Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Basic Income's basic failures

My darling husband and I have quite a few points of disagreement, many of which come from having such different life experiences. Today, we ran into one of those, when the topic of Basic Income popped up. My husband noted it was an elegant solution, provided the governments involved did actually cut all agencies, bureaucracies, bureaucrats, and programs that currently are failing at the solution of providing for the lowest income.

I made a rather rude noise, and declared it an extremely stupid idea. He protested that it was an elegant one, when taken in isolation from all other considerations.

So is communism. Elegant, pretty, completely stupid and really deadly when you try to run it with real humans instead of angels... yeah, basic income is just as flawed in the concieving, because it fails to account for the fact that humans are human. My husband focused on the danger of an all-powerful governmental state, but I see that as looking past the fundamental problems, baked in from the beginning.

There are two fatal flaws for basic income - two is overkill, really, but it has both.

The first is economic reality: you cannot have welfare for all, and open borders. If you're handing out apartments and cars and cash to anyone who shows up, you get... well, the "refugee crisis" in Europe, where the third world is showing up for all the benefits, while demanding that it gets to keep the culture and beliefs that have kept the third world being the sewage-mud streets and failing kleptocracies that they are. Even with a bloody great ocean in the way, you get the same thing in the USA: tell people that we'll make illegal aliens citizens for free as long as they're under 18, and we get a flood of children sent by their parents from all over central and south America, to get citizenship and then bring them to the good life. Converting layers of bureaucracy to straight cash will only make this even more of an incentive for the rest of the world to move to the good life.

Given the sort of political affiliation that would drive through a basic income, please, try to tell me with a straight face that said party would implement basic income and harshly closed borders, with deportation of all illegals. Can you get through that sentence without breaking into eye-rolling or laughter?

The second is human reality: there are a great number of people who will only work just barely as hard as they have to, in order to get by. For all the people who've fallen on hard times, taken welfare, and then promptly gotten off when they've gotten their feet back under them, there are plenty more who've become a permanent drain on the system, now in their third and fourth generation of never having held a job.

Before you take that deep breath to call me a raciss and shut off your mind, let me show you a subset of them that transcends race, colour, creed, or religion: stoners.

Yeah, you tell your average stoner that they're gonna get a basic income, a flat, and a car... explain to me exactly what makes you think said stoner is ever going to decide (and carry through) becoming a productive member of society? Dude. That's whacked, man. Like, seriously! What are you smoking, and are you gonna share?


  1. For what it's worth, I agree with you. No matter how elegant the proposal sounds - and I agree that it does - it never, EVER works out that way once humans are involved in the process. People will a) take the handouts, b) determine quickly that they're somehow entitled to them, c) despise those who provide the handouts because it makes them remember that someone is helping them, and d) complain bitterly when they can't get more. We have 52 years of history which bears this out.

  2. While I do see Peter's side I also realize it's unrealistic and your more pragmatic view point is the actual reality.

  3. Fortunately, my husband forgives me making rude noises in his direction, because he realizes I really do try to comment upon the idea and not the person making it. (Unless the person is an entertainer dabbling in politics, or a politician.)