You Can Only Be Against Basic Income Based On Morals, Not Evidence

Money cut into pieces - Photo by Flickr user Tax Credits

There are all sorts of arguments against an unconditional, universal basic income — that is, the idea of giving everyone a minimum income regardless of whether they work, whether they’re disabled, or whether they’re poor. The problem with these arguments is that the only one that actually stands up to reality is, “I don’t like it.”

Whether it’s in industrialized nations like Canada and the UK, or poorer countries like India and Namibia, experiments with a basic income have challenged fears that it will lead to a culture of dependence, an unsustainable drop in employment, or do anything at all to destroy or kill an economy whatsoever. When given free money unconditionally, time and time again, the results have shown that the only people who quit their jobs are people like students, single mothers, or other people who have better uses of their time than being employed.

There is no catastrophic disincentive to work, or incentive to be lazy, like basic income opponents predict. Everyone does not start sitting around at home. People who are able to work and keep society running continue to do so. The economy does not collapse. The fears of doom-and-gloom just flat-out don’t happen.

Every day, the arguments against alleviating poverty and inequality by just giving everybody money sounds more and more like arguments used against same-sex marriage. It will lead to bestiality. It will be bad for the children. Heterosexual couples will stop getting married. Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. None of these things happen. They’re weak attempts to rationalize the argument that, “I just think it’s wrong.”

For opponents of basic income, there is no evidence on their side. Their arguments come entirely from the fact that they believe that giving people money for nothing is icky. They don’t want to live in a world where anybody can make a comfortable living without having to break their back doing work if they don’t want to. They’re not afraid of any real, existing consequences. They just think it’s wrong.

But they’re never going to admit that. When the debate is framed like that — is it right or wrong for everyone to have food, shelter, and security; is it right or wrong for everyone to be free to choose what work they do — it’s no longer a debate they can win.

Discussion

  1. Jean Chicoine

    You’re absolutely right.

  2. mijj

    the idea that seems to have, somehow, weaseled it’s way into our worldview is that only the wealthy deserve to have guaranteed minimum income. They’re wealthy because they deserve it, therefore they deserve to be guaranteed wealth.

    1. Caleb Lanik

      They’re wealthy, and have guaranteed incomes because, to the surprise of no one, owning things for a living pays a lot better than having to work for a living.

    2. Josh

      Yes, there is no point in history where this statement has been proven totally false, no point ever. nope.

  3. Atleast have a job...

    Its almost as if your job here is to bring out controvercial click bait without a shred of logic backing you up. Is this piracy taken to its extreme? I thought piracy was about access to information, not getting free stuff for nothing. This could’ve been a decent minimum wage argument, but you just went ahead and plunged into the deep end, saying everyone deserves money for nothing. Think for a moment, just a moment, why things cost money in the first place. I know that a moment’s worth of thinking is a huge toil on your brain, but I hope you realise how letting everyone freeload without limitations actually does have a very negative effect

    1. LennStar

      “saying everyone deserves money for nothing”
      No. He does not say this. He does say that any human being, by being a human, has a right to basic existence safety. You can read about that here for example
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights
      Of course, in our society, the most easiest way is to share he wealth with everyone via money.

      “why things cost money in the first place.”
      Thats easy: Because they use a) natural resources and b) work
      An Unconditional Basic income will make the usage of a) more efficient. And regarding b) there are 2 types of work:
      1) manual labor
      2) cognitive labor
      Regarding 1): That could nearly be eliminated – of we put our goal to this – in the next 20-30 years (at least in the developed countries, the poor ones likely need double the time)
      And on 2): cognitive labor would be the one that gets the biggest boost out of a Basic Income. Because that puts the thought (fear) of money out of the mind.
      (btw: The “strangest” thing here is, that a BIG reward of money actually makes you WORSE at thinking. Because you think of money, not of the task. Its one of the few things in “economic science” that is really repeatable and provable.)

    2. La Vida

      Min wage is not the answer, small business will go under and those in work will have to work twice as hard to compensate.

      the only reason we have money is to pay tax, before money people were equal and most worked. the only way forward to stop poverty is a basic income.

      1. Gamine

        This article isn’t about Minimum Wage, it’s about Universal Basic Income. They are two differents concepts. With UBI, minimum wage would not be necessary.

    3. Guilherme

      Clearly, you don’t know enough about UBI (Universal Basic Income) to consider it properly. I don’t mean this as a put down; I’m well aware the concept is shocking at first, and I expect people to actually tear into UBI proponents before fully considering it.

      For a very good and (I think) thorough analysis of UBI’s bright side and most of its common criticisms and misconceptions, I recommend you watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7nY0UWrSIA (This is by a professor of Economics, btw; that’s to say he’s not a newbie when it comes to the study of economics, the way I and Zac are.)

      UNFORTUNATELY, Zac, Rick, and Lionel (I’m looking at you, guys!) mostly think like me, but they keep writing articles in a way that only people who already agree with them will really pay attention.

      The tone is just too aggressive and intolerant with people who disagree, and while I understand the rage, unless the arguments are laid out *didactly,* hardly anyone will change their mind reading this blog, I think… :(

      1. David

        Great response, respond to vitriol with educational material.

      2. Daniel Otterholm

        I agree with you and thansk for the video, it was a much better argument then this nonsense.

      3. Robin Winslow

        Guilherme, I love the tone of your response.

        I love the idea of basic income. It is a perfect solution to the “benefits trap”, and it is a great way to maximise freedom.

        However, it was my impression that solid examples of UBI being put into practice were scarce, so it’s hard to make more than a theoretical argument at this stage. Is that wrong? I’ll watch that video you linked to (thanks for that) but I’d also appreciate any further resources you have with solid evidence for UBI. Not just examples of where it has been tried, but also fully costed examples of how it would work and be affordable.

