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  • Pierre Madden

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Social vision and ideology
Translated from the original Dutch by Pierre Madden

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

   19. The idea of a basic income goes in the direction of communism, and that is bad

   20. Basic income is a socialist idea, that cannot work

   21. It is a reprehensible neoliberal idea

   22. Basic income creates an undesirable class distribution in society or a strengthening of it

   23. Basic income increases the chance of ghetto formation

   24. Basic income increases the power of the state and makes citizens passive and dependent

   25. Basic income requires unjust redistribution and is actually just theft

   26. Basic income is a Trojan horse, as soon as it is introduced, massive savings on government spending will be realized

 

19. Basic income goes in the direction of communism

Explanation

 

The idea of a basic income goes in the direction of communism, and that is bad.

Refutation 1

This objection is very short-sighted

Communism in its ideal form is a worldview in which all possessions and the means to be able to live are easily shared with everyone. That idea is not a bad one, at best it is unrealistic.


It is possible that Communism worked in this way for the Cathars in the 13th century around the eastern Pyrenees, but we certainly do not know. The secular and spiritual rulers in the area virtually exterminated the Cathars and their ideas.


In recent history we have seen a number of Communist parties, which once came to power form and maintain a ruthless hierarchical elite, usually combined with attempts to fully plan the economy. The effect is a society that is very far removed from the ideal, that usually fails in its planning aspirations and that is rightly regarded by many as undesirable. 

Compared to the communist ideal (sharing everything), basic income is very modest: there is a foundation for all, and everyone is free to earn more. 


This basis can be seen as an implementation of the universal right to economic security under the UN Charter. Those who have a great deal of wealth or earn a great deal of money are not expected to do more than help to secure this social security. 
Basic income also gives the recipients freedom to decide for themselves what they do and is therefore closer to the free market than to central planning.
 

Refutation 2

 

On the other hand, others argue that basic income is a neoliberal idea, the latest ploy of capitalism to keep the masses at bay.

 

If an idea is depicted as reprehensible to the left as well as reprehensible to the right, it may be a good idea to resolve the contradictions.

 

 

20. Basic income is a socialist idea, that cannot work

 

Explanation

 

Socialism strives for unrealistic ideals that should and can be realised through the power of the state. It is clear, however, that governments are not capable of implementing this properly.

Refutation:

According to Wikepedia, socialism is a political form of society based on equality, social justice and solidarity, or the collective name for a variety of political and ideological currents striving for such a society.


Almost every socialist theory is based on strong government intervention to solve social and societal problems... The idea of a socially engineered society is central to socialism. 

In this line of reasoning, basic income does not go beyond the provision of social security for all, as a kind of floor above which market mechanisms, as we know them, can continue to function. Probably this can only be guaranteed by the state (although some supporters of basic income see or wish to see alternatives) through a simple and robust system. Any regulation above that is beyond the objectives of the basic income idea.

Looking at the influence of the state on income distribution, it must indeed be acknowledged that there is a great deal lacking in this respect, the issue is extremely complex. In contrast, with a basic income, the state will become much more effective in income distribution. This will allow social ideals to be better served and no longer be as unrealistic as in the current social security system. 


21. Basic income is a neoliberal idea

Explanation

Basic income was promoted by Friedman, Nixon and in the Netherlands by Zalm when he was still the director of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy's scientific bureau. It is therefore an idea with advocates on the right and therefore, for some, suspect. See, for example, a number of former left-wing Flemish authors and a number of prominent members of the Socialist Party in the Netherlands.


Basic income can be seen as a buyout to calm the bottom of society and thereby keep consumption going, so that the better-off can maintain their position.
 

Refutation 1

An important revitalization of this objection is that no alternative is offered. After all, it leaves the poorest completely out in the cold!


But a neoliberal should also be against that. A higher basic income means more activity, a more affluent labour market and, consequently, more earning opportunities for entrepreneurs.


Furthermore, the reasoning presupposes a strong us-them thinking.


Basic income breaks through this contradiction by at least providing everyone with a basis for existence.
 

Refutation 2

In contrast to this objection, others argue that basic income is a communist idea, and therefore objectionable.


If an idea is depicted as reprehensible for both the left and the right, it may be a good idea to resolve the contradictions.

22. Basic income strengthens the undesirable class division in society.

Explanation

An undesirable effect of the Basic Income is to reinforce a class division in society between those who work (in the white economy) and those who do not work (or work in the black economy) or who have not graduated. This stigmatization is felt both psychologically and financially: relative poverty is on the rise, as salaries increase.

Refutation 

If basic income is seen as a starting point, as a springboard, then people who want to, can do meaningful activities, whether paid or not. It is an assumption which has yet to be confirmed that labour will be better paid. It is highly likely that some types of work will be considered attractive and will therefore be accepted at a lower cost. On the other hand, unattractive work will have to be better paid.


