Am I wasting my time?

I believe I have some ideas on how to prevent ecological collapse, and I need to contact some big hitters: David Attenborough, Naomi Klein, Kate Raworth, George Monbiot…

But people with normal minds just don’t grasp what I am driving at, at least not in its entirety. I realized a long time ago my mind worked differently from most. The reason (‘Asperger’s syndrome??), does not matter.

If I am delusional, instead of being a pain in people’s anatomy, someone could tell me to my face instead of being courteous, but I doubt if it would help. People with delusions don ‘t normally take any notice of discouragement do we?

George already has an impressive message. I gave him my blog address at a book launch. If he has not already picked up the few bits I think are missing, how can I expect any of the others to do so?  I have of course made attempts to contact all sorts of people, but quite apart from the above mismatch, they have to notice my requests from among hundreds, or even thousands of contacts.

I do have a few straws to clutch at. I asked Caroline Lucas to draw Mhairi Black’s attention to my blog. Ms Black MP is on the Work & Pensions Parliamentary Select Committee. I have watched the video (transcript here) at which the Committee cross-examined leading figures in the Basic Income movement. They failed to convince the W&P Committee on the questions of cost, and disability payments. But if the likes of Louise Haagh, Chair of BIEN, or Annie Miller, a trustee of the Citizens’ Basic Income Trust,  do not have the whole thing at their finger-tips, who does? But they have normal minds, and they had to think within the here and now, not the vital culture shift which I envisage, because the W&P Committee are busy, and Frank Field (W&P Chair) would have stopped mention of anything else. For the same reason, Caroline saw no point in passing on my request to Mhairi Black.

I had already asked Caroline Lucas to draw Ms black’s attention to my blog after her anti-austerity Parliamentary maiden speech, on 14th July 2015, which went viral.

I have reason to believe Ms Black would listen to my different perspective. In her speech on the Universal Credit in Parliament on 18th October 2017: she expressly supported this Tory policy, asking only for a pause in its roll-out to deal with the implementation problems giving rise to much public disquiet. I, or Caroline Lucas, or Louise Haagh, or Annie Miller could have drawn Ms Black’s attention to the weakness in the original blueprint for the Universal Credit, which would merely have reduced the poverty trap of means testing from over 90% to 72%. Dynamic benefits actually reads much better as the case for the Green Party’s Basic (Citizens’) Income, which really would ‘make work pay’.

There are other hopeful signs. Guy Standing, another leading proponent of the Basic Income, is showing signs of a paradigm shift. His recent book “Basic Income: And how we can make it happen” (Pelican, 2017) is inconsistent. On p.38 he discusses how the basic income might help solve the ecological imperative, but Chapter 5 (p.97) is a paean to its ability to underpin higher economic growth.

In her book “This changes Everything” (Penguin, 2015), Naomi Klein actually describes going through this paradigm shift to realizing that growth was unsustainable.

But the following exchange with a Green Party member whose insights I regard as essential, and with contacts who would heed his recommendation, epitomises the reason for my distress. I am keenly aware of my not taking difficulties seriously enough, but he is still in denial about his limitations. There are several points where he appears to refute my arguments, but due to the way my brain is organized, all I see is examples of how his grasp of detail has obscured the wider picture.

One is that he thinks Easter Island is too small to be an example of the Tragedy of the Commons. For him, the main feature of the Tragedy is that whole populations are making collectively unsustainable decisions. So did the Easter Islanders – for the same reasons. As long as there is scope for expansion of anything –  shipbuiliding, cars, oil exploration, steel, or the same principle would apply equally to population, whatever were optimum strategies for many years or even centuries suddenly become deadly as limits to that expansion are reached.

In fairness Kate Raworth also misses the real tragedy. but in her book, Doughnut Economics, she spots the flaw in Elinor Ostrom’s ‘open access’ criticism of the Tragedy. None of the people I need to reach has heard my perspective. But my friend has.

What is the point of my bothering them if they think I am mistaken as he does?



2 responses to “Am I wasting my time?

  1. I don’t think you are wasting your time at all, Clive. While unlike you I am not ready to embrace Basic Income, I see many of the same challenges barrelling towards us that you see, and recognise that we are in a period of discontinuity where the same old solutions are no longer adequate to the challenges we face; nor do they command the public support or acceptance they once did:

    The ideas which eventually save us usually start out as unpopular fringe ideas – as it was with Thatcherism and monetarism in the late 1970s, so it inevitably is with the ideas which will deliver us from our current challenges. It takes people of courage and persistence to keep the flame of those ideas alive while they remain obscure and overlooked by leading politicians and the media, but it is essential that somebody does so. Keep fighting the good fight.

    • Oops, missed this till now. Thanks for the moral suppoort, Sam. Some times you give the impression of ‘toying’ with the UBI principle. Main thing I would stress to you is Philippe van Parijs, a UBI guru, calling it ‘A Capitalist road to Communism’. Think entrepreneurial start-ups. And Univ Cred was supposed to make work pay. Not only is it in trouble, but even when the 92% who still don’t receive it do get it, it will only lower tax-equivalent withdrawal rates to 70%. UBI really will make work pay. Do you play chess? A gambit is an apparent sacrifice which produces the opposite effect.

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