Response by Tom Rigby to “The Future of Work”

Ramos’ critique of neoliberalism centres on the nature of capitalism as a system in which value is created for the few at the expense of the many. Ramos uses the metaphor of musical chairs to demonstrate the effects of neoliberalism on employment, with each step of innovation and disruption decreasing rather than increasing employment opportunities. But why must this be a zero sum game, he asks?

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The Future of Work

The article was originally published in Stir Magazine. Thank you to Jose Ramos for giving us permission to republish.

Many of us grew up with the game of musical chairs. The music starts and we go round and round. Some dance around with abandon, while others hover over each chair as they pass expecting the music to stop (that was me as a child!). Eventually the music does stop and you, me and the other children would rush to find the nearest empty chair. Invariably one child would end up chair-less or else one of the chairs would be crammed with two bottoms vying for position, one bottom toppling over in a fierce contest. Continue reading →

The Age of Consequences: the nexus of climate and conflict

The Age of Consequences is a documentary film exploring how climate change stressors interact with societal tensions, sparking conflict. The film unpacks how water and food shortages, drought, extreme weather, and sea-level rise function as ‘accelerants of instability’ and ‘catalysts for conflict’, with grave implications for peace and security in the 21st century

The film is being shown in Australia as part of the Transitions Film Festival. Green Agenda editor, Clare Ozich, spoke to the film’s writer, director and producer, Jarad Scott, about the rationale behind making a climate film focused on security, the concept of interconnectedness that is central to the film, and making documentaries in the time of Trump.

Green Agenda also spoke to Jarad last year about his film, Requiem for the American Dream, featuring Noam Chomsky on the principles of concentration of wealth and power. A film (and an interview) that now provides a useful background to the conditions leading to the Trump Presidency.

 

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Postcapitalism: An interview with Paul Mason

Green Agenda Editors Clare Ozich and Simon Copland spoke to Paul Mason, journalist and author of Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future.

With his bold thesis on how technological development is leading to the end of capitalism and the exciting prospect of what a postcapitalism could look like, we had a lot to discuss with Paul. As Paul puts it in the introduction to the book “The current crisis not only spells the end of the neoliberal model, it is a symptom of the longer-term mismatch between market systems and an economy based on information. The aim of the book is to explain why replacing capitalism is no longer a utopian dream, how the basic forms of a postcapitalist economy can be found within the current system, and how they could be expanded rapidly.”

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Fairness to fascism – Trump’s bait and switch

“Forgotten men and women”. “Struggling families”. “Mothers and children trapped in poverty”, not “sharing the wealth” of “the establishment”.

On one reading, Donald Trump’s inauguration speech is full of left wing imagery and ideas. So much so that I have seen it explicitly suggested that it was the kind of speech that Bernie Sanders might have given. Following his rejection of the Trans Pacific Partnership as one of his first acts, the tendency to “give him a chance” is even stronger.

It strikes me that this is a misguided response, born of an accurate and important analysis of the political circumstances that led us here today, but falling for a classic fascist bait and switch. Continue reading →

An Automated World? An interview with Jim Stanford

Green Agenda contributor Mark Riboldi recently sat down with Jim Stanford to talk about automation and what it means for the future of work.

Jim is an economist and the Director of the Centre for Future Work. He recently moved to Australia from Canada where he served for over 20 years as Economist and Director of Policy with Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector trade union (formerly the Canadian Auto Workers).

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Goin’ where the weather suits my clothes

On the 9th December, 2016, the Green Institute published the paper Can Less Work be More Fair: a discussion paper on Universal Basic Income and Shorter Working Week. As part of this release Green Agenda will be republishing a number of essay from the paper.

The third paper we are publishing is from Louise Tarrant, “Goin’ where the weather suits my clothes.

How might a Universal Basic Income (UBI) and shorter working hours interact with challenges facing democracy, civil society and community engagement?

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Not Just a Basic Income

On the 9th December, 2016, the Green Institute published the paper Can Less Work be More Fair: a discussion paper on Universal Basic Income and Shorter Working Week. As part of this release Green Agenda will be republishing a number of essay from the paper.

The second paper we are publishing is from Ben Spies-Butcher, “Not Just a Basic Income.

One of the great attractions of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the breadth of its support. Not only are progressives like Martin Luther King and Eric Olin-Wright strong supporters, but so too are free market advocates like Milton Friedman and tech-savvy entrepreneurs. The libertarian impulse behind a basic income—allowing people to spend money as they see fit and without judgment—creates interesting alliances, but it also potentially conceals important points of difference. Depending on both the level of payment, and the other policies it complements or replaces, a UBI can have radically different implications. A basic income can potentially help break down the stigma and conditionality of many government payments, and improve work incentives and equity. However, where it is used to replace other components of social policy—whether through ‘buying out’ public services or reducing the ‘need’ for fair labour laws and job creation, it may instead serve to entrench the inequalities of a neoliberal world. Continue reading →

Towards an Historical Account of Universal Basic Income

On the 9th December, 2016, the Green Institute published the paper Can Less Work be More Fair: a discussion paper on Universal Basic Income and Shorter Working Week. As part of this release Green Agenda will be republishing a number of essay from the paper.

We start today with Elise Klein’s paper, “Towards an Historical Account of Universal Basic Income.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a simple idea which has been supported over the centuries by scholars and intellectuals including Thomas More, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, Henry George, Bertrand Russell, Franklin Roosevelt and Tony Atkinson. Universal Basic Income unconditionally provides every resident (children and adults) of a particular geographic location, a regular and unconditional subsistence wage.

Scholars, activists, and politicians have argued that UBI has radical potential for societies around the world. Reviewing the contemporary literature, there are three main ways UBI has been talked about:

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Building Momentum for Change

Does strategic community organising create and lead sweeping social change? Or does social change momentum arrive from disruptive actions and sweep individuals and organisations along with it? This is the question tackled by US labour, civil rights and immigration rights activist brothers Paul and Mark Engler in This is an Uprising; the answer, of course, is ‘both’. Continue reading →