August 02, 2018

A Universal Basic Income is a prime free market oriented “instrument of national togetherness”

Sir, Janan Ganesh writes about how the fact that “America has a large, complex and redistributive state…with some public assent”, has moved the floor for many traditional republicans, and has favored Trump”, “The end of the Republican free-market ticket”, August 2.

If you are a democrat or a republican who do not belong to the establishment, and who do not like the idea of having to court bureaucrats for any assistance that might be needed more and more, how do you deal with that?

As a Venezuelan, nauseated from seeing how its government has handled centralized oil revenues, I pray for all citizens to be in their own hands, using the free markets to decide what to do, than for them to be in the hands of odious redistribution profiteers. And so I do favor a Universal Basic Income.

And I believe an UBI could also signify a very important unifying bridge sorely needed in a world with so much polarization.

Of course since redistribution profiteering or the exploitation of crony statism exist in all political camps, we should expect all its enemies to circle their wagons and do what they can to stop UBI from reducing the value of their franchise. One of their first lines of defense, is helping to push an UBI into promising way too much, so that it clearly become fiscally unsustainable. Another one is arguing that would exacerbate social laziness.

I have no idea where long-term a UBI would lead us, but I wish we could start with one small enough to help everyone to get out of bed, but not so large so as to allow anyone to stay in bed. Around the corner, or probably in many ways even here, we will need decent and worthy unemployments, and UBI must surely be part of the toolbox for that. 

As a UBI does in fact represent a Societal Dividend, it should appeal to both those who want more free markets and those who focus more on social responsibilities. That sounds very much like an instrument for the centre-left-right to embrace the free market and “the state as an instrument of national togetherness”.