My Basic Income (Mein Grundeinkommen)

Germany is about to start a basic income experiment; participants would receive about $US1,000 per month.

Would people still get out of bed each day and go to work or do something else productive even with that unconditional basic income of 1,000 euros, less than half the average German monthly wage, but more than twice what those on welfare receive?

Those are among the questions being examined in a small real-life experiment called "Mein Grundeinkommen" (My Basic Income) taking place in Germany ó where 26 people thus far are being given $1,100 a month to do whatever they want with.

The privately operated project, financed by crowdfunding donations, has injected new life into an old debate in Germany about utopian ideals. The idea of a "basic wage" is also touching a nerve in Germany and across Europe amid a rise in poverty and an increase in the number of working poor.

However, science fiction writer Philip Jose Farmer wrote at wildly science-fictional length (as only he could) about this idea in his mind-blowing 1967 Hugo Award-winning novella Riders of the Purple Wage. What is it?

There is no more starvation or want anywhere, except among the self-exiles wandering in the woods. And the food and goods are shipped to the pandoras and dispensed to the receivers of the purple wage. The purple wage. A madison-avenue euphemism with connotations of royalty and divine right. Earned by just being born.

Here's Farmer's prediction of what happens:

"The mid-twentieth-century writers of the Triple Revolution document forecast accurately in some respects. But they de-emphasized what lack of work would do to Mr. Everyman. They believed that all men have equal potentialities in developing artistic tendencies, that all could busy themselves with arts, crafts, and hobbies or education for education's sake. They wouldn't face the 'undemocratic' reality that only about ten per cent of the population -- if that -- are inherently capable of producing anything worth while, or even mildly interesting, in the arts. Crafts, hobbies, and a lifelong academic education pale after a while, so back to the booze, fido, and adultery.

"Lacking self-respect, the fathers become free-floaters, nomads on the steppes of sex. Mother, with a capital M, becomes the dominant figure in the family. She may be playing around, too, but she's taking care of the kids; she's around most of the time. Thus, with father a lower-case figure, absent, weak, or indifferent, the children often become homosexual or ambisexual. The wonderland is also a fairyland.

"Some features of this time could have been predicted. Sexual permissiveness was one, although no one could have seen how far it would go. But then no one could have foreknown of the Panamorite sect, even if America has spawned lunatic-fringe cults as a frog spawns tadpoles. Yesterday's monomaniac is tomorrow's messiah, and so Sheltey and his disciples survived through years of persecution and today their precepts are embedded in our culture."

Via LATimes.

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