Gastonia, NC Correspondent– The Basic Universal Income is a pipe dream much beloved by overly peppy future theorists, fuzzy headed socialists and the sort of people who think that if you put a freshly baked cookie on the table among six children, they’ll divide it up evenly out of the goodness of their hearts.
The simple fact is that the human race has a long track record of failing to place value on that which it is given for free. Look at the current welfare system if you need proof. By handing out checks and not requiring work, we’ve created a generation or more of people who suckle at the government teat and don’t feel any burning need to find jobs or do anything to become self-sustaining.
We thrive on struggle. It is during our most perilous times that we make our greatest advances. Take a look at the scientific advances that came from World War II, and the globe-spanning businesses that grew out of the privations of the Great Depression. Without something to push against, be it privation, enemies or natural forces, we grow soft and stop evolving. We’re just smart enough to realize when we’ve got it good and take advantage of it.
It’s like the fable of the ant and the grasshopper, where the ant works hard all summer putting away food while the grasshopper eats the readily available grasses and never lays by any stores. Winter comes, and the grasshopper starves while the ant lives well off his stored food. Too many of us, myself included, have large streaks of grasshopper in our makeup, and need the constant threat of winter coming to force us to concentrate on the task at hand and keep pushing.
Start doling out a BUI, and you’ll see just how many grasshoppers there are among us. My bet is that it will spike the poverty rate, rather than decreasing it.
Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-When you have all the money in the world to travel all American States and pretty much anywhere your pocket is willing to take you, you can say whatever you want. I understand why Mark Zuckerberg would love to commit to a basic universal income. With the insertion of the word “universal”, I’m assuming everyone would have the privilege of partaking in a similar undergoing as Alaska. On a yearly basis, Alaska provides its residents or natives with around $1000 to $2000 in a program called the Permanent Fund Dividend. In another program called the Native Corporations, a similar process is undertaken.
Honestly, I am not really for or against Mark’s commitment. I’m sure he means well, but is that something the Government everywhere can undertake? A lot of people also have their opinion on it. One commenter on Mark’s Facebook thread with the issue in question mentioned that they are “not about regular yearly hand-outs”. That said commenter stated that he has “witnessed this, it sets the wrong mentality”. Maybe that’s the case and maybe it isn’t. However, from where I stand, the Government of my country would have to increase that basic income because $1000 cannot cover my monthly bills.
To supplement, does that decrease the level of crime and violence in the world and usher in peace and security? From where I stand, it doesn’t. It doesn’t solve our problems, and it doesn’t help the poor. They need proper housing, food, health, utilities, and the said rights people like Mark Zuckerberg has.
So, Mark can suggest and say all he wants, but his commitment is garbage and doesn’t solve anything. In fact, a poor man can die of starvation before even seeing that basic universal income.
So, Mr. Zuckerberg, thank you very much for your consideration. Since you seemingly mean well, why not create your own basic universal income and distribute on a yearly basis, since you do have the money to do so? That’s just a suggestion. It’s very tiring hearing all those rich people making suggestions but none has the guts to do anything, especially if it involves using their own money. Thank you very much, Mark, and keep traveling the world. While you’re doing it, someone on the other end is starving.
Owatonna, MN Correspondent- The debate over what is a right is complicated and seems to get more complicated as various groups attempt to get their core values inculcated as a right: the right to health care, the right to shelter, the right to eat, etc. What gets lost in the debate is the fact that real rights must be free and accessible to all people, and must not impose penalties, restrictions, or limitations on any other person.
The right to basic universal income sounds good. Give everyone a minimum amount of money each year to buy basic food, clothing, and shelter. But where does this money come from? If the recipient is guaranteed this money without requiring that person to work at some sort of job, someone else must provide that money.
Most would say that the government should give each citizen that basic income. But the government does not create wealth. It can only raise money through taxes and tariffs. This means that those who do earn money through a job or business are forced to provide this basic income to those who don’t work, with the government as the conduit. By granting this right to all people, many will be denied the right to spend and save all the money they’ve acquired as they see fit.
