Translating libertarian critique of charity to UBI critique of forced labor under capitalism

in #politicslast year (edited)

I just found Bryan Caplan's view on universal basic income (UBI) from a libertarian point of view. He mentions the following critiques from a radical libertarian point of view to large welfare state policies financed by mandatory taxes:

  1. Forced charity is unjust. Individuals have a moral right to decide if and when they want to help others.
  2. Forced charity is unnecessary. In a free market, voluntary donations are enough to provide for the truly poor.
  3. Forced charity gives recipients bad incentives. If the government takes care of you, you’re less likely to take care of yourself by work and saving.
  4. The cost of forced charity is high and growing rapidly, leading to a future of exhorbitant taxes or financial crisis.

This view makes a lot of sense and does bring up problems that come with welfare social programs. Bad incentives, financial stability, free market apology, and indvidual freedom. These are pretty solid arguments against welfare. However, as always, this libertarian discourse is ignoring any critiques of capitalism and the unjust origins of the statu quo.

So I thought about UBI's value proposal and from my leftie point of view, I have made a counterpoint to these arguments. By leftie point of view, I mean I am focusing on capitalism critique. So I think the main value that would com from a UBI project would be helping unemployed and unemployable people not be forced to accept shitty jobs. Thgerefor I want to make an analogy of those 4 points but instead of focusing on focerd charity, I want to focus in forced labor:

  1. Forced labor is unjust. Individuals have a moral right to decide if and when they want to help other people with their workforce. An UBI would erradicate forced labor since people would not longer have to be forced to accept bad jobs to be able to eat. By having a guaranteed income, they may engage in activities voluntarily to help other people based on individual interest.

  2. Forced labor is unnecessary. In a free labor market, voluntarily accepting a job due to individual interest and individual profit is enough to make it possible to develop projects that are valuable for society and individuals. In a truly free labor market, people would not ever take on shitty jobs, unless they are payed a lot of money and someone accepts to perform undesirable activities just for the ca$h. In a free labor market, people would more easily accept jobs that they truly like, and maybe those likeable jobs would pay less, but people would at least be happy. So shitty jobs of companies with no social value, would disappear, in theory (that's my assumption) and likeable jobs, with perhaps low pay but great social and individual value, would emerge.

  3. Forced labor gives employers bad incentives. If survival conditions drive people to work on capitalists projects that don't match their personal interests and don't provide a great monetary compensation (i.e. shitty jobs), capitalists are not motivated to finance projects that produce valuable outputs for society and there is always the motivation to engage in activities driven by capital accumulation. In the current setting, capital accumulation is a ubiquous motivation for business and this is enabled by labor from people in survival conditions. Currently, social value is not a mandatory motivation for doing business, you may indulge a minority of rich people and have a succesful business even though that is an autocratic outcome.

  4. The cost of forced labor for capitalists is low, while the profit they can achieve can become exhorbitant and produce large inequalities that translate to moral crises in society and financial instability for those that are forced to work due to survival living conditions. Large inequality produces a moral crisis that has already been seen in the french revolution. While rich people spends lots of money on activities with no social value, other people is forced to sell their work force to be able to afford food. This may not be unjust from a frivolous capitalist point of view, but many people does see this as a very negative situation. Forced labor produces inequality because low wages make great profits for capitalists.

So, would you agree that forced labor is as bad as forced charity? I guess it depends a lot on your political inclinations. If you are a libertarian, of course, UBI will still sound as a very bad idea and you may see forced labor under capitalism as an acceptable situation or you may even neglect that any labor is forced under capitalism (people is free to starve to death if they don't want to take on shitty jobs). If you are a socialist/communist/left-wing then you may agree that forced labor under capitalism and making large profits from low wages is a very bad situation and UBI may actually be a good alternative.

So to keep on exploiting Caplan's hypothetical arguments I want to also make an analogy (I am not trolling him, I actually appreciate a lot his thoughtful texts on behavioral economics) replacing forced charity to poverty, repeating a bit what I have already mentioned above:

  1. Poverty is unjust. Individuals have a moral right not only to eat, have a roof over their heads, or other basic things, but also to participate as economic actors, paying to providers to receive goods and services, thus democratizing the economy and distributing power so everyone can freely engage in free markets and exchange individual and social values.
  2. Poverty is unnecessary. Basic necessities can be supplied with the current production of goods and services. Poverty produces forced labor, but forced labor due to poverty conditions is also not necessary. Some businesses may die if they are not able to pay low wages for bad jobs, but, again, those businesses are not necessary.
  3. Poverty gives rich and poor people bad incentives. The rich sometimes embark in thoughtless charity projects that do not engage in systematic changes that would truly erradicate poverty. This is because the rich are usually not motivated to erradicate poverty but just to provide some superficial help, perhaps from guilt or social pressure (very bad incentives). The poor are more motivated to survive (they are actually forced to survive) and thus miss on many human activities such as exercise, laissure, arts, socialization or actual voluntary work. The survival situation stresses poor people and produces mental and physical health issues, which produce more bad incentives (someone with mental disorders won't have rational incentives to do things).
  4. The cost of poverty is high and growing rapidly, leading to a future of exhorbitant moral burden and a constant financial crisis for the poor. The cost of poverty is not only reflected on government budgets & spending, but also in criminal activities, unhappiness, social crisis, inmigration and conflicts due to inmigration, left-wing propaganda driven by victimism and the right-wing backslash usually accompanied by fascist political views.

So, if taxes are unjust, but poverty and forced labor is also unjust, what should we do?


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