The right to work

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20 May 2023

I've been a friend of Universal Basic Income for thirty years, but in the last twenty years, I have growing reservations about it, and many questions. This article about an experiment with a right to work was the first text in a while I read on it that substantially impacted my thinking on this (text is in German). I recommend reading it.

Work is not just a source of money, but for many also a source of meaning, pride, structure, motivation, social connections. Having voluntary access to work seems to be one major component that is necessary on a societal level, in addition to a universal basic income that allows that everyone can live in dignity. Note: I think work should be widely construed. If someone has something that fills that need, that's work. Raising children, taking care of a garden, writing a book, refining piano skills, creating art, taking care of others, taking care of yourself, all these easily count as work in my book.

I wish we were willing and able to experiment with different ways of structuring society as we are willing and able to experiment with technology. We deployed the Internet to the world without worrying about the long term consequences, but we're cautious about giving everyone enough money to not be hungry. That's just broken. I was always disappointed about the fact that sociology and politics as studied and taught by academia were mostly descriptive and not constructive endeavors.


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