B1 Intermediate US 20 Folder Collection
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Translator: Michele Gianella Reviewer: Muriel de Meo
I grew up in a house with domestic violence.
Sometimes, as a child,
we didn't know from day to day if our mother was going to live or die.
If my birthmother - or my stepmother, afterwards - had money,
they could have left and taken me with them.
Or I'm certain
the power dynamic in the house would have been different,
as it would've been known,
there would've been more respect
knowing that they had the freedom, the options to leave.
Freedom is what we'll buy ourselves, as a society,
if we can implement a universal and unconditional basic income
in the form of monthly cash payments going to every citizen.
Do we really have freedom if we don't have options to choose,
the option to say no to an unsafe environment,
whether it be in the family, or the workplace,
or against your own government?
The means to protest, to stand up,
or to walk away, or in some cases to run?
Now, I've no regrets about how I was raised.
I love my father, and I'm lucky to have two women I can call mother.
We've done a lot of healing work to get to where we are today.
But I'm really worried
because I can see how financial pressures
played a triggering and an enabling role in the violence.
I'm very worried,
because I'm seeing that job displacement
is pushing an increasing number of families in Western countries
into worse financial pressures than I went through.
[Job Displacement]
Technological job displacement
is when the cost of your job, of your work,
trends down to an unfeasible level,
maybe because you're competing against machines or offshore labor,
so much so that if you get fired, you can't find that job anywhere else.
It no longer exists.
Families, communities that are relying on your incomes
start to shrink and are damaged,
because in most cases, people whose jobs are displaced
end up taking lower income work or not working at all.
I'm here to tell you that technology is the brilliant child of capitalism.
It created the middle class, but now it's destroying it.
I think universal basic income
is how we can preserve and expand the middle class,
but only if we can come to see that technology is our shared inheritance.
Most of human history was like "Game of Thrones."
Most of us lived in miserable conditions,
while a few of us hoarded all the wealth
and anointed themselves with birthright privileges.
The middle class was a creation
of the technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution -
just a blip in human history, very recent, very fragile -
which chased people from low-income work to higher-income work
allowing us the means, the income for some comforts,
but more importantly,
for the political power to shape governments
to invest more in the needs of the common man.
What we call the modern middle class was created during a period
that economists are fond of calling "The Golden Age of Capitalism."
This was a period when wages were growing together with productivity.
Imagine that.
The more businesses needed to sell, the more they needed to hire people
to produce the things that they were making,
that put upwards demand on wages,
which meant people had more money to spend back into those businesses.
This was also a period
when the top one percent of us were actually seeing a decline in income
every year after year, for decades in Western countries.
Imagine that.
The bigger the economy got,
the more of those gains went went to the majority of us.
Sounds fair, right?
I believe it is this period of inclusive growth
that has given us our idea that working hard will get you ahead.
Because in that period, it did.
For a brief period in human history,
the majority of the gains from technological advancement
were going to the majority of us.
But what if the rise of the middle class is just a coincidence in time,
a coincidence for when people were so essential
to the work of delivering all these new technological advancements?
[Coincidences?]
I believe that we saw these coincidences start to break down
around the early 1970s,
shortly after mainframe computers were making their way
into Western companies, corporations everywhere,
as manufacturing robots were making their way onto factory floors
shortly before, and with the advent, of personal computing.
This period of time is called the great decoupling.
The great decoupling that decoupled the value of human work from productivity.
Clearly, humans were less valuable as computers could do more and more
of the repetitive work that careers were made of.
And much of the work we do is repetitive and routine.
So it's not that over a period of decades that many people were fired,
as businesses became more productive, but rather how many were never hired,
which created the absence of that upwards pressure on wages
we saw during the golden age.
Technology created globalization,
the global economy, the globalized supply chain,
which also put downward pressure on wages
because we couldn't complete with hundreds of millions
and now billions of people around the world
that can do the same work we can for less than can be lived off here.
My father and uncle had their careers displaced
in Ontario's automotive manufacturing parts sector
shortly after China entered the scene in the mid-'90s.
We couldn't compete with that, and the businesses that remained,
the tool shops that remained after the carnage,
were the ones that were managed to automate, to stay competitive.
That's why during that period,
six times more jobs were lost to automation than trade.
But the globalization of today is beyond the reach of tariffs.
The globalization of today is about online jobs.
Even small businesses can hire virtual assistants in the Philippines
for four dollars an hour.
Businesses like mine would not have existed 25 years ago.
We make income all over the world.
We're completely remote, no offices, and because of that, we can hire anywhere.
So half of my staff is employed in developing countries.
Why? Because I can afford more people that way.
[Unions Leverage Weakened]
Unions lost their leverage
because of the combination of automation and globalization together,
and their unions were always pivotal in increasing wage growth.
