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Opponents and Obstacles to Basic Income: The Poor


First, the poor adhere to the values of the society that exploits them. The Basic Income is an affront to their dignity.


Second, the poor are an inescapable and useful obstacle. To free them of their misery would be to eliminate the scarecrow that frightens others, and to reward sin.


Thirdly, the sense of charity evoked by the poor perversely leads to a paternalistic and infantilizing attitude, the very opposite of the raison d'être of the Basic Income: freedom and opportunity for all.


How the poor see themselves



He who suffers most from the injustices of society is the first to defend it. The poor firmly believe, despite the evidence around them, that effort and merit are always rewarded. This is the message conveyed as "the obvious" in popular culture and hammered home by governments who find it to their advantage. The corollary is that one is personally responsible for one' s failure.


Basic Income is an affront to the values of the poor. They cling to the illusion that the rich have earned their success through fair competition. Although it is extremely rare for the poor to make the leap to prosperity, they still hope that tomorrow will be their turn, and that they will be able to boast that luck had nothing to do with it.


The idea of distributing, out of solidarity, a Basic Income that would allow people to live with dignity is horrifying. Depriving them of their undeserved punishment prevents them from deluding themselves with pipe dreams. According to Félix Leclerc, paying him for doing nothing is, among the 100,000 ways to kill a man, the most efficient.


Yet, nothing made me feel poor like going to a food bank. From the registration, the waiting and the hasty choice among products rejected by others, everything is humiliation. Despite the good will of the volunteers, the service turns into abuse. A slow death - inefficient?



How do we see the poor


The welfare recipient raises many emotions. We hate the poor for the image they give us of failure. They impose a burden on us and send us a warning. From the depth of the mirror, they are in tatters and warn us: "This is what awaits you if you made a mistake".


When I said that at 62 I was unemployable, the then Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity replied: " One would have to see the choices you have made in life."


The poor are the ones we must help, being careful not to help them too much. If we help the slackers too much, we encourage laziness. Everybody believes this. The poor also believe it. This is the message that the government repeats over and over again.


" If you don't work, you don't eat" 2 Thessalonians 3:10



How can we see ourselves because of the poor


True Story: We explain Basic Income to a community worker. Suddenly she understands and exclaims, "You're going to steal my poor!"


I myself heard a feminist academic complain that Basic Income would eliminate bureaucracy. "These are good jobs that are mostly held by women. What do you have against women, sir?"


These reactions only make sense in a context where poverty is inevitable rather than a human invention. What underlies these reactions are feelings like, "They need help." Or my favorite: "Poverty is not just about money." So you give generously: every kind of help - except money.


Why give money to the poor, they won't know how to use it. You only have to look at them to convince yourself of this.


It is a problem to be managed rather than an injustice to be corrected.


The poor do not reflect a flattering image of ourselves. We would like to be that admirable, compassionate and generous caregiver. But we imagine the poor person blowing their Basic Income on beer to numb their misery. No, it is much less risky to give your money to a charitable organization. Good and smiling people administer our donations. People who are comfortable and clean, who we would like to resemble and who we can be trusted to ensure that the poor are responsible and that they are not spoiled by too many resources.


It is contempt with a clear conscience.



Defeating the opponent and overcoming the obstacle


Any association of poverty with the Basic Income is a dead end. It is counterproductive. The system itself is a hodgepodge of immoral absurdities from which nothing good can come.


The poor themselves contribute fully to perpetuating the crimes committed against them. They share the prejudices of society. The poverty industry, which takes its permanence for granted, rebuffs the threat of Basic Income. Unions also see it as a threat to employment, which they refuse to consider as a form of slavery.


My conclusion is that the whole issue of the poor is a snake's nest of contradictions and confusion. He who aspires to a Basic Income should stay clear of it. In the words of Bernard Friot: "A revolutionary project can never proceed from support for the poor!"