The worst argument against UBI
“Let’s not fight for social progress because it could be taken away at a later point.”
The next paragraph of this post is a verbatim excerpt of a Facebook conversation about how and why UBI would be wrong. The last paragraph, posted as the other here to make it more accessible even in the future, is my answer, whose short form is: whatever the feasibility of UBI may be, that particular argument seems really… weak to me.
“UBI IS SLAVERY!”
X said: UBI is slavery [because] when people are dependent on anyone (government or slave masters or whatever) to survive, they must do whatever that entity wants. That’s slavery. UBI makes large numbers of people dependent on the government, who can then start putting conditions on the money such as, for instance, China’s social credit system. Free cheese is found in a mousetrap.
Someone else replied:
UBI is per definition unconditional, so in this case, there is no dependence on the government; because there is no need for an evaluative bureaucracy, it’s a simple matter of redirecting taxation, or if you believe MMT, the apriori creation of currency, balanced later on by taxation.
X: you know how you sign up for something nowadays and then when you’re totally dependent on it, they change the terms of service, such that you don’t really have an option, because everything is dependent on that platform or service? Same with UBI. Start it off unconditionally and then start adding conditions. By 2030, we’re toast.
My answer to “X”
What you are describing is a world in which people already have NO control at all on their governments AND no intention or wish to ever have it (that is, for all meaningful purpose: they ALREADY are volunteer slaves, 100% dependent on the good will of their governments) BEFORE the introduction of UBI.
In such a scenario, UBI cannot be slavery, simply because slavery already existed defacto, it was just very well hidden.
UBI may still be evil or unfeasible, that is another issue!
But of all the arguments against UBI, this is maybe the one I understand the least. Everyone reading this ALREADY “depends on their government”, or whoever controls it, for access to money, internet connectivity, healthcare, and much more.
Arguments like “I am self-employed, pay my own health insurance all by myself, homeschool my kids, or am a prepper who could survive years in the mountains…” do not change a bit of this reality.
All those things happen as long as “the government” of the land you live on LETS you do them. Unless you long for the living standards of remote tribes of at least 2 or 300 years ago.
Therefore, if freedom is the goal, and I do not deny it, controlling the government is THE first need everybody always has, and everybody’s duty, before and regardless of UBI. Period. What does UBI has to do with this?
And once THAT (a really accountable government) happens, UBI may still be wrong or unfeasible, but certainly not because “it makes you dependent”… on something you and your peers DO have control on.
To stress the point, the only thing I understand less about this specific anti-UBI argument is hearing it from citizens of the country that makes the worst mess of voting, at all levels. Weird, indeed.
Note and credits: this is the conversation, as it happened on Facebook, with just names removed, and some minimal editing, and insertion of links, of my parts. The opening statement is the actual reaction of another participant to the “UBI is slavery” position”, which makes my same point with much less words and in a much more general format.