Universal Basic Income – What to do about wealthy people?

The idea of a Universal Basic Income seems pretty straight forward. Everyone gets a minimum payment to cover life’s costs. Sounds good, all things being equal.

But all things are not equal.

Rich people do NOT need universal basic income and indeed should not get it. Or should they?

Maybe the answer isn’t means testing the payment of UBI, it’s means-testing the ability to access it. Controlling access is not a new idea.

Take superannuation – everyone gets paid a regulated minimum amount of Super – but can only access it under certain conditions such as retirement, dire medical issues or potentially losing home due to non-payments.

Your UBI could be paid into a government-held bank account, which can be accessed dependent upon a few very simple conditions. Those conditions would need some smarter people to work out properly…

But lets ‘spitball’ some ideas to start with:

  • Your yearly income is less than 200% of the ‘average’ (median) income, or $200,000 per year (adjusted for inflation)
  • Your total asset value does not exceed 1000% of the ‘average’ (median) asset value, or $5 million (adjusted for inflation)

Continue reading Universal Basic Income – What to do about wealthy people?

I Have – in solidarity with #MeToo

IF I said I have never treated women inappropriately, ignored sexual harassment and/or inappropriate behaviour in workplaces and society more broadly, or taken part in their objectification, I’d be lying.

Any honest man would have to say the same thing.

Unfortunately the society I grew up in raised me to believe that objectifying women was normal, and that cat-calling, butt-slapping and other forms of sexual harassment were acceptable behaviour.

They are not.

It’s really brave, inspiring, and horrifying, all of these women sharing their #MeToo stories about men’s behaviour. So in an act of solidarity, after speaking with friends, I am going to share some #IHave stories.

I hope this honesty is taken in the vein it is intended, as a condemnation of this pattern of behaviour, not a normalisation or acceptance of it:

I have… Continue reading I Have – in solidarity with #MeToo

Campaigning: Most of the time it’s an unpaid and thankless job.

I tell you what. I’ve been working on campaigns since 2003 and while it’s led me to being a much better person, given me a lot of skills and some AMAZING friends and contacts; it’s mostly a fucking thankless job.

Most of the time you are not winning.

Most of the time you are fighting like hell just to hold on to what we’ve got. Sometimes you are losing. Losing lives to suicide. Losing lives to deaths in custody. Losing land to clearing. Losing biodiversity. Losing community. Losing culture. Losing a chance at a safe future free of human-induced climate chaos.

Most of the time you are not getting the thanks you should get.

Most of the time you are getting called names. Most of the time you are getting harassed. Most of the time people just want to argue with you, so they take positions they don’t really hold just to test you. Most of the time you are left seething with rage. Most of the time you are upset. Most of the time others have no idea what is going on in your head.

I’ve been character assassinated.

I’ve had people say I’m a stooge for big business, that I’m only in it for ‘personal glory’, that I only do this work because they think I “want to be Prime Minister”. I’ve lost jobs over it. I’ve quit jobs over it. I’ve lost friends over it. I’ve dumped friends over it. I’ve fought with family. I’ve been ridiculed by friends and family.

I’ve been told I’ll never make a difference.

I’ve been repeatedly told my actions have no impact.

But then we’ve won. We’ve suddenly, out of nowhere had a win. A tactic has worked. A government has caved in. A government has been defeated. A company has given up. People have changed their minds.

After over a full solid year of committing THOUSANDS of hours to lead a solid team of volunteers organising an awesome campaign, I’m fucking exhausted.

I’m not financially better off. In fact I’m out of pocket – from supporting the team financially during emergencies, from working less to commit more volunteering time without losing my own sanity.

But I’ve also never been more proud of myself.

I’ve never done anything in my life that was more important than this.

And the only thanks I really care about, I get all the time – from Clinton himself.

It’s always worth it. But it ain’t ever easy.

No stuff-up to defend breaking ‘unjust’ laws. Had to be said.

A few people have said to me Sally McManus had ‘miscalculated’ or ‘stuffed up’ when she said sometimes it is necessary to break laws that are unjust.

Firstly – not one of the people who has said this to me so far is currently a union member themselves.

But more importantly – if people didn’t take so called ‘illegal’ action against unjust policies, projects and systems…. We would still be living as slaves, with no democratic rights, with a sole rich powerful family ruling the roost.

Or for a more current example – ‘illegal’ action was taken by the people who stopped James Price Point, Roe 8, Old Growth Forest Logging, the WA Shark Cull, and who are using their bodies stopping gas fracking and new coal mines.

I was recently arrested and charged while protecting the Beeliar Wetlands myself.

Laws do not define what is ‘right or wrong’.

Laws are just systems put in place to ensure the ‘status quot’ of how society currently operates. Some of those laws have a future in our society, some of those laws should have been left in the past.

