Universal Basic Income as Compensation for the Creation and Defense of Private Property Rights

in basicincome •  last year

Can universal basic income funded by taxes be considered stealing from those who earned their money?

Universal basic income is just compensation

This kind of question is built on the assumption that all money earned is earned fairly and justly, and that all money taxed is both unfair and unjust.

Here's the thing though, that idea of private property we take for granted as the foundation of just about everything? Perhaps we shouldn't take it for granted.

What do I mean by that? Well, I'm not suggesting the idea that private property shouldn't exist or that it shouldn't be enforced. I am suggesting that by enforcing it as we do, we create a situation that wouldn't exist naturally, and therefore perhaps ethically requires that we compensate for our creation and enforcement of it in some way.

Think of it this way. 3... 2... 1... I now own everything.

This is fair, because I called dibs, just like our ancestors did long ago. Because I now control access to all resources on Earth, you are no longer allowed to live on it without my permission. Oh sure, if I didn't own everything, you could just pick an apple off a tree, or plant some vegetables, or hunt some deer, or even eat food out of trash cans, but too bad. I own everything. It is all my property.

You are not allowed to live without my permission.

In order to live, you will need to prove your worth to me. Don't worry, as long as you pull your weight (according to my judgment), I will give you enough access to my resources to survive.

What's that? It's not fair that I own everything? But I called dibs. That's totally fair.

What's that? I didn't create the planet so why should I own it? I should only own the added improvements I make using the natural resources no one made?

Hmmm, actually, that's a good point. I suppose we should adjust our rules to acknowledge that shouldn't we?

If you build a chair out of a tree, until that moment in time that tree was available to everyone else. People could sit under it, or eat fruit from it. It cleaned the air by taking in carbon dioxide and putting out oxygen. It would have continued to grow and maybe in another decade it could have been more than a chair. Or maybe someone else could have used it along with other trees to build a house?

Wow, come to think of it, that tree had a lot of potential uses by a lot of potential people, all born on the same planet, none of whom made the tree. And yet, you felt that tree was yours when it wasn't. It was really all of ours or even none of ours. So what's that called when you take something that doesn't belong to you?

Oh right... stealing.

But shoot, I want a nice chair, and I want people to be able to make nice chairs. Don't you? The ability to add value to something by transforming it is a good idea. So how do we get around this moral quandary?

Well, we could compensate everyone else who lost access to the tree when you turned it into a chair, by slightly increasing their access to all remaining resources. That sounds fair doesn't it?

But shoot, how do we do that? Hmmm, maybe we could tax the chair, and acknowledge this tax not as theft, but as compensation for the theft from all of us that we allowed to occur in order for the tree to become a chair, and then split that tax revenue among everyone equally?

Or maybe instead of taxation after the fact, we could charge a fee up front for the tree instead of letting anyone just take it for free, and then we could share that fee among everyone? I hear that's actually exactly what they do in Alaska with the oil there, and why everyone in Alaska has received on average about $1,000 per year since 1982 for nothing but being a resident of Alaska.

Either way, great idea!

Let's call it universal basic income.


This post was inspired by the book, "Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No" by Karl Widerquist.

For those familiar with the "Lockean Proviso", this argument for basic income may also sound familiar. For those not familiar with John Locke, his proviso states that property cannot be appropriated unless there is enough left in common for others.


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People can't really "hear" basic income discussions because they are blinded by their internal assumptions about human nature and the value of humans in general. if one feels some human beings are more valuable than others based on any subjective internal standard, they just can't see past this bias.

The problem is one of awareness and the limits of most people's self awareness. Especially in the developed world where most people live and act as if they exist in a vacuum as a separate entity from the rest of the world. They cannot understand how many human beings contribute to the things they interact with or utilize every day.

They are blinded by their own greed or their own illusion of control. Believing they are manifesting their own destiny with each decision they make and therefore have "earned" the right to specific rewards or punishments. Until we evolve beyond this self-centeredness, people will argue irrationally against equitable distribution of and access to resources.

Glad to see you finally on steemit @scottsantens. Been following you on twitter for a while.