Now I'm really worried,
because if you could look at the share of national income,
the amount of the income produced every year in the United States -
or in any country, any Western country's quite similar -
you see the share going to the top one percent of us
increasing year after year since the great decoupling.
I'm a beneficiary of that as a member of the one percent,
and this really bothers me.
If you look at the green line, it's going down.
The bottom half of us are making less and less and less
of the share of national income every year.
With that green line going down, we see a parallel line
of decreased annual economic growth, a slowing of growth.
We also see, I believe, a decrease in political power
as governments no longer have to prioritize
the needs of common men, of common people.
So, it's not at all an exaggeration.
If you draw those lines out a few decades into the future,
I'm afraid to consider where that will lead us.
The top one percent could be making 35 cents of every dollar,
the bottom half of us could be making 6 cents.
That's not capitalism anymore, folks - that's feudalism.
That's right back to the Game of Thrones that we left.
That's right back to there'll be
a new global peasant class that has smartphones,
but a new nobility that has all the power and shapes governments in their image.
We should all be very concerned about this.
[Artificial Intelligence]
Artificial intelligence will just make it go faster,
and no one is predicting the creation of a lot of high-paying jobs
to replace, to create a new middle class to step into
as in the golden age.
In fact, many economists are saying
we're going to have so many productivity enhancements,
but we're going to have a lot more low-paying jobs.
Frankly, it is this theory
that explains the economics of the last 40 years.
The middle class has been hollowing out.
The world's top economists in the world
are very concerned about the hollowing in middle class,
and I'm able to show it to you in pictures.
This is a study showing the City of Toronto between 1970 and 2005.
In 1970, the yellow represents middle-class neighborhoods,
the blue represents high-income neighborhoods,
and the red is low-income neighborhoods.
2005, you can see the hollowing in the middle class,
mostly low-income neighborhoods.
The middle class almost disappeared -
they didn't go anywhere, they were displaced.
And the blue-income neighborhoods got bigger,
as of course there are more high-income jobs,
but not enough programming jobs,
nor can everyone be a programmer.
What we see here, this pattern in Toronto,
is replicated across the world,
between cities -
some cities have been on the losing end of automation and globalization -
and between regions.
It's funny -
look at the blue, imagine you're thinking of the blue states,
San Francisco, New York, LA, where all the brain power is going;
and the red is the red states,
how they've been on the losing end of automation and globalization,
and they're angry.
We can see the impact of that by seeing an increase in deaths of despair
among white middle-aged people in the United States
whose jobs have been displaced.
The coincidences in time,
when more high-income work was being created
to replace low-income work,
are starting to break down.
I think a universal basic income is part of the solution,
because it will preserve and in fact expand the middle class.
Expand the middle class not in terms of us having two car garages,
but things that matter,
where everyone can have psychological safety,
the ability to make long-term plans,
the ability to afford healthy food for their children.
We should just implement this basic income and then just wait it out.
Wait it out as money is appearing in our bank accounts every month
just enough to cover basic needs,
provide us with that middle-class way of thinking,
because eventually technology makes everything cheaper.
Everything from the cost of food, transportation,
pretty much consumer goods;
it's already been getting cheaper over decades.
We can all enjoy a middle-class way of life.
And the existing middle class will also be preserved.
Why? Because basic income is an economic stimulus.
Those who have the least spend the most of the share of what they have.
All that money goes right back into the economy,
stimulating corporate revenue, stimulating job creation.
We can have all this, but we need to see basic income
not as a social program that helps people in poor circumstances,
but rather a public utility that helps us all.
How having a healthy economy is a need common to us all.
We should see it as the water in the pipes,
circulating money to keep our economy healthy for everyone,
expanding the middle class and bringing wellbeing to everyone.
So while the first golden age of capitalism was called that,
in part because it created the middle class,
this next evolution of capitalism may also be called the golden age.
Why? Because we will have expanded the middle-class lifestyle for everyone.
But only if we can come to see that technology is our shared inheritance.
It's meant to uplift everyone.
In 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes -
this is a man whose ideas
basically created the golden age of capitalism -
said that by the year 2030
technological productivity should have been so great
that by now we're all only working 15 hours a week.
There's not much more work to do.
He said we could enjoy this life of leisure.
Well, how are we going to get there?
Basic income will get us there.
Why? Because if the economy in the future is creating all these low-income jobs,
all these people could choose to work 15 hours a week
with one of those jobs.
Innovation stands on the shoulders of giants.
The Internet is the best example of that.
How many of today's wealthy people would have what they have -
certainly not me -
if it wasn't for the Internet and the public financing that created it?
The public financing
that paid for the educations of all of its users, creators,
frankly everyone in this room
who had free schooling through high school,
all the things around us, everywhere you look.
Go outside, and our interdependence is screaming at us.
