nah : 09.2016 : Contra Universal Baisc Income (Culture & Sociology, Thoughts)
I’ve posted on this many times, so let me try to be succinct. Guaranteed income is yet another wealth redistribution model. I don’t say this as a bad thing, just we have many wealth redistribution models and this one is, at best, yet another player.
So with that in mind let’s look at what these models are supposed to do. Wealth redistribution is supposed to create better equality among the citizens of a country. Depending on where you fall on the socialism scale you may be looking at equality of opportunity, or equality of outcome. To put it another way, do you prefer that everyone starts a race at the same time, or do you prefer everyone finishes at the same time? If you prefer that everyone starts together, then UBI isn’t for you. If you prefer everyone finishes together you’re really looking for communism.
UBI doesn’t make better schools or universities, UBI doesn’t offset serious medical conditions, UBI doesn’t compensate for what city you live in, what your previous job was, how many kids in your family or any of the thousands of things that make each of our needs different. With UBI (in its purest form) it provides no further benefits to someone with serious medical issues requiring care and some post graduate upper class kid who wants to fuck around for a couple of years and ‘find him/herself’.
Now you may be thinking ‘well of course we’ll give more money for X or Y’. Great now we have something else and not a Universal Basic Income.
You might be OK with that, but don’t be surprised that many people want those with the greatest need to receive the most help. I am a fan of the scalpel over the sledgehammer and UBI is a sledgehammer. It’s this generation’s flat tax, simple to understand, but poorly understood.
Next, I have serious concerns about certain organizations taking advantage of UBI and profiting greatly at the expense of those who need it. Think of this scenario: you own an apartment building with 100 units in a city with a high demand for housing. Suddenly everyone wanting an apartment has 2,000 more bucks a month, do you a) keep the rate at the pre-UBI level or b) raise your rates knowing that there is enough people desperate for a place to live that they’ll be willing to pay an extra, oh I don’t know, 2,000 bucks a month. Now apply this same logic to schools, or healthcare, or even transportation.
Fact is, as a greedy business man, I can pretty much guarantee that a good chunk of any UBI you earn will flow to me, and there still won’t be anymore rooms to rent, houses to buy, or seats in a classroom.
You might be wondering why I wouldn’t invest in upgrading if there’s all this free money? Well I might a bit, but I’ll be hindered because every construction companies’ rates suddenly jumped up for some weird reason. Crazy how that works.
What that means is will most likely see a flurry of activity which at the end the buying power that a person has is no better than before UBI as prices naturally correct to offset the sudden change.
So why are we even talking about UBI? Especially when even with a cursory glance we can see that it’s inferior to a traditional model comprised of targeted support to those who need it when they need it. The answer is simple, in many western countries, and especially the USA the welfare system has completely imploded. Instead of making it so anyone who is without work can receive enough to live and support themselves welfare has had its funding capped for 20 years. The funds are diverted and workfare and other completely bullshit useless programs have exploded in popularity. That’s not even addressing the issues around healthcare and the cost of post secondary education.
Politics has reared its ugly head and the paranoia about the welfare queen is so great that no one wants to actually put the money into welfare anymore. Like public works before it, it’s become a dirty word replaced with a series of ‘incentives’ designed to browbeat the mentally ill, the infirm and the uneducated into magically finding jobs in this new post service brain economy.
So rises UBI a ridiculous solution to a completely artificial problem. Worried about poor people being on welfare? Give everyone welfare, that’ll solve it. Worried about the criminally exploding price of university? Just give everyone enough money to attend, that’ll ensure education for all. /s
It’s a problem with a very simple solution that no politician is willing to address: Stop vilifying the poor and start rebuilding the social network that’s designed to assess peoples individual needs and tailor a response, be it EI, Welfare, Disability, VA, Medicaid or the thousands of other programs that have been gutted over the last two decades. It will be cheaper in both the short and long run, it will be fairer to ensuring that everyone can start the race at the same time and doesn’t require a complete overhaul of everything that already exists replacing it with an unproven system and then hoping like fuck it works.
So that’s why.