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The Oligarchs’ ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’ Scam


The Oligarchs’ ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’ Scam

Chris Hedges

A number of the reigning oligarchs—among them Mark Zuckerberg (net worth $64.1 billion), Elon Musk (net worth $20.8 billion), Richard Branson (net worth $5.1 billion) and


“Neoliberalism heralds a return to the worst days of unregulated capitalism, after the Industrial Revolution when workers were denied a living wage and decent, safe working conditions. Oligarchs have not changed. They are out for themselves. They do not see government as an institution to defend and promote the rights and needs of citizens. They see it as an impediment to unrestricted exploitation and profit. Human beings, to oligarchs, are commodities. They are used to increase wealth and then discarded. Oligarchs don’t propose programs such as a guaranteed basic income unless they intend to profit from it. This is how they are wired. Don’t be fooled by the grins and oily promises of these human versions of the Cheshire Cat. The object is to spread confusion while they increase levels of exploitation.”

As wealth and income inequalities accelerate, the buffer class (those insulating the uber wealthy from the masses) must become increasingly mean. There are at least two effects of this. Firstly, in order to pretend to keep their humanity those in the buffer must dehumanize the masses (Hedges’ term commodities is right on the mark). Secondly, they must inflict terror in the masses (think job insecurity) to tamp down the forces of revolutionary reaction. The guaranteed basic income (GBI) ruse (as conceived by the neoliberals) will further decimate the dignity of the masses–an effect that will delight oligarchy to no end. Hedges correctly points out that the GBI can be used to ensure demand is kept at profit-guaranteeing levels, while assets such as housing can be sucked up by the monied class further enslaving the masses. The myth of virtuous capitalism is kaput. It is, as always, increasingly tyrannical and the masses will suffer as will the buffer (although in much greater style as their souls are eviscerated), while the oligarchy will continue to tweak the system until the commodities (masses) are optimally priced and managed. And we wonder why people drink…


When prospects are as bleak as they are right now, I do appreciate those, such as Chris Hedges, who make the path we are on so abundantly clear. We are never going to be able to chart a new course if we don’t wee where we are right now and now we got there. Thanks.


This latest Hedges piece concisely/accessibly explains the root causes of the distress so many in this country are feeling. In contrast to Dean Baker’s piece yesterday, it addresses the big picture of the destructive oligarchy that will lead eventually to collapse----or so it seems.

In keeping with this article, Chris Hedges has a recent interview with Richard Wolff (On Contact: “The Coming Collapse of the American Economy”)which I hesitate to post because of the potential fallout related to the context (RT) ------I don’t want to go down that road but I do recommend watching it for those interested in hearing more.

The question is: how much longer will this scam continue? Months? Years? Decades? Is there anything we can do to buffer ourselves from what looks to be a catastrophic societal/environmental collapse?

The answer to the above seems to be “establish yourself in a small, resilient community”. I’m not sure how resilient we can be during what looks to be a human induced perfect storm brewing . . . . but seriously, what does one do after integrating this information into one’s psyche?


Good point.

Most Chris Hedges essays expose the disease but fail entirely to prescribe treatment.

What can anyone do about any of the problems he exposes? It’s not clear.

Most people have a job, perhaps a career, a family, and bills.

Rebellion and reform are very difficult and quite abstract.

The journalist at Sinclair know all about the challenges of challenging “the man”.

For most individuals, it’s not a choice, let alone an easy choice, unless one is prepared to endure dire consequences.


Capitalism is still the best system for producing wealth that we know of. It’s the political system that has let us down in the proper distribution of that wealth. It is actually reassuring that the richest among us are not only seeing the great harm that inequality is causing, but are speaking our in support of real answers.


I had commented on the pitfalls of a GNI some few weeks back wherein I suggested it would simply be used by the 1 percent to entrench their position and ensure profits kept coming there way. Look at it as akin to how WALMART pays low wages wherein its workers need supplemental assistance to get food and shelter with much of these monies from Government just being spent at Walmart.

I think it becomes apparent that this thing called “the Free market” with all of those economists and Politicians praising its virtues is one great big con being foisted on us. Some ask here what are the solutions and what is the purpose of exposing these problems without propising solutions.

I suggest the PURPOSE of this exposure is to break down that blind faith in Capitalism and “The Free Market” has instilled in the masses after years of conditioning. I do not think it possible for here to be solutions until that is done.

In the USA as example , after some 80 some off years of Socialism being seen as a dirty word , some small members of its Citizens are only now willing to accept its premises as A solution. Breaking down the concepts of Rich and poor, investor class and worker, externalized costs and Nature as a commodity to be consumed is going to take equally as long and will rely on people like Mr Hedges continually hammering away at this to open peoples eyes.


And we wonder why people drink…
And why there is an opiate epidemic…


No it is not. It is a crock. It creates wealth via theft. It transfers it from one pocket to another until it all in one pocket. Capitalism by definition is an economic system predicated on making CAPITAL and MONEY accumulation rule over all and its existence harmful for those reasons and not because “Political Choices” made it a bad thing.


From Hedges’ article [my bold]:
“American oligarchs discredited the populist movements of the 1960s and 1970s that had played a vital role in forcing government to carry out programs for the common good and restricting corporate pillage. They demonized government, which as John Ralston Saul writes, “is the only organized mechanism that makes possible that level of shared disinterest known as the public good.” Suddenly—as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, two of the principal political proponents of neoliberalism, insisted—government was the problem. The neoliberal propaganda campaign successfully indoctrinated large segments of the population to call for their own enslavement.

