Category Archives: Foresight

Economy for the Common Good in a nutshell

A very feasible model, indeed

Economy for the Common Good is far more practical and feasible than its somewhat utopian name may suggest. It is not about building castles in the air, it is a really well thought out and down-to-Earth model. Short and plain:
Do you want to produce goods and services flouting labour rights or polluting our planet? No problem: go ahead.
Do you want to sell your products or services in our market, too? All right, just do it.
Just one thing: we will tax your products 20 times higher than any other respectful products, so yours will be way more expensive on the market. Besides by means of a code (similar to a colour barcode), consumers will be able to see at a glance to what extent each product respects a series of ethical and environmental principles.
Isn’t your company transparent? Well, you can’t sell your products or services on our market. Sorry, mate!
Thus, if you want to make a profit, you will necessarily increase the common good in the process.
Result: if these are the new rules of the game, any entrepreneur, no matter how unscrupulous they are, will be willing to comply with the new legal framework so that their products and services are competitive on the market. It is a system that rewards the good businessperson and punishes predators, with the aim of benefiting the whole community. You can get rich, of course, but the only way to achieve it is by making a positive contribution. Economy for the Common Good calls for reevaluating economic relations by, for example, putting limits on financial speculation and encouraging companies to produce socially-responsible products.
So Economy of the Common Good is about changing the rules of the game, not the entire system. It is feasible because it only depends on political will.

So, at the end of the day, It is a model that juggles the legitimate aspiration to prosper and environmental awareness around to fit all human needs in. Furthermore, both liberals and left-wingers could agree upon such principles. How good can you have it?

Yanis Varoufakis on Universal Basic Income

Guaranteed Minimum Income, Universal Basic Income and Universal Basic Dividend

In the midst of the worst global pandemic since the 1918 flu — inappropriately named Spanish flu, since it didn’t originate in Spain—  some countries such as the USA are implementing economic emergency measures or, if you like, actions, to prevent millions of citizens from going bankrupt. In a sense, it could be argued that it is similar to a Guaranteed Minimum Income.

Meanwhile, the European Union, to put it mildly, doesn’t cut the mustard and is disappointing everybody once again: uncoordinated, lacking in solidarity, aimless, drifting… In one word: lame.

It is in this context that we should listen to the ones that got it right during the last financial crisis; people like Yanis Varoufakis, an eminent Greek economist, academic, philosopher and politician.

But before going into further details, we should know what we are talking about. First of all, we must distinguish between the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) and the Universal Basic Income (UBI). Afterwards we can tackle the Universal Basic Dividend brought forward by Professor Varoufakis.

Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI), also called minimum income, is a system of social welfare provision that guarantees that all citizens or families have an income sufficient to live on, provided they meet certain conditions. Eligibility is typically determined by the following: citizenship, a means test, and either availability for the labor market or a willingness to perform community services. The primary goal of a guaranteed minimum income is to reduce poverty. If citizenship is the only requirement, the system turns into a universal basic income.

On the other hand, Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a model for providing all citizens with a given sum of money, regardless of their income, resources or employment status. The purpose of the UBI is to prevent or reduce poverty and increase equality among citizens.

That said, let’s pay close attention to what Professor Varoufakis has to say:

So, according to the renowned economist, the Universal Basic Income shouldn’t come from taxation, since it might become a source of conflicts within the working class. He points out that nowadays capital is socially produced, so he brings forward the idea of a Universal Basic Dividend where a percentage of shares of all companies should go to a public equity trust that works as a wealth fund for society. The dividends should be distributed to every member of society equally, so the income comes from return of capital, not from taxation.

Contrary to what many may think, Varoufakis is for a global governance. He is not against free trade, but he stresses that it should be accompanied by binding rules in order to avoid social dumping.

One thing is for sure: something must be done, asap. Countries can’t just let their people and SMEs go bankrupt overnight. We might be about to face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and this pandemic and its consequent lockdown could take a while. Util we don’t have a vaccine, what can’t be cured, must be endured, and unprecedented economic measures must be put into effect. A more egalitarian society fits everyone, since it means a more stable, safe, human and prosperous society. For once, let’s be smart. We are in this crisis together and we will come out of it together. There is no other way.

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If we ruled the world: an awesome workshop

The World Game

Last Saturday I was happy enough to attend an amazing workshop in  Barcelona under the wing of IAM, which is an alternative think-tank community exploring the evolution of internet cultures and the future influence of digital technologies.

To be honest, at first I was pretty clueless about the event and how it worked, but since I am really fond of foresight science —or, if you like, futures studies or prospective science— I decided to give it a chance and, in the end, it was far beyond my initial expectations. It was indeed one of the best workshops I have ever attended.

Foresight studies involve critical thinking regarding long-term developments, speculation about future trends and interdisciplinary debates. Forecasting, forward thinking, strategic analysis and networking are key components of this relatively new discipline. In the last decade, scenario methods have become widely used in some European countries in policy-making.

Soon I found out that it was an update of Buckminster Fuller‘s World Game first proposed in 1961 for the era of global finance, statecraft, big data, climate change and mass migration. Fuller was a 20th century inventor and visionary and one of the pioneers of foresight science. His ideas continue to influence new generations of scientists, economists, designers, architects, and artists all over the world working to create a sustainable planet.

The session, organized by Phi Collective, was masterfully conducted by Aliaksandra Smirnova, who managed to boost engagement and creativity —even though it was on a Saturday morning— and turned the workshop into an exciting and inspiring experience.

During the session, participants learned to identify future trends and imagine upcoming scenarios, so that we could figure out possible solutions to tomorrow’s challenges, such as climate change, floods, droughts, climate refugees, housing, logistics, big data…

It is amazing what synergies between people from different disciplines can achieve. It really works wonders! The workshop was very well though-out, implemented in a very productive way , the training material was wonderfully designed, and again,  it was conducted in both an engaging and professional way. This magnificent workshop was designed by Calum Bowden and Aliaksandra Smirnova.

I strongly recommend that all universities, secondary schools, companies, international and government bodies organize the world game. No doubt about it. It is an astonishing, productive and enjoyable experience. Furthermore, It can be applied to many areas and case scenarios. It definitely ranks among the best events I have ever attended.

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