Basic Income/Negative Income Tax

Libertarians Debate Basic Income Guarantee

Should libertarians support proposals to scrap the current welfare regime and replace it with a basic income guarantee for American citizens?


401(K) 2013/Flickr

Should libertarians support proposals to scrap the current welfare regime and replace it with a basic income guarantee for American citizens? That's the subject of debate this month at Cato Unbound, the Cato Institute's online journal, with a quartet of libertarian academics and policy analysts lined up to opine on the matter. First up is University of San Diego philosophy professor Matt Zwolinsky, a strong proponent of the basic income guarantee (BIG). Zwolinski argues that there's a pragmatic libertarian case for dishing out cash, no strings attached, rather than continuing to rely on our current patchwork of poorly-managed and work-disincentivizing welfare programs. 

Zwolinski uses the term "Basic Income Guarantee" (BIG) to descirbe a range of policy proposals, from Milton Friedman's negative income tax to Charles Murray's proposal that every American over 21 get $10,000 per year from the federal government. 

There is, of course, quite a bit of variation among these plans in terms of cost, payouts, implementation, and so on. Despite these differences, however, they all have in common two important features.

First, they involve a cash grant with no strings attached. Unlike other welfare programs which encourage or require recipients to consume certain specific kinds of good–such as medical care, housing, or food–a BIG simply gives people cash, and leaves them free to spend it, or save it, in whatever way they choose.

Second, a BIG is an unconditional grant for which every citizen (or at least every adult citizen) is eligible. It is not means-tested; checks are issued to poor and rich alike (though on some proposals payments to the rich will be partially or fully recaptured through the tax system). Beneficiaries do not have to pass a drug test or demonstrate that they are willing to work. If you're alive, and a citizen, you get a check. Period.

It might not be ideal—certainly "no libertarian would wish for a BIG as an addition to the currently existing welfare state," writes Zwolinski. "But what about as a replacement for it?" He argues that the BIG would amount to less bureaucracy, less expense, "less rent-seeking", and less paternalism. Read his whole argument here

Veronique de Rugy laid out some pros and cons of a guaranteed income in the March 2014 issue of Reason. "The biggest risk in implementing a guaranteed income is that it won't completely-or even partly-replace existing welfare programs, but instead simply add a new layer of spending on top of the old," de Rugy wrote. "So what are libertarians to support? If nothing else, more research." 

Up next in Cato Unbound's BIG debate is Michael Huemer, a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder, followed by Manhattan Institute fellow Jim Manzi on August 8, and Cornell management and economics professor Robert H. Frank on August 11; it will continue through the end of August. 

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  1. I’m all in on BIG. Just give poor people cash and let them spend it on food, diapers, medical care, education, whatever. Even if they spend it on Twinkies, purple stuff, Rocket Fuel malt liquor, and lotto tickets, at least they had every opportunity to improve themselves.

    1. You’re going to be the first to “donate” $10K of your wages to this cause, right?

      1. I already donate far more than that to the FedGov every year. Take it out of my current donations.

        1. This. It is vastly preferable to what we have now.

          1. Vastly preferable =/= good. Do it in stages – first get rid of the current parasite system, and ONLY THEN initiate a new system. Thus, it will never happen.

            1. Political reality dictates that it be done simultaneously.

            2. Given a choice between being smacked in the face with a sledgehammer or a riding crop, I’ll take the crop.

              I’d prefer neither. The crop isn’t good. It’s still vastly preferable. And since “not getting hit” isn’t on the menu anywhere, I’d rather take the improvement.

              The problem, of course, is that there is no way that they’ll ever get rid of the old shit. They’ll just tack on the new. So you get both the sledgehammer and the crop. :-/

            3. Oh, they will do it in stages all right. Stage 1, add BIG. Stage 2, study what other programs can be cut back. Stage 3, fund more studies.

        2. That’s ok with this program it will grow larger and larger till it consumes most of what you produce. So you might as well kick in an extra $10,000 on top of what you already pay now.

      2. Unlike state and local taxes, federal taxes do not fund federal spending.

        Even if all federal taxes rose to $999 trillion, or fell to $0, neither event would affect the federal government’s ability to pay all its bills.

        So that $10K to each person costs you nothing. And your federal taxes buy you nothing.

        Federal finances are different from state and local finances.

        1. “So that $10K to each person costs you nothing.”

          Bullshit. When the value of your entire lifetime’s retirement savings won’t buy you a loaf of bread, it sure as hell costs you something.

        2. Print money forever!

          What could possibly go wrong?

        3. Better yet, cancel the income tax and just print 10K per person to spend as the federal budget. Same difference.

        4. “So that $10K to each person costs you nothing. And your federal taxes buy you nothing.”

          Just to reiterate, you’re a fucking idiot. Google “hyperinflation”.

        5. Have you ever visited Zimbabwe?

    2. Yeah, and when they blow a month’s BI in two days and end up without formula and diapers, then what happens?

      Sorry, but this establishes a right to the income of others. Do. Not. Support.

      1. Well we would have to have basic income on top of normal human welfare services of course. We not monsters. Now pay up!

      2. That “right” is already well established, and isn’t going anywhere.

        Given that reality, BIG is better than what we have now.

        1. Except it isn’t. In the U.S. is there isn’t a recogized “right” to social assistance. It is still regarded as the largesse of the state.

          1. So how would BIG change that to establish a right?

            1. Because it would say you are entitled to it for the act of existing.

              1. We’re a wealthy enough nation to protect the must vulnerable among us. And by “we” I mean those of us in government. Now pay up.

          2. Nonsense. I wish social assistance were considered largesse, but it simply isn’t so.

            Virtually every geezer seriously believes that he has earned a right to heavily subsidized Medicare and a monthly social security check.

            Unemployment handouts, disability handouts, food stamps and Medicaid are regarded as entitlements, not welfare.

      3. Sorry, but this establishes a right to the income of others.

        Did we live in a world where this was not the case? The “poor” are already “entitled” to your income, because you are “rich” and they have “needs”. Just ask Tony.

        1. Your state and local taxes do pay for state and local social programs.

          BUT, your federal taxes do not pay for federal social programs. Those programs actually cost you nothing, even though you pay federal taxes.


          1. Zimbabwe doesn’t exist in your fantasy world, does it monetarist fool?

          2. What a dangerous assemblage of lies in a single blog.

            1. I don’t think it is considered lying if you are sure it’s true. He is basically a 50 year old guy that still believes in the tooth fairy. He isn’t a liar just deranged.

          3. “The federal government, having the unlimited ability to create dollars, does not need to “save” dollars. ”

            Full Retard. You went there.

        2. It’s not the poor who feel entitled to your income — it’s the government.

          1. Yeah, the government conditions people to believe it’s their money.

          2. Yea, all those people who voted for Obama because they thought he was going to pay their bills didn’t feel entitled to anything, right? All those people who gladly accept government handouts while they sit on their fat asses were forced to take those handouts, right?

      4. That right was already established, albeit indirectly. As much as I find it distasteful, this proposal is a far sight better than what we have now.

      5. This is, at the heart of it, my problem. Unless we’re going to let the people who do this starve, this is a stalking horse for bad outcomes.

        1. It should be left up to individuals and charities to determine if profligate spenders starve. Whether it will or not…

      6. I’m fine with this, so long as (1) it’s completely and absolutely voluntary; and (2) the government isn’t involved in any way.

        1. You’re fine with everything so long as (1) and (2).

          1. More or less, yes. What’s your point?

      7. Exactly. Why people continue to try to palm this off is beyond me.

      8. Yeah, and when they blow a month’s BI in two days and end up without formula and diapers, then what happens?

        Tax welfare benefits as income up to a maximum tax burden of $10K. You can take the cash, or the benefits, or some mixture of the two.

      9. Yeah, and when they blow a month’s BI in two days and end up without formula and diapers, then what happens?

        So much this, because this is exactly what will happen.

        On a side note, if this does pass, I demand that they lift the 21 y/o requirement so I can begin collecting on my orphans.

      10. I think there is a pretty substantial portion of Americans that would have next to zero sympathy for someone who blows their check on shit they don’t need. If that happens, I think it is more likely that people will rebel against the idea of a GMI (BIG is a stupid acronym) rather than want to add onto it.

        And as others have said, we already have a welfare state that establishes a “right” to the income of others. That isn’t going away. Might as well make it less bad.

        1. A few problems here. A large portion of the people receiving welfare are doing so because they’ve made poor decisions. Is the “pretty substantial portion of Americans” rebelling against it now? What makes you think for a minute that they’re going to “write off poor little baby Jane” whose mama just decided to buy lotto ticket rather than formula? So, no, it doesn’t make it “less bad”. It just piles on one new massive, massive, massive, entitlement.

          And yes, the BIG/GMI/whatever the hell you want to call it would establish such a right. Just the fact that the state can’t refuse it to people enshrines it as a right.

          1. A large portion of the people receiving welfare are doing so because they’ve made poor decisions decided being a lazy layabout and getting paid for it is a good deal.

          2. Is the “pretty substantial portion of Americans” rebelling against it now?

            In some cases, yeah. If I’m not mistaken, the welfare reform of the 90s was motivated in large part by the stories of “welfare queens” and similar concerns.

            Honestly, I’m more concerned that someone blowing their GMI in unapproved of ways would be used as an excuse to start confiscating children. But if the only welfare programs we had were a GMI and something targeted at kids in crappy households, I would still consider that an improvement.

            1. We’re making the perfect the enemy of the not completely fucking horrible in this case.

      11. Yeah, and when they blow a month’s BI in two days and end up without formula and diapers, then what happens?

        What if everyone gets a debit card connected to an account that can’t be overdrawn. Then the account gets a deposit every day instead of every month. So each day you get, say, $28. That might control this particular problem.

        Not saying I support this. Just playing devil’s advocate.

        1. Better, make the card only acceptable for food, medical stuff, and kids clothing.

          1. Congratulations…you just invented the EBT card.

            1. And gave the government the chance to pick winners and losers. Which food? Which kid’s clothing? One of the benefits of a GMI vs what we have now is that it reduces the opportunities for rent seeking.

            2. I’ve been in line behind people who purchased beer and wine with their EBT cards.

              1. With the cash side of their EBT cards. I believe they can load cash onto the card and use it as a debit card.

              2. Some welfare is straight up cash – and I guess it goes on the same card as food stamps now?

                1. Or what thom said

              3. I’ve been in line behind people who purchased beer and wine with their EBT cards.

                I don’t know where you live, but that’s literally not possible in most states. Even if the clerk wanted to sell it to you, the point of sale machines won’t allow you to apply the balance of the card to non-approved items. The usual way you get around that is to find yourself a “buddy”, buy their groceries with your EBT card, and in exchange they buy you the equivalent amount of beer.

          2. And like the EBT card look for Craigslist ads seeking to sell BIG funds for cash, at a discount.

            1. Why would you sell your cash for less cash?

        2. This is not a terrible idea.

      12. “Yeah, and when they blow a month’s BI in two days and end up without formula and diapers, then what happens?”

        I don’t support a BIG program at all, but there are easy answers to that argument: (a) make the payments on a biweekly or even weekly basis (the marginal increase in program overhead for increasing the frequency of payments should be minimal) and (b) make the payments “unassignable” as a matter of law to prevent a market from developing under which people sell their future BIG payments for a reduced present value.

        1. …sell their future BIG payments for a reduced present value.

          THIS is going to happen no matter what. Secondary markets are A. Awesome, and B. inevitable…in everything.

        2. “make the payments “unassignable” as a matter of law to prevent a market from developing under which people sell their future BIG payments for a reduced present value.”

          Watch out. We’re doing this to reduce complexity and administrative overhead. This does neither. And it’s pretty easy to circumvent, anyway.

      13. when they blow a month’s BI in two days and end up without formula and diapers, then what happens?

