SuttaCentral

Universal basic income


#1

This might actually work for billions of people…


#2

it will be a constant struggle, especially in the 3d world countries, if any of them ever introduces basic income, which is in itself doubtful, to have the lawmakers or the government to review the amount due to impact of currency devaluation and inflation which are a marker of dysfunctional economies


#3

In a secular democratic society anything can be a birthright if there is a social consensus that it is or at least if it is voted. If there is no God or any other universal source of ethically related propositions, the mere consensus is pretty much the only way to establish soemthing as my right. Even my right to life exists only because most other people agree I have it. There is no consensus ragrding the basic income, ergo it is not a birthright.

If one day this social consensus is a thing, I will be very curious what going forth is going to look like. I mean, I renounce the use of all money, hence I renounce the basic income, i.e. one of my birthrights. I wonder, is it even possible to renounce a birthright, like right to life or to a name? Somehow, I feel the term ‘birthright’ implies you can’t really do it, even though I am not sure. In that case, basic income is not a birthright, it is just a good old regular right. Anyway, this is just about the terminology.

On a personal note, I don’t really like the idea. Disregarding that it is financially impossible to implement in developing countries - as well as in many developed ones, I can say that I know myself pretty well, and frankly, if I had a decent basic income I wouldn’t work like at all, that is as simple as that. If I feel this way, it is feasible lots of other people think so too.


#4

I have a relative in the countryside that works only 1 year and then takes 1 year break from work. This is because the social support for unemployment is almost identical to minimum wage only that he lacks other benefits such as insurance or pension contribution. He works 1 year only to qualify for the unemployment social security the next year. Two times while been in the break period, he was offered a 2 month seasonal job planting trees for the reforestation projects around the village. The job payed double the minimum wage but he refused despite been in the break period and not having any other business to do. I also know some villages around my countryside where there exist a special christian denomination where people work only 4 days a week not 5. And it is well known that lazy people from such villages move to this christian denomination in order to work less because forcing them to work 5 days a week would mean religious persecution. Hard working is not fun, people will always try to avoid it.

A society means a communion of people who work together for the benefit all of them as a whole. Therefore the society will avoid as much as possible parasites who work against the society goal of increasing everybody well been. That would be like showing compassion to Malaria or Toxoplasmosis or other biological parasites that feed on the human organism. It is not in the benefit of the organism to show unlimited compassion towards parasites. That would only cause the whole organism/society to function worse and decrease the well being of every other member of the society. Such laws would produce “the tragedy of the commons”.

To my knowledge, only Kuwait provides such universal basic income because of having a small population and huge resources of oil. In other oil rich countries like Saudi Arabia or Qatar, people are also bribed through well payed government jobs where people don’t work at all or vacations in foreign countries disguised as medical treatment. But this is done in order to maintain support for the king, not done as a way to make society function better as a whole. Such a system is good only to maintain popular support for an absolutist monarchy who is treating the oil reserves of the country as their own family property and sharing a part of it with the plebs in order to maintain power. Such a thing is not required in a democracy and would also not work in a country that lacks big oil reserves and relyes on the hard work of it’s citizens to survive. USA has oil reserves but only enough to be self sufficient and Europe has basically no oil reserves at all. It depends completely on the hard work of it’s citizens.

If humans deserve a good standard of living just because of been born human, then that would mean all people in this world deserve such a thing. If rich countries built on hard work and centuries of inovation and progress would decide to sustain the rest of the world on their back, they would all colapse. All they can do is offer the fishing rod (technology, past experience, advice) to such countries, but they can’t offer the fish. Buddha said there are rules in giving a gift. One of them is that giving the gift should not aversely affect the giver. A person of integrity would not give such a gift.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.148.than.html

Such a gift will probably not be given with the purest intentions but would be given with attachment and not reap too much fruit for the giver. There are 7 reason out of witch one might give a gift:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an07/an07.049.than.html


#5

Anyone able to see the positive ethical moral angle here? :laughing:


#6

Honestly, I am not :slight_smile: Moreover, I don’t really think it is an ethical question. Helping poor, disadvantaged, or discriminated people is an ethical question, or, say, the migration crisis is very mch ethical in nature. The issue of basic income is for me very technical in nature, it is more about the technology of keeping the society running.

