Episode 16: Guaranteed Basic Income with Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist, philosopher and editor of Basic Income News, introduces us to the concept of a universal basic income, an unconditionally guaranteed payment for everyone. He explains how such a simple program has the potential to eradicate poverty by guaranteeing economic security and giving people more freedom and control in their lives. A guaranteed income has been proven to reduce inequality and free people from exploitation in work, housing and relationships. Without the fear of being hungry and homeless, we can choose the type of work we enjoy, spend less time working, focus on community and personal projects, and take time off for the many valid reasons for not doing paid work. That all makes for a healthier society.

Read more about basic income (often called a guaranteed minimum income) and subscribe to Karl's newsletter at Basic Income News (@BINews). Also check out the Basic Income Earth Network and US Basic Income Group.  Find all of Karl's work here.

Let me know what you think about this interview. Do you have questions or other perspectives on basic income? Email feedback@politicized.org or post a comment below.

Mini-cast 1: Ending Homelessness in Utah

Homelessness has been a significant problem in the United States since the years of Grinch Reagan -- or is it Scrooge Reagan? -- but the number of housing insecure adults and children has been increasing exponentially in recent years. A rich country like ours has no excuse for continuing to disregard the dire needs of homeless people when we know how to solve them. The state of Utah is on target to completely eradicate chronic homelessness by simply giving people apartments through its Housing First program. Simple yet effective, especially since it costs less than policing costs, hospital visits or jail beds. Only when someone has a stable housing situation can they begin to think about finding paid work.

Did you enjoy this inaugural mini-cast? Share it around and send your comments, questions and suggestions for future show topics and/or guests to feedback@politicized.org, leave a comment on this post or follow me on Twitter @Unconventionist or my Facebook page.

Next up, a fantastic interview with Georgetown University Associate Professor Karl Widerquist on the most comprehensive way to end poverty for good: a universal basic income.

Episode 15b - The Holidays, Part 2: rejecting consumerism, vegan excuses and your crazy family

Standing up to the consumerism that is destroying everything valuable. Congratulations on surviving another holiday season filled with overt and subliminal messages that we are terrible people if we don't participate in the zombie shopocalypse. Buying nothing is the only option if we care about others. A full takedown of the insanity awaits you. Clips from GrowthBusters, Adbusters, the Angry Hippie's Podcast, and a recommendation to check out the Story of Stuff. First we review why you should never feel obligated to put up with your family and/or do things you're not comfortable with in the name of tradition or convenience. If that means refusing to participate in family holiday dinners, so be it. You must prioritize your own sanity and inner peace over pleasing others for superficial reasons.

Do you have thoughts on the holidays, consumerism or veganism? Of course you do! Share them with the world! Send your comments, questions and suggestions for show topics and/or guests to feedback@politicized.org, use the contact form or find me on Twitter @Unconventionist or my Facebook page. Subscribe in iTunes to be notified of new episodes. Support the show by sharing it widely, leaving reviews and getting in touch.

Episode 15a - The Holidays, Part 1: an Intellectual Critique of Halloween

Just in time for the holiday season, this is part one of the Politicized Radio holiday extravaganza. I offer what I may be the only intellectual critique of Halloween: how it promotes negative cultural norms such as consumerism, privilege and bigotry, and encourages arrogant, anti-social behavior. I think I said it better on the show.

I also mentioned an article from the excellent Yes Magazine on the Real Value of Stuff.

Part two on Thanksgiving, the National Day of Mourning, will be released next week, and part three will follow next month. Sometime soon we'll have a discussion of a basic / guaranteed minimum income.

Let me know what you think about my anti-Halloween ideas, and send suggested reading if you know of other academic or intellectual commentary related to Halloween or any other holidays. Leave a comment on this page, send email to feedback[at]politicized.org, find me on Twitter @unconventionist, or use the contact form.  If you like what you hear, please share it around and leave reviews on iTunes and other places. Subscribe to the show to be notified of new episodes.

Episode 14: Keep your hands to yourself: thoughts on Syria, Iran and why the US is far from perfect.

