Would a base, living income increase creativity?
Thanks to technology’s effect on communication and the distribution of information, social awareness is at an all-time high. We are tuned in to the needs of others now more than ever through crowdfunding sites and social media—giving us the opportunity to give a little extra for social responsibility. Yet, in the midst of our recognition, there is still a struggle over the age old question: who are the poor? Where do we draw the distinction between the poor and everyone else? Depending on who you listen to, the poor can be defined as simply homeless or everyone who considered themselves the pre-recession middle class and below. Regardless of how you define poverty, everyone can agree that it is a problem—a problem that some argue will continue to hold back our progress as a culture and society until it is solved.
Discussions and debates over poverty and the distribution of wealth have led to the consideration of the concept of “basic income” for everyone. Basic income is a concept that in theory would provide enough money for every member of society to have his or her basic needs met. In fact, the highly regarded and influential startup incubator, Y Combinator, recently revealed that it would like to fund an in-house study of the policy in action. Other organizations are testing the waters as well. A new San-Francisco-based crowdfunding company dubbed “My Basic Income” hit their initial crowdfunding goal to give someone random a basic income for a year. A few countries, namely Finland and Holland, have also been experimenting with a basic income as the idea continues to gain traction. Those countries have already found that individuals who receive a monthly basic income are happier and more fulfilled in their lives.
If basic income became the norm, would we see a fundamental shift in human behavior if the necessity of the 40-60 hour work week was eliminated? Would focus shift from a consumerist perspective to one of innovation and progress?
We know that Millennials follow their passions more than previous generations when determining their life choices. If they could live out their passions with basic needs addressed in another way, would there be a surge in the liberal arts?
If necessity is the father of invention and we remove necessity as a motivator, what happens to the entrepreneurial spirit?