To Oppose UBI, Oppose All Government Looting

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

(Or: FEE Offers Spending Advice to Looters)

An article hosted at the Foundation for Economic Education illustrates perfectly something Ayn Rand once told its founder, Leonard Read, in a letter:

I oppose UBI and welfare because of what happens before the money falls from the helicopters. (Image via Pixabay.)
[D]on't think that any kind of law of self-preservation would work here -- that a man would want to produce merely in order to eat. He won't. For self-preservation to assert itself, there must be some reason for the self to wish to be preserved. Whatever a man has accepted, consciously or unconsciously, through routine or through choice as the purpose of his life -- that will determine his economic activity.

And the same holds true of society and of men's convictions about the proper economics of society. That which society accepts as its purpose and ideal (or to be exact, that which men think society should accept as its purpose and ideal) determines the kind of economics men will advocate and attempt to practice; since economics are only the means to an end.

When the social goal chosen is by its very nature impossible and unworkable (such as collectivism), it is useless to point out to people that the means they've chosen to achieve it are unworkable. Such means go with such a goal; there are no others. You cannot make men abandon the means until you have persuaded them to abandon the goal. [bold added] (Letters of Ayn Rand, pp. 257-258)
With this in mind, consider what a title like, "Universal Basic Income Has Been Tried Before. It Didn't Work." portends. The conclusion isn't pretty for anyone who values individual rights, including that to property:
Supporting work through the earned income tax credit is consistent with American values of dignity and self-sufficiency. The Heritage Foundation has proposed ways to reform welfare programs to promote those goals.

Evidence from the negative income tax experiment strongly suggests that a comprehensive universal basic income program would significantly reduce work and increase dependency.

Perhaps advocates are hoping for a different result this time around. But if history is any indication, they are bound to be disappointed. [bold added]
Of course giving money away reduces the desire for people to earn some of their own, but pardon me for disagreeing with the Heritage Foundation on what the proper goal of government is; my answer is that a proper government protects individual rights. Passing out loot for whatever alleged purpose does not alter (or sanctify) the fact that it is loot, and was ultimately stolen from someone who produced it (or received it freely from someone who did). As when conservatives sell the farm when they implicitly praise socialists or plead that they are "impractical" -- yet wonder why that thoroughly deadly and discredited creed remains popular -- so it is that the laudable desire to argue against "Universal Basic Income" (the latest repackaging of handed-out loot) degenerates into squabbling about how to reform welfare (the old name for the same thing).

That is not what making a stand for freedom looks like, not at all.

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, entirely unrelated, but a bit of humor I thought you'd like. Yesterday was Angela Lansbury's birthday, and someone commented on a post, "She was the maid in Gaslight, wasn't she?" To which someone else replied, "No, she wasn't. You're imagining things. Again."

Gus Van Horn said...

Good one.