Mind Matters

Essay Intro is Live!

Hey everyone,

Just a quick drop-in: I’ve just published an introduction/overview of the much larger project I’m working on as part of the Write of Passage Fellowship.

It’s (tentatively) titled: What is the Point of Universal Basic Income?

You Can Read it Here

It’s a 2,000 word overview of what I’ll be working on: pragmatic utopian theorizing, policy frameworks to revive post-scarcity economics, and whether Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a good idea. But this is more about what lies beneath UBI, as I write in the intro:

“This is an essay about Universal Basic Income (UBI) in the same way that arguing with your spouse over leaving dishes in the sink is really about the dishes. Sure, the dishes matter. But there are deeper, subliminal forces at play. Those are what really matter.

UBI spearheads a resurging utopian energy to ground economic policy in radical, pragmatic visions of a better world. UBI matters, but coaxing that renascent energy into bloom really matters. The conviction behind this essay is not that we need a UBI. Rather, we need a fitting policy framework to guide utopian energy back into mainstream economic thought.”

So far, I envision the essay focusing on 3 points:

  1. A thorough examination of UBI. What are the main motivations? Main criticisms? How much would it really cost? What are the different ways we could pay for it? What are the best alternatives that accomplish similar ends via more prudent means?

  2. An exploration of Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman’s broad-spectrum progressive taxation as a policy framework to revitalize post-scarcity and utopian economic thinking for the 21st century.

  3. But there are many routes to post-scarcity. To create productive tension, we’ll contrast PSZ’s approach with Glen Weyl’s Radical Markets approach. Both strategies pursue the same goal: redesign the capital system to redistribute wealth, fund public goods, and establish social dividends. But where PSZ apply higher progressive taxes on capital to fund their objectives, Radical Markets proposes a new form of taxation: Henry George’s land value tax with a twist, which lowers taxes on capital while still funding their shared goals.

    The emergent question is this: are we suffering from too many markets, or too few? Is our 21st century utopia a vision of decommodification, or a proliferation of radically redesigned markets?

The point of publishing this short version is to receive feedback/guidance from others who really know what they’re talking about. If you have thoughts, please reach out! If you know someone working in a related field who might find this subject interesting, consider sharing this essay with them!

Here’s the link again: https://www.perell.com/fellowship-essays/universal-basic-income

A few echoes to carry with you:

“Daydreaming subverts the world.” (Raoul Vaneigem)

“Down with a world in which the guarantee that we will not die of starvation has been purchased with the guarantee that we will die of boredom.” (Raoul Vaneigem)

“Marx alone sought to combine the politics of revolt with the ‘poetry of the future’ and applied himself to demonstrate that socialism was more modern than capitalism and more productive. To recover that futurism and that excitement is surely the fundamental task of any left ‘discursive struggle’ today.” (Fredric Jameson)

Until next time,