Meg Lee Chin

In a reasonable society each individual would enjoy a reasonable degree of control over their environment. But in our post-Henry Ford corporate world, the human being has been reduced to a cog in the machine. Here the creative and decisions making aspects of production are concentrated upon a few individuals.

Meanwhile the larger majority engage in boring, repetitive and seemingly meaningless tasks. As the distribution of wealth becomes more and more concentrated among fewer and fewer individuals, work for the majority begins to look more like slavery.

With Communism control comes from a centralized group. With Capitalism control comes from the most successful capitalists. Both take control away from the majority and into the hands of a minority. Communists confuse equality with uniformity. Capitalists confuse strength with ruthlessness. Ultimately both systems are inefficent, making poor use of the wealth of human ability and talent which lies dormant.

Productivity has favored hierarchical societies. Through the concentration of collective resources, the ideas, visions and dreams of a select few can be harnessed. By imposing their wills upon the many, these few are able to shape the world as they see fit. Capitalism has it's disciples climbing over each other in the hope of becoming these big players.

This elusive promise lures the masses into productivity. At the outset capitalism appears to be the more successful at stimulating productivity. But concentrated power leads to more and more concentrated power. Eventually the gap between rich and poor becomes so great that they separate fully into two distinct classes - the rulers and the ruled. The ruled classes begin to all look the same as mass consumerism reduces them to cardboard cutouts shopping at the same chain stores. Eventually the rich take over the role of the state and in a strange twist of fate, capitalism morphs into communism.

Communism denies heirarchy but in doing so also denies individuality. People can only be exactly equal if they are exactly the same. But we are not the same. The human being is multifaceted, capable of both leading and following. Idealists deny the natural existence of hierachy and try to suppress it. But hierarchy is inherent in every human relationship. This natural hierarchy is a by product of our individuality. It is dynamic, shifting, flexible and ever changing dependant upon the person, the circumstances and the task.

Hierarchy can work well as a vehicle for the manifestation of big ideas. A productive hierarchy can enable one human through the co-operation of his fellows to achieve what he could not do on his own. Ideally the most worthy leaders with the best ideas would attract the most followers.

But in a capitalist society we are all striving to be leaders. This is owing to the fact that the leader seems to be the only one with control. Leaders are worshipped and admired beyond what their abilities and talents would warrant. As the gap widens and the majority are stripped more and more of control, ethics gives way to subterfuge, duplicity and trickery as people strive desperately for some degree of control.

Contrastingly when followers are able to choose whom they wish to follow, they are able exercise control. The leadership role then holds less attraction. Such balance and perpsective could discourage the insincere and those less capable. There is nothing quite so damaging to a society than an unsuitable leader. Not surprisingly capitalism produces many of these.

The happiest and most productive group would be one where it's members fall naturally into a dynamic, flexible hierarchy based on their talent and abilities. The formation of a this natural hierarchy would require the self actualization of it's citizens. Psychologist Abraham Maslow in his theory of "The Hierarchy of Needs" cites the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter as the first requirement on the road to this self actualization. As such, in order to create a more productive society we need one where the basic needs of it's citizens are met.

The solution is an unconditional basic income for everyone within a capitalist society. This would bring choice, control, power and leverage into the hands of the worker who could choose to work or to not work. Leaders would have to compete for followers. The ability to chose what ideas, projects or people to lend their energy should create a society geared toward more worthwhile goals.

Fewer people would be inclined to work for the sake of money alone. Many may gravitate to more meaningful work in low paid and non-profit groups. At the same time there would still be incentive and an outlet for competition along with a means to tap into the productive power of the hierarchy.

Human beings would likely continue to strive for status but there would be more variety in it's expression. In a society released from the shackles of basic survival people can more choose where they wish to shine.

Without the stress of repetitive, tedious and meaningless work we may see less escapism, mindless entertainment and celebrity worship. The security of an unconditional basic income could stimulate a more ethical society with more opportunity for meaningful work.

Some believe that human beings are inherently lazy. But we are born with seemingly boundless energy and insatiable curiosity. It is probably true that most have a strong resistence to spending their days performing, mind numbing tasks to further someone else's dreams and goals.

However, given the opportunity to pursue goals of their own choice, most people are naturally creative and productive. This illustrates that only difference between "work" and "play" is choice. Work is what you have to do. Play is what you choose to do. Work brings exhaustion where play brings passion. The secret of those who are prolific and excel at their work is simple. They love their work so much it is like play.

Thus far in our history the realised potential of a small percentage of our total has provided us the abundant knowledge and technology we have today. If seven billion people were to receive these same opportunities it would be difficult to imagine anything short of a new renaissance. How many Einsteins, Mozarts, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther Kings, Beatles or Shakespeares have lived and died in poverty? How much of our human potential has been wasted? If we tapped this potential could we produce enough to feed, clothe and shelter everyone on Planet Earth through play (choice) rather than work (force) ?

We have the resources. We have the technical capablities. We have the knowledge. Unconditional basic income. It's time. It's achievable. Let's do it.