As the debt clock continues to climb by the second, more and more power players on the world stage are floating the idea of a universal basic income. Not least of which is Mark Zuckerberg himself, calling on Havard’s recently-graduated class to strive for this goal in their lifetime. Yes, a billionaire who made his fortune in the free market is actively asking the rest of us to disregard it’s long-observed, a posteriori norms as he advocates “[making] sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas” whilst simultaneously enforcing restriction of speech and ideas on his brainchild and foremost social media powerhouse: Facebook. Yes, ladies and gentleman, as per usual, speech and ideas are fantastic, as long as they meet the standard of de jure groupthink.
As the academic intelligentsia of yore gives way to the modern technocratic elite , the message is just the same, only cleaned up and polished for a new generation. The implication is that given the rise of automation, there will be less demand for human labor, and thus less opportunity for gainful employment in the market, inevitably requiring the state to issue a stipend to those under a certain threshold of income.
The often glossed-over fact is that most United States and other first-world nations’ taxpayers are not McDonald’s or Burger King employees. It’s as if the village heralds are decrying the invention of the cotton gin as an assault on the few farmhands who specifically are tasked with deseeding the cotton. These ideas are nothing new. Solzhenitsyn wrote about Vladimir Lenin receiving government stipends while in exile, and even this was before Red October. This was ramped up, of course, during the Soviet Union’s reign and ultimately being one of the causes of its abysmal function and eventual demise. By it’s very nature it is redistributionist policy; the very fulcrum of communism. Take from those who have, give to those who do not.
For a universal basic income to be implemented, taxation would necessarily need to be increased, even beyond today’s levels. An idea which most who are not even fully educated on the issue are still keen to reject. Marxist policy rejects the fundamentals of economics from the outset, most importantly the ability to calculate market value of a good or service due to a lack of input prices. When a government’s central planners, who’ve no doubt spent their entire lives immersed solely in academia rather than the actual market, decide what people below a certain level of income should be given each month, how do they come to that conclusion?
Without input prices there is no way to determine the output. Theoretically there would be no limit to what people could be given. This is exacerbated by the forced utilization of the United States’ fiat currency: the dollar. Why not print more money and give everyone $40k a year?
Why did the Nazis have entire camps devoted to counterfeiting foreign currencies? Because saturating a market with currency drives inflation through the roof, thus destroying an economy and subsequently it’s host nation. The Germans were keenly aware of this with the stinging destitution of the Weimar Republic still fresh in mind.
If saturation of a currency within a market causes inflation, the implications of the saturation of wages are far worse. The idea that humans must be given wealth simply for existing is a recipe for absolute disaster. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Promise a man a fish every day for the rest of his life, and you’re eventually going to have a mob of pissed off trident-wielding fishermen knocking on your door.
This is the fundamental problem the intelligentsia loves to omit from its promises to the ignorant masses: the failure of redistribution. The downtrodden citizenry gather en masse to listen to people like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeremy Corbyn without ever once considering the idea they might very well be the ones having their paychecks cut to subsidize a new “less fortunate” crop of latecomers.
In the United States New England, the Southwest, and parts of the Midwest are being demographically corrupted by mass influxes of third-world migrants who are not here to work. They might be coming to find a better life, sure, but not in the traditional American sense implied by their advocates. They are coming to continue their lives from across the border or overseas in a nation that has relatively much greater freedom and a heavily-extorted population from which to take advantage. Even the younger natives of the population have begun to tow this line as the result of decades of ever-creeping government control over their education.
At what point do the citizenry realize that there is no longer a need to work? When a certain portion of the population is essentially given a pass on sustaining themselves, how many generations would it take until they figured out that they can simply do nothing and collect a paycheck; and then how long until the society collapses? The less incentive to work, the less people will work. The less work that is done, the less wealth to be gained. The less wealth from which to extract, the less the ability to pay the non-producing parasites.
Scandinavian countries that subscribe to the Nordic Model, an oft-cited example of the left as to the economic virtue of socialism, have even begun to scale back their entitlements as the prevailing younger class is taking advantage of the decreased incentive to work at a rate that is becoming greater than the ability of the older working class to sustain. The Nordic Model relied heavily on an implied honor system that the young agreed to pay into it with the promise of having access to it in their advanced age. Even in societies that are traditionally virtuous and honorable, their central planners all too often fail to employ even a modicum of praxeology in their determinations.
When the money runs out, so does the patience and civility of the people. Modern day Venezuela has turned into a nightmare in just about a decade due to these same types of policies, as did every other promised socialist/communist utopia. What happens when neighbors and family members start turning on each other just to survive or not be kidnapped and beaten; when people are butchering stray animals in the street so that they might have something in their stomachs that night; when the government continues to destroy food supplies so it can frame a narrative that paints them as victims whilst continuing to starve their people; what then do the central planners have to say? Well nothing, because at this point they are never around to answer for their crimes.
In the end, it is nothing more than another power play. This is the new generation of ruling class and they have to stand out; to build their brand. I have no doubt Mr. Zuckerberg intends to run for political office at some point, so why not start garnering those votes now? The next-level candidate is going to need to pimp out the next-level gibs. The real question is: at which point will the people of the coming generation either learn or stop lying to themselves about what will inevitably happen when, as Margaret Thatcher said, “…you run out of everyone else’s money”? Can humanity afford another century of failed socialist policy? The technocrats may fancy themselves the jury in this case, but only time will be the ultimate judge.