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Universal Basic Income: Why a So-Called 'Solution' for Disappearing Jobs Makes Serfs of Us All


Universal Basic Income: Why a So-Called 'Solution' for Disappearing Jobs Makes Serfs of Us All

Valerie Vande Panne

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a much-touted solution to our increasingly tech-driven society, proposed by everyone from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to conservative libertarian think tank the Cato Institute.


Appreciate the discussion on this topic.
But the funding ruse, used by all captured governance, magnifies the funding problems by obsessively insisting that we evaluate funding resources based on the long standing, corrupted, secretive model we have been employing forever. In other words, claiming “we can’t afford it,”, based on ‘data’ approved by captured governance and nondisclosure agreements-appointed thugs is just outright bs.
A fiat currency allows vast latitude for a democratic government to allocate funds for the well being of the nation. There is no gold bar under every buck. This, plus the well established facts of an infinite amount of money being available for the MIC, without ANY accountability, undermines any claims of fiscal necessity or responsibility. America literally has trillions to allocate as it sees fit. Oddly, America can afford to hand billions and trillions to the ruling class, but mysteriously can’t afford to take care of the majority.
Taking care of everyone is possible. We just lack the leadership and vision to do so. The Big Lie heralded by ‘successful leaders’ of our decades is a testament to the culture of ignorance, conformity and destructive self-interest. Never have there been so many ‘well educated,’ stupid and mean people as there are now!
Please, refuse their language!


going back to being yeoman farmers isn’t going to work that well, either. first, you’d have to have massive land redistribution which will be fought tooth and nail. second, there’s a physical requirement to subsistence ag that many people can’t meet. what about them?

one thing that isn’t challenged by anyone–this author included–is the primacy of the principle of efficiency. That’s what’s driving all of this. We need to look at “employment” as a social tool, not an economic one. Bullshit jobs, frankly, may be the only way out of this present. Hire 4 people to do the job of one. Makes the job easier and provides a living for 4 people instead of one. Again, it’s only an option. One of several.

But without challenging efficiency in work, nothing egalitarian is going to emerge. That’s going to lead to the likelihood of an engineered die off (something many already subscribe to) in order to cut down the mouths to feed.

All this assumes, of course, that we even survive climate change. I don’t envy the living for having to deal with this dark place capitalism has led to.


I don’t see this as much of an issue, no kind of UBI is going to happen as long as capitalism is still alive. The 1% would rather see the earth dissolve in nuclear annihilation, than pay people a livable wage not to work. So until we kill them off and solve climate change, it’s a moot point.


“We need to look at “employment” as a social tool, not an economic one.” - Excellent. After all, we designed the current system that commodifies citizens and necessitates poverty. Why not redesign a system where employment is a social tool separated from monetary/economic domination?


Not only a fiat currency, but re-capturing stolen wealth from capitalists and the rich by progressive income taxation as proposed by AOC, severe wealth taxes and nationalization and/or public ownership of key services, industries and economic sectors. It’s called socialism, but we can’t honestly talk about because then we’d be Putin-Rooskie-Commie-Lovin’ traitors.


This article is absolutely wrong in that it’s based on the premise that people must be “given” money to “spend money.” Capitalist nonsense.


UBI, given our current horrendous political-economic set-up is one tool to achieve wealth/income redistribution at the bottom. It is much more efficient (and much less humiliating) than the hodge-podge mess of the corporate welfare trickle-down neoliberal austerity mess that we now live under.

Plus, as others have pointed out: in a nation of about 330 million human beings integrated into a biosphere of many billions, it is ridiculous to assume that local economies, separated from each other, can even come close to providing for basic human needs – including the need to travel and interact with peoples around the biosphere we call Earth.

Certainly the biosphere (when properly treated) is infinitely wealthy in its dynamic ability to recycle life. The problem is that current political-economies, especially capitalism, are contrary to that basic truth.


If the statistic that I read last week is true, that there are only 16,000 individuals earning $10 Million or more per year, convincing Military and Law Enforcement to round up that relatively small number, incarcerate them, dispose of them, and begin tackling Climate Change should be a doable task.

Big raises for all.


Part of the Reason Hitler was so successful as they built Nazism into a world power was the fact that there was a depression going on in much of the world. Unemployment was high and people were hungry. The fuehrer promised jobs for everybody and a lot of hungry, unemployed, workers jumped on the bandwagon.
*What they found was that those jobs were to do what the fuehrer wanted, and you were stuck in that assigned job, perhaps for life. You couldn’t quit or look for another job. The pay was bare subsistence and you were expected to donate a lot of that to the party.
*Farmers found themselves to be serfs, attached to the land for life.
By the time people figured that one out, there was little they could do. Concentration camps or execution was not an alternative anybody sought.


This has always been my concern with an UBI program. It will very much work like Food Stamps where the money just end up in the pockets of the 1 percent. The impetus towards this is as clearly articulated by the author , that to perpetuate consumerism and to cement into stone wealth inequaility.

The time for a UBI will come but it must come with a dismantling of Capitalism ,consumerism and a narrowing of wealth inequality wherein systems in place so it can never appear again.


I urge the author to take heart: The impending climate catastrophe is going to render our perpetual growth-based economic model unworkable. All the UBI in the world can’t buy food that doesn’t exist.


For anyone here wishing to see what a true patriot to America looks like, take 10 minutes of the rest of your life and see…

Why isn’t the MSM interviewing this fella?


When the dream of 100% automation is finally achieved and no one works for wages anymore, who will they sell their automated flying cars to?


Any system we choose will have to deal with, and delete, unlimited growth.


