An idea which apparently has deep roots and can spring back to life after a burn over is that every person in a society is entitled to a Basic Income just for existing. A corollary is that this Basic Income should be adequate to support a self sufficient life style – what one might call a living non-wage.

Robert A Heinlein used the Basic Income as backdrop for his novel “Beyond This Horizon”. Others have made similar excursions with the idea.

The threat of artificial intelligence and its ability to replace workers has caused the idea to spring up once more.

An early proponent was Thomas Paine…

Agrarian Justice, which was ultimately published in 1797, posited that “the earth, in its natural, uncultivated state was…the common property of the human race.” Therefore, Paine argued, each landowner “owes to the community a ground-rent” to compensate the dispossessed for their loss.”

“Paine was proposing…money for everyone just for being alive and of age, delivered as a matter of “justice, and not charity.”

“[Congress can take a]…subsidy with strings attached—food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers, anything like that—and instead simply send money to the people who qualify for it, letting them choose how to spend it.”

“Right now the system is set up to ask whether someone is poor enough to qualify for housing assistance, for health assistance, for food assistance, and so on. What if it just asked if someone is poor enough to qualify for assistance, period?”

Questions which came to mind as I read the article: 1) Can a Basic Income keep up with human desires? 2) Does every citizen (and legal resident) qualify for the Basic Income as a matter of right, or must additional conditions be met? 3) Can today’s bureaucrats who administer the many welfare programs be dispossessed of their jobs with their “Basic Incomes”?


Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

It is an economics axiom that the demand for a free good has no limits.