        Just because we’ve always given welfare in bunches at a set time each month doesn’t mean that we have to. Link the BI to a debit card or bank account and have daily deposits. Getting $20 a time instead of $600 may even train people how to be a bit more frugal.

      14. This is how you know that people just aren’t serious.

        Oooh, people might “blow a month’s BI in two days”. How about we do electronic transfer every day? How about every hour?

        This is just not an issue.

        As for the right to income, there is a long standing libertarian argument to that effect.

        See the Lockean Proviso, Thomas Paine’s Agrarian Justice, and the Geolibertarianism page at Wikipedia for details.

    3. This will not fly with most Americans, especially progressives and conservatives. People worry that the money will go straight to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. And they are probably correct for millions of people. Philosophically I see the argument but practically I agree it is just asking for trouble.

      But even more practically, most people will not vote for this type of proposal. I have a progressive friend who is against this as he thinks half the people in his family will abuse it.

      1. as he thinks half the people in his family will abuse it

        He obviously knows what’s better for them and he will save them from themselves thru the miracle of government.

        1. I’m pretty sure he knows the people in his family better than you do. And I’ve met some of them and I agree. Actually, one of his sisters is a drug addict and gave up her twins to her other sister, but is still a drug addict. I think there are a few occasions when the ideal world of the libertarian clashes with the real world – sad as that makes me.

          But my main point is that this will NEVER be approved by voters in the majority, even “wear your heart on your sleeve progressives”. So stick that in your ivory libertarian pipe and smoke it.

      2. I guarantee you that if the government were to cut me a check for $1000 tomorrow for doing nothing, I’d spend it a higher class of single malt than I now buy. Might even take a vacay to Colorado and smoke some weed.

        Actually, that’s pretty much what I already do with my the subsidy checks that I get on my farm.

    4. No Hugh, you are apparently all in on looting.

    5. I like the idea more than I thought I would. It’d be pretty simple to piggyback such a program on the existing EBT card infrastructure, too.

      But it wouldn’t work. People would spend all their money and then demand more. And the politicians eager to buy their votes would happily oblige.

      And why not? What principle makes giving them $10,000 ok, but makes $15,456 wrong?

    6. That’s some notorious BIG there.

  2. When people accuse me of being a heartless Libertarian, I take it as a complement.

    How about the Feds do nothing and if states want to give free shit to the lazy, they do so?

    1. A compliment, even…

      1. It fills me up and makes me feel complete.

    2. The Fedgov should have nothing to do with providing welfare. Leave it to the states. If Washington or North Dakota want generous programs, I wish them well. If Nebraska only wants to provide a bare minimum subsidy, so be it.

  3. “It is not means-tested; checks are issued to poor and rich alike (though on some proposals payments to the rich will be partially or fully recaptured through the tax system).”

    OK, what’s the deal with taking money from the poor and middle class and giving it to the rich? Don’t we have enough of that already?

    1. Given the tax scale, the rich will get back far less than they pay.

      1. Given the tax scale, the middle class will get back far less than they pay.

        1. Given the already perverse incentives of scale, everyone who make more than ~$56K a year will have their taxes increase by about $11K a year. The extra grand is the government handling fee (aka Vig).

    2. Unless horribly implemented*, due to the fungibility of money, it would not be possible for basic income/negative income tax to effect a net transfer from the poor/middle class to the rich. An income-rich person would be paying far more in taxes than he would be collecting in basic income. Also, a negative income tax avoids this entirely since the only people who would even get checks would be those who had too little income to be in a positive tax bracket.

      * = These are largely the same people who passed the PPACA, so no assumptions about competence can be made.

      1. Just change the standard deduction to a universal and refundable credit and you’re done. Or take it one step further and also start including welfare benefits in taxable income.

      2. Problem with a negative income tax is the marginal tax rate is a bitch. Incentives matter.

        1. Anyone getting large amounts of benefits will run into high double digit implicit tax rates. That’s a problem already.

    3. Lottery FTW. Helping rich, white kids enjoy college in FL for 30 years.

  4. We got a version of this in the 1990s- it’s the EITC – and it didn’t replace any of the existing programs.

    The problem is that some people that get these checks will spend them in ways politicians and assorted busy-bodies don’t approve of, and then there will be clamoring for programs that are restricted to providing the goods and services that they do approve also. Also, no-strings-attached cash provides no opportunity for control, corruptions, hand-outs to cronies, etc.

  5. Rather then QE infinity giving the money to people would have less damaging effects to the economy.

    The same with welfare. People know better to spend money in ways that help them then the restrictions that are put on Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps etc.

    1. are there actually restrictions on food stamps? A lot of things in the grocer’s prepared food section are EBT approved. And the stories of people using your money to buy things you can’t afford are not urban legends.

      I’m going to challenge the assertion of “people know better” when we’re talking handouts. It’s like Friedman’s view regarding when ‘everybody’ owns something, then no one actually owns it. People know better or act better when it’s their money, not when it’s someone else’s.

      1. Really, the only solution to controlling costs is to feed them cafeteria-style. But that leads to a whole other set of problems.

      2. Are there restrictions on any welfare anymore, including disability? I’m not talking about the restrictions on paper–I mean in practice. Something is keeping all of those millions of people no longer looking for jobs afloat, after all.

        What is true unemployment these days, anyway? It sure the fuck isn’t 6% or any other number in the single digits.

        1. If my clients with children on medicaid but tons of new electronic shit are any indication, then no, there are no restrictions. Of course, they still don’t have enough to pay their attorney.

          1. An illustration of the fungibility of money.

      3. I’ve said it on here before. Here in Memphis EBT is the norm..Was standing in line behind a lady that had a cart full of cake mix. When asked why she had so much, she replied that she had a cake business. She paid with an EBT card. The defenders of these programs are either evil or too stupid to be in charge of their own affairs.

        1. I’m quite certain that using EBT to purchase supplies for use in other commercial products is already illegal under the current rules. Ask for the name of her cake business next time and report her.

          1. Thing is, it’s trivial to design the system to catch abuses like this and refuse payment. They don’t want to do that.

            That buying pattern is an obvious red flag. It’s either blatant fraud or a illegal food-stamp arbitrage scheme, like the infamous Mountain Dew economy of Appalachia:


      4. Actually, SNAP benefits (food stamps) are subject to a long list of allowed and prohibited purchases.

        The list doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense, but you can’t buy alcohol with them. Nor can you buy Red Bull-style energy drinks, although you can buy coffee and soda. You can’t buy anything someone else heats up for you, but prepared foods that don’t involve cooking are typically allowed. (So, deli sandwich counters or “Take and Bake” pizza places can accept SNAP payments, but a Pizza Hut could not.)

        Enforcement is automated–cash registers set up to process EBT transactions distinguish between inventory codes for items on the approved list and those for items on the banned list. This doesn’t stop secondary barter or sale arrangements for the cards or goods bought with them, but if a cashier tries to ring up a six-pack of beer and process payment in SNAP benefits, the transaction should be automatically invalidated.

        EBT cards can be attached to multiple accounts, though, including some that are direct cash transfers. Those might work as debit cards with no restrictions, or not. That I don’t know.

    2. Rather then QE infinity giving the money to people would have less damaging effects to the economy.

      Not really, as long as that money is still being created out of thin air.

      QE infinity hasn’t resulted in broad price increases because the money has been fairly concentrated in the capital markets. So instead of price appreciation for basic goods, we have frothing bubbles in the CRE and Equity markets.

      If you take that same created from thin air money and disperse it broadly among the population, it results in heavy inflation, forcing a spike in interest rates, forcing a debt payment death spiral for the federales, and a total collapse of the dollar.

    3. QE infinity is giving the money to people – it’s just not the same people.

  6. Should libertarians support proposals to scrap the current welfare regime and replace it with a basic income guarantee for American citizens?

    If so, it defies any meaningful definition of “libertarian.”

    1. right? “Let’s give the govt more control of the people and the product of their labors..” said no libertarian ever.

      1. This proposal would actually give the govt less control than the status quo.

        1. Exactly, and that is an improvement

        2. But at the cost of abandoning self-ownership.

          1. ^ this

          2. Abandoning self-ownership? What is welfare, then?

        3. I don’t buy that argument one bit. You are giving the govt control over a sizeable amount that they could coerce poor people with in order to gain some kind of political concession. And the poor will have no choice, as they would go hungry without the BIG payment.

          1. So I see you’ve met the inner-city political machine?

            I like the idea of basic income/negative income tax as a replacement for the system we have but it is a pipe-dream because good intentions cannot trump predictable outcomes.

            1. I think the coercive nature of govt should make this one a no-brainer for Reasonoids.

              1. I think the idea of less coercion is enticing, and this idea smells nice in that regard.

                The problem is, just like with “immigration reform”, what we would get would be at least as fucked up as what we have, just in different ways.

                Government power is a ratchet.

                1. right I meant, it should be a no brainer that a BIG would fall to coercive govt and probably wouldn’t work the way people think

                2. Government power is a ratchet.

                  Great! Or did you mean racket? (it’s both!)

                  1. I meant ratchet in the sense of a ratcheting wrench, i.e. it only moves in one direction (of course, a ratcheting wrench moves in both directions, but only does work in one direction, blah blah technicality).

                    It is also a racket. The mafia mentality never died, it just found a more lasting home.

    2. How about the definition of libertarian that wants smaller, more limited government than the current one?

    3. Not really.

      An income tax is unlibertarian.

      But if I support a policy that lowers current income tax rates to 5%, that advocacy moves us in a libertarian direction, and thus is tactically libertarian.

      The most important task before us is to destroy the political class. If we can accomplish that, we can take care of the rest later. If we can’t accomplish that, we’re going to fail no matter what so nothing else matters.

      Destroying the political class requires us to destroy – utterly liquidate, to the extent we can – the bureaucratic class and the non-profit class. The BIG policy is ugly, but if it helps us accomplish that goal I can certainly square advocating it with libertarianism.

      1. I don’t have trouble with the non-profit class. That includes both charities like red cross and not-for-profit (different than non-profit) entities like AAA.

        1. I only have a problem with their tax-exempt status. Pay up!

          Better than a tax on profits would be a tax on revenue. Companies use all sorts of tricks to hide profits – it would be much harder and more fair to tax revenue.

          Of course, lower taxes or no taxes are best.

          1. Taxing gross revenue as opposed to net income is a surefire way to drive prices up and wages down.

            Taxing companies has been stupid and devious from day one. It hides the tax from the voter, and does all sorts of fucked up things with incentives.

            The income tax is an abomination, and corporate income tax is its vile spawn.

            1. Taxing gross revenue as opposed to net income is a surefire way to drive prices up and wages down

              Elaborate, please.

              A gross revenue tax is identical to a sales tax. It is fair because it is the same on every company. It could be quite a low rate.

              1. A gross revenue tax is identical to a sales tax. It is fair because it is the same on every company. It could be quite a low rate.

                Case in point: according to 2008 tax data, total income tax collected is equal to 0.799% of gross receipts and 0.925% of business receipts.

              2. A gross revenue tax is identical to a sales tax

                Yes, and like a sales tax, it cannot be avoided (ignoring the black market).

                A tax on net income can be avoided by increasing expenses and thus reducing net income. However, there are other taxes, like payroll taxes, unemployment taxes, worker’s compensation taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes, the effects of which have to be balanced against the decrease in income tax liability.

                To offset a tax on gross revenue, however, you would have to increase total revenue to better cover expenses, or else decrease expenses to better fit within the available budget.

                I agree though that if the change effected a net decrease in the total tax burden, then it would be a positive change notwithstanding the particular incentives, but I don’t see that happening.

            2. A bigger problem is that a gross revenue tax favors high margin businesses. Apple would love a revenue tax. WalMart would hate it.

