The dream with poison at its center….

Tuesday 17th January 2017

In this issue of Money Truths….

  • Election-winning ideas….
  • A money tree for everybody….
  • The EU throws its weight into the job….
  • Numbers – all the bigger to scare you with….
  • This dream has poison at its center….

Election-winning ideas….

Any politician who wants to build a ground-swell of support should consider advocating a 4-day working week for all.

I call it the ‘long-weekend’ manifesto. It’s a real vote-winner of a policy.

Any politician who stands on that platform will win huge support from the man-on-the-street.

More time away from work and more time to themselves is something most people want. And they’d vote for any politician promising it.

I’m not sure how a 4-day working week would work in practice – economically or logistically. Or even if it could. But the idea has popular appeal….

A flat and fair rate of income tax – say 15% – would be another big vote winner.

Every individual and business would pay that simple non-negotiable rate on every single pound earned from whatever source and not a penny more – no deductions, no concessions, no accounting gymnastics and no elaborate tax-avoiding wheezes allowed….

The man-on-the-street would respond to that policy. People are happy to pay their fair share when they see super-wealthy individuals and big corporations like Google and Starbucks having to do likewise….

But when it comes to generating support and commanding loyalty, politicians and power-brokers know that free money is the very best tool to go to work with on the electorate….

A money tree for everybody….

Which of us has not fantasized about discovering a money tree at the bottom of the garden?

Where leaves hang from the branches and twigs of a normal tree, crisp twenty-pound notes hang from this one. And when you pluck them off, they grow right back.

That’s a tree that would change your life – making it easier and so much more enjoyable. But it’s just a silly dream, right? It’s just an idle flight of fancy. Well, maybe not….

That dream – or a version of it, at least – is slowly becoming reality.

The Universal Basic Income is growing in popularity – not just as an abstract theory but as an actual concrete practice….

You may have read about this. It’s been talked about in political and economic circles for a while. The idea is that government puts everybody on a secure financial footing by paying them a basic income from the public purse….

Programmes piloting Universal Basic Income are already running in Canada, Finland and India. Two councils in Scotland will follow suit later this year.…

These are small-scale tests designed to measure the effects of Universal Basic Income. But small-scale is how these things start. It isn’t how they stay.

Like the war on cash, the government’s Internet snooping programmes and brain tumors, these things tend to grow steadily, stealthily and silently in the background – one small step at a time….

The EU throws its weight into the job….

Noises coming out of the European Union (EU) last week suggest that building the case for continent-wide-implementation of Universal Basic Income is on its agenda….

A draft report, tabled by a socialist MEP Mady Delvaux-Stehres, says European countries must ‘seriously’ consider introducing a general basic income….

The report says it’s necessary to prepare for the imminent take-over of jobs by robots and the wide-scale unemployment and social devastation that will follow….

The report was passed by 17 votes to two and now goes before the entire European Parliament in February.

There is no mention in the report of exactly how many jobs will be lost to robots…. Instead, the EU is more focused on plans to vote on awarding robots ‘electronic person’ status. The mind boggles….

But we are not dependent on the EU for estimates about robot-related job losses….

There is no shortage of forecasts to work with. Every institutional body and influential man-jack with a public profile has been busy totting up the numbers….

Numbers – all the bigger to scare you with….

A report recently published by the Institute for Public Policy Research claims 15 million British jobs are at risk over the next two decades – including 60% of current retail roles….

The report concludes – and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry – that the British people face a future reality that is located somewhere ‘between Star Trek and the Matrix….’

At the start of 2017, the World Economic Forum predicted a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. They expect 5 million human jobs to go the way of the robots in the next three years….

A study jointly conducted by Citi and Oxford University says that 77% of all jobs in China and 57% of all jobs across the OECD are at risk of automation. I’m not sure how many jobs that means exactly – but it sounds like a hell of a lot….

Nobel Prize-winning economist, Angus Deaton, also reckons the machines will destroy millions of jobs across the world. He recently told the Financial Times he believes the robots are a much greater threat to employment in the US than globalization….

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, is never a man to miss an opportunity to spread good cheer. In December, he claimed robots could put 15 million Britons on the scrapheap.

That’s almost half of Britain’s 31.8 million work-force. Carney claims their livelihoods will be ‘mercilessly destroyed’ by the technological revolution.

I could go on and bring you more examples. More establishment figures. More claims. More forecasts. More predictions. More numbers. More fear. More feelings of dread and insecurity….

But it isn’t the individual numbers that capture my attention. It is the frequency with which influential individuals and institutions are shouting them from the rooftops – in increasingly apocalyptic language….

It’s almost like the pre-Brexit climate of fear all over again….

Cameron, Osborne, Blair, Mandelson, Obama, Carney and the rest all debased themselves so thoroughly in blatant scare-mongering that their wild claims and fantastical predictions of doom lost complete touch with reality and became utterly ludicrous and strangely comical….

I don’t know if it’s the messengers, the message or a combination of both, but I’m experiencing deja-vu. Is it just me?

This dream has poison at its center….

I’m also curious about how disappointing, bleak and demoralizing the establishment’s response is to the perceived threat of robot-driven job losses….

We don’t know how real the threat is. We don’t know which, if any, official figures and forecasts can be believed. Nobody knows for sure what is going to happen.

But intelligent machines are clearly on the rise. We see that with our own eyes via our own experiences. We don’t know for sure in what quantity, but human job losses can be expected….

But isn’t it dis-spiriting when the establishment’s frequent and repeated warnings of our imminent demise at the hands of the robots come without any real proposed solutions, practical policies or even useful suggestions?

It is as though we are to run-up the white flag and surrender before the first shots are fired. There is no fight. There is no resistance. There is no plan. There is no fresh thinking. There is no apparent future in the workplace for the human being….

The ‘solution’ appears to hinge on a crazy dream – a never-ending life of leisure and guaranteed security. The dream of a life of ease. The dream of a life without work, stimulation, effort or challenge.

The proposed solution is one that requires the whole of humanity to turn to the government with its hand out-stretched out, and to take what charity the government hands out.

In other words, world-wide state-dependency on a scale that will dwarf the current welfare system….

It might sound like a dream to many. I believe that’s what the establishment politicians and planners are depending on. Look around and you’ll see many hundreds of thousands of people who will be happy to sleep-walk into that arrangement with government.

But it would be a mistake. That dream has sharp fangs. At its center is a poison that corrodes and corrupts. In fact, this is not really a dream at all. It is a terrible nightmare. One impossible to wake from once entered.

The ‘dream’ being proposed offers no solution to anything – least of all problems produced by robots. It might look attractive from a distance, but up-close it is a genuine gateway to disaster and the very destruction of the human spirit.

Does it sound serious? Make no mistake, it is….

I will keep you appraised. More to come.

That’s how it looks from here….

I’ll be back with more next Tuesday morning.

All the best,

Dave Gibson

Money Truths