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Recent polls show a disturbing trend: More Americans think they should be given free money for the mere act of existing. The proposed universal basic income has gained a lot of momentum in recent years. At a time when automation is infiltrating the workforce and everyone is witnessing the rich getting richer, the idea isn’t just obtaining growing support, jurisdictions in the U.S. and around the world are running pilot projects.
According to a new Gallup and Northeastern University study, 48% of respondents say the government should offer Americans a basic income guarantee. This is up from just 12% a decade ago.
The survey further revealed that more Republicans and Independents would oppose the initiative than Democrats. Also, 80% of those polled want corporations to pay higher taxes to fund the program.
Researchers note that the purpose of the poll was to examine the proposal as a measure to alleviate the destitution some Americans experience from losing their jobs amid the rise of robots.
Advocates are excited about the domestic data. Karl Widerquist, an associate professor at Georgetown University in Qatar, told CNBC that the Gallup results are “really promising.” Guy Standing, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network, argues that people are finally reacting to the pending “disaster” from swelling inequality.
But is a basic income guarantee the answer to our pecuniary and employment woes?
Basic Income: Replacement or Complement?
Multiple variants of a basic income – citizen’s income, basic living stipend, and universal demogrant – have been debated for a century. Even revolutionary philosopher Thomas Paine declared his support for a state-run basic income system whereby all citizens would be entitled to a guaranteed income every month. Thankfully, the Founders dismissed it.
However, with the increasing influence of progressivism and Marxism, the concept is gathering steam yet again. What makes modern efforts interesting is that the scheme’s specifics have really evolved.
At first, it was meant to replace the welfare state, save taxpayers money, and reduce the size of government. Now, according to proponents, a UBI should complement the welfare state. In addition to your disability check, pension benefits, food stamps, and employment insurance, you would receive a monthly stipend for living.
It looks like the advocates and politicians were never genuine in their initial premise, which makes sense. Imagine abolishing the welfare state; it would eliminate tens of thousands of civil servants, most of whom have generous salaries, benefits, and pensions.
The monstrosity inside Washington would remain intact, but with an added bureaucratic layer.
Pilot Projects Running Wild Worldwide
In 2015, the Finnish government rocked headlines when it announced it was going to be introducing a tax-free monthly payment of $865 (800 euros) to all Finns over the age of 18, no matter their income or employment status. The pilot project launched in January 2017 with 2,000 randomly-selected welfare recipients.
The province of Ontario confirmed in June 2016 that it would be establishing a four-part UBI experiment in several municipalities. Should Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals win another four-year mandate at Queen’s Park this spring, you can bet that this policy will be introduced ahead of the 2022 provincial contest to generate more votes.
Last month, Stockton, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013, started planning to extend to families $500 per month for a year. Mayor Michael Tubbs, a Democrat, wants to examine the economic and social positives and negatives of the program called SEED. But Tubbs already has a conclusion: it works!
He told NPR:
“I think it will make people work better and smarter and harder and also be able to do things like spend time with their families because we’re not robots. We’re not just designed just to work all day and run a rat race.”
This is one of the many issues with pilot projects that are aimed at expanding the size of the state. Whether it is enhancing government education or instituting a welfare benefit, before the experiments even commence, politicians already know that they are going to implement the policy no matter what the results are. It’s just in their nature.
The next time an official announces a new pilot project, you know it will be law of the land soon.
Basic Income is the Antithesis to Being
Switzerland has already held a couple of nationwide referendums on the issue. The latest vote generated only 23% support. The overwhelming majority opposed it, arguing that it would serve as a disincentive to work and act as another burden to taxpayers. Supporters averred, however, that a UBI would allow them to pursue their passion and it would inevitably abolish money.
We have experienced what happens when people seek out their passion and abandon responsibility. We have also studied archaic societies that did not maintain a monetary system. The results are uninspiring.
Let’s be honest: the arrival of a UBI is imminent. It is going to happen, whether libertarians or conservatives like it or not. We are all going to receive a check in the mail, or a direct deposit in our bank accounts, for the simple act of being alive.
The division of labor will be fractured. Many essential jobs will be left unfilled. The market will be flooded with talent satisfying their career appetites. Those currently taking advantage of the system will continue their slothful ways – only more so. The wealth of producers who offered value in the marketplace will be forcibly extracted to allocate to the takers.
A basic income will be detrimental to society because it is the antithesis of being and rudimentary economics. A UBI is yet another concept originating from the minds of central planners, powerful individuals seeking to socially control and socially engineer the population. Like their policies of the past, a UBI will have unintended consequences. One of them being the extinction of wealth creation, and that means no wealth redistribution. So, foes can take solace in knowing that the UBI is already doomed.
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