In his Harvard commencement speech, Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg re-introduced the mother of all redistribution ideas, we like to call MOAR, the Universal Basic Income or UBI.
“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things,” the billionaire said at his commencement speech to Harvard graduates on Thursday (25 May).
The idea of a universal basic income is where the U.S. government unconditionally pays all citizens a small amount of money to cover basic needs.
Zuckerberg had a family to support him as he tried out his ideas and he sees the government in that role for those not as fortunate.
Capitalism made Zuckerberg the fifth wealthiest man in the world and now he wants to change it. In his generosity, he would like to take everyone’s money and redistribute it, no matter how unproductive the recipient.
If everyone gets an unearned pittance, how does that do anything but change the amount of money everyone starts out with from “zero” to “$5,000” or whatever tiny sum it would amount to? In this scenario, $5,000 becomes the new zero. If we all get this sum, we are still nowhere. It won’t work so then the government has to pick winners and losers, so some get more than others.
An old idea, it was first bandied about by Thomas Paine and Thomas Spence in the latter part of the 1700s when welfare didn’t exist but paupers’ prisons did.
Paine suggested a small amount for the young, the aged and the infirm, with nothing for the 15-50 year olds. Everyone would pay taxes from the day they are born. Spence looked upon it differently and more “generously” as a “right” owed to every member of the collective society.
As workers are replaced by robots and there is less employment, the redistributionists believe it will become a necessity. That hasn’t happened yet and it won’t be easy convincing people it will.
Others see it as a way to solve the problem of poverty once and for all.
Supporters of the concept believe it will increase workers’ bargaining power and provide a reliable safety net to replace massive amounts of government entitlement programs. They are talking of $5,000 to $30,000 per annum.
Once this becomes an “entitlement”, it also becomes a “right” of man to other peoples’ money with the corrupt government in charge of collecting and delegating, picking who will get the prize and who will not. Politics will of necessity become integral to the selection.
Those opposed say that given our taxes and GDP, it’s impractical. Even if it were possible to cut welfare spending and Social Security to redistribute to a UBI, it would only give everyone $5,000 per year, hardly a “living wage”. It would be an invitation to foreigners coming only for the benefits, not the values of rugged individualism, personal responsibility, and good work ethic we once espoused.
It encourages more of the bad work ethic we see coming out of welfare programs. As people become lazier because the incentive to work is gone, the numbers of poor increase.
What UBI as a right ignores is that one group of people chosen by an all-powerful state is not entitled to the fruits of other peoples’ labors though collectivists would disagree.
Economist and Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon supports the UBI or citizens’ income on the idea that it is an individual entitlement as an external to production. The way he sees it, any individual’s output depends on the social capital (social knowledge and social institutions) that made it all possible. Social capital must be regarded as jointly owned by members of the whole society, even those who do nothing to contribute.
No less than 90% of the U.S. output is defined by him as social capital, therefore, a flat tax of 70% would be fair to meet the governments “needs” and pay every citizen $8,000 a year.
This is a variation of “you didn’t build that” and many of the other ideas put forth by Barack Obama and espoused by 19th century philosophers including Karl Marx and implemented by communists, socialists and now globalists worth $56 billion like Mark Zuckerberg. It is the idea of the collective that puts government in charge of huge sums of our money.
Certainly, the lazy among us would spend their time marching and screaming for more.
Finland has experimented with it for the unemployed 25-58 year olds. The recipients can receive it and work. Finland has a population of only 5.4 million people, not in any way comparable to the U.S. The Netherlands, with its 16 million people, is also trying it out in small pilot projects. In The Netherlands, they tax people for their driveways and then tax them again for putting their cars on them.
Switzerland roundly rejected the idea. They decided to keep their Capitalism.
During his speech, he told the graduates to embrace globalism, “a sense of purpose”. He called for building a connected world “where every single person has a sense of purpose.”
“There is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in 10 years while millions of students can’t even afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business,” he said.
There is something wrong and it is this: while all men are entitled to equal opportunity, all men are not equal and can’t be Mark Zuckerberg. There will always be someone handsomer, smarter, more talented, more blessed and the Marxists among us can’t fix that.
Pushing the good and bad of climate change, charity, volunteering, education and universal basic income, the billionaire CEO of Facebook championed globalism and called fighting authoritarianism and nationalism “the struggle of our time.”
How he thinks globalism isn’t the ultimate authoritarianism is hard to figure.