23. Basic income increases the risk of ghettos being formed

Explanation

If you do many things, yet you are solely dependent on Basic Income for a living, you can only find yourself in the lowest end of the housing market. In urban areas, you can quickly end up in certain neighbourhoods or even in entire districts.

Refutation 1

It may well be that people with only a basic income end up in cheaper neighbourhoods more often, but that is no different from what is happening at present for the least well-off.


The fact that basic income would reinforce this trend is an unproven bias.


There are current developments in our country that have little to do with ghettos and basic income, yet offer the prospect of a solution or a certain relief from this potential social pressure: 

  • Demographic shrinkage in the rural areas (= lower prices), 

  • The rising trends in self-sufficiency in energy and food (with low-tech solutions)

  • Empty office buildings that can be converted into  accommodations for students and singles

Of course, you still do not have complete freedom of choice where you are going to live, however, with the existing infrastructure (internet coverage, public transport, cycle paths and roads for car sharing) you can do your thing from anywhere in the Netherlands and still live cheaply.

Refutation 2

Some are fine with what others call a ghetto.


And of course, even a ghetto is not static and without opportunities — even there, people see the chance to open a shop, a repair service or a catering establishment.

24. Basic income increases the power of the state and makes citizens passive and dependent.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Explanation

Since the state can withdraw a basic income and a citizen with a basic income depends on the state (in this sense), it encourages a vertical power structure between citizen and state that makes the citizen less free. With a basic income, citizens are no longer self-sufficient, and so they are very passive and dependent.

 

Refutation

 

That only seems to be the case. The unconditionality of the basic income means that the government's position in the generation of income is severely limited.

  • Taxes are being fundamentally simplified;

  • Basic income requirements are very limited;

  • The generation of income outside the basic income is at least regulated.


At present, the government, through agencies such as the Netherlands Employees Insurance Agency (UWV), has a huge influence on the daily actions of individuals who are dependent on social security. This will no longer be the case as soon as the level of the basic income is clearly established and no further conditions need to be checked. The freedom that the loss of such entitlements gives those concerned must not be underestimated.

However, since the government plays a more important role in determining the income of more people, the amount must therefore be periodically adjusted, for example, to keep up with inflation. There will also be political discussion about other adjustments. Due to the political climate this discussion will seldom lead to substantial adjustments.

If a basic income were to be introduced, there would be a political framework based on the collective ownership of wealth, to which everyone would be entitled.


Economic developments at a global level can generate risks, which require adjustments, which are, however, dealt with within the framework of this political set-up.

It is also possible to spread the basic income system over several layers, for example one part by the EU (as Philippe van Parijs has proposed in The Eurodividend - a European Basic Income), one part by the state and one part by the municipality which can take local considerations into account (such as, for example, the housing market). That spreads government power!

It is unsubstantiated that people become passive on a basic income and are entirely dependent on it:
Research and trials show that the effect in terms of passivity is very limited: it will not be more than 2 to 5%. The idea that people do not do anything with their freedom, or only fall into sin, is a biblical one, and ignores all the creativity and imagination of which we are capable.


25. Basic income requires unjust redistribution and is actually just theft

Explanation

 

Basic income takes money from workers (and other taxpayers) and gives it to those who are not in work. That is unfair.

A basic income (or any redistributive system) infringes on the taxpayer's right to property.

Refutation

Basic income can be seen more as a different initial distribution than as a redistribution. A Basic Income provides the basic livelihood to which every citizen is entitled. This should be independent of the (fair or otherwise) distribution of income and wealth.
People's income and property comes partly from the work they do, and a great deal thanks to the resources of this world and the infrastructure built by our ancestors. On the contrary, it would be unfair if only those who have paid employment (and/or those who inherit something from their parents) were allowed to use these resources and the existing infrastructure.


To the extent that ownership has been created by arbitrary claims on these resources and infrastructure, that is precisely what is unjust.
The payment of taxes to enable basic income is a method of compensating or reducing this injustice.

 

26. Basic income is a Trojan horse, as soon as it is introduced, massive savings on government spending will be realized

Explanation

Right-wing supporters of basic income see this mainly as a method to break down the accumulated social security system. First substitute basic income for all of the existing benefits, then slowly reduce it!

Refutation

This fear is fuelled by what we see happening to a number of specific types of social security, such as the Unemployment Insurance Act (WAO) and the Unemployment Insurance Act (Wajong).


Behind the beautiful facade of the word participation, the participation law uses control and sanctions as instruments.

On the other hand, the level of more general benefits such as family benefits and the state pension have never been reduced since the start. Any political party that dared to do so would then face a major defeat in the elections. This will be all the more true in the case of a basic income for everyone. There is also little or no room for manoeuvre to shift with the starting age, as is currently the case with the state pension.


The more existing regulations can be removed after the introduction of a basic income, the better, because the existing system has many undesirable side effects, which have a negative impact on workers, the unemployed and employers, thus placing an unnecessary burden on society as a whole. Make the basic income high enough for such effects to be virtually eliminated. Subsequent cuts would be at odds with this and would therefore have little chance of success.