              1. There is a fundamental untenability to taxing gross revenue with no-deductions (I’m not sure if that is being proposed). Example: if your business has employees, cost-of-goods, and other “legitimate” business cost, you simply CANNOT afford to pay the taxes without deducting those expenses.

      2. While I agree about the tactical utility of disempowering the political class, basic income/negative income tax is never likely to pass in any form acceptable (never mind ideal!) to libertarians because the political class would make sure it didn’t happen. The only way to truly disempower them is to convince the voters that they are not worth empowering, and if you could do that, then much of libertarianism would already be accomplished anyway.

        1. Nixon’s Family Assistance Plan passed the House of Representatives, but died in the Senate.

          Things are only politically impossible until they’re not.

          How long ago would gay marriage have been considered impossible?

          Stick it to the apparatchiks.

    4. Well, it’s certainly not a libertarian policy, but I think that the question of whether it will make things more libertarian-friendly is valid. I think it would be an improvement over more traditional welfare programs.

    5. Is libertarianism a suicide pact?

      1. YES.

        However I still think TARP would have been better as one big handout to all the people rather than the banks.

        1. It would have.

          1. It most certainly would not have. The amount authorized in TARP was a pittance of the total negative equity of John Q. Murican.

            1. I didn’t say increase the amount. In my mind, letting the banks fail would have been an improvement. In contrast to letting our government fail, which is where we are headed, the banks would have been replaced with something more robust. Our government will be most likely replaced with something worse.

              1. I fully supported letting the banks fail, I just reject the idea of sending the TARP money to the equally fraudelent people.

                1. Again, it’s a tradeoff. When faced with a voting populace that demands something be done, it would be preferable to pick the path of least damage.

                2. But at least then I would have gotten something other than a nicer lobby at my bank and it would have been no more wasteful or counterproductive.

            2. Didn’t the gummint buy out all the bad loans and associated paper from the banks?

              That was the real ripoff. The recognized expenditures were peanuts in comparison to taking over the bad paper.

        2. It would have been better if they took $1 trillion in $100 bills and threw it out of helicopters over populated areas.

          1. Better: throw it out of a helicopter over a stadium where the recipients are on the field and others pay to watch from the stands.

            That, and executions should be pay-per-view.


    6. I think the general gist is assume that coercion in order to provide some basic consumption for everyone is political unavoidable short of complete social collapse, and thus to at least remove the power for coercion that granting welfare entails. Basically, the government can still break your legs, but they’re obligated to give you crutches with no strings attached. As it stands right now, you have coercion at the giving and taking end, so in some sense it is an improvement.

    7. What do Milton Friedman and Charles Murray know about libertarianism anyway?

  7. sure, let’s give one group money taken from another group. What could possibly go wrong with that.

  8. idk, basic income sounds great but it hinges on there being good government that would never use the threat of stopping income payments to coerce society. People will become dependent on the basic income and in states of emergency etc, we will have basically given the govt the means to choke off people’s means.

    1. Which, again, is different than what we have now, how?

      1. Arguably, the various system(s) we have now are so poorly administered that it’d be impossible for the government to choke them off all at once.

        Though given the furor about EBT cards during the pretend government shutdown, this might be a moot point.

        1. OK, that is a fair point. This does create a single valve.

  9. If Tony reads this story? His head will explode because we’re libertarians and he’s an idiot.

  10. It’s about as likely as just eliminating the welfare state, I don’t know why libertarians should even support more research.

  11. I’ll accept a BIG that replaces the entire welfare state if it also includes a simplified tax code (to remove welfare from the tax code) and a constitutional amendment to ensure (as best as we can ensure anything) that the welfare state doesn’t return.

    1. Also, abolishing the minimum wage. If we go BIG, the argument for making a burger-flipper’s job be able to support 2.3 kids and HBO goes away as well (ha! the goalpost will be moved).

      1. Abolish the minimum wage – sign me up.

  12. Just like with the current welfare system, the goalposts will be moved at will.

  13. I haven’t given this much thought, but wouldn’t politicians campaign every year on raising big until eventually it is a bankrupt system where outlays out pace income? You know social security 2.0

    1. They would certainly try to pressure it in that direction, but hopefully the independent press would be able to shoot them down since the revenue and payout balance sheets would be a lot simpler and more transparent.

      1. Independent press? You sarc-in’ me? I just take it for granted that any government program will be ratcheted up.

        “10k is not a living wage, we need 20k”
        Next election:
        “20k is not a living wage, we need 30k”

        1. That’s the way I see something like this going, because it has always been thus.

        2. Yes. If everyone was suddenly given a large sum of money, I suspect the general price level of most everything would go up.

          1. Not seeing a lot of difference between the effects of what we’re doing now and what generally amounts to a simplification of the current system in that way.

            1. The difference would be that if you gave everyone the money, then it would be like dropping it from a helicopter – all the money would immediately go into the economy. Under the present system only some get the money and it takes a while for it to diffuse into the economy and its inflationary effects to become evident.

              1. So, same effect, just a delay. I’d rather have people see the immediate results of an action, since they are not really good at making the connection between delayed results and the cause.

  14. This dude is not making a lot of sense man.

  15. Where is this magic money-tree from whence this cash will flow?

    1. We already have that tree: Spend money you don’t have.

    2. I’m pretty sure that $10,000 per adult is actually a lot less than the cost per adult of current welfare programs, so you would expect a net reduction in the deficit. (Direct cash payments would also increase state/municipal sales tax revenues because many types of financial assistance presently bypass those.)

      1. The problem is that this $10K handout won’t actually REPLACE the programs already in place; it will be in ADDITION to those already in place.

  16. There are over 300 million people in this country. I’m going to assume that at least 2/3 of the population is adults. So, 200 million. If we give 200 million people $10,000 per year in cash, that is $2 trillion dollars. Now, granted, you would, hypothetically, be getting rid of welfare. But that won’t even be a drop in the bucket for the money they are talking about dishing out. And $10,000 is a lot, but then it’s also not.

    So, if you eliminate most entitlement programs, it is still a huge increase in the budget.

    1. I vaguely remember reading some study that if you took the welfare budget and distributed it evenly across the bottom 20% of families by income, those families would have a guaranteed income of $60,000 per year.

      In the current, that same amount of money has to pass through multiple layers of bureaucracy and government officials. So, by the time the money reaches that people it’s intended for, it’s a much smaller pie.

      1. That must be factoring in SS/SDI and Medicaid payments.

    2. How does that compare with what’s being spent on welfare programs right now?

      1. Well, the entire budget is what, $3.5T/yr and MOST of that is defense, SS and medicare/aid. So I’d say, yeah, it’d be a pretty big increase. Unless you are counting SS and medicare as welfare.

        1. Of course Social Security and Medicare are welfare. What else would they be?

          1. I seriously doubt they were counted as welfare for the purposes of BIG. I may be wrong.

            I paid into SS all my life. It’s not welfare.

            /average merikun

            1. The only way BIG works is if it is the only government benefit you ever get period.

          2. I suppose you can argue that. But seniors are not going to be able to survive on $10,000 a year to cover everything. And they’re mostly unemployable.

            1. Which is why they have retirement accounts, investments, and pensions from when they worked and saved.

              1. Which is why they have retirement accounts, investments, and pensions from when they worked and saved.

                That’s rich. You doing a show at Laugh Factory on Sunset this week, Hugh? Let me know what tickets cost.

                1. You do realize that old people are like the wealthiest demographic, right? Like Nick Gillespie repeats that pretty much every time he ever talks about welfare and pension reform?

                  1. And indeed many are. And likewise, many are not. Those that took advantage of savings saw their savings benefit from long term compounding of interest and ended up so wealthy that they make their demographic average and median wealth look lavish. But there are plenty who did not plan so well.

                    1. Well then they get to live in group homes where they pool their BIG checks and live more modestly than people who planned ahead.

              2. A lot of people don’t have that and, sadly, live solely on Social Security and Medicare. That also doesn’t help out those who are disabled, though I know many of them are very likely employable in some form or fashion.

              1. So… Drake, I’m just thinking realistically. You aren’t going to get a whole lot of support from people by saying “we’re only giving people, no matter their means, $10,000 a year, and then they’re on their own.”

                Most people would be okay with that amount of money. Most people can manage by whatever they make. Others cannot. And most people know someone that could not, and they don’t want to see that person out on the street. Not enough that they would actually get that person off the street themselves. No, they want everyone else to pay for it. So it won’t eliminate that.

                1. It’s $10,000 a person.

                  So if you put four seniors into a household, that gives them $40,000 a year.

                  Can a family of four live on $40,000 a year?

                  1. I don’t know, Blanche seemed to enjoy the finer things.

                  2. Is the dole taxed?

                2. If those people know someone who really needs more – they can fucking help them, or find an actual charity instead of taking my money at gunpoint.

                  1. Or fuck, they can man up enough to pick up a gun themselves, at least, instead of hiring the job out. I’m certainly not saying it’s right but I’d have at least a little more respect for it.

                    1. I would appreciate the honesty and the opportunity to respond.

    3. Federal tax receipts right now are about $2.5 trillion and the vast majority of that is from individuals (82% to be exact). Most of those in the rich and middle classes will pay more in taxes than they receive from this, the very rich FAR more.

      I don’t think you realize how enormous entitlements and other welfare programs are. SS, Medicaid and Medicare are 48% of the budget (that doesn’t include food stamps and other aid).

      I’m not saying you’re wrong but it’s possible it will not be a “huge increase”. Zwolinski in his article argued it may be cheaper overall (he links to Amazon books which…I have not read).

      1. And as I said above, $10,000 will not be enough for a lot of those people who solely rely on government welfare.

    4. If a GMI is taxable income, you will recoup a lot of that.

      And I disagree with the assertion that a GMI can’t be means tested. In fact, it has to be, as a matter of fiscal necessity. Whether that happens explicitly at the time of distribution or implicitly through taxes, the net result is the same.

      1. How about the option to take it in cash, or a tax credit, or some combination of both? Or how about a direct rollover to private retirement account or an HSA, or some combination thereof? I like this as both a wealth-building mechanism, and a survival one.

  17. Personally, I’d be in favor of it. If you’re going to have a welfare state, then have a more efficient one. If the system is simpler, then it would take less oversight which means less bureaucrats – ideally.

    Though I don’t think that’ll happen. I had a discussion recently where people were disappointed that food stamps were being used to buy junk food instead of fruits and vegetables. So, they wanted to earmark food stamps for certain goods.

    Statists want to remove every incentive to make good choices so that they can make the “good” choices for you.

  18. It might not be ideal?certainly “no libertarian would wish for a BIG as an addition to the currently existing welfare state,” writes Zwolinski. “But what about as a replacement for it?”

    And I’ll be delighted to sell anyone who thinks it would remain a replacement for it for more than a year or two a beautiful bridge in the borough of Brooklyn. A sizeable portion of the poor are already poor because they’ve made bad decisions. We still subsidize them, don’t we? What crackpot bit of naivite makes anyone think that, if we give them money they’ll stop making bad decisions or that society will be willing to write them off for the same bad decisions they’re not willing to write them off for now?

    1. So what is your suggestion? Wait for the system to collapse? Do you think it’s going to be replaced by anything better or worse?

      1. This might just sound crazy, but we could try:

        1. Not pushing a government “safety net” of mandatory income transfers.
        2. Letting people do whatever the hell they want with their own lives.
        3. Telling them they have to live with the consequences of their own damned decisions.

        1. But that won’t get votes. So you are just screaming into the wind.

          1. Indeed. I agree with Bill’s sentiment. I would like for it to be that way, but the vast majority of Americans still want everyone to pay in to take care of everyone else.

          2. So, since we can’t get votes arguing for what is right, let’s argue for piling on a new massive, massive, massive, entitlement. Has this become a Republican Establishment website?

            1. Your statement is disingenuous, since no one here is talking about piling on a new massive entitlement. They are talking about replacing all the other entitlements with one that is less bad.

