Environmental benefits of a Universal Livable Income
L'Hirondelle & Larochelle 2005, updated Sept. 2011

The environmental benefits of a guaranteed livable income are often overlooked because eliminating poverty and the subsequent improvements in human health are the most obvious and immediate effects that society would see upon implementation of a universal income benefit. However, human health is directly linked to the health of our environment; ultimately the most important benefits of a guaranteed income are to get us out of the destructive economic ruts we are in that are ruining the environment.

Robley E. George describes how in his 2008 SocioEconomic Democracy Platform:

Four immediate environmental benefits of a universal, democratically set guaranteed income:

1) guaranteed income would financially allow people to refuse to work in industries which significantly pollute the environment. That reduces pollution.

2) guaranteed income would sustain people while they demanded nonpollution-producing jobs and even jobs to reduce present pollution. That reduces pollution even more.

3) the democratically set guaranteed income for all would allow more people to refuse to buy the significantly polluting products of industry.
Pollution is thereby reduced even further.

4) guaranteed income would allow more people to demand nonpolluting products from industry and even products and processes which ecologically complement other existing products and processes.

All this contributes to the well-being and welfare of everyone and everything -- including the environment, solid, liquid and gaseous.

Quoted from SocioEconomic Democracy (SeD) and the SeD Platform by Robley E. George.

See also "Alive in the Sunshine - Jacobin Magazine 2014

Trading forests for shopping malls??

We are destroying the earth in an attempt to grow the world's economy with the idea that everyone can get a living wage job. The loss of clean air, clean water, forests, arable soil, all forms of "wild" life cannot be measured. Trying to create full employment to meet people's needs is stunningly costly, vastly wasteful and destructive to both the humans, nature and all living things. See Consumption.

It will be impossible to even begin to save other species and the world's environment as long as billions of people are desperate to escape poverty. People are forced to take any available job regardless of the impact that more production and more consumption has on other peoples, other forms of life and the earth as a whole. Without a GLI people won't have a means to stop destroying nature.

Instead of building more homes for people, the corporate political class insists that world society needs more luxury housing, hotels, office buildings, shopping malls, sporting arenas, golf courses and so on. The the corporate political class also wants to use our time and resources to drill for more oil and to dig out more gold and diamonds; to privatize the world's lands and resources to grow more coffee, tea, cotton, sugar, tobacco, cut flowers and other cash crops. See The Jobs Pardox.

Not only does the repeated consumption of certain products make people sick, it also makes all forms of life progressively sicker by polluting the air, water and soil that gives us all life.

Some degree of pollution would be understandable if world society were trying to grow enough food, and build and heat and cool housing and work places to keep the world's people healthy and alive. But this is not the case, for world society is risking life of the planet to produce more non-essentials and luxury goods.

"Seduced by the dangerous illusion that our technologies place us beyond the constraints of life's natural limits, and forgetful that the only meaningful purpose of economic activity is to provide people with a means of living... The result is an economic system that is mindlessly converting life into money in an act of collective insanity."

--David Korten, the introduction to Richard Douthwaite's 1999 book:
"The Growth Illusion: How economic growth has enriched the few, impoverished the many and endangered the planet"
"...earth is thus stripped and polluted by ever more unfettered global market operations... When objections are raised, the followers of the paradigm that rules sternly warn that all is necessary 'to keep the economy going'."

--John McMurtry, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism, 1999

Trying to create good paying jobs for all impoverished people in the world (over 2.8 billion people) would mean we would need several more planets of for resources and several more planets for waste even if we didn't have limits to consumption.

"William Rees, an urban planner at the University of British Columbia, estimated that it requires four to six hectares of land to maintain the consumption level of the average person from a high-consumption country. The problem is that in 1990, worldwide there were only 1.7 hectares of ecologically productive land for each person."

"Growing numbers of people are beginning to realize that capitalism is the uncontrollable force driving our ecological crisis, only to become frozen in their tracks by the awesome implications of the insight." Joel Kovel, The Enemy of Nature (2001)

The quest for full employment will only make the current ecological crisis worse: First, people will be forced to continue to do ecologically destructive work in order to feed themselves and their families, and second, make-work projects are vastly more wasteful than just giving people money directly.

brown bear lifting lid to get into dumpster

We cannot stop any ecologically damaging activities, or tell people to stop doing ecologically damaging activities, until we can tell people how they will feed themselves and their families when the work ends. Only if we can implement a transitional emergency guaranteed livable income can we save the environment.

"Only a radical reversal of our attitudes toward nature can help us... we may even now be too late to change the conditions we have created. It is extremely disturbing to see so many Americans wanting to clear cut the ancient forests, overgraze the remaining grasslands, and use the precious water of the continents for frivolous consumptive purposes. How many shopping malls and parking lots do we really need?... We may well become one of the few species in this vast universe that has permanently ruined our home."
-- Vine Deloria Jr., God is Red, 1992

"...we shall not have the benefits of this world for much longer. The imminent and expected destruction of the life cycle of our world ecology can be prevented by a radical shift in outlook from our present naïve conception of this world as a testing ground for abstract morality to a more mature view of the universe as a comprehensive matrix of life forms." -- Vine Deloria Jr., God is Red

See also: Economic Foundations and Environmental Progress for how the current economic system is in direct conflict with the progress of the environmental movement.

Rationale for a Guaranteed Livable Income

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