I have been thinking about universal basic income and the demand for a jobs guarantee – two ideas floated by, among others, a former Occupy activist, Jesse Myerson; and the relation between labor, money and goods like food, clothing, shelter. My thinking about the relation between these three was triggered by two comments from a tweep:
“There simply is not a one-to-one correspondence between labor under capitalism and use-values like food.”
Later he made an assertion that is incontrovertibly true:
“Currency, use-value, & labor are all separable.”
I like these statements because they get to the heart of my problem with UBI, a jobs guarantee and the discussion of issues related to both.
I am pretty sure no one would take exception to the idea that, no matter the type of society we consider, the members of that society always need, among other things, food, clothing and shelter. We, of course, need more than this basic stuff, so I don’t want to suggest that my list here is exhaustive or could ever be. Rather, let’s assume food, clothing and shelter, stand in for a host of concrete needs that must be satisfied by the means provided by nature. These needs require some definite level of interchange with nature, which are the source of the material means to satisfy them. And to appropriate these means to life from nature, requires some definite expenditure of human effort — labor.
So here is the thing: