Why I don't support Basic Income Guarantee


Employment is central to our society. Having a job provides means for our existence, it's a primary tool of socialization of adults, and gives purpose to people. Lacking jobs, men and woman become burden to society, loose self-esteem, and become prone to extremist and revolutionary tendencies. That is why unemployment rate is the most important indicator of performance of Barack Obama and other leaders of democratic countries (which I find quite interesting given capitalistic nature of USA and European countries). Optimizing for full employment in order to keep people busy and within tracks of the system has resulted in behaviors many of us find quite absurd. We have young people spending their most productive years studying instead of creating, we have the smartest people in the world developing, marketing, and financing products of dubious value, and we have ever expanding population of old people hooked to television and expansive medications for the rest of their lives.

Seeing all these absurd developments, it is no wonder that some people have started to look for alternative solutions. One such alternative that is attracting lots of attention lately in Slovenia and the rest of the Europe is Basic Income Guarantee. The idea behind Basic Income Guarantee is to decouple payment from work and that people would no longer depend on having a job in order to fulfill their existential needs of food and shelter. In theory this should free people to pursue their true interests and make them happy even if they are unemployed.

While I think problems addressed by Basic Income Guarantee are real, I think the solution is wrong, too extreme, and therefore dangerous, just like communism was the wrong answer to excesses of capitalism in the early 20th century. For starters, history is teaching us that simple solutions to complex problems (e.g, hating Jews, equality for all, or laissez-faire) always deviate to extremes and suffering. Second, we already have a huge population of pensioners who depend on the state for their existence. Having even more people become dependent on the state through Basic Income Guarantee for their existence is definitely not the right approach and it would only make politicians even more powerful instead of striving to empower citizens. Third, the extend of change that introduction of Basic Income Guarantee would bring, is enormous. For the case of Slovenia with 2 million inhabitants the basic income guarantee of 300EUR per month totals 8 billion dollars per year or one quarter of our gross domestic product! Doing social engineering at such scale would definitely have consequences that no proponent of basic income guarantee can anticipate in advance. My final argument against Basic Income Guarantee is that western societies are not alone on Earth. I have the feeling that proponents of Basic Income Guarantee never ventured beyond the safe confines of USA and Western Europe. Since, if they would visit China, Brazil, and other developing countries they would know that people in developing countries don't want culture, sports, and time for themselves. They strive instead for iPhones, shiny cars, and designer clothes - the things we have and they still don't. Unless we have means to motivate people to do also chores not just the interesting things, we'll become even more dependent on the whims of China, Russia, and other totalitarian states than we are today!

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