How HelloFresh and hyperloop lead to a basic income for the EU in 2028

In corona times, it can be good to think about the future to escape the now for a little while. I wrote this in the context of https://www.ubie.org/how-we-made-basic-income-happen/

After the Corona year 2020, Europe licked its wounds. By the end of 2021, people had already travelled more than before and restaurants and pubs were frequented more often next to the long list of postponed marriages that needed attending. Conversations included often about whether we could have avoided a second/third wave and why vaccine distribution did not go as fast as in the UK. But most people were just happy to see each other again in real life.

The “not back to the abnormal old normal” feeling existed, but only two practical things really changed at first. E-commerce boomed further and home working became a standard policy even if we were happy to see each other in real life from time to time.

However, who says e-commerce, also says HelloFresh and food boxes. HelloFresh’s turnover doubled in 2020. This meant they could focus on improving their logistics and handling. The consequence: prices of the boxes could be cut in half. *(just compare the price/meal for a 1-person and 5-person box in 2020) And Amazon still had to start in that market in Europe.

Of course, this had an effect on supermarkets. The pandemic meant huge profits, but soon after, more restaurants and more food boxes, certainly at half the price, meant some losses. And worst of all, customers started to realize they were paying too much for far too little service and quality. Many were looking for alternatives.

This shift provided with some opportunities however. If you go to a supermarket, you are the slave of “supermarketing”. They decide which apples, oranges, … and easily sell for 5 times the producer’s price. Online, you have the possibility to source your specific orange at not much more than the producer’s price. And there are plenty of helper applications to put exactly the right products together for you. The result was the evolution towards a direct supply chain, a direct connection between the producer and the consumer. There would only be a logistics company in between at a small cost.

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

This trend was complemented by augmented reality and personalized manufacturing aided by 3D printing and the evolution from mass production to customized production. You could redecorate your house, repair your bike or see how certain clothes suited you through augmented reality simply by the camera of your phone. The personalized products used for it could be sent afterwards.

Consumers saw that buying more consciously gave them power and improved their life: better food, better clothes, better travels, … At the same time producers could sell something tailored to personal taste or sell their dream on how to improve the world. In other words, we got the tools to help each other out.

However, economic inequality kept rising and poverty levels did not decrease. The anti-globalisation movement by populists like Trump was cut back a bit, but the slowbalisation continued. The ties with China remained a bit cold, even when governments became more traditional again. On social networks, a new format short film like “mockumini” (as a mini mockumentary) would arise, mocking that even as technology progresses, we still do not get things right politically. It slowed the conspiracy theorists a bit, but not by much. But it was clearly in favor of the new direct supply chain tools.

You would have thought that these themes are the logical steps for a government to choose a basic income. There would not have been a better time for it, but politics is always lagging behind. Experts continued to back the clear health benefits and the anti-poverty efficiency, but whether people would work more or not and would go to more future proof jobs remained difficult to assess, so politicians saw basic income still as something for some time in the future.

Photo by Tomasz Frankowski on Unsplash

But in 2024, we got 3 new presidents of the EU and somehow they were all a huge fan of the hyperloop system. The UAE got to know this and invited our 3 presidents to a very charming Dubai experience to see how separated lanes for self-driving vehicles and the hyperloop system could complement each other. An entirely eco-friendly and super-efficient automated transport management system was possible. The benefits for Europe would be huge and even more so, if we could do this on a world-wide scale.

Of course, the citizens had very mixed feelings about this. The risk was really high that it would only lead to huge profits for the rich. We had just managed to make our direct supply chains shorter as well. With the hyperloop, this locality benefit would disappear again. The world risked to fall back to a mass-production unity soup. Even as the robots made manufacturing in Europe more interesting again, the hyperloop would make it tempting to reverse that trend.

It would also mean a huge shift in the logistics hubs: the traditional sea ports would become a lot smaller and new cities would originate around hyperloop hubs.

Of course, lots of people also imagined the benefits: while taking the plane on Friday evening to Italy makes you lose 5 hours in total, you could go to the hyperloop station at any time and be in your hotel in Milan an hour later with your luggage. Also for supply chains, it meant tremendous flexibility. And further globalization would of course further eradicate the worst of global poverty.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

The dilemma was complete: we had the ideal solution against climate change and global poverty, stimulating the economy, that citizens would not accept. And political support was needed for the hyperloop system to be implemented efficiently. So, our 3 presidents had to really think it through.

At a certain point they tried to redefine locality. Because what is still local if you are somewhere else in a snap? Going to another city in another country would be like going to the next metro station. They concluded that it could still exist when the neighborhoods were reinforced. And that is about arts, culture and identity, but also about e.g. ecology: as science progressed, we could understand a lot more about nature and biology. To such an extent that how humans could co-exist in the best way with nature in the different environments became an art. An art that could be reflected in the food boxes that could now go anywhere.

The hyperloop could bring 70 000 € / citizen over 30 years to the economy. An estimate, but the question was how we channel that money to convince the EU citizens while taking the opportunity to simplify legislation in the EU.

Two ideas popped up. The first was to give it as a one shot investment capital. If we did not want the money to go to the happy few, citizens should be able to start a business themselves. The search for the exact rules went on: per citizen you could invest 50000 € in a new company or a small company with a new plan. You could of course work together, but this was a one time per citizen offer only and the rules would be reevaluated after 5 years… The idea was to give everyone the opportunity to challenge the business as usual.

But of course, starting a business at the edge of poverty or with still a risk for poverty is not a good idea. People in poverty do not think the same and to be able to invest their capital well, even not on the edge of poverty, people needed a “ground to stand on”. So, that is when the second idea popped up: a basic income.

Basic income is the poverty eradication solution. Even with all the social nets set up through all the governments, poverty was still at an average of 15 % of the population. This was a huge loss, because it was known that the children in those families would have less possibilities later as well.

Basic income would not only bring humans to the next level of civilization, it would also be the golden opportunity to harmonize tons of social legislation about employees vs independents and improve the public administrations. Which would support new businesses even more. This was not a simple task however as just giving everyone 1500€/month of basic income was utterly expensive. However, if we could adapt the existing tax system towards a basic income then someone who earned 1500€, would now earn 2100€ instead of 3000€, but that meant changing taxation systems.

A huge plan was crafted combining the basic investment capital of 50000€ with the basic income 1500€/month. Instead of discussing this huge plan directly with the national governments however, the 3 presidents decided to start with the bottom-up, grass roots movements first. Several cities had those movements for several reasons e.g. because parts of the city became utterly expensive e.g. in Barcelona because of the tourists. It was a huge challenge to keep the local culture and authenticity in those environments, but these movements had some really nice success stories.

At the core of these grass roots movements, conferences were held along contests to work out the best plans under each scenario backed by the necessary academic research. The stories started to appear in the newspapers and were shared a lot on social media. People really liked the ingenuity of the plan. It was like they were being heard for the first time in a long period and had the opportunity to collaborate on a huge plan for the future.

The national governments saw the potential to simplify their legislation and ways to boost their cities and hear their citizens. The media were that much busy with the stories, that people seemed to forget all of this still needed approval of the member states. But at the end of 2027 it finally did. Everyone was ready to start construction right away.

And people started businesses and could rely on their basic income. Talks started with Russia to build the hyperloop to Alaska, with Spain for the route to Africa and the Middle East and as such almost connect the entire world together and everywhere you go, you see the true spirit of the land you are beamed into.

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