The walk for basic income in Australia arrives at Parliament House

The walk for basic income in Australia arrives at Parliament House
The walk for basic income in Australia arrives at Parliament House

By Jessica Cordwell

See original post here.

From south to north, one determined Aussie is making tracks across the length of the country to spread the word about the need for basic income support. Daniel Hart, founder of You B I, wants to see a world where every adult receives regular unconditional payments that cover an individual’s basic needs.

“We shouldn’t need to earn a living to have the right to access to food, water, shelter and those kinds of things, but then if you want a new iPhone, you can work for it,” says Daniel.

A little over a month into the six-month trek, Daniel stopped in Canberra earlier this week. Locals were invited to join Daniel in Commonwealth Park on Monday morning, 13 May, to have a chat and then head over to Parliament Drive where Daniel completed 24 hours of lapping the through-road to Parliament House.

The completion of the laps correlated with the start of the Federal Budget sitting.

“I’m not going to get basic income implemented this week but there should be a lot of energy around Parliament House during this time… The Canberra event was awesome, a great turnout and so much love and support made the grind worthwhile,” says Daniel.

Setting out from Wilson’s Prom in Victoria, the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, and heading to Cape York in far north Queensland, mainland Australia’s northernmost tip, Daniel will walk more than 4,500km.

Still working while walking, Daniel provides email support for an American-based software company. He says his job, like many others, could soon be replaced with AI.

“If you do any kind of job on a computer, it won’t be long before a system that incorporates large language models like ChatGPT, along with an action engine that performs tasks on a computer, can do your job.”

It doesn’t stop there; Daniel believes that with advancements in robotics, the possibility of introducing human-level intelligence with human-level physical capabilities could one day replace physical jobs.

“People are not going to be able to earn a wage through traditional work and if we don’t have some kind of safety net, to put it simply, people won’t be able to meet their basic needs,” says Daniel. “I would love the Australian government to be a leader in the preparation against the wave and reduce the suffering of Australian people.”

It was from a YouTube video in 2017 that Daniel first learned about the principles of universal basic income, and he has since carried the idea that it could be the solution to poverty. While traveling through Asia, Daniel was struck by the extreme poverty, lack of welfare and the power of the Australian dollar.

It was after this that he launched You B I, an initiative with short-, medium- and long-term plans to combat extreme poverty and provide people with a liveable wage. 

“We’re crowdfunding basic income. We raise money each month and then distribute it evenly among our users who right now are about 150 homeless, disabled and orphaned people throughout Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.”

Dividing the money, each person receives about $20 AUD each month, which may not seem like much but can make a huge difference in someone’s life in those countries.

“You can barely get a meal for that amount in Australia, certainly in Melbourne, you can barely get a drink. But in Laos, that is about 1kg of rice every day for a month, which is not nothing,” says Daniel.

While the crowdfunding model might help people from lands where the Aussie dollar has significant value, what about the people here at home – where does the money come from? Daniel says there is potential for individual tax rates to rise, but there are other options.

“I think the main way that we would fund it Is by taxing massive corporations correctly. You see how much these massive tech companies like Amazon and Apple are making in Australia and how little tax they are paying. If we tax them even close to the rate that individuals get taxed, we could fund this overnight.”

If everyone is getting money for nothing, why would anyone willingly go to work? The idea of universal basic income would help one to survive, not to thrive. Daniel says it wouldn’t be enough to be going out with friends or live in an expensive city. The incentive for most to work would still be there.

“The vast majority of people won’t be satisfied with just the $500 per week that Basic Income Australia is advocating for.”

While You B I has been slowly growing over the past year, Daniel wanted something that would grab people’s attention, inspire viewers to consider the cause and create easily shareable content. Grateful for all the support the walk has already received – over 20,000 Instagram followers and the opportunity to extend You B I into Thailand – Daniel is excited to see what the rest of the trek will bring.

Occasionally joined by his brothers, Daniel is doing the majority of the trip solo, sleeping rough every night and carrying the basics he needs on his back. Although he has been sleeping in the bush, on grandstands, benches and under one bridge, Daniel says he has been sleeping well. He suggests that may be more due to the long distances he is walking every day rather than the conditions.

Having already completed the snowy mountain region, Daniel will now be walking toward a warmer climate. However, more challenges lie ahead, namely one with big teeth and snapping jaws.

“Crocodiles, I’m going to have to not sleep on the ground with no tent, really exposed. That is the main thing really,” smiles Daniel.

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