Some of these indoctrinated persons participate in the comment threads at Common Dreams.


From Hedges’ article:

“Oligarchs have not changed. They are out for themselves. They do not see government as an institution to defend and promote the rights and needs of citizens. They see it as an impediment to unrestricted exploitation and profit. Human beings, to oligarchs, are commodities.”

And they are shamelessly bold about proclaiming and claiming their ideology. Take the profession of “Human Resources Management” that replaced the old Personnel Department. Who among us loves the idea of being “Human Resources” to be “Managed”? Yet they shove it in our faces, and we are to submit to their ideology.


Personally and IMHO, I can see a difference between an economic system and a political system. (Even though our current political system seems to be controlled by the very wealthy.)


The close of Hedges’ article [my bold]:

“The longer the elites keep us in darkness with their ideological tricks and empty moralism, the longer we refuse to mobilize to break their grip on power, the worse it will get.”

This is the point. Unless and until we see through the ideological fog, and recognize we are being ruthlessly exploited while they “keep us in darkness with ideological tricks and moralism,” and unless and until we “mobilize to break their grip on power,” we will only continue this accelerating descent into Hell.

Seeing the truth, and organizing to fight back, might seem scary, risky, menacing. But where is the safety in continuing this slide into darkness? The phony “realism” that urges continued participation in these warped systems instead of actual resistance (not the phony “resistance” that is currently marketed by the DNC), only serves to tighten the control over all lives and resources that these human monsters enjoy.


Thus my use of the term “the looting class.” That is their operating principle, stripped of all its pretty ideological dressing.


Our governing document, the one in which society is organized around, the US Constitution is a property rights document. It was written to support capitalism, not regulate it. The first regulatory bodies came into being in the 19th century, mostly to streamline and approve expansion of industry, not to protect citizens from wrong doing. That part of the mission came later and has been disappearing for decades as once again regulatory bodies have become captive to the industries they regulate–pretty much across the board.

This statement sums up why capitalism is not the best economic theory on which to build society. When profit is the driver rather than human well-being, all kinds of dastardly things can and do happen, including the rape of our environment and the bondage of humanity to social constructs used to divide people, like “wealth,” religion, race, gender, nationality…as Hedges so effectively and articulately wrote.


Well then , if you believe this the case than it becomes obvious that there can not be a free market , a concept upon which this thing called Capitalism constructed around. Added to that another aspect of this thing called Capitalism is private property ownership which is again another “Political Decision” wherein only laws made by Governments can enforce that concept.

This all gets back to my comment that this system you claimed as the best tool we know of to “create wealth” is premised on falsehoods told us by the 1 percent. It is a con.

A point of example. Water is in a river and free to use by all the people along that river. Given it “free to use” the system called Capitalism does not see it as wealth. It has not been “monetized” and turned into property.

The water is privatized and now a single entity owns it. All others must now labor to earn an income to obtain the water they once got for free. This creates “wealth” as seen by the artifical construct called Capitalism in that the water has now been assigned a monetary value and the person that owned it now has “Higher worth”. The person that owns it says “see I created wealth and jobs”.

When The Capitalists and magazines like The Economists supported the privatization of water in Bolivia, they premised their entire argument of economic growth on what was in essence theft. The water once used in Common, by anyone for free would become the property of the Private Corporations. Voila “wealth is created” and now those people who once obtained water for free, must work an hourly job to earn an income to buy the water the Corporation stole from them. Hey we got “job growth”.


Really? A guaranteed income for all is a bad thing, because it will sustain demand? People starving or homeless is better? Does Hedges seriously think increased government regulation will solve the problems of inequality and poverty better? I DISAGREE.


Yes, certainly, there is no free market. We totally depend on government to set the rules of the game so that everyone benefits. That’s the political side of the equation. (Which is being systematically dismantled by the Trump/Republican cabal currently in power.)


I understand his point, but I see such a universal income as separate from all the other progressive policies he says it will replace or be put in place of. Both can exist. If we cut military spending in half (I know, unlikely but let’s say hypothetically) and used this income for universal income, it would provide a nice safety net at the very bottom. Other policies like single payer or free college education could be pursued by progressives, even if the plutocrats didn’t support it.


Everyone benefits? Any mass benefit policies have been “systematically dismantled,” and the dismantling has been carried out by BOTH PARTIES of the Duopoly, for a couple of generations now.

You actually do not recognize this? Clinton signed NAFTA, the WTO, the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act, ended “welfare as we know it,” etc. Gore led the “Reinventing Government” push, continuing the roll-back of the regulatory system, etc. Obama doubled down on the Bush bailout of the criminal banks instead of bailing out the working class who lost their mortgages, continued the roll-back of Union right to organize, vociferously promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership, etc. These are only examples, there is a long, detailed, and sordid record of Democratic Party sell-outs of the common people in favor of the looting class. Neoliberalism is and has been a resolutely BI-PARTISAN program. And this program has directly led to the rampant ascendancy of the looting class, the immiseration and disempowerment of the common people, the destruction of any regulatory or wealth-transfer relief, and the creation of Donald Trump.