        1. Dar

          From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

          Mincome was an experimental Canadian basic income project that was held in Dauphin, Manitoba during the 1970s. The project, funded jointly by the Manitoba provincial government and the Canadian federal government, began with a news release on February 22, 1974, and was closed down in 1979. The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether a guaranteed, unconditional annual income caused disincentive to work for the recipients, and how great such a disincentive would be.

          It allowed every family unit to receive a minimum cash benefit. Participants who worked had their mincome supplement reduced by 50 cents for every dollar they earned by working. The results showed a modest impact on labor markets, with working hours dropping one percent for men, three percent for married women, and five percent for unmarried women. However, some have argued these drops may be artificially low because participants knew the guaranteed income was temporary. These decreases in hours worked may be seen as offset by the opportunity cost of more time for family and education. Mothers spent more time rearing newborns, and the educational impacts are regarded as a success. Students in these families showed higher test scores and lower dropout rates. There was also an increase in adults continuing education.

          A final report was never issued, but Dr. Evelyn Forget conducted an analysis of the program in 2009 which was published in 2011. She found that only new mothers and teenagers worked substantially less. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies, and teenagers worked less because they weren’t under as much pressure to support their families, which resulted in more teenagers graduating. In addition, those who continued to work were given more opportunities to choose what type of work they did. Forget found that in the period that Mincome was administered, hospital visits dropped 8.5 percent, with fewer incidents of work-related injuries, and fewer emergency room visits from car accidents and domestic abuse. Additionally, the period saw a reduction in rates of psychiatric hospitalization, and in the number of mental illness-related consultations with health professionals.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome

    4. Curt Welch

      You should stop posting nonsense, and actually do some research instead of just telling others they can’t “think”. There is endless information about Basic Income for you to read about. Endless information about the real life studies done to show that they do not have the negative effects you believe they would. Your reaction, is the very issue the article was written to criticize. Those like you that have no done your research, and just share your ideological beliefs, instead of facts, often do get the facts wrong. Do you need help finding the research? Try googling for “Basic Income” so you actually know what you are arguing against.

      1. Atleast have a job...

        Okay, I’ll admit that I didn’t know what basic income was, but after doing my research, my points still stand, Zacqary is the weakest writer on this site, and giving away money for free is detrimental.

        First off, I completely agree with Guilherme, if this site wasn’t meant to alienate people from the pirate party, Zach sure as hell is. His only argument against the opponents is a giant ad hom comparing them to homophobes. Anyone can declare that they are right, and the opponent is wrong, but to have an actual argument, you actually have to refute points, which doesn’t occur in this article.

        Those like you that have no done your research, and just share your ideological beliefs, instead of facts,

        To support basic income takes the same or a greater amount of suspension of disbelief as compared to opposing it. There are people who would blindly haul for basic income without logic as well.

        Why did basic income “work” in the situations above? Not because its a ground breaking method, but because the prices for things remained the same. In each of the studies, one/a few particular regions/communities got a boost, while the area in general did not. In much the same way as a guy who has won the lottery would start living a higher life, of course their standard of living would improve, they now had an edge over people who didn’t get cash. Should a region wide implementation of basic income happen, prices would inflate as people gained more buying power, and you would get a new poverty line thats higher. And how would you solve that? By shelling more money into basic income to bring people out of poverty, which would continue the cycle of inflation.

        Which brings us to our second problem, where the money comes from in the first place. The Mincome experiment itself spent 17 million on a population of around 8000, and the benefit was minute. And if you consider that this 17 million amounted to 1200$ per person a year(hardly enough to live on in a first-world country if housing is taken into account), this was merely a supplement, scale up the costs of paperwork/register for a nation wide community plus the income itself, and you have a cost that far exceeds space programs.

        And what about people who won’t work? Before pointing at the low work reduction rate, consider this. In many of the experiments a monetary supplement(a booster; not enough to cover everything) was given, and it was made clear that this was not permanent. Meaning that they couldn’t live on the cash alone(defeating the purpose of minimum income) and they knew how fucked they’d be if the cash stopped and they didn’t have a job. If the goal of minimum income were to make sure people had enough to live on, which most of these experiments provided, the leeches would start pouring out the walls in droves.

        And of course, resources are finite. You can keep increasing basic income as inflation persists, but how long before that bubble bursts? Eventually you’d run out of sources of money, no thanks to the population who doesn’t contribute to the dwindling resources.

        1. gurrfield

          Not many people are starving in developed countries today. Every country has some social safety net / food cupouns or anything of the sort.

          The reason to have a conditioned support rather than an unconditioned one is power and fear.

          People in power want others to think : “What if I won’t fit all the rules to get my social support? Then I’ll be broke in just some months!!”. So they’re dead desperate to find and accept just any job. That situation of desperation among the public is perfect for the established businesses.

          The main point is to try and have the population in constant fear of unemployment to keep them in that squirrel wheel.

          It is however extremely bad if we want people to try and innovate and start new companies – something which is more important than ever because of the destruction of jobs due to technology and the internet.

    5. Andrew Drummond

      I found it quite hilarious how the first few attempts to criticise Zacqary’s article here amounted to little more than “I can’t be bothered to check your sources or read scientific papers”, and walk right into proving his point.

      1. Andrew Drummond

        P.S. I don’t agree with even calling those disagreements ‘Morals’ when they are based upon superstition rather than evidence-based notions of human well-being, as per Sam Harris’ contributions to that conversation.

      2. Durmmod Anshlew

        I found it pretty interesting how so many gobbled this up on the notion of greater well-being or personal benefit, without realising the costs and impracticality. Superstition trumping evidence goes both ways.

        In the United States, we hear that the world doesn’t owe us a living. Maybe it doesn’t. I would submit, however, that those who rigged the world in favor owe the rest of us something for not breaking out the tumbrels and guillotines.

  4. TG

    If a universal basic income is funded by voluntary contributions, all well and good. If it requires theft (euphemistically called taxation) to fund it, then indeed, “I think it’s wrong”.

