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  • Pierre Madden

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Values and views of mankind
Translated from the original Dutch by Pierre Madden

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

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

 

In very many cases, the use of alcohol and drugs is a temporary escape from poor conditions.

Experiments carried out so far, for example in several places in Africa and among panhandlers in London, show that providing an income leads to seeking other activities and reducing the consumption of alcohol and drugs.


The Basic Income will help to prevent a great deal of social misery and will therefore also prevent the recourse to alcohol and drugs associated with that misery.


12. Basic Income is bad for the emancipation of women

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 view ignores the fact that many people do not live together in a relationship and that, for many, it is sometimes only temporary.


Basic income provides men and women with an equal springboard by not being financially dependent on each other.


Of course, cultural patterns or power relations can stand in the way of genuinely free choices and thus real emancipation, however financial independence offers the opportunity to escape this sooner or later.

For a much more nuanced consideration, see Feminism and the Unconditional Basic Income part 1 and part 2.


A striking observation in this respect is that the idea of exploitation and of taking advantage of a basic income by the lazy beneficiaries focuses mainly on the ethics of paid work and the virtues of the (male) breadwinner. It ignores the enormous problem of exploitation and free-riding within the traditional family structure. In this context, men enjoy the unpaid work of their partners without any care and therefore do not do their fair share. Yet it is significant that it is the relationship between the unemployed surfer and the paid worker that dominates the literature, not, for example, the relationship between the lazy man and the hardworking woman.

It is easier for men to choose to work part-time, which in any case has a compensating effect.

A basic income makes it much easier for families to plan a balanced life.

 

 

13. Basic Income bad for the participation of women in the labour market

Explanation

Basic income reduces women's participation in the labour market (e.g. because they will stay at home to take care of the children).

Refutation


You can imagine two possible rebutals to this objection, namely to what extent this is true and to what extent this is bad.

The Dutch Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) states, among other things, that a reduction in the workload of around 5 % is to be expected among women with young children. For the sake of convenience, this is often equated with a reduction in employment if supply and demand are identical! Perhaps this is a very good development if, as many people expect, robotization will lead to a reduction in the demand for paid labour. 

 

It is also questionable whether the econometric calculations from which this follows are valid in the event of such a drastic change as the introduction of a basic income.

The question of how bad it is when young mothers take care of their children more than they do now is an ideologically charged one. A broad-based answer is probably not possible!
It is clear, however, that a basic income will also make it easier for young fathers to take part in the care of their children. 


14. Talents remain untapped

Explanation


This objection was voiced by the  Christian Democratic Appeal party at the end of 2016 in response to the question of how they viewed Basic Income.

Refutation 

 

Why should talents only be untapped if one has to choose paid employment out of necessity?

 

It is very likely that, because of the security that a Basic Income offers, people are more likely to choose, with or without remuneration, activities that match their talents closely.

 


15. Basic income promotes overpopulation

Explanation

 

If basic income increases prosperity, fewer children will die of hunger and the world's population will grow.


In addition, a Basic Income country will attract immigrants.

 

Refutation

 

The opposite is true.

Several studies have shown that when prosperity increases, the number of children decreases.

 

It seems right that in regions or in times of poverty, having many children is a kind of insurance for old age

 

This is no longer necessary in the absence of poverty, and reducing poverty is an important effect of basic income.

 

It should be recognised that a country alone among its neighbours to have a basic income can become so attractive that it has to cope with large inflows of immigrants.

 

It goes without saying that admission policies must be designed in such a way as to prevent this from happening.  

 

16. People usually tend to see a little more in themselves than they do in others, which means that they will begrudge someone else a basic income.

 

Explanation

 

Envious behaviour is common in humans (and even animals). It can only be controlled to a limited extent by more altruistic layers of civilised veneer.

 

Refutation


The fact that people want something that someone else has and that they don't is an undeniable phenomenon. This can be prevented to a certain extent by ensuring that everyone has 'enough.', However this does not prevent jealousy. Basic income will not be able to prevent these feelings. However, without a basic income, they will be there as well. A basic income that is sufficient to meet the necessities of life will reduce real poverty and thus reduce the incentive to get from others what they do not have or cannot get themselves.


Basic income makes it easy to achieve an acceptable place in the social hierarchy.

17. There is a group of free-riders, misfits and antisocial people which will grow if there is a basic income for all.

Explanation

 

Everyone knows someone who in no way wants to or can contribute to society.  These are the kinds of people who, even on a basic income, are not going to do anything useful by volunteering. Who do not devote any attention to a vegetable garden, friends, hobbies or informal care.  For people who know him or her for the first, second or umpteenth time, such a person is an extremely powerful argument against Basic Income.