              And yes, sometimes, if you can’t get votes arguing for what is right, you should try to get votes by arguing for what is less bad. As long as you argue from that perspective (not right, but less bad), I don’t have a problem with this in general.

              1. …no one here is talking about piling on a new massive entitlement. They are talking about replacing all the other entitlements with one that is less bad.

                Except the very think I pointed out that you responded to was that it would inevitably only wind up as an addition to the status quo. If you think my initial assessment is wrong, please show me how. Otherwise, I don’t think I’m the one being disingenuous here.

                1. I saw this comment before that one. But you did say “let’s argue for piling on a new massive, massive…”. And I still don’t see anyone here arguing for “piling on”. More like “let’s replace the pig and chicken shit with horse manure.”

                  1. More like “let’s replace the pig and chicken shit with horse manure.”

                    But that’s not what you’re doing. You’re taking away the pig and chicken shit. Adding horse manure. Then throwing the original layer of pig and chicken shit on top of the manure. How the fuck is that an improvement?

                    1. That part where we don’t do what you’re saying we do.

                    2. Okay. Fine. Show me where that doesn’t wind up happening. I show where it does. I think pretty convincigly. Show me where I’ve made an assumption that isn’t true. Show me where the public will look on little baby Jane whose mother spent her formula money on crack and not say we have to make sure she gets her formula anyway. Otherwise, your argument amounts to pipe dreams and fantasy tales that wind up doing just what I say they do.

                    3. And I said up above that I think there is more likely to be a backlash against Baby Jane’s mom than there is a push to give her more stuff. How much sympathy do the parents of kids that are born addicted to crack get? How about parents who are in jail? I’ll grant you that their kids get sympathy, but that’s different.

                      But let’s say I grant you that sympathy for kids will lead to some sort of parenting improvement program, or some such. That is one program that we get back. I contend that disadvantaged kids elicit a unique response from people, and that the story of adults who blow their checks and screwed things up for themselves won’t lead to the same outcome. I’ll take a GMI + some sort of child welfare program over what we have now.

                    4. Okay, but now you’re ignoring poor John whose jock itch keeps him from getting to work before noon. Oh, and Tina, who would just need to spend too much of her check on childcare for her six kids to go out and get a job. And we can’t forget about Paul, the veteran who needs to spend three quarters of his check on visiting his disabled mom in Seattle. And…

                      I’m hoping you get my point. Baby Jane is just one example of where you wind up putting everyone still on the hook. It never ends the way you’re pretending it does. Hell, I got you to sign off on one return of the existing safety net, and you’re presumably a libertarian posting on a libertarian website. What the hell do you think is going to be the response in the general public?

          3. Forced attrition of progressives will be a necessary step. Most can be deported to all the Marxist regimes. The rest can go to the landfill.

            And they may tale nothing with them. As redistributionists, they shouldn’t mind that part.

    2. I remember PA’s “temporary” state income tax on the ballot. Two years later the legislature deleted the “temporary” part.

      1. same thing with WA’s temporary increase in liquor taxes when a state initiative passed, privatizing liquor sales. The taxes were supposed to cover the cost of sunsetting the state run stores. Then taper off after three years.

        InstEad, the democrat run state legislature made them permanent. What a shock. More greedy government.

  19. The basic argument here is over whether something can be “libertarian” if it moves us toward smaller less intrusive government, or whether it can only be “libertarian” if it jumps over intermediate steps and lands in the final-stage libertarian sweet spot.

    If you’re not a tactical/incremental libertarian, you are never going to support anything that has a chance of passing. Which is fine, and there’s a role for that in the debate. But, if you are opposing incremental improvements, don’t be surprised if you never see any improvements.

    1. Clicked too soon:

      Unfortunately, BIG runs into the same problem the carbon tax does: no way will it be the only source of welfare, and is doomed to be additive.

      Unless the first sentence of the bill is a repeal of every other welfare program, full stop, then I’m opposed.

      1. Yeah, that’s the big problem. I’d be all for a VAT or sales tax sort of thing to replace federal income tax if income taxes were constitutionally re-banned. But that’s not going to happen.

    2. I think libertarian politicians should making the compromises that move us closer to being freer.

      As a citizen, I’m going to argue for the balls to the wall libertarianism in it’s purest form to try to push the agenda.

    3. I just don’t see BIG as a step towards “less intrusive” govt. You are giving govt the power to coerce the entire nation by making them dependent on the basic payments. If the govt wanted concessions on the backs of the poor, they would get them because of rational self interest.

      Perhaps overall cost of BIG vs the current system is less (although I’m not convinced), but the loss of autonomy is more startling.

      1. You are giving govt the power to coerce the entire nation by making them dependent on the basic payments.

        The catch is that trying to condition BIG payments would be imposing requirements on ALL the voters, not just a subset. Harder to do, politically.

        I’m not sure I follow the sentence on “concessions on the backs of the poor” under a BIG system. Please explain.

        As to the risk that politicians will have a “race to the top” of increasing BIG payments, I would want the BIG program paid solely out of a pool that is fully tax funded every year, and that every taxpayer pays into. Every increase in BIG gets a matching increase in taxes. Conversely, every cut in BIG gets a matching tax cut.

        1. consider if the country is under duress, say, large scale protests etc. The govt could easily stamp out dissent by simply not cutting the BIG checks. Combine BIG with the rising surveillance state, and I think you are setting people up to be charged fees etc from their BIG checks if they oppose the govt, run a red light, whatever.

          I just think that great intentions would get trumped by the nature of power and coercion.

          1. “Combine BIG with the rising surveillance state, and I think you are setting people up to be charged fees etc from their BIG checks if they oppose the govt, run a red light, whatever.”

            Yeah, that would seem inevitable.

        2. and by ‘concession on the backs of the poor’ means that the poor will be dependent on the BIG checks, and if the govt chose to impose some unpopular law/rule/regulation, they would be the least able to resist and would have no choice but to give the govt what it wants. Otherwise, the poor will starve.

  20. I almost fell out of my chair when I heard Libertarians pushing for a Citizen’s wage or BIG.

    It’s so unlibertarian. But I am all for it if in fact the Citizen’s wage does cover the following:

    – minimum pension.
    – premiums for a health insurance that won’t leave you broke and that insurance can’t weasel out of.
    – minimum needed for food.
    – Rent (??? I’m flexible on this one, we can negotiate as people can live with friends, family, roomates, ymca, NY Port authority Bus terminal)

    ****I do want a Means Test. Anyone earning three times the Citizen’s wage should NOT get it unless they went broke.

    1. Well, Alice, nobody thinks this is a good idea, but many people think it is the most practical and least bad idea.

    2. Alice you’re a reliable counter-indicator. I think the moral hazard with measures like this is real. Removing administration from welfare is the goal and I doubt anything like this would get us there.

    3. So you support the idea so long as pretty much the entire apparatus that the GMI/BIG (or your Orwellian term “Citizen’s Wage”) is designed to replace remains intact.

      Shorter Alice: “I think we should give everyone another $10k on top of all the other free shit they steal from govt!”

    4. Rent

      My rent in NYC is over 20K a year – and that’s in the outer boroughs. I guess now that you’re paying for it, I can finally get a sweet pad in Manhattan.

      1. Manhattan is the domitory of the rich and their servants.

        It’s the south brox 4 u.

    5. “I almost fell out of my chair when I heard Libertarians pushing for a Citizen’s wage or BIG.”

      You should get out more. Charles Murray and Milton Friedman were for it. A form of it almost passed under Nixon.

      Some libertarians have been for various forms of it since at least Thomas Paine.

  21. Also, if implemented, anyone collecting the Citizen’s wage isn’t allowed a vote.

    1. Know what, I would support that.

      Since those who rob Peter can always count on the support of Paul, as long as Paul is drawing a check paid for by Peter, then Paul cannot vote.

      I like it.

      1. I also like it.

        1. Sounds like the Goode Olde Days, when only property owners could vote.

          Count me in, too.

    2. OK, now we’re getting somewhere.

      1. Yeah, if we’re going to get all pie-in-the-sky, might as well go whole-hog.



      of, fuck it.


      1. I know, right? If only there was a way of becoming enfranchised.

    4. Except that everyone gets it. Rich and poor, everyone gets the check.

  22. How long before BIG becomes HUGE.

    No thanks. I’ll pass.

    1. ***** THAT IS GREAT Sacasmic ****

      I know Libertarians won’t like this but, the Citizen’s wage MUST EQUAL Minimum Living Wage for it to be meaningful and work.

      And, what I mean by work, no citizen will come to us, the US taxpayer, for any help.
      Not for food, healthcare, pension, housing.

      1. “Minimum living wage” sounds nice but ultimately has no economic substance to it.

        Cost of living varies across time and space and is also dependent upon personal tastes. One man’s high standard of living is another man’s destitution and yet another man’s lavish dream of luxury.

        Moreover, people will always spend money in the manner of their choosing, a fact even our current welfare scheme with all of its rules and regulations has failed to change. If you determine that “minimum living wage” is $2000/mo, that doesn’t mean people are going to spend $2000/mo on their “needs”.

        So then $2000/mo won’t be enough, and we’ll have to raise it to $3000/mo, and yet still most people getting free money won’t be spending it in the “right” ways. So again it will need to be raised, ….

        The problem with welfare is, always has been, and always will be, that incentives matter. Welfare creates a perverse incentive not to work and not to better oneself. No matter how you administer it, that incentive is inherent to the nature of welfare and is thus inescapable.

        1. You know me as a Big Liberal.

          I am fine with leaving taste out and calling for Minimum standards at the bottom.

          We should not let people die.
          We should not let people starve.
          We should not let people live on the street.

          Doesn’t have to be a condo.
          Doesn’t have to be cutting edge experimental medicine.
          Doens’t have to be Steak.

          1. if only people had means of doing something about starvation, death, etc. Just how low would you have the bar of expectations be?

            1. I think we do a great job today with food.

              1. We have the unique historical distinction of income level being inversely correlated with food consumption. Also, vast quantities of food are destroyed because supply far exceeds demand.

                In the name of ending hunger (which has not really been a problem in the US for over a century), we have instead created gluttonous waste.

                Mission accomplished?

                1. In the name of ending hunger (which has not really been a problem in the US for over a century), we have instead created gluttonous waste.

                  But, but I heard this morning on the radio that one in five children are food insecure! They don’t know what they’re having for dinner! They don’t know if it’s steak or chicken! It’s terrible! WE MUST DO SOMETHING!

                  1. I heard on the tee-vee the other day that “millions of children in America are homeless”. I almost fell out of my chair.

                2. But 1 in 6 Americans are hungry! The Ad Council told me! And I’m one of them, because I’m skipping lunch today to go to our first OB appt. Don’t you care about me, KB?

                  1. Tell Dr. Paul I said hi and happy birthday in two weeks.

          2. Do you ever picture yourself on the receiving end of this arrangement?

            Do you want to be told that you cannot aspire to a bigger house?

            Do you want to be beholden to some bureaucracy for all of your medical decisions?

            Do you want to be told what you can and cannot eat?

            There are worse fates than death, and to my mind a lack of opportunity (= slavery to the state) is one of them.

            1. This is only for Bankrupt and disabled people with no other means.

              This isn’t for the general Public.

              I’m against giving out money.

              I’m more for setting the Minimum Wage to the Living Wage and give out NOTHING.

              1. I’m more for setting the Minimum Wage to the Living Wage and give out NOTHING.

                So you want to outlaw entry level jobs for young and low-skilled workers. How the heck are they supposed to get enough experience to earn a living wage if entry level work is outlawed?

                1. I say have entry-level jobs Pay the Minimum.

                  1. So you don’t understand the difference between pay and earn.

                    Employers cannot pay someone more than they earn for the company. At least not if they want to stay in business.

