Revolution Insurance

in Deep Diveslast year

Just imagine getting $1000.00 each month for free from the government, no strings attached. Sounds good, doesn't it? This monthly "free money" is called a Universal Basic Income, or UBI. To make the idea even more attractive, Andrew Yang dubbed it the "Freedom Dividend". Read on to understand why a better name would be the "Status Quo Dividend", "Revolution Insurance", or the "Proletariat Bribe".


Freedom_Dividend_small.jpg
source: Wikimedia Commons

The problem with UBI can be summarized in a sentence; it keeps intact capitalism's innate economical injustices, it doesn't do away with its built in class division. And this is a big problem as it is, but will become an even bigger problem when most human labor is automated in the future; I'll get back to that. Let's first examine why Yang's Freedom Dividend is so popular, not only with his online supporter base but all kinds of people on the political left and right. To begin with, UBI itself isn't a means-tested program which makes it truly Universal and makes it so that you keep 100% of the income you earn from any job. Welfare programs usually are means-tested, which means that any income you earn with a job is subtracted from whatever the state gives you. Say you get $500 each month from the state and you find a part time job that earns you $400 a month, you still have $500 to spend per month. If, in that scenario, your job earns you $600, you wouldn't get anything from the state anymore, which means working the job only nets you $100, a proposition most people will refuse if at all possible. With UBI you'd get to keep every dollar you earn, on top of the monthly free money; it always pays to get a job in this system. And the fact that it's truly universal, which means even billionaires would get the $1000 freedom dividend, has the important psychological and moral effect of every universal program: it cultivates a sense of true unity among the people of all classes.

But... Even though UBI itself isn't means-tested, it will have an effect on all other social welfare programs that usually are means-tested. Under Yang's plan you'd have to choose; keep your current benefits or take the $1000 a month Freedom Dividend. Yang said that his plan would replace many of the existing welfare programs; it would make poor people responsible for their own monthly expenditures, and it would remove the need for most of the bureaucrats who's job it is to try to "motivate" the unemployed to accept any shitty job that comes along. Yang phrases this like: "people would rather have cash than have the government take care of them". This is a problem. Not to speak badly about the poor among us, but it's a well known fact that people who don't have money are of course not so good at managing money; they've never had the money to manage to begin with. Also the lower classes are much more likely to make unhealthy lifestyle choices, some of them economically induced like eating cheap unhealthy food. The biggest and central problem however is that a UBI doesn't solve the problem that Yang himself supposedly tries to solve.

Yang's rightfully concerned with the coming waves of automation that will eventually erase most jobs; in a future where most people won't be able to find a job, it's necessary to provide the people with a base-income so they can keep their homes and not starve to death. And there's the reason why a UBI has nothing to do with economic justice or economic freedom, even if Yang's website says that "the Freedom Dividend would provide money to cover the basics for Americans while enabling us to look for a better job, start our own business, go back to school, take care of our loved ones or work towards our next opportunity". Yeah, it sure sounds great. That is until we do a Marxist analysis on the whole deal. What we have now is a neoliberal capitalist society in which we have two classes: the ones who make money through ownership of capital (landlords, factory owners and major shareholders), the bourgeoisie or capitalists, and the ones who make money through labor, the proletariat or working class. These two groups have conflicting interests; your boss will always pay you the minimal amount of wages he can get away with, while you want your wage to be as high as possible, likewise landlords will want property values to be as high as possible, to make more profits, while tenants want property values to be as low as possible, so they can afford the rent. If there's one thing I wish people would be more aware of, it's that their boss is not their friend, not someone to suck-up to but someone to fight against, and that to do so they need unity among their ranks...

