Scrap the Welfare State and Give People Free Money

A guaranteed income would reduce the humiliations of the current welfare system while promoting individual responsibility.

The Swiss are set to vote on whether their country should introduce a basic national income of 2,500 Swiss Francs ($2,800) a month for every adult, regardless of their salary or net worth. A date for the vote has yet to be announced

Without the Swiss proposal being attached to drastic welfare reforms the plan is, I think, unfeasible. However, that the particular proposal in Switzerland is not ideal does not mean that libertarians should shy away from proposing something similar. Being morally comfortable with some degree of government wealth redistribution might be contrary to anarchism, but it is not contrary to libertarianism, and were libertarians to argue for replacing the current welfare system with a basic national income we would be better positioned to not only highlight the fact that libertarianism is not the heartless and selfish philosophy it is commonly portrayed as, it would allow for a more humane and effective way to deliver welfare than the current system on offer.

In discussions about welfare it is astonishing how often the current system is portrayed as humane, just, or charitable. However, one of the tragedies of the current welfare system is that it strips welfare recipients of their dignity while treating many of them like children, and functions on the underlying assumption that somehow being poor means you are incapable of making good decisions.

Many welfare recipients are required to undergo drug tests, despite the fact that many Americans take illegal drugs while still being good parents and holding down a job. If employed professionals are able to fulfil their duties at work while also maintaining a recreational drug habit, why should welfare recipients be treated differently? In fact, in the last year welfare recipients in Utah were found to test positive for illegal drugs at rates less than the national average, and in Arizona 87,000 screenings between 2009 and 2012 yielded one positive test result. 

Perhaps the best example of the demeaning nature of the current welfare system is the SNAP program, otherwise known as food stamps, which works by giving recipients a card that can only be used to buy a selection of government-approved goods. Alcohol, tobacco, pet food, and vitamins are only some of the products that those on food stamps cannot buy because the powers that be have determined that they know what is the best lifestyle for food stamp recipients.

Instead of treating those who, often through no fault of their own, have fallen on hard times like children who are incapable of making the right choices about the food they eat or the drugs they may or may not choose to take, why not just give them cash? Doing so would not only cut down on the huge administrative costs of America’s welfare programs, it would also promote personal responsibility and abolish much of the humiliation and stripped dignity associated with the current welfare system.

Although a basic or guaranteed income would have to be financed through taxation it has been proposed by a number of classical liberals and libertarians.

One of the most prominent proponents of the negative income tax, which guarantees a basic income, was Milton Friedman, the nobel-prize winning economist and free-market advocate. Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek express support for a “minimum income for everyone” in the third volume of Law, Legislation, and Liberty. The American radical Thomas Paine proposed a national income in this pamphlet Agrarian Justice, and libertarian author Charles Murray has also argued in favor of a guaranteed income.

Of course libertarians, who are in favor of less government spending, may be concerned that were a basic income to be implemented that it would cost more than the current welfare system. However, it is worth considering that, as Peter Ferrara pointed out in Forbes, the Census Bureau estimates that our total welfare spending is four times the amount that would be needed to lift all Americans currently living in poverty above the poverty line by giving them cash.

In 2008, Charles Murray wrote that a guaranteed income for all American adults over the age of 21 who are not in prison of $10,000 a year that would replace all current welfare programs as well as agricultural subsidies and corporate welfare would be cheaper than maintaining the current welfare system in the coming decades.

It is important to point out that under Murray’s proposal, which is outlined fully in his book In Our Hands: A Plan To Replace The Welfare State, after someone’s total annual income reached $25,000 a 20 percent surtax tax would be imposed on “incremental earned income,” capped at $5,000 once someone earns $50,000 a year. Murray’s plans also requires that $3,000 of the $10,000 grant be spent on health insurance.

Of course giving every non-incarcerated American over the age of 21 $10,000 (or the current poverty line of $11,490) a year with Murray’s surtax plan in place of all corporate welfare and the entirety of the welfare state (including Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare) would not be cheap, but it would be more efficient, because it is a simple cash transfer, and would be easier to fund were other libertarian budget proposals considered, such as cuts to defense spending. 

Those who are not fans of Murray’s guaranteed income may be more open to Milton Friedman’s negative income tax, which would not guarantee a set income for every adult, but would provide payments to Americans based on how much below a certain threshold they earned. Like Murray’s guaranteed income, Friedman’s negative income tax would be financed through wealth redistribution.

Some libertarians may not be fans of a guaranteed or basic income because such a system would, they argue, disincentivize work. Murray believes that his surtax scheme would incentivize work after someone began earning over $25,000. Friedman wrote that the negative income tax “reduces the incentives of those helped to help themselves, but it does not eliminate that incentive entirely, as a system of supplementing incomes up to some fixed minimum would. An extra dollar earned always means more money available for expenditure.”

It remains to be seen if the Swiss will vote for a guaranteed national income. Over the weekend, Swiss voters rejected another radical economic proposal, which would have capped pay at a company at 12 times the wage of the lowest paid employee.

Whatever the outcome of the Swiss referendum, libertarians in the U.S. and elsewhere should support the idea of a basic income  as a replacement for the current welfare systems on offer. The welfare system in the U.S. is an ineffective and expensive mess, but it is unlikely that the majority of the American public are going to be persuaded to support the outright abolition of the welfare state any time soon. Rather than make the principled argument against the redistribution of wealth, libertarians would do better if they were to argue for a welfare system that promotes personal responsibility, reduces the humiliations associated with the current system, and reduces administrative waste in government.

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  • John C. Randolph||

    Sorry, but paying people to be idle is a dumb idea, whether its through our current broken system or some hypothetical shiny new "negative income tax" system.

    -jcr

  • Andrew G.||

    The idea is that it would be enough to let people survive, but not enough to keep them comfortable. And it would replace things like subsidized higher ed, food stamps, section 8, mortgage deductions, etc.

    The hard part would be to stop a certain political party from expanding it to make people too comfortable, and stopping a certain other political party from attaching all sorts of conditions to prevent their moral sensibilities from being hurt.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I get what the idea is, and it's stupid. There will always be some who would settle for whatever they can get for no effort at all, and they have no right to live on the work of others.

    -jcr

  • Andrew G.||

    Yeah, there are always going to be some leaches. Even without any sort of welfare, they would find ways to bum off the charity or naivety of others.

    It is just a cost of the system, they can only effectively be punished by social ostracism.

  • gimmeasammich||

    "Social ostracism" hasn't worked for 40 years, so why would it start after implementation of this? It is a badge to show that you got your Obamaphone and the check that you "earned."

  • Free Society||

    As tax payers we subsidize government subversion of socially created norms and practices.

  • RonnieNM||

    In a charity-based society, social ostracism is not the only way to punish freeloaders. Cutting off their benefits is another, more effective form of punishment. Individuals and non-governmental groups would be free to cut off freeloaders when it became apparant that they provide no value to society or won't comply with whatever "conditions" the givers mandate. Government policies simply can't do that because the givers mandate votes to give away money that doesn't belong to them.

  • Quicker Brown Fox||

    I had friends in college who received food stamps and had no shame in it. They were art majors, and the starving artist image is pretty glamorous to a generation living off their parents, whose largest struggle is waiting tables starting their 16th summer.

    As a guy, having the government support your family would be pretty undignifying. I'm glad gender roles are becoming more lax, but there was some value to them.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Get off your high horse you moron. This would get rid of the welfare trap, cut costs and gov't size, and any regulations/subsidies aimed at "helping" the poor, and make the welfare handouts we do dole out more transparent to the voters.
    This is the right step towards a Libertarian State, and this is a proposal no liberal could ever seriously oppose; a political magic bullet for conservatives & libertarians.
    Stop being an idealistic retard.
    Also read what Thomas Sowell says in Intellectuals & Society and/or A Conflict of Visions. That way you'll understand just how much of a Utopian retard you're being.

  • Libertarius||

    You don't understand economics. If you give everybody an arbitrary income, then prices will adjust to reflect the arbitrary demand which is created by the arbitrary income, and the recipients of the arbitrary loot will be right back where they started.

    Oh, but then the (Democrat) politicians will have another free shit mob demographic howling for COLAs, and you observe the same effect of every arbitrary government program: the only real beneficiary is the government, not "the poor" or whoever else's misery the statists are trying to cash-in on.

  • Harun||

    I would adjust voting rights to have an additional vote for tax payers and military veterans.

    One man, one vote, but bonus votes for some people.

  • Joao||

    Beneficiaries of the Republican Jobs Program (the military) already have thousands of extra perks for being in the military. Plus the social label of "Heros".

    Also, sadly, they form another group whose needs the government must indefinitely provide for.

    They'll just become the largest block of statist voters yet.

  • BillEverman||

    Yes, because the public policy opinions of Oliver North, Lynndie England, William Calley and others should definitely count twice as much as those of people who object to the idea of going off and killing brown people at the government's request.

    There are many honorable, intelligent veterans, just as there are many honorable, intelligent people who are not veterans. And it might even be that such a system could slant toward a more peaceful society as those who may have seen combat might be less inclined to choose warmongers for leaders.

    In short, Robert Heinlein was always a fun read, but I wouldn't necessarily take his ideas seriously as policy prescriptions.

  • woodNfish||

    No one on the public dole should have a right to vote.

  • Procrastinatus||

    "You don't understand economics. If you give everybody an arbitrary income, then prices will adjust to reflect the arbitrary demand which is created by the arbitrary income, and the recipients of the arbitrary loot will be right back where they started."

    Pretty much this, and well said. It's amazing how even libertarians don't recognize a market trigger when they see them. So now, whereas food prices have had a direct proportional relation to a guaranteed minimum food expenditure (food stamps), and commodity prices have been affected by minimum wage increases, why wouldn't we see the same effect here? And don't think for one second that politicians won't campaign on raising that allotment every year.

    And it'll be easy. Just a simple little increase every year to end that income inequality. THAT is what makes it so dangerous. Libertarians NEED huge federal entitlement programs so we can watch those fuckers crash and burn Hindenburg style. This will have actual, literal Socialism here and it will be painless. Hell, Congress would probably delegate COLA increases to a subcommittee or agency every year. No need to actually debate or vote on that shit.

    Also, how the fuck is it "Libertarian" to take my money at the point of a gun, and give it someone else? Stupid article Reason.

  • Bill||

    Plus, it's an impossible sell. People will never go for a plan where people could use the money for alcohol or tobacco or drugs.

  • LinearCry||

    It is a terrible idea because it doesn't address the basic moral dilemma which gives rise to welfare in the first place -- namely the case of someone suffering for lack of food, shelter, or basic health care.

    Let's say someone squanders their guaranteed income and they still need food, shelter, or basic health care. What are you going to do? Let them suffer and possibly even die?

    No, you actually have to provide the basic services. You can't just give them cash. There is no moral imperative to give someone cash.

  • KDN||

    It's also (politically) inevitable, and as such should be constructed in a way that causes the least damage possible. Further, implementation of such a system would facilitate the gutting of the welfare bureaucracy, thus removing one of the biggest pushers of ever increasing Federal power.

