For most people, money is hard to come by. Not so with the U.S. federal government. As was explained in a previous post (Where does money come from?) the U.S. government creates its spending money out of thin air by crediting accounts — i.e. by making ledger entries.
We lose sight of this fact when we say things like, “A basic income in the United States would cost just a quarter of the U.S.’s military budget.” Dine, but what if it cost ten times the military budget? So what? There is no limit to how many dollars the U.S. government can create.
Top bankers know the truth. They oppose a basic income, since it would cause average people to become less dependent on loans, including “payday loans.”
Very rich people know that a basic income would not take a penny out of their pockets. They oppose a basic income because they want to keep the lower classes down, since this makes rich people feel richer. One reader called me ridiculous, claiming that rich people want everyone to succeed. That reader lives in a dream world.
Actually many slaves live in a dream world, inside of which they imagine themselves to be “brilliant.”
What about rent inflation in places where housing demand exceeds housing availability? Basic income would improve mobility, so people could escape some areas of high rent. Basic income might also decrease rent demand by increasing home ownership. Basic income could also reduce the large number of unoccupied or abandoned homes in areas hit by job loss.
Basic income might lead some employers to try reducing worker wages. However workers would be empowered to leave abusive jobs. For the worst jobs, employers would actually have to raise wages. Also a basic income would reduce society’s motivation to hate the poor.
In any case, none of the doomsayers’ problems have ever arisen in any place where basic income has been tried. Among the slaves, the loudest voices against basic income are from selfish, mean-spirited losers whose “brilliance” lies in nay-saying any and all attempts to escape from poverty.
Most governments in “developed” countries have a legal minimum wage to prevent wages from plunging so low that the economy would collapse. A basic income (minimal income) would operate in the same way. This is naturally opposed by the rich and the bankers. However any peasant that opposes it is disgraceful.
The “How will you pay for it?” objection is ridiculous, since the U.S. government can create the money for a basic income out of thin air, like the government does when it gives a basic income to seniors, called “Social Security.” A basic income is universal Social Security.
The “kill entrepreneurship” objection is a bullshit inversion of reality, since it is mega-capitalists who form monopolies to intentionally kill entrepreneurship and competition. Silicon Valley was founded on an anti-monopoly spirit, but now Silicon Valley has embraced monopoly, which is the enemy of innovation. Google created a search engine over fifteen years ago, but now Google buys a company a week to crush competitors. Silicon Valley helped created the personal computer. It commercialized the internet, and popularized email. Its scientists and engineers changed the world. Now they work for monopolies who rule the world. (Neoliberals call monopoly control the “free market.”)
Basic income flies in the face of our culture, which glorifies monetary profit no matter the cost to others. This sickness is what sustains the collective mindset of me-me-me, rather than us-us-us. It’s why Americans can’t even have Single Payer health insurance.
The TED conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is held once a year in Vancouver, British Columbia. TED’s early emphasis was technology and design, consistent with its Silicon Valley origins, but it now includes talks on many scientific, cultural, and academic topics. At this year’s conference, a speech touting a basic income got a standing ovation (25 April 2017). It was even praised by Business Insider, which is normally quite neoliberal. The speech was given by Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian and basic income advocate. (Actually Bregman had been giving the same talk at the Ted conference for the last four years, each time with refinements.)
In 1969 U.S. President Nixon called for a basic income of $1,600 a year for a family of four (equivalent to $833.00 per month in 2016). Most newspapers were enthusiastic about it. The Chicago Sun Times called it “A Giant Leap Forward,” the Los Angeles Times “a bold new blueprint.” The National Council of Churches liked it, as did, the labor unions, and even the corporate sector. (This was the age of industrial capitalism, when corporate profits were still based on actually making and selling things, rather than playing financial games.)
With 243 votes for and 155 against, the House of Representative approved President Nixon’s Family Assistance Plan (FAP) on 16 April 1970. It was expected the plan to pass the Senate, too, which was even more progressive than the House. But the Senate Finance Committee balked, claiming that a basic income would be “too expensive.” Democrats killed Nixon’s plan because they feared that if the peasants had a basic income, then the peasants wouldn’t need Democrats to “defend them.” Democrats killed it by saying the amount of the basic income should be much higher than Nixon and Republicans had already agreed to. In this way, Democrats killed the plan while they pretended that Republicans killed it. Democrats still repeat this lie today.
By 1996, Democratic president Bill Clinton ended “welfare as we know it.” Since then, assistance for the poor has been seen as a favor instead of a right. The idea took hold that if you want any money, and you’re not rich, then you must work for it. (The rich do not work for their money. The rich get a “free lunch” at others’ expense. They also get government subsidies and other forms of handouts.)
Martin Anderson, a Nixon adviser and great admirer of Ayn Rand, vehemently opposed any basic income plan, fearing it would make the peasants come to regard minimal human decency as a basic right. Anderson preached all the usual lies, such as myth of the lazy poor, the myth that unemployment is a “choice” and so on.
We still have a way to go, but more and more people are listening to the idea of a basic income. YouTube has many videos about it. Enter the words “basic income.”