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.
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.
is Basic Income?
A fixed sum of money distributed as a tax credit on a monthly basis
irrespective of current income, wealth, or status.
means-tested because it's not welfare.
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
- Increasing automation is putting people out of work; there simply
aren't enough jobs to employ everyone.
- On Basic Income, people would not need to work; they would have
time to experiment with projects in culture or technological innovation.
- The social welfare system is bloated, over-complicated,
and expensive to run.
- Social welfare makes people afraid to take low-paid jobs for fear
losing their benefits. Basic Income is unconditional; they would keep
it no matter how much they earned.
- Basic Income does away with the stigma of welfare receipts by
presenting the money to everyone as a citizens' right.
- It cuts down the amount of information held about you by
bodies; there's no need to prove you need it because it's not welfare.
- It saves money by getting rid of the various departments that
the welfare state and passing the burden of disbursing the money to the
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!
Nellie. We need to talk.
You see, a lot of the ideas presented here are
Income is an ideology. A political religion, if you will.
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.
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
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
Getting involved with these provides volunteers with transferable
skills to bring to the job market, e.g. retail and customer service.
- Basic Income primarily benefits healthy working adults in jobs
that pay £20K or less and the very rich (who don't pay tax if they're
not earning money), depending on the scheme in place.
- The homeless, refugees, and other vulnerable people would NOT be
eligible for Basic Income. It is NOT a welfare scheme of any kind and
is not designed to meet the needs of people who cannot earn or access
money easily so even top-up tax credits would be useless to them.
- While foreign residents like me (I'm Irish) could apply for
citizenship via naturalisation, they would have to pay a hefty fee
which in NO WAY guarantees they would receive citizenship at all.
- It's unsustainable unless you're paying out less than you're
taking in from tax receipts.
is a fixed sum
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
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
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.
On Basic Income, people would not need to get a job or work to earn a
living if they did not want to
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.
- Most of the bureaucratic elements of the
welfare system are due to government control-freak attempts to limit
the number of people receiving benefits. Making it more about meeting
needs than making it hard to claim would actually do more to simplify
welfare than any other measure.
- Social welfare does indeed make people afraid
take low-paid jobs for fear of losing their benefits. Raise the limit
of what they can earn and retain benefits so they can get the
experience they need to get a better job.
- "I'd feel better about receiving money from
state if the very rich were receiving the same amount as me," said
- The government need to know whether you are
eligible or not to receive ANY money it EVER gives you for ANY reason,
even Basic Income. If it's for citizens, they need to prove that you're
a citizen, that you're alive, and that you're living where you say you
- If it's for taxpayers, they need to know what you're doing to
receive a taxable income in the first place and to make sure you're
paying the correct amount of tax.
- And if you have kids, they want to
know (and prove) how many kids you have, how old they are, and who
they're living with, etc. Basic Income is as easy to abuse as any
welfare scheme for all of these reasons.
Why we can't afford it
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
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
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.
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.