What would you do with a monthly paycheck, separate and in addition to any other paycheck, earned for nothing other than citizenship and sufficient to cover your most basic needs? That’s basic income, and that’s what today should be about.
Labor Day should not be about demanding ‘more jobs’ or higher wages. Labor Day should be about struggling for the emancipation from unnecessary labor, unchosen labor, exploited labor. It should be a celebration for reducing working hours, getting more leisure time, more freedom outside of the market forces.
There is no free labor market when everyone is basically forced to find a job whatever it takes. Basic Income is the necessary precondition for allowing people to actually choose to enter or exit the labor market, and therefore to have a truly free economy.
May 1st is a day to recognize the contributions of the labor movement and its struggles and achievements over the years. Where unions once empowered labor and gave us the 40-hour week and the 8-hour day, globalization and advances in technology have eroded the ability of unions to effect change. As automation of the workplace continues to the tune of possibly eliminating half of all current jobs in the next 20 years, unconditional basic income represents the ability to empower labor on an individual basis. A newly gained ability to say “No” to employers, would have an undeniable effect on the sharing of profits through better wages, job conditions, benefits, etc.
The achievement of basic income would be the achievement of a new contract between employer and employee, including the empowerment of the employee to become their own employer. It would mean a new age of innovation and entrepreneurship, where all are free to pursue the goals they wish to pursue, and all work could be recognized for its societal value, instead of only paid work as it stands now.
Basic income is the future of the labor movement, and the policy we must all together now strive for in the 21st century.
To help the movement for basic income, join the growing community on Reddit, seek out your national chapter, or even organize your local basic income group, sign the Avaaz petition, become active in the global conversation through social media and in everyday social interactions, and on May 1st update your profile pics.
Join the event, choose your favourite and use it as your profile pic.
2019 is already the 9th year that this action takes place.
Icon design by Oliver Der, first published 2011 by Sylvia Mair and Oliver Der
Why does the labor movement exist?
Think about that question for a moment. What is the ultimate goal and purpose of the entire labor movement? From whence did it arise? Where is it now? Where will it be in 50 years? And how do we best respect the history of the movement as time goes on?