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Social is my middle name

Living Income Guaranteed

Socialism as an economic system and a political movement, to introduce Socialism within society, has one big problem; it never has been practiced in its true form as one system that runs society. There have been several countries throughout time and there are still several countries that call themselves socialist countries, while in fact they’ve created a cocktail of which Socialism is one of the ingredients. Some countries used Socialism as a first stage to enter Communism and others gave in to Capitalism and made their own Molotov cocktail.

Having a social security system or social safety net as a country, doesn’t make it an absolute socialist country. We can neither speak of absolute Socialism when a country has a totalitarian regime that organizes the major industries in that country. Although the word Socialism carries the following words: social is me, it depends on the countries actions whether at the end of the day it was indeed social in any way possible as Socialism dictates. So lets have a look at the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of Socialism:

A way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies.

Socialism as an economic and political theory was created from a starting point of making an utopian society. Opposite to most other systems, Socialism had no consensus on how the ideal socialist society would function. There are in fact many forms of Socialism created that all differ from economic planning to community size. The most common are Guild Socialism, Utopian Socialism that also includes communal societies, Christian Socialism, Market Socialism and Agrarianism. The common denominator in all of these variations is stressing the importance of cooperation among the people and keeping away from (capitalistic) competition.

True socialists want to create an entire classless society where the major industries are controlled by the government. Socialists see this control as only way to get rid of competition among the people and to create equality. In a socialist society there is no such thing as private property, since working results in equal wages and equal basic necessities, it provides all with equal benefits and opportunities. Among true socialists the idea exists that Capitalism causes oppression of the lower class. Due to the competitive nature of Capitalism, it is possible for the wealthy minority to keep in control over the industry, which eventually lessens the opportunities and wages of the working class. Within Democratic Socialism we see in countries such as Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain that Capitalism is part of the socialist foundation.

Opponents of Socialism say that the problem of this economic system is the equal wages and therefore no incentive to get up in the morning and to do our paid work with an equal amount of pleasure as when we get paid more than people who studied less or have less effective connections in life. Furthermore they say that human beings are selfish and self-centred power seeking beings that when given power they will abuse that power. They point out that our tumultuous past and history books show us what human nature has brought us thus far. Governments may not become the collective alter ego that is driven and energized by power and no longer serving the people and the greater good, according to the opponents.

The question is whether the true socialist and the opponents of Socialism are really depicting reality or are they making a caricature out off reality? Things don’t always have to be black or white, when we speak about utopia most people can’t grasp the fact that this world could be or become an utopia, it’s simply denial. When we speak about totalitarian regimes, a lot of people can’t either relate to that as a daily reality. So as much as Socialism, as many other economic theoretical systems, has never been reality in its purest form nor has utopia or an utter totalitarian hell on earth been for us all. That means that we’re merely talking about things from a mind perspective and trying to gather examples from real life that are not always correct examples and do not always take all dimensions in consideration.

What if we, in an attempt to better our world systems, take what seems valid from Socialism and Capitalism and recreate it into ‘Distributive Capitalism’ and place the central power with the people and the government. That way we could make the government more into a logistic department that is at the service of the people. We’d take from Capitalism the creative entrepreneur and from Socialism solidarity. In one strike we would eliminate ‘the winner takes it all’ principle and the all-controlling government. As Jeremy Rifkin, an American economic (1945), says: “Being social and entrepreneurial go well together now a days. It changes the way of thinking. This would really mean ‘power to the people’. It means democratization of energy and information and even the economy. It is flattening down Capitalism and what arises one could call ‘Distributive Capitalism’. In a way Capitalism and Socialism do no longer exist, because ‘Distributive Capitalism’ takes the best of both systems. It combines risk taking, creativity and entrepreneurship.”

When we look at the statement of the opponents of Socialism who say that it will promote laziness and it devaluates self promotion, we can ask these same people if they would come out of bed every morning when they become entrepreneurs instead of the working slaves they’re right now. When in a system such as ‘Distributive Capitalism’ or in a Living Income Guaranteed, we are a part of the companies or have our own companies, that will surely be enough incentive to get out off bed. When you for real become a part of society and what you do matters and therefore you only want to do the things that matter, you feel validated by society and yourself. When you are entrepreneur and the business you’ve started had to be tested in real time and didn’t work out for the best of all, you can simply stop and have temporarily a living income. Now when our business is likely to fail we would push even though we damage others, we would push because of money issues. When money is no longer our main concern we can do the jobs we like, we can invent new jobs and let technology do the jobs technology does best. We never would feel threatened and fear for our living.

