This blog-post is a continuation to the posts
Top Economist says: "Universal Basic Income is Not Affordable"
Perspective on ‘A Basic Income for Everyone is Not Affordable’ – Part1
Perspective on ‘A Basic Income for Everyone is Not Affordable’ – Part 2
In my previous post I shared my concerns over utilizing income taxes to fund a universal basic income by looking at what social dynamics would be created as well as a possible punitive effective on unemployment.
In this post I’d like to look at particular taxes that have been suggested for funding a basic income.
When looking at ‘where to get large sums of money’ – we’ll almost instinctively turn our gaze towards the ‘rich’ in society. “They have lots of money and surely they don’t need it.” Herein I would refer to Hollande’s super tax in France – where the plan was to tax the rich at a 75% rate. Facing resistance and protest from the wealthy in society, the tax was quickly watered down until it quietly died altogether. Yes – in theory, the rich have money that could be allocated towards a basic income, but that doesn’t mean you’ll ‘get it’ – the money currently is not yours, it’s theirs, obtained according to current and past laws and agreements. Regardless of whether they are a minority among voters – their position in society enables them to impact the national economy and influence public opinion through other means. In other words, if they don’t agree with the tax policies, you are unlikely to get them passed. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is not under discussion – it’s what we have collectively created and it is not something we can simply sidestep or ignore when looking for practical ways to implement a basic income.
Another suggestion to create revenue from tax is to tax luxury products. Herein I consider the same point of what message it would send – is it ‘wrong’ to buy luxury products? Must there be an additional price paid for luxury products? I for one have no issue with luxury and I think most would enjoy to live a life that can afford luxury – I see it as worthwhile to make life more comfortable and enjoyable for everyone. The aspect that is concerning about luxury products at the moment is within conspicuous consumption, planned redundancy and planned obsolescence. These are issues that can be tackled otherwise, for instance by setting higher production standards and ensuring demand-based production.
Using pollution taxes to aid in funding a basic income is in my view not a solution. On the one hand, if the pollution tax is ineffective, loopholes will be found to avoid paying the tax as is happening today and pollution will not effectively be reduced. Then pollution taxes become a license to pollute and we are in fact requiring companies and individuals to be willing to pollute and ‘pay the license’ to assist in funding the basic income. On the other hand, if the pollution tax is effective in that it is an actual deterrent for pollution – then we would see a gradual decline in pollution and less and less tax revenue from pollution tax, so then it would not be a sustainable revenue stream.
All of the points I described in this and the previous two posts are reason to consider becoming more flexible about the universality principle within the basic income movement. I understand the experience of feeling like one is compromising in one’s ideals – I have been there. If you scan over the topics of this very blog, you will see that we started with investigating an Equal Money System, then stepped away from that idealism towards an Equal Money Capitalism system and then further ‘downgraded’ (if you want to see it that way) towards a Living Income Guaranteed solution. I indeed felt like I was compromising on ideals and was ‘downgrading’ my promotion of solutions – but what I didn’t consider was space-time practicality. It is easy to conceptualize a new world, a new system and we tend to forget that we have to work with what is here as what we have already created. So, I am willing to take our current reality into consideration and work with what is here, because it is pointless trying to force a solution that most resist at this stage. I have found it assisting to keep the goal in mind: which is to secure human rights and herein the freedom for individuals to start determining what kind of world they would like to live in, for themselves and for everyone else. So, I have let go of trying to force an ideal outcome on the world, considering that in that very act I would be stating that people don’t know what is good for them. I would rather work with what is here and see what adjustments can be made within the current framework that would remove the need for a survival-mode and instead open up the space for each one to ask themselves who they would like to be, what they would like to be a part of and what world they want to contribute in creating.