                    So by mandating some arbitrary minimum pay, you are outlawing work that earns less than that minimum.

              2. “This is only for Bankrupt and disabled people with no other means.

                This isn’t for the general Public.”

                So you lose this the moment you start earning money on the books?

                Yeah, there are no perverse incentives in that.

          3. What about internet? Don’t people have a basic right to information?

            What about digital cable? Don’t people have a basic right to entertainment?

            What about cell phones? Don’t people have a basic right to communication?

            “Once the government becomes the supplier of people’s needs, there is no limit to the needs that will be claimed as a basic right.” ?Lawrence Auster

            1. The Internet is the ROAD.

              The Government should just supply 100 megabit Wi-Fi and let everyone use it.

              The hotdog guy can connect.

              Cell Phones are a basic need for communication.

              BUt this should be covered in minimum living wage.

              1. BUt this should be covered in minimum living wage.

                All minimum wage does is outlaw certain kinds of work. Because some work creates more value than other work, and no business will pay someone more than they can produce, your minimum wage hurts the very people you claim to want to help by making it a crime for an employer to give them an entry level job where they can gain the experience to earn a living wage.

              2. Supply it where? How much more bandwidth do they need to supply in New York vs. Colby, KS? Do they incur the expense to supply it out to Point Barrow, AK? How about the Aleutians? You’re a brainless moron who just supports policies based on how they make him feel.

              3. Alice, I calculate it is far easier to merely cleanse America of progressives, such as yourself. Since you favor taking from others, we will take everything you and your Marxist friends have. You will then all be redistributed to worker’s paradises throughout the world via deportation.

                I’m sure you will enjoy your new life in sunny Venezuela, where your fellow travelers will provide all you need in life. And decide how you will live. A true worker’s paradise.

                Of course, the rest of us will dismantle the monstrous federal government your kind created. Not to worry, we will make do with a much smaller government and much less supervision in our lives.

            2. What about hookers and blow?

              What about front row seats to the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB?

              What about 3 weeks vaca in a beach house?

              What about BMW’s or Mercedes?

              1. That is silly now.

                And they call me a troll.

                1. You said a Living Wage. Well, to many people THAT is living.

                  The problem, Alice, is that who defines a Living Wage? You? It would be some idiot committee in Washington and it would be used as a vote-buying device in every election (just as it is now).

          4. You obviously haven’t been to many other countries. We don’t. Even the homeless here are fat. Go to any other country in the would and you will see horrors on the street you couldn’t even imagine here. Even (particularly) in progressive western europe…

          5. “We should not let people die.”

            When you have the government program that makes us all immortal and indestructable, give me a call, IN the meantime, we’re unable to prevent people from dying.

  23. Agreeing that BIG is a better option than all the current welfare programs put together is like acknowledging that the rapist did you a favor by using lube when he fucked you in the ass. True, but misses the larger point.

    1. I think the Larger picture is the need for a Minimum Living Wage.

      You guys want to insist that the government dole out free money to everyone via BIG just to close the the government office.

      Us liberals have always believed that if the Minimum wage is a Living Wage and healthcare/Pensions were guaranteed, there would be no need for hand out guys.

      1. Minimum Living Wage.

        I am sick of hearing this bullshit.

        Work has a certain value. Some work has more value than other work. Some work has very little value.

        The value of work is absolutely independent of the cost of living.

        It is totally stupid to think that people should be able to live off forty hours of working at a low value job.

        1. People have value! People before profits! You evil capitalist pig!

        2. From your comment I could not tell if you are for or against Minimum Living Wage (aka Citizen’s wage).

          1. funny that

          2. “From your comment I could not tell if you are for or against Minimum Living Wage”

            Then you clearly have trouble reading.

      2. What is the actual cost of healthcare?

        “Healthcare” is a giant red X, a variable that no one can pin down, because today’s standards of healthcare are to yesterday’s eyes a fantasy and to tomorrow’s eyes a travesty.

        “Every other civilized country has this figured out” is patently false. The countries that have implemented “universal” healthcare in one form or another have done so by rationing care and defining standards downward.

        People in those countries defend their systems for primarily two reasons: they don’t know any different, and it’s a form of tribal identification. In some ways, those systems do deliver superior outcomes to what we see in the United States, but in all of those cases it is due to stricter regulations in the US.

        1. “What is the actual cost of healthcare?”

          Health care is predominantly about information and measurement, both of which are getting exponentially cheaper by the year.

          Health care is cheap. Government control is expensive.

      3. Us liberals have always believed that if the Minimum wage is a Living Wage

        and that’s your first mistake. The minimum wage is an entry-level wage designed for the least-skilled in the workforce, doing mostly menial tasks for the larger goal of gaining job experience so they can move up the ladder.

        The larger problem with “us liberals” is the paternalism and condescension you have toward those stuck at the bottom by their own hand. You give them enough of other people’s money to rob them of any incentive to move up on their own, and you do it long enough so the initial benefit morphs into an entitlement.

        1. The minimum wage is an entry-level wage designed for the least-skilled in the workforce, doing mostly menial tasks for the larger goal of gaining job experience so they can move up the ladder.

          The minimum wage is a chimera designed to make pearl-clutching liberals feel better while hiding its destructiveness on the poor.

        2. If everyone has a dollar that dollar is worthless.

    2. “misses the larger point.”

      The rapist enjoys himself more?

      1. Rape is wrong, no matter in what manner it is committed.

        1. Yeah, but if rape is going to happen no matter what, you want it to be as comfortable as possible.

          1. Just Kay back and enjoy it.

  24. I RTFA’d and was disappointed that it didn’t seem to address whether this was only meant to replace “welfare” as in food stamps, housing vouchers, etc., or whether it was also meant to replace “welfare” as in the mortgage interest tax deduction, child tax credits, etc.

    1. One would hope that a simplified welfare system would be accompanied by a simplified tax code.

      And this is just the first in a series of articles on the topic, so somebody is sure to bring up middle class welfare reform too.

    2. Keeping your own money (mortgage tax deduction) is not welfare.

      Getting other people’s money (refundable EITC) is welfare.

      1. If the point of BIG is to do away with government-sponsored social engineering, those are key components.

        1. I like that.

        2. Flat tax. Or better yet, voluntary contributions.

  25. I have a better idea. How about we take care of those physically and mentally unable to work and give one years worth of lifetime benefits (total) to those who are down on their luck and get rid of the rest of it?

    Just sayin’.

    1. You mean take care of the physically and mentally challenged with private charity, while eliminating all government benefit programs right?

      Bwahaha! I kill myself. I might as well ask for a pet dragon.

    2. “I have a better idea. How about we take care of those physically and mentally unable to work…”

      My friend who goes out partying every night, and who hasn’t worked and has been been on disability for as long as I can remember (has to be at least 7 years), is in favor of this proposal.

    3. I kind of like that idea. Give people an opportunity to start something on their own, and if they fuck it up, too bad for them. There are a lot of reasonably lucrative self-employment or small business type things that you could start for $10,000.

      Of course, all of this is probably fantasy land. We’re probably just going to muddle along with some variation on more traditional welfare until it becomes impossible to pay for it.

  26. How about we take care of those physically and mentally unable to work

    You mean, like this?…..l-complex/

  27. B.I.G. must be accompanied by a tax code with the following:

    2. ZERO DEDUCTIONS, EXEMPTIONS, Tax Shelters, etc.
    3. ZERO Corporate Income Tax
    4. No Distinction between Capital Gains and Earned Income…ALL INCOME TAXED.
    5. No Sales Tax.

    1. Yep. And a maximum rate of 5%.

      1. :

        With wars running at $11 Billion a month, good luck.

        Not to mention that $1,000 Aspirin.

        1. Ummm…. I think most libertarians oppose the 11 billion dollar a month wars and the aspirin cost 1k because nothing is free. If 99 people out of 100 don’t pay for the aspirin the 1 sucker that does pay is going to cover the cost.

          1. Not to mention 5% would be something like $60 billion/month revenue.

    2. I’m not sure that the Federal Government has the authority to eliminate sales taxes, which are levied by states and local governments.

      I’m fine with a flat tax after eliminating the poverty line amount. So anything over (whatever is designated the poverty line) is taxed at the flat rate.

      But then again, I’m not. It’s better than the current system, but I’d prefer something like the FAIR Tax.

    3. Alice, you realize that would represent a MASSIVE reduction in the taxes high-income earners pay, don’t you?

      Not that I have a problem with it. I think everybody but the truly needy should pay the same percentage regardless. But it never ceases to amaze me when I see progressives calling for a flat tax. I know there’s a ton of brainwashing, but do these people really think the those evil 1-percenters are paying a lower rate than everybody else?

      1. Not at all, if you get rid of shelters, excemptions, and deductions.

        AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, treat Capital Gains Just like you treat earned income, the Rich will actually paid their fair share.

        1. The “rich” already pay their “fair share”. The top 20% of income earners pay 85% of all federal income taxes, and the majority of state income taxes, property taxes, business taxes, sales taxes, and every other fucking tax. Meanwhile, the lower 47% of income earners pay NO federal income taxes, and in fact receive more in cash from the federal government than they contribute. Get off my roads.

        2. You might be a little bolder and tax property instead of earnings.

        3. I agree with your sentiment, but am disturbed by the “zero deduction” rhetoric for businesses.

          How do you handle employee/payroll costs and other basic/legitimate deductions?

          Zero exemptions for INCOME and equal treatment – absolutely. Zero “deductions” will equate to zero businesses.

    4. Not zero deductions.
      How about one large standard deduction for everyone?

      Like every gets the first $35,000 of their income and then pays taxes at a flat rate on everything above that.

  28. It’s one thing to pay for the truly disabled. They are a small portion of the population. The expense is a fraction of paying out to an entire population, but MOST importantly, those getting free shit is a small fraction of the voters. If everyone gets free shit, how long before they are voting for MOAR free shit?

    Such a system would grow like wildfire.

    1. I’d love to know what percentage of people on disability actually cannot work. It’s got to be shockingly small.

      1. Yup. I was taking a girl back for a c-section the other day and we went by a storage room and she asked if we were doing her surgery in the garage? I said yeah, you get a discount that way. She said Medicaid is paying the bill so take her to the pent house. It was her 4th kid and she had no medical history.

        I’m the sucker for going to work everyday.

      2. I’d love to know what percentage of people on disability actually cannot work. It’s got to be shockingly small.

        Either that or the US has the most enormous proportion of cripples in the world.

      3. I personally know three people who collect 100% disability. All of them are able to work. One claims to be legally blind, and yet can drive her Jag without glasses. One collects 100% for “sleep apnea”. One has a “back injury”, and yet is able to scuba dive every weekend. You want to know the percentage that are “truly disabled”? Sit in a Walmart parking lot and watch how many people walk into the store from their handicapped parking spots.

        1. You can SCUBA with a back injury if you’re smart about. Being underwater means you’re supporting much less weight. It’s one of the few sports my mother (who has a back injury) can really get into.

          Just saying.

        2. Didn’t the disability lists double or triple in numbers under the Choomster in Charge?

    2. They used to be a small portion of the population, but since the ADA the percentage has mysteriously increased.

  29. While BIG would be way more efficient, I think in this case, the welfare method we have now is better – at least in terms of a keeping a program from running away to fast until we are all ruined. It is still immoral to steal from me to give to someone else, but I digress.

    The temptations of politicians to promise to their electorate more free shit would be way to large to ignore. Who would put up a the counter argument for the yearly debates on increasing BIG, besides people who actually care about spending (which aren’t many politicians).

    1. Right now we have a system that allows politicians to promise free shit in exchange for votes. That is basically the status quo.