Well, it was called national- socialism


“It’s up to us, individually and in our own communities, how we want to proceed. Do we provide everyone with a universal basic income? Do we return to more basic ways of life and rewrite the rules to enable that? Or do we do a combination of both, or something else entirely?”

Valerie, what do you mean by “returning to more basic ways of life”? What rules do you think need rewriting? Are you against an UBI, a combination of both, or what else entirely?

Pol Pot wanted to abolish money, but that didn’t work out well in Cambodia.

As a tool, money has been sorely misused.
An UBI would help the poor no question. Too much of available money and resources in fewer hands hurts them. Isn’t that what we should prevent instead of an UBI?


The author makes some good points, but like most discussions of UBI, skirts around the real issues. One good point is that Universal Basic Income, to be meaningful, must be a Universal Living Income. $1000/month, as proposed by presidential candidate Andrew Yang (curiously omitted from the above discussion) and most other proponents of UBI, is not enough. It certainly is not enough to replace the various welfare programs, as argued by these proponents. If we accept the prevailing belief that $15/hr for a full-time job is the minimum for a living income for one adult (in my view this is questionable—by now, after dithering around for the last five years that this was proposed, it is more like $20/hour), that would mean at least $2600/month for every adult (and as much as $3400/month). That is the amount proposed in a recent Swiss referendum (about 4 years ago), with an additional $650/month for every minor. Whatever the amount arrived at, it must be universal (not means tested, everyone gets it equally), and permanently tied to inflation/cost-of-living increases. I believe this ULI must be accompanied by universal, comprehensive, single-payer health care that is free to all at the point of service, as well as a radical new system of public banking at the state and federal levels that will help to finance it all (and much else besides), in part through a tax on capital.

This 3-point proposal will eliminate poverty once and for all. Most of all it will radically redefine the nature and purpose of work in the most fundamental of ways, breaking the chains, the assumptions, that enslave us to capital, and freeing us all to pursue our highest and best purpose. Today the guiding rule of our lives is: you must work to live. And work is defined as the suffering and sacrifice you must endure to produce more value for The Man than what you cost him. Those who cannot or will not work (as defined by those terms) have no value, and deserve to die. This is the ethic of slavery. It is based on an economic system founded on the creation and perpetuation of scarcity—monopoly capitalism—in which markets are captured and controlled in order to manufacture scarcity in order to lower costs and raise prices. This is the much-vaunted “efficiency” of capitalism, which, as Ricardo postulated, is the best of all systems at concentrating capital in the hands of its owners—its ultimate purpose.

ULI strikes at the heart of this system. Right now, we are facing an increasingly rapid decrease in the number of good jobs compared to those who want one. This is in part due to the rise in robotics and AI, but what seems to be technological pressure has always been structural and systemic, inherent with capitalism since its beginnings in the 1500’s. Keeping good jobs relatively scarce suppresses cost, wages and benefits. Coercing people to work either through overt slavery or the more hidden threats of starvation and exposure and disease keep the market glutted with people desperate for work at any price. With ULI, some people, perhaps many, who are satisfied with the frugal but sufficient living it provides, may choose to leave the “rat race” altogether and voluntarily leave the traditional job market. Others may happily work part time as more of a supplement to their living income. Still others may take advantage of the support a ULI provides and strike out with new businesses of their own. For these and other reasons a meaningful ULI is a great threat to the job scarcity that undergirds our current system of monopoly capitalism.

Expensive? Hell, yes! Especially for the bloated fat cats at the top of the system. But for the richest nation in the history of the planet, eminently do-able. I suggest we start by expanding Social Security, first by increasing benefits to a living and equitable income of $2600/month for every American 65 and older, then by reducing the eligible age to 55, then to 35, then to 18 and to $650/month for minors under 18. Social Security for All. First two steps can be paid for by removing the cap on FICA. The rest can be paid for by 1) progressive wealth tax, 2) taxing capital gains, royalty and rents, interest, as regular income, and 3) financial transactions tax, especially on short-term speculation.

Improve Medicare by eliminating premiums, deductibles, co-pays, all out-of-pocket costs and expanding benefits to be truly comprehensive (covering all medically necessary costs including dental, vision, hearing, long-term care, etc.), requiring all providers to be nonprofit, and expanding coverage to all Americans from birth to death. Improved Medicare for All. Many ways to pay for this relatively painlessly, best perhaps is 3.8% payroll tax up to $60K income, progressing up to 10% payroll tax above $200K.


Excellent post. To which I’ll add, we will need democracy to achieve. Direct, Decentralized, Delegative, Liquid, Grassroots, or whatever we want to call it as long as its of, by and for ALL the People.


I disagree SDP. Most of us can’t wait until capitalism crumbles/clashes. IMO, a UBI is a way to express the right right to a decent economic living, even in the crazy quilt of a capitalist dominated political-economy that the vast majority of us now suffer under. I think, at the very least, it is a way to administer so-called welfare programs that is more efficient and less-humiliating than the mixed-bag crapola that we have now. Also, it can actually be empowering (if the UBI actually does provide a basic income) because if people have enough cash, they can make some basic decisions about their economic lives w/o the inefficiency and oversight of bureaucrats.


Really well-thought out. I would add a public employment requirement for those adults who are able to work and did not have child/elder care responsibilities. There is plenty of useful work to do in terms of healthy agriculture, infrastructure, sustainable energy production, conservation, education, health care, housing etc., etc. etc.

And as you say there’s plenty of money to do all of it with a combination of (I would adda massive build-down of the imperial military) progressive taxation, wealth taxes, transaction taxes, etc. And there’s always the ability to create credit by fiat through true public banks instead of the capitalist Federal Reserve.