joy, expression and fulfillment.

3. About basic income experiments: The experiments which have been examined all missed a crucial element for being a scientific model: These were not a closed box experiments: New money was added from outside the experimental scope. To proof that the ‘whole concept works’, the money system inside the box should be a ‘closed model’: The money is generated and/or roulated inside the box.

4. A-tunement to common needs: Basic income like provisions did not result in people starting to provide basic services to the community, as far I have seen: Did somebody start to harvest grain and bake a bread for example. A crucial, but for 99,9% of the people hidden factor of money is the ‘coordination and a-tunement function towards servicing common needs’: It is felt that as long as this function has not been replaced, that (unconditional) basic income experiments will fail.

5. Basic income ‘parasites’: In The Netherlands there should be a basic security (done via a monthly donation system). I myself experienced a situation where this ‘fail over’ did not work anymore: I had taken a mortgage, and the price of the house was dropping and could easily drop below the level of our loan (and thus leaving us with a potential debt). And in addition rent compensation depended on a income: so if there would be no income (which could happen easily due to the financial crisis in 2007/2008) the monthly costs of living could rise with 40%, and than the basic social security would be not enough to pay for te mortgage. This is a scenario which easily could happen to hundreds of thousands house holds in the Netherlands. What happened? Banks was allowed to provide for loans which sabotaged te social security system: (say loans for which the interest and repayment would be higher than half the basic security level, without having a job). It is forecasted that as soon as the state provides a basic income of say 1000 euro’s to each inhabitants, banks higher their loan levels consequently (the state provided an additional security or ‘collateral’, and bank mechanics than automatically lead to higher loan levels). Higher loan levels lead automatically to higher house prices (also rent levels will rise). These higher costs will nearly ‘eat’ all the new (basic) income, and within some years we end up in the same situation that people again get jammed and locked into their mort-gages and houses. Unable to change again, locked in jobs, relations and debt recovery paths (which can take many years). As a consequence: As long as that there are not taken proper measures which avoid this ‘basic income parasiting’, basic income experiments likely will fail. To pose it a bit more explicit: It is felt that first the mort-gage concept needs to be phased out as a prerequisite before new basic income experiments make sense to start on a large and sustainable scale.

Some concluding remarks: On the ‘not depending on the (iconomy) money system aspect’. I like the credo ‘be the change you want to see’. I tried to figure out how to live with the need of money. And I say other people struggling with this. After some years of ‘migrating’ towards this sphere (and also refusing to ask money for my services), I decided that this direction would not help ‘the cause’ (of transition): Even if I could do it, I would not help to create a path that many people could follow. As a transition/ migration step I decided to:
1. Adjust myself to basic income / facility level myself (and avoid needing more than that, thus not taking loans and mortgages again).
2. ‘Stay’ in the money-economy, but not more than needed. For now in the Netherlands that translates to focus on earning and expending not more than 1000 euros a month. In such I would not ‘feed’ the money system by being a ‘customer’ for it. That is one of the reasons of supporting Ziny like currencies, and starting to offer my services in it (people can pay with Ziny’s).

This feels for me a migration model for the coming say 15 years.

And in parallel I start to join money-less systems and help to provide for basic economy / needs for all how want to join -and contribute- in this sphere.

And via this path I feel a transition key has been formed that many, or maybe even ‘all’ -within time- can follow. If they want.

“There are two ways you can go by…” ~Stairway to heaven song.

What a bout a ‘basic income policy’?
I support in general ideas to make social security more simple. And people can work say 20 hours a week without loosing their social security, and earning and keep the money earned. And evaluate one’s situation yearly. And for 10 hours a week people are required to ‘pick’ work -which citizen-councils define-, if they want to retain their social security income. Off course only if they are mentally and physically fit for the activities.

And stop arguments that this might compete with ‘free market’ companies. Everybody has to choice to start working form the workflow queue (which focuses on providing for a basic services provision). It is predicted that by working via a society workqueue model -which focuses on a cooperative and safe labour sphere- that only in the Netherlands alone hundred of thousands of people start to work again. In essence people want to work and contribute to society. As long as the work feels sense full… and safe. And in such, the circle feels ’round’, for me at least.