  • CaptJax||

    It is absolutely inevitable, as automation becomes commonplace. If nearly the entire service sector disappears, from truck drivers to McDonald's employees, the state is going to have to start providing.

  • buybuydandavis||

    We're paying people to be idle now. The idea is to pay them regardless of their state of idleness, so we no longer punish them when they try to work.

  • Overt||

    I think the big problem is that we would create the national income and then 2 years later (or sooner) a politician would run on providing just a bit more assistance to school. Or a bit more assistance to people with low income.

    And after about 20 years we would be back to having a bunch of welfare + the national income.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    That's basically what we have now, only with a guaranteed income or negative income things would be both more transparent and less costly. Also no welfare trap.

  • Quicker Brown Fox||

    I like the idea of a flatter tax that doesn't arbitrarily punish earning an extra dollar. When I worked an hourly wage with unlimited overtime and without the risk of switching tax brackets, the only thing stopping me from working more was how much I valued my free time. It's the hourly wage earners that benefit most from this kind of setup, as they're the ones most likely to linearly and immediately benefit from a flat tax.

  • woodNfish||

    Good point.

  • Juice||

    Sorry, but paying people to be idle is a dumb idea

    One of these days, maybe not in our lifetimes, production of most day to day items will be so automated that very few people will be required to produce lots of products. In that sort of economy, a lot of people will be idle just because. Trading products for labor will be a thing of the past, not because people want to be idle, but because there won't be anything required of lots of people. Sure, they should try to be scientists or inventors or innovators of some kind, but not everyone is going to be able to support themselves by trading their particular expertise for goods. Somehow goods will be allocated, though, and I'm not sure how, but it won't be because every person is working for pay.

  • Libertarius||

    Human life requires productive activity, there is no army of robots coming to save you from having to work (ala Star Trek).

  • CaptJax||

    You've heard of automation, right? Why would you hire a truck driver when it can be automated?

  • Ndogg||

    You've heard of "somebody's got to manufacture and maintain those robots who drive trucks", right?

    Or should we ditch our laptops and go back to courier mail so that the bike boy won't lose his job.

    Technology changes. The only thing we have to do in order to not get left behind, is prepare for the change.

  • Procrastinatus||

    People have been saying for 200 years that machinery will be put man out of a job. Any job that demands ANY sort of creativity will not be automated, and that's most jobs. R&D, maintenence, customer interaction, any type of custom work on anything.

    And in the implausible event that we've wholesale automated ourselves out of work, it stands to reason that companies would just distribute their remaining work among more workers, rather than destroying their collective customer base. There would appear a market solution, as there always does. There is absolutely no reason to think that the government needs to come in and try to manage the economy wholesale style. Against THAT track record I'll take my chances with automation.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    ...and that's why Libertarians don't win elections...

  • BigT||

    You are suggesting sacrificing principles, integrity for votes. Don't we have enough of that?

  • ||

    You are suggesting sacrificing actual political movement in a libertarian direction for the sake of your pride remaining intact.

    Libertarians who gain self-worth from being more principled than pragmatists are just as bad as leftists who gain self-worth by flaunting how enlightened their good intentions are.

  • ||

    I agree. Personally, if it were up to me, SNAP would only purchase some sort of horrid nutritional gruel. If you want to live at other people's expense, they get to dictate the terms.

  • Gadianton||

  • Will4Freedom||

    Progressives, over the past 100 years have become masters of deception and infiltration.

    Even if THIS proposed method of forced charity will reduce SOME of the current welfare Bureaucracy... it will be back.

    Someone will still need to manage the process. Get one Progressive in the office and you'll soon have 10. Get 10 you'll have 100. And I agree with others who see the inevitable need for "additional help" for THIS PARTICULAR special needs group. Oh... and this one. And that one over there.

    The rule change/law would have to be so ironclad and easy enough to read that even the staunchest Progressive Supreme Court Justice would not be able to justify an additional welfare program. Even then, we've been burned so many times I'd still have my doubts.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Real Anarchism(TM) is a subset of of libertarianism.

  • Andrew G.||

    Hopefully the Swiss will enact a basic income so we can have some real detail and experience to go on. Though in theory it is preferable to any social welfare program currently being used.

  • Harun||

    Yes, some actual data would be helpful. I can see this going either way: works great or everyone slacks and its horrible.

  • Tak Kak||

    The best of un-libertarian options sounds like, well... the best. But it wouldn't replace the welfare state, it'd just be another addition.

  • Andrew G.||

    Since a lot of welfare programs are income-based, simply be increasing people's income you'd make them ineligible for the programs. Though I think for American sensibilities we'd need several tiers. A small payment for minors, a larger one for adults, and then an extra payment for retirees. That way you'd be helping families more than idle singletons and supporting the elderly who couldn't work more than those who choose not to.

    Such a system has an added advantage of promoting entrepreneurship and career changes, since you have some income to rely on while starting a business or retraining.

  • Tak Kak||

    Some programs definitely, not all (or most even). Nor would said programs just stay gone, the rules will quickly change (or the "fair" lowest income will, but I think that government likes it's arcane rules and programs as they make good hand outs) because... voters. Because voters.

    "Such a system has an added advantage of promoting entrepreneurship and career changes, since you have some income to rely on while starting a business or retraining."

    That's also a good reason to bail out banks.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Once they go negative tax, that'll be the new liberal position; they'll never be able to go back to the current bureaucratic mess. It simply won't make sense - why try to pass a new medicaid proposal to counter rising healthcare costs when you could try to pass a proposal to increase the negative tax to cover rising medical costs just as easily? This means a permanent reduction in gov't size and red tape.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And then it gets indexed. And the rate gets upped beyond that perpetually, because who's going to notice?

  • Tak Kak||

    Back? No, no, no - they're progressives! There will always be those saying the government can manage it better, because they don't care about "evil profits" and voters frequently fall for it.

  • Jquip||

    Absolutely correct to state that it wouldn't replace it. It would simply make it vastly more affordable and prevent the nannies from putting oddball conditions on things. Which has the pleasant side effect of upping moral outrage.

    But with just cash, how do you ban the recipients from buying things like tobacco? Or soap?

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    You don't. If they waste their money, they just risk eviction and starvation. That's perhaps the only valid (but weak) liberal argument against this system, as liberals assume poor people are too stupid for their own good. Someone hoarding cigs and booze while having his hair fall out from protein deficiency will eventually learn the hard way how to manage the money better.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Oh, and we just know that EVERYONE will be okay with letting the people who misuse their rations go without, right? Sure.

  • ||

    Exactly. They'll spend it on booze and drugs, and then when they are starving in the street, the progressive will STILL insist that we provide them with free housing and food.

    A guarenteed minimum income assumes that people are responsible enough to spend their minimum income on rent and food and pay their utility bills on time.

    But many people just aren't.
    The only cure for that is to force them into such abject poverty that they have no choice but to learn how to care for themselves. If Necessity is the mother of invention, it's also the greatest teacher of independence. People who have no other options learn how to provide for themselves.

  • UCrawford||

    Yup...like I say all the time, starvation is an excellent motivator.

    You can continue to throw money at stupid, irresponsible people in the hopes it will improve them, but the reality is that it just enables them to continue to be stupid and irresponsible with money. So they'll take the path of least resistance most of the time and never change their personal habits. Because thst's just what stupid, irresponsible people do when they don't suffer for their poor choices.

  • Libertarius||

    Guaranteed income? Am I seriously reading this on a magazine which claims to exalt Reason?

    A guaranteed income--to be paid for by whom? By all those suckers who work for a living and support their own lives!

    The *real* problem of our age is the same old problem which most men have not yet discovered the courage--let alone the rationality--to challenge: the primordial morality of altruism, the ancient code of human sacrifice which is behind all the misery and destruction of collectivized countries, and which arises in support of such bizarre absurdities as a theory of "guaranteed income".

  • Andrew G.||

    Granted, there are moral objections to any mandatory welfare scheme enforced by state power. But as far as objectionable forced altruism goes, this is probably the least objectionable (by doing away with the large bureaucracies needed to implement other schemes).

    We aren't going to get rid of welfare in this century. But we could get rid of all of the federal and state agencies and workers that manage it.

  • wadair||

    We aren't going to get rid of welfare in this century. But we could get rid of all of the federal and state agencies and workers that manage it.

    That's just it, the state agencies will not go away. They will find a way to survive such that we will have both the Leviathan and the "guaranteed income." It's just wishful thinking like prohibition and the PPACA before.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    That's simply impossible. Agencies are good at bullshit but there's a limit. Tell me, how do you expect these agencies to bullshit their way into being paid to do absolutely nothing? How will they keep Republican politicians from earning votes by promising to get rid of them? There is literally no point in having regulations, subsidies and welfare programs to help the poor if the poor are given Milton Friedman's negative income tax or a guaranteed income that is deemed adequate by the taxpaying public.

  • wadair||

    I hope you're right.

  • flye||

    Hayek had written favorably about the concept of a minimum income, so it's not so far afield for a libertarian magazine.

    I'd certainly argue that it's better than a panopoly of targeted welfare programs. Not without its own set of risks and unintended outcomes, but those should be weighed against practical alternatives not some impossible ideal.

  • Libertarius||

    Hayek is the left's favorite libertarian--and that's why Hayek needs to be tossed into the dustbin.

    Hayek is terrible. On one hand, he's terribly rationalistic on the subject of free markets, but then he advocates all kinds of hideous statist hobby horses.

    Not having a welfare state is not an "impossible ideal"--the welfare state is an impossible ideal, and that's why welfare statism brings stagnation and destruction to every country which indulges it. Do you really think the American welfare state is going to go on forever? It won't. Someone has to pay the piper, and when the dollar goes, the whole leftist-collectivist welfare scheme goes with it.

  • flye||

    So throw Milton Friedman out too? Pretty exclusive club you are creating there.

    I'm not defending the American welfare state -- far from it. But there is no way a modern nation-state will exist that does not provide some sort of welfare to the poor/sick/unlucky. That's the impossible ideal. So once you open that door, what's the most fair and equitable way of providing that service while reducing undesirable outcomes like laziness and institutional dependency?

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Libertarius, just look at this as a first step towards the right direction. This will permanently shift the political world towards the fiscal Right / Libertarianism, and after people get used to this then we can try to convince them of the benefits of mutual aid societies and charities.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Yeah, what the hell do Hayek, Friedman, Murray, and Paine know about libertarianism anyway?

    What's missing from this article is Paine's moral justification for a basic income as compensation for being dispossessed of their equal right to the enjoyment of natural resources. I'd extend this to intellectual property laws, and a host of regulations perhaps convenient for people with means, but harmful to the poor.

    There are plenty of ways in which the poor are dispossessed, and unfortunately, as we see here, many self proclaimed libertarians turn a blind eye to it, unlike the leading lights of the movement they glibly deride.

  • Libertarius||

    "Equal right to the enjoyment of natural resources?"

