For this post we will take on UBI (universal basic income), the theory that it would be beneficial in the long run to pay everyone regardless of income a certain basic income, everyone month, from the government. So if you made no money from work you would still be paid the same basic amount as someone that made let’s say a million dollars a month. There are many reasons people support this idea. One of the prevailing thoughts is that with the increasing level of artificial intelligence and automation many will become unemployed and thus need some sort of subsistence. (Pinkerton and Kliff, 2017) We will pick apart not only this argument in favor of UBI but also address the economic and moral dilemma of UBI.
The notion that automation and artificial intelligence will take over such a large portion of the work sector to leave all these people unemployed just doesn’t cut it. This kind of thinking ignores all of human history. Ever since beasts of burden were introduced to help with agriculture process or the tools to help with said process, whichever came first, those have been taking jobs away from people for thousands of years. Yet with all that unemployment brought on by those additions to the labor side of production we are still here working away. In the 1800’s, for example, in central Europe it was discovered that adding an animal to assist in the labor of tending fields increased the productivity 100% on average. (Blum, 1948) Keep in mind that the addition of this animal then added more jobs and required the increase in production. People now needed to take care of the animal and now more food needed to be produced for it. In short, tools to assist mankind in labor will not ruin society and thus leave millions without jobs. Sure some advances in technology will leave some behind, but that has always happened. It has always been upon us, the people working, to advance our skills anyways to stay employed. That has never changed.
When we take ourselves now to the economic aspect of UBI we again run into issues, some of which are pretty obvious. Automatically raising everyone’s salary $12k a year will increase the price of many goods and services. And those that this will impact the most will be the lower classes. As a former landlord myself If I knew my tenant just got a “guaranteed” raise of $1000 a month, I promise you his rent would have gone up. No not the full $1000 but what the market could bare. So while trying to help those that need it most again the central planners have figured out a way to harm them.
Finally it’s time to take on the moral dilemma of UBI and of gosh are there number of those! First, the money given to everyone has to come from somewhere. Where exactly? Well there are two basic options, print it, thus making the money given out just about pointless or steal it from other people via taxation to give to others. As some advocating for UBI has said recently, “… we are just trying to give you money…” ignoring the fact that the money was never theirs to give out and has to be stolen from others by threat of violence but so nicely called “taxation”. Stealing from Peter to pay Paul has never been the path to a civilized society or better yet a free society.
As not just “normal” people but libertarians we should be able to recognize the faults and dangers with UBI. It is a very appealing argument because who doesn’t like more money? But by pointing out a few of the faults, there are more by the way, in UBI the hope is that the more people learn about the reality of UBI they will recognize it for what it is, another disaster brought on by more government control.
Pinkerton, B., & Kliff, S. (2017, May 12). The case for and against a universal basic income in the United States. Retrieved November 26, 2019, from https://www.vox.com/2017/5/12/13954182/case-for-and-against-universal-basic-income-united-states.
Blum, J. (1948). Noble landowners and agriculture in Austria, 1815-1848. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Pr.