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Mats Kaarbø

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Why Basic Income should become a Human Right

The U.S. Basic Income Network define Basic Income as, "...an unconditional, government-insured guarantee that all citizens will have enough income to meet their basic needs." http://basicincome.org/bien/aboutbasicincome.html

This program could eliminate poverty resulting in a more predictable and stable society as crime and violence would decay.

It could also move innovation beyond traditional employment as everyone would have access to the necessities of life by a basic income thus economic flexibility.

It could, in addition to deliberate automation, diminish the work hours for full-time employers, giving people more time to friends and family and activities that enrich their lives thus increasing quality of life.

It would in fact save significant costs by liquidating cumbersome and bureaucratic government agencies, to a much simpler program that could be automated.

Furthermore, since there is no means test; the richest as well as the poorest citizens would receive it which could manifest a positive psychological effect in people to spend less and appreciate leisure, which is ultimately good for the environment.

An example of a 'mini-basic income' is the Permanent Fund Dividend which in an annual individual payout to Alaskans. Though the payout is relatively small and only annually distributed, it still goes to show that this kind of program is being used today: http://pfd.alaska.gov

Research from Namibia revealed that the introduction of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) led to an increase in economic activity which contradicts critics' claims that the BIG will lead to laziness and dependency. Learn more about it here: http://bignam.org

Namibia had amazing results in a number of other things as well, namely poverty reduction, which is a pivotal point in and of itself, and a reduction in crime rate by 40%. Now, imagine what a global basic income guarantee could do.

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  • Oct 18 2012: What are 'human rights'? Can anything be considered a human right, or are there limits?

    I submit that human rights are somewhat misnamed. The human rights in the USA Constitution do not give humans anything, rather they are restrictions on the government from acting in ways that would interfere with our individual freedoms.

    I once read (I can't find the author) that we should all have the right to starve. If someone else is feeding you, you are his slave. The founders of the USA thought death was preferable to slavery, and so do I.
    • Oct 18 2012: Im not so sure the founding fathers thought death was preferable to slavery.....
      • Oct 19 2012: From the Declaration of Independence:

        "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

        I am sure.
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          Oct 19 2012: Hooraw, exactly!
        • Oct 19 2012: Actions speak louder than words, the idea was that we would accept death before slavery. While in reality many of the founding fathers owned slaves just as they wrote out our constitution. Madison knew that democracy could be problematic and had dealt with the same problem going back to aristotle, if we give the masses power wouldn't they just loot the rich and divide up the land amongst themselves? Madison knew this was a possibility and designed our constitution to protect the wealthy minority from the rage of the herd.

          " In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of the landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be jsut, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority."

          Seems as though Madison believed in freedom for himself and his friends not so much for everyone....
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          Gail . 50+

          • +1
          Oct 20 2012: Thank you for the quote from the Declaration. We all hear the "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" part so much. I wonder why we have forgotten this part. I guess the wealthy don't like that part. Profound.
      • Oct 25 2012: Brian, I agree with you that some of the founding fathers were hypocrites. They were very courageous hypocrites. The Declaration of Independence was sent to the king of England with those bold signatures. Every signer understood that the king intended to hang him at the earliest opportunity. This risk was undertaken to secure freedom from that king. The situation is simple and leads straight to the conclusion that these men preferred death to a life of slavery under the king.

        As for the freedom of others, that was an issue of great dispute among the founders. One of the reasons that slaves were held in such contempt is that they were perceived as valuing life more than freedom.

        At that time, the notion of equality was very different from today. Complete equality of all men was literally inconceivable to most men, and this includes most of the founders. If you judge the founders by today's standards you find them all to be unethical hypocrites. If you put yourself in their situation, in their culture, you will see men of basic good will struggling to invent a completely new concept of how men relate to each other, a new foundation of government, and a new method of governing. Judging by the results, I think this bunch of selfish hypocrites did rather well.

        And, amazingly, they did all this with very little help from women. Including women was inconceivable.
        • Oct 25 2012: Barry, I here this argument quite often and theres probably some truth in it. I have no doubt in my mind that these men probably had very little fear of being murdered by the King most were very wealthy and vast resources available to them. Who knows if they preferred death to slavery under the king, I know that they certainly were willing to fight, and rightfully so.

          " One of the reasons that slaves were held in such contempt is that they were perceived as valuing life more than freedom." I have never heard of this, not saying it isn't true but that seems like an insanely arrogant and ridiculous notion. Especially if you look at the penalties that they were subject to and the levels of control put in place so as to ensure there was not a rebellion.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slave_codes

          The founding fathers did some great things they also did some terrible things...they certainly did not care for the average man and as far as I'm concerned knew some of the things they were doing would be anything but beneficial for most. they all had a very legitimate understanding of history and knew about the struggle of slavery. I believe they knew that they were creating an illusion of control for the public and designed the constitution to function this way. Im also not sure if we can chalk up our nations prosperity to what the founding fathers did. We went from being oppressed to the oppressors rather quickly as our former countrymen slaughtered the natives and planted their flag. They founded some great things like freedom of speech and separation of church and state, checks and balances, civil liberties. It still remains that the constitution allows for those with economic power to subvert the interests of others.
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      Oct 18 2012: There is a difference between human rights and civil rights. Civil rights are granted by the government and human rights are more global These are rights of individual persons. Sometimes the distinction is between natural rights or legal rights.

      So when we see the term "human rights violation" it typically means things like imprisonment without cause, genocide, torture, withholding of resources vital to life such as food or water and typically it is a government or group of people causing the violation. These are rights of people.

      However, there are times when people give up their human rights. There are also times when individual persons give up their human rights.

      Basic income would have to be a civil distribution so individual persons can pursue their human rights. It could be done but the possibility of abuse is huge.
      • Oct 19 2012: " It could be done but the possibility of abuse is huge."

        What kind of abuse do you potentially see?
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          Oct 19 2012: Well, the money would have to be distributed. Who would be in charge of that? Where I come from, sometimes gangs require payment to not harass a business. So I could see where some of the distributors would require kickbacks to equitably distribute the funds. But there would be so much more possible especially if it were linked electronically. Just like the distribution of welfare in the US. There are many many people who have figured out the system and know how to make millions. Some are caught, and some are not.
      • Oct 19 2012: This is true in any type of monetary distribution, physical or electronic, and doesn't hold as an argument against it. Also, I feel that a Basic Income Guarantee would generate an exponential lower rate of crimes like stealing and abusing the system in general, because there would be a diminished incentive to do those things when people get the necessities of life.
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          Oct 19 2012: I doubt it. It has to do with this little human phenomena called greed.
      • Oct 23 2012: What evidence do you have that human beings are naturally greedy?

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