    1. LennStar

      Like roads, hospitals, police, food controls and all the other things you are very glad to have?

      btw: You pay a lot of taxes even if you only live on an unconditional basic income.

      1. Dave

        Translation: “the end justifies the means.”

      2. TG

        You’re assuming that none of these of things could be provided without the state spending money taken from people by force. Already many people buy private healthcare, private education and private security (while still having to pay for the state hospitals, schools and police, which aren’t good enough for their needs). As for roads, are you saying that without the state extorting money from people, nobody would develop means of getting from one place to another? It’s a shame that the state monopolises transportation because it leaves us unaware of the possibilities of the free market. People seem to have accepted that sitting in traffic jams day after day on crappy state roads is inevitable.

        But anyway, my point is not whether the state spends money well or not. The point is that it is wrong to steal. Generally, we see it as wrong to rifle through someone’s pay packet and take a percentage of our pleasing, and to threaten the person with kidnap (prison) if they resist handing over the money. But for some reason the state exempts itself from those standards.

        1. Nick Taylor

          Yea, we’ve seen what privatised public services look like. America. A fucking nightmare.

          Tax is not theft, it’s how we pool our resources to pay for shared infrastructure.

          What is theft, is using this infrastructure without making your tax contributions – this is theft logically, morally and most of all, legally.

          It’s astonishing and depressing that anyone takes libertarianism seriously. Give it up.

        2. Anonymous

          „People seem to have accepted that sitting in traffic jams day after day on crappy state roads is inevitable.“

          Right, many people think that. And I think that they may be right. I mean, if state roads are crappy – shouldn’t that encourage private companies to build private toll streets? If the state doesn’t supply sufficient streets, shouldn’t that cause someone else to come up and offer additional street capacity?

          I think that the fact that private streets don’t exist just proves the point that we need state streets.

        3. Oldtimer

          @Nick Taylor: “Tax is not theft, it’s how we pool our resources to pay for shared infrastructure”
          Yeah, right. Because it’s entirely voluntary. No force involved at all.
          /sarcasm

          “It’s astonishing and depressing that anyone takes libertarianism seriously.”
          It’s depressing that so many people defend state violence. The pirate movement is being assimilated. Resistance is futile.

    2. Dave

      Given some reasonable assumptions, UBI might improve on the status quo. But if you see our problem as systemic, UBI hacks the branches, it does not strike the root. I do not want to unthinkingly embrace the current paradigm of domination, even if it hides behind attractive goals.

    3. gurrfield

      I can understand your comparison taxation vs stealing, but..

      is it not also a bit inconvenient if people who are out of work have to rob people to get money to survive? Or do you expect them to just lay down and starve? Social security is not “just stealing” taxpayers money and giving to others, it’s a form of insurance against the consequences of the desperation of people being broke and out of work.

      Most civilized countries already have some kind of “social security”. Basic income is just one way to (re)structure it.

  5. Ivan

    There is the problem of certain groups who constantly abuse the system. For example, in Croatia we have some 50000 Gypsies. Not all of them are the same, but some 90% have a few things in common. One is that they are not interested in contributing the community in any way. They settle to parks and public spaces and build illegal houses, and everything they do is done illegaly, taxes are a no no. If someone complains about it, they just call him a racist. As Croats have a low fertility rate, the country encourages people to have children with some 300$ per child per month. The majority of Gypsies therefore have 10 children, who are hungry and neglected, and are not allowed to attend school. The consequence is that their numbers grow exponentially. With all the money their parents get that way, they buy alcohol and have parties. As their children don’t go to school, they are useful to their parents by being thieves and beggars. It is also common for gypsie women to rent their babies to other gypsies so that they can beg on the streets more dramatically. Most European countries have the same problem. Our eastern neighbour, Serbia, had an action in which they gave each gypsie child who attended school a laptop. The moment they got laptops, they stopped going to school and their parents sold the laptops to buy more alcohol.
    The point is, if the basic income is uncondittional, it will give birth to more social problems then there already are. It may be hard to understand from the American perspective, because you don’t have comparable people. Many of Americans have problems with Mexican immigrants, but they come to America only to work, and generaly don’t abuse the system.

    1. Anonymous

      “The point is, if the basic income is uncondittional, it will give birth to more social problems then there already are.”
      The point is that a unconditional basic income would give birth to more solutions to social problems then you are capable of thinking of.

      The rest of your post I as a german know very well, just with “jude” instead of gypsie. It nearly sounds like a translation.

      1. LennStar

        Addition: I always think the difference in thinking if an basic income is right or wrong is simply:
        1) People are bad from birth (christian roots?)
        2) People are good or want to be good if given the chance.

        Science and anecdotes both strongly point to 2) btw.

    2. Biotronic

      http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/a-new-approach-to-aid-how-a-basic-income-program-saved-a-namibian-village-a-642310.html

      This the story linked above, about the village in Namibia. It mirrors the sentiments you express, and answers them. Sources exist to be read, not ignored.

    3. stranger

      So then put a tax on alcohol and use that to pay for the basic income. That way, even though they’re sitting on their asses, they’re still contributing to the community.

  6. Bo

    I consider it a proven fact that only a free market works for us humans,
    A free market means no tax, no State. You are allowed to beg or trade your work for other things.
    Period.

    1. Somename

      You CONSIDER it a proven fact. But it’s not.

    2. Kommunist

      You dirty kommie

    3. Curt Welch

      The free market works fine, when human labor is the only source of wealth. But that has never been true, and it gets further from the truth, the more technology we add to our economy. It was never true, becuase humans alone can’t produce (much useful) wealth. They need raw materials. Whoever controls the raw materials, like land, and coal, and oil, can bend the capitalistic system to their favor. But now we have technology added to the mix, we have the same problem of controlling the resources. Most wealth in the world today is not made by human labor at all. It’s made by owning captial assets, like land, and oil fields, and factories, and machines, and even idea, like copyrights and patents. It’s the wage workers that always stick their head up in these arguments and make this nonsense debate about how “hard work” is the only thing that produces wealth. You never see the rich make that stupid argument because the rich know their money doesn’t come from hard work. It comes from gaining control over the most valuable assets of the economy, whether it’s an gas field, or an apartment building.

