Beware universal basic income schemes

A number of cogent reasons to be wary.

1. Human house cats.
2. Levers of centralisation.
3. Romantic politics.
4. Affordability.
5. Eroding community spirit.
6. Heterogeneity of income requirements.

Alfred Marshall 1893 liberty quote. On universal pension schemes.

My objections to them are that their educational effect, though a true one, would be indirect; that they would be expensive; and that they do not contain, in themselves, the seeds of their own disappearance. I am afraid that, if started, they would tend to become perpetual. I regard all this problem of poverty as a mere passing evil in the progress of man upwards; and I should not like any institution started which did not contain in itself the causes which would make it shrivel up, as the causes of poverty itself shrivelled up.

Enter the welfare state and perpetual poverty. I guess he nailed it. Did anyone notice?

That is from note 1 to chapter nineteen in The Constitution of Liberty by Hayek.

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41 Responses to Beware universal basic income schemes

  1. stackja

    Keating said superannuation would be a solution. Helps fund managers for sure.

  2. md

    The solution is to abolish the dole and require everyone to earn a living, with the federal government being the employer of last resort.
    This will result in less crime, violence and anti-social behaviour from the underclasses, who mostly choose welfare as a lifestyle choice, and will take the pressure off life for the economically marginal. The payoff will come in the form of a more cohesive and safe society, which benefits everyone equally.
    For those libertarians reaching for their keyboard, take your hand off it – so to speak. It’s no different to our collectively paying for any service that improves our society, such as all of the diversity inspired security we see around us these days.

  3. Tel

    I think you need to look at it in perspective. The current “welfare” system is terrible, it’s a lie to even use the word “welfare” since it really amounts to more of a poverty trap and a vote farming exercise.

    But how did we get to this? Well, partly the leftists managed to control the narrative, in as much as “charity” is now considered a bad thing and “entitlement” means a kind of pseudo-charity where you redistribute other people’s money. Based on that, people came to understand they can coordinate themselves to vote money out of the state, and yes plenty of businesses do it as well, pretty much everyone needs to wrestle for their share of the meal, lest they themselves become the next course.

    So a “universal basic income” is cleaner and simpler than our current system, that’s a positive. However, it does not address the basic problem, it buys into the “entitlement” narrative, and once in place undoubtedly will get pushed up and up. As well as that, there are people who genuinely cannot handle money… regardless of what you give them, they will be poor because they have no ability to save. Yes I am thinking about every Australian Treasurer after Costello.

  4. Bruce of Newcastle

    Good news! Maduro has just increased Venezuela’s minimum wage!

    Venezuela hikes its minimum wage again — to just over $6 (CNN, 2 Mar)

    President Nicolas Maduro announced a 58% wage hike and an additional 67% increase in food subsidies. Together, Venezuelans earning the minimum wage will get 1,307,646 bolivars a month.

    That’s worth just $6.13 at current exchange rates.

    No, not per hour. Not per day. Not per week.
    Per month.
    Which is exactly what will happen with any universal stipend.

  5. …Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have expressed support for the scheme.

    Enough reason to run away.

  6. Roger.

    I am afraid that, if started, they would tend to become perpetual.

    That assumes that governments will always be able to afford them.

    Even a dolt like Ken Henry can see that if present declines in government revenue continue large social programs like Medicare and a universal pension will be unaffordable. Meanwhile, at the behest of the U.N., our political class is doing its best to destroy our main international competitive advantage with an absurd energy policy and even if they were truly attempted by a Liberal led government any attempts to grow the economy through deregulation and liberalisation would likely be thwarted by the unrepresentative swill in the senate.

    Without a change in course, we’re headed for banana republic status.

  7. egg_

    Human house cats.

    On the rise, I suspect, to the detriment of Joe Taxpayer.

  8. egg_

    social programs like Medicare and a universal pension will be unaffordable.

    The Immigration Industry’s Social Welfare budget is likely detracting from basic social welfare schemes for the proles.

