Universal Basic Income

finland flag part 2

the letter can you imagine a world without poverty, where everyone has enough money to survive each month, and aren’t stigmatized for not working a full-time job or a job at all?

In Finland, the people there are getting ready to clear their eyes and open it to a reality where their families, neighbors, and then, hopefully, everyone else in the world will have a “Universal Basic Income.” The concept, once finalized sometime in November 2016, will provide eight hundred and seventy-six dollars a month to everyone in Finland. The said amount will be non-taxable nor will it be conditional—meaning, everyone is entitled to it no matter what.

Progressives out there, and those fighting for income equality and minimum wage increase, this is your dream, right here. And, yes, even those on the far right, this is your dream as well—finally, a chance to abolish welfare benefits, unemployment lines, and other so-called social safety nets that are costing tax-payers billions of dollars each year.

By now, I’m anticipating that someone with a practical mindset will say something, like, “..but don’t we still have to work…everyone just can’t sit on their buttocks all day?!” Yes, everyone can not and will not sit on their buttocks all day. What the above concept is proposing is a basic income not a living wage. Fortunately, people still have to work.

Furthermore, people still have to work, but not without options or bargaining power—under the umbrella of the latter proposal. I invite you to imagine, you can have more time to lend a helping hand, go on a vacation, volunteer or travel….because your not constrained to the monolithic obligations of the workplace.

In America we have over seven-point-nine million people that are unemployed. As of November 29, 2012 and according to the congressional budget office report, state and federal unemployment insurance programs have cost roughly five hundred and twenty billions dollars. As of then, I’m sure it has risen. And for young people, like myself, our unemployment rate is costing the government eight-point-nine billions dollars a year—since two-thousand-eight. In addition to that, four-point-five percent of Americans are living below the poverty line (True U.S. poverty Rate). How much longer can we keep this up….before more people become unemployed, downtrodden and forgotten?

Now, then, in order to kill two birds with one stone, wouldn’t it make sense to implement a basic income system akin to Finland’s, which will help us save billions of dollars and remove people out of poverty? Consider this, before your attention-span dissipates any further, if you can live, just, without working, then boss’ power over you is vastly reduced. Are you hooked yet? Another way to look at this is that reservation wages rise—the amount you have to be offered to go to work rises. Still not hooked? Well, the former will surely convince you,  Charles Murray in his book, “In Our Hands,” did the math and found that if we paid ten thousand dollars each year to each adult over twenty-one, it works! We spend about the same on providing welfare.

If the idea of “Universal Basic Income” is implemented, someday, do you believe that some form of poverty will still exist?


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Young People of Buffalo

young man wants change

Since Common Core; a state-led effort in 2009 to improve English and Mathematical standards for High School students to be better prepared for college or the workforce, the percentage of students graduating from High School has dropped by five percent, to now, 53 percent. And less than two percent of the city’s budget is spent on economic development, culture and recreation, health and community services. Without the latter, and when you sprinkle in the former, what kind of economy will young people have to participate in? Who will give them jobs and offer spaces for them to rest their anxious and troubled minds? And what axioms will they respect, let alone, choose to follow?

Buffalo, the city that I love dearly,  is the third highest poverty-stricken city in the nation. Again, Buffalo, and despite what our local, optimistic politicians are saying and always waging their fingers about, is the ward of the the state and can barely afford to cover sixty percent of its operating budget. Income inequality is visible and rampant in Buffalo, as well—-the average household income in Erie and Niagara counties is more than twice as high among whites ($55,000) as it is among African Americans ($25,000) and Hispanics ($27,000).

This is very alarming. I cannot imagine such abnormalities continuing for another decade without there being massive uprisings and talk(s) of Revolution. Too much? Then, excuse my brassiness, common reader, I was not trying to provoke repressed inklings of anxiety and fear…..what I am getting at is, that, the more marginalized members of our city—especially, the young folks, realize that they are not apart of the gigantic brush of prosperity that politicians are always raving about, then the more likely it is for them to have discourse about Revolution.

