This is an idea with transformative potential. Paying everyone a basic income eliminates the stigma of welfare, lowers crime rates and incarceration rates and birth rates and drug pushing. What’s not to love? Mainstream business news feeds are praising the idea!
Paying every citizen of a country the same amount of money in lieu of most or all social benefits is a tempting idea. Leftists like it because, theoretically, it eliminates abject poverty. Techie utopians see it as a solution to the displacement of humans by machines. Intellectuals appreciate state support for creative endeavors with an unclear commercial potential. Libertarians see an opportunity to shrink government: The enormous social services apparatus could be eliminated and legislation vastly simplified.
A test group of 2,000 unemployment-benefits recipients will be randomly selected. They will be paid 560 euros ($623) per month, and will still have access to the in-kind benefits to which they are entitled. The experiment will be mandatory: If you’ve been selected, you’ll get the money whether you want it or not. For two years, the group’s life choices and outcomes will be compared with the experiences of another randomly selected 2,000 unemployed, to whom current rules will apply.
In the present capitalist system, many people are trapped in jobs they don’t like. This is a system that offers freedom so that people can do the work they want to do, whether it pays or not. Eventually, this must become a reality, because it is cheaper and far better than the social welfare patchwork that we now have. When it does, capitalism will lose its teeth, and people will be free to take what is best of the free enterprise system, without becoming its victims. –JJM