      As we add technology, your “work” that you are trying to “beg ot trade” for, will become so worthless next to the machines, that you won’t be able to beg or trade your work, for enough food to keep yourself alive.

      When that happens to you, or to people close t you, you will understand how naive your view was today, and how absurd your comment here was.

      1. Bo

        Yuo need to read Hans-Hermann Hoppe regarding PROPERTY?

        1. Patrik

          And you need to read his response again.

    4. Jose Sarmento

      No. Free markets could possibly work for econs, and even that is not a proven fact – since there has never been any such thing as a free market. They can’t possibly work for humans, since the first thing humans do after achieving economic success is buy political power so they can restrict markets to their own advantage. Call it human nature.

      1. Bo

        Read Murray Rothbard: Man, Economy and State.

  7. Peter Andersson

    It’s a very interresting idea with some evidence for it, but the very major point aginst it remains; “what if if implemented full scale it turns out that it doesn’t work?”.

    The consequences are HUGE if things then can not be turned back. Ideas with possible minor consequences can easily be tried. This needs safety belts, helmets and triple layers of vulcanised economic condoms to ensure we’re not severly fucked up beyond repair if we implement it and are wrong.

    I’m old enough to remember the debate about the so called “löntagarfonder” in Sweden in the 80s. When pressed about them Palme said approx “if things don’t work out we’ll just turn back”. Then the employers union posted a national evening and morning papers ad with a train going over a cliff and Palme shouting “Put in reverse! Put in reverse!”

    So in short, I’m not saying it wouldn’t work, I’d be more than happy to see it implemented in my lifetime, but the bar for evidence for it needs to be set extremely high.

    1. Jose Sarmento

      Don’t do it all of a sudden. Start very small and increase income very slowly until it becomes barely enough for survival. Don’t ever go beyond that. Monitor every step very carefully for positive and negative effects.

      1. gurrfield

        To be able to do that would require some long term political stability which I’m afraid is difficult in democracies because of continous voting, the sides switching power every 4 to 10 years.

  8. pippo

    I expected to read some kind of argument based on data, or a study…
    Instead, this is just an opinion piece.

    I kind of feel basic income would be beneficial, but this would not convince me if I were against it. I could write a similarly vague essay stating that “You can only support Basic income based on Morality, not Evidence”.

    1. Guilherme

      Have you seen the 4 links at the top of the article? This was actually tried in 4 very different places and the results were good, so he has a point…

      Could you point cases where this was tried and the result was bad? Even if you can, you couldn’t write an article stating “You can only support Basic income based on Morality, not Evidence,” because there actually is evidence it works, as well as evidence that it doesn’t.

      Zac’s point is that so far he has only seen evidence that it *does* work. So opponents have no evidence it doesn’t, though they can criticize it morally. *That’s* the point.

      1. Pontus

        No, in one very important aspect, basic income has never been tried. Small trials involving one small area of a nation with a national currency doesn’t show what the monetary and inflationary effects would be on a nations currency if all people in a country would receive a basic income.

  9. ShivaFang

    I’m no expert on this – but could you comment on the possibility that the market inflation will adjust to make this change meaningless?

    If people have more money to spend, the market will compensate by charging more. That single mother who has to work to support her family will eventually still have to work to support her family even with the income because the market will then be based on “working + basic income”

    Looking back at history in North America (I can only really speak for the US and Canada) – it used to be that a working husband could support his family while his wife stayed at home. When women entered the workforce, the balance of the market shifted and today it’s the case where both parent need to work in order to support their household.

    Another example of this happens in towns where the average income of its residents is higher than the mean. In Alberta we have a town called Fort McMurray which is the heart of the oil sands operations in the province. Because the town is centred in the oil trade, the residents make a LOT of money. However, the price of goods in Fort McMurray is directly proportional. A Big Mac there cost $15, where as the same Big Mac would cost $8 in Calgary.

    Here’s a site that shows cost of living differences between Fort McMurray and Edmonton (it’s closest major city)
    http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Canada&country2=Canada&city1=Edmonton&city2=Fort+McMurray

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m *for* your idea of basic income – I just think the market will compensate and it will effectively be meaningless.

    1. Sensible Respondant

      If the market inflates, that’s more taxes generated to go back into the wealth distribution. But people will have the time to make their own Big Macs at home. When you don’t need to utterly rely on the market, the market can’t get too greedy, or it’ll lose its customer base. Without desperately needing a job, people can just up and move to places where the cost of living is lower, and then they can do things in that community that actually matter, like start a cow farm, and locally produce cheaper meat than Burger King. Suddenly population centers are in competition with each other to lower their costs of living, so they can keep their population.

      Only the most unwise would stay and pay for a $15 Big Mac when they finally have the choice to not pay. That choice to move themselves elsewhere prevents prices from rising. Also, when you know everyone has the money to buy your product, you’re going to begin advertising to the largest base of customers, and you’re not going to make it cost all of their income to purchase because they’re not going to have the budget for it.

      Just a couple of sensible thoughts I had…

      1. next_ghost

        If the market inflates, that’s more taxes generated to go back into the wealth distribution. But people will have the time to make their own Big Macs at home. When you don’t need to utterly rely on the market, the market can’t get too greedy, or it’ll lose its customer base.

        Correction. If basic income pays about 25% of average salary to everybody, the market can get 25% more greedy. And it will get that greedy almost overnight. So then you’re almost back where you started. It will take a few extra cycles of greediness and payraises but things will eventually settle very close to where they started. Because things have started in near-equilibrium and the only change was in some virtual numbers that in part control the equilibrium but also result from the equilibrium.

