According to the website called Investopedia, the definition of the Universal Basic Income is the following: "A government program in which every adult citizen receives a set amount of money on a regular basis. The goals of a basic income system are to alleviate poverty and replace other need-based social programs that potentially require greater bureaucratic involvement." This definition is immediately followed by this key point: "The idea of universal basic income has gained momentum in the U.S. as automation increasingly replaces workers in manufacturing and other sectors of the economy."
Considering the current context, it is almost a given that the Universal Basic Income looks like a good idea and will undoubtedly have lots of supporters. After all, we are living in the Covid times where jobs are being wiped out, millions of businesses are going bankrupt with many of them having no chance of recovering, the job prospects of many young graduates are weakening and the repayment of debt in its many forms (mortgages, student loans, credit cards, auto loans etc) has never seemed so difficult. To top it all off, we have switched from a job-creating cycle to a cost-cutting one where the question for a business is not "How can I generate more revenue?" but "How can I reduce costs and maintain revenue at a minimum acceptable level while I ride out of this difficult period? And if the market is never coming back to its previous level, how can I cut certain costs for good? Is there an artificial intelligence application or an automated process that can help me achieve that?"
It can certainly be argued that an economy will always need young people to renew the workforce and that solid experience in various fields will always be valued. However, will the transformed economies need as much of that as before? The market for new graduates has been saturated for some time now and the pandemic has shown that some functions are simply not needed to achieve the same results. What happens to the price of players that operate in saturated markets? That's right. Their prices go down. And this where I attempt to establish a link with the world of Market Dystopia.
Those who are familiar with the novel know that the critical foundation of the story is the concept called the Human Value Index. The latter establishes a points-based social hierarchy that has six value ranges. 0 - 49 points is the lowest range and 701 - 1000+ points is the highest one. Global citizens that belong to the lowest range are almost guaranteed to be eliminated while those at the very top only need to preserve their positions. The four value ranges that are between these two extremes are an open field. Global citizens can increase their HVI values through a combination of education, work, enterprise, networks and luck. But what happens when the fields where the game is played become much smaller and the tools that can be used to increase HVI levels are taken away? Quite simply, citizens will become stuck in their initial value ranges and it will become harder for them to move up. This will especially be the case for those in the 101 - 200 points range. The citizens in this value range are the most at risk in terms of becoming entirely dependent on the Universal Basic Income and other similar forms of support. Their ability to move up in the HVI scale would be severely limited and this would, in turn, create the foundations of a cycle where the next generation born in this value range fails to move beyond it. In short, what was initially meant to help becomes a factor that stops progress and social mobility. The elites of Market Dystopia would use the Universal Basic Income as a tool, among others, to clamp down the potential of those that can rise far above their initial station. Obviously, it will not work in all cases. Some individuals will somehow manage to work their way around this hurdle. But will it be enough? I will let you answer that. Happy Reading, Ashley Boolell
Market Dystopia is available in the Amazon Bookstore on the following links: Amazon UK
Intro video here