Monday, June 12, 2017

Cato Comes Out in Favor of a Universal Basic Income

By Karen De Coster
I never signed any contract at all – let alone a “social” one – but somehow, I am expected to sign a “new” social contract to amend the one I never signed in the first place. In the video within the article, that Zucker guy says that we should have a society that measures progress by the “meaningfulness” of our role in life. We are led to believe, by that Zucker guy, that a universal basic income (UBI) will provide a cushion for all of those entrepreneurial welfare types to “try new ideas.” Cato’s Michael Tanner likes the idea, and he adds this:
Looking for the next big political idea? How about this: Let’s scrap our entire social welfare system, including all of our anti-poverty programs, unemployment insurance, Medicare and even Social Security. In its place, just send every American a no-strings-attached check for enough money to ensure that no one falls below the poverty line
…For those who believe in getting government out of people’s lives, a UBI would also be far less paternalistic, expecting the poor to budget and manage their money like everyone else.
Tanner thinks that replacing the web of contradictory welfare programs with UBI will somehow correct the “incentive” problem, thus promoting work, marriage, and savings amongst a high-time preference sect of the population that will never think beyond today or tomorrow, no matter how much the amount of the “check” that you plop into their hands. But Tanner didn’t seem to opine on Zucker’s amazing, new theory that the welfare class is the undiscovered entrepreneurial class.
The above originally appeared at


  1. If my personal experience is any guide, those of us who are productive for a living should express under no uncertain terms that if there is UBI we will stop working, take UBI, and follow our economically non-viable interests and hobbies. Make it clear that our time is worth more than having some marginally higher income after taxes than those who don't work.

    The left and the kind of people who seek employment at places like CATO or otherwise require wealthy benefactors (and wish to be freed of the voluntary nature of that arrangement) think that we all gleefully become further enslaved to support all the people that consider their time, art, and personal passions too important to compromise for making a living as well as the present oriented poor.

    IME making it clear we will get on the cart upsets them. Use their own reasoning against them. We want to follow our passions and maybe something viable will come of it. They will come up with all sorts of reasons why we should stay working. Refer them to Mike Rowe's video about following passion or what's economically viable. They know deep down someone has to clean the sewers and do the work, they just want productive people to spend 40+ hours a week doing it for just a few dollars more than the people on UBI. But time is worth more than the difference.

    The more people make it clear they won't be the marks for the scam the less likely it goes forward.

    WRT the poor becoming entrepreneurial, even if some were UBI would have to be high enough to save up capital to start a business. This would drive the difference between working for a living and taking UBI to trivial levels. This where they get tied up with their argument that UBI would just be subsistence level to keep incentive to work.

  2. Tanner's is the classic "lesser evil" argument of incrementalism