      I honestly think your average voter believes that social welfare programs should be fairly limited to taking care of people’s basic needs (i.e., food, shelter, medical care, education for kids). But the system we have now is so fractured, with benefits distributed unevenly and in such a convoluted way, that your average voter doesn’t actually know what the typical recipient of these programs actually gets. And some politician will always be able to track someone down who isn’t really getting by and make them seem like a “typical” person in poverty, even if that person is anything but and could be getting even more assistance if they could navigate the system.

      A GMI has the benefit of simplicity. Everyone knows exactly how much everyone else is getting. I think that would make it a lot harder for politicians to motivate voters to expand the system. Anyone living in poverty won’t have an excuse, because everyone else will know that what they are getting.

  30. I think it is important to be precise in how this is described. There are people (e.g., Tony) who already call a GMI a “libertarian” idea. It isn’t under any meaningful definition of libertarian. And there have been a few comments using this as an argument against it. But just because it isn’t libertarian doesn’t mean that it isn’t an idea that libertarians can’t support for being better than the status quo. I just think it is really important to make it clear that libertarians view this as one step in a process. Not unlike some progressives make it clear that they view Obamacare as a step towards single payer.

    1. Adding a new entitlement is not an idea libertarians should support.

      1. If you’re looking at a system that will surely collapse under its own weight, do you attempt to reform it in ways that aren’t in complete adherence to your principles or do you stand fast? Knowing full well that if it does collapse, what replaces it will be most likely be worse.

        I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that this be an additional entitlement, but one meant to supplant all of the others.

        1. But, as I note above, there’s no way it doesn’t become anything other than an additional entitlement. People will do dumb shit with their money. This can only work as a replacement for the rest of the safety net if people are willing to then say “Too fucking bad for you. Maybe you’ll make better decisions in the future.”. Otherwise, we wind up with all of the programs this “replaces” being reinstituted. Now, given that a large portion of those benefitting from the safety net are there for their own bad decisions now, and no one is saying that, what do you think the likelihood of the TFB response will be?

          1. I think the likelihood is higher. As I said above (or below, I forget), it’s really hard for the average voter to know what the average recipient of various welfare programs is getting, let alone some specific individual. That makes it a lot easier for some politician to trot out a sob story and pass it off as evidence of the systemic failure, and the need for yet another corrective program.

            If everyone knew that everyone else was getting $10,000, it would be a lot harder to pull that off. And I think sympathy for those who fuck up would go way down as a result.

      2. This is an impasse that I don’t see us getting by right now. But I think libertarianism, as a movement, HAS to get past this.

        There is a real chance for libertarianism to make a positive impact in the near future, if not right now. But it is going to depend on coming up with solutions that can actually get votes in a country where most people are not libertarians (yet). If you have a way of doing that without compromising, I’m all ears.

        1. Except libertarianism doesn’t make a lot of sense if people aren’t responsible for their own lives. If you want to argue that other people are responsible bearing the consequences for the bad decisions you or I might make, there’s not a lot of reason to argue that you or I should be free to choose independently of their approval or acceptance of our decisions. That is to say, the compromises you suggest destroy the very foundations of the libertarian argument.

          1. There is no argument to be made. People absolutely are responsible for bearing the consequences of the bad decisions of others. They *shouldn’t* be, but our current system makes it so. And a pretty substantial majority of Americans wants it to be that way, at least in the case of the poor.

            Any idea that simply wishes that reality away is no different than progressive ideas that try to wish away reality in economics. Both are doomed to failure.

            1. They *shouldn’t* be, but our current system makes it so.

              And you don’t get libertarianism without changing that. Accepting collective responsibility means accepting collective decision-making. Libertarianism becomes an irrationality if you accept collective responsibility.

              1. And how do you change that? I think that by showing people an example of a less intrusive, more market-based approach to the welfare state, you move in that direction.

                1. No, asserting that everyone has a right to a $10,000 grant every year by virtue of the fact of their existence doesn’t tell people “you have a responsibility for your own existence”.

    2. I agree. Other things that I would like to see go along with it:

      Maximum 10 page federal tax code
      Everyone pays quarterly taxes, no withholding
      Elimination of corporate tax
      Elimination of ACA and the tax exemption for employer provided insurance

      Just thinking of all the unemployed CPAs, tax attorneys, and bureaucrats makes me smile.

      1. Everyone pays quarterly taxes, no withholding

        Just pass this one and the rest will take care of themselves. Most people have NO IDEA how much Uncle Samb is taking because they never look at their check or just assume it’s his money.

        1. For all the bitching about corporations being the enemy of good government, you would think that businesses weren’t the enforcement arm of the regulatory and tax collection state. I would wager that 90% of the regulations enforced and taxes collected are done so thru businesses working for the whim of the State.

          1. That, along with the massive invasion of privacy required, is the biggest reason I oppose income tax entirely. If you add the regulatory and reporting burdens placed on companies to the cost of government reflected in the budget, you can see that it is even bigger than most people imagine.

    3. One step in the process of returning society to its brutal Darwinian origins?

      Either the people at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to wealth, luck, disability, or what have you, are able to survive and potentially find opportunity with public assistance, or they’re cut off because you don’t like paying taxes. There is no magical third way, except magic.

      1. Voluntary compassion and charity. Or is that magic in your eyes?

        1. Yes, it precisely is, because it’s nonsense to think it would be adequate and you know it.

          1. You might be right. You can’t state that with certainty. Government spending on social programs almost certainly crowds out a lot of private charity. And there was less wealth in the days before the welfare state, and so less of an opportunity to be charitable. Kickstarter and services like it demonstrate how technology makes charity easier and more efficient, as well as providing evidence that people are happy to donate to causes they believe in for little to no tangible benefit. Furthermore, I’ll point to the gay rights movement. 50 years ago it was unthinkable that large numbers of people would take pride in publicly showing their support for gay rights. Today, they make bumper stickers and internet memes for that express purpose. I see no reason why something similar couldn’t happen with charitable giving.

            Would it happen overnight? Probably not, but I wouldn’t rule it out entirely.

            1. One of the first groups to protest saddling charities with the entire safety net would be the churches and charities who’d have to bear much of the burden. It’s total nonsense to claim that they could deal with a trillion-dollar safety net. I prefer my social programs secular anyway.

              1. Private charities run more efficiently than government. Or at least the good ones do. So that trillion dollar safety net is going to end up costing a lot less. I’m sure they’d protest if it happened overnight. To work it would probably require a cultural change that would take many years.

                I prefer my social program voluntary. I don’t have a problem with people freely donating money to their church.

                1. You’d be more than welcome to support secular charities, since that is what you prefer.

              2. It’s total nonsense to claim that they could deal with a trillion-dollar safety net.

                This is why the progressive trifecta of regulation, taxation, and welfare has to be tackled as a unit.

                You’re right, churches and charities could not handle a trillion-dollar support burden.

                That’s why it’s “total nonsense” to claim that it’s morally right to forbid people from working and engaging in commerce.

                There’s no need for a trillion-dollar “safety net” if the acts of government that you’re keeping people safe from have been abolished.

          2. Adequacy is a strange standard to apply to theft.

            How much murder is adequate?

  31. Is there any non disabled person that couldn’t make 10,000 a year? That’s minimum wage 30 hours a week. And if they could why in the world shouldn’t they?

    1. On of the selling points of the GMI is that it eliminates the high effective marginal tax rates at the means test margin, aka the welfare trap.

      1. That’s probably the single biggest argument in favor of it.

  32. I support this proposal so long as it is renamed the Purple Wage.

    Here is another proposal:


  33. This reminds me of the “libertarians” who support a national sales tax, naively believing that it would replace the income tax rather than just supplant it.

    1. I think most libertarians who support that idea carefully condition it on constitutional ban on income taxes.

  34. There is no possible way that the implementation of a BIG wouldn’t be a total disaster. None.

    1. That’s not fair. If the Culture came and gave us a post-scarcity, super-technologically advanced society, it might work.

      1. This is exactly how the Star Trek system is *not* a socialist state, even though it looks like it from the outside a bit.

        Two technologies in Star Trek make it possible for pretty much everyone to have whatever they want: the replicator and the vast energies provided by the matter/antimatter systems (which powers replicators, among other things).

  35. A BIG would create all sorts of perverse incentives that would lead to a mis-allocation of labor.

    Instead of having a job producing stuff other people actually want, all sorts of people would drop out of the workforce to try their hand at making jewelry and selling it on Etsy.

    Society as a whole would be better off with fewer airheads making jewelry for fun and more people doing stuff that other people are voluntarily willing to pay them for.

    1. Is someone forcing you to buy jewelry on etsy?

      1. I think we should leave forcing people to buy jewelry on etsy up to the states.

      2. Are you not forced to buy stuff on etsy?

      3. No, but with a BIG, they are basically forcing me to PAY for it anyway.

        The chick making jewelry gets my money whether I want her stupid jewelry or not.

        1. You think the chick on Etsy isn’t collecting a nice big disability check right now? Come on.

        2. $10,000/year is not a whole lot of money. Unless that chick is okay basically living at the poverty line, she has an incentive to earn a real income.

  36. There’s already a massive amount of fraud committed by illegal aliens getting bogus tax refunds, plus foreign scammers who manage to get the IRS to mail them checks without ever having to leave their home countries. Imagine what will happen once word of this gets out.

    And, of course, various lefties will complain that it’s officially restricted to citizens, and should apply to everyone here, legal or not.

  37. Like this idea very much but it must be contingent on elimination of all current payout systems (Welfare, Food Stamps, etc.) and that any never going to happen so this won’t either.

  38. Without having a lot of knowledge of how such schemes might work in practice, on paper it sounds great and preferable to a patchwork system. I do think certain services ought to be subsidized and mandatory (like education–children shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of their parents thinking they don’t need an education). Otherwise, great. I’ve never been fond of the conservative fixation of prying into the spending habits of poor people. A universal basic income erases the stigma of being on government assistance (a blow to those who might want to use that stigma in the service of policy changes, though). And just on a moral level, I don’t think not working should be a crime punishable by death, assuming a society has the wealth to provide a basic living for people (ours does). Let people weave baskets all day and live a basic standard of living, if that’s what they want. Who is society to tell people they have to make themselves profitable (usually for someone else) or die (if there is a less draconian alternative)?

    1. There should be a stigma attached to being on government assistance permanently. You are a fucking leech.

      1. Why? Because it does any good? Or because you’re a moral busybody?

        1. Yup, the person who wants a voluntary communal sense of dishonor attached to detrimental activities is a busybody. While the person who wants to force others to reward those who engage in detrimental activities is a champion of individual freedom.

        2. Why? Because it does any good? Or because you’re a moral busybody?

          Because your check comes at the expense of someone who was forced to provide you their income at gun-point.

          By the standard you set, I’m a “moral busybody” if I would oppose a mugger. I mean who am I to judge his right to steal? It would be immoral of me to condemn the rapist, because who am I to say that he can’t bang whom he wants?

          Tony logic must be a new species of fallacies by now. You are constantly breaking new ground, Tony. You’ve revolutionized stupidity.

          1. Here’s the difference between a liberal and a filthy conservative: the former treats the poor as victims, while the latter treats them as moral transgressors. What makes someone one or the other lies somewhere in one of the more ancient parts of the brain, I gather.

            I don’t think poverty should be considered a crime. That’s why I think the poor should be treated differently from muggers.

            1. Here’s the difference between a liberal and a filthy conservative: the former treats the poor as victims, while the latter treats them as moral transgressors.

              If a mugger mugs me and gives the money to a random hobo down the street, my outrage at the mugging is not an affront to the hobo’s dignity. Is it?

              You have to be making a real effort to be non-thinking this hard.

              1. I’m not talking about theft and charity. I’m talking about taxes and redistribution.

                1. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. I realize you depend on euphemisms to mask the moral repugnance of your opinions.

              2. His stories work better, when you come out offended at poor people.

            2. Collecting a welfare check is not in and of itself thievery, because someone else did the stealing and then gave (some of) the spoils to you.

