“Guaranteed” Basic Income is “Feel Good” Socialism at Its Worst


EspañolThe latest big trend in socialist stupidity is the idea of “guaranteed basic income.” Here’s how it’s supposed to work: the government pays you and every citizen a basic income every month, whether you work or not. The money to pay for this system is generated through taxation.

Switzerland is considering such a proposal, to go to a referendum this year, which would give every adult citizen about US$2,800 per month.* Again, this proposal would have be paid for by taxpayers, and a guaranteed basic income is about as “feel good” socialism as you can get.

There is only one problem: it won’t work for very long.

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Governments rarely write laws based on actual human nature. Laws are enacted for only a handful of reasons, and, unfortunately, almost all of them are bad. Political agendas are one reason, another is when they are paid for through campaign contributions, and the third is simply reactionary — an event occurs and the government responds.

For example, in Puerto Rico, then mayor of San Juan, Sila Calderon, asked her city council to pass a ban on bungee jumping within city limits after a single incident led to a person’s death. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people had bungee jumped during carnivals in San Juan prior to that event and no one had ever been killed doing so. Yet, to make it look as though her government was doing something, she quickly moved to ban the practice, thereby punishing everyone over one simple accident. That is a perfect example of a reactionary law, but I digress.

Guaranteed basic income falls into the category of agenda-based legislation. It is intended to bring about socialism. If you could make a few thousand dollars per month without actually having to work, assuming you were healthy, what would you do? Perhaps many of the readers of this blog would still choose to work. However, in the community at large that would not and is not the case.

swiss basic income
Basic income demonstration in front of the Federal Square, Switzerland. Source: Stefan Bohrer.

Human nature would kick in over a short period of time, and increasingly more people would opt not to work and simply live off the system. This is happening now in the United States with segments of the population living off the myriad of government programs. After trillions of dollars have been spent to help the poor, the United States has not made a significant dent in poverty. Instead, the numbers only appear to keep growing.

So if fewer people are working over time, tax revenue goes down, making it increasingly more difficult to pay the guaranteed income. This process would create mass dependency on a scale not seen in modern times. Eventually taxes would need to be raised to make up the short fall, since cutting government spending — or so-called “austerity” — is an unpopular choice, especially within the dependent class, and is the last thing ever considered.

Those who still work would keep less of their money, as more taxes are taken to pay for those who not work. Eventually, many will likely get so frustrated by this that they too will opt not to work, thus lowering the size of the tax base and revenue even more.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher perhaps said it best, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Then what? Suddenly, you face an impossible crisis. No one is working, everyone is dependent, and there are no political means to fix it. Unless, you suddenly “do a 180°” and decide everyone must work, and that business must be controlled in order to guarantee income goes to individual people and not to business. Congratulations, comrade, you’ve just arrived at communism.

It is extremely important that those of us who see what is happening speak up and challenge those proposing such madness directly. If we do not, we will lose this fight and end up living in Soviet-style states of terror.

Editor’s note: we have corrected an error regarding the Swiss referendum on the matter. Contrary to the original version of this article, it has yet to take place.

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