January 30, 2015

GAI - The End Of Involuntary Work

The involuntary work system is just as damaging to our freedom as if we were behind bars.

Everyone knows that in life you have to work. But you shouldn't be forced to work for a bunch of parasites while being under-paid, under-appreciated and over-exploited at every turn.

The ultimate answer to ending the forced labour system is providing every global citizen with a Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI). With a basic living income everyone would be able to meet their needs. People would be less susceptible to exploitation and forced labour just to survive.

Such a bold move would improve life for the vast majority of humans. Freed from mind-numbing jobs simply to survive, people would be able to follow their passions.

Some worry about what would happen if people "didn't have to work". Would we know what to do? Of course we would. How about: raise children, grow food, volunteer in the community, make music, build things, teach, learn, read, and take naps for starters?

Some people would choose to continue to work. They would get the GAI in addition to being paid for the work they choose to do. Those that take this option might like to start cooperative businesses where they have a say in decision making, and a share of the profits.

For example, Mondragon, Spain has a 50 year old network of cooperative businesses with 84,000 employees and 25 billion dollars in annual revenues. This region has the lowest unemployment in the country.

With a GAI, some people might choose to shift from full time to part time work, and others may leave paid work altogether in favour of spending their time honouring different priorities.

Imagine the innate creative impulse that we all possess unleashed in such a supportive environment. It would mark a major shift in human development and progress as we made the time to improve ourselves, and the world.

There is more than enough money in the world to make this happen, with lots left over for those who feel the continued need to hoard it. As a matter of fact, a GAI has been shown to save money overall.

Let's end wage slavery, take care of everyone's needs, save money and unleash humanity's creative potential on our many pressing global challenges.

“I am now convinced that the simplest solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income. A host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result from wide-spread economic security.”

- Rev . Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Imagine being born and society telling you 'Welcome, you will be cared for', and then asks you what you want to do with your life, asks, 'what is your calling?' 
Imagine that feeling - that’s a whole different atmosphere “  
– Daniel Straub, Co-founder, Basic Income Initiative

Edit: This is an idea whose time has come. Since writing this post I have seen numerous recent articles about GAI.  Support is coming from both ends of the political spectrum.

The Guardian

"The “unconditional basic income” has a long history in economic thinking, with proponents on both the left and the right. For conservatives it is a way of radically cutting the administrative costs of means-tested benefits, and subsidising low-paid work. For those on the left, who embraced it after the 1960s, it is seen as a way to alleviate inequality."

Basic Income News

"...the Institute released a poll conducted by GBA Strategies amongst likely voters which stated that 59% were supportive of a minimum guaranteed income. The full question read ‘Close loopholes that allow corporations and millionaires to pay less taxes than ordinary Americans, and use the money to expand Social Security to Americans of all ages, so that everyone has a guaranteed minimum income.’"


"In any case, if the economy becomes more precarious and task-based then the yearning for job security and stability will become an increasingly popular sentiment, opening the door for a ready-made discrete solution – the universal basic income (UBI).

With a UBI the volatility and anxiety of task-based employment would be complimented with the security and peace of mind of knowing that no matter how the dice roll in a given month you and your family won’t go hungry or be sleeping on the streets. With those basic needs guaranteed by social security for all businesses will have no problem finding able, healthy, and content workers nor will the nation’s workforce spend their days (as) terrified by and enslaved to the 1%."

"Charles Lammam, the think tank's associate director of tax and fiscal policy said "there is some appeal" to the idea of a guaranteed annual income."

Hmm, even The Canadian right wing Fraser Institute's Lammam is getting in on it.

However, Mr. Lammam thinks that switching over from our flawed welfare system would be too hard so lets keep on doing what we are doing, even if it isn't working. Because it is easier for the system to do nothing and continue to reap the rewards.


  1. One of the worst problems for workers in the UK are zero hours contracts...you can turn up for work and be told you're not needed today, at the same time, you're not free to work for someone else. People have protested and the government have suggested 4 hours work as a new minimum, as if that would make any difference. Putting an end to zero hours contracts would be a good start towards a GAI.

    1. Charlotte,

      I have read about some of your troubles in the UK, like your government wanting to privatize your health care system. Than is something our present government would love to do here as well, but Canadians would hit the streets before that happened... I hope.

      It will be very interesting to see what happens in this year's general elections in both our countries. I sense that the people are getting restless in many parts of the world. A global GAI would help calm things down and restore a bit of balance.

  2. Anonymous1/30/2015

    If you give people something for nothing they will not do anything. Who do you think will go to work and be innovative and progressive if the government is taking 70% or more of your income in taxes to pay for the people on the dole? Remember - someone has got to work hard to make the money to pay for every single person who gets a GAI. I am not interested in being a modern day serf to the government. And I have no interest in socialism. Capitalism made the US great - and greed will be alive and well with or without GAI. The greedy lust for power and they have it. Saul Alinsky's 8 rules to achieving a social state basically says to take control of the people little by little and in the end you will have the wealthy and the poor - and that is all - just like you've got now. The difference is that with GAI the rich will be richer and the poor will be poorer - just check out the former Soviet Union and China and you'll see how that worked. There will always be haves and have nots. "That's the way it is and always will be and there it is." D

    1. D,

      What you call socialism I call "sharing", or "taking care of each other". Not everyone has an equal chance of cashing in on your greed driven society. The haves may be "creating wealth", but they are also creating poverty as a key part of their program. That is how 1% of the population set things up in order to hoard 50% of the wealth. That is not the kind of world most people want to live in, which will ensure that changes will happen to return some sanity to this cooperative venture called life.

