39 thoughts on “David Graeber on basic income

  1. My uncle used to say, “You never get rich working. You need to find an angle.” Graeber is so correct. Paper pushing is much more rewarding. Create virtual worth, & you have the ultimate slight of hand. It’s worked for the Don-key.

    1. Stravo Lukos I’ve always worked in electrical engineering or maintenance , I don’t even know what is a paper pushing job is. When people ask me what do I do, I fix trains, planes , computers etc. It’ll be interesting to know about paper pushing jobs

    2. @criztu so what’s the answer, if we had a universal wage providing it was high enough and went up in line with inflation. RPI index not the tories new cpi index which is lower, more cons. Maybe the universal wage could be payed to everyone that’s unemployed, no income or earning up to say £30000 per annum for example. This would give people more freedom, more chance to save money, build some wealth or just do what they want. Be an artist for example or study so they could get a career or do something more rewarding

    3. @Fred Atlas “economy” is the method of limiting access to resources, including human resources. man does stuff for resources.
      “money” is the method of counting labour, resources. “Inflation” destroys the “purchasing power of money”, so that man has to do stuff again, for resources. A 2% inflation per year, means 100% loss of purchasing power within 50 years. That is, if you have $100 in 2020, by 2070, that $100=0
      The answer is right here, right now. The world works like this for at least since the first coin was minted. You only feel guilty for the african children starving, because western media needs you to be divided by your guilt. This is divide et impera – turning you against yourself. This way you’ll never fight the masters of the system. The revolution is to reject money. You talk about giving money to poor people, more money, MORE MONEY! thus, you perpetuate the system, because you’re blinded by the system, you dream of making the system good, you dream of making that which enslaves, just, rofl..

  2. Von Mises meets the Left, or part of it. It’s time is overdue. As automation proves itself to eliminate useless jobs, and even good ones, the spotlight will shine on the Peter’s Principle Club and Bureau of Bureaucracy mindset of American Corporate Capitalism and it’s sidekick, American Government. We need a total reorganization of conventions and worklife. We need to keep what really works and shitcan what’s killing us.

  3. Maintenance work is productive, a fact many economists fail to factor in to productivity measures. Why? Because of thermodynamics. Maintenance costs energy and is productive in averting decay and disorder. A healthy and wisely run economy will thus factor in such costs and reward such work handsomely.

    1. Productive(ish). Most maintenance departments are top heavy and the hands themselves spend more time with protocols than tools. Typical task: weekly filter check: remove filter>examine>needs replacement>reinstall(temporarily)>go to supply room for new filter>remove old filter (again)>replace>document. There’s a reason construction workers/install technicians earn more.. Its not that maintenance work is valued less, it’s that the end product is worth less (when redundancy protocol, micro management and slow days are deducted).

    2. We need to create a sustainability economy. The old capitalist model is the need for a business to be ever expanding and profitable to survive. That is how the corporate world operates but not the natural world. An ever expanding logging industry, for example, will obviously cut down all the trees. Unless new trees can replace the the cut ones at not just the same rate but slightly faster to maintain the industry. But we know that isn’t possible. It takes 60 to 90 years for a douglas fir to be harvested for framing lumber, how many forests have lumber companies replanted 60 years ago?On top of that, there is climate change, where 5 million trees have just burned. Where are those companies getting the lumber now? Just food for thought.

    3. The problem is here with the definition of productive. In current economic mentality fixing and maintaining things is bad, because the money is not linked to energy and resources, but debt. On one side producers make products that become quickly obsolete to make customers buy more, more modern, upgraded. The need for upgrades must be stimulated in order to stimulate artificial demand. One consumer side, and I mean mainly large corporate consumers, buying new equipment (to replace old, still functional) and wastefulness is encouraged, because a particular branch or department of a company must remain in the budged deficit. If you declare surplus of capital in your department, you can’t claim higher budget next time. So even when there is no need to modernize, rebuilt or buy new, decision makers got an incentive to waste and claim for more money. In short: you always need to buy more than you can afford, as a company or indyvidual, in order to keep economy “going”.

