Cartoon Me
I oppose Basic Income for the exact same reason so many people support it: Basic Income would change my life.

The trouble is, this might not be for the better. I've created this web page to demonstrate what the problems with Basic Income (or whatever they're calling it today) are so you'll at least understand where I'm coming from.

Whether or not you come to the same conclusions as I did is up to you.

What is Basic Income?

A fixed sum of money distributed as a tax credit on a monthly basis irrespective of current income, wealth, or status.

It's not means-tested because it's not welfare.
A group of people at a banquet

Who gets it?

In theory, everybody over the age of 16 receives this as a tax credit for life as a right of citizenship.

There's a smaller credit per child as well, depending on the scheme in place.

Why Basic Income seems like a good idea

Hand holding calculator

How would we pay for it?

That depends on who you ask.

Many of the people I've discussed this with propose a flat tax to simplify the tax system; everyone would pay the same percentage.

Others propose progressive taxation: making the rich pay more because they have more. This would or wouldn't replace all taxes, depending on who you ask.

Well that sounds pretty great, doesn't it?

I mean, what's not to love?

Free money every month for the rest of your life, no questions asked?

Sign me up!

Whoa, there, Nellie. We need to talk.

You see, a lot of the ideas presented here are actually ideals. Basic Income is an ideology. A political religion, if you will.

This means that people decide to believe in it because there is something about it that appeals to them. In this case, the people who believe in it expect to receive an ever-flowing river of money they don't need to earn.

This is what keeps them arguing in favour of Basic Income however well I succeed in debunking it; they want that money so badly they can almost taste it!
Volunteer at a charity shop
There are not enough paid jobs for everyone. This does not mean there's no work to be done.

Communities will always need volunteers to help out with local projects.

Getting involved with these provides volunteers with transferable skills to bring to the job market, e.g. retail and customer service.

Counter arguments:

Basic Income is a fixed sumFood bank

This is the most obvious problem with it; the amount is fixed.

Basic Income's job is to distribute money, not to redistribute wealth. It's not welfare so if it's not enough to live on or your needs are complex, you're stuffed.

Who gets it?

It's a right of citizenship, so if you're not a citizen, you're not entitled to it. You'd pay the same rates as the rest of us but would not be eligible for Basic Income.

The poorest, most vulnerable people who actually need the money would not receive it BECAUSE it's not welfare while the very rich would — because it's not welfare.

The lie: it's for everybody.

The truth: no, it's not. It's for citizens or tax-payers, depending on who you ask.

Why Basic Income is a bad idea

Increasing automation is putting people out of work in some areas, but opportunities are opening in others, depending on your skillset.

While service and retail jobs don't pay well, increasing the minimum wage and providing education and training would enable people to compete for better jobs.

Automation does not make the case for Basic Income.

Brace Yourselves, Automation Is Coming meme

On Basic Income, people would not need to get a job or work to earn a living if they did not want to for as long as the programme continued.

However, when the cost of running it exceeded the ability to keep it going, the system would collapse and come to an end.

Basic Income advocates won't tell you that.

Tax officials count money. They are only interested in where money comes from and where money is going. It's not their job to assist the poor and needy. Basic Income is not welfare; if your needs are complex and it's not enough to live on, you're stuffed. There has been talk of top-ups in some quarters, but that means re-hiring all the welfare workers who were fired to ensure that only the needy get the top-ups. This is HOW the costs would spiral out of control.

Why we can't afford it

Flat taxes are regressive; taking 20% of a millionaire's monthly income takes less of his total wealth from him than taking 20% of mine because he needs less of his income to live on than I do and he can stash more money away than I can. Sales taxes are also regressive: the poor can't buy as many taxed items as the rich can.

Progressive taxes are more fair because they take more from those who earn more. However, not everybody pays tax. Having a job produces a taxable income depending on how much you earn. If you're not earning, you're not putting money into the system but you're receiving it from others who are. Spending money on taxed items puts some money back into the system but tax receipts are compartmentalised for a reason: communities, municipalities, regions, and countries all have complex needs and the money has to be divided out among them to meet those needs.

If employees are receiving Basic Income employers would be under no pressure at all to raise wages. If wages stagnate or even fall, so do the taxes required to pay for Basic Income. Taxes would have to rise to compensate for the rising costs of providing money to people who don't need it as well as to people who do. Remember, if you're not earning money, you're not paying taxes and many rich people pay little, if any. And they too would receive Basic Income. How would we afford it?

To pay out Basic Income, a sum of money would have to be set aside. The cost would depend on the number of people receiving it. Whatever is left of the tax receipts then goes towards the running costs of the communities, municipalities, regions, and countries. Unforeseen events such as bank collapses, natural disasters, and the already put a strain on a country's finances. Any country running such a scheme, particularly if it was on a national basis, would have to borrow money if the cost of running it exceeded the tax receipts expected to pay for it. In short, Basic Income (if provided to everyone) would rob the government of money it needs to run the country, to respond to emergencies, and to provide for its most vulnerable dependents. Result: an economic crash and massive social problems that would bring in a right-wing government which would end Basic Income at once. Any welfare programme enacted would be aimed at "the deserving poor." We'd be right back where we started, only worse off than before.

What it's really all about

Basic Income is about Basic Income. The idea is to create a Libertarian utopia where everybody has some money to spend, which gives them the freedom they need to take part in the economy or not without needing a job or fulfilling the requirements of a means test. In practice, it would provide more money to those who don't need it than to those who do in the name of simplicity. This is regressive because the mid-level income earners, who already bear the heaviest tax burden, would be even worse off because they'd be paying for payments to the rich as well as to the poor. Since the idea that everyone gets it is non-negotiable, there's no point in trying to discuss it with them so we generally tend to go around in circles until I get bored of it. And that's why I call it a con.

If you think it's not, I daresay it's because you would benefit from it yourself. Good for you. But you'd be screwing me and a host of other people for a temporary benefit. It's unsustainable, remember, so if you do get what you want, enjoy it while it lasts. It won't last for long.