Universal Basic Income vs Commons Resource Dividends

Side note - I’m thinking of changing the name ‘Commons Resource Dividends’ to ‘Commons Claim Dividends’ … seems more accurate.

Universal Basic Income (UBI)

Two frequent problems with proposed implementations:

  1. geographical boundaries on distribution lead to boundary ‘enforcement’ issues
  2. source of money (taxes on productivity/labour) reinforces the problems we have with our current systems, such as increasing extraction, inflation, and ‘class-based’ resentment and social polarisation

Commons Resource/Claims Dividends (CCDs)

I think these would avoid the two problems mentioned above, re UBI.

  1. The boundary on the commons claim would be ‘defined’ based on the particular commons claim in question (e.g. global atmosphere claim on oil means everyone who opts in to being a beneficiary for that claim has an equal share of the claim, i.e. equal CCDs)
  2. The source of CCDs is a rent/fee for ‘privatised use’ of the commons claim in question. This is an ethical foundation, and applied at the earliest possible point of use/extraction

The following section contains an extract from a comment I left on a blog about UBI in September 2018 :slight_smile:


I believe that the inherently partisan, nationalist, political structure (in most countries, including the UK, and Australia, where I am) is incapable of acting as an effective vehicle for dealing with global issues like climate change … at least in a timely manner. It’s hard to get an organism to behave in a manner contrary to its own short term survival.

We need to create a new “organism” designed from the outset to function in alignment with the health of our biosphere. I think that means a new global governance body, in the form of a Commons Trust, which charges rents and fees on use (and/or abuse) of common resources, and then distributes the proceeds as dividends to all the beneficiaries of the trust (i.e. individual people who have opted in, regardless of nation, race, gender, age, religion etc.) to enable them to – in turn – make the best decisions for their own survival, and in so doing, act in a manner which is in alignment with the health of our ecosystem.

Dividends on global commons wouldn’t provide a full UBI for anyone, but setting up this infrastructure could also model the approach, and technologically empower smaller associations of people (whether nations or local communities or cooperatives) to cumulatively build a UBI for their members/citizens.

In essence, I am suggesting that a Global Commons Trust is the appropriate governance body (or “organism”) required to set and maintain the boundaries for Kate Raworth’s “Doughnut”.

Over time, I believe humanity could also reconsider whether various powers we have ceded to the market and the state should instead be transferred to the Commons Trust … such as the power to “create” money, to grant loans, to manage intellectual property, to license global corporations, to conduct (or oversee) risky research in areas such as biotech, nanotech, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence etc.

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