  9. Shy Ted

    I believe in the universal basic income. For politicians. All politicians. At all levels. And I agree, some of them will be seriously overpaid if it was so.

  10. Dr Fred Lenin

    Hey ted, the pollies wouldn’t have time to meddle with laws , they would be too busy at Vinnies and the Salbos looking for free handouts . No one bludgers better than a lawtrade failure ,bloody experts they are .

  11. struth

    Giving money to people with the expectation of receiving nothing in return, is only done by people who are not handing over their own money.

    You do not get paid unless you work.
    Why anyone on the dole is not required to do at least 20 hours a week working for it is beyond me.

    Well, we know why, but you get my point.
    There’s graffiti to be removed, highway rubbish collections, services for the elderly and any amount of work to be done that isn’t being done now, although most of Australia is employed by the government, even if it’s a private business (government contracts).
    I note the term “income” and not wage.

    Communism.
    If we want to see the above policy in action we should examine the filthiest, disease, crime ridden shitholes of socialism that exist on the planet.
    Ones that have been that way for 50 years and more and never suffer the resultant crash that always occurs with socialism, because it is constantly funded by others.
    Aboriginal communities.
    There’s nothing like it, anywhere on the face of the earth.
    And we are responsible for it.
    It’s on Australian soil.

  12. JohnA

    md #2650761, posted on March 3, 2018, at 12:22 pm

    The solution is to abolish the dole and require everyone to earn a living, with the federal government being the employer of last resort.

    Sorry but you are dreaming – there is no Utopia in this imperfect world.

    See what Mr Hacker’s Science Advisor warned him about (about 7:40):
    “The last resort is also the first response”

    Could you imagine Centrelink employing everybody who can’t or won’t get a decent job?
    Can you imagine employers becoming extraordinarily picky and rejecting people for the most trivial of reasons (like “You’re a conservative|Marxist|arts graduate|insert your most hated identity here? Getoutahere!”) because they are guaranteed a job by the government?

  13. There’s graffiti to be removed, highway rubbish collections, services for the elderly and any amount of work to be done that isn’t being done now,

    That all sounds reasonable until you start realise all the associated implications or the unintended consequences. There will need to be equipment operator training, hazardous materials training, OH&S training, anti-bullying etc training, mandated police checks, aged care training etc. Then you’ll have to contend with unions etc.

    In today’s world, you can’t just put people to work.

  14. Squirrel

    “A number of cogent reasons to be wary……………………………. ”
    To which we can add –
    7. The ABC has been giving air-time to this utterly unnaffordable notion.

  15. Dr Fred Lenin

    I use an old Chinese saying I heard years ago. “No work no rice ,no rice no eat, no eat you die” . Very practical people the Chinese .

  16. JamesS

    We are well on the way to a neofeudal society. Call it what it is.

    Entrenched intergenerational welfare to the max.

    Until we have a real recession/depression and we wake one day with a lower percentage of middle class than China, but with all the costs: SGC, WHS, DSP, compliance, public holiday rates, accreditations, blah, blah.
    We won’t have the money to fund it all.

  17. Bruce

    Speaking of the unspeakable:

    Last night, I got to see this movie:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukJ5dMYx2no

    BLACK, BLACK, BLACK and in places screamingly funny.

    And if you thought “Yes Minister” was a a series of training films….

  18. Jobson Grothe

    LOL – and here we are among people who believe the dinosaurs aren’t extinct.

  19. LOL – and here we are among people who believe the dinosaurs aren’t extinct.

    Dinosaurs didn’t become extinct, they evolved like every other creature throughout history and their ancestors exist today in birds. Crocodiles are the least changed from over 200 million years ago.

  20. Jobson Grothe

    No wonder you’re bemused.

    Been stomped on by any Brontosauri lately, Einstein?

    Unfortunately not, it would seem.

  21. Jobson Grothe
    #2650971, posted on March 3, 2018 at 7:44 pm
    No wonder you’re bemused.

    Been stomped on by any Brontosauri lately, Einstein?

    Unfortunately not, it would seem.

