Don’t worry, I haven’t gone all political. I sometimes set myself the goal to write a blog post based on whatever the first tweet I find on my Twitter feed is. I read the tweet, set the clock running for ten minutes, and see what comes out. This time I found someone was asking if a basic income would encourage people to devote more time to their training and career development. This sounded like a reasonable assumption. But I wondered if it might have other beneficial effects as well. As I say, this is not a political blog so I won’t express an opinion on whether or not we can afford it, nor as to whether there might be better ways to spend public money. I am just wondering what the effect would be if it were to be introduced.
And while I can well believe that it might well make people more interested in their own capabilities, I think it would also make people more interested in their appearance. The reason I say this is based on an idea put forward by a social scientist called Maslow who proposed that we basically have a hierarchy of needs. These range from basic ones like food and shelter, and up the scale to things like love and self esteem. Basically once you have got one of these levels of needs satisfied you move up to the next one.
This all makes sense. If you don’t have a home and you don’t know where your next meal is coming from you aren’t going to be too worried about whether your clothes are in fashion or if your skin tone looks good. What a basic income would mean would be that you would have your more basic needs satisfied, so you could start looking at more higher end needs. I have a feeling that a lot of people who are struggling now trying to make ends meet would be only too happy if they could start focusing on the things that make them look good.
So if a basic income ever gets onto the political agenda then I think that would be a good time to buy shares in beauty companies. I also think it would be good for everyone, not just those who directly benefit. It makes you feel good to look good yourself, and it is also good to see other people looking good and feeling good. And to get right back to the original point, I have a feeling that when people feel good about themselves they are probably going to be more interested in improving their education and skills too – I’d even go so far as to say that it is probably in that order. Looking at Maslow’s diagram, esteem comes before self actualisation, so he’d agree.