              Perhaps someone would have freely given the money to you, because of compassion or as an investment. Either way, it is not axiomatically immoral.

              But when you choose to live day after day at the expense of others, you make yourself no better than the thieves who stole on your behalf.

              Poverty is not a moral transgression. Living an indolent life on the dole is.

              Apparently, only the distinctions that serve your narrative matter to you.

            3. The difference between a thinking person and Tony is that Tony treats all poor as a class of people without distinction and assumes that they are all “victims”. A thinking person recognizes that there are some unlucky victims of circumstance in the heterogeneous population of poor people, while at the same time recognizing that there are also some poor people who are poor due to their own bad decisions.

              A stay-at-home mom raising two kids whose husband is killed on his 2nd tour of duty in Afghanistan warrants pity and charity.

              A crack-whore with seven kids by unknown males, not so much.

              The former is likely embarrassed by her need and probably resolves her situation quickly with a little help. The latter will say “Somebody’s got to pay for my babies!”

              The “deserving poor” are exactly that; the indolent, the drop-outs, the addicts, etc. constituting the rest of the poor are not much different from muggers.

              1. Isn’t it easier just to ignore the causes of their poverty and realize that poverty is, all by itself, pretty shitty to live through?

                And besides, your insistence on bureaucrats poking their noses into the lives of poor people to ascertain who is deserving of assistance only works if there are no children. Surely the children of even the morally corrupt are not to blame for their circumstance.

                1. Isn’t it easier just to ignore the causes of their poverty and realize that poverty is, all by itself, pretty shitty to live through?

                  Yeah, fuck causality. It’s a bourgeois notion anyway.

                  your insistence on bureaucrats poking their noses into the lives of poor people

                  Apparently context is a bourgeois notion now too. Fuck the thread, just start throwing arbitrary and obviously false accusations!

                  Surely the children of even the morally corrupt are not to blame for their circumstance.

                  Red herring! Non sequitur! Bamboozle and confuse those libertarians with shallow examples of moral hazard!

                  I don’t know Tony, maybe if we didn’t specifically and intentionally subsidize people into having more children, there might not be so many children needing assistance. Crazy, I know.

                2. Isn’t it easier just to ignore the causes of their poverty and realize that poverty is, all by itself, pretty shitty to live through?

                  It’s hard to ignore the cause when that cause has a gun in your ribs.

                  Surely the children of even the morally corrupt are not to blame for their circumstance.

                  Children receiving the spoils of theft is not the issue. The issue is theft. Just as children of the indolent are not to blame, neither are the victims of government extortion. Either no one has a right to forcefully live at the expense of others, or everyone has a right to forcefully live at the expense of others.

                3. If you can’t afford to feed and house your children, we should take them from you and give them to people who can. Why subject the darling little tykes to neglect from parents who can’t even be bothered to work so that they can feed and house their litter of kids?

                  If accidentally leaving your kid to die in a hot car is 1st degree felony murder (death caused by felony aggravated child neglect), certainly *willfully* choosing to not work such that you cannot buy food for your kids should rate up there somewhere too. Thus taking them from you and placing them with someone who can and will feed them is “in the child’s best interest”.

                4. Apparently not shitty enough, given the large number of people who willfully continue to live in poverty.

                  Hey, I’m not entirely heartless, I don’t wan’t people to starve or die from exposure. But there’s no need to enable poverty addicts. Instead of foodstamps, here’s your monthly supply of rice, beans, and vitamins (so you won’t starve). If you need a place to live, we have some closed military bases that we can turn into homeless shelters: you’ll have to work in the on-site food garden, wash dishes, paint the walls, etc.

    2. And just on a moral level, I don’t think not working should be a crime punishable by death, assuming a society has the wealth to provide a basic living for people (ours does).

      Society doesn’t have any wealth.

      People do.

      Society isn’t telling people that they have to make themselves profitable or die. People are telling other people that there are limits to charity, so get the fuck up off the couch.

      1. We can coherently talk about cumulative wealth if we want to. It’s instructive to do so for certain purposes. For example, it’s hard to explain middle class wage stagnation and 300% wage increases for the very wealthiest by talking only about individuals. The country did not experience a pandemic of laziness over the last few decades (productivity numbers show the opposite).

        1. Perhaps you can ask our betters in the business of regulating financial and monetary activities in this country why they have allowed “middle class wage stagnation and 300% wage increases for the very wealthiest”?

          Oh right, we live in a “free market” when it’s convenient for the sake of argument, but at the same time we have to maintain the corrupt and ineffectual regulatory behemoths, lest we fall into… the free market?

        2. Automation and process improvement is responsible for those “productivity numbers”, you dishonest fuck.

          1. Cite, you plutocrat apologist flapping piehole?

            1. Is there some other plausible explanation, you socialist apologist flapping piehole?

              Were Americans suddenly filled with the patriotic fervor to work harder?

            2. Here you go, dumb-ass:


        3. We can coherently talk about cumulative wealth if we want to.

          Who’s “we”? You and the mouse in your pocket?

          People like you talk about “collective wealth” only to distract from the fact that your policy proposals always involve stealing wealth from people who earned it, and giving it to people who didn’t.

    3. I agree with Tony, a person should not be forced to work in order to eat. They should be free to beg for handouts and charity. They might find it easier to work, though.

      It’s the contrapositive (I think) that is the sticking point. Who is society to force people to provide income to others?

      Heck, the concept of not working == not eating is not even un-Christian!

      2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you: that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

      1. Who gives a fuck whether something is Christian or not?

        This is ‘Reason Mag.’ You know, for people interested in logic and facts. Not ‘invisible-daddy-in-the-sky mag.’

        1. I mentioned it only because it’s the counterargument made by progressives against conservatives vis charity. “You call yourselves Christians but you want to starve little children by cutting off their foodstamps!”

  39. If more people reached their political beliefs by extrapolating from how they act in their personal lives, there would be very few “social liberals”. Do most parents decide that their grown children need a “guaranteed income”? No. They expect them to get jobs and not be embarrassing, worthless layabouts. Heck, most parents don’t even give their young children an allowance without expecting them to do chores around the house. Yet there is a debate about whether it’s right for government to incentivize lazy, unproductive lifestyles. Why is it even under consideration?

  40. I support the NIT (Negative Income Tax) as replacement for welfare. It’s Libertarian, but a lot of the crazies that call anyone who isn’t an anarchist a “statist” would be up in arms.

    I’m a small-L/big-D and hated by the nutjob gold standard lovers.

  41. $10k/yr to breath? Wow, sign me up. I’ll dump the house, take the cash and move to a cabin in ID or MT, and use the “basic income” to pay the property taxes and buy ammo and a few things I can’t make or grow!

    Getting paid to go galt? Yahooooooooooooooooooo!

  42. IF we MUST have a welfare system, then a guaranteed income is the best solution.

    It would allow a more free market to emerge, and we would dismantle the vast Bureaucracy State that pushes the paper for all of these individualized programs.

    1. IF unicorns MUST fart rainbows, we’ll solve energy scarcity. Hey look my hypothetical scenario is even more promising than yours. And with mine you don’t even have to abandon principles to appease your inner socialist.

  43. Why are libertarians such cheapskates? Why not $100,000 per year? Why not a billion? It’s not fair the only the likes of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates enjoy such incomes.

  44. If libertarians are going to fantasize about a politically impossible outcome, they might as well fantasize about libertopia.

    1. What these “libertarians” are doing are debating whether we should offer to murder 2 people on the premises that other factions might promise, to maybe, possibly, not murder 4 people if we do so.

      This “debate” is a hypothetical game designed to make self-described libertarians find their inner socialist.

  45. Libertarians Debate Basic Income Guarantee

    I’m going to save you trouble of coming up with similarly reasonable taglines for future use Elizabeth.

    Farmers Debate Photosynthesis

    Feminists Debate Rapist Parental Rights

    Black Panthers Debate Whether White People are All That Bad

    Scientists Debate Color of God’s Pubes

    Communists Debate the Existence of Exploitation

    Or we can just be accurate from the onset.

    Libertarians and non-libertarians Debate Basic Income Guarantee

  46. 1) Retire the current crop of welfare bureaucrats, on full salary, with the requirement that they retire entirely from public life. If they want to become political activists, they must give up their pensions.

    2) Lease, sell, or otherwise repurpose all offices, building, etc dedicated to said bureaucracy.

    3) Take the current spending on Welfare, Aid to Dependent Chattel, Food Stamps, and what-have-you hand cut it 50%

    3) Convert the resulting sum into $20 bills and air drop it over major American cities.


    1) Not having the Bureaucratic vermin constantly trying to justify raises or promotions has to cut the budget growth.

    2) Closing their offices has to save money, even if they are still drawing their whole pay.

    3) The incurable buttinskis will forfeit their pensions in order to ride their hobby horses.

    4) Even cutting the total expenditure 50% and scattering it on the wind, it almost has to get more money into the hands of the seriously poor than the present rat-maze.

    5) Some money will necessarily fall into fires or otherwise be ruined, taking it out of circulation and slightly reducing inflation.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Amen, Bro or Bro-esse!!!
      But PWEASE do NOT forgit…
      Scienfoology Song? GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

      Government loves me, This I know,
      For the Government tells me so,
      Little ones to GAWD belong,
      We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
      Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
      Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
      And gives me all that I might need!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      DEA, CIA, KGB,
      Our protectors, they will be,
      FBI, TSA, and FDA,
      With us, astride us, in every way!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

    2. Results;

      1)New legion of bureaucrats are hired within 5 years with the added cost of an old legion of unsustainable pension benefit liabilities.

      2)New symbols of bureaucratic power erected in short order.

      3)Entitlements re-inflate within the span of a few more treatments from Dr Democracy.

      3?)I see no reason why not.

  47. I don’t believe how big this comment section got.

    I thought about it.

    1. I think the citizen’s wage won’t work because of the many many people that make more money than the living wage. Once you give these people the citizen’s wage, the free market will recognize that the citizen’s spending appetite will increaser by that amount. Goods will increase respectively.

    I get this from the libertarian argument against student loans and free grants. Once colleges saw that people were getting money from somewhere else, the colleges realized that the spending appetite increased, therefore, raising tuition.

    2. It should be means tested. This brings back the bureacrats.

    1. in point #2, to be clear, i dont want the nearucrats.

    2. You describe a scenario where there are more dollars chasing the same amount of goods. Of course prices go up, that’s not market greed, it’s people deciding that the products they produce should fetch a certain value in an exchange. If a government fidgets with the scarcity of the medium of exchange, prices necessarily go up because producers of goods and services don’t want to get less for producing more.

  48. You get more of what you reward…

  49. I’m all for BIG… $10K/year tax free… just send my check to my new address in Central America where I can live high on the hog wading into the surf all day and indulging in fruity drinks – if I need a little extra money, I’ll do some contract work for cash. Of course, I’ll have to deal with all the other US adults doing the same, but if not Central America then maybe South East Asia somewhere. I’d imagine most graduating HS students will start off with the beaches and then move to bumming around Europe and then Asia or Africa. Oh, you thought people would enter the work force when they turn 18? Maybe when they are in their mid 30s… or not at all. After 10-20 years of bumming around the world, I’m sure they will be in prime mental shape to start working.

    BIG = Dumbest… idea… evar.

    1. That seems so unavoidable.

      I also think it won’t work. As much as I like it.

  50. As an alternative to the current welfare state* BIG would be a massive improvement. The problem is that the left will never go for it because they claim that people have an absolute “right” to certain goods and services like healthcare, food, shelter, water and the like. It is the job of the government to provide all those things in abundance to every poor person regardless of the cost.

    The right will never go for it because they have too much fun telling people what to do and how to live their lives. You want a government benefit? You better take a drug test first.