We just see
the basis of our modern wealth is built on contributions from the past,
including scientists and philosophers and politicians,
who are probably rolling in their graves right now
to see that the gains from their ingenuity
is being concentrated so much in the hands of so few.
If we can accept that technology is the shared inheritance of humanity,
then we can see
that at least some of the gains of it belong to all of us,
and the time in history
where a job could be the main vehicle in sharing in that gain
may be gone,
a coincidence of the past.
Imagine a society
that would have these things, have a basic income, have this dividend.
In fact, we should call it a dividend.
Why? Because if you believe
that we deserve a share of the technological gains,
then it makes us stakeholders in our economy.
A dividend is an amount of money you get from an investment.
We are all invested in our economy, we're invested in our country.
So if we can do that, imagine what would be available to us.
A more functional democracy.
Why can't we solve climate change?
When's the last time you heard of a major infrastructure investment
to catapult society to new level?
Why? Because when people are financially insecure,
they vote out of fear,
and we're more prey to fear mongers and people who preach hate.
Behavioral economics research has proven
that people who are financially insecure make poorer long-term decisions.
I believe that if we implement this basic income,
we can alleviate the kind of anxiety.
I believe that if we can free our hearts from fear,
we can free our minds to hope and dream again.
We will see a government held more accountable
to its people, who [now] have the means to protest,
have the means to engage in politics,
and have the expectation and the hopes
of more long-term decision-making and voting.
A society that's not afraid to fail will also innovate more,
and innovation is the basis of our prosperity,
an enhancement of the human experience.
The word "capital" in capitalism - it's not just money.
It's our appetite and our tolerance to risk.
Many people in this room have a great appetite for risk,
but low tolerance to it.
When 47 percent of Canadians
can't find $200 in case of an emergency
and 60 percent of Americans can't find $500.
We are at record low levels of risk tolerance today,
and we're in period for the last 10 years
where more businesses are closing than opening every year.
If we want to see more economic breakthroughs,
faster growth, more innovation,
we need to recapture the risk tolerance available in all of us;
us humans are a natural resource of innovation.
We need to unlock that.
A basic income is how we can do that
by guaranteeing basic needs so people can dream again and take risks.
We can finally remove the barriers
that are preventing people
from pursuing jobs of higher purpose and impact
that may not be feasible in a pure market system.
But with the basic income, in combination with these,
it could be enough to live, because not everyone wants to get rich.
Some people care about caregiving, caring for elders;
caring for their children a bit longer if one don't go back to work right away,
community service,
early stage research in mathematics and science,
starving artists, small business, nonprofit work, mentoring, and counseling.
All of these jobs add value to our society
and currently are being discounted in a pure market system;
but with a dividend from our technological gain,
we can finally unlock this human potential
and see this part of the human heart be exposed within our economic system.
So imagine, what if we had done it,
what if we already had it back in 1968, when the US Congress passed it twice?
The Republicans, under Richard Nixon, were for it.
It failed in the Senate by just a couple of votes,
because Democrats thought it wasn't generous enough.
That's the same year -
For those who think this is socialism,
this is the same year that the US sent half a million troops to Vietnam
to stop the spread of communism,
and 1,000 economists in 1968 signed a letter
saying basic income is good and it's compatible with American values.
Also during this time,
Martin Luther King was starting to campaign
to end poverty for all races,
and he was demanding
that the US government guarantee a middle-class income for all families.
That's shortly before he was assassinated.
Imagine if a man of his stature, of his persistence,
kept that organization going -
maybe we would have had a basic income.
And what would it have been like for your communities?
Imagine lessening the impact, a dent on racial inequality.
Imagine lessening the suffering from technological job displacements.
Imagine if we could have resisted climate change
because we could all be free to think long-term.
Imagine what the impact on my own family would have been.
My whole life might have been different.
If we can realize that technological gains are the shared inheritance of humanity,
then we should go forward and move towards a freedom dividend.
Again, I call it a "freedom dividend," paid for by technology,
to give us all - to guarantee our personal freedoms,
guarantee that we have the power to hold our government accountable to us,
not only to the one percent.
Freedom that gives us options, real options in life,
like the option to pursue your potential in life,
not be held back by material constraints or unsafe environments.
We have to make a decision: what kind of future will we head on?
Because the future we're heading on to now is more like that on the left,
where technological automation is concentrated,
the kind of scarcity that leads to more wars, revolutions,
to more people blaming themselves,
dying - literally - from shame that is not deserved.
And that on the right,
where we share a little bit more to create abundance for all.
We have a government that invests in our needs,
where anyone can reach their potential.
I'd rather live in society on the right,
so I invite you to join me.
Thank you very much.
(Applause) (Cheers)
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Basic Income and the New Golden Age of Capitalism | Floyd Marinescu | TEDxWindsor

20 Folder Collection
王惟惟 published on January 30, 2020
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