May 27, 2016

Universal Basic Income is a Societal Dividend, paid mostly by reducing the margins of the redistribution profiteers

Sir, John Thornhill and Ralph Atkins discuss the Universal Basic Income proposals flying around. “Money for nothing”, May 27

If anyone should stand up for ideas like the Universal Basic Income, that would be the poor of Venezuela. Out of an incredible oil boom, the 21st Century Socialism gave them less than 15 percent of what should have been their fair equal per capita share of those revenues. The rest was mostly swindled away by redistribution profiteers, wasted away by incapable government besserwissers or captured by “better-positioned” citizens.

For a Venezuelan to read about “Labor leaders… wary of introducing UBI, fearing it might only be used by rightwing politicians to shred the existing welfare state. By setting the rate too low and withdrawing other welfare benefits, it could end up hurting the very people it was designed to help most”, is sadly laughable.

And “the superficially preposterous idea of handing out an unconditional basic income of a year to every citizen, regardless of work, wealth or their social contribution”, a participation in the society, is not much more preposterous than a citizen inheriting some shares of a corporation that gives him the right to a dividend.

Also if we could only separate the redistribution from other government activities it would be so much easier to know what is happening, and therefore be better able to resist the calls of populist demagogues.

But the Universal Basic Income, to really fulfill its purpose needs to be the result of a citizens-to-citizens societal agreement, a Societal Dividend, or a Citizen's Dividend of that sort proposed by Thomas Paine; and not just a handout by governments and politicians that citizens need to be grateful for. On the contrary one of its major benefits it that it reduces the forced citizen submissiveness to those who dole out "the favors". Again, just look at the Venezuelans, suffering all type of humiliations, even being taunted and insulted, and not much happens.

And Universal Basic Income plans, if funded by carbon and petrol taxes would help to align the incentives for the fight against climate change with that of the fight against inequality.

And Universal Basic Income could be the first step in order to create decent and worthy conditions for that structural unemployment that seems to be growing

And let us be frank, if the Universal Basic Income is not offered voluntarily, and inequality grows, there will be many less voluntary and much harder options flying around for redistribution.

Universal Basic Income, is not “Money for nothing”, it might very well be money for better chances of the societal peace, which is required to achieve more and better development.

Universal Basic Income is not about assigning governments more power. On the contrary it is about wrestling redistribution powers from their hands.

@PerKurowski ©