The Libertarian Case for Basic Income

Today I read a very interesting article about basic income by libertarian philosopher and essayist Matt Zwolinski, writing for the Cato Unbound journal. I know nothing else about him or his writings, and he hasn’t the slightest idea I exist and I encourage you not to assign any praise or condemnation for my ideas to him. I just read his article.

Anyway, one point that he made that I quite liked was that, in some ways, we were looking at the question the wrong way. Specifically: though basic income may not be perfect, is it better than the current situation? From what I understand, his answer is “yes”. It’s more streamlined and less restrictive, and if I recall correctly he mentions at least one Big Name in Libertarianism who once discussed the idea of a social floor below which no man should be allowed to fall.

In any case, this a fine solution to what I think of as “the problem of perfection”, which is summarized in the paraphrasing: “Don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good enough’.” That is to say, don’t reject a solution that satisfies the problem just because it doesn’t maximally fulfill all of your desires for it.

Basic income involves the redistribution of wealth (see my other post for why I believe taxation to be morally acceptable in principle and payment thereof a moral good and an obligation of those who can pay it). This does not sit well with some people, who believe that all removal of wealth from an individual is a violation of their rights (although there is such a thing as a social contract, under which we are all born wether we like it or not).

If you are among those who believe that paying your share of taxes is morally indefensible, please also review my other other post on basic income, wherein I describe how, in order to make even more money, wealthy business owners should be pushing hard for a significant basic income (long story short: money flows upwards in vastly greater sums than it flows downwards, if for no other reason than there are very many more at the bottom and middle than at the top).

Please read the article I described, and any other article that catches your fancy, including the replies that disagree. I will elaborate upon an important point in a later post, but reviewing the aforementioned previous post–specifically, the bit about ideologues–should give you an idea of what I would say when presented with any counterargument that boils down to rationalizations for a dysfunctional philosophy which does not stand up to logical argument. That is, when people try to bullshit their way around admitting that they just don’t like something for ideological reasons, even though the “something” they don’t like conforms to their assertions. To put it bluntly: “I don’t believe that poor people should be left to die on the streets just because I don’t want to pay taxes, but that’s the obvious outcome so I’m just going to spout some philosophical nonsense about morality and take the excuse not to self-examine.”

In any case. I welcome alternative viewpoints, but please ground them in reality, not ideology.

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