    Did someone seriously conceive of such a ridiculous absurdity? Even if you based this on some half-baked derivative of natural rights theory, what the hell, would you say cro-magnon man had a "right to enjoy natural resources"? What a stinking pile of shit.

  • Juice||

    Here it is for you to read in its entirety:

    http://www.constitution.org/tp/agjustice.htm

  • Libertarius||

    Yes, and it's crap. There can be no out-of-context "right" to "enjoy natural resources" merely for the sake of existing, for how would you enforce such a dubious right?

    If I was somehow born with a right to enjoy natural resources, then someone else is born with the obligation to ensure that I enjoy nat. res. It goes right back to the self-negating nature of "positive rights", i.e. if you have a positive right to X, then your right to X is someone else's obligation to provide X, but his right is also your obligation, so the whole thing negates itself.

  • Procrastinatus||

    Do you have a right to enjoy his wife? That should be the question.

  • Jquip||

    This. I'm not comfortable with basic income in general. Indeed, I'd prefer to see a return to 40 acres and a mule. Get land, get left alone, figure it out.

    If you thrive you do, if you merely subsist you do, and for everything else nature takes its course.

    Even if you disagree, Detroit is ripe for a practical trial of it.

  • ||

    I'm more inclined to agree with this.

    A guarenteed income is going to have the perverse effect of allowing people to breed who will pass on their total inability to care for themselves to their children and grandchildren. If you grow up in a family of unemployed people, you don't learn the ability to go to a job on time and you don't see the point in going to school either.
    You'll end up with a permanent underclass of people with no useful skills and no reason to acquire any. And when those people become the majority, their benefits will increase to the point that the entire system collapses.

    A much fairer system is to provide everyone with "minimum opportunity" such as a one-time grant of land or free college education when they reach adulthood, and if they fuck it up, then they get nothing afterwards. You either seize your opportunity and figure it out, or you don't.

  • Whitepaladin||

    While I agree with you I think you've missed one important point, the scenario you have described in your first two paragraphs is what the current system has resulted in.

  • David Wall||

    I am flummoxed as well.

    The focus has to be destroying the moral imperatives of altruism. Until you libertarians face up to that, you are bound to follow the Republicans into the waste bin of history. Their altruistic Christianity completely undercuts their ability to defend capitalism.

    George McGovern was soundly defeated in no small measure for proposing a universal guaranteed income in 1972. Now 40 years later some writer for the supposed liberty movement proposes this stupidest socialist regression.

    What the heck guys?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Forget about it, Libertarius, it's Feeney. A few people suggested I was being unfair to him on the Paul thread for suggesting he might be a proggie in libertarian's clothing. Hope they bother reading this article.

  • Free Society||

    Oh. He's definitely another Steve Chapman who has a fundamental misunderstanding of libertarianism. Libertarianism is a moral philosophy with political implications. You can't support the violation of the moral underpinnings of libertarianism while claiming the policy is one that libertarian's should support.

    Welfare-statism, redistributionism that goes beyond the core functions of government is a violation of the underlying principles of libertarian ideology. That's a no-brainer for anarchist libertarians and should be the same for any minarchist libertarian who understands the concept.

  • Procrastinatus||

    "Libertarianism is a moral philosophy"

    Yup. It's absolutely amazing how many Libertarians I know don't get this. Is it OK to point a gun at people and redistribute their property, or not? This author argues that it is. That may seem black and white, but that's a quality of moral philosophies.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I'll take it one step further. A guaranteed minimum income is pretty much the death of any libertarian inclinations a country might have. It means that the public has accepted the notion that we're all either wards of the state or potential wards of the state. It's more economically efficient than the status quo but it's a more thorough rot of the national character.

  • wadair||

    Hit the nail on the head.

  • Procrastinatus||

    Yes, sir.

  • tanstaffl||

    Iirc, Heinlein talked about this in "for us, the living" He explained the theory behind it pretty well.

  • GroundTruth||

    Agreed!

    And it was a dumb idea then, and is a dumb idea now.

    Note also that this published in '38, prior to his meeting his future wife Ginny and her nurturing his libertarian side.

  • ||

    Can we all just agree Feeney is horrible?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    No. In fact, I say to you, Feeney -- "Make it so."
    Really. Welfare will be with us always. This would the least objectionable form. Standard disclaimers. blah blah.

  • ||

    This would the least objectionable form

    I actually agree. If you have to give them something just give them cash. They will spend it better then a maze of bureaucratic regulations will.

    Anyway I didn't even read the article. I am still pissed about the "Rand Paul is lying about the coup in Egypt" and didn't even mention that aid was still going to Egypt thing.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    In terms of efficiency, yes. In terms of moral consequence? Not really. The consequence of this is the acceptance of the premise of a state pension as a right, not a little kindness we do for those down on their luck. This only leads one way for the public character.

  • Free Society||

    It's least objectionable the same that being fingerbanged by a rapist is not as bad getting plain ole banged by one. It has no moral high ground and libertarians have no business supporting it rhetorically or otherwise.

  • Procrastinatus||

    Also, war will always be with us. A small war would be the least objectional form, so lets go invade the shit out of Syria.

  • SIV||

    Deport him back to Dear Old Blighty.

  • gimmeasammich||

    But he was so full of life lessons for Cory, Shawn, and Topanga, but... Oh, wrong Feeney. Carry on.

  • ||

    He's okay as long as he confines his comments to financial markets and EU news.

  • Mokers||

    Eh, I have argued this point a few times, not so much about it being embarrassing to use SNAP, but that a lot of the waste in these programs is because they hire lots of people to applications, check compliance and eligibility, and in the end most people can find their way around restrictions. If they are going to steal my money and give it away to people, at least make the program efficient in getting them those dollars. Not a perfect analogy, but it's like school vouchers on a grander scale.

    Of course, the biggest problem is that a lot of these programs aren't out to help the poor but to find more ways for cronyism and regulation.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Also if people saw directly how much money they're giving to the poor it would make them vote more rationally.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    WTF

  • jorgeborges||

    First of all, the current welfare agencies would never let themselves be replaced. It would take the power of an absolute monarch to get this done. And if it did happen, within a very few years the old agencies would start to creep back in and we'd be worse off than before.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    It would take the power of an absolute monarch to get this done.


    Actually, it would require no more than was required to pass Obamacare.

  • Freedom Frog||

    Yeah, like he said; an absolute monarch.

  • jorgeborges||

    I knew that one was coming.

  • jorgeborges||

    Not really. For the analogy to work, Obamacare would have needed to require completely eliminating Medicare, Medicaid, and all other government health programs. That never would have passed.

  • OneOut||

    Post nuclear option wouldn't it only take 51 Seantors +/- a Prez and house ?

    Legalized bribery would be it's biggest obstacle.

    Welfare is best when it is administered locally, as we all know. Locals are much better at weeding out the free riders.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    It would be impossible for the old agencies to creep back in. No politician could ever rationalize them, and if someone snuck some legislation in to say re-establish medicaid it would be defeated easily... BECAUSE IT IS CLEARLY INEFFICIENT.
    I don't know why people don't get this. Not even the dumbest hippie liberal would vote to pay bureaucrats to give handouts to the poor when they could vote to give directly the exact same handouts to the poor.
    All that would happen is Democrats and Republicans would debate over how much money to give, over what's considered a living wage, the cost of living etc.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Again, what happens when a lot of recipients squander the money? Are the advocates going to say "Oh, well. Fuck'em!"? No, we'll wind up with the free pension and the administrative welfare state.

  • JWatts||

    Not even the dumbest hippie liberal would vote to pay bureaucrats to give handouts to the poor when they could vote to give directly the exact same handouts to the poor.

    Liberal: The poor are misspending their money on things we don't approve of. And it's all the the fault of the evil capitalistic corporations and their manipulative advertising. We must create a benign government agency who will keep the poor from being abused by the evil capitalists!

  • wadair||

    I don't know why people don't get this. Not even the dumbest hippie liberal would vote to pay bureaucrats to give handouts to the poor when they could vote to give directly the exact same handouts to the poor.


    It's one of the basic progressive tendencies--even more than giving handouts--to tell people what to do. Progressives will always want to nanny others--especially the poor.

  • FYTW||

    Being morally comfortable with some degree of government wealth redistribution might be contrary to anarchism, but it is not contrary to libertarianism

    lolwut?

  • GroundTruth||

    FYTW: You are more generous than I! I'm trying to keep from blowing a gasket.

    At it's core, wealth redistribution is absolutely unlibertarian. It requires force against productive individuals and give to those whose only claim is body temperature at disequilibrium.

    A little bit of redistributionism is like being a "little bit pregnant".

  • ||

    Now comes the hard part.

    How much? You know people are gonna get huffy about getting a 'living wage' to sit on their asses.

    I see the attempt at pragmatism here, but if I understand correctly, we will never rid ourselves of welfare in some corrosive form or another so best to choose from lesser evils?

  • flye||

    How much?

    Yep, that's the hard part all right. I've made this argument recently in regards to health care.

    Whether education, health care, housing, food -- anything you give away has to be worse than what someone above the poverty line would buy for themselves. And that's unacceptable to too many self-styled progressives.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Politicians already debate over how much they should give to the poor. This is nothing new. In fact this would work in our favour as it would make the monetary amount of handouts more transparent to the taxpaying public.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Also at the risk of stating the obvious this would permanently shift the political world to the fiscal Right/Libertarianism and make us one step closer to a society of only charities and no gov't welfare.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    How, in your mind, does creating the "right" to a state pension move us in the direction of libertarianism?

  • Harun||

    Why? Instead, I see very simple political campaigns to slowly increase the guaranteed income because its not fair that someone is rich somewhere.

  • FYTW||

    Alcohol, tobacco, pet food, and vitamins are only some of the products that those on food stamps cannot buy because the powers that be have determined that they know what is the best lifestyle for food stamp recipients.

    No, Feeney, you fucking dumbass. Alcohol, tobacco, pet food, and vitamins are some of the products that those on food stamps cannot buy because the people who are ponying up to pay for the trough-feeders have determined that things like alcohol, tobacco, pet food, and vitamins aren't necessities for the genuinely destitute.

    Jesus Christ, Reason, what collectivist rock did you find this gibbering fuckstick under?

  • Libertarius||

    I almost feel that this is some kind of troll post, this is the kind of bullshit I'd expect from some bastion of lefty lalaland like Salon or Slate or The Economist, but Reason?

    Et tu, Reason?

  • dan'o||

    People buy that shit anyways with food stamps. In urban areas people easily find stores that will pay out 85-90% cash for a card swipe.

  • John Galt||

    That's a fact. Book him, Dan'O.

  • RonnieNM||

    So the woman that bought booze and smokes in front of me at the grocery store with her EBT card...that didn't happen? The SNAP money that gets added to her EBT balance miraculously doesn't pay for that? I'm supposed to believe that the same government that can't build an insurance shopping website with millions upon millions of dollars can create a purchasing card that can authorize some transactions and not others?