Anyway, I see where you are coming from when suggesting this idea for developing countries, and I think your motivation is ethical and wholesome. Unfortunately, my humble opinion is that the technical aspect of the issue makes the implementation of the idea impossible and maybe even unadvisable. Yet, your wholesome intentions are good for you, us, and everyone, and I certainly appreciate them :pray:


#7

Yep. Basic income makes good economic sense too; an economy runs on transactions, and giving people money is the best way to ensure that.


#8

I think it is about how we feel when we think of others having money

"And what is the treasure of generosity? There is the case of a disciple of the noble ones, his awareness cleansed of the stain of stinginess, living at home, freely generous, openhanded, delighting in being magnanimous… AN 7.6

With metta


#9

Excuse me if you are an economist of have any extensive knowledge on the subject, but I think this is a gross over-simplification. I mean, if you think basic income makes sense, it’s okay, but don’t let’s make economic claims. Actually, I wrote earlier that it is likely to be impossible for developing countries to introduce basic income, and I am ready to take that back because this is just as unsubstantiated, and I have professional economists as friends who often laughed at me hard for talking non-sense about money :sweat: Unless you have a solidknowledge of economy as science, we both severely lack in knowledge to say anything about the economic side of the issue.

That said, your opinion and non-economic is welcome and appreciated, I don’t want to attack it or something :slight_smile:


#10

I see a positive ethical value! Our culture is telling people their only right to exist is earned through their work and how much money they make. So if everyone has enough income for a very basic livelihood that is sending a clear message that everyone has a right to be here. Golly jeepers, how terrible if we internalized that! On a practical level I see so many people afraid to take steps like going back to school or moving somewhere to be nearer their children or parents because they are afraid if they leave their job they might never get another. Knowing there is a safety net would allow many to make more of their lives. It might even encourage people to take risks like going forth - since if it didn’t work out, they wouldn’t be destitute.


#11

Thank you for being so welcoming :slight_smile: I am not a economist, but I did have economics as part of my undergraduate degree.

The argument is basically this: if the economy goes down, people lose jobs. When people lose jobs, they don’t have money to buy stuff. When people don’t have money to buy stuff, businesses make less money, they fire even more people, which means even more people don’t have money to buy stuff, and so on.

But if people have money even if they don’t have a job, they can keep the economy going by spending that money.

This is roughly, as far as I can remember, standard Keynesian economics, which is has been the dominant policy in Scandinavia the last 50 years.

In Scandinavia this is set up through generous welfare systems, but it might as well be basic income; it’s just another mechanism IMO.

But you are right, we are both not experts, and economics is very complex and making bold statements about it is probably a sign of ignorance on the subject :sweat_smile:


#12

I am afraid you are conflating life and livelihood. Everyone has the right to be here, and it is sufficiently reflected in such basic right as right to life. Everyone has the right to exist, moreover everyone has the right to exist as they deem fit, a message that is clearer than right to life and right to free speech cannot be sent as they literally mean just that.

As for the livelihood, I am very very positive that it has to be earned, just like adoration, respect, or disgust: I am not willing to respect anyone just because they are there, and I am not willing to guarantee anyone livelihood by state regardless of their personal qualities. If a worthy person doesn’t have enough food or money, they should be helped, and things like this already exist. If an unworthy person doesn’t have enough food or money, I can help them out of compassion as a private person, but it should be very clear they cannot rely on my help as a given. Basic income is in my eyes equal to saying that all monastics should always be given dana even if they are not diligent or immoral. I can give dana to a bad monk as a matter of compassion, but I don’t want this dana to become institutionalized.


#13

Yes. Some families are still living at the mercy of jungles, wild animals etc. They don’t have proper toilets or sanitation. Issues like sex trafficking, modern slavery, drug culture- the really nasty end of humanity could potentially be a thing of the past, like in the west (where it is probably down to a trickle, comparatively).

With metta

M


#14

The “Protestant Work Ethic”, as a determiner for social hierarchies, is strong. That prevents a lot of people from seeing this as an initiative to fight cyclical poverty.


