My sweet friend Serendipity wrote this in comments regarding an earlier article:
A right to a decent standard of living? To be provided by whom? By those who created enough value that they received enough value in return for to not need such a guarantee? By forcing those others who are the current producers and innovators to carry everyone else? Do you think you get more of the very innovation that brings us to a better future by doing this? The countries with such entitlement countries are all struggling economically right now. In many of them the entitlements are the largest part of the budget (including the US). Never mind the unfunded future liabilities for these entitlements. At a time when every worker in the US is $140,000 in debt already as their “fair share” of the officially counted debt (never mind the 5x unfounded and not officially reported liabilities) just where in the hell it would create do you think the money will magically come from to do what you suggest?
Schemes like BIG also seem to assume that people are owned by the “society” or the state and that parts of their life and labor can be demanded by “society” at any time it wish and in any amount that it wishes. Let me say what the problem is with this. YOU DON’T OWN ME. I am not your property. Not yours personally nor any number of people bundled together and called “society”.
My reply merits a new article
Serendipity, my love, If we continue this debate sooner or later you have to in full acknowledge all my arguments and not handpick them as you find suitable.
Currently the US provides a range of unemployment benefits which is comparatively low by western standards. Best states are NY and Cal, at just over 400 a month. In my country, wellfare is about 800 euro, by comparison double that amount. However do not for a second assume I ‘gloat’ over this societal sacrifice. It’s a travesty.
(quote: Put simply, we find that countries that spend a
greater proportion of GDP on welfare have lower
imprisonment rates and that this relationship
has become stronger over the last 15 years. The
consistency in these findings across the United
States and the other 17 countries studied makes
it difficult to believe that this relationship is
simply accidental or coincidental.
It can be argued [countries like] the US (and to some extent mine) don’t pay this fortune out of any charity, but by and large to avoid trouble – in essence paying (whatever form of) welfare is in effect an insurance investment reducing both crime *and* desperation votes.
I’d go as far as label wellfare in the current paradigm to be a “Guillotine Insurance”.
In effect, if voters become more desperate they are more likely to start voting more populist and more leftist and this would have an adverse effect on business and economics far more insidious than the moderate sacrifice in money represented by what you disparagingly label ‘entitlements’. The rationale stems back to a historical era of severe societal unrest which you clearly exhibit a problem visualising. The extremes of societal unrests have a habit of getting people killed, and I need only raise the vision of revolutionary uprisings to illustrate my point. If you lock out a big segment of society from reaping the benefits of said society, the ‘underclass’ (or proletariat if you will) will eventually rize up and kill. Worse, long before it has, it will have caused severe, almost incapacitating societal drag in terms of corruption, crime and despair.
People who are locked out eventually become a far FAR greater drag on society than any wellfare ‘entitlement’ might ever constitute. Even if you don’t feel a shred of human empathy for the ‘losers’ of our collective systems, you should at the very least have a good hard look in the mirror and ask yourself where you’d be if you walked a mile in their shoes, and what you’d end up costing society if you had ‘to do whatever it takes’. I know you are at least as stubborn as I am, but can’t you see the practical mechanics at work here?
My position is very clear on the matter – societal inclusion is a ‘collectivist’ investment a society can not avoid making at its own peril. If an excluded underclass of the ‘opportunity challenged’ are not fed, protected, housed, medically cared for (or even entertained), they will funnel discontent in a manner that will cost you far more (and worse) than an equivalent entitlement program in safety nets would cost.
(* note: the average cost of a prison inmate is *claimed to be* lowest in florida at 20.000 a year: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/pub/statsbrief/cost.html. The real cost is far higher: http://www.ehow.com/about_5409377_average-cost-house-inmates-prison.html.)
It is severely distressing to me that whereas my position has evolved into solid arguments in the last year, you keep completely effectively ignoring this whole ‘entitlement sustainability’ argument, and keep hammering at the entitlements sacrifice.
In fact this line of argumentation has been proven to be total bunk
I *do* agree with you that the current system is broken beyond repair.
The problem is largely ‘voter recalcitrance’ on either side of the political spectrum. The left wingers can’t afford to relinquish control of what you’d term ‘collectivist feeding troughs’ and the rightwingers seem recalcitrant to make any other consideration other than an antiquated conception of personal responsibility and protestant work ethics.