    But beyond that, there's nothing demeaning about having restrictions placed on your free stuff. While there's nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it, there's something very wrong with receiving money for supplemental nutrion and using it on things that aren't food for you to eat. You lose some of the say you have over your "lifestyle" when you don't fully contribute to it.

  • Sevo||

    ..."I'm supposed to believe that the same government that can't build an insurance shopping website with millions upon millions of dollars can create a purchasing card that can authorize some transactions and not others?"...

    Even if they did, it wouldn't matter. You can go stand a couple of blocks from Glide Memorial Church come tomorrow and watch free turkeys from the church turn into dope right before your eyes.

  • DaveSs||

    "Guarantee" a minimum level of income for everyone and then market prices of everything will be re-adjusted for scarcity and demand to compensate for the artificial income thus putting us back where we started.

    I'm not seeing the advantage.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    That would happen if the gov't gave the poor too much money, otherwise nothing would happen as the gov't is already handing out money to the poor, only in a much less transparent and more inefficient manner.

  • JohnToner||

    From the dictionary. INCOME, noun. Money received, esp. on a regular basis, FOR WORK or through INVESTMENTS.

    If you GIVE people money for doing NOTHING and call it INCOME, then words no longer have meaning, and intelligent conversation is impossible.

  • flye||

    Pedantry also hinders intelligent conversation. Is a dividend from the Alaska Permanent Fund income? Because people get money just for living in the state.

    Through welfare and similar programs today, people get "income" from the government in many different ways just because they live in or are a citizen of the US. Seems to me it's a reasonable argument to ask whether we should eliminate all of these and replace with a cash grant. Or we could just eliminate and not replace, but that ship has sailed.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    I think elimination and giving a cash grant IS actually a step towards elimination in the long run because people will know exactly how much $$$ the poor get from their tax dollars and suddenly free market charities will begin to make more sense.

  • ||

    $2,800 / month? Seriously? Is the cost of living that high in Switzerland?

    That amount of money for a single person would provide a very comfortable living almost anywhere in the US. Especially given the leisure time of not having to work.

    $2,800 /month is more than enough for a nice apartment, a car, rent, groceries, internet cable, entertainment, and an occasional vacation. Why bother to work at all?

  • ||

    Let me amend that, you don't need vacations if you aren't working.

    So basically you could spend that #2,800/month traveling around the world for fun. Move to a different city every year and rent an apartment, party with globe trotting ex-pats every weekend, and sleep in until 10.

  • Quicker Brown Fox||

    This is what I'm thinking. You're born in Switzerland, live at three times the level of the locals, and never work a day. Countries like Guatemala already have facilities that basically cater to non-profit, $10,000/yr stipend students; I imagine there would be similar networks for the "credit" lifestyle.

    For 90% of the world, Swiss citizenship would be an even more incredible role of the dice than it already is.

  • ||

    Yes, the cost of living is that high. Among the highest in Europe. I base this on having visited and a friend working there for a year.

  • Juice||

    Is the cost of living that high in Switzerland?

    Yes. $2800 a month isn't shit in Switzerland.

  • JWatts||

    That's quite a bit of exaggeration. The average net income in Switzerland is roughly $5,000 per month.

    So, $2,800 is still a lot of money. It would probably be the equivalent of $1,500 per month in the US after adjusting for the much higher costs of living.

  • ||

    Plus, as I was suggesting, you could relocate to Portugal, or some other low cost-of-living place and live like a king.

    Travel the world, living a year in each place. Morocco, Guatemala, Brazil, India, Thailand. It would be a fucking great life. Having a guarenteed income and no job is a much different life than living on $1,500/month with a job.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    If the money is too much, due to the transparent nature of the guaranteed income (or Milton Friedman's negative income tax), the public will be outraged and the handouts will be lowered very quickly

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Says who? Since when is the public particularly well versed on the level of government pensions?

  • NathanJohnson||

    They are already doing this in Alaska. 1-2K per person per year for everyone. Very possible to do this US wide by giving the rent of public land and resources to the people rather then letting a few privileged crony corporations collect it all.

  • Libertarius||

    You're fucking with us, right? Else you really are this stupid.

    It is the productive activities of "privileged crony corporations" which create the value of what you so casually describe as "resources"...nevermind, fuck it, let's just get the collapse over with. I'm so sick of all this anti-reality leftist bullshit.

  • jonl||

    Explain to me how corporations create underground minerals, metals, and oil; wildlife, including forests; the genetic variety of life; oceans, lakes, and streams; the atmosphere, wind, precipitation, and sunlight; the electromagnetic spectrum; orbits; and the surface area of the Earth.

  • Libertarius||

    Assfuck--you are refering to metaphysically-given facts of nature, things which simply exist regardless of man. But it is man--that is, corporations--who take these natural materials, discover their governing properties, and use them to create automobiles, nuclear reactors, the clothes on your body and the food in your stomach. The metaphysically-given simply exists; the manmade is a product of the rational application of human cognition to the materials of nature.

    It is minds *much* better than yours which have given you the life you enjoy, that have given you the luxury to stare blindly at rocks and trees, and claim *these* things to be the source of wealth and the glory of human existence.

  • Procrastinatus||

    Psh. Don't you know that if the greedy corporations weren't sucking the minerals out of the gound unequally, we'd all have our fair share? If it wasn't for them I could just take some post hole diggers and a sump pump and get enough energy to power Tokyo through winter.

    Fucking corporations.

  • prolefeed||

    I think a more libertarian position would be, "It's a bad idea, but not as bad as the status quo if you actually do get rid of the entire rest of the welfare state, which is unlikely to happen rather than get added on top of the other giveaways."

  • flye||

    Exactly. Sort of like a VAT. Not the worst idea as far as taxes go, but a horrible idea if it doesn't replace several other taxes outright.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Yep that is essentially what Milton Friedman argued in the Free to Choose episode where he took on the welfare trap.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Switzerland is not the United States. Obviously it is a lot smaller than the U.S. Clearly Swiss History is a lot different than that of the U.S. The population is more homogenous. I could go on but you get the general idea. Very important is that Switzerland is neutral and has been for sometime. The country does not feel it necessary to spend huge sums patrolling and policing the entire world. Finally, the general population of Switzerland probably has less morons than the U.S. does, probably better educated and so on.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    You just posted a giant paragraph of red herring.
    All with no line breaks.

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    How is the forced redistribution of wealth in any way a libertarian idea? "Libertarian", Feeney, I don't think that word means what you think it means.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    herp derp it's called incremental progress, a kind of political "tactic" which the uncompromising high-horse utopian types here might not understand.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Again, establishing a right to a state pension is not progress toward libertarianism.

  • Harun||

    Fabian Libertarianism.

  • Procrastinatus||

    Neolibertarianism?

  • Quicker Brown Fox||

    My hope would be, if there was a guaranteed income, that it would not be adjusted for area cost of living. It may be a nice way to get people to do that crazy, rambling, timeless activity of moving to opportunities. Of course, our obsession with home ownership and public education could make that more difficult. Would the credit travel across national borders? If so, I'm not sure if it would be good or bad.

    However, one of the tragedies of the current welfare system is that it strips welfare recipients of their dignity while treating many of them like children, and functions on the underlying assumption that somehow being poor means you are incapable of making good decisions.

    In other words, we should remove the stigma of government assistance for a lump sum and give people the dignity of making their own choices. I like the dignity part of that, but I think it's a pretty big gamble to create such an all-encompassing entitlement that includes those who don't need it, especially with how I hear reasonably sensible retirees talk about "their" social security. Dignity would have to encourage responsibility, so at the very least the former would have to be qualified by the latter.

    Also, I wish there was a term for artificially-created environments that operate under libertarian rules, because that's what this proposal is. I would throw the Chilean retirement program and school vouchers into the same category. Not libertarian in principle, but in operation.

  • ||

    As a libertarian who has been on the cusp of homelessness since 2008, I say I would rather have a job. But 100's of applications later, those are hard critters to find. I wish I had a vagina.

  • ||

    And the moral of this story boys and girls is: STEM degrees.

  • Robert||

    Dammit, I got a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and I too have been on that cusp for that same time period. So no moral.

  • BigT||

    Robert, the unemployment rate for PhD chemists is about 2% according to C&ENews;. If you are having that much trouble, there must be other factors. Are you willing to re-locate, or perhaps you are expecting too much money, or aren't willing to leave your PhD niche.

  • ||

    There could be personality factors.

    Some people are too difficult to work with.

    When I hear about an out-of-work software developer, I always think that he's a raging asshole with Asperger syndrome.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Welfare is the biggest, strongest kind of political corruption. Welfare doling is the means to secure and maintain power. Once power gets held, then extracting buying power for interested parties such as oligopolists and bureaucrats can happen.

    By replacing targeted welfare (Section 8 for rent, SNAP for food, Medicaid for medical bills) with cash, no one can know where the extra buying power shall accumulate. Rents could fall but food prices could soar.

    There are better fixes than income guarantees.

    End SNAP. Instead, dole out a generic basket of food each month (e.g., a bag of potatoes, a block of cheese, a box of milk, a chunk of ground beef).

    End Obamacare. Instead, add a payroll tax to pay monthly insurance premiums. Each year, randomly assign any worker to any medical bills paying insurer. Fold Medicaid and Medicare into one means-tested program. Randomly assign the new Medicaid recipient to a med bills insurer and pay the premiums upon that one's behalf.

    End Section 8. Instead, do nothing and watch rents plummet.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    There is one, infrangible law and one axiom that governs the whole of economics, the The Law of Prices and the Axiom of Profit.

    The Law of Prices holds the winning bids of demand in the face of supply, set the price. The Axiom of Profit holds the sum of sales must at least equal the cost of production, otherwise the producer goes to ruin..

    Often, producers seek politicians to transfer buying power to others in hopes of increasing winning bids of demand, thus increasing prices and revenues (as sales x price = revenues) or producers seek to have their production costs subsidized. With subsidized production, producers no longer need to produce efficiently and thus costs of production can exceed the sum of sales. Often, the latter gets combined with regulatory capture so as either to inhibit or prohibit would-be competitors from introducing technological innovation, which would render obsolete any extant capital structure.

    Welfare is the biggest, strongest kind of political corruption. Welfare doling is the means to secure and maintain power. Once power gets held, then extracting buying power for interested parties such as oligopolists and bureaucrats can happen.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Any legit libertarian first focuses on reducing the size and scope of government and in so doing fights to shrink officialdom and restore what belongs as right to any random individual's freedom. Legit libertarians never support laws that add privileges organized groups.

    Often Reason.com and some Reasoners come down on the wrong side of issues by advocating for expansion of political power because they have conflated privilege with right.

    Anyone is right to live, right to live without an overlord and right to pursue what could yield pleasure. Those are the only rights anyone has. Everything else is privilege masquerading as right.

    Take gay "marriage" — that is privilege masquerading as right. The legit libertarian stance is advocate for an end to tax privileges based on marriage status. The faux libertarian stance is to advocate for gay "marriage" based on fallacious liberty grounds.

