[Diggers350] Re: [TheLandIsOurs] Basic Citizen's Income
ed at acrewoods.net
Fri Oct 18 16:04:17 BST 2013
As with all policy suggestions, there are pros and cons.
This is quite a good page looking at some of the pros and cons of a
I personally would like to see more studies of how a citizens income
changes peoples behaviour in the real world once implemented - rather than
thinking about it too ideologically.
The pros and cons start here:
*Universal Basic Income* (sometimes called *Unconditional Basic
Income* or just *Basic Income*) is a proposed economic system in which all
adults within the economy receive a guaranteed basic income irrespective of
whether they have a job or not. It is a very interesting proposal which
finds support from across the political spectrum, especially amongst
socialists and libertarians.
In October 2013 a referendum was triggered in Switzerland (by a petition
with 126,000 signatures) on whether to introduce a guaranteed £1,750 per
month unconditional income for all adult citizens.
* Arguments in favour*
*Technology and automation: *As technology and automation improve, the
requirement for labour in the economy falls. However, the pace of
technological advancement is retarded if the public cannot afford the
outputs of advanced technology and automation. If the public have their
basic human needs met, then they have more wealth to invest in consumption
of the outputs, further driving technological advancement.
*Wealth Redistribution: *Wealth redistribution is economically beneficial
because of the Marginal Propensity to
& ordinary people spend more of their income than the wealthy). The
more wealth that is spent, rather than hoarded, the faster the economy will
*Efficiency: *Universal Basic Income is the most efficient form of wealth
redistribution because there is no need for a massive and expensive
bureaucracy to means-test recipients. The only checks would be whether the
recipient is a citizen of the state, and whether they are classified as an
adult, which would massively reduce the bureaucratic cost overheads of the
*Smaller government: *The introduction of Universal Basic Income would
reduce the economic burden of the welfare system through the elimination of
almost all means tested benefits and associated bureaucracies.
*Reduced crime: *Crime rates will be reduced because the Universal Basic
Income would effectively eliminate absolute poverty, and massively reduce
the economic desperation that motivates a large proportion of criminal
behavior such as theft (a Basic Income trial project in Namibia recorded a
remarkable 42% reduction in crime <http://www.bignam.org/BIG_pilot.html>).
*Balanced Labour Market: *The labour market has become ever more imbalanced
ever since the rise of neoclassical pseudo-economic dogma, and the attacks
on trade unions and labour rights. Workers would no longer be compelled to
work in order to meet their basic human needs, so employers would have to
offer high wages and good terms and conditions in order to attract workers.
Exploitative employment practices would be curtailed and the worker would
have greater freedom to pursue the employment that they choose, rather than
doing awful jobs for crap wages in order to stave off absolute destitution.
*Innovation and small businesses: *If citizens are guaranteed a basic
income to meet their basic human needs, the investment of time and wealth
into the establishment of new businesses would be significantly more
attractive and carry significantly less risk. The evidence from trials
supports the conclusion that the introduction of such a system would
increase the number of business start-ups.
*Better capitalism:* The resulting boom in small businesses would improve
capitalism by increasing the diversity of the capitalist economy, and by
increasing competition within existing markets. Increased diversity would
lead to a more robust economy capable of withstanding extrogenous shocks,
and more competitive markets would result in greater competition and
*Social justice:* If the basic human needs of all citizens are met
automatically, then the requirement on charity and state administered
welfare is dramatically reduced, meaning that those with charitable
intentions can assist the needy elsewhere in the world, rather than
fighting to combat poverty in their own developed nations.
*Loss of work incentive: *Opponents argue that the incentive to work would
be destroyed, and that capitalism would grind to a halt without the fear of
destitution driving workers to continue working. This objection is not
supported by the experimental data, which shows that the vast majority of
people continue to work, even if their basic human needs are met. Trials in
North America showed that the only demographics to significantly reduce
their working hours were new mothers (to spend time with their babies) and
teenagers/young adults (who spent additional time in education). The trial
in Namibia actually showed a significant increase in economic activity, due
to the increase in economic demand and the establishment of new businesses.
*Idleness: *One of the most commonly wielded criticisms is that if a
guarantee that the individual's basic human needs are met is given, then
the individual will be inclined towards idleness. Not only is this concern
disproved by the trials that have been carried out, it is also disproved by
an appeal to "common
If having sufficient wealth that our basic human needs are met causes
idleness, how is it possible to explain the fact that multi-billionaires
like Warren Buffet or George Soros carry on working, when they have
accumulated enough wealth to provide their basic human needs for ten
thousand lifetimes or more? Why do actors like Keanu Reeves carry on
working, when they have made more than enough money to live in comfort for
the rest of their lives? Why do sportsmen carry on working even after they
have become multi-millionaires? How is it possible to explain the fact that
the current UK government is absolutely stuffed full of multi-millionaires?
