Free Lunch Society, at a glance
Imagine a world with peace, love, harmony and where you're paid for just being alive. Perhaps it sounds more like a utopia, an idealized notion of the world. No conflicts of interest or insidious hatred of social or class systems, just life, as you deem it.
It seems we may be growing ever closer to establishing a place for universal basic income. This subject has been of great importance to one man, in particular, Christian Tod.
Todd is an accomplished economist, and an established auteur filmmaker, from his debut film Fatsy (2007), which received honourable mentions at Crossing Europe Film Festival in 2007, to his first feature length documentary, Es muss was geben (2010), which was selected as the opening film at the Crossing Europe's 2010 edition, chosen for official election at Filmfest München in the same year, alongside a nationwide theatrical release in January 2011.
For his current and most ambitious film Free Lunch Society (2017), Tod fell back upon his scientific expertise and made a movie about the subject of both his diploma and dissertation:
The unconditional basic income.
Tod's desire to express his interpretation and understanding of the world through his knowledge and ideas seemed to date back to his 'first tender buds of youthful rebellion' with mentions of Nirvana's album, Nevermind, as well as (and perhaps more unusually) Star Trek: The Next Generation. The influence of such is clear as he reminisces about one particular moment:
A cryogenically frozen banker from the late 20th century is unthawed on board the Enterprise and learns that there is no such thing as money in the 24th century.
Bewildered he asks Captain Picard: "What will I do? How will I live?"
Picard: "This is the 24th century; material needs no longer exist".
The Banker: "Then what's the challenge?"
Picard: "The challenge, Mr Offenhouse, is to improve yourself, to enrich yourself. Enjoy it!"
Tod explains his method toward working, becoming an economist, remarking that now he had "the tools" to investigate the economics in the far-flung 24th century (a la Star Trek): "How does an economic system in which work is separated from income function?"
Tod continued his studies, working through a diploma thesis on "unconditional basic income", which he developed a deeper relationship with during his doctoral program.
If not for his personal love and passion in wanting to create films he admits that "I would work at the national bank, get 18 months of salary and further develop elegant yet unrealistic mathematical models".
It was during this time in his studies that his first film Fatsy was shot, and closely followed by his feature (Es muss was geben), which also happen to feature performances by the as-yet-unknown American band Nirvana, playing in a youth club in Linz.
This lead towards the conception of Free Lunch Society, as Tod would "find a language that synthesized my various influences: punk, science and science fiction".
"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch".
This is a familiar saying spoken by names such as Ronald Reagan and Milton Freidman, reflecting that, in order to get something we want, we have to give up something else that we want. Scarcity is said to be the primary driver of every economic activity (as viewed by Orthodox economists) In our society, we live in abundance, of commercial goods, electronics, technology, that can all be reproduced often and distributed frequently by machines and computer systems, with the greater influence of computer-based intelligence, or rather AI.
These are some of the first steps toward a society that is catered by (in a greater degree than today) machines and robots, handling the majority of civilized work, distribute the earning collectively and evenly.
With that, as Tod aptly puts it, "we are no longer forced to adapt our educational pursuits to the so-called job market, but can instead work on our talents and do research. We are free to work, learn and discover, as we please.