  • Quicker Brown Fox||

    I think a lot of libertarian thought is used up with a "stop the bleeding" mentality. "Welfare will happen, so let's limit it to this." I think if there are extra-governmental limitations on something, then compromise can work. For example, I'm not worried about people abusing marriage benefits because they're so tertiary to the focus of marriage. But when you give government the ability to create the boundaries on power, then things will get worse, like you said. I think this is in the latter camp. The limits will get moved.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Exactly.

    The tacticians behind Reason.com believe that if they appeal to young adults (pro gay, pro drugs), somehow they sway enough to become a force. These tacticians believe in working within the system to beat the system.

    Yet, the tactic fails precisely because moderates from both parties already offer the foregoing. Thus, the belief is Reason.com and libertarians don't offer anything not already being offered by others.

    Humans change only when they can see the personal rewards of a clearly described future. Which of these moves anyone to act?

    I'll shine your shoes.
    Get your Sunday shine here.

    The latter is the sales winner, easily. Why? A man knows that others shall look at him with respect when he enters into church or wherever on Sunday.

    Reasoners and libertarians need to paint future pictures of what life would be like for anyone in a libertarian future and so succinctly as Get your Sunday shine here.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Don't libertarians also need to win elections?

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Sure, libertarians need to win. However, right now, they're offering a weaker version of a branded product people can get already with either the Democrats or the Republicans.

    Democrats are pro-gay. Americans are pro-marijuana, so that issue has become moot.

    Reason.com's editors' lame strategy of pro-gay, pro-drugs fails to lure in anyone.

    Now if Reason.com editors adopted an anti Big Business (anti-regulatory capture, anti-oligopoly) stance, they might have something. Instead, they defend Big Business, which kills the deal for almost everyone in America who isn't connected to Big Business.

    Thus, too often, to the uninitiated, Reason.com comes across as Republican Party, right wing, fascist, to the naif outsider.

    Reasoners tend to come down on the wrong side of nearly every issue precisely because they don't the difference between privileges and rights; they don't get what officialdom is nor freedom (the virtual realm where anyone is self-sovereign) and they don't get economics (Law of Prices, Axiom of Profit) as well as the power-politics nexus (welfare is the means to power, the bureaucracy needed to dole welfare is self-serving).

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Your proposal sounds complicated, which means politicians will find ways to screw it up and hide the true costs from the taxpayer. These are things politicians can't do with negative income tax/guaranteed income

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Whose proposal? Mine? Surely, you must be sarcastic.

    What could be simpler than these:

    [1] End Section 8.

    [2] End SNAP. Dole out a set bag of food to welfare beggars each month.

    [3] End Obamacare. Institute a payroll tax like the ones already in existence, such as FICA, at a rate, which covers insurance premium, insurers allocated at random.

    1,2,3 likely cut the bureaucracy headcount by 50%. [1] shutters HUD. [3] practically eliminates HHS and a chunk of the SSA.

  • Harun||

    "Dole out a set bag of food to welfare beggars each month."

    On some other message board, I argued for this, and someone told me that it had been done before, and the food literally would rot on the stoop.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    And the problem with food rotting on the stoop is what, exactly?

  • John Galt||

    Okay. Your argument has swayed me. Of course it's not my opinion that counts.

  • Joe Clave||

    I disagree. If people are going to accept handouts from taxpayers, then taxpayers should be able to dictate the terms. If they don't want to be treated like children, then stop taking the allowance.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    That's a terrible argument considering gov't has replaced mutual aid societies and free market charities in people's minds. You make yourself and other libertarians by association sound like we want people to starve for not submitting to the whims of the gov't.

  • Robert||

    Taxpayers are able to dictate terms. But are the terms currently dictated a good thing? Is the general idea of restrictive terms a good thing? Taxpayers being able to dictate terms is a trivial statement, for it applies to all tax-funded anything.

    People here are reacting as if it's the 1st time they've heard such a proposal. It's been connected with the libertarian movement (albeit not necessarily with libertarianism) for a very long time. The efficiency gains, i.e. savings to taxpayers, would be stupendous.

    Would there be agitation to increase it? Sure, but that proves too much, because if they could increase it, what makes you think they couldn't enact it now at levels as high as they'd want to increase it to? There'd also be agitation to decrease it. It's called politics.

    Imagine if instead of Social Security, retirees were being "paid" in food vouchers, housing allowances, Medicare (whoops, already got that one), car fare, etc. Wouldn't that be worse than cash? If you would not be for switching from Soc. Sec. cash payments to some combination of such compensation, why would you not be for switching other forms of assistance to cash?

    I'm just amazed Switzerland could be so expensive, though. You'd think goods & services would flow in to take advantage of those big spenders.

  • ||

    Right. If you're on SNAP, the only thing your should be allowed is some horrid nutritional gruel.

    Living at other people's expense should be as uncomfortable as possible without actually killing you, as an incentive to get off of it.

  • blcartwright||

    Our house has 4 adults (my wife and I, our daughter and her husband) and 3 children. We can get by on $6000/mo. If each adult was able (under the Swiss proposal) to bring in $2800/mo, that's a total of $11,200/mo. I'd retire immediately.

    If enough people do that, who are you going to tax to fund the program?

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    If the payments are too much the taxpayers and opportunist politicians will have it lowered. One key advantage to this system is transparency. Everyone know how much the poor would get. Everyone could form an opinion on what is a proper guaranteed income.

  • Tak Kak||

    Are we proposing taking the vote away from the transferees too? (I strongly support that move, by the way) Otherwise it might be politically difficult for it to go any direction but up.

  • ||

    Good point. It might actually be a stable system if people on the dole were denied the vote. Otherwise, it will become unstable as soon as the people with all that free time breed their way into a majority.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Simple question, KP? Name for me one government entitlement that has ever been reduced? Ever?

  • ||

    Not if the number of people on the dole exceeds the number of taxpayers.

  • ax123man||

    Did I stumble onto huff post by accident?

    Get of your ass and support your own family members that need it, local charities, food banks, etc. Welfare is a way for you to wash your hands of this and politicians are happy to help you shirk your responsibilities.

    The incentives of welfare recipients is only half the problem. The other half are the incentives of all of us to do more than just vote yes and pay our taxes.

    Additionally, have we really thought about all the unintended consequences of this plan (hint: we never do)

    Ps: outright socialism is coming, but I'm not going down without a fight.

  • Vincent Milburn||

    So true. The welfare state is not I sign of righteousness, but a sign of the opposite. In a truly moral society, people live responsibly and stay out of poverty better. In the rare cases where they do fall through, family, friends and private charity funded by voluntary donations are there to help them. Throwing someone else' money at the problem is not noble.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    So what do you propose? That we keep the same welfare system we have now? You knwo, the one where no one knows really how much tax money the poor can squeeze out of the system; the one that creates a welfare trap that harshly penalizes welfare recipients for working? The one that needs an army of unionized bureaucrats and regulators to work?

  • Libertarius||

    This welfare system we have now, the one which requires obscene budget deficits to be monetized by the Fed every year, is not going to be kept (no matter how much kicking and screaming occurs).

    You can only cheat reality for so long. The leftoids are going to lose, like they always do--because evil isn't practical.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Since when is earning anything perceived as punishment?

    Perhaps you mean that if a person can collect welfare and to the fullest extent, that one could gain $X but if that one worked, that one would gain $X-Y so the "rational" decision is to not work.

    No one is penalized for working. Other gains accrue to working — skills accumulation that can lead to higher earnings, if demanded, social contacts, which can lead to new opportunities, self-satisfaction and self-respect.

  • ||

    Know what, ax? Me too. I'll join the fight.

  • bassjoe||

    This comment thread is exactly why libertarianism has a bad name.

  • Libertarius||

    No, it's reality that has a bad name. It is reality which all the schemes and systems of collectivism are designed to evade and supplant; but there is only one way in which reality can be escaped: death.

    And that is exactly what the American welfare state will achieve, unless we have a philosophical revolution in this country. A philosophical revolution in favor of rationality and individualism is the *only* way to save this country, because rationality and individualism are the philosophy consonant with the facts of reality.

  • The Last American Hero||

    I think New Randian Man has about as much chance of showing up as New Soviet Man.

  • GroundTruth||

    But the former at least is self supporting, the later is still a parasite on his fellow comrade workers.

  • Libertarius||

    But Straw Man is alive and kicking, I see.

  • XM||

    2,800 X 12 (months) = $33,600. Regardless of income level!

    Well, I'll tell you one thing. If we ever get to vote on such a proposal in the USA, I'll vote against it, because (1) I'm such a good libertarian, and (2) I don't want to explain to my grandkids why America changed its name to "Inflation Land."

    But if I get outvoted by the socialists who think this is "economic justice", I'll take the 30 thou. I'll save it somewhere and explore an escape plan.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    This is why Milton Friedman's negative income tax might be better. Guaranteed Income was proposed to boost transparency yet a neg.inc.tax is transparent enough compared to what we have now, and it'll shrink gov't and abolish the welfare trap just the same.
    However I think you're interpreting it wrong; that money would be taxed away as you earn more...I think... see this is why Milton makes more sense; go on youtube watch that episode of Free to Choose where he takes on the welfare trap he explains it well

  • AdamJ||

    In an inflationary environment, saving isn't a good idea...

  • mcswiss||

    Four words: Cost of Living Adjustments

  • JidaKida||

    Sometimes man you just have to roll with it.

    www.Comp-VPN.tk

  • Quicker Brown Fox||

    Let's hope you're as defeatist a robot overlord as you are a libertarian, anonbot. More like cosmotarianbot.

  • johnnyp70||

    If employed professionals are able to fulfil their duties at work while also maintaining a recreational drug habit, why should welfare recipients be treated differently?

    He who pays the fiddler CALLS THE GODDAMN TUNE. People might have a "right" to food. They don't have a right to fucking cocaine.

    But this is just typical of the politically correct "oh we can't ever hurt anybodies feelings" left-libertarianism. Libertarianism is the right to do whatever the hell you want with someone else's money.

  • The Last American Hero||

    People have a right to food? Unless they're hunter gatherers, that food isn't going to grow and transport itself. Libertarians are against slavery. Libertarians support property rights (including other peoples money). And the point of libertarianism is to maximizing personal freedom within the limits of the NAP, which has nothing to do with other people's money. Socialist schemes on the other hand are very much about top men doing whatever the hell they want with other people's money.

  • Libertarius||

    The "NAP" is transparently rationalistic and goofy. Rothbardians use it in the same manner as the ooga-booga of some primordial tribe.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    this kind of stuff isn't a socialist scheme as much as it's a way to contain and minimize current socialist schemes while boosting transparency, cutting gov't & getting rid of the welfare trap.
    Why do so few people here understand this? Did you not watch Milton Friedman's Free to Choose? Do you people not understand economics? What is this? Bizarro-world?
    Do so many people here seriously think they can just elect a politician that'll propose a bill abolishing the welfare state & convincing people to support the poor by using their tax cuts to fund free market charities and mutual aid societies? Yeah, that'll totally work.
    I just remembered why I like libertarianism but don't like many people who call themselves libertarians. If I wanted some idealistic utopian morons ramble about how things should be I'd have kept being a pinko anti-capitalist past my teens.

