Placeholder Image

字幕列表 影片播放

  • Goedenavond Haarlem. [Good evening, Haarlem]

  • Feeling good, yeah?

  • So, who here, today, of you,

  • had lunch or breakfast or any meal whatsoever?

  • Great, we're lucky.

  • Because there is about a billion people on the planet

  • who live in absolute poverty,

  • and they don't have this privilege.

  • Getting a meal is maybe a fanciful thing.

  • And even industrialized nations, with very developed countries,

  • there is about 15 percent who live below the poverty line,

  • like in the United States, or even Italy.

  • Now, the story that we tell ourselves to justify these kinds of things

  • doesn't really -

  • it's compelling to hear, because it's reassuring,

  • but it's not real.

  • And it's no surprise that we like stories, we evolved by listening to stories,

  • and that's how our brains have developed for hundreds of thousands of years.

  • And some of these stories became bestsellers,

  • one of them was the great epic of capitalism versus socialism.

  • And of course we all know the story -

  • well, depends whom you ask or who told you the story.

  • And it also works the other way around.

  • (Laughter)

  • And these stories, if you really dig deep, they're just fairytales,

  • because the reality is very different:

  • There is not a single truly 100% capitalist country in the world,

  • as there is no truly socialist country in the world.

  • They're all many variations of the two and other ideological systems

  • and other types of societies.

  • But the wealthiest and the healthiest of countries

  • are those that have learned to actually combine the best of them

  • by looking at the evidence and the results

  • instead of just sticking to an ideology and telling themselves a reassuring story.

  • We have some of the prime examples of these

  • in the Scandinavian and some of the more continental European countries,

  • and I could even include the Netherlands to some respect.

  • It's important that we tell ourselves credible stories, and not fairytales,

  • because fairytales are very dangerous

  • and can lead to unnecessary suffering or deaths

  • of hundreds of millions of people as we've seen in the past.

  • Now we have many challenges, and one of them is unemployment.

  • But instead of telling you a story, or a fairytale,

  • let's have a look at the data.

  • So here is a graph

  • showing the employment to population ratio in the US -

  • and in the OECD countries the statistics are very similar.

  • And this is corporate profits over the same amount of time.

  • Now, if you put the two things together, and you look at the recovery rate -

  • the gray lines are recessions,

  • and [from] the recovery rate you see the degree of recovery -

  • you see very, very astonishing results.

  • We have corporate profits at an all-time high,

  • unemployment is at a multi-decade low,

  • and if you take into account

  • that women entered the workforce only around that period,

  • we're actually at the lowest point ever,

  • and we're in the shallowest period of recovery.

  • We are in what, in economic terms - it's almost called the jobless recovery.

  • Now, there is some studies

  • coming out from the Oxford Martin School, and MIT, from my colleagues,

  • that suggest that half of all jobs in the US

  • are subject to automation -

  • robots and other artificial intelligence and smart programs.

  • And research just coming out in Europe also suggests the same results.

  • Now I've actually performed the same thought experiment,

  • and I've done my own research

  • two years before the Oxford Martin School and MIT,

  • and I had the exact same predictions.

  • And one of the big criticisms that I received was:

  • Sure technology displaces jobs, robots steal jobs,

  • but in the end you always create new jobs

  • because you have new opportunities, new sectors,

  • and there is always time to recover and find new ways of doing things.

  • I said: "Okay, that might be true, but let's look at the data,

  • let's look at the historical perspective and the timeframe."

  • So I took all the occupations, and I listed them by number of workers,

  • from the top to the bottom.

  • And I asked myself a very simple question:

  • What kind of occupations were invented within, let's say,

  • the next fifty or sixty years?

  • Because if technology only displaces temporarily jobs,

  • then there should be a bunch of new occupations

  • that are invented in recent times.

  • Actually I had to scroll down quite a lot: number 33, computer programmers.

  • It was invented actually 65 years ago.

  • So the reality is that new jobs are very few,

  • highly skilled, very sophisticated, very difficult to do,

  • and very few people can do them.

  • And certainly not the 45-year-old truck drivers,

  • maybe 70 or 80 million of them,

  • who are going to be totally displaced within the next five to seven years.

  • And other hundreds of millions of people in other professions.

  • So think about a 45-year-old truck driver

  • having to compete with a 17-year-old Ukrainian whiz kid

  • who writes four apps a day on his computer.

  • Not very credible.

  • And if you look at another trend,

  • the multi-billion dollar companies of today

  • employ fewer and fewer people,

  • and they have a bigger revenue per employee.

  • If you take Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon, and you combine them,

  • they are worth more than a trillion dollars together,

  • but they only create 150,000 jobs.

  • And the newest companies create even more revenue per employee

  • because they're worth billions and billions

  • in a very short amount of time,

  • and they employ a few dozens or at maximum a few hundreds of people.

  • So this is the new economy, this is the reality,

  • and what it leads to is more inequality.

  • Now, I'm not stating that this is the only reason for inequality,

  • but it certainly exacerbates

  • whatever level of inequality you might have.

  • And if you look at the global picture of inequality,

  • the situation is quite dire.

  • You divide the population in 25 percentiles,

  • and you see that the 75% on the bottom owns less than 20% of all the wealth.

  • And the richest 2% has about 55% of all the wealth.

  • And the richest 85 people, not 85% or 85 million, 85 people,

  • own as much as the bottom 3 billion.

  • This is the reality, and it's only getting worse and worse.