    * Abolishing the current welfare state must include getting rid of everything form Social Security and Medicare to Medicaid and food stamps to TANF and housing assistance to the child and earned income tax credits along with any other transfer payment that one can think of.

    1. “The right will never go for it because they have too much fun telling people what to do and how to live their lives. You want a government benefit? You better take a drug test first.”

      I just think that recipients of government (taxpayer) largess should have to jump though the same humiliating hoops that gun owners have to.

      If I have to be photographed, fingerprinted, & background investigated and carry “papers” to legally exercise a Constitutionally protected right, then it seems only fair to expect people queuing up for free stuff can go through the same system.

  51. One estimate of the cost based on minimum income being equal to poverty line based on household size comes out to a bit more than $2T per year. The Census provides a breakdown in number of households by household size, and given the Federal poverty line limit for household size, the math is simple (if we ignore the “or more” part of the 7 or more line and the incremental $4060 increase per dependent over 7).

    Household Size # Households Poverty Line Cost
    1 31,886,794 $11,670.00 $372.12B
    2 38,635,170 $15,730.00 $607.73B
    3 18,044,529 $19,790.00 $357.1B
    4 15,030,350 $23,850.00 $358.47B
    5 6,940,508 $27,910.00 $193.71B
    6 2,701,873 $31,970.00 $86.38B
    7 1,749,501 $40,090.00 $70.14B

  52. This will never happen because the politicians will have no way of controlling how it gets spent, thus no way for them to get kickbacks from lobbyists, like they do now. This is I think actually a good thing.

    also it would cost around 2 trillion annually which is I think bigger than what the fed govt spends currently on entitlements. Would states be expected to keep up their own entitlement programs? If so I think it would create too great a tax burden to sustain. If not then possible reductions in state and local taxes may make it feasible. However it is unlikely that state and local governments will reduce taxation.

    Furthermore if this is paid for by borrowing/printing more money it will simply lead to inflation reducing the effectiveness of the cash handouts, the handouts will need to be increased causing a snowball effect of inflation. The first step would be to make the government fiscally sound.

  53. I’m for scrapping the welfare system, but I am not on board with replacing it with anything but private charity.


  54. It may be a better alternative but I still cannot bring myself to support it,

  55. The state can give away as much wealth as it likes however it likes. Even ancaps are for the state giving away wealth; it’s the theft part we hate.

    If your NIT features rich congressmen and generous trustfunders lining up to give their money away to the huddled masses, kudos. If it entails taxes, tariffs, or any other form of coerced wealth transfer, by definition it isn’t libertarian. I have yet to see any state that’s libertarian, so this initiative has no appeal to a libertarian.

    This is the same shit that gave Friedman a mixed reputation among people who take libertarianism and the meaning of words seriously. The NIT may be a more efficient & liberal form of welfare than our system, but it’s a compromise position, not a libertarian one. It’s also an impossible political goal that only a useful idiot would support, as you can be sure any SS-for-all program will be tacked onto the current welfare state instead of replacing it.

  56. As usual the pro/con divide ends up hinging on the single question:

    Will it *actually* replace benefits, permanently? Or is this just another benefit to pile on top?

    Short of baking it into the constitution, I don’t see how. And even that’s no guarantee.

    It’s nice in theory, but I’d assume any grand bargain to make that happen is actually a trap. What I’ve seen from the movements to make it happen in Europe confirms that position.

    1. Here’s what would happen.

      BIG would pass (it wouldn’t, but let’s just say). Immediately there would be a demand for it to be raised, but since cost of living varies by region, it would necessarily be adjusted based on the claimant’s address. People would notice that a 38-year-old crackhead in Baltimore is getting the same money as a single mother of four in Tulsa and say, “Hey, wait a minute…” Disabled people would argue (quite rightly) that they need more money to support themselves at a reasonable level because they can’t work, whereas Warren Buffet would complain about the $10k he’s getting and blowing on shoes (instead of donating, since we’ve gotten rid of tax breaks, and lord knows ol’ Warren ain’t throwin’ that cash back for nothin’).

      Within 10 years BIG would remain in place, but it would be augmented by supplemental subsidies that were means-tested, regional, linked to disability, etc. And there goes your cost savings.

      I’ll pass.

    2. I think it gets piled underneath, not on top.

  57. Here’s a real libertarian idea: Scrap the current welfare regime and replacing it with nothing.

  58. Not sure if this was mentioned and I just missed it – but if every single child is a precious little angel, then precious little angel loses its meaning.

    The same would be true here – if every US citizen were given 10K a month or year or whatever – you?ll just end up redefining zero to be equal to 10K and be back where you started.

    IE – this helps no one that I can see.

    Also – I assume this amount gets increased from time to time – if political, you can be sure that the second after this passes, it will turn from 10K for everyone into, well 10K for everyone, but the truly poor need at least double that.

    The US has shown, time and time again, that completely fair isn?t allowed (see tax system now).

    Though as others have noted – while I?m against this – I think the problem with individuals blowing 10K on day one is a fixable one without too much interference.

    Other than that – while this might be mildly better than what we have – I think it does little good and reinforces a problem we already have today – people fully believe they are entitled to things they are not – a college education and a house just to name two.

  59. All BIG does is concede the argument about government’s role in the economy to the Progressives. It does nothing to help the poor lift themselves out of poverty. It does nothing to eliminate the market distortions caused by government regulations, laws, and subsidies that make the cost of living high.

    1. You are 100% right, I wonder if we could ever have a leader in America that would actually say “market distortions caused by govt regulations, laws, and subsidies.”

  60. Fuck. Reason magazine is getting stupid.

  61. I’m totally against this, but when my robots do all the work, you guys will probably insist.

    1. I will gladly donate 10 hours a week from my nuclear-powered, self-repairing robot fleet to the poor of my community who are barely getting by with an old-school diesel-powered self-driving lawnmower.

  62. I’m a libertarian and I say hell no to this “BIG” idea – I couldn’t even imagine libertarians discussing such a policy. Stop trying to find reasons for the govt to steal our hard earned money. Enough is enough!

    1. Libertarians aren’t debating this policy. Libertarians are debating with non-libertarians who think they are libertarian about this policy.

  63. IMO the only way BIG could work is if a “Transaction Tax” were imposed. Every time currency is exchanged for a good,or service a small percentage would be “Taxed”, removed from circulation, and destroyed permanently. That way the value, and stability, of the fiat currency could self regulate according to the volume of economic activity. Donations, investment’s, bank deposit’s, and small undocumented private sales would be exempt. Interest payments, and dividends would not.
    There is still a lot of room for abuse, and so many things would need to change. It still looks like a pipe dream to me.

    1. I forgot to add. This fiat currency would be printed, and given to the citizens. It would not come from traditional taxes.

  64. Serious question, is Reason a libertarian magazine ? In one article about Putin, the article looks like something you will find in neocon outlets like the WSJ. This article looks like something the Economist would advocate, also an anti liberty rag. What next, the libertarian case for conscription and the surveillance state ?

    1. As far as I can tell NotSure, it is a Libertarian magazine. The writer’s like to post articles that get people thinking, and debating. I have not been here that long, but that’s how it appear’s to me.

    2. More “nouveau” libertarian; meaning most of the writers/editors are liberals, but “think” they want limited government and reduced spending (except for causes they favor)…

  65. my co-worker’s mother-in-law makes $79 an hour on the internet . She has been fired for 8 months but last month her pay was $13333 just working on the internet for a few hours. take a look at the site here W?W?W.J?u?m?p??62.C?o???m

  66. There are two things we must accept.

    1) Some type of welfare will never go away.
    2) The government would not repeal other parts of welfare if they enacted BIG.

    1. While I fully understand and agree that “Some type of welfare will never go away”, it should be restricted only to those that are truly incapable of supporting themselves, and that have no family capable of providing support. Nobody should be forced to subsidize the poor decision-making or lack of motivation in others.

  67. For all you proponents of a “living wage”, what’s your plan for resolving the vast “cost of living” differences that exist? If one chooses to live in Manhattan or San Fransisco versus Harlingen, Texas, are you going to pay someone more to live in these extremely high cost of living cities? If someone lives in an area without public transportation, are you going to buy them a car? If someone lives in an area without phone or internet services, are you going to pay for a satellite phone and INMARSAT BGAN or other satellite communications for them? If one person’s “living wage” is $180K because of where they choose to live, but here’s a home available in an area where the living wage is only $30K, will the taxpayers have a right to move the recipients of their largesse to the less expensive area? If not, why not?

    1. You know. What about prisoners? Do you continue to get the BIG when you get locked away 20 years for armed robbery, while the state feeds, houses, and clothes you?

  68. If these poor people are allowed to choose what to do with the money, some of them will squander it stupidly. When the chronically self-destructive fall through, there will be calls for more money and the American people won’t have the heart to say no. I do, however, believe that some people might benefit from a little start-up cash.

  69. Let’s say the citizenry of a country have both the political will and critical mass to demand/tolerate a basic guaranteed income. You think there’s any way in hell they’ll ALSO be in favor of doing nothing when irresponsible saps blow all their free money and have nothing left for basic needs? No way in hell.

    IMO, the real problem (or at least a major one) with welfare is the recipients don’t experience it as charity, money coming from real people who are sacrificing for them–and will judge/shame them if they waste it. It’s just free money from “the government” that they have a “right” to receive. A guaranteed income wouldn’t change that. It might make it worse.

    People tend not to treat money they’ve earned carelessly, on the other hand.

  70. I’m willing to provide the basic necessities of life to those who haven’t contributed to taking care of themselves. That includes:

    A cot in one of Joe Arapiao’s jail tents, and with the door locked but enrolees can leave for job interviews. No TV, no radio, but books from the prison library are available for entertainment.
    A MRE for each meal like our soldiers get.
    $1000/year that can be used for their medical care

    If they want something better, they can earn it. Or better yet, let them emigrate to a country that provides for everyone’s needs, like North Korea or Cuba.

    1. And while they are enjoying the hotel facilities in Arizona, let the jail warden decide what jobs they can do to pay for the expense of providing for them.

  71. I’ve written (from France) an article on my blog RevActu.
    An answer to that article
    I’m not a libertarian, I’m a liberal-egalitarist ! An answer to Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Matt Zwolinsky, Veronique de Rugy and Michael Huemer

    Thanks to the activists of Occupy Dallas, I’ve followed a link to the article of Elizabeth Nolan Brown. For Awonians (Indians), for UnitedStatians, for Americans, I have answered to that new gadget of the stratum of Parasites : the Basic Income.

    An answer to Elizabeth Nolan Brown , Matt Zwolinsky, Veronique de Rugy, Michael Huemer

    I’m not a libertarian, I’m a liberal-egalitarist! I’m anti-capitalist, anti-bank, anti-Riba! I fight to abolish the credit! (and give back the investment to citizens: $ 400 / month without dividends or return of any kind)
    I fight for equal pay for all Earthlings since 1993.
    I am asking $ 1,300 / month for all (since 2000). ($ 1,300 or ? 1,000 from 14 years old). I am asking $ 650 per child under 14 years.
    And I denounce the “basic income” as a ruse designed by ideological mercenaries of the 3 bourgeoisies (capitalists, formoisie, innovoisie) to protect their privileges and thus prolong the suffering of humanity.
    This is the postmarxism (the real one) that explains the program highlighting the ancestral heritage, the giant stock of ancestral innovations (80% are the fire, the words, the agriculture and the numbers).(to the link)

  72. Pay all legal residents of the USA $100/week, regardless of income.
    This would replace the standard deduction, personal exemption, and the refundable tax credits.
    The cost of this “demogrant” would be partially offset as follows. First, it would be netted from SSI. The demogrant would permit abolishing TANF. Social Security and unemployment benefits would become fully taxable. I have an open mind about deducting demogrants from unemployment benefits.
    Families still below the poverty line would qualify for food stamps, section 8 housing assistance, and the energy equivalent of food stamps.

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