“….Buffalo is experiencing a renaissance,” I’ve heard some people say, ” Canal side and infrastructure are on the upswing, in Buffalo.” Soon, those same people would typically add, ” businesses are investing in Buffalo. heck, we have Terry Pegula, the guy is single-handedly keeping Buffalo Hockey and Football alive!” Such individuals are often thirtysomethings living in the suburbs and driving fancy cars. When I would ask them about young people of color in the city who, maybe because of income inequality or subtle racism, cannot afford to share such sentiments, they often snicker and blame the short-comings of the said group on their parents. ” It’s all about the parents, bro,” I remember one white guy saying to me. ” If your parents didn’t emphasize education and getting a decent job, then so will the children.”

Naturally, it is easy to blame parents for the inappropriate behaviors of young people, but that’s just too easy and narrow-minded. Nowadays, parents have no control of what, someone, like a Terry Pegula does with his money and what communities or businesses he chooses to support. Parents, have no lobbying power nor the economic fullness to force businesses to stop gentrifying their communities or banks to stop circumventing funds out of their communities. And we’re not even scratching the surface. The socio-economic footprints of the many parents of young people, thesedays, were prescribed to them due to poor public policies, deindustrialization, capital flight, suburban sprawl, ever-more concentrated poverty, and much more.

Sure, parents have to be held under the same microscope of accountability, but so does municipalities, businesses, and government.  What I am getting at is, we are all apart of this exciting Buffalo—that is doing well and experiencing a modest recovery, that, we cannot, no matter how well we’re doing, forget about the younger generation. The reality that they inherited was not constructed by their parents alone….everyone had something to do with it.  Thus, personal, ignorant sentiments aside, it is our collective responsibility to reinvest in the city, both morally and financially.

If Common Core is choosing to make it more difficult for our young people to graduate High school, If politicians are electing to paint a picture of a more gentrified Buffalo, If municipalities agree to continue disinvesting in economic development, culture, and recreational centers, health and community services, then, whom amongst us will speak up?

Women Fighters in Kurdistan

more fighters

Kurdish women fighters, as young as 17-years-old, are bringing the fight to ISIS; a radical Islamist group responsible for the death of thousands of Christians and the misplacement of countless others.

Inspired by the imprisoned Marxist leader, Abdullah Ocalan, whom promoted gender equality, a small faction of the women’s protection unit, an offshoot of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), and other Kurdish groups, are willing to lay their lives on the line to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS); a militant group that would severely curtail the already minuscule rights of women, if to come into power.

Although trapped in deeply conservative societies, such as the Middle East, young women recruits of the Women’s Protection Unit are joining for a chance to fight to maintain the little agencies they have, in a male dominated society. ” In the past, women had various roles in the society, but all those roles were taken from them,” says 18-year-old Saria Zilan. ” We are here now to take back the role of women in society.”

From the possibility of death, to the uncomfortabilities of any parent whom would rather have their teenage girls engaging in other non-lethal activities, like painting their nails or grooming themselves for marriage, one can only wonder, silently, in awe, what could possibly be the appeal of such a dangerous enterprise? Perhaps, it’s the opportunity to be inscrolled in martyrdom as an un-categorical  bread of women who defied the yesterdays of patriarchy, or an attempt to reverse looping perceptions of what the bestowed agencies of womenhood should be, or worse, but rightfully justified in my humble observations, the thrill of revenge against macho and wicked men.

For 18-year-old Zilan Orkish, who left her small village on the Turkish-Syria border to join the women fighters, the latter seems more appealing, especially so when she killed an ISIS fighter for the first time, and then began cheering loudly, hoping the sound would reach the ears of other Jihadists. ” I wanted to let them know that their worst nightmare had come true,” she says. ”  Their friend had been killed by a women.”

Whatever the motivation  or seduction of the said lifestyle, the fight has a cost. Several miles from the all female camp. there are fresh graveyards  being dug by men, awaiting for new arrivals. Despite the exact numbers of women causalities, one can only imagine, that once revealed, that number could be very high because of the devilish intention of ISIS members to seek and destroy unconventional women who chose to disobey ancient-old and biblically-inspired agencies set for them, by men.

Source; Business insider , “meet some of the Kurdish women fighting ISIS today,” David Sim, International Business Times.