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The wide spread poverty and economic crisis is not the natural consequence of the work of incompetent politicians and bankers. The economic system that is put in place is specifically designed to concentrate all the resources in the hands of a very small fraction of society. We live in a world where the richest 1% control 40% of the world's assets.
This extreme inequality is being maintained by fear propaganda and endless wars created and sponsored by corporate interests. The political system in all modern democracies betrayed the people that it's supposed to work for by bailing out with public money most of the major financial institutions who already stole money from the people and created intentionally the whole crisis.
The positive thing is that the situation has become so absurd that it becomes very clear to many people that we're being part of a huge scam. From the youngest age we learn that capitalism is the best natural economic system that humans can come up with. We hear that repeatedly at school, university, on all the media and any idea that doesn't fit in this paradigm of hierarchical oppression is stigmatized as a threat to personal liberty. Fortunately many scientists, economists and ordinary people start to think outside the box and come up with modern solutions that if implemented could improve the life of every living being on this planet. The door to a sustainable future is opened, are we ready to go in?

Debunking the top 5 Myths about the Universal Basic Income Featured

Debunking the top 5 Myths about the Universal Basic Income

New ideas that imply serious social change have always been opposed in the past. There were always arguments of the devastating effects that they could have -"But if we free the slaves, who will pick the cotton?".  Later on of course, everybody starts to see the change as something obvious. If you're not familiar with the concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) you can find the basic information on the idea here. The core of the idea is that every person should have an unconditional income that should ensure a dignified existence - covering their basic needs /food,water, shelter, education, healthcare.../. Unconditional meaning that every person gets it, whether they are poor or not.

Here are some of the most common arguments against UBI that you can hear :

1) Isn't that Communism? – If you have any respect for your intelligence, don't use that argument in pretty much any situation. We often hear this tossed at many social subjects like minimum wage and health care for example. Communism is about the public ownership of the means of production, and this is not  what the idea of basic income is about. In fact, I'm hoping to convince you in this article that UBI would be very beneficial for a more benign functioning of Capitalism.

2) You can't make up new rights ! – The idea of a UBI is nothing new. Rather than being a new right, it gives some real meaning and application of the rights affirmed in the Art. 3 of the Universal declaration of human rights. - "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." Those rights sound very abstract without examining them in the context of reality. What does the right to life mean without the right to have water and food ? How free and safe can you be if you have to live on the street? When there is so little real application of those rights in the "developed" countries today, what could we say about the rest of the world... On the other hand the right of private property from the same declaration has a very real consequences applied by police forces and armies around the world.

3) If people get a basic income nobody would want to work anymore! - This is without doubt the most common argument against Basic Income, and it's absurd on many levels. It's wishful thinking to imagine that if everybody has his survival and basic needs assured, consumer culture is somehow miraculously going to disappear. Most people want to have more and better stuff, that's what they have been taught to desire since the youngest age. There are of course those people who are less interested in material possessions, but that doesn't mean that they don't have other costly needs – would it be traveling or a hobby for example.
Besides, what almost every person really seeks is recognition by other people and the sense of fulfillment. Both of those come easily to a person's life when they are doing something beneficial for their community.
People who are inspired by what they know and what they do are not going to stop doing it just because they don't have to worry to pay their rent and food, this is nonsense. On the other hand if a person is doing a low paid degrading job just because it's the only way to secure his survival, it is indeed very probable that this person would not want to continue doing the same job, and that's really good news.
The only people who would use this argument are those who are themselves demotivated and know that they don't want to work. The only way to see the world through this perspective is if you yourself don't have any real aspirations.

It is very likely that the introduction of a UBI will actually increase creativity and productivity. A study showed that when we're facing tasks that require even ridumentary congnitive skills the performance decreases when there is a there is a material reward associated to the task.

4) Employment is a voluntary exchange between consenting parties - This is another argument, often brought by capitalist libertarians, might sound good in a law-book, but actually has very little to do with reality. They often define the idea of basic income (and taxation in general) as violence. This only makes sense in our culture where paper is more valued than life. When I think of violence, irreversibly polluting billions of liters of fresh water while fracking for private profit sounds considerably more violent to present and future generations. This of course is just an example, greed is destroying the environment and people's life all around the globe in many different ways.

How detached from reality a person has to be to see a voluntary exchange of consents between an employer who doesn't even need to negotiate because there is plenty of labor at his disposal, fighting for the same underpaid degrading job; on the other hand an employee with his/her family's survival on the line. It is hypocritical or extremely short sighted to present what is often the theft of human capital as a consensual agreement between equal individuals.
The exchange between employers and potential employees would be very different if the survival of one of the parties didn't depend on that exchange. Basic income is not going to destroy the consensual exchange, it is going to improve it. Employers will have to value the people that they want to hire, by providing them better working conditions or higher wages. And this will be especially true for the jobs that "nobody wants to do" - like cleaning public toilets or sewers for example. If those services are vital to the health of the entire community and are obviously quite unpleasant to do, shouldn't they be well rewarded and people who do them treated with respect?

5) Basic Income sounds great, but we can't afford it.
People often see the enormous potential benefits of a Basic Income, but don't believe that with all the financial crisis and austerity politics we could possibly have the money/resources to afford it.

It is true that we are out of "money", but we're most certainly not in lack of resources :

Let's take the housing problem as example. We look at the rising amounts of homeless people on the streets, and most of us cannot understand the context in which that happens. A context of excessive abundance, where we consciously deny basic comfort to millions :

"More than 11m homes lie empty across Europe – enough to house all of the continent's homeless twice over – according to figures collated by the Guardian from across the EU." Source

The situation in the US is even more absurd :

About 3.5 million US residents (about 1% of the population), including 1.35 million children, have been homeless for a significant period of time.
Fox Business estimates, there are 18.9 million vacant homes across the country. Source

I'm guessing that you already heard the shocking numbers on food waste - In the US around 40% of the food ends up in landfills - Read the full study here.

The truth is that we already have the resources that we need to cover everybody's basic needs, but our system is set to work upside down. We hear how tax cuts on corporations will increase their incentive to hire people - we have to keep on pouring money on the top and hope that it will get down to the people who struggle for survival. The UBI will not solve inequality completely, but it will set a very reasonable demand to the economy - produce enough basic products and services for everybody. The money that the poorest or unemployed people will receive will not magically disappear. It will be reinvested in the economy with the purchases that those people will make.

A good way to look at the idea is to examine the potential winners and losers in the case where UBI becomes reality.

Winners :

The biggest misconception about the Basic Income is about who is going to benefit from it. Many people imagine that except the poorest people in society, nobody else is going to gain from this change.

Reduced criminality : The Basic Income might not affect the really important crimes – those committed on a daily basis, by big corporations and governments, but it will certainly have a very positive effect on small scale property crimes, small scale drug trade. In a society where no one has to fear for their physical survival and where education is more accessible it is logical that fewer people would want to be involved in potentially very dangerous activities and risk their comfort and future.

Better working conditions for everyone : As mentioned above, Basic Income will bring more sense to concept of consensual agreement between employers and workers. Some will say that this is forced Communism, while in fact it is nothing but a slight change in the most logical direction. After all the fact that non of the parties won't be worried about their empty fridge during a job interview will not put them in a completely equal position, but it certainly make more space for negotiations. It is clear that negotiating when you're life depends on it is quite difficult.

Basic Income won't magically create an equal utopia, but it will open a new page in worker-employer relations. Better working conditions don't only result in happier workers but also in better quality products and services.

Development of arts : Currently it is often extremely hard for young artists to follow their passions and talents. Arts play a crucial role in society, they have been throughout history the biggest engine of cultural evolution together with science.
Today's technologies have brought art closer to people in an unprecedented way. The problem is that the artists who become famous and end up influencing millions are mostly those who send a message that is profitable. For example, it is not people's tastes that dictate the mainstream of music, but rather the opposite – the music industry chooses which songs and artists will blow up the charts well before the albums are out.

Real artists follow a passion because they have a message that they want to express and share with the rest of the world. When the mainstream art is controlled by money, the "artists" that become famous often don't have anything to share with people, sending a message is not their goal.

A Basic Income will give young people an unprecedented historic opportunity to follow their dreams. How many great writers, musicians or painters did we miss because they had no security or encouragement from society to stick to what they find important. Combined with our new communication technologies, we could be set for an era of flourishing human creativity.

Losers :

The obvious losers are those who are currently benefiting from underpaid labor and degrading working conditions. On top of that list I see all the corporations that are employing the "working poor" - a term that should be considered as an oxymoron. I'm guessing that companies like McDonald's and Walmart will be pushed to cut into their obscene profits and provide a better pay for their employees.

Another very likely loser in this deal is the military, where the majority of people go because of the complete lack of better opportunities.

We need to spark a real public debate on the topic - the idea can take many shapes, but we need to agree that human rights should be respected and have real consequences in our society.

Support the idea by sharing this article and signing the petition here.

A. E. , The Pieces Fit


  • Robin

    "By Word of Mouse" Looney Tunes. Pretty sad when cartoon rodents are smarter than the economists, governments (ok not hard...) and corporations.

    Robin Wednesday, 17 September 2014 01:53 Comment Link
  • mikey

    "Communism is about the public ownership of the means of production, and this is not what the idea of basic income is about. In fact, I'm hoping to convince you in this article that UBI would be very beneficial for a more benign functioning of Capitalism."

    Can you now do a top 5 myths about communism that need debunking please. Plain nonsense. And why do you take 'communism' as an insult?

