After UBI, another tool for liberation... Universal Basic Assets

Great piece from exploring a new twist on Universal Basic Income - the old-but-fashionable idea we've been exploring on this blog for the last several months. UBI can potentially redistribute income from the tech-and-finance elites, as well as give citizens greater power over their working lives, vis-a-vis employers, while providing the economic basis for a more flourishing lifestyle.

Yet as the Futurism blog suggests, in the course of examining UBI, problems are appearing: "It is hugely expensive, not all individuals have equal skills in managing money, and that — as Lenny Mendonca of NewCo Shift wrote in an opinion piece — 'it is giving crumbs to pacify rather than means to participate.'"

The Californian think-tank Institute For The Future has come up with an enrichment of UBI - called Universal Basic Assets: “a core, basic set of resources that every person is entitled to, from housing and healthcare to education and financial security.”

Rather than just focusing on income, the IFTF divides assets into three categories:

First, private assets owned personally, such as housing, land, and money. Second, public assets owned collectively and usually managed by a government, which can include anything from the police force to public art galleries to national parks.

And third, open assets owned by neither an individual nor the government, but by a defined group. Resources in this category are epitomized by how open-source software operates today. John Clippinger, founder of the Institute for Data-Driven Design, said this category usually evolves with society, giving the example of British Common Law in an interview with Forbes, “It was constantly reinventing itself around the circumstances, and there was no single point of control.”

The IFTF intends to promote UBA in three stages:

  • Catalyze a community to create a “new economic operating system built on universal basic assets.”

  • Conduct research, particularly on open assets

  • Launch experiments from which they can forecast the kind of society we can create.

Readers of the Daily Alternative may recognise these ideas from the work of George Monbiot. What is the difference between IFTF's "open assets" (not market or state but resources actively owned by the community), and Monbiot's understanding of the "commons"

But it's all pointing to a necessary rethink of the balance of economic and social forces in society, as technology and climate change rip up the old rules.