        1. I mean.. really?

          It’s as if you didn’t read anything past what you quoted from Sensible Respondant.

        2. Al

          This will not be the case. The money would go to a wide variety of good and services. If all money went to one place it may be possible, but that is unlikely. Since people will have more money they will have more choices. This would actually bring down the price of many items so that the products are more competitive.

          The same goes for wages. The employee will have more power and will be able to negotiate better wages. They will also be more productive since they are working on their own free will and not because they have to.

          Lastly, the main problem with this argument is that it is really just saying “shouldn’t we keep people poor because then prices will be lower?”.

          Oh! The real last thing, prices are hardly based on supply and demand anymore. There are hundreds of examples on prices being artificially inflated and based soles on competitors and not on market forces.

        3. next_ghost

          This will not be the case. The money would go to a wide variety of good and services. If all money went to one place it may be possible, but that is unlikely. Since people will have more money they will have more choices. This would actually bring down the price of many items so that the products are more competitive.

          Sorry but the economy doesn’t work that way. People are going to get more money which means more demand for goods. But those extra goods aren’t going to appear out of thin air so it’ll just result in price increase. The price correction will happen very fast so there won’t be enough time to start new businesses to take advantage of that additional demand.

          The same goes for wages. The employee will have more power and will be able to negotiate better wages. They will also be more productive since they are working on their own free will and not because they have to.

          You can see for yourself today that the exact opposite will happen. Go talk to anyone who collects pension and still works. Pretty much all of those working pensioners get below average salary for their job because their pension already takes care of their basic needs. They need lower wage than their younger colleagues so they get less. And some of them are even big enough assholes to boast how they work for so little that “the young’uns wouldn’t even get out of bed for it.” Well, thank you very fucking much for screwing up wages for those who actually depend on them.

          Lastly, the main problem with this argument is that it is really just saying “shouldn’t we keep people poor because then prices will be lower?”.

          What I’m really saying is that you can’t get rich by pulling money out of your own pocket and putting it back into another of your pockets. I live in a country which has working social security system (despite right-wing government’s attempts to dismantle it for the past 7 years) so basic income would actually make it worse for poor people. If you want a better suggestion, look at LETS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LETS Unlike basic income, LETS currency actually works.

          Oh! The real last thing, prices are hardly based on supply and demand anymore. There are hundreds of examples on prices being artificially inflated and based soles on competitors and not on market forces.

          Cartels are illegal.

        4. Andrew Drummond

          > People are going to get more money which means more demand for goods. But those extra goods aren’t going to appear out of thin air so it’ll just result in price increase.

          Implying store shelves aren’t already full of more than enough food that ends up in bins because people couldn’t afford it, cities full of more than enough houses lying empty, cars tools and toys gathering dust, etc.

          > You can see for yourself today that the exact opposite will happen. Go talk to anyone who collects pension and still works. Pretty much all of those working pensioners get below average salary for their job because their pension already takes care of their basic needs. They need lower wage than their younger colleagues so they get less. And some of them are even big enough assholes to boast how they work for so little that “the young’uns wouldn’t even get out of bed for it.” Well, thank you very fucking much for screwing up wages for those who actually depend on them.

          Funny, because that is an argument against a conditional welfare scheme or pension scheme, not against a universal basic income. If everyone is guaranteed to get their needs met, i.e. both the old and young are in receipt of such a ‘pension’, then you wouldn’t have such a situation of inequality in wage negotiation.

          > Cartels are illegal.

          So are theft, fraud, extortion, et cetera, yet that doesn’t stop them from happening, when people are given an incentive to use them for an advantage in this competition for survival that we call capitalism.

  10. BIG Political Party

    Great article and factually accurate. as for money for nothing. try doing “nothing” its only possible when you’re dead.

    so even the moral objection is a ridiculous concept

  11. next_ghost

    Zacquary, have you actually done the numbers? From the moral side of things, basic income would be great. But from the purely practical side, it’s not going to work. And if it ever could work, we won’t need it anyway by that time. There are several purely practical problems:

    1) Inflation will erase most of basic income to the point that most little kids would get more money as monthly allowance than their parents get through basic income.

    2) Where is the money going to come from? Here in Czech republic, we have 10 million citizens, annual government budget of 1.2 trillion CZK (1.2 milliard in the long scale, municipal budgets not included, 1€=27CZK) and minimum wage of 8,500 CZK (310€) which is going to increase to 10,000 CZK over the next few years. Minimum wage is barely enough to survive. Right now, paying basic income at the minimum wage level would take 85% of the entire government budget and after the proposed increase, all of it.

    3) Where is all this money eventually going to end up? After a decade or two, most of the money that went through basic income system will end up in tax havens and stay there.

    All in all, from purely practical standpoint, basic income is much like trying to repair sinking Titanic with just lots of duct tape.

  12. Matthew Graybosch

    In the United States, we hear that the world doesn’t owe us a living. Maybe it doesn’t. I would submit, however, that those who rigged the world in favor owe the rest of us something for not breaking out the tumbrels and guillotines.

    1. Anonymous

      But before that happens i estimate that the pirate movement
      will be controlled opposition for those who rigged things to their favor,governments, big banks and big corp who wants to get all of that juicy redistributed money by forced taxation made by the state monopoly on violence (not just the monopoly of currency.)
      To pay for their products and power providing them “for all humans”
      Monopoly rule by law, more then now, and mob rule for
      the people eating the scraps out of their hands.

      http://www.freeyourmindaz.com/uploads/1/2/8/3/12830241/the-most-dangerous-superstition-larken-rose-2011.pdf

  13. The BIG Political Party

    I think the arguments of inflation and where will the money come from are very good questions.

    I have come up with some answers that I think resolve the problem but am no expert and am open to being wrong.

