What if…? We are paid to be citizens.

Designing a different, better way to live

Alex Turner

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Photo by <a href=”https://unsplash.com/@edulauton?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Edu Lauton</a> on <a href=”https://unsplash.com/photos/TyQ-0lPp6e4?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

In her book Imaginable, Jane McGonigal introduces a game called Turn The World Upside Down. The premise is simple: take a fact that is true today, and turn it upside down.

I call this Future, Flipped.

So, let’s play. For this scenario, we’ll flip the idea of the cost of living — the idea that as citizens, we have to pay to live. But what if the opposite were true? What if in future, we are paid to be citizens?

Enter the future: A glitch in your social dividend

Thursday, 26th November 2032

Each month when you look in your MyGovBank account, you see a regular payment: the social dividend (SDP). For the last year or so it’s been a steady £2,000 each month, calculated according to the Anker Living Wage methodology. But this month the payment is late. You check again, refreshing the app, but the screen remains frozen except for a small loading circle spinning incessantly.

Nothing to worry about just yet. You have food in the fridge and the lights are still on. You don’t need the money, but it would have been nice to socialise with your friends later.

A couple of hours later you receive a notification. The Citizen Payments & Prices Index (CPPI) has been updated, showing that housing costs have decreased since the Depowering Land Act 2030 came into force last year. Renewable energy is nearing 98%, a record year, reducing national energy bills. Overall, the CPPI was down 8.6% in the 12 months to August 2032. The new SDP has been recalculated at £1,828.

The app pings again, and you can see the payment has landed.

You’re free to spend it how you please — within reason, of course. It expires in 12 months, and there are definitely some places that it can’t be spent — you found that out the hard way when you tried to spend your entire first payment on a Roblox gift card! Other than that, you can do what you like — with the idea that anything that improves your wellbeing is a good investment. You message your friends saying you’ll meet them first at the local river clean up walk. Then life drawing. Then you’ve booked an intermediate Spanish

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Alex Turner

Founder, feminist, entrepreneur, coffee + self care