This post is a follow up from. http://thestandard.org.nz/ubi/
(Thanks for all the comments to date. Still digesting them).
The way human beings process information means that memes and slogans are powerful ways of influencing people.
We are all aware of the persistence of memes like “we cannot afford super”, “bludging beneficiaries”, “poverty is unsolvable”, people will only work if forced” etc……….
Propagandists know that if you repeat a meme or slogan often enough it becomes truth, even in the minds of those who should know better. The extreme right wing know this. Which is why they often just endlessly parrot the same mindless slogans.
More thoughtful people try and counter memes with facts and figures. Trying to persuade with reality.
In fact we need to counter memes with our own.
“We cannot afford super/welfare”.
With; We did in the 30’s to the 70’s when New Zealand was supposedly much poorer. Or, “We do very well out of the unpaid contributions of the elderly, (and mothers, carers, and all the other unpaid community workers). ”.
With; “Those on welfare are you and me, given a bit of bad luck or ill health”.
“People are inherently lazy and need to be forced to work”. (I consider this a piece of projection from the greedy section of the right, who cannot conceive of anyone doing anything without reward).
With; Most people contribute to society if they can.
“Poverty is unsolvable”.
With; We solved it for the elderly in New Zealand. (less than 3% in poverty).
A paradigm shift happens when someone challenges the accepted way of doing things.
When, for example, they ask. “Why should electric vehicles be the same as fossil fuelled ones?”.
Those growing up after the 80’s will find it hard to imagine the paradigm shift, that was the rise of Neo-liberalism, in the 80’s, in New Zealand. The colossal untested experiment, it really was, and the huge shift of wealth from the lower and middle classes to the richest of us.
Fairness, inclusiveness, equality, and the right of everyone to a decent life, was basically accepted by the left and right wing in New Zealand. It wasn’t perfect, of course, but the existence of the ladder to a decent life, for everyone, was a large part of our national goals. Something we were, rightly, proud of.
The great neo-liberal experiment has succeeded in changing our social paradigm to a much more “dog eat dog”, unequal and mean spirited society. The promised economic gains have only eventuated for a very few.
I don’t want to paint us into a corner and say that a UBI is the only answer. (Thanks McFlock) It is not, it may not even be the right one. (More on pros and cons next post). Big changes without deep thought, examination, research, discussion and consensus, is something we should leave to the other side.
But. In exploring ideas like this (Thanks Weka) we are, hopefully, starting a paradigm shift away from Neo-liberal acceptance of meanness and inequity towards inclusiveness, equity, fairness and the right of all of us to a decent and hopeful life.
Why should we accept poverty in a country which has more than enough resources for everyone?
New Zealand once led the world in social policy. New Zealanders, of all political colours, are proud of our world leading human rights and social welfare initiatives.
Dauphin was the “town without poverty” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome
New Zealand could be, “The country without poverty” .