To all the Basic Income haters…
No really, though. Stop complaining. That’s enough. As witty and pithy and scathing and cathartic as your criticism may be, it is still bested by a single, meager action to solve the thing that so upsets you. And as you sit on your couch, behind the safety of your screen, angrily single finger typing your ALL CAPS response to my post, it’s hard to find much to distinguish you from the lazy, entitled, adding-little-to-society, bum you envision celebrating their monthly basic income check.
I feel compelled to write this post after seeing some truuuly spectacular complaining when my last piece about Basic Income hit the front page of medium.com. People calling me comrade, offering a reality pill, and giving advice for surviving the first wave of UBI driven famines. Readers suggesting UBI, a topic that attracted over ten thousand views of my post in a few hours, is a moot point. Critics outlining all of the ways Basic Income doesn’t make financial sense (which was specifically and intentionally not the topic of my post — for more on that go here).
Multiple comparisons were made between Basic Income and the massive global failure of Socialism. You mean the system that offers some of the globe’s most competitive economies universal healthcare, free education, and paid childcare? Oooh, how truly awful! I’ve lived in two of those countries and let me tell you, the water was fine. I still prefer America, but maybe you can think of a better burn, because the dreaded pirate “Socialism!” doesn’t seem so bad to a generation of people facing suffocating wealth disparity, corporate oligarchy, uncertain professional and economic futures, and diminishing access to what little healthcare we have.
To the haters, I say, “Yeah. And? What are you offering that’s better?” Because there is nothing easier than to criticize something for which you have no intention of resolving. It’s not even a full step up the intellectual ladder. And if you can so passionately and eloquently offer an insult to a proposed system, surely you have the slightest inkling as to what you would suggest instead.
If you have an idea that is better than Basic Income, please speak now or forever hold your peace. If you have a better way to prevent poverty and unemployment and mental health issues, by all means pipe up. Better yet, why don’t you start taking action on it, because saying what should be done is to doing something what masturbation is to pro-creation. It may feel good in the moment, but nothing is born of it.
If your solutions were as good as your insults, they still wouldn’t be that good, but at least we’d have something to work with. Because the whole point I am trying to make here is that the world is pretty messed up right now. And rather than screaming at each other on walls and comment feeds, and feeling gratified by the brave emoji we just pasted on our friend’s digital wall, we should be in problem solving mode.
This also applies to those of you who agree with me. Because as nice as it feels to have your validation (Thank you, truly. It means a lot!), actualizing any of these big ideas is going to take some heavy lifting. Hard friggin’ work. And the savior we’ve been waiting for is stuck in traffic. So we have to take all the passion we feel in writing our posts and our comments and direct it toward driving change. Herein lies the difference between the people with their sleeves rolled up, making an impact on the world, and the armchair quarterbacks wiping their cheesy fingers on the couch while shouting at replays.
As Roosevelt said,
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
You are selling yourself short if your ambition ends with a few claps by some disgruntled online trolls (or if your silence only buys you hater avoidance). Sure you get the dopamine hits and the self-satisfaction of having really bested another, but then what? Because from where I’m sitting, I don’t see any action items emerging from the criticism. No circle backs to see how that idea is progressing. No to-do list moving things forward.
If the world’s issues feel too big and your voice too small, then perhaps it’s worth swapping out 20 minutes of Facebook scanning for 20 minutes of self reflection.
· What issue makes you mad? What are you willing to fight for?
· What problem do you care about solving?
· What are you good at? What are your talents? Skills?
· AND MOST IMPORTANTLY — How can you use your talent and skills to help the problem you care about?
The problem (beyond haters) that makes me furious is that we have been trained and motivated by a standard, extrinsic, one size fits all version of success that fits no one. We spend over 1/3 of our lives climbing a ladder to nowhere, praying away the hours until our next weekend, and leaving little impact on the things we really care about. And since I feel so passionately about this problem, it is up to me to develop and test solutions to fix it, using whatever tools I have at my disposal.
To show you what I mean, one of my talents is translating abstract ideas into practical action. And I have experience designing learning and working systems that anticipate and adapt for the future. Ergo, I’m writing this blog (and a book called Burn the Ladder), public speaking, and holding sessions for people and companies to do the kind of woo woo self reflection that will hopefully inject a little bit of soul into their daily existence. I try to help people distinguish themselves from machines in preparation for a future when that distinction is paramount. A future in which an economic system that includes ideas like basic income or basic assets or “fill in the blank crazy idea,” is not actually that crazy.
If you think I am full of it, the problem I’m tackling doesn’t matter, and/or my solution is a bunch of bullocks, THAT IS TOTALLY FINE. You might be right. But what is the real problem you think needs solving? How should it be done instead? How can YOU take action to start the shift toward a better solution?
Enough complaining. Do something.