Although he has now withdrawn from the Presidential race, the charismatic Yang has been the first person to bring Unconditional Basic Income firmly under the spotlight of mainstream American politics. Surprisingly, Hillary Clinton actually considered it in 2016, but why give ordinary people money when you can sell your soul to the rich and powerful, lining your own pockets in the process?
The concept of basic income goes back centuries but was really considered seriously and in-depth by the great Major Douglas back in the 1920s. Douglas was an engineer, and he considered the economy to be comparable to a piece of machinery whose purpose was to deliver the goods and services the community demanded and which it could create. Rather than basic income he called his system Social Credit, which is not to be confused with an entirely different type of Social Credit imposed on its citizens by China.
In spite of constant attempts to deride UBI, its rejection by the Swiss, and worst of all to equate it with communism/socialism, it is not going away, because realistically it is the only hope for liberating the underclass.
Here is a little thought experiment for the skeptical reader. Imagine a society in which 95% of the work is performed by machines, work in this case means mining, manufacturing, delivering goods, transport generally, maintenance, generating electricity, cleaning the house, everything. Now ask yourself how is purchasing power to be distributed if jobs – from the working class to the middle class – have all gone?
Perhaps before answering this question we should ask another, what are jobs for? Donald Trump is far from the first politician to waffle on about the dignity of labour, but throughout history, work has been the curse of the drinking classes. Trump has given up his retirement or put it on hold for four years, and hopefully another four after that. He has a hectic schedule and seems never to stop, often bellowing on Twitter at 4am. This is his choice, but for those without a calling or a profession, or a trade, work is a drudge. Indeed, most professional people would rather be spending time with their families, sight-seeing, or doing any of a hundred things rather than working.
For most people, work exists for one purpose, and that purpose is livelihood. Livelihood for a single man or his family; livelihood for a single woman, or for a married woman to supplement her husband’s income. Livelihood includes the provision of goods and services. If we can get them for free, why work for them? At this point the economic argument for “full employment” usually switches to a moral or more accurately pseudo-moral argument. Why should people get stuff for free? The reality is there are countless make-work jobs in the public sector, and not a few in the private sector in the form of thinly disguised bribery – think Hunter Biden.
There are countless non-profits and charities on both sides of the Atlantic and the world over that produce little or nothing except salaries for the people who run them. There are charities set up to combat such perceived social evils as Satanic abuse. Is there any credible evidence that these vast networks of Satanists exist? More prosaically, there are think tanks all over the world that churn out reams and reams of reports in support of political agendas, many of them filled with lies, that’s if anyone even bothers to read them. Such endeavours are the equivalent of digging holes and filling them in again, something that was once seriously proposed in order to distribute income.
Wars create a lot of employment, and while a few insiders grow rich off them, for most people they produce bitterness, hatred, death and destruction, yet curiously no government ever lost a war because it ran out of money. Did you ever stop to wonder where that money comes from?
Most people think it comes out of taxation, not so. Andrew Yang believes UBI can be financed out of taxation, and has set his sights on Amazon in particular. This is a company that has an income of billions, yet it pays surprisingly little tax. Indeed, other big corporations often come under fire for paying “too little” tax, or none at all in a particular jurisdiction. People have actually started petitions calling on Facebook and Google to pay more tax, but like Yang they are aiming at the wrong target.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.