Our parallel worlds: Civility in the neighborhood, enforced by gentle pleas and social shaming; feral disorder on the boulevard.
A state of nature and an oasis of calm separated by a distance as short as a frisbee toss.
The blessings of freedom may be enshrined in the Constitution but are enjoyed differently, depending on how you feel about personal responsibility and whether you act on it.
Would a billboard which read: “Feel free to smoke crack elsewhere” have a salutary effect? How about “Smoke faster, get it over with”? Or “God loves you and wants you to be sober”?
Mark Zuckerberg has called for a universal basic income, welfare for all, offered unconditionally. The rise of artificial intelligence and robotics will, as a matter of technological determinism, eliminate many jobs currently held by Americans. A UBI would preserve the Social Contract. “So that we may have roles we find meaningful…and that everyone may have a cushion to try new ideas.”
Would it? If you were told you didnt need to go to work tomorrow because you were being replaced by a seven-armed anthropomorphic device wirelessly operated from a server farm, but not to worry, your paychecks will keep coming courtesy of the US government, unto death, what would you do with your time?
“I’d go surfing every day,” said my coworker, when I put the question to him. “I’d surf and I’d bake and I’d take pictures.” And why shouldn’t he? It would be free.
But for how long could this immunity from labor be sustained? Binge watching Netflix might not feel like freedom after awhile. One might begin to miss the leash. The UBI people may begin to envy the clock punchers. Jobs might be hoarded like property, to be passed on to heirs like a family estate. Because we’ll all be compelled to remove moral judgements about idleness (robotics!) anger will be misdirected everywhere.
We might drive up Sepulveda looking at the guys smoking heroin at the car wash and think….those aren’t derelicts, they’re Early Adopters.