  • flye||

    Word.

  • MJBinAL||

    Doesn't sound as if you like libertarianism. Libertarianism is based on principles.

    The people here actually believe in their principles, the are not Republicans that root for team Red no matter what actual policies they pursue.

    You remind me why it is so easy to spot posers.

    You might be more at home over at the National Review site.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Apparently, you have hallucinated over the comments of others here at Reason and in so doing you have exposed your simple beliefs about power and politics, Ketogenic Paleo. That is why everything seems bizarro to you.

    Welfare is the means by which politicians secure power and once secured, politicians can do what has been asked of them by their financial backers.

    Bureaucrats are part of the political machinery. They're not going to cut their own fake-work, make-work jobs. When faced with their own political survival, they shall back any pol proposing the status quo, or better, expansion of welfare and hence bureaucracy.

    No pol is ever going to get through crack-pipe dreaming Milton Friedman's negative income tax proposal, ever.

    Bureaucracies don't shrink until forced. Politicians don't stop doling ever more welfare until forced. Force either comes when bond buyers stop buying, pols and central banker cronies engage in quantitative easing (buying of government bonds with conjured checking account credits from the central bankers) until hyperinflation sets in or when foreigners attack after being screwed over and seeing a chance to knock off a weaker enemy from the chessboard.

  • Habeas Dorkus||

    Christ on a shit stick.
    Another pie-in-the-sky, unobtainable "fix" proposed by so-called libertarians.
    Even if it were a good idea -- and it's not -- this is nothing more than another thin idea that's bound to be ignored, just like private roads.
    Get serious, Reason.

  • Habeas Dorkus||

    IOW, less Matt Welch, more George Will.

  • MJBinAL||

    Do us both a favor, try the National Review site.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    That's possible but the one strong point going for a negative income tax is that it's hard for a liberal to argue against, in spite being a "conservative" position.
    It offers the safety net welfare statists crave only it would also abolish the welfare trap allowing more economic mobility, shrink gov't size to the point of perhaps even getting rid of farm subsidies, and perhaps most importantly create transparency, showing the taxpaying public exactly how much would be doled out to the poor (and allowing voters to form their opinions on whether the amount is too much or too little).
    Convince enough people and this may very well be the new "Left" position on welfare. (and the Right can talk more openly of free market charities)

  • MJBinAL||

    There are no strong points for any of this.

    If I come over to your house and take your stuff it is theft. If I get the neighbor to come help me take your stuff it is still theft. AND if I invite you and all the neighbors down to the fire station and we vote to take your stuff it is STILL theft.

    ALL government redistribution of wealth is stealing and distributing the stolen property.

    We can't persuade people our principles are correct if we can't even stick to them. Don't imagine you can use a ploy like this to moderate socialists, they will just use your words to point out that even YOU don't believe in your principles.

    GROW A SPINE!

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Hear, hear.

  • Joao||

    Some problems, but perhaps an ultimate solution. How?

    You will recall a similar situation in the Pearl S. Buck novel, The Good Earth. His meddling aunt and uncle were always messing with his business, household, etc. So he got them hooked on opium, which kept them occupied while he went about his business.

    This could similarly shut the left up in their pursuit of "social justice"

    But probably not, they would just expand it and before long the masses will get that plus the control of the vote.

    It makes more sense for all the doers to just leave. Southern Chile is kinda cold, tho.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    You make no sense, other than saying this isn't an ultimate solution (it's a compromise that'd give Libertarians & fiscal conservatives more political power)...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82SG_EpCsVs
    Milton Fridman talks about the negative income tax here which is similar.

  • Ketogenic Paleo||

    Milton Friedman argued for the negative income tax here, which I think is slightly better.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82SG_EpCsVs
    This is an excellent compromise that would get rid of the welfare trap and shrink gov't size. It would also get rid of regulations and maybe even get rid of things like farm subsidies and subsidized public transport. Why bother when people could just argue over how much to give to the poor directly.
    Another great benefit would be transparency. Taxpayers would know exactly how much they spend on the poor and the voting public could debate and decide how much the poor should get. (assuming the Dems want it raised & Reps want it lowered, which is sort of what's already happening today only they call it other names like "free healthcare" for the poor instead of "free money"). This would probably have a net effect of making it more unpopular than it already is to promise handouts to the poor.

    Lastly, and most importantly for Libertarians, this would permanently shift the political world a little to the fiscal Right/Libertarian side. It would mean support for the neg.inc.tax would be the new Liberal position and the Right could more easily argue in the mainstream for support for an even more efficient free-market based system.
    (This gets rid of the middleman bureaucrats so even the most socialist leftie couldn't argue for the old bureaucratic welfare system without opposition from both parties)

  • MJBinAL||

    Yes, the best way to elimiate or defeat the socialists is to become socialist-light ourselves.

    What a brilliant idea! Why didn't I think of that!

    And how simple! We can compromise with them! They keep the portion of our money they have and will give them the rest! That will teach them!

    Yep, heads you win, tails I lose ALWAYS works out!

    (excuse me, I need to puke)

  • Winston||

    Yes, the best way to elimiate or defeat the socialists is to become socialist-light ourselves.

    What a brilliant idea! Why didn't I think of that!

    Well it worked for the Democrats. I mean look how much they have reduced the size of the state!

  • Abraham Franklin||

    A guaranteed income is not a libertarian solution. The libertarian solution is privately funded charity.

    Privately charities are more effective than government at determining who is truly needy and at "teaching a man to fish" rather than promoting dependency.

    For 150 years--before the New Deal--American charities successfully addressed and alleviated poverty. See Marvin Olasky's "The Tragedy of American Compassion" for countless examples.

    Don't argue over government solutions without considering the private alternatives. Change the terms of the debate!

  • Habeas Dorkus||

    Exactly.
    The assumptions of any configuration of the welfare state, however libertarian, are:
    1. There are people who cannot survive without welfare subsidies;
    2. It is the "duty" of "society" to help these people;
    3. Once received, this "welfare" will wean people off those subsidies.

    All three points, proven false.

  • MJBinAL||

    What idiots you must imagine us to be.

    Libertarians, are supposed to believe that taking from one to give to another is theft. YOU purport to be a Libertarian by advocating a different way of handing out the stolen goods?

    So you imagine the way not to appear heartless is the dump our principles? Oh good! So, we can show how much we are opposed to capital punishment by changing from lethal injection to jettisoning them in to vacuum of space instead? Oh wait! I get it, we can show how opposed to are to unconstitutional taking of property by killing the owners first, THEN taking the property! Yeah! That's the ticket! It's not what you do but how you do it!

    What a fraud you are. Get your silly a$$ over to the Huffington Post where you belong.

  • Robert||

    No, he purports to be libertarian by proposing the diminution of the amount of theft. Theft is a bad thing, no? So isn't it good to decrease it if you can? This is a way to do so.

    Court procedures have been changed to considerably decrease the amount of time people have to spend on jury duty. Slavery is a bad thing, no? Was not changing procedures so as to require less slavery a good thing?

  • MJBinAL||

    He is a lying sack of $hit or a fool.

    This is the same logic used to sell the VAT in Europe. Now they have all the taxes they had before AND the VAT.

    Heads they win, Tails you lose.

    And you want to play another round?

  • Robert||

    No, VAT was sold as a revenue raising measure, as a way to collect taxes that would be harder to evade, and at that it succeeded. Here the goal is the opposite, i.e. to reduce gov't thruput, and I expect that to succeed as well.

  • ||

    Except it won't reduce the amount of theft. They will just glom it on top of all the other welfare benefits. They'll propose a reduction over time of the other welfare benefits, but when it actually comes time to do so they'll kick it further down the road and then we'll end up with more theft in the aggregate. Anybody who does not see this is a fool.

  • jonl||

    Its not theft if your paying (taxed) to pollute, deplete natural resources, or exclude people from your land.

  • Butler T. Reynolds||

    Didn't the US sort of implement Friedman's idea? It's called the Earned Income Tax Credit. It was globbed on top of all the other existing programs. Yay.

    Friedman's negative income tax would be a much better way to run a welfare state. Likewise, Friedman's idea for how the Federal Reserve should handle the money supply would be better than what we have today.

    The reality is that the people in Washington who put these policies in place are not Reason magazine readers and most of them are not Milton Friedman fans.

    I think I can hear the ghost of Harry Browne...

  • Winston||

    Aren't these proposals usually paradoxical? In order for those policies to be implemented in the proper fashion you need to have a much more libertarianish political culture. And if that happened wouldn't it be better to have more radical libertarian policies?

  • Robert||

    Then you're saying it never pays to agitate for anything, because if you could get it you wouldn't have to agitate for it.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Friedman didn't understand both commercial banking and central banking. Thus Friedman didn't get the difference between specie money and fiduciary money with centralized banknotes and token coins nor the effects derived from the two systems with respect to freedom and power.

    Having central bankers who can set interbank lending rates, who can toss about checking account credits at will and who can buy government bonds, thus buttressing politicians is the whole problem. The problem is not setting an automatic growth rate for cash in circulation.

    Likely, Friedman didn't realize that it is the bank customers themselves who cause money accretion and thus adding new notes in circulation to extant ones by demanding to hold cash in hand rather than checking account credits.

    A better system would have a futures market set interest rates and prohibit central bankers from buying government bonds or any private security for that matter. A still better system would eliminate a central bank and centralized fiduciary bank notes.

  • Robert||

    Yes, but the state & federal EITC are so small that hardly anyone comes out with a significant net positive, especially with FICA deducted—certainly not an amount close to what would be needed for living expenses. Still, I'm glad it exists as a demonstration and framework for something that could be built into enough to replace today's aid programs for the poor.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Tell us why, exactly, some should be forced to pay taxes or face prison, to have their takings handed over to the poor.

    Why shouldn't the poor be forced to fight for their lives in gladiator games or a in a perpetual war against countries who need a way to rid themselves of their own poor?

    You seem to have a preference for helping any poor. Why aren't you setting up a massive network of voluntary paying for welfare?

    What makes you believe your preferred version of violence (pay taxes for the poor or face prison) is better or right compared to another version (force the poor to fight for their lives in gladiator games).

  • jonl||

    Taxing aggression is not stealing.

  • Len Bias||

    This is a great idea.

    However, since we can't pay for it, how about mandating that every company with over 50 employees pays the guaranteed income? These companies are rich, they can afford it. This won't affect job creation in any way whatsoever. Moreover, if you like your job that makes under the guaranteed income, you will be able to keep it.

    There will be those who don't work for the above companies making under the guaranteed income. We can make up the difference for them through payments from the government.

    There may be stubborn, archaic types who will not want to accept money from Uncle Sam. However, poverty affects us all; we all end up picking up the bills the impoverished can not pay. Therefore, there will be a mandate saying you MUST accept a guaranteed income from Uncle Sam. Failure to pay accept the funds results in a tax penalty.