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There are a ton of reasons basic income is a brilliant idea, but they've never worked. It's automation that will force our hand. Once more and more jobs get automated faster and faster, it will become increasingly difficult to not see what needs to be done, despite all the blinders in current use. I just hope we can implement it in time to alleviate a great deal of unnecessary suffering.

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The point of using machines is to make less work for ourselves. We are made better off by increases in production rather than by work itself.

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So if we disagree we are "greedy", yet you are the one that claims to have a right to other's property? And you want it for free no less. Yea That's not greedy. Please post your Steemit log in so your Steem resources can be equitably redistributed. .lol

I'm so confused on this to be honest! I LOVE Your example. I've always been against the universal basic income, But with your argument, I can't argue against it. I also hate the whole "Property" ownership too. But it's complicated on how we could do things without it.

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Reading the book that inspired this post opened my eyes to looking at basic income in a new way as well. I wasn't against it prior to reading it, but after reading it, I realized how important it is to achieving true freedom, and how much we are owed it. No one should be forced to work for someone else due to the imposed restrictions created by enforced property rights. It's not right, and it also makes the labor market itself unfree. A free labor market requires that everyone have the proper ability to refuse to enter it, in order for it to be considered fully voluntary.

Another one of my articles you might like reading along these lines is this one: https://medium.com/basic-income/true-freedom-comes-with-basic-income-7ff1368e170

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"No one should be forced to work for someone else." ?? Where do you think money from your UBI will come from? Some will be forced to work for othets by the government. At least in the free market you can choose where and how to work.

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Remain skeptical, I think. I have been reading these posts, too. Its a costume party for socialism. From each according to his ability to each according to his need. It has always failed. We are seeing the tragic results of it in Venezuela these days. It has a history of mass murdering millions of people, because in the end it is authoritarianism cloaked as compassion.

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Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek both advocated basic income. Were they socialists? Despite both winning Nobel prizes in economics, were they free market capitalists who were just too stupid to recognize they were advocating socialism? Or is it more likely you don't understand what basic income is, how it works, and what socialism really is other than a placeholder word for stuff you don't like?

Basic income is money for markets. It can be used as starting capital and often is. Entrepreneurship is a common result of basic income where tried. It's also consumer buying power, so that businesses have customers.

Basic income has nothing to do with shared ownership of the means of production. It has nothing to do with centralization. It's actually further decentralization, because it takes power away from government and gives it back to people. Government doesn't get to decide what to do with tax dollars. Bureaucrats don't. Citizens do. Citizens use basic income to vote in markets as consumers.

I suggest reading about why Hayek supported UBI. https://www.libertarianism.org/columns/why-did-hayek-support-basic-income

I also suggest reading about why Friedman did as well. https://medium.com/basic-income/why-milton-friedman-supported-a-guaranteed-income-5-reasons-da6e628f6070

Then I suggest studying why basic income is so important to capitalism in response to automation. http://www.barrons.com/articles/a-universal-basic-income-for-when-the-robots-come-1499776152

If we agree on the above as our current and future state of automation, then we agree that robots will eventually be the most competitive option for the majority of what we call “work”. In a free market, that means robots should perform as much of the available work as possible, otherwise market resources will not be allocated with maximum efficiency. In other words, humans should not perform work that robots are capable of because it’s an inefficient use of resources. Therefore, detractors of long-term automation are detractors of free market capitalism. If you want the automated future to include human labor because you think humans need to work even if a robot can do it more efficiently, that’s socialism.

How will humans survive without income from jobs? Robots will create income for us. Money is just a store of value that can be traded for goods and services. Today, humans create value through work and receive money for their efforts which they then trade for survival and recreation. If robots are creating value through work in the future, and they don’t need money for survival or recreation (other than energy, maintenance, and replacement), then the incremental value they create after those costs can be transferred to society through a universal basic income. This is the most efficient way to transfer the benefits of automation to society while advancing the capitalist ideal. By providing no-strings-attached income to a society that no longer has traditional jobs, you allow individuals to choose how to spend their income, encouraging continued competition and innovation in the free market.

