THE Matrix is one of my all-time favourite sci-fi films. Kung Fu, cool slow-mo fight scenes and philosophy all wrapped up in one non-stop thrill ride.

Years ago, I even quoted the “human beings are a virus” passage from it during a university interview with a philosophy professor!

But why am I talking about The Matrix? Well there’s a scene where Morpheus presents Neo with a choice: take the blue pill or take the red pill.

The blue pill means continuing to live in a dream world, blissfully unaware of reality; the red pill means being dragged kicking and screaming into the frightening and brutal real world.

Neo takes the red pill, of course, but how many of us would really be willing to press the reset button on everything we know, tear it all up for an uncertain and potentially uncomfortable future?

Wouldn’t it be easier to take that nice, comforting blue pill?

The shocking report just revealed by the East Lothian Poverty Commission paints a brutal picture of life for many of the county’s residents and includes a raft of suggestions for how to address the situation. One of those is an idea I’ve been a huge fan of ever since I first heard about it – the concept of a ‘citizen’s income’.

Effectively what this is is a regular payment made to every single citizen, regardless of whether they are in work or not. Those in work would then be paid salaries on top of that payment.

It’s almost like a reverse poll tax: you’re being paid for being alive – what a lovely concept!

And it’s coming closer and closer to reality – Finland is among the first countries in the world to be giving it a go, and closer to home a version of it is being trialled in Fife.

In my opinion, the benefits of introducing such a scheme would be huge.

It would genuinely and effectively combat poverty, stimulate the local economy by giving people more spending power, while at the same time making big savings by doing away with all the complicated, bureaucratic (and sometimes humiliating) process of claiming benefits and the stigma that can come with it (my own personal experience as a previous claimant of jobseekers’ allowance is not one I would ever want to repeat).

It would also give everybody much more freedom to make their own choices, less dictated by money. You could take time off to look after an elderly or unwell relative, or to raise a child; you could pack in the job that pays well but you hate in favour of a less-well-paid job but one that you enjoy and feel makes a positive difference. The possibilities are limitless.

And in a world where more and more jobs are likely to become automated as time goes by, it is a safety net to avoid a potential unemployment cliff edge in the years ahead.

Not everyone, though, is so in favour of this idea.

Many worry about its affordability, while many others believe that it’s wrong to remove the correlation between work and pay, fearing it will lead to a legion of layabouts contributing nothing to society.

While some people, no doubt, would use a citizen’s income as an excuse to take it easy, I don’t believe it would stop the vast majority of people from working – money is not the only reason for having a job, after all.

Which brings me back to Morpheus’s blue pill and red pill. Yes, it might be simpler to take the blue pill, to keep what we know, but at the end of the day, to paraphrase The Matrix: “We know where that road takes us.”

It’s time for us to take that scary-looking red pill, to try something radical, to reset the system – because when the dust settles, maybe we’ll be left with something wonderful.