Refutation

 

This annoyance is understandable, but it is a pity to let it become the guiding principle for our attitude.

Because of course it is much cheaper for everyone and it takes much less negative energy to allow such hopeless cases to boil in his own suds and leave them alone.

 

It is useful to distinguish between the emotions surrounding this annoyance and facts.


The number of real benefit fraudsters is at most a few percent, both in the Netherlands and in neighbouring countries. So that is very little. Any sensible person who looks at it reasonably would subscribe to such a margin of error.  It is also questionable whether this percentage can be regarded as improper use at all.


Once we accept that a small group cannot or does not want to be useful to society, and that it is wasted energy to try to change them, then everyone automatically understands that even with those people, a basic income is by far the most efficient option. As long as we can overcome these powerful feelings of anger, indignation and jealousy.

 
With about 2% of the working population, nothing can be done, as we have known for decades. Whatever your political allegiance , it changes nothing. With a demeaning term, we also refer to the labour market residue. A civilized society will always have to support that group financially, under whatever circumstances!


The advantage of the Basic Income is that it does not entail any additional bureaucratic costs.

 


18. Many are annoyed by the behaviour of free-riders, profiteers and antisocial people, who do not deserve a basic income; it kills any hope of getting it accepted.

Explanation


The fact that there are always free riders or antisocial people is probably unavoidable. It goes too far to facilitate their behaviour with a basic income that is not at all compensated for. If you provide it anyway, it invites others to adopt the same bad behaviour.

 

Refutation

 

There have always been (and always will be) people who see an opportunity to benefit from the fruits of the earth and the efforts of others, without themselves actively contributing to the sustaining of society. Sometimes we approve, as in the case of children and the elderly.


We also accept this for people with a lot of money (however they obtained it). Yet we seem to demand reciprocity from others, and we are prepared to go to great lengths of control and sanction in order to prevent abuses.


It would be much better to get over it and take this handful of people for granted.

 

The essence of the Basic Income is that it is given without moral, economic or social discrimination. Someone who does not feel like working will get it just the same, and that is indeed seen as unjust  many. 

The idea that the current system incites people to do useful work is based on several false assumptions. A basic income can be expected to result in more people on balance entering the labour market than is currently the case, whether they are undergoing training or pursuing a useful social objective.

Perhaps the immediate community can appeal to them to actively participate in their environment. Specific programmes may also be required to support some of these people. There are many undesirable side-effects if this is done by or on behalf of the government through financial sanctions, for example, by withholding benefits or a basic income.

 

7. Reciprocity is necessary for the legitimacy of the social state and its moral support, so an unconditional basic income is not solidarity-based.

8. Work is noble, basic income makes people lazy.

9. Basic income no longer makes it worthwhile for young people to study

10. Many people will not be able to cope well with the freedom afforded by a basic income.

11.Basic income leads to an increase in the consumption of alcohol and drugs

12. Basic income is bad for the emancipation of women

13. Basic income reduces women's participation in the labour market (e.g. because they will stay at home to take care of the children).

14. Talents remain untapped

15. Basic income promotes overpopulation

16. People usually tend to see a little more in themselves than they do in others, which means that they will begrudge someone else a basic income.

17. The group of free-riders, misfits or antisocial people will grow if there is a basic income for all.

18. Many are annoyed by the behaviour of free-riders, profiteers and antisocial people, who do not deserve a basic income; it kills any hope of getting it accepted.

 

7. Reciprocity

Explanation

 

Reciprocity or mutuality is necessary for the legitimacy of the social state and its moral support.

 

What is needed? Poverty relief must be conditional on making an effort to get out of poverty.

 

When they can, people should take care of their own basic needs (which usually means paid work). There is no right to income; that is a positive right (requires input from others), and such rights are unjust.

 

Many people will not accept having to work for the basic income of others, while those others are allowed to stay at home (no social support/solidarity is undermined/ the principle of reciprocity is important for many people when it comes to solidarity (see: research by Paul de Beer)).

 

This view is held stubbornly in several political and social movements.

 

Refutation 1

 

To put this into perspective, it should be noted that, in practice, this view is only relevant for healthy adults until retirement age.

 

The demand for reciprocity is not being made of children, the sick and the elderly. It will also enable people with sufficient means to withdraw from the demand for reciprocity.

 

In 2014, Kris Hardies wrote a strong and well-considered ethical story on this subject (An ethical consideration of Basic Income).

He starts with the observation:

Pleadings for the introduction of basic income are encountering great resistance in a society where the virtue of productivity and the work ethic prevail.

