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  • Pierre Madden

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Common misconceptions
Translated from the original Dutch by Pierre Madden

Click on the links to see the full text of the objection

  1. Basic income is a utopian dream or a fantasy

  2. Basic income is hype or a cult

  3. Basic income means free money and that is not possible

  4. Basic income is a new and still premature idea

  5. Basic income is a new label for the same old social security system

  6. Basic income is unaffordable or antisocial

 

1.Utopian dream or a fantasy

Explanation

 

Basic income is a wonderful idea that fits into an ideal world without bad people and with sufficient resources to satisfy everyone. A fantastic idea that can only be done in a utopia. Utopias are not possible!

Refutation

 

A common technique to shoot down an idea is to first exaggerate it and then to say that, of course, it will never work. For example, by stating that for a really good basic income in today's society, everyone must receive at least € 2,000 net per month, including children, prisoners and everyone who crosses the border.


The solution is to reduce the idea to realistic proportions and, if necessary, to consider a step-by-step introduction.

The state pension is a utopian idea in almost all countries, but it has proved its worth in our country for 60 years. It is not inconceivable that this could be extended to all inhabitants.


It should also be noted that in our country (almost) everyone has, in one way or another, sufficient income for an existence that would be considered luxurious in many countries.


This income is currently distributed through a highly complex system: social benefits, collective agreements, paid orders, tax rebates, investment profits, pensions, inheritances, gifts. 


If this can be done in this complex way, it should certainly be achieved by means of a simple system such as Basic Income.
 

2. Basic income is hype or a cult 

 

Explanation

 

Basic income is an idea that is popular now, and will disappear when the labour market picks up again, for example, or when the government provides a good job for everyone.

There is only a small group of sillies who believe in it.

Refutation:

While it is true that interest in basic income is cyclical, the trend is for the idea to re-emerge with greater momentum. This is particularly true as other means of tackling important social problems such as inequality, welfare, humiliating bureaucracy and lack of freedom have so far been unsuccessful.


The suggestion that it is a fad that is changing again has no historical basis. Well-known people who have seriously thought about basic income include Thomas More, Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, Richard Nixon, Milton Friedmann, Saar Berlage, Gerrit Zalm, Martin Luther King and Mark Zuckerberg.


In short, the idea is not at all new. Interest in the subject has its ups and downs, and at the moment there does seem to be an upsurge.

Supporters of basic income can be found in a variety of social and political movements, from the poor to the rich and from the left to the right. There are also major differences of opinion among supporters about the way in which, and the pace at which, basic income should be introduced.


If one could already see the supporters as a group, this one looks in no way like a closed sect or a cult.

 

3. Basic income means free money, and that is not possible.

Explanation

Receiving income without having to do anything is not possible, nor is it fair.

 

Refutation 1

 

Existence can be regarded as a human right, and a basic income is an excellent instrument for this. 

Basic income is then a share of what the earth and the efforts of the generations have built up for us. It is not acceptable that only a few should have access to the earth, it is for all of us, and the construction of our community is achieved by many hands.

In practice, we act accordingly. Otherwise, many existing sources of income will have to be addressed: returns on investments, interest, gifts, inheritances, gains on the sale of assets, state pension, benefits, etc.

By the way, working is a relative concept. On closer inspection, a great deal of paid work has little or no added value, such as unnecessary bureaucracy, useless services and harmful products.

On the other hand, there is a lot of high-added-value work for which nothing is paid, such as informal care, voluntary work, raising children.

Refutation 2

The fact that free money does not exist is nonsense. Banks constantly create and destroy money all by themselves. The European Central Bank pumps 80 billion euros out of nowhere into the economy every month.

Why not change the financial and economic design a little by allowing the creation of money  everyone, not just the few?

4. Basic income a new and premature idea

Explanation 

Basic income is a new and as yet ill-considered idea. There are still some questions to be answered.

Refutation 

The concept is not new: we already find some thoughts about it in Thomas More, 5 centuries ago!


The advantages and disadvantages have been discussed for decades in various countries and also in several places in the world experiments are being carried out that give indications about the effects of basic income.

 

As early as 1985, the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) issued a detailed recommendation for a partial basic income. In Canada (the town of Dauphin), a basic income was implemented at the local level as early as the 1970s, and this proved to work reasonably well. Basic income experiments have been successful in several developing countries. It is not as premature as that.

 

Nevertheless, national implementation in a developed country is no easy task. That is why it makes sense to carry out thorough research in this area.
 

5. Basic income is a different form of social security

 
 
 

Explanation


If you have enough money, you can easily spend it on things you like, so many will not be able to resist the temptation to invest their money in short-term happiness through drinks and drugs.

 

Refutation

It is precisely the packaging that is important in this case. The current social security system can be seen as a major poverty trap, making it difficult to find meaningful employment. It is therefore not only paid work that is difficult to find. Even volunteering is hampered by the current rules. A basic income will make it much easier to do meaningful work.

Basic income is much more. It is not a safety net such as social security tries to provide, it is a solid bottom from which you can operate as an employee, entrepreneur or volunteer, without the risk that your livelihood will be compromised if things go wrong. This applies to everyone, not just to those affected by the current social security system.

6. Basic income is unaffordable or antisocial

Explanation


By introducing a Basic Income, it is no longer necessary for both partners to seek paid employment. It is then obvious that the old patterns will resurface and that the woman will take on the family chores.

Refutation

This reasoning contains at least three misunderstandings:

  • A sensible combination of a modest basic income and additional services for a limited group of people is not possible.

  • Basic income can only be financed by increasing the tax on paid labour. Other forms of tax collection (or even creation of money) do not exist

  • Basic income only costs money. There are no revenues to compensate for this.

 

Once these misunderstandings have been acknowledged, we can seriously debate a possible compromises.

Why should a compromise between these extremes not be found? Rough calculations that have already been made show that this is possible. That should be sufficient reason to start investigating this more thoroughly. 


If basic income were to be paid from income tax alone, such a compromise would not be easy to find. Several other sources are conceivable: cuts in unnecessary policies, fairer taxation of large companies and investors, taxation of consumption related to environmental damage, savings in social costs (such as less absenteeism due to illness, less crime, lower healthcare costs), higher labour participation, more (meaningful) economic growth