Will No-One Think of the Artists?
June 19, 2013
I’d like to see every citizen receive a basic income of AUD$30,000 per year. No exceptions, no means testing. This is why.
Godfrey Moase, “activist and union organiser,” writing in the Guardian:
I once worked in a call centre where a few of the interviewers would be regularly rostered to do phone surveys about female incontinence products. Asking strangers whether they lost a teaspoon, a tablespoon or more in volume per occasion is a tough gig. Then again, the horror of the role was somewhat less visceral than that experienced by a worker I’d once represented who had to manually slit the throats of chickens at a poultry factory. At Centrelink, he had listed his occupation as “killer.” What strikes me about a dirty job isn’t that it needs doing – it’s that someone has to do it to get by. There’s no other choice for them.
A state of affairs that prompts a radical solution:
Imagine the creativity, innovation and enterprise that would be unleashed if every citizen were guaranteed a living. Universal income provides the material basis for a fuller development of human potential. Social enterprises, cooperatives and small businesses could be started without participants worrying where the next pay cheque would come from. Artists and musicians could focus on their work.
One for our series of classic sentences, perhaps. But imagine the creative avalanche that would be unleashed by Mr Moase alone. 30,000 Australian dollars a year, extracted from others and given to him, could result in even more Guardian articles telling us that artists and musicians shouldn’t be expected to earn a living. Because, well, obviously, they’re artists and musicians. Or indeed “activists.” It’s a bold ambition, the goal of which, as one commenter conceives it, is to “distribute drudgery fairly” via some massive rota system, with dirty jobs – say, abattoir work and drain maintenance – being done, intermittently, by doctors, hair stylists and other random individuals with no relevant expertise. I can’t help thinking that’s been tried somewhere, not too long ago, with– how shall I put this – very mixed results. Though presumably artists and musicians would be exempt from this too.
In the comments Tim Worstall tries to shake some sense into Mr Moase’s skull.
Elsewhere in the Guardian thread, a fan of Mr Moase says with a hint of triumph, “This universal income… makes employment optional.” For him (and no doubt others), that’s the goal. The sweet, sweet cherry of state-sanctioned slackerdom, all in the name of emancipation and virtue. “Submission to a corporation,” we’re told, “will not be mandatory for your survival on Earth.” Though leeching indefinitely on the skills and effort of others – who will be forced to submit to him - will be perfectly okay, apparently. And as regular readers will know, this is not an uncommon sentiment among our self-declared moral betters. Yes, Giving It To The Man™ by taking it from others.