Alternate ideas lying around waiting for disaster
Even Friedman recommended a UBI
The late economist Milton Friedman wrote about what he saw as the mission of right-wing economists like him:
"Only a crisis -- actual or perceived -- produces real change.
When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.
That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies,
to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable." "
Now - let me be clear - he did it.
He was associated with the Chicago School - a very influential right wing think tank.
He was no dummy. Long ago he said that a Universal Basic Income (UBI)) was needed to keep the economy functioning. What he did was get billionaires to sponsor thinktanks around the world that paid right wing thinkers to provide articles and opinion pieces to the media Pieces that consistently promoted the idea that government is always incompetent and a drag on the economy.
The idea was to displace other ideas - not allow them to be published.
We're talking about billionaires supporting an ideology here by manipulating the information available to people. They talked about welfare queens with Cadillacs as if that was a huge problem. Their influence sort of crystallized around the notion of "starve the beast". Make government so small (by reducing taxation) that it could be drowned in a bathtub.
Canadian writer Naomi Klein has written about this. She calls it the shock doctrine. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shock_Doctrine) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is a 2007 book by the Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein. In the book, Klein argues that neoliberal free market policies (as advocated by the economist Milton Friedman) have risen to prominence in some developed countries because of a deliberate strategy of "shock therapy". This centers on the exploitation of national crises (disasters or upheavals) to establish controversial and questionable policies, while citizens are too distracted (emotionally and physically) to engage and develop an adequate response, and resist effectively. The book suggests that some man-made events, such as the Iraq War, were undertaken with the intention of pushing through such unpopular policies in their wake. "
What Friedman was doing was establishing ideas everyone takes as normal; conventional wisdom - not because they were good ideas but because no other ideas were being spoken. He was making an environment with only some ideas 'lying around"
Klein showed how in times of trouble those ideas get picked up as if they were the solution to the trouble because there is nothing else available.
And it gets crazy. If the government faces a huge deficit because it's unable to meet it's obligations; what do you do? Well - for a lot of people the idea just lying around was "we need to reduce taxes on the rich". An idea with no connection to reality
For me a vivid example was 911 - when that happened I said to my friend Fred that this was going to be an excuse for a major attack on civil liberties. And it was. I didn't anticipate that it would lead to war in Iraq - an ill considered and bad move done in a time of crisis when the President said; "trust me" (though he was lying)
Hats off to Milton :-(
But his basic idea, when stripped of his right wing baggage is actually sound I've been practicing it myself. I've been developing and promoting ideas like the UBI. I have no political power at all. But the internet is allowing ideas to propagate outside the media controlled by billionaires and now memes like the UBI are ideas just lying around.
Basically the UBI is the idea of giving everyone a basic income no matter what.
Impossible it was said 15 years ago.
OK - let's give everyone a basic income no matter what is suddenly possible.
What do you think?