We see this problem playing out in the United States as more and more citizens become net recipients of government aid. According to a popular statistic cited in the 2012 Presidential campaign by Mitt Romney, half of all Americans now live in a household that receives some sort of federal government benefit. According to U.S. Census data, this number has increased from about 30% in 1983. If this trend continues, it is theoretically possible that virtually all citizens may receive money from the government. But it is more likely that the economy will implode before that happens because the incentive for anyone to work will disappear when we all realize we don’t need to work because the government will give us money.
The concept of universal basic income is a nice idea, but it can’t be mandated as a right. Simple laws of economics won’t allow it to happen without destroying our society.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent– There are a number of billionaires associated with one another that go along with the idea of universal basic income. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk stated at a World Summit in Dubai this past February, “I think we’ll end up doing universal basic income. It’s going to be necessary.” He and Zuckerberg may think it is necessary, but the idea of a basic universal income is not feasible.
Zuckerberg said something similar in a commencement speech in May, “We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”
Well, if Zuckerberg and Musk are so certain that it is going to be necessary that everyone be given a basic income as a bolster for their ideas to become a reality, then they and others who have the same ideas should start to dig in their pockets and come up with a way to distribute their money to the people of the world. That would not likely happen as Zuckerberg and most other liberals believe in using someone else’s money to fund causes, but he believes he has seen a way to do it without having to relinquish his fortunes and the fortunes of others.
Zuckerberg has based his ideas on a trip he took to all 50 states; with Alaska being the place he could envision a universal income platform. In his trip, he discovered that the Alaskan social security system gives its residents a yearly check from a Permanent Dividend Fund that is made up of mostly oil revenues. Residents there receive around $1,000-$2,000 a year from this fund. The program isn’t a universal basic income plan, though Zuckerberg thinks it is an excellent example of an approach for the rest of the country to subscribe to in the sense of how a program could be implemented.
He liked the idea that the yearly dividend payments are funded from natural resources without any tax increases in the state, and he felt the whole program was based on smaller government as opposed to progressive principles of larger government in charge of such distributions. He also liked that the state of Alaska functions as a profitable and stable state rather than one that is in debt and functioning poorly.
What Zuckerberg and others in his ranks fail to understand or discover is that the dividends are owed to citizens because those living there are not allowed to receive mineral rights as private citizens and are paid through the permanent fund for the resource monies that are generated from the land. It is not an income just handed out to people. It is based on the cost of oil sold from the state, and is considerably different from basic income. Alaska is able to do this because of a smaller number of people living in a state that is rich in oil.
An even more important aspect of the fund is that the current governor of Alaska and the legislature are now dipping into it, which is indirectly illegal, and the money is being capped by the state in spite of any increased profits to help with state debt, which is creeping its way into Alaska state government.
The state appears to be in decline with current joblessness and other economic issues, so Zuckerberg may need to think of a better managed system of setting aside money for basic universal income as there will always be a way for it to be taken from the recipients and returned to a state government or some other entity.
If states have surpluses from resource extraction, or other states have no state income taxes and receive substantial revenues through sales taxes, which may help in tax reduction or issuance of refunds, any of these sources are not free money as they were already put in the state coffers and manipulated to a state’s advantage.
When money and services are given out handily in the form of a basic universal income, there will be little if any incentive to work at all, and if Zuckerberg is talking about someone having a cushion to try new ideas, he better think about those who will take the money and run and squander it on something more than an idea, or working towards a goal.
Society just doesn’t function properly in the kind of universal income utopia he is imagining. Again, Zuckerberg, Musk and the other billionaires can go ahead and lead the pack and start distributing their assets in the states where they reside. Instead, they’ll pontificate on the virtues of universal income, but it won’t come from their pockets. It will always be someone else’s. He and others may declare the absolute necessity of universal income, but that doesn’t make it a right in the eyes of normal working people paying the way for others.