  4. I was a teenager in the 1970s in UK. When you look at the audience in TV programmes or type of media~~these were bold ,educated working class people bringing common sense with their optimism. Cricks~folk went to evening classes to study new skills. One of the reasons Thatcher shut down the Golden Age since the war, was happiness

    1. it requires very little debate… set scientists free (give them what they need) and our lives will be heavily enriched

    1. Everett Ward Because the upper class knows that if the lower classes have free time, eventually they will use that time to organize and even revolt. So they have to keep them working long enough to suck the life out of them.

    2. Edward Maxwell I totally agree. They don’t have time to question anything because they’re so bogged down in useless work they just want to get it done so they can make the most of the little free time they actually have.

    3. @Daniel Josevski
      They’re so focused on just struggling to survive, they haven’t got enough time to think about what’s really going on

  5. I have worked in corporate america for about 15 years now….I have become mentally, physically, and emotionally sick….and this is not an over exaggeration!!! I hate the corporate environment with a passion!

    1. I’ve been trying to use this pandemic / wfh situation to repair the damage that 13 years of being in a corporate environment has done to me, and it is not easy. Thinking about going back to the office makes me so depressed.

    2. @RJB Since you are obviously unfulfilled in you job and if you’re waiting for it to give your life meaning it’s “likely” going to be a long wait. You need shelter and food to survive. If you live in America and have realistic expectations you CAN be fulfilled if you have your life priorities in order. Look at it this way, you could live in a mud hut in Somalia. Be grateful for what you have and use your spare time to do something meaningful. Take it from someone who is nearing end of life issues… don’t waste your precious time lamenting what could have been.

  6. I think ubi would end up rising wages and empowering the middle class. And this why people are trained not to like it. It would provide all the benifts the unions were created for (negotiating leaverage, stable income, workers rights, better working conditions) without the negatives (added bureaucracy, social conflict, disproportionate incomes across the country). The main issue in this country is really simple. Its that workers have no real rights or levearge to gain rights. Because you cant demand concesions when the alternative is starving in the streets. And by extension are forced to settle for qhatever is offered. Even if the nasic income was modest it would add immense levearge, between indebited working classes and the employer.

    Now with this being said the transition would be nasty for upper classes. Alot of business would loose alot of employees. but employment wouldnt necessarily drop, but rather transfer. This would cause all bussiness to restructure. Alot of small companies would go under and large companies would loose profit. But in a short time demand will drive companies to pay far greater share to workers. And it would balance out. Than within a decade or so lots of small bussiness would be formed. The idea that people wouldnt work is laughable, people would just not work for substandard pay. And added demand would increase the pay. So after a couple decades you would still have massive corperations and inequality. But you would also have a much wealthier, more educated middle class. The issue is the capitalist argument of motivation is still in play, they just are not seeing it. People will still want more. People would still value social status. The only difference would be you couldnt pay someone 7-15 an hour an expect them to work or starve. Wich economically most companies dont rely on, they just do because you forcex to accept.

  7. Fantastic analysis, and he’s dead right! I’ve noticed increasingly that even in my line of work,childcare, the actual job of looking after the children has been sidelined, and ticking boxes, written ‘planning’ and evidencing everything you do, have become all important. Everything is about ‘proving’ you are worthy and making the company look good on paper, instead of about what’s right or enjoyable for the children.It’s as if they’ve forgotten what nurseries/day care centres are supposed to be there for(other than to separate kids from their parents, but that’s another issue), and everything is about profit, form-filling and constantly making workers feel ‘grateful’ for the pittance they work for, rather than happy and fulfilled, which is what work/life should or could be about.

  8. David Graeber, you made feel bad about myself. I am nurse but at time I don’t like my job. I would quit if they were was a basic income and become a fashion designer and a writer.

  9. I discovered this something like 25 years ago and have uncomfortably trying to negotiate the least painful way through this paperworld ever since. It’s broken me, many times.

    1. Me to but one great thing about modern life is that for someone like me who does not like to spend a lot of my time reading I can sit and listen to radically sensible people even when they have passed away.

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