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From Social Wealth Funds to Universal Basic Income, the Precariat Age Demands Far-Reaching Solutions to Dismantle Mass Inequality

From Social Wealth Funds to Universal Basic Income, the Precariat Age Demands Far-Reaching Solutions to Dismantle Mass Inequality

Guy Standing

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from Guy Standing’s new essay “The Precariat: Today's Transformative Class?” on the Great Transition Initiative website.

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Most of those with the most toys will fight hard to keep their toys.

There is only one way to part them from some of their toys.

That one way involves never again trusting the parties of the Duopoly.

We must give our support to a party that will represent us, the masses, first.

Say what you will about the Green Party, but look at where the Democrats and Republicans have taken us.

Mediocrity is no way to live for our children and ourselves.

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The ‘core’ feature of the Great Transition as some see it,
is infrastructure jobs constructing a reduction of cars being driven,
on wider widened freeways, laughably self-driving, as if.

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Reading your post I had a bit of a vision of the future. Leaving the manufacture of things to robotics including farming we don’t work, we just live. Anything you want, or anywhere you want to go you just step out side and hail a transportation unit. Step in, punch in your destination in your energy efficient vehicle when you sit down and wait until you arrive… Whether it’s to pick up your kids at day care, go shopping, or go to the park or exercise place etc.

I should thank Gandolf, for the following:

"The basic flaws of self-driving cars are simple enough: Their technological hurdles are plainly unsurmountable, they will never be completely safe. They won’t decrease traffic congestion, fuel/energy consumption nor emissions sufficient to prevent worst harm from catastrophic climate change. They are most unlikely to reduce travel-related cost of living. They won’t take full advantage of the benefits EVs offer.

The most telling aspect of self-driving car folly is eliminating ownership whereupon all cars are kept in central garage locations and dispatched on demand. Never mind that in a grid failure, every household with an EV in the garage gains a backup power supply. Never mind any emergency where a car is needed immediately, not one that may arrive too late. Self-driving car tech denies those safety features and pretends “mass tailgating” won’t produce horrific multi-car pileups. Self-driving tech puts safety dead last.

A household EV offers the means to more closely monitor and reduce energy consumption overall, both for driving and household use. Rooftop PV solar arrays are thee perfect match to EV battery packs. Perhaps most important, a household EV is an incentive to drive less, whereby more trips become possible without having to drive, whereby local economies grow and alternate modes of travel - mass transit, walking and bicycling - all more energy efficient than EVs alone - may serve more travel needs in this my own vision of walking communities in 2040.

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This essay fails because the author doesn’t understand capitalism or the way it works. He re-produces palliatives in the hope of a humane compassionate capitalist system. Once again, a “progressive” is trying to “save” capitalism from itself.

I suggest reader and the author visit this article on the topic of UBI


The divergence from Marxengels in the 1800s is interesting here partly because it diverges less than one might imagine at first glance. Standing’s precariat is dangerously close to Marx’s lumpenproletariat, though I suppose Standing might point out particular differences were he present for discussion.

The idea of capturing the rentier economy for the broader population is clever. The Marxist project, ever so reduced, is to hold the means of production; in an economy that has come to be distributed so extensively between service jobs and legal usury, this becomes a fairly natural leap, since rents have come to be regarded as what produces wealth.

Clearly what Standing recommends would bring some advantages and at least simplify the general kleptocracy of business and finance–assuming it could be implemented: taking the responsibility for money away from the Fed and give it to a nonprofit as an element of the commons. Allowing at least one secondary currency might have some interesting effects, since it might detract from the general power of currently central economic fictions of exchange and debt.

You didn’t quite catch my vision. The vehicle I imagine is an above ground subway. It operates like Japanese magnetic train or could be elect. depending on power source. It could stop quickly and easily and be individually programed for each persons stop. It could have a conductor, but not so much for operation, but more so for safety and to keep the peace. I agree, if we can;t limit personal vehicles, we have to downsize them like most other countries already have. But then, they already have universal healthcare.

Really nice writing here. I’m a little unsure what “the commons” is. Is it just another name for things that are public? I’ve heard in England public things are like private things in the US, and vice versa. Maybe “the commons” is just another way of conveying that some things should have collective ownership and purposes.

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That is not living- work and socialization are given purposes. of life.

We CAN limit personal vehicles. In cities like NYC- many people walk or use subways. The advent of the suburb was a response to provide more fodder for the auto industry.

We cannot wait until 2040, and there are not enough jobs to support communities. Elimation of physical work will make obesity a furthur crisis, as well as add to the depression and isolation crises that already plague the USA> Also, the suburbs almost demand that people drive to work, and there is not enough public transportation.

Learning over earning. This ain’t new, it’s a long time coming. Buckminster Fuller (more than 50 years ago):

We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

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My response was facetious. I thank you for a vision of pure science fiction, much like self-driving car tech nonsense. Magnetic levitation (Maglev) trains are all electric, but use about 40% more electricity than standard light rail. Massive concrete guideway for any elevated rail is doubly expensive and stations are much more difficult to locate, construct and justify the expense, especially when the number of riders on small pod vehicles cannot fill the need for mass transit.

Reduce our dependence upon cars and many jobs will be created. Amazon and Uber stock value will tank when their self-driving car tech vision is proven a fraud. Neither traffic generating corporation need self-driving cars to operate. They’re just saying it’s inevitable so that motorists can pretend it will make traffic less insane.

At the rate of our tech. advances, if we don’t cook first or flood ourselves, we should be able to contrive mass transit with energy efficiency if the fossil fuel industry cooperates. If not we are riding around in doomsday machines.

In order to have all these luxuries, people have to have great jobs and or retirements. It is not happening. Over fifty per cent of the population in the USA cannot meet their basic needs in a bug way.

Well- Mass just made buying rec marijuana legal with places opening today - so- now people have to be worried about crazy drivers, drunkeness, cell phone morons, and now this. What has this world come to?

Really? People feel much better about themselves when they earn a living whether they work for someone else or are self employed.

Yes really.

I would suspect most all high dollar lottery winners (or trust fund babies, etc) would not agree with you. Of course there is the rare exception but when they work it’s at a pet project or a business mums and pop set up for them, but then don’t expect them to be, like, on time for work, work mandatory overtime, or weekends, or nights, or even eight hours a day when they don’t need the $$$.

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