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Best Argument I’ve heard for Universal Basic Income

basic-income

Perhaps one of the most concise and persuasive arguments I’ve ever heard in favor of a guaranteed universal basic income. It lays to rest the spurious argument that people should not get money “for free” or without doing anything productive for it. But it turns out property owners do it all the time when they charge rent or interest.

It is sometimes argued that a basic income guarantee (BIG) would be unfair because it requires no reciprocation from the recipient. Personally, I reject the principle of reciprocity, but many do not, so it might be worth briefly considering how the principle, if held, ought to be applied in the present social system. In a system of private property ownership, I would argue that the reciprocity argument against a basic income is clearly false. Would-be recipients are already reciprocating, before any such introduction of a basic income, by agreeing to go along with the private-property system. Why should individuals, especially those not born into private property, respect private property rights unless they are given something in return for their cooperation with the arrangement? It should go without saying that they are entitled to an income as reciprocation for not demanding the end to private property. If we are going to appeal to reciprocity, the onus of reciprocation should be on those who derive property income.


Property owners receive a legal entitlement to income streams without a productive contribution being required in return. Most notably, landlords receive rent not as the result of productive activity but by the fact of their ownership of land, housing and commercial buildings; rentiers receive interest income due to mere ownership of money, stored in the form of savings; and capitalists receive profit because of ownership of productive capital. All these income streams derive from ownership, not productive contribution.


mod3-john-stuart-mill-quote

If there are going to be private income flows not tied to productive activity, as there always are under capitalism, they should really be the equal entitlement of all. At the very least, reciprocation should require that some of the income flowing to property owners in the form of rent, interest and profit be treated as everyone’s entitlement. These unearned entitlements, after all, are based in the system of property rights.

What are these property rights? They are nothing but a social creation, and as a social creation they can be dismantled at any time. If property owners don’t want these unearned entitlements dismantled, they should start reciprocating.

Under capitalism, reciprocity requires a basic income.

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22 replies »

  1. Humans use money because they have the fantasy that somehow they are not part of nature. Of course, introducing a ‘basic income’ will not correct that ‘basic mistake’, but will only prolong humanity’s suffering.

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  2. Do not landlords have to pay tax on their property as well as pay for insurance of all kinds, maintenance, possibly paying on a mortgage with interest that they still owe on the property?

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    • fair questions, but first of all, all insurance is a racket and “taxes” are abused. They are way more than they need to be. Moreover, taxes are partially justified based on the concept of private property to begin with – the fact that it costs the government a certain amount of effort and manpower to protect private property through a system of policing and another system to administer justice, vis a vis property disputes. So, if we didn’t have property rights, we wouldn’t need as many taxes. Anyway, I am not against private property that is personal (used by individuals). But I am against private property used exclusively to extract rents from others. I know that’s not a full explanation of my position. But it’s all I have time for now.

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  3. ***It lays to rest the spurious argument that people should not get money “for free” or without doing anything productive for it. But it turns out property owners do it all the time when they charge rent or interest.***

    Property owners put up the capital to purchase the property, and assume the risks associated with rentals, in the expectation that they will receive a rate of return (profit) that compensates them for their risks.

    If you knew anything about economics, you’d know that. Nothing like making a fool of yourself in the first paragraph…

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      • And YOU didn’t bother to address the central tenet of capitalisteric’s post. If I save up my excess wages and purchase a property for rental purposes, then I damn well have every right to make a profit on my INVESTMENT.

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      • He and you both assume that you have an unfettered right to exclusive control over property that you don’t personally use just so you can extract “rent” from others who use it. This is simply an assumption, a construct of the property system in which you are emotionally and physically invested. It doesn’t make it necessary, nor does it make it right. The notion of “saving up your excess wages” is purely fictional – all in your mind. It’s a system that capitalism makes up. And like all other fictions, just as people like you and “capitalisteric” can embrace it, me and others who know better can reject it and attempt to persuade others to see it for what it really is – an untenable system of control that leads to nothing but misery and eventual oligarchy. If you truly cherish freedom and independence for humanity, then you too would reject the rent-seeking system of landlords. Nothing wrong with private property that you personally live on and use. But this notion of owning that which you merely intend to control for the purposes of extracting rents from others is totalitarian bullshit. I’m not brainwashed. I see it for what it is.

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  4. Abolish money. Make excellence our only motivation. The notion that humans must be forced into action is distasteful and inane. Very few people like inactivity. The rest of the species can afford to carry them. Just…not in giant villas.

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    • Humans, as with most mammals, do in fact prefer relative inactivity, since it has been evolutionarily advantageous to avoid expending energy resources unless necessary to do so.

      Even if many will choose not to be inactive what on earth makes you think most people will choose economically productive labor? How much of the human workload is of the ‘enjoyable’ variety (hint: not much.)

      Your ideas are typical shortsighted radical liberalist fantasy. Maybe when all our work is done by robots it will kinda work (but dysgenic reproductive trends will be even more of a concern.)

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  5. The real issue – why should anyone have to “pay” for the BASIC necessities required to live on the planet that they were born on (e.g. food water shelter clothing energy)?

    There does seem to be room for a system of earning credits through an individual’s contributions to society – then we can earn and save up for luxury items like tools, books, entertainment, Air Jordans, private transportation, or whatever.

    However, per Peter: why unnecessarily complicate this with the Babylonian occult deception concept of imaginary “money” a.k.a. Basic INCOME. We don’t need those lies/sources of suffering anymore.

    No human on this planet needs INCOME to live, they need clean water, pure food, clothing and shelter!

    If someone gets caught stealing $50 to buy food for his/her family, and then gets sentenced to a year in prison at a “public” expense of $70K+/yr who exactly is getting something “free?” The public defender? The courts? The state? The private prison corporation? The thief? The thief’s family on SNAP? All of the above? Wouldn’t it be much cheaper for society as a whole to just ensure everyone has access to the basic necessities in the first place?

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    • There’s always going to have to be a way to account for and fairly allocate consumption of resources, whether natural, human, or other, so unless the party enforces uniformity upon the whole world there will always have to be something analogous to money.

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      • … Or else we can just lose 99% of the world’s population and go back to an agrarian or hunter gather society. Is that what you’re shooting for? The complete destruction of modern civilization?

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      • Of course not. That’s not necessary. Why would a civilization with knowledge go back to ignorance? Just because I reject the principles by which our economies are currently organized, does not mean I reject knowledge, nor do I reject all technology. Simply, we should strive to embrace and implement principles that yield the most balance and hence sustainable outcomes for all involved. Our systems of organization must spring from the premise that all people are created equal and that no one has the right to control or oppress others or exclude them from the resources of this planet just because they see themselves as better or more deserving than others to access it. I don’t expect utopia, but we can certainly do better than this bullshit – 1% own 50% of everything? what for? are they gods? it’s all brainwashing, deception and false assumptions. How much more misery must people see before they recognize that something is fatally wrong with this system?

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