Friday, August 11, 2017

Why a Universal Basic Income Would Be a Calamity - Note a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."

Dan Nidess, Wall Street Journal

Image from article,  with caption: Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., May 25."

How long before the elites decide the unemployed underclass shouldn’t have the right to vote?

Leading voices in the tech industry—from Mark Zuckerberg to Sam Altman —are warning that increased automation risks leaving an unprecedented number of Americans permanently unemployed. In response, many concerned Silicon Valley luminaries have called for a universal basic income, or UBI. Guaranteed income from the government may seem like the easiest way to address long-term unemployment, but UBI fixes only the narrowest and most quantifiable problem joblessness causes: lack of a reliable income. It completely ignores, and may exacerbate, the larger complications of mass unemployment. ...
Look ... to Saudi Arabia, which for decades has attempted the wholesale replacement of work with government subsidies. Perhaps more than half of all Saudis are unemployed and not seeking work. They live off payments funded by the country’s oil wealth. ...
It’s true that Saudi Arabia has a host of other social problems. For one, it is ruled by a hereditary monarchy and a strictly enforced set of religious laws. Yet the widespread economic disempowerment of its population has made it that much harder for the kingdom to address its other issues. Don’t expect the U.S. to fare any better if divided into “productive” and “unproductive” classes.
At the heart of a functioning democratic society is a social contract built on the independence and equality of individuals. Casually accepting the mass unemployment of a large part of the country and viewing those people as burdens would undermine this social contract, as millions of Americans become dependent on the government and the taxpaying elite. It would also create a structural division of society that would destroy any pretense of equality. [JB  emphasis] ...

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