    Those subject to the mandate will be require to register for their funds at a website which can calculate how much they are entitled to, and only have to enter in tons of personal information in order to do so. The government will store this information, you know, because terrorism and stuff.

    The website may initially have a few glitches in which people are unable to use it. But, the website will no doubt be fully functional* within two months of going online. (*Fully functional is defined as being 0-80% functional.)

    You are so right, Matt, this would be so much simpler than our current welfare system.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Have to say I'm stunned by the the number of non-frequent commenters.

  • BigT||

    Mostly crypto-fascists, however. Is this an improvement on the Shriek-Tony class of moron?

  • SQRLSY One||

    Ta heck with the free money, I want my chicks for free, and I want my MTV! NOW! I DESERVE them, my Momma ***AND*** my Emperor O-Bummer-funded therapist BOTH said so!

  • Greendogo||

    What is this? Slate? Someone please fire this author.

    I'll tell you what Libertarians should support, Mr. Feeney, no government, Austrian Economics, Anarcho-Capitalism.

    Anything less would be ridiculous.

  • Jayburd||

    The pipeline to the largesse is just too convoluted! I predict Weeny Feeny will pull a David Brock and defect to Salon.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Matthew Feeney claims "A guaranteed income would reduce the humiliations of the current welfare system while promoting individual responsibility."

    Feeney makes an appeal to emotion with his reduce the humiliations claim and commits a non-sequitur with his bogus claim that guaranteed income somehow promotes individual responsiblity."

    It's should be clear to anyone that giving something to someone without the latter having to give up something in exchange and guaranteeing to the latter steady receipt never could establish individual responsibility.

    Parents all too often have witnessed Johnny blowing his allowance on bubble gum and comic books, watching their failed attempts at trying to promote individual responsibility in Johnny.

  • ziggy||

    I am oppose to this idea but prefer it to the current system. Scarp all government assistance and just give everyone cash.

    The left and politicians would off course be against this, because it removes the one thing they crave so much, control over people. That satisfaction of "knowing" they know what is best for everyone else.

  • thorax232||

    Theft is theft.

  • NHforLiberty||

    yup. doesn't matter is you call it welfare or "guaranteed income".

  • jonl||

    I like this tax/safety net idea. Protect natural resources with a severance. Production of property via extraction of natural resources from a community commons should require a fee to the community proportional to the decrease in the ability of that commons to sustainably support such extraction. Establish Green Pricing. Market prices should include the measurable costs that products and actions demonstrably and physically (not psychologically or sociologically) impose on non-consenting third parties. Finally, Land Value Tax supporting citizens dividend. A spatial natural resource like land (and spectrum and orbits) is a fixed pre-existing supply that cannot be augmented, hidden, or removed through human effort, and so does not support the same moral claim for outright title (as opposed to mere possession) as property that is created by applying effort to natural resources or to other property. http://earthfreedom.net/manifesto

  • NHforLiberty||

    really?

  • jonl||

    Good reply.

  • ||

    God knows this argument has been made before, and I can't be arsed to read through the whole thread, but a minimum income is probably the most efficient way to administer a welfare state. The only problem is that's like being fastest horse in the glue factory or tallest dwarf. Contra Feeney, I can't imagine how the concept of a welfare state is at all compatible with orthodox libertarian philosophy.

  • ||

    Praise!

  • CharlotteHaze||

    The commutards have even infiltrated good ol' REASON? That's it, I hereby cancel my subscription to the internet.

  • ||

  • outspoken citizen||

    Murry's proposal would make things worse in the US. $10.000 a year would not even cover rent (I live in a small city, and rent is $960 a month). In most heavily populated areas, rent alone is $1,200 to $1,500 a month for a studio or three room apartment. The Swiss idea of $2,800 per month is a realistic figure, but even that is stretching things a lot. With obamacare, even $2,800 a month would not work. $10,000 per year would create chaos and if you add obamacare to that, it would be like turning people into third world citizens.

  • ||

    I recently moved from Arizona, and in Tucson, you can get a 600 sq. ft apartment for $500/month. Before that I had a $560/month apartment in Houston, and a large $740/month one in a quadruplex. Both downtown in the Museum district.

    Personal experience ... rents are high in major cities on the east and west coast. Everywhere else it's pretty cheap. Nobody absolutely needs to live in Manhatten, or DC, or San Francisco.

  • ||

    Besides that, if you are a welfare recipient why should you get your own personal 1-bedroom apartment?

    Rent a room in a house with a shared kitchen and bath. Even cheaper.

    In a place like Tucson, you could easily find a room in a group house for under $400/month.

  • strangelooper||

    I live in Dallas and have an ok apartment for $630 a month. There are apartments a lot cheaper than mine around too.

  • SomeGuy123||

    Under a free market society no one has a right to live anywhere they cannot afford.

    W/ a minimum income you'd probably see a migration of poor people to cheaper areas. There is no reason someone without significant financial resources or a job should demand to live in New york city (or in a single family home) . Also keep in mind that 10k would be per person so parents would have 20k at their disposal.

  • ||

    Here's my alternative proposal...
    Instead of a "guarenteed income", you get a "guarenteed minimum opportunity".

    Upon reaching adulthood, you either get a plot of free land, which you can farm, or a free college education, or an entry-level job in a field of your choice, guarenteed for 2 years. After that, nothing. You either take advantage of the opportunity and learn some skills or learn to support yourself in some way, or you don't.

  • eathdemon||

    so you want to hand an 18 year old a 60 to 70k check.
    I am a FSU student
    tuition is $2500 *8 semesters.
    cost of living in this area is $800 rent/utilities/food/phone/internet and yes FSU requires students to have easily accessible internet access.
    books $250 *8
    total = 60400 ps FSU is on the low end of universities price wise
    this does not include grad school which is anther 5k a semester.

  • SomeGuy123||

    For everyone arguing that this is a bad idea vs. not giving out to "freeloaders", you should note that it has nothing to do with ending state welfare, it has everything to do with lowering the costs and maximizing the benefits when you do.

    By giving out cash, you allow the free market to perform correctly. What currently exists is a manipulated market, having the state choose what goods/services will be bought (thats practically a centrally planned, communist-like, economy).

    By giving out cash, you eliminate all the useless bureaucracy that decides who should and shouldnt get benefits, who is or isnt on drugs etc etc. You could eliminate 1000s of useless jobs (they do not create anything of value) and save millions.

    There will only be price inflation in the goods that are not currently benefits and that later would be bought with the annual 10k. Because the 10k is in place of all other benefits it is not like printing 10k MORE money, it is a substitute and therefore will only cause price fluctuations as consumers shift their spending patterns from what the gov't mandated to what consumers actually want/need.

  • Free Society||

    By giving out cash, that was obtained through coercion and channeled through political institutions, you allow the free market to perform correctly? Jesus titty fucking Christ

  • ||

    Dafuq did I just read?

    I thought we were over this whole NIT/minimum income idea.

  • Free Society||

    Congrats Matthew Feeney. You have reached Steve Chapman levels of pseudo-libertarianism.

    Matthew Feeney: "Rand Paul is awful. He is no true Scotsman libertarian. If he were a good libertarian like me, he would support a living wage redistribution scheme."

    Being morally comfortable with some degree of government wealth redistribution might be contrary to anarchism, but it is not contrary to libertarianism [...]

    Libertarianism is not a political philosophy. It's a moral philosophy with political implications. Your utilitarian view of liberty as a political concept is utterly fallacious. Support for coercive redistribution, especially those that don't limit government to it's core functions, is a direct violation of libertarian principles.

  • JRS1001||

    good post - agreed

  • Smack MacDougal||

    By giving out cash, you allow the free market to perform correctly.

    ~ SomeGuy123

    Let's say a good sum of welfare collectees take to snowboarding under a system of guaranteed cash welfare. Capital shall flow to supporting snowboarding and away from other activities. With less capital in other activities, fewer suppliers shall exist in other activities. Prices for goods from those other activities shall rise.

    So the rest, not receiving guaranteed cash welfare now face higher prices because guaranteed cash welfare collectees have been given unnearned buying power leading to distortions.

    In the remaining capital starved industries, extant, decaying capital structures shall remain in effect. Return to capital shall diminish over time. A death spiral of capital starvation shall follow leading to fewer suppliers and higher prices.

    So, it's not how free markets work. In free markets, capital flows to wanted activities of persons who earn the right to vote with their buying power what it is they want.

    Under your wet dream of guaranteed cash welfare, markets shall become distorted. Inefficiencies shall follow. Side effects such as pollution shall rise.

    As an aside, which free market are you talking about? And is any market a free market? There isn't a monolithic "free market".

  • jonl||

    Like the swiss plan, with a citizens dividend everyone receives guaranteed cash regardless of income or net worth.

  • Black Liberty Unchained||

    So what happens if the welfare state comes to an abrupt end? I doubt those living on the dole all of a sudden rethink their lives and start looking for employment. I see mass protest and stores getting raided. The great society has led people to feel like they are entitled to homes, cars, food and every modern convenience. I would like to see private charity helping the poor instead of government but I don't think it will ever become reality. There will always be bleeding hearts begging government to help the poor and politicians eager to help so votes can be won.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Regardless of what anyone thinks, if we travel down the correct path, this, or something like it, will happen.

    Someone mentioned the effects of automation on production. eventually automation will handle most of the drudgework of the world. Farming, factory work, all of that. Computer systems will handle much of the white collar operations work--all clerical positions, all high end purchasing.

    The only real jobs that will remain will be creative, STEM field jobs(although these will also be increasingly automated until the point is reached that only research jobs remain--and these will fall more properly into the 'creative' slot), maintenance(of the machines), and service jobs(and I include all government functions in this)
    (con't)

  • Azathoth!!||

    .......And this process will leave billions without work--but more than enough productivity to allow those billions to live lives at a level of luxury we can't begin to comprehend today--and those will be their basic necessities.

    Think of where makerbot leads.

    Today when we think of something like this it rankles because of our insane fealty to the 'work ethic'. "Everyone must work to provide for blah blah blah". Our 'work ethic' is an instinctive holdover from humanitys beginnings--when one scrabbled all day until that point was reached when one had enough to exist for another day. All our great ideas come from the times in which we were not scrabbling--but had a moment to think. A moment to refine something instead of accepting it as is.

    Do you have any idea how many jobs already exist as things for people to do rather than any real need for them?

    We need to understand that focusing on freeing man from the need to work is a virtue.

    So this will come, one way or another. The right way, where work has withered away--or the wrong way--where the State steps in and provides everyone a 'living wage'.

  • Libertarius||

    Hey dumb fuck--the necessity of productive work is not a theoretical invention of man foistered upon others, like the half-baked fabian collectivism you endorse. It is reality--existence itself--which sets the terms in which man exists, and the price of human life is the necessity of self-generated productive action to support it. Man cannot write laws which supplant the primacy of existence; such is fantasy.

    It's not some "reactionary work ethic" or whatever the fuck you're getting at. What a moron.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    It's skiffy fantasy to believe that an army of robots shall make work obsolete.

