Economics/Class Relations

UBI Reconsidered For ’23

UBI Reconsidered For ’23

The prospects for UBI in light of inflation, automation, polarization, and consolidation of power

It could not be better timing for Universal Basic Income to rise in popularity and enter the public discourse, and then inflation sets in. Overall there is currently less discussion of UBI then during the 2020 election and the pandemic. The stimulus checks have been blamed for causing inflation, with the overall money supply increasing dramatically. While the pandemic unemployment gave people a taste of what UBI would be like, basically a UBI trial run, the direct stimulus checks were not that much, though unemployment payouts were more generous. While monetary and fiscal policies are responsible for inflation, it is gaslighting to blame inflation on the average person getting a stimmy check, as the massive pandemic spending primarily benefited institutions and oligarchs. For instance funding state bureaucracies, PPP loans for the ultra-wealthy and corporations, and the Federal Reserve printing to buy corporate bonds and prop up the stock market.

The economic concept of Modern Monetary Theory has taken hold among policy makers, since the 2008 bailouts. While conservatives consider MMT a form of Marxism, it is actually popular among wealthy Neoliberals, because the printing props up the stocks and assets of the wealthy, as well as corporate profits by enabling stock buybacks, without having to raise taxes on the wealthy, while inflation disproportionately harms the poor. High spending plus low taxation causes inflation and debt, but is just a product of democracy, as either cutting spending or raising taxes are both unpopular with voters. Since much of the State’s revenue is printed rather than taxed, the purpose of taxation serves more to maintain trust in the dollar, but also as a mechanism to legitimize the power of the system. Obviously this model to print and barrow, but not tax is unsustainable long-term, but America has gotten away with it by having the world’s currency reserve status. Even John Maynard Keynes, who is often viewed as the father of MMT, called for saving during times of prosperity and only spending to stimulate the economy in times of crisis.

The reason that there were generous unemployment benefits but a lack of direct stimmy checks, excluding independent contractors and the self-employed, is because no strings attached income does not serve the interests and mechanisms of power. For instance President Biden gave out only one round of direct stimmy checks, much less than even Trump did, despite spending a lot more on overall pandemic economic relief. Also governor Newsom excluded the unemployed and low income residents, who had not filed an income tax, from California’s pandemic and inflation relief checks, though he did give out special payouts for the undocumented. A leftist critique of Newsom might be that he detests the poor, but rather it was about compliance to the system and buying votes. The purpose of the bureaucratic client state, is to select winners and losers, and penalize non-compliance to the system, which also explains why it is becoming very difficult to make decent income, independently of the government or corporations.

Even though inflation has harmed the cause of UBI, the recent massive spending packages show that fighting inflation is not the main priority for Democrats. The main reason the Democratic Party was dismissive of Andrew Yang’s UBI proposal was because of its inclusivity, which means that it would have helped out “racist Trump supporters.” Rather the Democratic Party prefers programs that fund institutions and reward loyal constituencies, such as Biden’s recent spending proposal to build up Black intergenerational wealth, and racial equity programs in general. Though a lot of these funds will disproportionally benefit corrupt bureaucrats and race hustlers rather than poor BIPOCs.


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