    Geez, Jobson, are you naturally unpleasant like that, or do you practice? Or are you paid by GetUp! to troll pointlessly?

    Bemused is totally correct, we do still live among remnant dinosaurs in sharks, crocodiles etc., and yes, the larger less adaptable ones did meet their extinction due to an asteroid that made an untimely (for them) arrival. Others, like the birds, have evolved. What’s your excuse?

  22. duncanm

    Speaking of the unspeakable:

    Last night, I got to see this movie:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukJ5dMYx2no

    BLACK, BLACK, BLACK and in places screamingly funny.

    thanks for the tip — from the writer of In the Loop, no less.

  23. No wonder you’re bemused.

    Been stomped on by any Brontosauri lately, Einstein?

    Unfortunately not, it would seem.

    Do facts upset you? That’s a rhetorical question. And I am bemused. 🙂

  24. Snoopy

    The dotster was a fan of UBI if I’m not mistaken.

  25. I agree with the concept in principle, but in reality it’s part of the globalist agenda with all its pitfalls. It will be used as the ultimate virtue for which to hind behind for the true purpose of absolute power.

    It needs to be pointed out that socialism deceitfully claims to be the source of social benefit, when in reality it was invented to claim ownership of it.

    After all, town squares existed long before socialism was even invented.

    Socialism is the ultimate false virtue.

  26. Malcolm Thomas

    Poverty has been made ‘perpetual’ simply by adoption of the absurd Henderson poverty line – much used and abused by ACOSS and fellow welfare lobbyists – which is really just an income inequality measure.

  27. Socialism is the ultimate false virtue.

    Socialism simply ensures that everyone lives in poverty (apart from a very small minority).

  28. Kneel

    “I agree with the concept in principle, but in reality it’s part of the globalist agenda with all its pitfalls.”

    Yes, in principle, WHEN automation puts enough people out of work.

    With mass automation of EVERYTHING, a self-sustaining eco-system of robots making and doing everything for you. They are “selected” by how much profit they make selling “stuff” to humans. And they must pay their tax – a fixed amount as a minimum tax, but also a percentage. The rest of the profit needs to be plowed back into making/advertising “stuff” for/to humans. Tax is given to humans, who spend it on “stuff” made by robots. The “best” (ie, most profitable) robots get to “breed” the next generation and endow them with start-up capital. Those that fail, are “naturally selected” against. There may be robots who only serve other robots – eg, advertising agencies, design houses etc.
    Capitalism, where the “workers” are all robotic and the “owners” of the capital are, well, everyone.
    People can still “work” in this scenario – human hand-crafted stuff is still a sign of wealth, eg, as are human servants (the pay is good too!). But nobody needs other than the UBI to have the necessities of live – food, water, clothing, shelter, basic communications etc.
    Tax breaks for robots doing “social welfare” perhaps (or donating to those that do), to drive the natural selection towards making sure no-one is “left behind” as it were.

    Utopian dream? Maybe. But better than the alternative. If automation must come to take over everyones job (and it is), we better make sure we are driving it in a desirable direction, or we’ll all (except the 1%) be living the “shithole country” life.

    Unless/until we create such an eco-system though, a UBI is just more middle-class welfare.

  29. Utopian dream? Maybe. But better than the alternative. If automation must come to take over everyones job (and it is), we better make sure we are driving it in a desirable direction, or we’ll all (except the 1%) be living the “shithole country” life.

    I was reading about automation taking over jobs in the 70s. I was also reading about the paperless office at the same time. 🙂

  30. Richardf

    What’s changed is today’s broad and expensive to administer welfare system that discourages work.

    A citizen dividend of say $350 / week paid to 24m = $436b pa. Current spend of $200b pa would be abolished, income taxes readjusted to recover the addition with a tax free threshold of $0.

    Current salaries would be adjusted by $350, and the elimination of all work disincentives (minimum wage, concession cards, …).

    One could choose to survive on the dividend, or accept any number of hours paid work without penalty. I’d wager most will accept the later.

