Kate Rawoth’s 2020 RSA Lecture, is truly inspiring. What should be happening is happening. but such places are still in a minority. My admiration for Kate Raworth’s part in these planet-saving developments is expressed in my blog post of 13th August 2017 (on publication of Doughnut Economics) but the need for a catalyst remains. The sporadic developments she cites need to happen everywhere.
In the video, the RSA CEO asks Kate for her view on capitalism. She points out that there are many different definitions of capitalism, but she sidesteps the question of profit. What matters is who gains market share.
So many places notably in Brazil, China and Indonesia (and elsewhere) are still profiting by ecological damage. As long as growing beef or soya on recently felled rainforest land, or mining coal or oil (CO2) remain profitable, the world as a whole is still in grave danger. Common practices need to change faster than seem likely, even with Kate Raworth’s input.
But not enough people, not even Kate, accept my proposition that the universal basic income (UBI) is a catalyst capable of the necessary paradigm shift. In fairness, Kate does mention the UBI in passing in the RSA Lecture as part of Glasgow’s plans, but it is not centre stage, as, in my view, it should be. In Doughnut Economics, Kate explains how the UBI will help with social justice, but in the Chapter ‘Be agnostic on Growth’, the UBI is not mentioned. So I must take a step back, and ask the question which I think the UBI tries to answer.
Why has a life threatening threat – destruction of the ecosphere – been ignored for nearly 50 years since Limits to Growth made it public in 1972?
I see two reasons: profits (almost all by capitalists) would be curtailed several decades sooner than necessary (hence their denial), and any reduction in economic activity would have the same effect as recesions hve always had: fear of hardship for the majority of voters.
To take the second point first, for me, it is obvious that any reduction in economic growth will not gain approval until those (millions) who have good reason to fear a recession feel economically secure.. I have a different pattern of insights and blind spots from the norm. The value of a UBI may or may not be an insight, but I do have a blind spot as to why this need for economic security is not obvious. I believe that the Finnish UB I experiment indicates that those who were given security by the scheme found it easier to think of saving the environment.
But what is also ‘obvious’ to me is that a recession is unavoidable. Some seem to think that an economy within ecological limits can be managed without a recession. Even if that is possible, for me, it would make more sense not to rely on it.
But with public recognition of the ecological threat, and eco-footprint taxes, the effect of a UBI ought logically to be a gradual reduction of consumerism. Bear in mind that elsewhere I warn that a UBI could foster (indeed was invented to foster) economic growth. It must be tied to an eco-mind set and taxes,
This possibility, (and risk) has been brought sharply up to date by Earthshot. As well as writing to the origininators, I have also informed George Monbiot of the Guardian of my approval – and concern.
What distresses me is that I think the UBI could save the world from ecological destruction. Due to my blind spots I may be mistaken, but anyone who agrees with me should be helping me to make public this danger/opportunity presented by Earthshot without the UBI. So far I have received one assurance that I am not deranged, but not a single offer to alert the media. I would prefer a chorus telling me I was deluded to indifference.
Kate Raworth? I wrote to her in 2017., She must have missed it in the hundreds of others. A few dozen emails to her might help (to save the ecosphere for future geneerations).