    For all work is expression of individuals' thoughts through time. Persons shall demand other persons to think up ways to command their robots.

    When reciprocal demand arises from respective robot controllers, exchange shall arise. As always, some shall be better at it than others — offering more of what is wanted — and thus accumulation of buying power accruing to some shall arise.

  • JRS1001||

    I surely hope so - without work, ( even work I find distasteful) I lose my sense of purpose and feel less of a man. Even if I won the lottery and became fabulously rich I would work at something - restoring old cars or houses, volunteer coaching high school football, teaching english to new LEGAL immigrants ect..

  • eathdemon||

    not really, most estimates put 70 percent of the us jobs to be automated by 2100

  • NHforLiberty||

    Liberals are clinging to the welfare state and libertarians are calling for free money for everyone. Now we know we are in big trouble as a country.

  • markross||

    Well said. Spot on!

  • JRS1001||

    I wouldn't call him Libertarian. I would call him a collectivist wealth redistributor.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    How does giving people cash welfare, guaranteed for their lives scrap the welfare state? Nice job, O'Brien. Two plus two must truly equal five in the mind of Matthew Feeney.

    Stepping forward to claim welfare is proof adults do not know how to manage their lives, their personal affairs. Consistently, they have decided wrong about enough situations to expose themselves to the reality that they're living at a loss — they burn more calories (food, energy) than they produce stuff that others want, which would allow them to at least live at break-even.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    The welfare state ought to be scrapped, indeed. Short of that, serious welfare reform needs to arise.

    SNAP ought to be dismantled. Instead, persons in need of food welfare ought to be forced to go to welfare cafeterias for their meals, food served at set times, by contractors. Contractors in food selling know far better than any welfare seeker selected at random how to dispense food efficiently. For if such a welfare seeker knew better, then why isn't that one working as a successful restaurateur?

    Section 8 ought to be dismantled. Instead, persons in need of shelter welfare ought to be forced to live in dormitories, up to four unrelated adults in a room with bunk beds. Children ought to be housed in much larger rooms containing dozens of beds. Contractors in selling rental housing know far better than any welfare seeker selected at random how to dispense shelter efficiently. For if such a welfare seeker knew better, then why isn't that one working as a successful landlord?

    Medicaid and Medicare ought to be dismantled. Instead, persons in need of medicine welfare ought to get minimal care to keep them alive. No longer should they get treated for self-induced illnesses like Hep C, AIDS, Type-2 diabetes. Only those with cancers having cure rates of at least 50% observed by private sector medicine should be treated.

  • Russ Davis||

    As usual, libertarians don't get it because their basic error is viewing man as basically good, something history has refuted endlessly and exhaustively, so of course they still blindly believe it. Sigh! Handing out free $ won't change a thing, they'll just waste it like they do their welfare. Our Founders almost died from this asinine view of reality because since there was no incentive for the people to work with their initial wealth redistribution, the freeloaders nearly caused the colony to starve to death in the harsh winter, thankfully resulting in the scrapping of their initial socialist venture to demand people for the most part work for their living as the Bible, the foundation of our nation, says in 2Thessalonians 3:10-15 ... if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. Our Founders understood that God's Word, the Bible, was solely sufficient to guide us, not man's bankrupt philosophies. Only God can save us from this lunacy with the inmates taking over and running the asylum.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    Libertarians like Rothbard knew it. He wrote about this exact history in his grand work, Conceived in Liberty.

    The epistle (letter) to the Thessalonians is like all of Paul's letters to the various religious communities that sprung up in effort to try to live by the way of Jesus. Paul wrote these letters to the leaders, presumably those educated who could read and who could pass along the message to others, those of the bodies.

    The warning of chapter 3 of 2 Thessalonians begins at 6 and not 10 as you mislead others. No where does Paul say In life, those who don't work should not be fed. Rather, Paul specifically addresses those who are the teachers, the priests among the community. His warning is to them alone.

    Paul says to the warned brothers that they ought to know how to imitate Paul and his traveling band, rightly, in all ways, because Paul and his gang were not idle when visiting nor were Paul and his gang eating food they didn't buy themselves. By this, Paul means likely, that when Paul and the gang were there visiting, they went about healing people and doing good.

    Paul goes on to say that he has heard some of the brothers at Thessaloniki have been trifling, likely over matters of procedure and administration, rather than going out among the people, walking the walk and doing good.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    The entire warning is a metaphor for the spiritual way of living, that is, spiritual work and not work-for-pay as you believe, wrongly.

    Besides, Paul isn't Jesus. Jesus never commanded any such thing to anyone. Jesus said specifically to love God and love one's neighbor as oneself and more so pointed out that one's neighbor is anyone who is like the Good Samaritan who would give a helping hand to a stranger from a hated ethnicity.

    What would you say to the idea that when you misquote the New Testament as you have and when you engage in bible thumping, that you're doing the work of Satan by being wrong about your interpretation and spreading that wrongful interpretation among the world? You ought to consider it.

  • JRS1001||

    Im libertarian and I do not believe that man is basically good (or bad) instead I believe that man is basically human.

    Man has human needs and desires and seeks ways to fulfill those. The most productive and "fair" way is for him do so is to be able to work or create businesses with a minimum of government interference. In doing so he creates a society of free men. That is the libertarian way.
    Man is bad when he strives to steal from others in legal and illegal ways, and is good when he strives to work for his own goals without interfering with the lives of others in a negative way.

  • ibcbet||

    The idea is that it would be enough to let people survive, but not enough to keep them comfortable. Nice Topic

  • JRS1001||

    survival is a great motivator - perhaps the greatest. Remove that and you destroy much of what it means to be a man.

    You can't engineer life - the farther you get from reality the worse the human condition becomes. This is the folly of Utopian liberal thinking. The when government gets out the way of humanity and quits trying to "steer" them like cattle that society has a chance to evolve. Steering society for its own good is what the Soviets and the Nazis did- trying to create the super race and the the perfect society.
    We all know how that turned out.

  • garytzzz||

    You mention that there were 87,000 drug screening in AZ. This is not a fact. The drug screenings only take place after reasonable cause which is narrowly defined as answering yes to one of three questions with no penalty for lying. One of the questions is "Have you used illegal drugs within the past 30 days?". I believe the others relate to drug convictions in the last year. The actual amounts of drug screens is around a couple of dozen. A couple of dozen actually indicated that they used drugs in the last 30 days and were tested with one positive test. 1633 recipients did not return the questionnaire and were disqualified. Honestly, I think drugs should not be illegal. I only point the facts out because it seems like you have "cut and paste" your "facts" from somewhere else. I also saw a similar opinion piece by Duncan Black on the USA Today web site. This raises red flags for me. I wonder which one of you is copying the other?

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/.....n/2945657/

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com.....53620604/1

  • markross||

    This is a VERY DISAPPOINTING article, considering it is from Reason.com.

    Reason, imho, should stick with Limited Government, and Libertarian principles, rather then this RINO nonsense.

  • Katalogi||

    That's better, then in US, just give more money to people, not to the banks.. Switzerland has no real economics problem. 3 real kinds of money, no printing too much, no debt and a lot of gold. And free country - inside the Europe and independent from European Union.

  • MemorexDVD+R||

    "However, one of the tragedies of the current welfare system is that it strips welfare recipients of their dignity while treating many of them like children, and functions on the underlying assumption that somehow being poor means you are incapable of making good decisions...Perhaps the best example of the demeaning nature of the current welfare system is the SNAP program, otherwise known as food stamps, which works by giving recipients a card that can only be used to buy a selection of government-approved goods. Alcohol, tobacco, pet food, and vitamins are only some of the products that those on food stamps cannot buy because the powers that be have determined that they know what is the best lifestyle for food stamp recipients."

    In principle, anytime you're spending someone else's money, that person should have some say over how you use it.

    In practice, people on welfare aren't the only ones who are subject to this. I can't use Medicaid to pay for penile enlargement, and in fact I can't use private insurance to pay for that either since it's taking money from the pot everyone pay into.

    On a different note, the author's insinuation that welfare should be replaced because welfare recipients have to get demeaning drug tests presents a false choice. We could just keep welfare and stop requiring the drug tests.

  • JRS1001||

    Matt that is a formula for disaster. You don't pay off terrorists and that is kind of what these people are - economic terrorists. If you do, then all they will do is demand more money, I have a degree in Psychology and it tells me that the behavior you reward is the behavior that you have more of.
    I don't think that paying people to be unproductive is the answer. That is the liberal way not the Libertarian way. The libertarian way is to create an environment that encourages fully functioning human beings. Having work and providing for one's self and family is a huge part of that. Enabling laziness it completely counterproductive to that and is what has caused much of the trouble we have in this country.

  • steve baker||

    Better yet, strangle the State and give the poor Bitcoin?

  • Brian||

    Matthew Feeney goes a'trollin'.

  • robtaylor555||

    Libertarians are faced with three options
    A. Our current system
    B.A more effecient welfare system like a basic income.
    C, libertarians get their way and people starve on street.

    The problem with the third option is that you will need to hire more police,because of the increase in crime which has to be financed through taxation,not to mention all the economic activity and loss GDP due to crime,so you end up with the wealth distribution anyway. people are not going to invest in crime ridden areas

    The debate is that does the taxation and growth for the police state exceed the cost or is less than the cost of the welfare stare or a basic income,Libertarians may ask for the citizens to tolerate higher crime on principal,but once rich suburban kids start getting shot point blank for their I-phones at a higher degree than now,I dont think that position is going to be politically viable for long.

  • Dan Clore||

    Very nice little article on a good reform that a libertarian/progressive might work on. It would work best, to my mind, to implement a Negative Income Tax along with disposing of welfare and Social Security, which it would replace.

    Along with Thomas Paine (who appears close to Godwin and Blake here), Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Charles Murray, another prominent libertarian who has argued in favor of a guaranteed income is Robert Anton Wilson. RAW cites C.H. Douglas, Ezra Pound, Buckminster Fuller, Robert Theobald, and Milton Friedman. (See "The RICH Economy" in The Illuminati Papers.)

    Other proponents included a socialist who invented the Negative Income Tax decades before Milton Friedman did, Marshall McCluhan, and Erich Fromm. The latter, indeed, argued that it would increase freedom by improving the bargaining power of workers vs. corporate oligarchs, so that work conditions would likely improve, income would be more equitable, etc., giving workers more control over their own lives.

  • Dan Clore||

    Also, Alaska already has what amounts to a guaranteed income. As the public purportedly owns the oilfields, each Alaskan gets an annual share of the profits from oil sales. Doesn't seem to cause a big problem.

  • Dan Clore||

  • Dan Clore||

    Mack Reynolds wrote a number of science fiction novels included a guaranteed income in their premises, extrapolating their effects along with other possibilities like L-5 colonies.

    The one I liked best is Commune: 200 A.D.

    http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/0.....clorenecro

  • woodNfish||

    I am against government welfare in any form, and I don't like the idea of a guaranteed government income either. All charity should be private and if people aren't willing to do for themselves, then let the worthless dirtbags starve. Hunger is a great motivator.

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