Some laws we probably need haven’t even been thought of yet.

Most of our laws are compromise agreements reached between those seeking a better society, and those who were holding the reigns of power in the unfair and unequal societies of the past.

Modern laws are often compromise agreements balancing the influence of lobbying by vested interests – mostly the rich elite – with the influence of democratic power of citizens through elections, activism and non-violent action.

Laws are not infallible. Laws are not stagnant.

Laws are simply a social-contract currently agreed to in order to enable our society to function in an agreed-to manner.

Continue reading No stuff-up to defend breaking ‘unjust’ laws. Had to be said.

Consumption and climate

We could stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow and still find ourselves facing the mass-extinction of humans in our lifetimes. 

Every single day there is a new piece about the rate of climate change, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, the ongoing shift from high-carbon fossil-fuel based economies to economies based on ‘renewable’ energy. But the carbon-intensity of our energy production is but a part of the equation. Sure, it’s huge and temperature altering part which in and of itself is cause for concern – but dealing with carbon intensity alone will not prevent catastrophic climate change.

The elephant in the climate war room is consumption.

We’re decades behind where we need to be in regard to reversing carbon accumulating in our environment and atmosphere to prevent runaway climate change from taking hold. Never in human history has the air we breath, or the oceans on which our food chains depend, contained so much carbon.

We just officially passed the annual low-point for carbon in the atmosphere and for 2016 carbon intensity did not drop below 400ppm. Years ago leading climate scientists including James Hansen agreed 350ppm as the ‘upper limit’ of safe atmospheric carbon levels – we’ve blown past that and are on track for a world in which 450ppm is the new global norm.

Yes, fossil fuels are incompatible with a safe future.

But what else is incompatible with a safe future, and what else must we stop using and doing? If we look to the long-term it turns out there is a whole range of every-day activities and products which are incompatible with a safe future.

Take my breakfast as an example:

The bread I ate with breakfast comes from wheat produced on an industrial farming process that destroys soils and is entirely reliant on a finite supply of phosphate based fertilisers; just look to Nauru for an indication of the impact of Phosphorous mining has on communities and the environment.

The bacon came from an industry heavily reliant on antibiotics, steroids and the abuse of animals. Excessive use of antibiotic is increasingly leading to new anti-biotic resistant ‘superbugs’ – a global health nightmare waiting to happen.

The oil we cook with comes from mass produced olives (or sometimes canola), sourced from an intensive olive farm in Spain – where biodiversity has been hit hard by mass clearing and over-use of pesticides and other chemicals.

The water in my cup comes from a mix of desalinated ocean water and local underground aquifers because we’ve already depleted our dams. I could go so much further into the water use by all of the ingredients, their cleaning, sorting, processing and transport. The plastic they come wrapped in.

Unless we reduce consumption, we will eventually run out of clean water. 

And that’s without even mentioning the land clearing required for virtually all the ingredients – including those which came from my garden. How much forest, bush or wetland was cleared to grow that wheat, canola, olive, avocado, orange, garlic and onion? How much land was cleared for the roads to transport it? How much land was cleared to mine the stone and tar for those roads?

My breakfast was a really mundane choice of example, but it serves as a simple illustration of the depth of our problem. But lets look a bit deeper.

Imagine a future where the existing system continues, powered by renewables.

For simplicity, lets ignore any impact from global warming.

Each years 80 million new cars will be produced, relying on steel, aluminium, copper and increasingly on rare-earths and lithium to enable advanced electric systems. They require rubber for tyres, silicone for a variety of parts often including brakes, grease for bearing joints and a variety of other materials including glass. Nearly all of these materials come from somewhere.

Over 1.4 billion mobiles phones will continue to be produced each year, requiring land-clearing for ever more lithium and rare-earth materials.

We continue increasing the rate at which we consume Earth’s resources to feed, house and entertain a perpetually growing population. Land clearing and resource extraction continue at current rates. Biodiversity decreases.

Eventually we get to a point where the supply chains for one of those key building blocks of modern life breaks down.

A major power runs out of fertiliser. Another has a superbug outbreak. Some nations – like Australia – begin to run out of water.

What then? Does war break out?

Over the last 60 years we’ve seen the extinction of  50% of all known biodiversity on earth, even in the absence of the worst impacts of climate change. Even before the worst impacts of fossil fuel emissions are felt, we’re in the midst of a man-made mass extinction. We can not afford to stay on this path.

The only answer to our problems is a complete systemic change. We must move on not just from fossil fuels, but from social and economic systems based on ‘perpetual growth’ and a consumption model reliant on ever-increasing demolition of communities and the natural environment.

If we don’t change the model, we won’t save a thing.