    2. Anonymous2/03/2015

      There is a middle ground here.
      If you give everyone enough to live on, it's true that most will fill their time with destruction. Unfortunately, not everyone is born to loving, caring, thoughtful, compassionate, intelligent, creative parents. We have a legacy of dysfunction. You can't pretend that a liveable income will make us all a bunch of gardening hippies. Take England: benefits in England are liveable. One does not have to work or pay into them before receiving them. Jobseeker's allowance has no cut-off, pays 60 pounds/week, pays rent, and exempts the recipient from paying council taxes. You have now got third and fourth generations of people who have never worked, and who live in absolute poverty with very little positive input on society. Meanwhile you have a country of workers being paid nearly nothing, and paying huge taxes out of what they do make.
      But, I believe in socialism.
      We can take care of each other while still encouraging participation in a cohesive society. There are a few ways to do this. You can keep capitalism, but radically change it by getting rid of the stock market and localizing economies while nationalising social services. You can trade capitalism for an alternative economy. That could be a gift-based economy, a local resource based economy, etc. You need to take care of the have-nots, while reducing how many people are have-nots, while still maintaining the desire to contribute to the system that supports it. Just not under the system we have currently.

  3. Anonymous1/30/2015

    Yes, Anonymous, I agree - the GAI is a revolutionary idea that many will say cannot and will not ever be possible. However, back in 1956, the concept of civil rights for all Americans - yes, even - GASP! - Negroes! - was an absolutely revolutionary idea that sober pundits stated would never be possible. The achievements and sacrifices of the Civil Rights leaders and ordinary citizens proved those pundits quite wrong. And, as Gertrude Stein once famously quipped, "As a cousin of mine once said about money, money is always there but the pockets change, it is not in the same pockets after a change, and that is all there is to say about money." And there will always be greedy people and less greedy people. After all, President Obama just warned us U.S. citizens about reckless austerity!


    1. Anonymous2/01/2015

      GAI is not a revolutionary idea, it's a socialist idea; take from the rich and give to the poor. When you give people something without expecting anything in return they will abuse that "gift". That has been proven time and again over the centuries and in all societies. D.

    2. Sophie,

      People in Canada years ago said that a program of universal health care could never happen, and yet it has been working successfully for many decades now. When someone says something can't be done it usually means they don't want to lose out on their advantage. Good thing we don't listen to them.


      A kindergarten teacher would say it is simply common sense to care for those that have less than you. It is called compassion, and most of us have it inside us.

      What you call a "gift" I call a birthright. If there are no alternatives to forced work for the elite (like there used to be before they stole all the land that was formerly held collectively) then that birthright has also been stolen. It must be replaced, or viable alternatives must be on offer.

      "Work for us or die" is not a situation most humans are comfortable with, and they will fight back as they have time and again over the centuries and in all societies. The super greedy never seem to learn this lesson, and they are not learning it this time around either.

    3. Anonymous2/02/2015

      Gregg - I could not agree more. There is a big difference between giving people money for doing nothing and helping them along - being compassionate. The old saying, "give someone a fish and they'll eat for a day, teach them to fish and they'll eat forever" is exactly what I'm talking about. We have to teach people to take care of themselves, to stop spending money they don't have on things they don't need, to be self sufficient and strong and independent. Giving everyone a GAI is not the answer. And the super greedy will always exist. My husband and I give to two different food banks, but I also have a relative who is able bodied, but she has chosen the welfare route - and she uses food banks. Do I stop giving? No, because other people have children that might go hungry if I do and children are the true needy ones. A wise professor once said, "never give the poor anything. Help them." And I agree wholeheartedly. In the US we have ACA - which is not universal health care. Universal health care works. Obamacare does not. Though my husband and I have a comfortable amount of money after a lifetime of FRUGALITY, hard work and saving I resent the fact that because we are self employed we now pay $17,000+ a year for two people who are very healthy and have a deductible of $6300 - and we are over 60 (and most people do not believe us because most people work for other people!). The democrats in this country, who pretend to be liberal but are just greedy individuals who make decisions based on their own bottom lines should have voted for a public option, but they were paid off by the insurance companies NOT to push a public option as the loser Obama was as well. None of us mind paying taxes if we're getting something in return, but if you're just being taxed to death and get nothing from the system then something is wrong. It's a cute idea to give everyone a basic income so they can live in lala land and be happy, but that money must come from somewhere and I'll fight to make sure it does not come from me. Socialism did not work in the Soviet Union, Communism did not work in China and Canada and Europe are straining under the cost of universal healthcare. I would be happy if I had the answer, but in closing I will mention that just because you and Linda are in great need of the system, for each one of you there are thousands on the dole that are just lazy so and so's who should be out there making a living but they don't want to work at the only jobs they're qualified for. To that I say too bad. We worked hard at school and building a business and I'm not willing to share my money with a bunch of lazy do nothings. D

  4. A guaranteed minimum income can work. It was done in Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970s and worked beautifully from all points of view. The only problem is politics. http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/4100


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