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It's ironic perhaps that my (and others) greatest concern with a UBI is that it will be used by governments to cut services they should be providing and just give citizens that money instead. I.e. it has the potential to be a bit too free-market.

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Ironic, Hayek's support for a basic income was to prevent social justice manipulation by the state, not to preserve it. In other words to keep government influence out of the free market.

In fact Friedman's support for the idea is based on the same concept. A replacement for government managed programs for support delivered to the poor.

I don't trust government, and I believe human nature always comes out. I cannot conceive of any government program to deliver money directly to people (completely unconstitutional) being free from social justice manipulation, corruption, fraud and abuse, and people when given anything free don't value it and tend to misuse it. Markets also react to "free money" by increasing prices. Look at college tuition and medical services as clear, constant evidence of that very nature in the market.

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So you are agreeing now that your initial comment is ironic? You initially said it was socialism and now you say that it has the support of free market proponents because it increases freedom. So which position are you taking now??

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Nice try to twist things. No, I don't think my appraisal of UBI as socialist is ironic, or wrong. There are members of the libertarian community who have expressed support for it as an alternative to the current welfare system, claiming its less bad than the status quo. I disagree with them. You stated yourself that one of the flaws you see in the plan is that it might be used to eliminate other government services. These libertarians who voiced support did so on the assumption UBI would replace all other direct payments to the people and cut the size of government. Analysis I have read indicate otherwise. UBI would require, even if it did replace other direct payments,an almost 50% increase in taxes to cover the cost. Its ridiculous. (I can provide articles bearing these numbers out.)

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I understand it just fine, thank you very much. It will fail. It will hand more power to the government and corrupt the market in doing so. There is no program of government "free money" that has remained free of abusive fraud, waste, and political manipulation. This can be no different. Take the economy, filter it through a government bureaucracy, and expect a free market to blossom. Unlikely at best.

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It hasn't failed where it has been trialled before.

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And the long list of such trials are?

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See @scottsanten's blog. He's posted articles about a lot of them.

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Social Security is UBI for citizens over age 65. Yes it is failing.

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It could easily be paid for by reducing your ridiculous military budget.

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I would cut that too, to zero. Social Security and Medicare already take up 60% of the federal budget (military is about 20%) and they only serve mostly older people. How much will it cost with everyone enrolled? Likely several Trillion a year, an impossibly high cost we cannot bear.

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I like the way you think. Preach it.

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If people are not free to chose how they spend their earned income, it takes the legs out from under the free market. Any program that begins with theft is beginning with the destruction of wealth and choice.

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The difference with a UBI is that it's just a minimum floor that everyone gets. There's nothing stopping anyone from earning a billion dollars on top of that if they want. That's not socialism. It's capitalism. And it's going to be necessary to sustain capitalism as the consumer base shrinks due to technological unemployment.

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Yes, its still socialism. Most socialist economies (and for that matter most capitalist economies) are mixed economies. They contain elements of both. It is my opinion that increasing the elements of socialism tends to depress and weaken an economy while increasing the free market principles of an economy makes it stronger and leads to economic expansion. History tends to bear this out. A program that weakens the value of the currency may still allow for wealth building technically, but it pushes the overall economy toward an environment where wealth building becomes increasingly difficult, and may lower the rewards of wealth disincentivizing entrepreneurship.

By the way, I've noticed that although I upvote each of your comments and replies whether I agree with them or not, you do not return the favor. Why is that?

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Well that's not "socialism". Socialism is about the abolition of private ownership of the means of production, and equality of outcome. I'll grant that providing a UBI in a mixed economy is step in the direction towards equality of outcome, but it's still a far cry from that.

Regarding your claim that essentially redistribution depresses and weakens an economy, and that this is born out by history, this is patently false. Historical analysis of data, and expert modelling, show that higher inequality leads to lower not higher growth rates (I cover this in a blog post here - https://politicsforpeoplenotcorporations.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/the-jobs-and-growth-election-one-last-tilt-at-neoliberalism/). There's clearly a sweet spot somewhere in the centre, where either of the extremes (i.e. laissez faire and socialism) are detrimental. But to suggest that we are anywhere near the socialism extreme and that countering some of the economic regression that we've had in the last 40 years of neoliberalism will hamper economic growth is farcical.