    However I think the really important question which goes a lot deeper than these questions is

    “We produce more than enough food to eradicate world hunger, pity there isn’t enough money to pay for it all”

    I think asking “How do we find the money to pay everyone an Unconditional Basic Income?”
    is like reading the above quote and saying “Yeah, so how do we find the money to do it?”

    Surely we should be saying “doesn’t this show that our current system not only isn’t working, its insane”

    As for my answers to the inflation question

    No extra money is printed and put into circulation. There will therefore be no extra inflation, hyper or otherwise.

    As for the question of “wages inflation”

    Free Market Forces means vital jobs increase in pay , less vital jobs decrease in pay and non vital jobs disappear altogether creating a surplus of labour, which reduces labour costs as well. UBI also means anyone earning extra in “paid work” is always better off than anyone just living on UBI, solving the “benefits trap” Everybody wins

    1. next_ghost

      Surely we should be saying “doesn’t this show that our current system not only isn’t working, its insane”

      I completely agree that our current system is insane. But basic income doesn’t address the insanity in any way.

      No extra money is printed and put into circulation. There will therefore be no extra inflation, hyper or otherwise.

      Inflation can happen without new money being printed and printing lots of new money doesn’t always lead to inflation. See this video: http://youtu.be/NoCOagL69_s?t=5m29s

      Inflation happens when demand is greater than supply. Increasing supply is a slow process but reducing the value of money to match current supply is quick and easy. The whole point of basic income is to give everybody more money, which will inevitably lead to higher demand and therefore inflation. If you want to give poor people more money without pushing the average income up (which would lead to inflation), traditional European social security systems are more than adequate.

      1. gurrfield

        Basic income adresses at least two issues: fairness and bureocracy.

        Fairness because there is no one (potentially biased) to decide who gets help and who doesn’t. With less people to take such decisions, less people also need to get paid – which cuts costs.

        However there is a maybe a risk that people will just sit in front of their screens passivized by TV / internet if they are assured a basic income…

        But social media and personalized advertisements are Quite Powerful tools which can be used as incentive to get people out of that sofa and do something useful… We could have facebook games for the common good. “Look Jones is the local hero of this week! He helped elderly people for X hours and earned Y credits!”

  14. Nick Taylor

    The trouble with UBI is that it doesn’t address the core issues that make our overheads so unliveably high, namely

    1) debt based currency

    2) land allocation.

    Without land reform, what the UBI is, is tax-payers underwriting the greed of landlords.

    It’s looking highly like we’re heading towards an age of abundance – an era where everything has a moore’s law attached to it – as a result of free energy, and wet gen/nanotech. It’s already happened with information.

    This is fundamentally incompatible with a system driven by artificial scarcity – and behind every artificial scarcity, is the artificial scarcity of land. In the US, there are 6 times as many empty homes as there are homeless people. How does a UBI fit into this? By giving billions and billions and billions to people who are already rich, and who every year increase their prices.

    UBI is a bread and circuses solution – allows people to live, but ensures that power lies well and truly elsewhere.

    1. Andrew Drummond

      UBI is not supposed to be an end solution, but it can alleviate a great deal of suffering and social problems from inequality while society advances, while putting more power into the hands of people.

      UBI does not “ensure that power lies well and truly elsewhere” – that is already caused by the laws of capital and debt/interest as you described, but when people are no longer forced to work a meaningless McJob in order to survive, that means that the most important work of all, volunteering for charitable causes that do not turn a profit, can get the full support it needs, and unethical companies will be forced to offer high rewards in order to get people to work for them. The latter is why there will continue to be great efforts to suppress this idea, because it could take a heavy toll on the military-industrial complex.

      UBI also immediately answers the question of ‘how shall artists be supported?’, and can demolish the institution of copyright monopoly.

  15. Libertarian

    So if i don’t want to pay for everyone else in this utopian collective i will get my door kicked in and my dog shot after being surveillanced 24/7 just like anyone else, for the sake of all humans.
    Can i leave this future utopia? Am i free to associate only with the persons i want to?
    Will you reshape and use the NSA to fulfill this dream?

    I guess the pirate movement is going full circle back again to become the thing they said they did not want.

    1. gurrfield

      Well you will be imprisoned or have to pay fines if you refuse pay taxes today also. The difference is the social support will be unconditioned instead of conditioned which means no one will have power over who get’s support and who doesn’t. If you think about it, that’s a big fucking power to have over other people to decide who get’s help and who doesn’t.

      1. Libertarian

        And by building this on a state structure, politicians will compete to give even more free rides for people and surveil more people who “will be imprisoned or have to pay fines if you refuse pay taxes today also” so why not escalate it’s power
        by handing out more promises and free candy?.
        The private central banks will be happy because they can lend out more money and gain from their monetary monopoly.
        Big pharma will be happy because they get to push lots of junk to people with more and more tax money collected.
        And the money will be collected, like today, by brainwashed people who
        do not consider how to break out of a system of tyranny, nor questions it’s mob rule and government.
        This system will use both, along with big business behind it to push their tax funded products with quality control by lobbying the politicians who make the promise of
        giving out their “fee stuff”.

        1. gurrfield

          Having conditioned income is the groundwork of the system – the feet of the colossus if you will. That means you have a political tool to put pressure the “lower classes” to do the dirty work protecting the system.

        2. kattihatt

          Ever heard the proverb “lick up, kick down”?

          Well the lower classes (unemployed et.c.) would have no reason to “lick up” if their income was not conditioned.

  16. libertarian

    “They’re not afraid of any real, existing consequences. They just think it’s wrong.”

    The above being my fear of any real, existing consequences. And i just think it’s wrong.

  17. Daryl Davis

    “For opponents of basic income, there is no evidence on their side.”

    Actually, this Platonic conceit is pretty much how the original British colonies in America were organized. It also is why most of the first settlers succumbed to starvation and disease within a few months.

