John Balentine frets over robotics, creeping automation and soul-destroying guaranteed income. But his hand wringing doesn’t extend to lavish, sacrosanct forms of “guaranteed income” – capital gains, inherited wealth, corporate bailouts, oil subsidies and other avenues for our tax-based public treasury being siphoned to private wealth at the top of the class structure (yes, we have one). Donald Trump bragged of much wealth derived from “playing” the government.
Before robots, we’ve seen decline in the condition of working Americans since the mid-1970s. Balentine offers no theory as to how your children will eat. Even lawyers and surgeons will see diminished need for their services.
Balentine cites Thomas Carlyle. That archly Calvinist position is not the only permissible philosophy regarding labor, especially when the originator is plagued by “helldogs.” Balentine’s insults us as “lazy moderns,” but most Americans work hard, too hard. If you’re not exhausted, you must have servants. The rich do not suffer the “helldogs” of medical debt, tuition loans, foreclosure fears. Many of us do.
Any work may give “meaning,” but that’s no substitute for decent remuneration and genuine opportunity. What of a guaranteed income for good works done by those who are able? Our sad planet needs all hands on deck. An analog to the New Deal’s CCC – environmental public works on a grand scale? ALL work for the common good justifies Maslow’s basic material needs so that we may be creative and productive. Think of the human potential if poverty were the only “helldog” to be eliminated.
Have no fear, Mr. Balentine. There’s little political will for government to “promote the general welfare” (Preamble). Instead there will be the usual tiresome shibboleths about shiftless welfare cheats.
Jim Donnelly and Anna Wrobel