In my last post, I detailed our current financial ultimatum as a species and how we might solve that going forward. The solution arrived at is to massively increase economic activity while returning a percentage of each purchase back to every individual. This not only solves the issue of wealth inequality but alleviates the concerns of proponents of capitalism who worry that solving wealth inequality will spread the money too thin for anyone to be successful, to achieve the American Dream. While figuring out how to get enough money to everyone to survive is extremely useful we also need to take into account other essential parts of human experience. Namely, the desire to help others, to chase your specific dreams, to have nice things, and to experience success. Today I’m going to go over what these things look like and how adding them on to the previously proposed system would work.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Andrew Yang. In my last post, I discussed how we could take the idea of a Universal Basic Income, and paying for it through a VAT, to a global scale, something we will desperately need to do as we advance more and more. Here I want to talk about his idea of the new American Scorecard and why it’s not only important but how it’s the only positive future we have. GDP is obviously an important measurement when it comes to understanding economic activity and how much buying and spending have been going on but GDP does not accurately measure how well each of us is doing, individually, as communities, or even as a country. The reason for this is because GDP is ONLY measuring economic activity. When we see that the GDP has been going up dramatically for the last several years and have been told that this is the ultimate measure for how well we’re doing it’s easy to say, “We’re doing great! The economy is doing great!” But the fact of the matter is that the majority of the people who are benefitting from GDP spikes are already millionaires or billionaires. In other words, this change in GDP isn’t changing anything in reality. The people benefitting from it already have everything they need and the people not benefitting from it are desperately in need.
So how does this connect with the proposal of a new economic scorecard? The idea is to change the primary measurements we use to actually understand the well-being of every individual, community, and country as a whole. To do this we need to establish new measurements like quality of life (who would have thought??), happiness and mental health, the quality of the environment, affordability, and access to education among many other important measurements instead of just relying on unemployment and GDP. By doing this we are shifting the economic perspective to not just value how much money is being shifted around (kind of arbitrary when you really think about it) but to value things that we all know actually matter in our day to day lives and relate to our overall well-being.
So how would creating a new economic scorecard change people’s abilities to help others, chase their dreams, have nice things, and experience success? First, the obvious answer, that by valuing the correct things we would shift to a world that is focusing on making these things a reality just like so many people value increasing GDP right now because they’re being told that’s what there is to value. Next, let’s take a look at a bigger picture here. We now have two proposals in place, UBI, and a new economic scorecard. While I talked about the importance of increasing the GDP in my last post this is only in the light that everyone will get to benefit from those increases. But that’s still only a financial benefit which we all know doesn’t solve every problem, especially those relating to mental health and the environment. This leads me to the third step we need to put in place: incentives for doing good things.
On a podcast with Sam Harris, Andrew Yang and he discussed something called “time-banking”. Essentially time-banking allows people to get paid, either through standard currency or a secondary currency put in place simply for doing things we know to make the world a better place. After all, if making the world better is the value shouldn’t work that moves towards that be valued even if it doesn’t have a price-tag? Well, yes. This is the end-all, be-all goal. To get to a point where this can become a reality though, we first need to shift the view of what there is to value by implementing the new scorecard. Because so many people will look at what they’re being told is important we need to get what’s actually important on the main-stage. Whether people realize it or not, their values are what’s guiding them and if values aren’t aligned correctly bad things will inevitably happen along with a lack of good things. While the economic scorecard is a top-down approach to fixing the values of the people we also need to take the bottom-up approach through changing the education system. Whether or not we’ll need both to get to a point where we can implement something like time-banking is debateable but by focusing on both we are guaranteeing a quicker arrival at the public valuing the right things.
Now that we’re valuing the correct things how does that translate into the ability for every individual to have the equal opportunity to follow their desires to help others, chase their specific dreams, have nice things, and experience success? Let’s break them down one by one. The first one, helping others is quite obvious in light of time-banking. Helping others now has economic value so if that’s what you want to do, which is a great thing, you can do so and still live a dignified life never having to worry about not having what you need. Next, chasing our dreams. This one largely comes from the implementation of UBI but it also is amplified by the new scorecard. Because things like art are currently dropping and dropping in economic value due to a misalignment of values certain people do not have the ability to chase their dreams. Another example is someone who has great ideas for inventions but doesn’t have the time or funds to pursue that. UBI would allow these people to have a buffer, the knowledge that if they are working on their art, inventions, etc. they aren’t having to worry about starving. Additionally, with a new scorecard that realizes the importance of creativity, people will be more likely to purchase art or accept people for taking time off to pursue these types of dreams. Next, having nice things. This doesn’t necessarily mean becoming materialistic, although it very well could, it simply means having the ability to get those nicer things that make life more enjoyable and/or easier. This value doesn’t need to be argued very much as it’s already pretty understood in today’s world. By giving everyone equal opportunity to achieve we are giving everyone an equal opportunity to work for a better life while not letting people ever live a less than dignified life. Lastly, experiencing success. The arguments for this are very similar to the last one. Because everyone has that equal opportunity more people are likely to experience success in their fields. Additionally, this system allows for more people to experience success because it no longer means taking necessary things from others, directly or indirectly. This is extremely valuable because the more people we have motivated to make advancement the quicker we’ll advance as a whole.
Making sure we have a system that values everyone equally just for being a person is extremely important. Equally as important, though, is understanding what we should be looking at when measuring the success of our countries and species. By aligning our values to the well-being of every person on this planet we are beginning to understand how to have a truly functioning society that doesn’t leave people out because they aren’t the type of person to produce material goods or misses entirely things that affect everyone. We need to value well-being, experience, the environment, and education in a greater manner than we do economic activity at the present moment. By doing this we are assuring our success as individuals, communities, countries, and as a species as a whole.