  18. Arthur B.

    What does it mean to be “for it” or “against it”? How are we to judge an outcome which benefits some and hurts other, if not with morals?

    Besides, you’re only addressing one type of argument, the puritan: “you need to earn your wage with hard labor” arguments. There are plenty others.

    A very simple argument to oppose it is that it’s a burden to taxpayers. Sure, a theoretical basic income that would replace all of welfare programs would save money to the taxpayers, but this is not a politically stable solution. Welfare programs are a ratchet, they only ever expend. Countries which adopt a living wage will do so *on top* of other welfare programs.

  19. Name of my Choice

    So… who is going to pay for this?

    1. Mark

      The taxpayer’s money that most European countries already spend on welfare would be more than enough to cover a guaranteed basic income.

      Most of it actually doesn’t end up in the hands of welfare recipients. Most of it gets caught up in a bloated state bureaucracy whose job is mainly to keep itself alive, with welfare as a pretext rather than a goal.

      Cut out the bureaucrats, abolish free “services” that nobody wants, and introduce a “negative income tax”. Individuals, on average, know what is good for them better than central planners, so they will allocate the money more efficiently. Overall taxation will go DOWN as a result of this efficiency improvement.

      The only disadvantage I can see compared to the system we have now, is that a lot of bureaucrats will themselves be out of a job and dependent on the guaranteed basic income. But considering that their current job is little more than busy work and “charging in order to get charged”, does it really make that much of a difference?

    2. Alex Heartnet

      Currently 00.01% of the world’s population controls 99.99% of the resources, and yet you are seriously asking where the money for this would come from?

  20. Kat

    Is it possible to be FOR basic income based on anything else but morals?
    What are those “experiments” mentioned at the beginning?
    I think Pirates have generally too rosy picture of human nature. That’s of course no “evidence” but rather a matter of a worldview which I don’t share. You probably deal with exceptionally creative and bright people, which I can only envy, but you have to know, that’s unfortunately not the norm. Most people are lazy – not only to work but also to find information by themselves (that’s why imho the concept of “information society” is a big self-delusion). You’d see it daily, if only you got out of your bubble.
    That’s why those noble ideas like basic income will never work.
    And btw, I’m a supporter of Pirate Party, have voted for you in the EU elections and wish you get stronger but still I think you’re wrong on a couple of essential points.

    1. gurrfield

      There exist many different motivators to make people work hard. Not many people would be content with just roof over their head and just enough food to survive.

      Advertisements are a very powerful tool to make people buy stuff. And to buy stuff you need money. Social trends are strong and especially with the “social media” – these incentives to earn money will most probaby keep working in the future. A basic income won’t be enough to pay for trips or iPhones or a flat screen TVs and obviously people want those things. Young people even emigrating to find jobs and be able to buy those things.

      Even in a world of non-scarcity social media can be used to motivate good social and/or otherwise constructive behaviour and honing your skills rather than slacking off.

  21. Theft

    So who is going to pay into this UBI scheme?

    What if I said I didn’t want to pay into a UBI scheme? Would armed men be sent to my house and ordered to take me to a cell and keep me there against my will? That is what is being proposed here.

    It should be my choice whether I or not I give money to vulnerable strangers. Holding a gun to my head and telling me I must is a violation of what I would consider “sacred”: the freedom to choose.

    Taxation is extortion through violence.

    I would prefer to source my own security, healthcare, etc. services. If I wasn’t forced to pay 20-45% of my income towards services I didn’t want or use, this would be much more affordable.

    1. gurrfield

      Most social security today is already on the tax bill. Difference being that it is conditioned and not unconditioned.

      Poor people become desperate. Crimes increase. So if not the state/govt. holding a gun to your head to displace the money it’s a despeate poor guy with a knife or a burglar breaking into your house to get food to survive. Is that really any better?

  22. Maureen Coffey

    “the only one that actually stands up to reality is, “I don’t like it.” – Well, this is not true. The question is: where does the money come from. Harvest but don’t sow is a stupid slogan. It may indeed be arguable if this is a disincentive to work. After all, people in early retirement with a comfortable pension or people on a similar scheme due to a handicap the world over will not refrain from working if they can and have the opportunity. And if their pension plan forbids it (i.e. they have to give back the retirement money if they exceed a certain income threshold, they will instead do it in the shadow economy – but work they often will. But these monies come from previous funding. These pension schemes already run large deficits. A nation-wide “all-ages” pension scheme will run out of money within a few days. If that’s not an argument against i don’t know what is. “There is no free lunch” said socialist Milton Friedman (Ludwig von Mises called him that)!

  23. Evil Bug

    People on welfare won’t have incentive to lick up? They will. To the government. The very government that you are rallying against when talking about surveillance and stuff will be feeder for countless lowlives. You think it’s bad now how many people aren’t bothered by surveilance, wait ’til they become actively bothered by you biting the hand that feeds them.

    1. kattihatt

      If the government gives everyone UBI indiscriminately, then there’s nothing in it for further “licking”.

      It is the conditioning which allows those in power to decide who gets and who doesn’t. The ones wo are ready to harass sceptics of the system obviously have a better chance of getting support (from the system), don’t you think..?

      Being part of surveilling the sceptics gives those out of work some very badly needed feeling of power of which they’ve been purposedly starved trying to desperately find a job.

  24. Zirgs

    It’s funny that this site promotes both Bitcoin and UBI.

    Those things absolutely don’t work together.
    You can’t implement UBI without money printing and Bitcoins can’t be printed at will.

