Basic Income as a Minimum Claim to Basic Resources

Republished from Scott Santens:

“A basic income is in a way a minimum claim to resources, with each person using this to claim the resources most important to them. The fact a basic income is given regardless of work, makes it that much more clear it exists as such a claim on resources based on the shared right to such resources.
This last point is important. No one of us created the Earth. We were all born here. Its resources therefore can be seen as belonging to all of us or none of us. To use its resources that are free, and transform it into something else using human labor, does not change the fact a portion of it always remains owned by none or all because that portion was never created and only transformed.

It is this lack of 100% full individual ownership over anything and everything we create, that provides the justification that every single one of us has a right to a percentage, however small, of everything created by humanity. Therefore a basic income exists as a highly efficient means of representing such a claim to this universally owned portion as well as the means to effect its universal access.

For those familiar with a resource-based economy, basic income is a step in that direction. Instead of saying every human should have a 100% equal claim to all globally available resources, a basic income says that every citizen of a nation or state should have an absolute minimum claim to the natural resources of that nation or state, sufficient to secure individual basic needs, such that there will continue to be humans with a much larger claim, but no one will have less claim than a hard minimum limit.

In the United States 1.1% of all labor is involved in food production. This is because of how far we’ve advanced with our food technology, where we can now create all our food (and even waste half of it), with relatively miniscule effort. So why do we still insist that everyone work in order to eat it? If it took 1.1% less total effort, such that it took 0% of our total effort to produce our food (perhaps being produced by automated Star Trek style food replicators?), would we still insist people work to obtain food? If so, why?

Cash is a very efficient means of resource distribution. It’s a distributed non-centralized system. Is it the best of all systems? Probably not, but it’s what we’ve got right now, and it can certainly exist as a means of allocating individual resource rights, and distributing the goods and services people want to use these resource rights to obtain.

As for the idea that all prices will rise so much, that any attempt to guarantee a minimum allotment will be eroded, that is a huge oversimplification of how massively complex interconnected markets actually work and purely exists as a fear of change.

Think of it this way, what if food stamps didn’t exist? Do you think we would hear people saying we can’t give out food stamps, because it would raise prices so much that there would effectively be no point in giving them out in the first place? I imagine we would. Would they be right? Of course not, because we have food stamps, and they actually do allow more people to eat than would be able to without them. Without food stamps, a lot of people would be far worse off. Has the existence of food stamps raised the price of food for everyone else? If yes, does that mean we are all worse off because of them?

The same can be said of Social Security. Does that cause the prices of everything to rise so much, it isn’t worth it to seniors to receive it? If we didn’t have Social Security, would some people argue that implementing it would drive price inflation? Can you think of anything else we have that if we didn’t already have, we’d hear having it would cause the sky to fall?

We have the infrastructure in place and the technological capability to increase the quality of life for everyone.
We just have to decide to actually do it.”

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