The UBI Trap

6개월 전

It sounds great: give every citizen in the country a basic income so that no one has to fall below the poverty line, and everyone can afford the basic minimum of goods and services to survive in an otherwise ruthless capitalist economy.


That sounds great indeed... if you don't stop and think about it for a few seconds. Ideologically speaking I'm situated pretty far on the left of any political spectrum you can think of, so I'm all for the abolition of extreme poverty and the need to maintain a job in a world that has few jobs left for uneducated or under-educated individuals. And even an education doesn't guarantee employment, but it does guarantee a sizable debt. So yeah, a Universal Basic Income is somewhat of a necessity in an economic model that guarantees people being left behind; they also have a right to life and the pursuit of happiness. There are a lot of criticisms out there already, like these articles: "Five Problems with Universal Basic Income" and "Universal Basic Income: A Universally Bad Idea". But they all miss the real and only valid argument against a UBI, and they're all written from a purely capitalist perspective; none of them dare or even want to look at the real problem here.

The solution that a UBI brings ignores the heart of the problem and, this is the most important point, it has in it the danger that we all keep ignoring the heart of the problem. I'll make a prediction here: if we allow it to happen, the insanely rich will not oppose, but support the introduction of a UBI, they'll even help pay for it. For them it'll be "shut-up money" they'll gladly pay because the UBI will quench the fiery outrage against the insane income inequality that's inherent in any capitalist economy, but especially within the neoliberal ideology that's taken over the world. A UBI will help maintain the status quo of the neoliberal world economy that's been imposed on us, and on every developing country that made the mistake of accepting help from the World Bank and the IMF. These so called global institutions have the interests of the 1% in mind and impose the neoliberal ideology of privatization, deregulation and the devaluation of money on countries that they "help" with loans they can never repay and brand-new governments they didn't vote for.

Here's the problem with jobs in capitalism: labor is traded on a market, the "labor market", just like any other commodity; it's the game of supply and demand for labor in which employees provide the supply and employers the demand. The capitalist theory is that when demand for more and new products increases, more labor is needed. For workers, looking for a job in labor market, this means that when many employers must compete for the available labor, their wages will go up. Conversely, if there's a large surplus of available labor, employers don't have to compete as there's ten others for every available employee. With globalization the pool of available labor has increased exponentially, and since capital is free to move where it wants... well, you know what happens. And I haven't even talked about automation yet... And the fact we already overproduce most of what we need and want; we don't need more production of more jobs...

This is what a UBI will help mask while solving nothing; it's a band-aid that's likely to cover our eyes. The real problem here is capitalism itself and the need for way more redistribution of wealth than we now have. A UBI will do nothing against the death of democracy, as the main problem with income inequality is the inevitable power inequality. A UBI, in my opinion, should only be allowed with strict limitations to the duration of such a band-aid; it should only be accepted when accompanied with a plan to make structural changes that put hard limits on the amount of income inequality that's socially accepted. If not, if we accept a UBI as it is, we accept the status quo as it is. Pleas listen to the short video, where Douglas Rushkoff explains the rest:

The colossal problem with universal basic income | Douglas Rushkoff

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Good and to the point, though while I can see billionaire tech bros supporting UBI, I don't think capital in general will be so thrilled with the idea.

One of the my first posts on Steemit was on automation and how we could reduce our working hours without hitting our productivity or salaries. I think this can address many of the problems that UBI wants to tackle without the social stigma, it should be about distributing wealth properly to begin with, not partially fixing it a posteriori with UBI. Automation could free up a substantial part of the work week. If automation were to replace, say, 70% of the workload in a given business, that would mean that each worker would see more or less a 70% reduction in their total working time. There's no need to lower wages (certainly not significantly) or fire anybody because the ensuing automation would allow the business to carry on with the same level of productivity (or probably even more as a function of cost). If automation allows for increased productivity then you can actually hire more people as you further reduce workhours. Of course, under capitalism this is a laughable notion as you can maximize profits by firing people.

Before the workers movement, the current 35-48 hour workweek was largely a dream. Who knows what the average workweek could look like in a better future.

· should be about distributing wealth properly to begin with, not partially fixing it a posteriori with UBI. [...] Of course, under capitalism this is a laughable notion as you can maximize profits by firing people.

That's exactly the point! :-) Thanks so much for the response and your continued interest in my posts my friend :-)

We should not have got to point where a UBI is "needed"

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