Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Universal Basic Income

            Ten years ago, just 12 percent of Americans polled approved of a universal basic income (UBI). Yet, today, according to a new survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults conducted by Northeastern University and Gallup, a shocking 48% of Americans support the idea. But, it really isn’t shocking. A majority of American millennials have a favorable view of socialism. Not so long ago, we were seduced by the tantalizing vision of “a chicken in every pot.” Today, 48% of Americans would probably favor a unicorn in every home. (And, in California, they favor pot in every chicken!).
The Germans have a term for waging all-out, lightning-fast war: “blitzkrieg.” Progressives have launched a blitzkrieg on Western “kultur.” They aren’t just winning, their gains are coming with staggering rapidity.
Proposals for universal basic income (UBI) programs vary, but most call for a system in which the federal government sends out regular checks, either to everyone, or to the unemployed and those with little or no income. Finland and Canada have already instituted UBI pilot programs, and the (very) early results are spotty at best. Proponents cite rising inequality of incomes as one reason UBI is needed, and claim that this phenomenon is largely responsible for the recent rise of “authoritarian figures.” This is exactly backwards, however, as it is the policies of “authoritarian figures” such as Barack Obama, Joseph Stalin, Hugo Chavez, the Castros, and tin-pot African and “Banana Republic” dictators that cause the income inequality in the first place, or greatly exacerbate it if it previously existed.
Another reason given for implementing UBI is that it will encourage people to pursue employment “for reasons more meaningful than just a need to put food on the table.” What the hell could be a reason more meaningful than putting food on the table? If some folks don’t wish to, say, work in a factory making things that everyone wants, that does not give them the right to receive money from other people for re-interpreting ancient Mesopotamian artworks utilizing paper mache and empty toilet paper rolls.
Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, estimates that a program giving everyone in America $10,000 a year would cost over $3 trillion a year. Where would that $3 trillion come from? Or, more accurately, from whom would it come? In any case, it would be lights out for the economy. We’d all be in need of a universal basic income…but the well would’ve run dry.
Democrats, however, pay no heed to this particular profundity, as 65 percent of them would like to see universal basic income (UBI) become the law of the land. As do 54% of all millennials. Even 28% of Republicans support the concept. (And who said RINOs are endangered?).
One leading UBI cheerleader recently stated, “You can’t have a free market economy if people are constantly insecure. You can’t expect them to be rational.” We had a free market economy for many, many decades, including through the Dust Bowl years and the Great Depression. People were rational in those times. They took any job available to put food on the table. It is in times of ease and comfort that people are irrational and wish to force others to pay them for re-interpreting ancient Mesopotamian artworks utilizing paper mache and empty toilet paper rolls.
If a government is going to grant its citizens a universal basic income, it should demand a universal basic effort (UBE) or a universal basic output (UBO) in return for that largesse. Perhaps there should be a universal basic income tax rate (UBITR), as well?

And what about guaranteeing a universal basic happiness (UBH) level?

After all, I’m still waiting for my unicorn.

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