If having "enough to survive" was a disincentive to work, then all of these
people would surely have retired to a life of idle luxury. The only way
that this objection makes any kind of sense is if you accept the ludicrous
right-wing stance that the rich are best motivated by more money, and the
poor are best motivated by the threat of absolute destitution.
*Something for nothing: *Another one of the most common objections is the "*why
should people get something for nothing*" argument. This kind of attitude
lies behind the irrational British obsession with welfare spending. It is
estimated that the UK economy loses £120 billion a year to
however this issue is completely dwarfed (in terms of column inches and
public opinion) when it comes to the cost of welfare, of which only £1.2
billion is claimed
The British public are easily riled with the sense of injustice that they
must work hard, whilst others have a roof over their head and food in their
belly despite not having a job. The sense of injustice is a powerful
emotion, and the right-wing press deliberately weave it into their anti-welfare
but it in economic terms it is a meaningless objection to Universal Basic
Income, because if everyone is entitled to an income that guarantees them a
basic standard of living, whether they work or not, the objection that the
unemployed are getting something that the employed don't no longer carries
any weight at all.
*Reciprosity: *Another objection is that the guaranteed income is basically
unconditional, and that means that there is no conditionality that the
recipient must put anything back into the economy. This objection
demonstrates a basic lack of economic literacy because the recipient will
either spend it (creating economic demand) or save it (creating the capital
reserves that the capitalist system requires in order to fund the credit
economy). The only way that it would be possible for the individual to
extract the wealth from the economy entirely would be through off-shoring
it, but that is a problem of capital
not a problem with the principle of unconditional income.
*Welfare for the rich:* Another objection is that the Universal Basic
Income would result in payments to citizens that are already wealthy, and
have no trouble meeting their basic human needs. In my view, this is a
particularly short-sighted objection for two reasons. Firstly, because
making the payment conditional on wealth and income would necessitate a
large bureaucracy in order to means test everyone, which would undermine
one of the main benefits (efficiency); and secondly, because if the wealthy
and powerful (generally high-tax payers) are excluded, they are likely to
oppose the scheme because they are paying for it, but getting nothing back.
If guaranteeing the basic human needs of the majority in the most efficient
way possible must come at the price of giving the already wealthy "a bit
extra" too, then so be it. To hopelessly compromise the whole concept of a
universal benefit out of a desire to make sure that the rich don't get a
share of it would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak.
*Inflation: *Of all of the regularly stated objections, the only one that
carries any significant economic weight is the threat of inflation. It
should be fairly easy to understand how this might happen. Take rent for
example: If the idle rentier class is aware that their tenants are in
receipt of a monthly payment designed to meet their basic human needs, it
is clearly in their financial self-interest to then massively increase the
rental charge so that it takes the entire amount (and probably a bit more
for good measure). An example of this kind of rent seeking behavior can be
seen in the UK childcare
the introduction of Child Tax Credits. The childcare providers knew
that working families were getting a payment from the government to cover
the cost of childcare, so they raised the cost of childcare so much that
the UK now has the most expensive childcare in the developed world (33% of
family income, as compared to the OECD average of just 13%) meaning that
the Child Tax Credit allowance is nowhere near enough to cover the inflated
cost of childcare. If Universal Basic Income is introduced, then it must be
done with a package of anti-inflationary measures (such as rent caps) or
the value of the payment will soon be eroded away through the rent seeking
behavior of the idle rentier class.
I've outlined some of the arguments for and against Universal Basic Income.
The problem is that most of the arguments in favour are backed by empirical
evidence and sound economic reasoning, but most of the commonly raised
arguments against don't make any sense at all from an economic perspective,
are contradicted by the evidence, and amount to little more than opinion.
This means that it is absolutely impossible to construct a "balanced"
article without giving the completely false impression that the arguments
against are somehow equal to the arguments in favour, when aside from the
valid concerns over inflation, they are transparently not.
The concept of Universal Basic Income is compatible with several political
ideologies, especially socialism and libertarianism. I would also argue
that it is also compatible with most forms of free-market capitalism (apart
from the extremely rabid variety that opposes any kind of welfare
Perhaps the most famous left-wing advocate of universal income was the
British philosopher and social critic Bertrand Russell, who wrote in 1918
that "*those who choose not to work should receive a bare livelihood, and
be left completely free*" and that under such a system "*The dread of
unemployment and loss of livelihood would no longer haunt men like a
Other left-wing advocates for the Universal Basic Income include James
Meade, who argues that it represents the only way by which full employment
can be regained, and the Belgian philosopher and economist Phillippe van
Parijs, who founded the European Basic Income Network in 1987.
