Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche


Could a Basic Income protect people from Domestic Violence?

A Basic Income could save many women, children, and others from domestic violence.

To be honest, basic income will not prevent domestic violence. The causes of domestic violence are too complex for one policy to solve.

On the other hand, a basic income could enable many people to escape from domestic violence. To explain one reason people stay in abusive relationships; or homes, is poverty.

How Poverty Drives Domestic Violence

Many women stay with violent men because they lack the money to leave. Our sick society gives these women the horrible choice of “stay with the violent guy or sleep in the streets.”

We force many poor women, uneducated women, or women who cannot work because they have to care for children or elderly, or disabled relatives to stay with violent men. These women have to stay with a violent creep because he pays the bills.

Another way poverty makes domestic worse is that many women are afraid to report domestic violence to law enforcement because they are afraid the violent partner will go to jail or prison. The women fear the loss of income if authorities lock the man up.

Such fears, and lack of Medicare for All, explain why only 34% of domestic violence victims seek medical care for injuries, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) estimates. The victims either have no health insurance and fear large medical bills, or fear that their partner will get reported and arrested if they seek care.

The High Cost of Domestic Violence

One result of this situation is that violence escalates until somebody is seriously hurt or killed. Consequently, the NCADV estimates that one in four American women have been victims of severe physical violence in their lifetimes.

The cost to society from domestic violence is high. For instance, the NCADV estimates Americans lose eight million days of paid work a year because of domestic violence. In addition, 21% to 60% of domestic violence victims lose their jobs, making them more vulnerable to abuse.

Overall, the NCADV estimates that domestic violence costs America $8.3 billion a year.

How Basic Income could save people from Domestic Violence

A Basic Income such as Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend could save many people from domestic violence.

The Freedom Dividend, for instance, could give a woman with a child a $1,000 a month income. That is not much, but it could be enough to escape.

If we extended the Freedom Dividend to all Americans; Yang’s proposed dividend begins at age 18, the woman could have $2,000 a month. Or $3,000 a month if she has two kids.

Thus, a Freedom Dividend for all Americans could give many domestic-violence victims enough money to escape and establish a new life. For instance, the woman in an abusive relationship could have to rent or buy own home or leave town.

Some domestic violence victims would have more incentive to charge their abusers. Hence, some violent people who are threats to society could get taken off the streets.

One benefit of this could be to prevent a few murders and possibly mass shootings. Bloomberg News estimates that 60% of mass shooting suspects had histories of domestic violence.

Honestly, basic income will not prevent all domestic violence. Basic income will not make all domestic violence victims or their abusers behave rationally. There is no way to save everybody from their own stupidity or shortsightedness. However, a Basic Income could give some people the tools to save themselves from Domestic Violence.

Basic Income is about Power

Ultimately, the Basic Income debate is about power. To explain, Basic Income could increase the power of ordinary people.

Many of Basic Income’s foes fear increasing the power of ordinary people. Social services bureaucrats fear losing their power over the poor, the working class, and people of color, for example.

Similarly, many business leaders and other employers fear losing power over working people. Other groups that fear losing power to a basic income include intellectuals, union leaders, politicians, charity executives, some religious leaders, and activists.

For example, there could be no need for food banks, homeless shelters, and other programs to help the poor. Remember, many people make a living from charities and many other people find purpose and meaning by providing charity to the poor. If we get rid of poverty or alleviate it, many of those people will lose their life’s work, their purpose, and their income.

Why They Want us to Go Back to Work

A greater issue of power is business leaders and their intellectual apologists. In particular, the executives who fear that they will have a harder time filling jobs if people do not need the money.

An example this thinking is all the recent editorials demanding Americans go back to work after COVID. A typical example of these Op-Eds is “It’s time that Ohioans get back to work” from The Tribune Chronicle in Ohio.

Predictably, the editorial blames $300 a-week-week unemployment benefits for ordinary people’s refusal to work. Disgustingly, The Tribune Chronicle uses the Bible to justify its attack on working people.

Pennsylvania’s York Dispatch goes farther and states “it’s time to reinstate work-search requirements for unemployed.” The idea is to force all unemployed people to take whatever jobs are available. The possibility that some unemployed people, such as mothers with young children, or people caring for elderly parents are not in a position to work, never occurs to these thinkers.

Notice that the editorial writers do not suggest making work more attractive by proposing a higher minimum wage, offering Medicare for All, or stronger unions. Instead, they want to force more people to work for starvation wages by eliminating any alternative source of income.

Enforcing Social Norms

The appearance of such editorials in publications all over the US is not a coincidence. Many business leaders and conservatives fear any expansion of the welfare state for economic and ideological reasons.

Business leaders want small welfare benefits and a weak safety net to ensure an enormous labor supply. These executives think a large labor supply will drive down wages and reduce worker power. Amazon (AMZN), for instance, can deter unionization with the old; “there’s a dozen guys waiting to take your job,” argument.

 In contrast, many conservatives hold the Victorian belief of the deserving and undeserving poor. To explain the deserving poor are those willing to adopt middle-class values and bow to corporate authority. The undeserving poor are those who refuse to bow to corporate authority and adopt middle-class values.

The undeserving poor include the artist, who prefers working on his art to a job, the person who prefers volunteering at church or a charity to a job, an activist who prefers fighting for a cause, a person of faith who values God more than a job, or the woman who would rather stay home with her children than work at a job,. The undeserving poor include the person willing to forgo some material benefits in order to escape the discipline and structure of a “job.”

Money is Power, Basic Income is Power to the People

People must have no way to escape from the established order. We must force everybody to work at a “job.”

Thus one of the greatest objections to a Basic Income is the fear that many working people will walk away from the jobs economy. That could force many businesses to offer employees more money or to restructure their businesses. To automate jobs or purchase expensive robots to do the work, for instance.

Sadly, many of America’s business, intellectual, and political leaders would rather limit the freedom, money, and power available to ordinary people than change our society. Hence, Basic Income is about power.

A Basic Income could give ordinary people more power. Sadly, that possibility frightens many Americans.