100 euros - both on the road and on the side road

On 24 April this year, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Regulation on the establishment of a temporary register and the manner of payment of one-time financial aid to all adult citizens of the Republic of Serbia in order to reduce the negative effects caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (hereinafter the Regulation) (in the future Regulation)).

This title of the Regulation, as well as the accompanying explanation, indisputably represent a kind of paradox or a kind of oxymoron. There were no foreign donations for these purposes, or at least not that we know of, and it is not possible for all citizens to receive equal state aid, taking into account that not all of them contributed equally to the sources of funding for that aid.

An oxymoron as a combination of opposites requires a deeper interpretation and analysis of the meaning of the united contradictory concepts, which is indisputably the case here as well. Many economic analysts have commented on the Regulation in their reactions and public appearances, mostlyneopravdano(unjustifiably) strongly criticizing it. Whether it's political marketing or incomprehensible ignorance (perhaps another oxymoron - an analyst who doesn't know the issues he's analyzing), only such performances - in which trusted experts argue about a text that is an obvious oxymoron - are utterly irresponsible. In such a public discourse, jokes about the popular "stoja" that are present on social networks are not surprising.

Arguing about the text, which is basically an oxymoron, can be compared to a game of roulette in which you gamble both black and red at the same time - your winnings are guaranteed as well as your losses; you are always right and wrong. Cautious not to fall into that trap, hiding behind another stylistic figure of irony, I allow myself to be both resolutely FOR and resolutely AGAINST the aforementioned Regulation. FOR i rezolutno AGAINST pomenute Uredbe.

Why I am resolutely FOR Regulation

The part of the Regulation that states as beneficiaries"adult citizens of the Republic of Serbia with a valid ID card, who on the day of entry into force of this Regulation have a residence in the territory of the Republic of Serbia, all pension recipients, all financial social assistance recipients of, as well as those who applied for it,de facto is a rewritten part of the definition of the term unconditional basic income (hereinafter UBI - Universal Basic Income).

So far, many countries throughout history have considered this option, so it is not a new phenomenon. The motives for experimenting with UBI are at least nominally economic and social in nature ( we won’t go into that part of the issue on this occasion)..It is understandable that the experiments have shown both the good and bad sides of this institute, because it is not a panacea for solving real and current neuralgic points in the economic and wider social system.

Unlike such a UBI status, my argument is that it is an institution of the future. By entering the so-called fourth industrial era marked by the mass development and application of artificial intelligence, UBI becomes a conditio sine qua non sustainability of the system. There seems to be nothing easier than proving this claim.

Namely, let's use a simple thought experiment: imagine such a society in which robots and artificial intelligence completely replace manual human labor. In such a scenario, the notion of the manual labor market also ontologically disappears. All that remains is a market for skills and highly complex work, based on the development of cognitive, emotional and social intelligence.

In such a scenario, therefore, artificial intelligence creates an income that is equally and unconditionally distributed to all adult citizens in that society. For that reason, UBI is a legacy for the future and that is why the elements of this institution in the Regulation are valuable and should be emphasized in every sense.

Why I am resolutely AGAINST Regulation

The mentioned Regulation states:"The Republic of Serbia will make the payment of a one-time financial aid.".”

Because UBI is not an aid but a form of income. Here are a few examples in support of the claim that it is income, not aid.

The US administration has distributed trillions of dollars in stimulusstimulusnot "aid", to both corporations and individuals.Every American adult citizen received a one-time stimulus check.stimulus checkso that US Senator Kamala Harris, a former presidential candidate, would propose an increase in the amount of the stimulus check and its perpetual effect, thus introducing UBI (a certain variant given that the stimulus is intended for U.S. citizens earning less than $ 120,000 a year).

Andrew Young, also a former US presidential candidate, was more explicit at the same virtual gathering: Yang's proposal is that every American adult citizen, unconditionally and for life, receives a $ 1,000 UBI - this UBI also has its specific, symbolic name - a Freedom Dividend.

On the European continent, on the other hand, a study by the University of Oxford showed that 70 percent of Europeans support the concept of UBI. At the beginning of June, Spain, as the first country in southern Europe, decided on the UBI variant, ie. for a minimum income of $ 1,230 per month for about 2.5 million of the poorest citizens. "Today, a new social right has been born," said Pablo Inglesias, the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, emphasizing that the COVID-19 crisis has only accelerated the inevitable processes. Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon believes that the time for the UBI has come and that talks with the government of the United Kingdom have already begun.

On other continents - the same narrative. In India, the most populous country in which isolation was conducted due to COVID-19, appeals are heard: "If there was ever a time for UBI, it is now." 

In a word, UBI is not an aid and such a perception must be immediately and unconditionally excluded from public discourse. 

Instead of a conclusion

The current crisis has such a strong impact on changes in society on a global scale that we are talking about the historical moment of division into society before and after COVID-19. UBI is without a doubt a cohesion factor that seems to have managed to unite both the right and the left.

Unfortunately, it seems that our society has once again lost the opportunity to promote UBI as one of the most important institutions of the future, and in extraordinary circumstances. Instead of responsible statements by leading people, instead of concentrating the public's attention on key changes, we received the (SMS) mantra of "help" in public discourse.

We are left with the hope that, in the future global division of labor (jasno je da je budućnost u toku), (it is clear that the future is underway), our society will not end up in the trap of some surreal dystopia in which people will do imaginary jobs "because it is important to have a job, any job", while artificial intelligence will sit in cafes and lead philosophical debates in university halls.

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