    Not interested if you are doing this to help capitalism

    mikey Wednesday, 18 June 2014 14:58 Comment Link
  • Dan

    I think where the idea often fails is the word 'income' instead of 'support'.
    You assume (as someone in the psychology profession) far too much about social niceties. A person can be intelligent and make good decisions; society rarely does. It is highly doubtful that all of these wonderful ideas about education and lofty intellectual goals and a decrease in violence etc would come about because of UBI. The number of people who indulge in socially sanctioned violent sports in their leisure time should be enough to convince you of this.
    Now, the 'income' aspect; again the trouble is you assume too much, or expect too much, of humans. If you gave them physical support in terms of free housing, food and healthcare/education etc that would be fine. But give a decent number of them money, and they'll piss it away on other things and come back whining (live in the UK and watch them). UBS would be good, UBI would backfire horrendously.
    Of course the other problem with income; levelling the playing field by giving equally to all on an initially uneven field is just mad on the face of it. If you gave the same amount of cold hard cash to two individuals, one poor who needed it to survive, one already wealthy who invested it - by the end of the very first year you've just increased the equality gap. The poor man spent his, the rich man invested it, gained interest, and then you gave him the same amount again in 12 months to add to it???

    Dan Tuesday, 17 June 2014 09:56 Comment Link
  • I.

    I think you assumed and take to many things about people for granted. For example: "In a society where no one has to fear for their physical survival and where education is more accessible it is logical that fewer people would want to be involved in potentially very dangerous activities and risk their comfort and future." While that sounds logical to me as well about ten years ago until I moved to a city (not going to name it now) in considered a developed country in Western Europe which went through a massive boom. There's a whole population there who were given a sort of what you could call a universal basic income, free or heavily subsidized housing, free education (the whole country has free education), basic medical insurance etc.

    Well, what seemed "logical" to me and to you was that that population would use this to improve their quality of life (again - that's in my and yours terms) and as you so assume so often would go on to send their children to schools, universities, do more of what they like - like art, better jobs coming from access to education and not needed to worry about housing - which was granted basic but decent (not houses - although some got those, but apartments). Anyway, not much of that happened. A lot of people (through generations now!) given all that are showing an extremely anti-social behaviour, they do not send children to schools, there's a higher proportion of drug abuse which is then also fuelling criminal, there's raging alcoholism, physical violence etc. It was a shock to myself when I learned about it but it is there. Sure, over time that whole population got a certain bad stigma among other residents due to their anti-social behaviour (random attacks on people just because they can ranging from verbal abuse to throwing rock from children aged 6-7 to young adults on random passers by to petty and more serious criminal and I have witness many of that). I have yet to find some sociological study to understand and get better insight into this phenomenon but that fact is - this is there. Obviously there's more to it than just providing a "basic income" and access to free education to improving people's lives as some people will just not think much of UBI and free education as you'd assume.

    While I would support UBI I think the sociological consequences are not too predictable and I would refrain from assuming what would be "logical" to you and to me it would be logical to others. I think UBI would have more unpredicted consequences than we can estimate now - both positive and negative.

    I. Monday, 16 June 2014 11:05 Comment Link
  • Susan OCarolan

    "It is very likely that the introduction of a UBI will actually increase creativity and productivity. A study showed that when we're facing tasks that require even ridumentary congnitive skills the performance decreases when there is a there is a material reward associated to the task."
    You just caused my performance to decrease but there was no material reward.

    Susan OCarolan Monday, 16 June 2014 10:16 Comment Link
  • C

    I agree with most of your arguments, but will you please pay me to be your editor?

    There are far too many mistakes from your article to list here (and I haven’t been paid yet :P ), but I’ll point out one- You alternate between “looser” and “loser.” In each case, you intended to mean “loser.”

    C Monday, 16 June 2014 04:36 Comment Link
  • Simon

    About affording it - I've heard many approaches and the common theme was complete OR partial but certainly GRADUAL removal of current welfare programs. Slowly - I can't underline it enough - slowly drawing out child benefits and food stamps and programs parallel to those in place of UBI could be one of the ways to achieve it.

    I can't underline enough - slowly. This does not mean pull the plug on every social security lifeline. This means tweaking the cables and seeing which lamps start and stop to blink.

    Simon Monday, 16 June 2014 01:05 Comment Link
  • Mike

    In theory, I like the idea...... but it's not a silver bullet by any streth of the imagination.

    For starters, it does not deal with debt and growth, nor resource depletion and limits to growth.... "Most people want to have more and better stuff, that's what they have been taught to desire since the youngest age." THAT is one of the worst aspects of a money based economy. Not only that... it's all about to end!

    5) Basic Income sounds great, but we can't afford it.

    I'm not so muh concerned about affording it, more like where will the money come from.... currently, all money is loaned into existence. Once created out of thin air, this money will bear interest. Who will pay for this interest, and how will the money to pay the interest be created? If you print money and no new wealth is created to account for it, rinflation followed by hyperinflation is the result.

    I can see this is a good idea, but it needs a lot of refining......

    Mike Sunday, 15 June 2014 21:35 Comment Link
  • Tadin

    1) No, not communism.
    2) It is not a new right.
    3) Study shows people like to do things.
    4) Employer doesn't need to agree to anything, he can just get new people
    5) Yes, we can afford it.

    Tadin Sunday, 15 June 2014 21:04 Comment Link
  • John

    I don't see how this debunks anything. You just stated your opinions versus their opinions.

    John Sunday, 15 June 2014 19:57 Comment Link

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