Regarding voting, you might not want to know why I don't vote your posts. I'd suggest you worry about where your votes go, and I'll worry about where mine go.

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And here you are attacking private property as theft. You pretend you are against the abolition of private property, but its exactly what you base your comments about UBI being "just" on. You're a socialist, and your plan is socialist, and it will be bad for the economy and for people's liberty. The sad thing is there will be much support for it because people think they can get something for nothing.

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I'm not a socialist, and nor do I have any desire to abolish private property. This is just a strawman.

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Your posted quote immediately following this thread: As Proudhon remarked - "Property is theft".

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Lol he doesn't want to abolish private property, he wants to steal it. I guess that's better in his eyes..

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That's right. We already have UBI here for citizens over 65, it's called Social Security and it's a scheming disaster.

Just falling more and more in love with the idea of UBI every day. Thanks!

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Until it's time to pay for it..

This post received a 3.6% upvote from @randowhale thanks to @scottsantens! For more information, click here!

You spend time in this piece talking about theft, but try to justify using the taking of some people's property to fund other people's need claiming their property is theft. Its a bit of a circular argument, and that doesn't even begin to address what kind of society, or economy we would have without property. The most glaring piece I find missing from this is the idea of consent. Basic income built upon consent is either trade, or charity. Basic income built upon coercion is theft, or slavery.

You say that because you deem the resources of the planet are to be equally shared that anybody who uses them must pay a fee. So what natural right to make law are you resting this idea upon? If resources are not anyone's to use as they see fit, how do you come by authority? What is the basic underpinning of power? Isn't my power and authority just as organic as yours? Why should I accept your rules? The more I read about this basic income idea the more it appears to be nothing other than rehashed socialism. Power and authority exerted by an elite over the masses. The result has always been failure. Socialism kills the human spirit in its clumsy attempt to force altruistic behavior.

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Redistributing the proceeds from 'crime' (theft) isn't theft. It's far more just than the initial theft. And see my reply to you below addressing the claim that this is socialism.

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I couldn't disagree more. A car dealership selling stolen cars is aiding and abetting the car thieves. Even if they claim to have the lowest price in town enabling people who otherwise couldn't afford a car to buy one, they are still distributing property taken from others illegally, without their consent. Redistributing the proceeds of a crime is criminal.

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It's not aiding and abetting the original crime. Removing the proceeds of crime from people is a disincentive to commit that particular crime. If someone goes around and steals the car stereos from everyone in a suburb, and then we take those stereos and give them back to the people, that's clearly not aiding and abetting the stealing of car stereos. And it's clearly a more just action than the original theft.

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The original crime in the case of your UBI plan is property ownership. Owning things, that is the original crime. And your plan is to steal what people own and give it to other people and call it "just." I get it.

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Return the stolen loot back to the victim, instead of patting them on the back and asking for more..

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Exactly.

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Even if it's not, you are advocating More theft in order to have more funds to distribute. .

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You're right, not it's not a good argument. But that doesn't matter to them, they just want free money!

As Proudhon remarked - "Property is theft".

I think the world needs a universal education as well stop teaching people without exposing them to all sides

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Open it up to the marketplace. The goverment cannot provide anything universally, as they keep proving.

@scottsantens got you a $0.65 @minnowbooster upgoat, nice!
@scottsantens got you a $0.65 @minnowbooster upgoat, nice! (Image: pixabay.com)


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Here's a good article breaking down some of the numbers. There are articles discussing basic income on ZeroHedge.com with both pro and con leanings. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-11/flaws-basic-income-everyone

Another good write up about where the concept fails. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-17/dangers-universal-basic-income

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And fail it will!

What a load of bs.

If you don't believe in property rights, please post your Steemit log in information, so we can fairly tax you as a community; it is not fair to keep your resources from others..