Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Sit, UBI, Sit: Play Dead

Swiss, Switzerland, UBI, Universal Basic Income, socialism, robots, illustration

This weekend, the Swiss people rejected the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) with a whopping 77 percent against.

That’s the kind of overwhelming result that one finds in America for, say, term limits. And 23 percent, you might notice, is about the percentage of the population in America of hard-core “liberal” progressives, the kind of people usually in support of such measures.

In Switzerland’s case, it was a measure put on the ballot by one group, Bien-CH. But if you are thinking “socialism,” the group insists that that’s the wrong way to think about the plan. UBI is needed, the group’s website says, “to grease the wheels of the capitalist economies” facing a declining need for workers as a result of technological advance.

Yes, UBI is a policy designed to accommodate the coming horde of robots! How? By “increasing demand” by spreading out wealth from the connected-to-tech few to the witless-about-tech many. (How vulgar Keynesian.)

The Swiss government urged a No vote, fearing a need to raise taxes by fifty percent. Quite a hike.

Meanwhile, the notion garners worldwide interest, and even libertarian social scientist Charles Murray promotes this guaranteed income idea (under a different initialism), mostly to streamline the costly bulk of the welfare state.

I’m dubious.

After all, about our latest industrial revolution, in artificial intelligence and in robotics: I say open up labor and entrepreneurial markets from excessive regulation, and allow networking advances to transform capitalism on its own terms, with person-to-person (P2P) cooperation (think AirBnB and Uber and Lyft) and much more.

The best is coming, I bet. If clunky proposals like UBI don’t get in the way.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

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Swiss, Switzerland, UBI, Universal Basic Income, socialism, robots, illustration


By: CS Admin


  1. Paul Veazey says:

    I’m not “dubious” about UBI. I am absolutely certain it, along with all social welfare programs, is not only economically stupid but morally reprehensible. If my local constable came to my door and forced me under penalty of law to hand over some money to feed the destitute family at the end of the street, few would argue that would be theft and would be wrong. Voluntary charity should be encouraged by stealing from some people to give to others is evil, and that is exactly what taxing some citizens to provide for others is. Let the churches and private charities and individuals provide for the needy and get government at all levels out of the forced “charity” business.

  2. JFB says:

    Paying without any requirement to work is a fool’s panacea. As it is universal, in a democratic system and “all benefit” it will be uncontrollable. It sends the wrong message, that you are entitled to what you “need” by virtue of existence only. 
    In short order it destroys the concepts of productivity, self improvement, and private property. In any entitlement society it is only a matter of time to before the middleman government is eliminated and those who are entitled start to take directly from their fellow citizens Ito satisfy their  needs. Note the liberization of the shoplifting laws in California. 
    It is no longer the “beginning” of the end if this trend continues. 

  3. Paul Jacob says:

    Part of the reason to consider the UBI is to spark re-consideration of all welfare programs and the perverse incentives at work today in our non-UBI welfare state. These programs are for the most part hurting, not helping.  

  4. Brian Richard Allen says:

    …. Sit, UBI, Sit: Play Dead ….

    Great headline!

    Nailed it.

  5. Michael Foudy says:

    I personally agree with all the previous negative comments regarding this idea. Thus, I was surprised to pick up the Wall Street Journal last Saturday and read the Charles Murray (he wrote “The Bell Curve” when at Cato and is now at AEI) piece titled “A Guaranteed Income For All.” Check it out. Murray makes an interesting, although not persuasive to me, case. And there you have it!

    • JFB says:

      Some argue that the UBI is the least disruptive of the entitlement programs.  There is some merit to that if you run under the misapprehension the some entitlement program is required. 

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