Over the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time researching and writing about basic income for The Underemployed Life: how basic income can ease the burden of underemployment, the history of basic income, and basic income experiments going on around the world.
But all of this means nothing without action. Today, I’d like to take the conversation a step further. I’m going to share some easy steps we can all take to push our governments to adopt basic income on a large scale.
Starting the conversation
The road to change begins with a conversation, and this one is all about education. At this point, most people have heard the term basic income thrown around. However, many still have misconceptions about what it actually means.
If we want to see basic income take hold in our countries, we need to bring it into the public eye. We need to start the conversation on social media, at family dinners and social gatherings. Anywhere the conversation can be had, we should have it. Talking about money and politics may be uncomfortable, especially when the two come together, but the conversation is essential if we want other people to understand what we’re fighting for, and if we want them to join us in the fight.
You can also start the conversation with your politicians.
You can use this handy list of US representatives or this list of Canadian Members of Parliament. If you hate talking on the phone, call after hours and leave a message. All phone messages are recorded by staff, and special note is taken of issues that come up over and over again.
In the face of everything happening politically right now it may seem as if talking about basic income is selfish and pointless—especially since Trump has forced people to fight for even the simplest human rights—but we cannot stop fighting for progress just because we’re also fighting to retain the rights we’ve already won. A change as massive as basic income requires decades of consistent effort, and part of that effort is keeping the conversation going, no matter what struggles we face.
There are several reasons why now is the best time to talk about basic income. Automation is displacing many jobs, underemployment is on the rise, and many people are running side hustles simply to stay alive. Also, there are several basic income pilots currently going on around the world for you to talk about. You might be surprised who is receptive to the idea of basic income in today’s rapidly changing economy.
Showing our support for existing basic income organizations
You may not feel your individual voice matters, but every movement is built on individual people coming together to change the world. The following bullet points list different ways you can support organizations working towards a basic income:
- Sign and share petitions: The Basic Income Canada Network and the Basic Income Action Network(US) have petitions gathering signatures from around their respective countries.
- Donate: You can donate to both of the organizations above, or donate directly to basic income projects being run by non-profit organizations GiveDirectly and Eight. It may not feel like much, but I worked at a non-profit, and I can assure you that every dollar makes a significant difference.
- Volunteer: If you have lots of time, but not a lot of money, consider volunteering for a basic income organization like the ones listed above.
Create your own organization
Want to take your support of basic income to the next level? There’s still lots of room to create your own organization supporting basic income. You can even choose exactly how it works. Of course, this will require an incredible amount of work—exactly how much depends on what you want to accomplish—but if you’re truly passionate about basic income, it might be the most rewarding thing you ever do.
Some national basic income organizations also have programs allowing you to create a local chapter. This allows you to control your section of the organization without having to lay the groundwork yourself. Learning to create or run your own section of an organization is a topic worthy of an entire series of books, but you can learn the basics by checking out this Beginner’s Guide to Building a Strong Political Organization.
Fighting for progress is exhausting, but we will never get a universal basic income if we don’t fight for it. Decide what you have the energy and resources to do, and commit to doing it—even if all you’re doing is sharing one article about basic income every day on social media. Every contribution, no matter how small, is essential to this fight.
Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. Her debut YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, is available now through The Book Smugglers Publishing. She also blogs about books, creativity and life.
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