Ratwell and I talk about everything. Sometimes this is plot points, sometimes this is Game of Thrones, sometimes this is the big, scary, unknown future. At least I’m scared. Ratwell is optimistic. I recently came across this article in The Atlantic about guaranteed basic income and what the world would look like if everyone had basic housing and nutrition needs taken care of. In other words, what would you do if you didn’t have to work? Not “I just won the lottery” not working, but kind of like life on unemployment not working. Personally, I’d make the argument (as I did nearly 10 years ago) that we already have a system sort of like this in place. We don’t call it guaranteed basic income, but if you play the game and get your student loans in exchange for a higher degree like a good citizen, chances are you’re going to find a job. It might not be fulfilling, it might not be exciting. You may not even be doing work that needs to be done. Indeed I’m convinced that there is significantly less real work to be done than there are people who need jobs, but it is in everyone’s best interest if we keep employment levels up because bored employees who are scared someone is going to find out that they’re functionally useless spend a lot of money to assuage their fears.
So it more or less works out. We keep up appearances, we participate in the social agreement that things are better like this than they are under some other construct because yay capitalism. We take loads of antidepressants to make up for the fact that we’re living lives that are in complete opposition to our biological, emotional, and social needs, and somehow this is better than what it would be like under some other construct wherein people could add value to society irrespective of whether or not the value was determined in terms of profitability.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we tackled the things that need to be done instead of the things that we get paid to be done? No one needs another commercial to sell them on Depends. If you need Depends, you don’t need a commercial to convince you that you need them. And you aren’t going to run out and buy Depends if you don’t need them just because you saw a commercial for the new Depends that fit more like cotton drawers. Lets turn all the depends advertising people towards literacy efforts. The tampon people too, while we are at it. I’m sure we could put the viagra actors to better use.
I would write full time, and do a lot more to support my social network, and see my dad more. My roommate would garden. And sing. And find a horse to be nice to. And help AIDS researchers with their patents and legal issues. The scientists that are researching new formulas for making foot padding for Nike shoes could instead spend their time solving global climate change. Or turning all of the plastic floating around in the ocean into mobile resting spots for those poor polar bears that get stuck swimming in the ocean forever since there are no more icebergs to climb on and take a breather as they’re looking for dinner. Think of all the money we’d save on antidepressants if we could pursue our purpose in life without worrying about whether or not it will pay enough to keep us in a house. No one needs another 1.7M, 3,000 square foot monstrosity to live in with their 1.5 children and 3.5 cars.
It’s a real question: How much stuff would you give up to be happy?