 

He then tackles a number of arguments put forward by those in favour of the basic income and thoroughly undermines them, because injustice is inevitably the result of the arguments:

 

However assuming a moral right to an equal share of the resources currently given to us 'free of charge', the introduction of an Unconditional Basic Income is justifiable.

 

More recently, there is a speech by Philippe van Parijs in an interview by Rutger Bregman (This philosopher refutes the main argument against basic income). A quote:

 

We begin with a simple question. Which part of our income is due to our own merit? If I am very generous, I would say 10%. And the rest we owe to the favourable context in which we live. To the technologies that have already been invented, the institutions that have already been founded, the language that we speak, the family in which we were born, the gifts of Mother Nature, you name it.

This leads to a much more fundamental justification of basic income. It is not a favour, nor is it solidarity. No, it is a fair distribution of what we have already received from previous generations.

Refutation 2 (diagnostic)

Reciprocity presupposes connection. It presupposes unity. One influences the other. Reciprocity presupposes cooperation. Unconditionally receiving something is not allowed if the objection is justified.

Income is about livelihood. Life maintenance, as far as I can see, comes from the earth. Unconditional living would be out of the question because of that reciprocity. What is the quid pro quo that you, I and the others must provide to the earth for our daily livelihood, including the air we breathe?

 

 

8. Basic income makes one lazy

 

Explanation

 

Work ennobles, basic income makes people lazy.

The Basic Income encourages people not to work. It rewards idleness and that is not good.

Unemployment pulls people deeper into poverty: people must be pulled out of unemployment whenever possible.

This view has been expressed very eloquently in a blog by Erika: Vertical Money does not work:

But not every human being is a diligent ant. Many look more like a river crocodile. This reptile can wait many months lazily for the rainy season. As soon as the river flows again, it opens its mouth. Then the fresh fish will jump in automatically and free of charge.

Refutation:

The view that other people become lazy because of their basic income is widespread. And indeed, often it doesn't apply to the speaker himself, only to other people....


This is a persistent prejudice that has not yet been confirmed in any way by experiments or research.

All the experiments known so far indicate that people are going to do more. Not always in the form of a paid job, sometimes also by taking on caring responsibilities, starting a small business or training.

The relevance of these results to the introduction of a basic income across the board in our society can be questioned, but it is and remains striking that there is no confirmation of the image of increasing laziness.

Also an exploratory study by the Mies Foundation (with of course a limited representativity) asks "What would you do if you got a basic income tomorrow?" does not in any way support the hypothesis of increasing laziness. 


9. Basic income no longer makes it worthwhile for young people to study

Explanation


If your money grows on trees, why should you make an effort? There are so many other fun things to do for a young person...

 

Refutation

 

Experiments to date have shown the opposite. For example, the Mincome experiment (Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada) shows that young people continue to study longer.

A basic income facilitates the pursuit of education and lifelong learning as well.

 

Contrary to what some would have us believe, people do not want inactive lives, they want to engage in meaningful activities, and that is facilitated by a basic income.

10. Many people will not be able to cope well with the freedom afforded by a basic income

Explanation


Many people will not be able to cope well with the freedom of a basic income. They need a certain amount of constraint to go to work, but not because they will not be happy with work. On the contrary, they will ultimately feel better at work and be able to do more for society.


People who only live on a basic income are not able to choose a healthy or responsible life (e.g. choosing organic/vegetarian products).


A Basic Income reduces the incentive to build human capital, e.g. through training, especially in the younger generations: young people will more often choose small additional (black market) jobs on topof their Basic Income, thus enjoying their relatively high standard of living and a lot of leisure time (as young people do not need so much money), rather than continuing their studies.


Many people become unhappier: the necessity of work in today's society gives meaning to life for many people.


A large group of people who would only live on a basic income becomes unhappy: they are given too much freedom of choice, which would result in a feeling of futility or boredom.
The basic income creates more crime, because people have time to engage in criminal activities and will want to do so out of boredom.


People who only live on a basic income are more likely to get the drugs (including alcohol) out of boredom and a sense of wasted time (the unemployed  generally suffers from this kind of problem).

Refutation 


It is probably true that, especially for today's generations, paid work is an important part of life.


However, an enormous amount of unpaid work also takes place, sometimes out of necessity (such as many forms of informal care), often as voluntary work in the true sense of the word.


The consequences outlined in the explanatory memorandum show a rather unpromising view of mankind. 

Supporters of basic income are not so gloomy about this. Of course, after the introduction of a Basic Income, attention will have to be paid to those who have difficulty in choosing a meaningful way of life, but that cannot be an argument for simply maintaining the existing system of partly pointless work and many controls and sanctions.


11. Basic income leads to an increase in the consumption of alcohol and drugs