Libertarianism can crudely be divided into two schools, and advocates of
the Universal Basic Income can be found in both of them.
One of the early left-libertarian advocates of Universal Basic Income was
the American economist Henry George. He proposed a progressive tax system
where tax would be levied upon land and under which every citizen would
receive a basic income called a "citizens' dividend". The benefit of such a
Land Value Tax system is that tax is levied upon wealth, and not upon
consumption or income.
In recent years the Green Party of the United States has proposed a
universal income for all adults regardless of health, employment, or
marital status, in order to minimize government bureaucracy and
intrusiveness into people's lives.
Many Conservatives might be inclined to oppose Universal Basic Income
because they have been conditioned to hate the welfare state, but many of
the ideologues of the neoclassical ideology that the Conservative thinker
implicitly supports are advocates of forms of Universal Basic Income. These
advocates include Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and Gary Johnson (the
Libertarian party candidate in the 2012 US Presidential election).
Right-libertarians often propose a form of conditional Basic Income
Income Tax*, where people earning below a certain income threshold receive
supplemental payment from the government instead of paying taxes to it.
*Free Market Capitalism*
One might assume that the concept of universal welfare is completely at
odds with free-market capitalism, but it isn't. Universal Basic Income
would increase the competitivity of the market by freeing people from
concerns over their basic human needs, and giving them the liberty to start
their own businesses. A rise in the number of small businesses would
increase market competition and promote greater efficiency.
If the free-market capitalist believes in any form of welfare at all, then
the logical form to support would be the form that involves the least
government interference and the smallest amount of costly bureaucracy,
which would quite clearly take the form of some kind of universal income,
rather than a bureaucratically administered means-tested benefit.
Basic Income is a very interesting idea. I hope that the Swiss referendum
results in the first implementation of such a scheme, so that we can learn
more about the benefits and pitfalls. It is clear that the underlying
principle of a universal bureaucracy-free welfare system has a great deal
of appeal to people from either side of the political spectrum, given that
it has supporters from either extreme (from Bertrand Russell to Fredrich
Hayek) and many in between.
Many of the critics rely on economically illiterate objections such as the "
*something for nothing*" complaint or faux concerns about "idleness". By
raising such ludicrous concerns that the poor and ordinary would cease work
at the very instant their basic human needs are met (whilst ignoring the
fact that the rich continue to work despite their basic human needs being
met many times over), the opponent is essentially admitting that their view
of capitalism relies upon *exploitation of the fear of destitution*, rather
than *the willing participation of the workers*.
Another thing that this kind of "*something for nothing*" objection reveals
is the absurd idea that the only way in which it is possible to contribute
to society is through paid labour. The idea that the individual is
incapable of contributing anything at all to society apart from through
submission to capitalist exploitation. This stance is ludicrous nonsense,
not only because the individual would contribute to the economy every time
they spent or saved their Universal Basic Income, but also because
non-remunerated activities such as bringing up children, caring for elderly
or disabled relatives, volunteering for charities or investing time in
unpaid endeavours such as education, writing or the arts are all clearly
contributions to society, it's just that they are much less easily
monetised by the "*cost of everything, value of nothing*" brigade, so they
are dismissed as worthless "*non-contributions*".
On 18 October 2013 03:45, Chris Baulman <landrights4all at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi friends,
> There's still something very shaky about the logic for a basic income
> which undermines it.
> 1. NOTHING can compensate for the theft of a birthright like land access
> for housing, food and community. Restoration should be the constant
> objective even if compensation (a basic income) is an interim measure.
> 2. By arguing for compensation, the case for restoration is weakened.
> 3. Accepting compensation from a system of theft is a settlement with
> oppression & it is not sustainable
> 4. To talk about birth "rights" without responsibilities is bound to be
> opposed. The responsibilities should be agreed along with the right.
> 5. If land access as a birthright is said to be the foundation, what is
> the case for a basic income for those who already have more than is their
> birthright? (ie their income is already more than their birthright to the
> earth's resources &/or they already have land)
> 6. Money represents resources. We are already in climate change & global
> poverty creation because of the rich world's demands. Increasing money puts
> more demands on that system.puts more demands on that system.
> 7. If money for those who need land access as a right is to be paid, the
> justification for its payment can't be landrights. It must be as support to
> make good use of landrights &/or for payment of value generated by
> claimants who are meeting their responsibilities.
> Perhaps the paper at https://
> id=107308816001595&sk=info will explain what I have come up with in
> considering these points.
> I'd love to know what you think
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