Market Mad House

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

My Thoughts

Why Arguing over the Morality of Basic Income is a Waste of Time

The arguments over the morality of basic income are a waste of time because the public already accepts the concept.

To explain, every day, state, local, and national governments giveaway vast amounts of goods, services, and cash. For example, most local governments in the United States operate free public parks and libraries.

In addition, almost all the roads, highways, freeways, and trails in the United States are free for any driver, hiker, walker, or cyclist to use. Beyond that, almost all governments provide free fire departments, ambulance services, and police forces.

Almost all citizens use these services without thinking about them. On the national level, the protection provided by the military is free to all citizens.

The Morality of Basic Income Does not Matter

Arguments over the morality of basic income not matter because most citizens readily accept government giveaways.

For instance; 67.609 million Americans were receiving Social Security payments in August 2018.  Significantly, Social Security is a kind of basic income paid to senior citizens, widows, orphans, and the disabled.

Additionally 56.8 million Americans were taking part in Medicare (taxpayer financed health insurance) for seniors. Moreover, 73.190 million Americans were receiving Medicaid or CHIP (taxpayer financed health insurance) for the poor and children in July 2018.

Why Ayn Rand would have Accepted Basic Income

Therefore, most people will readily accept a government benefit, no matter what they think of its morality. For instance, the Russian-American author Ayn Rand; an outspoken critic of the welfare state, accepted both Social Security and Medicare benefits in her old age.

Rand signed up for both programs; even though she branded them illegitimate, Social worker Evva Pryor claimed. Significantly, Rand was the creator of Objectivism (a philosophy of rugged individualism) and the author of the libertarian classic Atlas Shrugged.

“Reality had intruded upon her ideological pipedreams,” Pryor said of Rand in a 1998 interview. Apparently, Rand’s finances trumped her rugged individualism.

Under these circumstances, we could argue Rand would have accepted basic income if they had offered it to her. Notably, Rand accepted a kind of basic income (Social Security).

Arguments over Basic Income are Meaningless to most People

Rand’s case, in particular, shows why arguments over basic income’s morality are meaningless. Reality shows that most people will accept basic income; regardless of their beliefs.

Nor is Rand unique, many true believers accept government benefits they attack as wrong. Pacifists, in particular, easily enjoy the freedom and security guaranteed by armed forces they dismiss as evil.

Significantly, “conservatives” who balk at paying taxes for welfare they consider wrong have no problem taxing pacifists to fund defense. In other words, both right and left accept the concept of taxing people for government services they find immoral.

Furthermore, even most affluent Americans send their children to “free” public schools. Generally, only a small minority of religious Americans send their kids to private schools or homeschool.

Why we should Stop Arguing about Basic Income’s Morality and Implement it

Therefore, basic income’s supporters should stop arguing about the morality and implement the notion.

History is on the side of this argument. For example, most Americans quickly signed up for Social Security and Medicare when those programs became available. In addition, most Britons went to the National Health Service (NHS) when it opened in 1948.

Correspondingly, the best way to get Basic Income widely accepted will be to implement a large scale basic income scheme. Social Security was successful because President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York) aggressively implemented it.

Medicare and Medicaid in the United States and the National Health in the UK succeeded because of widespread adoption. For instance, the National Health Service became the largest single-payer healthcare system in the world by being offered free to all British subjects.

To make Basic Income a Reality, we must win the political battle

History teaches that basic income will succeed if we offer it to large numbers of people. For this reason we must concentrate on the political battles, not the philosophical or ideological battles.

The key to implementing basic income is electing legislative majorities dedicated to enacting it. History demonstrates that once a concept’s advocates have the political power the moral arguments are meaningless.

As an illustration, there are still tens of millions of people in the United Kingdom that view single payer healthcare as wrong. Yet those people all undoubtedly carry NHS cards.

The real battle over basic income will be the political one. Basic income advocates need to forget about the moral arguments and concentrate on the political battles.

History shows that those battles will take a long time but they will be worth it. To clarify, American politicians like Theodore Roosevelt and Eugene Debs started promoting Social Security around 1912. However, Social Security did not become law until the mid-1930s, over 20 years later.

Ultimately, politics will make basic income a reality. Henceforth, the only way to make basic income a reality will be to do the dirty work of politics. All the moral arguments about basic income will be a waste of time if nobody fights the political battle for it.


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