  • This is worse than the medieval time during the feudal era.

  • This leads to the disappearance of the middle class,

  • which is very bad because a thriving society has a very strong middle class,

  • for example in the Netherlands.

  • And we know from Thomas Piketty's groundbreaking research

  • that the return of capital

  • - essentially, money that you've just sitting there because you have it,

  • or you have real estate or other properties -

  • makes a lot more money than labor.

  • So those who have more capital will only make more in this kind of system.

  • And it's a problem that works at the structural level.

  • This creates structural inequality,

  • which is very different from temporary inequality or cyclical inequality;

  • it means that it's in the system.

  • So the story we tell ourselves, or better yet the fairytale,

  • is that this process is not only inevitable,

  • but it's the nature of capitalism, and there is nothing to do.

  • Because things are just the way they are.

  • Now, of course, we all know that this is nonsense

  • because there are countries that have successfully redistribute wealth

  • through policies and through all sorts of innovations,

  • such as Germany and South Korea,

  • who have redistributed quite successfully wealth,

  • and have a very strong middle class,

  • but they're doing also quite well financially and in the global market.

  • So it's not impossible, but it's very difficult.

  • Even so, nobody has a long-term solution for structural technological unemployment,

  • which is just on the horizon,

  • and actually we are already experiencing some of it in some countries.

  • One of the proposed solutions is an unconditional basic income.

  • So, first of all, what is it?

  • Well, very simply, it's free money for everybody.

  • That's the simple version.

  • The more elaborate is a lump sum of income

  • that is distributed unconditionally, without any strings attached,

  • to every person in a country, every month.

  • Now, I realize that we might be plagued by selection bias

  • - this is a TED crowd -

  • but I'm going to ask this question anyway.

  • So if you think having a basic income, giving free money to everybody,

  • is a good idea,

  • raise your hand.

  • Okay, perfectly 50/50 almost.

  • Great.

  • Now, there is a lot of public debate, luckily, on this subject,

  • and it's good because this is a very old idea,

  • and now it's been rekindled in the imagination

  • and in the spirit of the people.

  • The problem with the public debate that I've noticed

  • is that it's very much based on ideology and the moral argument.

  • So whether you agree or not - I'm not very much interested in that.

  • I'm interested in the fact that nobody is having a real discussion,

  • very few are having a real discussion about this topic.

  • They either agree because of some ideological reasons,

  • some idea that they have about what people might do,

  • or whether its morally right;

  • or you might disagree because you think it's atrocious, not going to work,

  • or you can't just give people money for whatever reason.

  • We are all forgetting the most important thing,

  • which is asking the right questions, questions such as:

  • How much will it cost? and: How will you pay for it?

  • How can you finance it?

  • Would people stop working if they just receive an income?

  • and: Will it actually solve the problem?

  • This is the main question.

  • And, what is the problem that we're trying to solve?

  • Because we should focus on the goal,

  • not the story or the fairytale that we tell ourselves,

  • and we are very attached to, and we defend.

  • We should think about what the goal is.

  • So: What is the goal?

  • Otherwise it's going to be

  • just like the discussion with capitalism and socialism

  • all the way round for another hundred years.

  • We don't have that time.

  • So what is the goal?

  • It's difficult to reach a consensus,

  • but I think a good starting point is to start

  • from Article 25 of the International Declaration of Human Rights

  • from the United Nations,

  • which states that everyone has the right to a standard of living

  • adequate for the health and well-being of himself [and] his family,

  • including food, clothing, housing, medical care,

  • and necessary social services and so on.

  • So the question is:

  • Does a basic income fulfill this goal or not?

  • Because if it does,

  • I don't think it really matters, your ideology,

  • because you're actually fulfilling the goal.

  • And if it doesn't, it doesn't matter how good the idea sounds:

  • If it doesn't work, it doesn't work!

  • So the only way to know if it actually works

  • is to look at the experiments,

  • and nobody actually cites the experiments or the results,

  • they just pass it along and say,

  • "Oh, we've done the experiments,

  • and we know that it works, and it's settled."

  • No, it's not settled -

  • because these are the countries where we've run the experiments, okay?

  • It might sound promising, but [it involved] 14 countries,

  • [while] there is actually 200 countries on the planet,

  • so that's a reality check for everybody.

  • Only three of those were actually an unconditional basic income,

  • and only two had more than 1,000 people in the study.

  • Okay, so this is the reality:

  • We don't have a lot of evidence either for or against the basic income.

  • We just don't know, because we haven't done enough experiments.

  • So let's have a look at these two experiments.

  • In Canada, in the 1970s, for five years,

  • about 10,000 people received around $500 a month.

  • They wanted to know if people would stop working.

  • And it turns out: Not really, no, people worked just as much.

  • Only two categories worked a little less:

  • Women who took extended maternity leaves,

  • which I think is good, spend more time with your kids;

  • and young boys worked less,

  • but there was a higher completion rate in high school for young boys,

  • meaning they stayed more in school instead of going to work right away,

  • which also I think is good.

  • And then an unexpected result: a lower hospitalization rate.

  • This is one of the things that you discover when you actually -

  • run the experiments and see what happens in the real world,

  • instead of just making everything up in your head.

  • The second experiment was in India, much more recent, three years, 2011-13,

  • about 6,000 people, with a control group of another 6,000,

  • received about $4 a month.

  • May not sound like a lot,

  • but in rural India </