  25. Andy H

    In theory it is a nice idea but obviously unworkable. The first point to note or problem is morals. When you say based on morals what is this thing or things? Where do the morals come from? Do you believe morals derive from the natural world or are they man-made, are they socially constructed? If they derive from the natural world where is the evidence and facts that the natural world provide us with morals? what are they? If on the other hand they are man-made then they are mere opinions and the difficulty is getting everyone to accept these manmade opinions of one group of people to be imposed on the majority. If this was not implemented universally the wealthy will just sod off to another country leaving the takers in one country and when you have a country of takers who will generate the money to provide the basic income? Will you be asking ISIL to accept your “Morals” or the Wahabis, the KKK, the communists, the Nazis, the Amazonian tribes etc etc. If you inflict your morals upon others they might not like it. For sure you can just keep making laws to stop people moving around, or to register or to work for the state etc etc but that leads to a total destruction of the human soul, 1984!!! Isn’t this what all the fighting in the world is at the moment over morals and who’s way of life and worldview is the correct one and the best one.

    The other striking problem is money. Money does nothing, it only facilitates a transaction of goods or service and allows for the delay (time factor) of the transfer of goods or services. Imagine a poker game where each player brings $100 money (wealth we’ll call it) to the table and instead of playing with the money they play with chips that represents that $100, at the end of the game the chips could have circulated a million times but there is the same number of chips representing the same amount of $100 in the pockets of the players. If you just introduced more chips part way through the game it just devalues the chips and you have more chips for the same amount of $100 in the players pockets. The wealth is not the chips but the things it represents. The chips are worthless in the game same as bits of paper or wood or copper or gold or leaves or whatever in real life you choose to use as money. The real wealth are the transactions of goods and services and things, food being the most basic. If money was the answer the whole world could just fire up the presses and give a shit load to the Africans and eradicate poverty. But they can’t eat bits of paper. For sure the money would allow them to buy food and goods (from rich countries) what do you think aid is, it’s not rich countries helping poor people it’s rich countries giving the poor countries worthless bits of paper (aid money) so they can spend those worthless bits of paper back in our countries thus helping our economy and growing our real wealth whilst at the same time doing nothing for them. In the short term they can buy food but after a few months that food will perish and they are back at the start. Money does not eradicate poverty and is not the answer. they don’t need money they need to generate wealth, real wealth for themselves. This is the same for poor people in any country, giving them money does not solve the problem, it only delays it. Cavemen did not survive because of the centrral bank they survived out of necessity and it is the same today nothing has changed you need to produce goods or services and be able to facilitate an exchange with other people or create everything yourself to survive. If you printed money and everyone was rich, who would stock the supermarket shelves, who would drive the snow plough, farm the produce, raise the cattle or even print the money? Everyone would say I’ve got money I don’t need to do anything, so no money is not an answer and never will be.

    It is a nice socialist idea of taking from some and giving to other in the name of altruism but human nature being what it is will do everything it can to oppose it. this dream has been sold in many guises many times and it all leads to a total destruction of the human spirit and soul. By the same token I do not believe either that one person should be rich enough to be able to buy all the water of the world and enslave everyone else to their power over natural resources.

    I think a better approach to this problem is looking at it for what it is, not enough resources to go around and the bits we have are concentrated in the hands of the few. We cannot expand the planet or yet colonise other planets so the obvious first start would be to get the population of the planet down. No I’m not talking of genocide although that appears to be a a human tendency, but a natural shrinking of the earths population through less babies being born. We should be encouraging lower populations not trying to increase it to “drive buses” or nurses in hospitals or doctors or whatever else a politician tells us, that is a ponzi scheme in itself. The fewer people there are the more resources to go around, also less destruction of our environment, less polution, less deforestation etc etc. The next thing we should be doing is stop doling out money to people, more specifically other peoples money under the guise of wealth distribution or whatever you want to call it. see above money does not solve problems and by giving some crack addicted mother welfare does not help her or her community or the people who are made by force to give up their hard labour in the form of taxes to pay for her and the millions of other dependents. The other problem with money also is we lose our human compassion. We are forced to give up about 70% of our earnings to pay for the less fortunate and so we turn our backs on these people beliving our money has solved their problems, it does not and can not! What is needed is a suspension of belief that money can solve the problems of the planet, only we can do that. We need to bring our corrupt governments to acount, stop them taking brown envelopes from big corporation who rape the planet, make them implement the law and the correct rule of law for everyone. That also means stop using force to demand tax from us, it is not theft it is slavery, and it is that tax money they are using to build armies, expand the power of the state, use as propoganda to feed you lies, tell you what your morals should be, build on greenbelts and allow a special privilldged few to own the resources of the planet and if anyone challenges those few they use your tax money to pay you to go and fight and die on their behalf, WAKE UP!

  26. TheFig

    Re: Money for nothing and “Basics”. Everybody here seems to illogically follow 2 masters: (1) Quantum-Physics “All is empty space and information”; (2) Money, paper and coin with the faces of DEAD hewn men, called “humans”, which is supposed to be something (for it can be “measured” in net-worth and “has pseudo-power”), as opposed to the superseding mind that found via said quantum-physics that all is empty space and cannot be “measured”, least of all in “net-worth”. Therefore, this house, or discussion is divided and cannot stand… (Just sayin’)

  27. gold price in nepal

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  28. Marcus Cake

    The article ‘Basic Income (Industrial Economy survival) vs. Minimum Life (Network Society contribution) … growth and purpose from contribution’ may be of interest. We need a new development model to be able to afford Basic Income.

    An Industrial Economy reduces a person’s (potential) life to materialism, confusion, isolation and survival and the prospect of a ‘basic income’ (for unemployment or retirement) that an Industrial Economy can not afford. This is not life. A Network Society empowers every individual with collective prosperity (beyond materialism), collective satisfaction and collective wisdom in a highly productive society structure that can not only fund a ‘Basic Income’, but also motivates individuals with a bonus from contribution to ‘things’ and the opportunity to contribute to any individual or society purpose in any sector or country.

    http://www.wisdomnetworks.im/minimum-life.html

  29. Tom

    The argument that the empirical case is simply self-evident ignores the largest experiment ever held in the U.S.: the SIME/DIME experiments, which showed a very substantial drop in employment.

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