“ … all external life as it presents itself to-day is the picture of a social condition which, in its development, has excluded, has indeed refuted, the idea of reincarnation and karma. External life to-day is organised almost as if there were a deliberate desire to quash any possibility of men being able, through their own inner development, to discover the reality of reincarnation and karma. In point of fact there is, for example, nothing more hostile to a real conviction of reincarnation and karma than the principle that a man must be remunerated, must receive wages corresponding to his actual labour. To speak like this seems utterly eccentric! Do not, however, take this example to imply that Anthroposophy would wish to throw to the winds the principles of an established practice and to introduce a new social order overnight! That cannot be. But men must become alive to the thought that no fundamental conviction of reincarnation can ever flourish in a world-order in which it is held that there must be a direct correspondence between wages and labour, in which man is obliged, through the labour he performs, to obtain the necessities of life. Naturally the prevailing conditions must remain, to begin with, for it will be clear, above all to anthroposophists, that what exists is in turn the outcome of karmic law and in this sense is justified and inevitable. But it is absolutely essential for men to be able to realise that what can, nay must, ensue from recognition of the idea of reincarnation and karma, unfolds as a new seed in the organism of our world-order.” (Lecture 4. Reincarnation and Karma by Rudolf Steiner)
Rudolf Steiner - as we know - introduced the idea of the Social Threefold Order where this difficulty of the wages and labor connection is being addressed. This Threefold Social Order has not been successfully introduced in any major way, rather if we take a look at the wages for labor question, we do see that all over the world this principle seems to be the dominant idea with few exceptions, like for instance the basic income initiative that postulates the idea that people should receive a basic wage regardless of their economic activity so that the individual is free to pursue his or her perceived true task or calling in life. Notably the Camphill Communities have established a sort of social threefolding that separates the connection between labor performed and wages received.
Basic income is having a moment. Finland announced it would launch an ambitious experiment to see if it would work to give everyone in a given area is given a set amount of cash every year from the government, no strings attached. Switzerland will hold a referendum on the topic in 2016. Generally the discussion on basic income developed in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, partly inspired by the debate in United States and Canada somewhat earlier, and has since then broadened to most of the developed world, to Latin America, Middle East, and to at least some countries in Africa and Asia. The Alaska Permanent Fund is regarded as one of the best examples of an existing basic income, even though it's only a partial basic income. Other examples of existing basic income, or similar programs, include Bolsa Familia in Brazil, the partial basic income in Macao and others. Basic income pilots have been conducted in United States and Canada in the 1960s and 1970s, Namibia (from 2008) and in India (from 2011). In Europe there are political decisions in France, Netherlands, Switzerland and Finland to start up some basic income pilots. Now the Silicon Valley seed investment firm Y Combinator has announced it wants to fund a basic income experiment in the US. YC's president, Sam Altman, announced on the YC blog that the company wants to hire a researcher to "work full-time on this project for 5 years," and supervise an experiment wherein Y Combinator will "give a basic income to a group of people in the US for a 5 year period, though we’re flexible on that and all aspects of the project."
"I’m fairly confident that at some point in the future, as technology continues to eliminate traditional jobs and massive new wealth gets created, we’re going to see some version of [a basic income] at a national scale," Altman writes. This, interestingly enough, is also the rationale used by many radical leftist thinkers to justify a universal basic income. Under one view, delightfully named "fully automated luxury communism," humanity will overcome capitalism by having machines do most of the labor and then distributing the proceeds fairly across a public that will be able to work far less. Radical theorists Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams wrote in their recently published book Inventing the Future, "The technological infrastructure of the twenty-first century is producing the resources by which a very different political and economic system could be achieved." Basic income has always brought together ideologically divergent supporters; in the early 1970s, libertarian economist Milton Friedman and 1972 Democratic nominee George McGovern both advocated versions of the plan. But a coalition combining avowed anticapitalists with literal venture capitalists for the project of basic income is still pretty startling.
But none of the three experiments is interested in the kinds of questions — "Does basic income make for a more creative society liberated from the constraints of cash?" "Does basic income increase happiness through greater leisure?" — that Y Combinator wants to answer. If done rigorously, the firm's study could wind up making a useful, original contribution to the basic income movement. Hope for a post-work future is a big part of why basic income has become popular. It makes sense to test whether basic income can make the best parts of that vision real.