Our culture of violence marches forward as the US continues to threaten military action against sovereign countries, as if America is the ultimate moral force and everyone living there is doing just fine.  Whether or not Syria used chemical weapons is completely irrelevant to any rational discussion of foreign policy, and war will never help us meet any respectable goals. There is nothing humanitarian about bombs -- America has shown repeatedly that it does not care about "the innocent children" -- and the use of military force will not help anyone. This time everyone agrees war is bad, yet no one is talking about the real reasons President Obama wants to bomb yet another state in the middle east. While the president cements his legacy as a war criminal,  John Kerry ruins his own honorable legacy as a Vietnam War soldier-turned-protestor by offering what is quite possibly "the most stupid thing ever said by a human being" (according to Karl Pilkington).  We hear part of a Democracy Now! interview with Representative Alan Grayson and a short clip of Professor Cornel West explaining how we must fix our own country before telling anyone else what to do.

On the domestic front, I explain why bipartisanship is a very bad thing and share a few kinds words for Republicans who are once again using a routine budget process to issue a laundry list of right-wing demands. The government is about to shut down and hurt a lot of people and they couldn't care less.

Other items in the news include US-Iran relations, the terrorist attack in Kenya, ongoing Chicago gun violence, and why the NSA is recording your phone calls (hint: they're lying). Music is from Anti-Flag and Bob Marley.

Send in your comments on this show and suggestions for future topics and guests: feedback@politicized.org.  Visit the web site at politicized.org.

Episode 12: Relationship Culture, Capitalism, & Vegan Pedicabs

Minku Sharma, host of the Vegan Pedicab Podcast, joins me in Chicago to rant about our cultural obsession with romantic relationships, the stigma of being "single", and how our society gives privilege to traditional heterosexual couples. We also talk about bike culture, driving a pedicab, and why you should ignore everyone's expectations and set your own work rules. Minku mentioned a few great resources:

Laura Ahearn, Invitations to Love, on the move away from arranged marriages and the rise of romantic love in Nepal;

Eva Illouz, Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism, on the relationship industry: "Rather than being a haven from the marketplace, modern romantic love is a practice that is intimately complicit with the political economy of late capitalism."

The Chicago Teachers Union on their ongoing struggle against the privatization of our education system.

Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, on inequality, violence and other history you weren't taught in school;

Studs Terkel, Working, profiles of people and their labor: "Work is violence" when you don't control it.

The video, How to be Alone is courtesy of fiilmaker Andrea Dorfman and poet/singer/songwriter Tanya Davis: "It's fine to be alone once you're embracing it."

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What's up next? You tell me!  Please send questions, comments, suggestions and ideas for topics and guests to feedback@theunconventionist.com.

Episode 11: Sports, Masculinity & Violence

The sports world is in many ways a reflection of our larger society, where a dominant class exploits nationalist tendencies and emotions to maintain a system of growing inequality and violence.  Big sports leagues thrive on the dominant gender roles in our culture, where men are taught to be strong, tough and in control over "the enemy" yet obey orders from the hierarchy of power.  Just as in the military, it should be no surprise that there is a strong culture of bigotry, harassment and assault in sports franchises -- anyone not confirming to the official line is vilified -- not to mention the ongoing epidemic of rape in both institutions. Treating sports figures as role models sends terrible messages about how to be a good person in a complex society. In the first half I chat with sports writer Dave Zirin -- Host of Edge of Sports Radio, Sports Editor at The Nation Magazine -- about the intersection between sports and politics.  Later in the show I share a recent clip from Modern Primate about hyper-masculinity and rape culture, including how to not be creepy.

All this follows my opening commentary on downsizing and leaving my old boring life behind to start a very exciting Sustainable Transportation Tour of North America.  I am finally wrapping up the long process of breaking out of the lifestyle everyone thinks we're supposed to be living.

Thanks to Holy Fuck (CBC Radio 3) for the intro & closing music, and to Parodies of Life for the office culture skit.

Look for an mini-cast on Valentines Day and other corporate- and state-sponsored holidays in the near future. Unfortunately the timing wasn't right to get it in today, but it's relevant all year.  In the meantime check out a few links to make.you.feel.better.today.

UPDATE:  I fixed the missing office culture skit. Sorry about that; download it again if you have a minute of dead air at about 12 minutes in.