There has been a lot of discussion recently about the UBI, the “Universal Basic Income,” by means of which every citizen . . . or maybe every person . . . or perhaps just those whom the government bureaucracy likes . . . or whatever, would receive enough cash to meet their needs adequately . . . or maybe just basic subsistence . . . or maybe something else, depending on who makes the decisions.
|If you don't control your own life, you are a slave.|
And that is the point. Once someone else has control over your income, you are totally dependent on something over which you have no control. That someone else can determine if you live or die, and on what terms you do either. You no longer have control over your own life, meaning that to all intents and purposes you are a slave.
Take, for instance, Social Security. The common myth is that you own what you pay into that account. The program was carefully marketed to give that impression . . . and it is totally false. You own nothing. The U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1960 (Fleming v. Nestor) that — whatever impression the government may have given people, they do not own what is in “their” Social Security Accounts. It’s a tax, not a contribution.
|FDR signing the Social Security Act in 1935|
If you read the Social Security Act of 1935, you will see that Congress reserved the right to adjust benefits at any time for reasonable cause. Up to now, of course, Congress has used that power to increase benefits to all, while denying it to some (like Ephraim Nestor), but it could just as easily reduce benefits to all on the grounds that there isn’t enough money to pay benefits — and it could make it stick, too.
So are we saying that there should be no way for people who can’t find jobs to gain income? No, we’re not saying that at all. We’re saying that people should not be dependent on others for their income if they don’t have to be.
So what’s the solution?
|Honest Abe says "Free the slaves! Capital Homesteading Now!"|
Instead of a “Universal Basic Income,” why not a “Universal Basic Access to Capital Ownership”? Restrict government transfer payments to people who don’t get sufficient income from their labor, capital, or charity (or gift or inheritance), and so need a (hopefully temporary) helping hand until they can get enough income from other sources.
That is one of the ideas behind Capital Homesteading: ensure that everybody has equal access to the means of becoming an owner on favorable terms, and save the social safety net for those who actually need it. Simply providing an across the board basic income to everyone does nothing to encourage people to get a job and own capital so they can generate their own income and keep in control of their own lives.