What is a humanity forward society? It’s when an economy and culture align with everyone’s well being, rewarding us for what we do best with no effort wasted on conflicts caused by a scarcity-mindset.
How can we be rewarded for doing what we love to do and being what we want to be? What would that society look like? This is what we asked when we started Forge Collective.
The Hudson Valley and Catskills region is known for artists, writers, creators, and self reliant, independent-minded thinkers. For more than a century, it has been a haven for people who enjoy a lifestyle rich in purpose and fulfillment yet meager in material wealth as well as for those with means and power. It is as close to the optimum lifestyle that would serve as a foundation for a humanity forward society as it can be in today’s world.
We have been able to enjoy this because of a combination of many factors: the close proximity and mutual dependency with New York City, abundant natural resources, rugged yet accessible nature, and high percentage of home ownership. These all contribute to a rare instance where the wealthy capital owners and high-skilled professionals live side-by-side with the working or creative poor, all sharing a sense of belonging.
Yet such a lifestyle has been increasingly under pressure from rising healthcare and educational costs, erosion of living wages, loss of small business opportunities, widening inequality, social polarization, and climate crisis.
If we in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, who have the fortune to live in such an optimal condition, could not step up to help other communities, and more importantly, look at ourselves in the eye and be critical of our own behavior that is hurting the society, then who would? This is why we at Forge Collective focus on local issues—we analyze what makes our community so desirable and try to preserve and strengthen such attributes while finding ways to make them replicable and adaptable. We also identify situations where harmony is threatened by conflicting interests and instead turn them into opportunities for connections. Although our actions stay in the community, our stories and findings are shared globally—as millions of communities like ours are facing similar conflicts albeit with widely varying stakes and contexts.
Universal Basic Income
For all this to happen, we believe that building a secure foundation for every citizen is an indispensable first step. We cannot build a world where everyone has a chance to exercise their right to pursue happiness if some of us are not allowed seats at the table. And there is nothing that would accomplish this more effectively and efficiently than Universal Basic Income.
Basic (Guaranteed) Income is an idea that has been discussed and experimented with since at least the Empiric Roman times, with a wide range of proponents that include Thomas Paine, Milton Friedman, Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Nixon, Hillary Clinton, and the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate, Andrew Yang.
There are many versions of Basic Income, but all propose to provide citizens with a monthly guaranteed income, commonly $1000/month. Some propose means-testing, but many agree that universality is important for various reasons such as ease of implementation and erasure of stigma. Moreover, with Andrew Yang’s plan of funding UBI with Value Added Tax, it becomes a progressive policy, meaning the wealthier population would pay a higher tax than middle and low-income households, making UBI a tool for reducing inequality. Most importantly, VAT would force 21st Century behemoths like Amazon, Google, and Apple to pay their fair share, unlike corporate income taxes that they currently pay none of, as they funnel it into expansion, share buy-backs, and the wallets of shareholders and CEOs. VAT would tax data, which belongs to all of us, returning the portion of the profit back to citizens, much like dividends.
With the stress and anxiety related to finance vastly reduced, a large portion of the citizens would be able to focus more on what they really want and need to do, like taking care of themselves and their families. Once most people are no longer in survival mode, we as a society will be able to prepare better for upcoming challenges.
But Universal Basic Income is not enough. It is the most transformational step, but in order to ensure that UBI is used effectively, in a way that increases the well being of all citizens and the planet rather than as another tool that would funnel wealth and power into the hands of the ownership class, we need more. We need a Humanity Forward Society.
Intrinsic Value, Intrinsic Motivation
The thing art has over industry is love…the reward for good work is more work. –Tom Sachs
The video above was part of a multi-media installation at SUNY Ulster Community College, of artists answering the question of “Why do you make art?” The common answer was they have no choice. It’s the same as eating, thinking, breathing.
Although these artists are more committed to their passion than most people, all people have natural inclination for what they are gifted for. Imagine how much more productive and happy we would become if we could do what we love to do for a job?
To create incentives that align our passion with work would solve many problems that might hinder the effectiveness of UBI, and enhance its benefit multiple-fold, leading the path to a compassionate and productive society.
Our current welfare programs and economy in general do not take into consideration emotional intelligence and intuitive knowledge. Designing programs as if humans are numbers or mono-cultural clones only lead to waste of resources and human tragedies. While there are many efforts on this front in various sectors, more voices from those who receive such services and pay taxes are always needed.
Forge Collective provides a platform for all voices to be shared in collectively searching for a society where everyone lives a purposeful and fulfilled life.
Forge Collective is sponsored by Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Contributions for the purposes of Forge Collective are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.