The economy is overrated

Someone once told me they didn’t bring back the cart at the shopping center because it “helps create jobs”. It’s a bit like we have accepted that there needs to be Bullshit Jobs.

A speech I’ve always liked is this one by Robert Kennedy:

It demonstates so well how the GDP and so many other measures of “success” are faulty.

Even the way we measure the economy is all wrong. This NYT article does a very good job of showing why even with a low unemployment rate and a high GDP we have so much inequality and suffering.

It reminds me a bit of vanity metrics (A metric that makes you feel good without telling you anything about your business). We have started to optimize our government policy for those vanity metrics. Instead of going to the root causes of what makes a great society we have metrics that, while initially well intentioned, have distracted us from the real goal.

Leaving behind the old metrics in search of better ones would be a good start. (until we end up corrupting those…)

It’s all just a sinusoidal function

While the most recent time the thought that the world was but a sinusoidal function happened when reading The Online Gig Economy’s ‘Race to the Bottom’ but really it applies to pretty much everything. While that article is about the economics and while I only have enough history knowledge to know about the parallels to the early 1900, I’m sure there are many more throughout history.

At first (around when I was 15) I thought it was actually just a circle. It was quite depressing. Humanity on a grand scale and us as humans just kept playing out our own little circles. Much like in Memento we helped ourselves along the way. Giving ourselves the justifications for our future actions. It was all quite depressing.

A few years later, and perhaps as a defense mechanism, I started seeing things as a sin function. Yes we were in a loop, but it was one that was globally trending upwards.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – A few different folks, usually attributed to Martin Luther King (#)

Is one way I try to see it. While in this case it’s about humanity and helps me “accept” what’s going on in the world. (Just to be clear, I use the Buddhist interpretation of acceptance here, not resignation).

This is another one of those posts that I wish I had an answer. I wish I could close this with a straightforward answer to rally people around. An upbeat message. But I don’t have one. All I have is acceptance of the current reality and the part it plays in the greater picture.

Apoligizing

I apologized yesterday to someone I hadn’t talked to in many years.

I had thought about it a few times. But I always felt it would be weird. Or maybe that’s what I told myself to not have to deal with admitting I could have acted better.

I was pretty much “in the box” at the time. It felt good to apologize. They did as well. In a way, I think we were (and probably still are) very similar. It’s interesting how when we see ourselves reflected back to us we can see our flaws. Well, we probably don’t acknowledge that those are also our flaws, but we see them. We notice them and they frustrate us.

I think it’s noticing the similarities and the shared flaws that bring about compassion. It’s often easier with someone who “looks” like us. And I use look not just in the physical visual sense of the word, but “looks” in the same way Facebook does lookalike audiences.

I have a few other folks I’ve always wanted to apologize to. There are a few I’ve done, but not many, not enough anyway. Perhaps I should start on that…

The Federal Governement Should Take Over the Basic Income Pilot

The provincial governement has cancelled the basic income pilot in Ontario. This is sad news and similar to what happened with the Mincome experiment in Manitoba in the 70s.

I think this time it’s a great oppertunity for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals to take the program over. The pilot is all about capturing data to help inform social policy. The cost of the program, specifically the costs that are left now that it’s up and running are miniscule in terms of the federal budget.

Please contact your MP, especially if they are a Liberal and ask them to support this.

Read my other posts on Basic Income

Without a Basic Income, I’d be Living on the Street

I’ve just read the news that the provincial progressive conservative government will be cancelling the basic income pilot.

I recently joined the board of Basic Income Canada Network and will be getting more and more involved in spreading awareness and doing advocacy work for a guaranteed minimum income.

To that end, I wanted to start with an explanation. The story of why I believe so strongly in the basic income movement.

In my late teens / early twenties I struggled with depression and generalized anxiety. I dropped out of university and was trying to start a web development business by freelancing. The cost of my medication was $650 a month. I wasn’t covered under my parent’s insurance since I had gone to university and dropped out. For reference, that was more than my rent. I struggled to pay my rent. I actually paid one month with one of those credit card cheques. It’s not that I didn’t know it was a terrible idea, that the fees were ridiculously high, I just didn’t have any other choice.

One day I was at the downtown bus stop and a man approached me. He was clearly not well, he started talking to me about the medication he had to buy. It was the same anti-depressants I was on. He wasn’t able to afford them, and now, he lived on the street.

I was very fortunate. I had family members, particularly an uncle, who was able to give me money. I got a basic income from my family and I managed to pull thru. Now I’d like to think I’m a good contributor to society, paying taxes, volunteering etc.

The only difference between me and that man on the street was that I had family members with money. That shouldn’t be the determining factor in someone’s life.

A guaranteed minimum income is not a handout, it’s a leg up. It allows folks to keep working without all the benefits disappearing. Right now almost all Canadian welfare programs will stop if you find a part-time job. You want to try driving for Uber? Your benefits are cut, sometimes directly to zero.

A guaranteed minimum income like the one Ontario was piloting has a gradual clawback mechanism which encourages people to keep working. It helps people start a small business by having a safety net. It helps folks stay in school, and helps reduce hospital visits.

That’s why I’m asking you to support a basic income by:

1) Sharing this post or the BICN homepage on your social networks.

2) Reach out personally to one or two people and talk to them about basic income. The personal outreach makes a big difference in convincing others.

3) If you’re in a position to do so, consider donating to BICN. Be it $10, $100 or even $10 000, that money will make a big difference to our ability to reach folks and spread awareness of basic income.

If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments or to email me at stboisvert@gmail.com.

The End is not a Failure

Often people talk about things that have ended like they were a failure. Mostly with relationships but often with other parts of life. Just because something ends, that doesn’t mean it failed. It could of been a great 5 year relationship that has lived it’s course or leaving a job  where you had a great time.

Things often come to an end, it doesn’t make it a failure.