This is capitalism's problem, and everyone with even the most basic understanding of Marx's writings knows that. With Yang's plan, or any other UBI, this problem will not go away. Imagine a future where the capitalists own all the machines that do all the work; productivity will soar and wages are a thing of the past as everyone now gets Yang's "Freedom" Dividend, just enough to maintain their status as an obedient consumer and not die. The gap between rich and poor will become astronomical, even more so than it is already. We'll all be thrown at the mercy of the capitalists, who are understandably very much in favor of a UBI. Yang explains the real purpose of his plan as follows:

"Really, the universal basic income is necessary for the continuation of capitalism through the wave of automation and worker displacement. Markets need consumers to sell things to. UBI is capitalism with a floor that people cannot fall beneath."

And to be perfectly clear, the same goes for income redistribution through progressive taxation; social democracy as proposed by Bernie Sanders and effectuated Franklin Delano Roosevelt also don't solve the problem of economical injustice. Only the true socialist proposition will cure the ails of the class struggle; in a future where the machines are owned by the workers who produced those machines is the only just future and the only future where civil class war can be avoided. It's that, or the dystopian world described in so many science fiction narratives. UBI could work for now, as a temporary solution to soften the effects of the current pandemic and any other future economic disruptions. But it should be fought tooth and nail as a permanent "solution" to unemployment.


Why UBI Isn't Progressive


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Classism existed long before capitalism and it won't be any different from classism under ussr rule.

I like classism, assuming it includes local governments.

I too like Inherent Division among people in the world as long as it includes everybody.

What does that mean, as in private property rights?

It's the ultimate Right Vs Wrong moral dilemma, rights don't mean shit all. What happens when the poor eat the rich or the rich eat the poor? Does it matter if it's "consensual", dickhead?

#cognitive-bias-FirstWorldProblems

I believe in rights and I believe in free markets. I do not believe in equality. I believe that you should have the freedom to do what you want to do. I do not want to put you in jail.

What's your problem with Equality. Out of all the things NOT to believe in, you chose Equality. You don't believe in Equal Justice for all, because how can you have Equal Justice without Equal, hence you don't believe in rights as without Equality what are rights, and the same for free markets, you don't believe in free markets because you cannot have freedom without Equality, without a blatant recognition of what is In-Alienable, what is the ultimate Equality. You believe in inherent division, favoritism , so what the fuck do you need rights when rights have absolutely nothing to do with that, or the free market. Gosh forbid that Education is funded by taxation, that Health and Housing is also funded through taxation.

This is you:

Instead of focusing on the ever increasing divide between the have's and have not's and brainstorm possible fixes, let me tell you about some bloviated nonsense like what I think I believe in, enter Free Markets and Rights, but exit Equality, that should demonstrate how retarded I truly am

Justice should be objective and universal from God Himself, from his ruling. Without God, things can become too relative and subjective. The term of equality has been co-op and weaponized by the radical left to mean communism which is what I'm really against. They're always changing the definition to words. If you want a big house, you got to work hard to get it. But some have a lot and some have a little. Equality of opportunities can be good but welfare has damaged African Americans in the USA in the 1900's to ruin the roaring not 1920's but the roaring 1890's.

That's 100% true @baah :-) And we'll never get rid of all hierarchies; even in socialism there are still leaders and followers, that's just how we tick. But class, that is hierarchy grounded on material wealth with large gaps between them, that we can solve. We'll have to.

We'll have to.

Some say we have a problem of ever increasing efficiency of machines and their obvious continued impact on the vulnerable resource "hierarchy", but others say that's not the problem, but the distribution of resources, the hierarchy itself, which is what you seem to think. It seems you see a problem of ever increasing division based on wealth and you see it lead to the poor eating the rich and vice versa;

UBI could work for now, as a temporary solution to soften the effects of the current pandemic and any other future economic disruptions. But it should be fought tooth and nail as a permanent "solution" to unemployment.

The reality, UBI has been tried, tested in numerous communities. You seem to think that ubi hasn't been tried, hasn't been studied for over half a century. Poverty isn't around because "workers don't own the machines" and if you were to define Capitalists in your "future where workers own the machines because they made them" it would be the people who own the minerals and raw material because they Own It, and not necessarily those that extract it, and obviously

the ones who make money through ownership of capital

vs

the ones who make money through labor

Which will obviously be The Workers who Boss the Machines, the few that "own machines because they made them, because" which can only exist in a utopia where the resources for making machines and incentives to do so are entirely intrinsic to such a reality, where machine parts just manifest for workers to assemble, or that resources for machine parts just manifest and that workers just yearn to turn them into machine parts, and society is based entirely around machines.