The two positions cannot in the current system be resolved. It’s a political stalemate. In our society many people have to work real hard, and most somewhat more right-wing oriented voters who ‘have the pride to make a decent life for themselves’ (and might subscribe to whats colloquially referred to as ‘producerist’ attitudes) are intolerant of giving out what they term ‘free cash’. This segment of the voter base does not ascribe to the idea of ‘humane values’ or ‘pity’ and feels contempt for those that do not or can not find employment.
Fact of the matter is however we live in a democracy. The reality on the ground IS that exclusion translates one on one into a democratic electorate voting for more handouts *AS SOON AS they don’t make do*. This is starting to happen increasingly even in the US, despite epic ‘establishment’ efforts to marginalize or intimidate the already marginalized. Democracy was instituted to give the marginalized a voice and if you resent them using this voice to tax your ass blue, well then boohoo – there are many nations with lower tax rates where you can migrate.
You have yet to respond to this argument itself and you have yet to offer a viable and credible conceptual alternative.
You know my alternative – *start out* by giving *everyone* (including you) in any specific state entity an inalienable basic income of *LESS THAN* the current welfare amounts. *And then* have people vote every goddamn election whether or not they want this amount to go up or down. You win, either way. Why? Well, here is why :
0 – Basic Income is now democratized. You are still in favor of democry right? Well, now you get to enjoy both the benefits and costs almost seamlessly. Feel free to vote and actively for LOWER BASIC INCOME continuously.
1 – You can now open borders and give economic immigrants *NO BI*, and immigrants are free to come in as long as they behave, register, renew their residence visa every month. Your society will gain massive tax benefits by exploiting low wage workers in this manner – in effect you are saying to economic migrants ‘you are welcome, but you don’t get any handout, and we WILL tax you for the pleasure of working here’. Hell if you are a royal asshole you can even destroy minimum wage for immigrants (while still taxing them) and keep it in existence for citizens.
2 – you silence right wing populists as now they “underbelly people” get the same entitlement money as do the ‘freeloaders’, whereas immigrants will end up paying THEIR BI cheques. Everybody wins (except of course rosita who will do your laundry at 2.10 $ an hour).
3 – Right now, if people are ‘unable to get a job’ (real or lazy or pretend is irrelevant) this system would institute a blanket buffer. Right now people can’t afford to lose welfare. So what do they do? They don’t look. However by basic income they would look for part time jobs. This would make labor markets a LOT more flexible in terms of flexible work hours.
4 – if people need study to get other employment you create a financial buffer to allow them to do so. They can take a part time job with some measure of confidence they will be able to survive (of which they have zero guarantee right now) while they study and retrain.
5 – you save as a society a FORTUNE on not having to check every single wellfare recipient over and over to see if he’s secretly working (or panhandling) next to their welfare.
Simply allow everyone to work next to receiving BI (and rent control, a disability bonus, if applicable, and collectivist medical care). YES you would pay taxes for this.
There are other benefits listed here:
Serendipity, I understand and empathize with your position and arguments, and yes they are valid. Yes taxation is an invasive societal consequence and it is often a waste, since the state can be argued to spend this money incompetently. But the time has come for you to start affirming that there are severe consequences for societal exclusion that cannot be addressed by merely offering the losers of society ‘free euthanasia’. You live in a country suffering massive benefits of pooling some of the available resources through levvied taxation. the sun and rain fall on everybody, and you travel roads implemented by the collective. My strong suggestion is that you should stop blindly resisting these invasive redistributive measures (in the same manner as you should stop complaining about the weather) but instead joined the debate on how to fix things. Maybe you can instead of blindly lashing about against entitlement programs address government inefficiency? Maybe you could do a scientific analysis of what spectrum of social services would cost least, served to satisfy the respective clients most, reduced criminal activities and increased individual productivity most? Please let’s get out of the trenches and build a better society not based on endless prejudice and kneejerk hostility towards people with less fortune backgrounds, but maybe you could make robust suggestions on managing society as to make it all a bit more civilized.
“This paper examines the tradeoffs inherent in guaranteed income proposals. Its perspective is international, using the Luxembourg Income Study and asking whether economic efficiency suffers when governments make greater efforts to protect the poor. Using two different measures of productivity growth, we find no big tradeoff between equity and efficiency. That is, during those times and in those countries where greater efforts were made to protect the incomes of the poor, productivity growth does not seem to be affected very much. This gives some hope that efficiency concerns are not a fatal objection to guaranteed income plans.”
* Moral Event Horizon