We could start seeing jobs in a whole other perspective and really practice solidarity. We no longer would have to focus on one of our talents and make a career out of it. We could pile up all our talents and we could have different jobs build upon the different talents. On Monday and Tuesday we work for a newspaper, Wednesdays we use for development and creativity in a brainstorm team with all kinds of different professions and on Thursday and Friday we teach children and adults. Wouldn’t that be great to be able to be creative, talented and reassured of income when our real time tested ideas do stand the test of time? There might be people in the beginning that simply do not know how to move themselves even in a society that is inviting them to do so, those people can live on a living income and slowly but surely discover what they want to do to contribute to society. In school we can start on an early age to teach children how to become an entrepreneur, since not all of us have that in us as a natural talent. Thus when there are no good or bad ideas in essence but only one criteria that applies namely: we will not abuse, we could gradually grow towards utopia whether we call it Socialism or simply living in the best interest of all.

The same goes for power, when we are already in ‘power’ over our own lives, do we still need to overrule other’s lives? Seeing what real power is and what sustainable power entails, no one ever would want to reach for totalitarian power. As soon as our inner strength is the force that direct us, and that will be reached when financial fears are no longer there, we simply become equals without even thinking about bossing another around that is equal to us. That way we would not let people in charge that are mentally instable, if that’s a polite term for dictators and sociopaths, they would get the opportunity to get to their inner strength with the support and assistance of society. Power and the need for power can look like a big thing to overcome in a transitional period where another economic system is introduced, whereas greed will be an even bigger thing for all of us to overcome. Where greediness for power is really indicating where it all stems from, the fear to not have enough, which will be eliminated with for instance LIG.

So Socialism as in ‘social is me’ or ‘I’m social’, has many valuable proposals in it that we can use to create a society through which we can enter the 21 century. We can ask ourselves if we want to hang on to all the ISMs that have been invented so far or are we willing to take what is effective and move on. We as a person know that it is of no use, when we continue living in our own past, the same goes for our society and us as a whole. Living in the past with ineffective pillars that arrange our society, we can call plain stupid. It’s time to move on and leave the ISMs behind us and for one time dare to think out of the box of our comfort zone. When we continue walking this known path, will there still be an old age pension for us, will there still be enough jobs, and will we be able to simply be happy and not fear tomorrow’s sorrows? When social is in you, then you’ve got the incentive to move and change and mould this society until it fits our 21 century needs, not greed, but plain and normal needs. Being social leads to feeding your needs who are most likely equal in essence to all the other people’s needs. We need you to need yourself and to investigate a Living Income Guaranteed.

Sources:

http://www.debate.org/opinions/has-socialism-ever-worked

http://money.howstuffworks.com/socialism.htm

http://socialistworker.org/2010/11/22/does-socialism-exist

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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China the land of contrasts

China the land where billionaires are in Congres, making the laws and representing the interest of the people who need help. Rural China is still not at a developed level when it comes to basic needs such as housing and food, while in other parts of China ultra modern cities are rising where only people can live who have vast amounts of money or investors in the real estate business. This China, that became a remarkable economic success, has been build at the expenses of infant, hard working factory workers, but times are changing.

Every other year the wages increase, though the Chinese worker wages are still low compared to the rest of the world. China can still compete with other countries that manufacture for the West, which doesn’t mean that the production is as high as before. The demands from the West has been decreasing and Western companies seek for cheaper countries such as Bangladesh to make more profit. China has been the world’s factory for over 20 years now and around 150 million peasants moved from the countryside to the cities, they make around $200 a month without a day off and working overtime for free. Most of their wages are send to their family in the less developed parts of the nation. Due to China’s law the hukou (the household registration system), these peasants that moved away from their birth places, are no longer entitled to have governmental services like education, healthcare and social services. This leaves migrant workers at the mercy of their bosses, what is reflected by the way these workers live with mostly 12 of them in dirty, smelling dormitories. Maybe wages have changed, but the life of an average factory worker didn’t change.

Premier Wen Jiabao is aware of this income gap between rich and poor and with the income increase every other year the government tries to stimulate the domestic consumption. There is a lot of hot money in the Chinese market, but that’s in hands of private entrepreneurs who run the factories and speculate in real estate. With billionaires in Congres and the communistic system that allowed capitalist to join in, one can imagine that the basic needs of all the Chinese people are not going to be met.

