Prosperity is about creating an environment where people are able to reach their full potential. When this is attained on an international scale this led to global prosperity. Global prosperity demands in the first place for ending hunger and poverty, while preserving a sustainable environment. A month ago FAO announced that the number of people suffering from hunger has risen again in the last three years. 1 in 9 people starves. In total, around 821 million people suffer from hunger. Climate conditions such as drought and floods are the main reasons for this increase. FAO warns that these developments jeopardize the goal of freeing the world from famine by 2030. Inequality has become an embarrassing social reality for more and more global citizens – a reality that we seem very far away from solving. Currently 1% of Americans own 40-50% of national wealth, while the rest – the 99% - are trying to make their voices heard. Big business maintains its hold on wealth concentration by ensuring that workers are not owners, which is far away from economic democracy. Co-operatively owned business, shared ownership and other forms of worker ownership helps to diversify rather than concentrate wealth.
Negotiations around Sustainable Development Goals show that we should turn our attention to prosperity rather than to development per se. Prosperity is generally measured by GDP, which measures material that after a certain point is no longer useful. Furthermore GDP uses an international framework that works for all countries and this is not effective. It is better looking to involve local people in their own decisions and their own future. Co-designing prosperity can create a vision of prosperity that stays true to local complexities, whilst still upholding the international goal of flourishing and thriving for everyone. The Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) is developing methods and tools that will enable people to define prosperity in their own local context. This will develop local insights about the ideas of a good life in an area and make it flourish. Once this is achieved, communities, businesses and policymakers can make more informed efforts to move towards global prosperity.
To overcome poverty everyone should have sufficient income. The normal way to earn an income is to have a job or work. Receiving an income from work is not possible for all people. On the one hand there are always disadvantaged people, disabled people and people with few opportunities on the labour market. On the other hand in our age of information technology and robotics fewer and fewer jobs are created and even many jobs will be lost. Some think that the coming ‘robot apocalypse’ will replace a myriad of jobs. To think about a ‘universal basic income’ for providing a base income for those who cannot find work is obvious. Some think that guaranteeing ‘universal basic services’, first modelled by IGP, such as health care, education, childcare, transportation and digital information, would be more beneficial to low income groups than a universal basic income. Although more research is needed here, I think that basic services require more regulations and are less flexible than basic income.
A basic income is an unconditional allowance that is sufficient to live on. It is a floor in the income distribution. Nobody then lives below the poverty line. It has four characteristics: universal, individual, guaranteed and high enough to lead a full existence in society. Basic income tries to reduce poverty and increase equality. The basic income gives freedom, it prevents bullshit jobs, jobs that the people they have actually find unnecessary. Simplicity is created and bureaucracy is avoided. All social allowances, benefits (for example in the event of illness, unemployment and pension) and subsidies are superfluous. The minimum wage can also be abolished. Even with a basic income it pays to work, even when it comes to low-paid or temporary jobs. With a basic income, everyone has income security and therefore purchasing power to keep the economy going. The difference between poor and rich citizens will become smaller. We have more time for each other. Many people who now have no chance to develop will get that chance with a basic income. And in any case, there will be much more room for volunteering and informal care. We have more time for each other.
Ideas about basic income are very old. Already in 1516 Thomas More pointed to a kind of basic income in Utopia. Also Thomas Paine (1737-1809), Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek and Martin Luther King were in favour of basic income. Rutger Bregman, journalist for De Correspondent and author of the book 'Free money for everyone', is a well-known proponent of basic income. Based on experiments he recently concluded: “… it turned out that basic income resulted in less inequality, less poverty, less child mortality, lower health costs, less crime, better school results and even economic growth.” In the context of the discussion about a new tax system, Wouter Keller, former director at Statistics Netherlands, who inspired me to write my PhD thesis, proposes a combination of basic income and flat tax. According to him, that is sufficient to solve the "poverty trap", the phenomenon of being deteriorated by working harder, and to replace all current income taxes, social contributions, allowances and taxes.
Though some experiments with basic income were successful and have shown that people can remain involved in society, even if they have fewer opportunities and have to live in poverty, as yet no large-scale attempts have been made to actually introduce a basic income. It is a rigorous measure, that requires the cooperation of the government in most cases and there is no control in the direction of a sustainable society. That is why it is important to start with a light version of a basic income that does indicate a sustainable alignment. That is possible by compensating people who want to buy local and/or sustainable products but who are struggling or have little money. This stimulates everyone's involvement in the local economy.
2local chooses for a cash back system with crypto currencies based on blockchain technology stimulating local and sustainable products. This stimulates everyone's involvement in the local economy. The idea of 2local is to provide periodic distributions of 2local (L2L) tokens up to a certain maximum to all people who have purchased local and/or sustainable goods or services from connected companies during those periods. In this way everyone can get access to a certain package of local goods and/or services and thus poverty is suppressed. Moreover, the position of people in the labour market becomes stronger, it becomes more attractive to follow training and it becomes easier for people to organize their lives as they wish. For example, we support the group of producers and consumers who can withstand the pressure of the global industrial system that exposes consumers constantly to penetrating advertisements. In my opinion the move towards local sustainability will expand and become universal. Systems, such as energy, food, water, will be designed on a local scale, but culminate in a matrix in which everything scales up, from the small to the large, while retaining the fractal properties.