  31. RobK

    UBI is missing a vital intermediate step which effectively makes it superfluous.
    Technology is not limited to robotics. Technology should be empowering individuals with knowledge, and expertise to make each of us better informed, more useful and more productive. The danger is that technology is used for luring the lazy into some kind of zombie utopia. The emphasis needs to be the personal development and capacity for self determination in a small structured sense. Resilience and healthy competition are vital if biology is any guide. Going to a one world, centrally controlled and dependant society is the same as adopting the MO of a cancer. It will be without checks and balances, with question.
    The concept of UBI is only arguable if you wish to think of humanity as petunias in a flower bed. Lifting peoples self worth involves the effort of equal opportunity to be offered. The precise system to do that is still a work in progress and it is a noble asperation. Equal outcomes are not something you can mandate. By all means have a safety net to the level society can affort but the dependant need to understand where the co-operation is comming from and thats not government as such. UBI is likely to entrench entitlement.

  32. RobK

    Oops……withOUT question.

  33. max

    Most of the poor people in the ghettoes and trailer parks already have UBIs—it’s called welfare.
    It hasn’t improved things; it’s destroyed society wherever it was implemented.
    So far UBI hasn’t created a class of artists and philosophers, it’s created a class of derelicts and criminals.
    Unearned stuff doesn’t just destroy most poor people, it also destroys most rich people.
    Has the UBI, in the form of large inheritances, made the kids of the rich into better or happier people? Sometimes—if their parents have good values. But usually not. They’re “enabled” to become spoiled brats, of no use to either themselves or other people.
    If a true UBI was put into effect, productive people are going to find it degrading, and unproductive people are going to take advantage of it.
    More important, it’s immoral, because you’re taking production from some people and giving it to others that have done nothing in return to deserve it. That creates resentment.
    Simply being alive doesn’t give you the right to demand things from other people.

    Doug Casey

  34. RobK

    Richardf,
    “One could choose to survive on the dividend, 

    I doubt many could. By that i mean the social safety net will still be found wanting so in effect you are just adding to the existing effort of a safety net by applying a blanket smear of income distribution. I think it will have little impact other than tempting people to parasite off the system without making the effort to contribute.

  35. Paul

    Enter the welfare state and perpetual poverty

    And the enslavement of the worker who must not only provide for themselves and family, but also for the govt bureaucracy as well as those who see welfare as a right that you or someone else must provide for them.

  36. Richardf

    RobK
    Removes the current disincentives to work (eg removal of benefits), contribution encouraged by ensuring they enjoy the benefit from the first dollar. Plus removal of grossly inefficient public sector feed by the system.

  37. DM of WA

    It is not difficult to imagine a time, not far off, where the majority of people in advanced countries will not have a job. Due to rapid advances in technology most transport, construction, mining and clerical jobs will be gone within thirty years, replaced by robots and other innovations. Ongoing cultural changes will see customer facing jobs such as retail sales and service staff continue to disappear. Only very high level managerial, technical and creative jobs will survive and expand; jobs which most people are unsuited. Add to that the fact that many skilled workers are going to find their skills redundant and those same people are going to live longer due to medical advances. There is going to be a lot of people with a lot of time on their hands.

    Critics point to history and say, in the words of Mr Micawber, “something will turn up”. That not very encouraging advice. Society is going to be changed fundamentally and we need to prepare for that event.

  38. John Comnenus

    Inter generational mass welfare destroys the lives, self respect and communities it is foisted on. Why would anyone want to impose a universal wage on the whole nation and create a whole nation on welfare?

    Well it won’t be a whole nation on welfare. Those who own the bots Will live very opulent lives and everyone else will live meaningless lives of high crime and low expectations.

  39. Tom

    Jobson Grothe
    #2650971, posted on March 3, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Let me guess: you started out on Newstart, became an elite parasite on the DSP and are now in the mother of all welfare scams, the public service.

    Never done a day’s honest work in your life, have you?

    In a righteous world, the Argentine generals would have dropped you out of a helicopter at 20,000 feet.

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