Over the past couple of years I have heard quite a lot (mostly on Facebook, blogs, and G+), and more importantly a growing number of people calling for a "universal basic income", that is the idea that the government should provide a basic salary for every citizen. Virtually all of those I've heard calling for it have been people on the political left and the heaviest criticisms of the idea I've seen have come from the right.
The leftists who push for it are usually arguing "it will mean every citizen will be taken care of" while of course what they secretly mean is "I personally won't have to work at my shitty retail job while I 'work on' that novel I'll never actually finish".
The right-wingers who argue against it usually talk about "economic non-viability", that its impossible, that its intrusive big government etc. while of course what many of them really mean is "you fucking hippies and unwed moms shouldn't get to live for free off my hard-earned money the government steals from me".
In fact, I think they've got it totally backward. Well, in particular, the Right have it backward. "UBI" should be a rallying-cry of conservatives everywhere. The ones who should potentially be afraid of it are big-government leftists who want a bloated government with lots of public offices and public jobs.
The realistic issue that right now, we don't have pure proper capitalism. We have this ridiculously complex welfare state. The model we've build up slowly, through significant leftist
intervention, over the past 80+ years, is of having dozens or hundreds
of different often redundant departments, all of which cost money; of
having legions and legions of social workers to govern the different
cases and manage the extremely complex paperwork and bureaucracy, lots
of expensive offices and infrastructure to handle all the processes for
application, etc. In other words, massive massive government bloat.
we could actually have the political will, I could see UBI very much as
a libertarian-leaning issue. I would say that IF we could get rid of
all the separate, redundant and pointless social welfare departments
governments have today, all the added red tape and byzantine
bureaucracy, all the regulations, and a sizable chunk of public
employees, in a massive slimdown where we just had fixed rates of a
decent basic income for all adults (and a different rate for children
paid to the legal parents or guardians of the same); the amount of
hassle that would be spared would make it one of the greatest victories
in recent history in terms of slimming down needless government waste
and the culture it creates.
If we closed all those different departments (welfare, social security,
disability, unemployment insurance, child subsidies, etc etc.), fired
all those extra and mostly useless civil servants (that alone should
make it worth the price of admission!), removed all the needless
regulation and bureaucratic loops and turned it in a single office, and a
single streamlined system that wasn't full of conditions and
exemptions, we would be radically changing efficiency.
So yes, given that we're never going
to switch to a situation where the poorest people or the weakest or most
helpless people or the oldest people, etc etc. won't be supported by
the government, I think that the best situation would be if there was a
single, universal, unconditional basic income that was easy to
administer and apportion because we wouldn't have to have a separate
department for each class of recipient, or a separate social worker
deciding each case. If UBI was a REPLACEMENT for all the different bloated social programs
right now, it would actually be capable of saving taxpayer money
compared to what's being paid for at this time.
Of course, that would
depend on the government doing it right. The real opponents of this
would probably be the left, if the right understood the point of it;
because the left would be the ones realizing that this would mean you
could drastically reduce the size of government, red tape, and
regulations. The biggest flaw/risk in the plan is the government itself. But that's
the thing: imagine if instead of the left, it was the Right who took on
this cause. Imagine if the Right said "we're going to give EVERYONE a fair
basic income, regardless of what you earn, as your dividend for being
part of this government; and in so doing we're going to cut billions and
billions of dollars of needless waste and red tape. It will be enough
for everyone to be able to afford some basic housing and decent food and
all other necessities if they don't blow it all on crack. For the
middle class, it will be extra money which can be considered a kind of
automatic tax rebate. No one will have to prove their poverty or
infirmity to a social worker anymore, no one will have to be watched or monitored by a government employee who thinks they know what's best for you, everyone will just get a check every month in a single,
super-efficient social welfare program... and after that no one will
have any excuses except themselves for how they live."
CONSERVATIVE cause, not a liberal one. And if the conservatives were the
ones to push it (as expressed above) it would be the best chance of
inoculating against leftists fucking it all up.
Currently Smoking: Davidoff 400 series Apple + C&D's Pirate Kake