#15

I would prefer this than leaving him to his own devices to come up with magic charms and amulets to ‘sell’ to the public and even worse, write inaccurate Dhamma books and mislead people.

Poverty leads to crime (out of desperation).

With metta


#16

So, if we are forced to give them dana they won’t do it? I mean, come on, you can give dana to bad monks for the reasons you provided, but don’t make it do it and please don’t make other people do it. Do it as a private person. Second, crimes can be committed out of desperation, true, but there is always an option of an earnest talk and promise of reformation. I would never give food to someone who would openly admit they will never try to be a good monk. I would never give money or food to someone who doesn’t work even if they can.


#17

Compassion is a wonderful trait to have as a person. But if compassion is not accompanied by wisdom, that compassion will not bring too much fruits. For example communist had a lot of compassion for the poor but because of a complete lack of wisdom, they ended up putting everybody in poverty. Achieving the exact opposite of what they initially wanted to do because of compassion.

Many things sound good in theory but do not work that good in practice. This is why on things such as economic policy it’s good to leave those who are qualified to decide. Buddha never said compassion is the main quality of his path. Compassion is not even listed as one of the 37 aids to enlightenment. It is a good quality to have but if this compassion is not accompanied by other qualities such as wisdom, it will generally end doing the exact opposite of what the person initially hoped to do. Wisdom is the most emphasized quality of the Buddhist path.

A commission of the German parliament discussed basic income in 2013 and concluded that it is “unrealizable” because:[50][51]

  • it would cause a significant decrease in the motivation to work among citizens, with unpredictable consequences for the national economy
  • it would require a complete restructuring of the taxation, social insurance and pension systems, which will cost a significant amount of money
  • the current system of social help in Germany is regarded more effective because it’s more personalized: the amount of help provided is not fixed and depends on the financial situation of the person; for some socially vulnerable groups the basic income could be insufficient
  • it would cause a vast increase in immigration
  • it would cause a rise in the shadow economy
  • the corresponding rise of taxes would cause more inequality: higher taxes would translate into higher prices of everyday products, harming the finances of poor people
  • no viable way to finance basic income in Germany was found

Disability social support already exists. Support for old people who have finished working already exists (pension). Support for children already exists. Hard working people who are willing to make an effort already have agreed to sustain from their hard work those who can not work. But there is little reason to support those who are perfectly able to work but simply are unwilling to make an effort and contribute to society like the others.

Western countries do not have big oil reserves like Kuwait. Their well being depends entirely on the hard work of their citizens.


#18

Hi @Vstakan,

You are right, I am really talking about psychology, not economics. I know so many people who experience shame and depression because they can’t get jobs.


#19

I mean, sure, they should be helped by people surrounding them and they deserve our compassion, I myself used to be unemployed for two years and I know what you are talking about. Still, it is not a matter of the state to show compassion. The state is there to ensure our society works normally so that we as private persons can show compassion. If someone has a depression because they can’t get a job, the state should support them financially, and we should support them emotionally. What can I say about myself if I delegate the task of sending emotional messages and giving support and compassion to the state apparatus?


#20

Support for people unable to work already exists. There is no reason to provide support for those able to work. The fact that society and simply life itself puts pressures on people to do an effort and be productive for themselves and for others (through their taxes) is a good positive force. Some people may have a problem with the hindrance of laziness. It is good to encourage them to make an effort not to encourage them to be lazy. This is not only good for others, but it’s good for those persons themselves. A person who is productive feel much better psychologically than one that is not. Even german shepherd and australian shepherd dogs are known to suffer from depression if they don’t have a job. Just as the justice system is a positive force working against other hidrances. Nobody likes been put in jail if you kill a person, nobody likes working, nobody likes abstaining from drugs.

Let’s think about kids. Kids want to do whatever they want. But the parents put pressure on the kids to do good things and develop in the right direction. Parents are not evil for doing that, they only want the best for their kids. It is the same with society encouragement of working. Kids don’t want to go to school. Adult people don’t want to go to work. But the fact that they do go to school and they do go to work is good for society and also good for themselves.