UBI Part III: Alternatives


Kris Morgan   September 21, 2017

Universal Basic Income (UBI) comes with high costs.  Economically, it will inhibit growth by placing a tax burden on production, making it more difficult to start new businesses and for small ones to compete.  Taxation also detracts from funds which could be used for reinvestment.  Monetizing more debt would put heavier pressure on our already weak dollar, as well as cause malinvestments.  Our government is not only 20 trillion dollars in debt, but it presently holds over 127 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, in addition to wartime spending.  If we do not reject the UBI on our own terms, basic economics will force the issue.  That does not mean we must embark on the future without a plan.

Fortunately, plenty of economic reforms have been presented which are worthy of support.  Regulations that do not directly protect the property rights of others can be discarded.  Overtime rules, wage floors, truth in advertising, licensing requirements, and others restrict market forces from allocating resources to meet demand efficiently.  For example, the operant assumption in truth in advertising is that a particular business has engaged in false advertising, until proven otherwise.  By pushing back harmful regulations, we give ourselves a fighting chance to build.  It is unwise to face an uncertain future with our hands tied.  

Support for UBI indicates people have empathy for those who are unable to adequately adapt.  UBI is a means of expressing this feeling.  The alternative to government power is the conduit of civil society.  Entrepreneurs could market goods and services as products which support jobs.  Consumers can use purchasing power to reinforce such ventures, and philanthropists could fill in the remaining vacuum.  

UBI has brought attention to significant defects in our education system.  Its original intent may have been to create a labor force suitable for factory work, rather than enlightened critical thinkers.  In 1903, when John D. Rockefeller founded the General Education Board, his advisor Frederick Gates informed “…We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning of science. We are not to raise among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters.  We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians…”  

This design was confirmed in 1990 by New York Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto, who said the following during his acceptance speech: “…Schools are intended to produce through the application of formulae, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.  To a very great extent, schools succeed in doing this. But our society is disintegrating, and in such a society, the only successful people are self-reliant, confident, and individualistic…”  

Education to induce conformity may have worked in the past, but it will not suffice any longer.  According to careerfaqs.com, the skills needed in the future include cognitive flexibility, creativity, critical thinking, and complex problem solving, among a few others. We should be pressuring our local school boards to focus on building skill sets, such as these, which are projected for future success.

As parents, we should not leave the task entirely to school.  Computer competence can be taught in our homes.  By teaching our kids a programming language, we could give them a head start in facing the future with a marketable skill.  If need be, we could find someone to act as a tutor.  

It is clear that the areas which need the most reform are our economy and our education system.  Our children must be able to exercise their creative muscles, and it is fundamental they be economically free to adapt.  Anyone supporting the idea of UBI without considering our weak financial position should consider what is addressed in this article.  It is not a question of whether we will have to take responsibility for ourselves, it is whether a severe economic crash will be the cause.


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