A discussion forum on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website brought out a number of concerns about proposals for a basic income scheme. There were more than 2,000 comments. Here are answers to some of the concerns.
How do we pay for a basic income scheme?
There are two answers to this question. The first is that it would replace a range of existing social welfare payments and would make these payments with more efficiency. Employing fewer people this would increase the need. Also I believe subsidies should be given to consumers rather than producers so this would release a lot more money for an income scheme.
For the second answer we have to focus on the agricultural surplus, the excess production by each agricultural worker which allows food for people to do other things. Without the agricultural surplus we would not have civilization as we know it.
Until now the agricultural surplus has been distributed via employment but the current level of technology is making this more difficult. Thus the interest in a universal basic income scheme. We should note that the agricultural surplus is based largely on petroleum and could be somewhat precarious.
As most of the technology that has gone into the agricultural surplus has been developed over the last 2,000 years and most if not all of us have ancestors who worked on that, we should consider it a part of our inheritance. We are all entitled to a share. We should have a collective responsibility to ensure everyone has the opportunity for the same standard of living as most other people. The amount of payments should depend upon the population and the quantity of goods and services we are able to produce. If this ratio goes up then the payments should go up and if this ratio goes down then the payments will have to go down.
I believe there are some serious problems with the way in which our economy creates money. As an income scheme involves money this would be a good time to deal with that problem.
How do we stop people from smoking dope all day?
The simple answer to this question is that we do not. We do not need everyone to work all the time to maintain the agricultural surplus. We no longer need a work ethic.
A basic income scheme would be a tremendous transfer of decision-making power to individuals (from governments and from bankers who create money via the fractional reserve banking system) and we have to allow people to make their own decisions and to take or benefit from the consequences. The agricultural surplus should give us all the right to decide what to do with our time.
An income scheme would be communist.
This blogger dislikes the isms because they tend to be mostly meaningless. As I understand communism it involves treating people humanely and government control of the economy. It seems to appeal to people who wants to tell others how to live their lives. I believe we should try to treat people humanely and I do not want others telling me how to live my life. As decision making power goes with money an income scheme would be a transfer of power to individuals. It is difficult to think many communists would want that.
A guaranteed basic income scheme would help with a lot of social and economic problems but such major changes would go against a lot of vested interests. Even people who would benefit the most are likely to fear the unknown. Therefore concerns need to be taken seriously.
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