Another problem China is facing is the fast aging of their population due to their one-child policy. China’s labour market begins to tighten up with less youth on the factory floors. This demographic change is withholding the Chinese economic growth, that once was spectaculair powerful and will stop the massive pool of cheap labour. Since also China believes in an economy that must keep on growing, this growth has to be stimulated in other ways. The domestic spending needs to increase through governmental stimulation since accelerating inflation and rising property prices have undermined households’ spending power.

The Chinese government, in order to keep up with their 8.4% growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), came up with a $585 billion stimulus package. This package is spent on social development and domestic spending. A large amount, $220 billion, is spent on public infrastructure as building houses  and a railroad throughout the nation. People in the rural areas were stimulated to buy tv’s and refrigerators, while nearby the cities totally new cities rise with yet no residents. Ordos is such a city in inner Mongolia, an empty city build in 5 years time and meant for 1 million residents. The motivation to build a city like Ordos is likely GDP, one major way a government can raise their GDP is to spend more money. The more China builds the more it’s economic activities increase and the higher it’s GDP will become. Building is probably the easiest way to achieve this GDP growth in China. Local officials build empty homes block after block. Most of the houses/apartments are bought by investors and are hold as an investment which means that nobody actually lives in them.  Till now nobody ever lost money or much money on real estate in China. Therefore the homes are now a place to put cash in, instead of being a place to live. Ordos is China’s Texas and full of overnight millionaires, rich from massive coal deposits. Today Ordos has the second highest per capita income in China after Shang Hai. Not long ago the people lived here in tents, they were nomads. The old city of Ordos still exist at 30 km away from the new empty Ordos. The government decided that their GDP had to grow and decided that the old city wasn’t good enough anymore. The people of Ordos are supposed to move into the modern city of Ordos, but you can ‘t expect people to move into a city where there is no economy and houses costs 8.8 times the average annual income.  So for now new Ordos waits for that one day when people decide to come and live in it, till then it’s a ghost city while the demand for proper housing is big and only the governments GDP growth is met.

China is at the moment at a critical juncture, the nation faces an imbalance and economical instability. This is due to the gap between poor and rich and the friction between communism/socialism and Chinese tradition. The tradition of China is build on Confucianism, which sees the family and the community as highly important, where communism under Mao tried to break up with family tradition and saw people as individuals who needed to unite as a nation. This gave already a lot of instability in the sixties and seventies. Today media and a group of intellectuals in all layers of the society try to re-introduce Chinese tradition as in Confucianism. They see the current junction in a two way option:
1. China degenerates which means economical chaos and political disintegration. Within this option not only China would suffer from this also the rest of the world, since China is the engine and life buoy of world’s economy.
2. China returns to their tradition and creates stability through Confucianism, where oneness doesn’t stop at the borders of China. It will also include Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and Korea. China will not be seen as a military or economical power, but wants to be seen as a cultural power. The domestic budget in China is higher than the military budgets, which is a example of cultural power.

What does this Confucianism of Confucius roughly implies? To him family/friends, work and working on yourself are the 3 main pillars of his teachings. Learning to him is most important to build up your caracter and to realize yourself. The teachings of Confucius ask for self reflection 3 times a day on 3 points.

1. have we been honest today and taken our responsibility within our work and society?

2. do we live the promises we made to our family and friends?

3. are we learning from the information that reaches us every day and were we able to apply this to improve ourselves?

This is the tradition where China originates from, it’s ingrained in their DNA, therefore communism has been hard on them and has in a way disintegrated the population. While making capitalistic needs for the West in their factories they got exposed to the capitalistic virus of wanting, needing and never having enough. Which brought them in an even bigger confusion when they understood what capitalism implied. Older people complain that the youth of today who grew up relatively wealthy has no working spirit anymore.

As said before, China is in a transition stage, where they can choose for endless wrong proven systems or choose for a system that’s close to their own traditional culture. To not only leave the nation with culture, but a working system where basic needs will be provided regarding an endless GDP’s growth. China would be, as all the other  countries considered by Confucius, a great candidate for an Equal Money System. Why not change for the better when the choice needs to be made. The pillars within the EMS are: self-honesty, self-responsibility, changing yourself through information that you investigated and therefore walked, family has to be seen as all living beings and no limitations by using family ties and borders of cities and nations. EMS and Confucianism have overlaps, but will probably not be seen as the solution right away by the intellectuals. Since they see Confucianism as a belief and a belief is a tool to them to cope with life. EMS would end the devision between poor and rich just all equal and one and only applying that which is in the best interest of all. An equal China who can be the living example for all, that what they desire the most.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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