Unified Patriots by Bob Montgomery
Why, it’s an idea whose time may have come, you see and hear and read over the airwaves these days. The “Universal Basic Income”. And not just from the usual suspects, the bleeding-heart communists, either. No, it’s being introduced into the parlance in all kinds of circles, from tech companies to conservative think tanks and beyond.
There are various proposals, stipulations, rationalizations, and projected manifestations of the “Basic Income” school of thought, but they all center around the government sending a check for a certain amount of money every month to every citizen within it’s borders.
Most justifications for this center around the purported “realities” of the age in which we live, with increased automation and complicated and erratic welfare and other public program costs and administrative headaches, and so on and so on. The main argument seems to be that if you give everyone in the polity a subsistence payment, you can eliminate all public assistance programs, apply those costs to this new program, and allow the individual citizen to do as he chooses with the money – for subsistence if he needs it, for investment, or presumably to squander it if he has other sources of revenue, or even if he doesn’t.
The question I ask in the title, who decides what is “basic” and how is that figure derived, aren’t discussed much in these early stages of the conversation. You will usually hear something on the order of “$1,000/month” or “$16,000/year”. And that is not per ‘family’, or ‘household’, that is per individual. Supposedly that means a month-old-baby gets a check. Since most proposals say that individual decides what to do with the money, the kid had better be a quick study, I guess. More probably, you would quickly get into the situation where the spending decisions are made by the parent/guardians like they are nowadays, and with a population boom unseen in the world, even in the China of old. The devil is always in the details, isn’t it[…]