How many workers do you think Make Machines for someone else?

How many of those workers could Live because they own whatever machine they made?

It doesn't matter, because we aren't part of such a reality. In our reality, one machine displaces thousands of workers as will ever increasing efficiency continue to do so, and nobody is "entitled" to own something simply because they assemble it. It seems, getting paid for making machines doesn't cut it, you're entitled to the machines themselves, heck, fuck private property, those capitalists don't have to work, exactly like the future where machines are assembled by workers that own them, who don't work, but build machines as a hobby..

The reality, UBI has been tried, tested in numerous communities.

I know.

You seem to think that ubi hasn't been tried, hasn't been studied for over half a century.

No, I don't.

It doesn't matter, because we aren't part of such a reality.

That's obvious.

It seems, getting paid for making machines doesn't cut it

Of course not.

...fuck private property...

Indeed.

Workers do more than just "make machines". I really don't know what you're trying to say; you make no sense at all. It's not so hard a point this post makes: as long as the means of production, whatever they may be, are in the hands of a few individuals, the underlying problems that caused the circumstances under which a UBI seems like a reasonable solution will not be solved and the gap between rich and poor will grow.

A few things that come to mind reading this.

  • What would give the inflation value over time as it grows, that would keep it from eroding the spending power of the recipients? We already see this issue under the current capitalist models that benefit the bankers and their constituents. I get that an asset based currency lacks necessary elasticity for economic growth, so where is the solution?

  • I read years ago a response to extremely rich folks on the left complaining about low taxes for the rich. It was along the lines of no one is stopping them from adding zeros onto their taxes, or stopping them from being more charitable. The truth this seems to expose is that it's not in most wealthy peoples hearts to be charitable except for virtue signaling and to toss some crumbs. It has me wondering what would protect those on the basic income from having schemes developed to defray the value of their monthly stipend to force them back into working for the wealth holders dreams? Man's capacity and desire to multiply their own wealth at the expense of their neighbors seems to be the stories of history, and not sure how this idea would be immune to this dynamic.

  • Some of those on the basic income would be jealous and hateful towards those who apply themselves for more, coveting what they have as they insist the results of the extra expenditure of energy and talent were unfair.

It seems there is an unfairness from both sides of the class equation, and no matter how you would draw up distributions there would always be those unhappy with their share demanding more than what is probably fair.

Seems people will have their issues regardless of the system implemented.

Seems people will have their issues regardless of the system implemented.

Yes, indeed, people are people. And USB isn't a solution to the problems we're confronted with. But it's a world of difference if the overarching system is based on the creation and maintaining of two distinct classes or not. We're always in a feedback-loop: we influence the socioeconomic environment, which in turn influences us, and so on. We're now in a negative feedback-loop, spiraling down to ever more greed and ever more inequality. It'll be difficult, but we can break out of that loop.

Free money from the sky? But doesn't that come from taxes which means less money for the staff which means the employees pay indirectly for the free money that was already theirs in the first place, right? You want to be Robin Hood, steal from the poor via stealing from the rich to then give to the poor what the poor already had in the first place? That is a big circle.

You really don't understand, do you? Yang wants to finance his plan by cutting existing welfare programs and a VAT, which would indeed be paid largely by the middle- and lower classes because rich people spend a much smaller percentage of their income on groceries... That's why Yang's plan sucks and in the post I already explained why UBI will never solve the real problem of the ever growing income- and wealth gap. But if you use your imagination, we could also finance this and other income redistribution schemes by taxing the rich and their corporations. It's not that hard really.

You are describing socialism but by another name. Obama preached the same message or redistribution of wealth that you talk about. Obama preached Robinhoodism.