Social Justice, Libertarianism

BHL’s & UBI’s

I support a Universal Basic Income (UBI), and I think that other libertarians ought to as well. Earlier, Jason sketched the difference between ‘hard libertarians’ and BHL, but didn’t give a specific definition and argument for social justice, as David Friedman then pointed out. Friedman also said that BHL’s don’t say what social justice means, that we don’t have any arguments for social justice, and that we just use the term to pander to our leftist friends. (As an aside, if anyone here wants to pander to leftists, I’d advise against adopting the label ‘libertarian!’)

When I say ‘social justice,’ I mean UBI. Below are several arguments for a basic income. I don’t endorse them all, but I’m including them all to show that there are many libertarian paths to this kind of ‘social justice’ conclusion.

First, I think that a UBI is morally required, given the wrong of a state-enforced property system. In my heart, I’m an anarchist, meaning that I don’t think states have the moral authority to rule and I don’t think I have any duty to obey. Anarchy would be the morally best system, but that doesn’t mean we should overthrow all the existing states, or even try to approximate anarchy. That would probably be a disaster. So, given that we have states that coerce and force and push people around, they should refrain from enforcing a system of property that makes some people so badly off that they cannot lead a minimally decent life.

But wait, aren’t taxes like slavery? Well, because I’m against states enforcing property regimes in the first place, I don’t think that morality says too much about which tax code or monetary policy is intrinsically best. This is to say contra ‘hard libertarians,’ I think it’s pretty implausible that your rights to your property (or your body, for that matter) are these absolute magical moral trumps. So while I hate taxes as much as the next girl, it’s mostly because of the stupid, pointless, and cruel policies that states fund with tax revenue. Enforced private property rules can limit our freedom to move, use, and live independently in the same ways that enforced taxes can limit our freedom.

So any state-run property system is impermissible, but moral reasons still weigh in favor of certain property systems over others. In particular, the balance of moral reasons tells against adopting a system of property rules that causes innocent people to starve (a totally ‘free market’ system) and also against a system that requires constant interference in everyone’s lives and leveling down (an egalitarian system). A UBI balances our claims that states not prevent us from 1) meeting our basic needs and 2) pursuing important projects, including economic projects, without excessive interference.

This position is not absolutist- I just mean that to the extent that states coercively prevent either 1) or 2) the property system is morally worse. This view also doesn’t hinge on the idea of positive duties, about which I remain ambivalent. Rather it is just to say that people have claims against coercive interference, and that a UBI will mitigate the wrong of a coercive system of property better than a totally free-market or egalitarian system. That’s not a full argument, but it’s a sketch of my view.

Second, the UBI is relatively market friendly. As Hayek (also a fan of the UBI) argued, states provide services in ways that distort markets and crush private competitors that would better reflect the diversity of our values. Worse, some social welfare programs penalize families for earning more money. In contrast, a UBI (or the negative income tax that Milton Friedman proposed) enables even the worst off to participate in the marketplace while minimizing adverse incentives and keeping government small. For similar reasons, we ought to support things like childcare and education vouchers, or a UBI for kids. Such a system would help citizens access the services they need without forcing them to sign up with a crappy state program.

Third, consider libertarian types like John Tomasi, Loren Lomasky, and Gerald Gaus, who argue that a UBI makes state power justifiable. Tomasi thinks that impartial institutional designers would first choose to protect important liberties (including economic liberties like contract and ownership) but then they would endorse redistributive policies to benefit society’s worst off within the limits of said liberties. Lomasky argues that a coercive system of property is only justifiable to everyone if it gives everyone enough to pursue their projects and have meaningful lives, and this may require a UBI. Gaus thinks any reasonable citizen must accept that some modest redistribution is permissible. I also suspect that this is what Jason was getting at earlier, but I’m not sure. In any case, I’m not convinced by all this Rawlsian public justification and moral powers talk, but if you are, these are reasons for the UBI.  

Fourth, a UBI can be compatible in principle with ‘hard libertarian’ property rights. Even if you were entitled to your property holdings, you are not entitled to coercive public enforcement of those holdings. Just because we have negative rights doesn’t mean that those rights merit full public accommodation. Once libertarians start demanding that their property is protected and their rights are publicly enforced, we can think of taxes as the public fee for that enforcement. If the public is the guardian of your wealth, who are you to tell your security guard how to spend his paycheck? This isn’t how states work, but it does point to a possible justification for redistribution.

Alternatively, some libertarians believe that a UBI is good because it will promote overall well being. Or, say you think that freedom requires the ability to leave a “coercive workplace,” without terrible consequences. A UBI will ensure that a no one is so badly off that they cannot make ‘voluntary choices’, according to this thicker conception of ‘voluntary’. The UBI also doesn’t take a stand on how people spend their money, and in this way it avoids paternalism, unlike other social programs. Additionally, a UBI would reduce some of the stigma associated with accepting assistance, and while the government certainly isn’t required to discourage people from saying awful things about their poorer neighbors, it would be nice. Finally, maybe positive duties to help the poor actually do exist, even in the absence of any antecedent state interference. If so, a UBI could help on that front.

These arguments for the UBI also explain why libertarianism at its best is aligned with the political left. The world is really unjust in part because states coercively enforce laws that make people really badly off. On this we agree. Sufficiency is on the path to priority or equality, so for a while, BHL’s and leftists can walk the path from here to social justice together.

PS: Matt Zwolinski wrote a great essay on the topic of Classical Liberalism and The Basic Income (see SSRN for a PDF) 

  • “Even if you were entitled to your property holdings, you are not entitled to coercive public enforcement of those holdings. Just because we have negative rights doesn’t mean that those rights merit full public accommodation.”

    Thank you.

    Without coercive public enforcement you’re obliged to rely on coercive private enforcement, and as soon as one does that then you’re in a condition where whoever best enforces their own property will soon be tempted to take someone else’s less-well-enforced property away from them.  Thus either way you’re going to have coercive imposition on other people’s property.  So the question becomes where is Jefferson’s equilibrium and how do we best reach it and maintain it?


    • Adrian Ratnapala

      Without coercive public enforcement you’re obliged to rely on coercive private enforcement, and as soon as one does that then you’re in a condition where whoever best enforces their own property will soon be tempted to take someone else’s less-well-enforced property away from them.
      This is true, but surely it is a reason why society should provide justice enforcement as a public service – like rubbish collection, everyone depends on it, not just the direct beneficiaries.   That doesn’t mean governments can or should enforce every little one of our rights, and they don’t — tenants are evicted by bailiffs, not by police.   But they aught to enforce some rights, including property rights — house invaders should be the concern of the police.

      I don’t accept Ms. Flannigan’s “state enforcement of rights is immoral” argument.   If I understand correctly what a universal basic income is, then I too am in favour of it, but I don’t see how anarchism could even come close to justifying it.  The argument seems to be:

      1.  Even the minimal state is an immoral exercise of state power.
      2.  X is not permitted for a minimal state.
      3.  So let’s do X.

      What if the governing class likes X when X = “forced collectivisation”?

      • Jessica Flanigan

        is an important point, and in some sense it is close to my actual argument. The
        idea is that all forced collective property systems are impermissible, but that
        doesn’t mean that the moral reasons run out once we’ve established that, as I think
        you would agree. 


        an analogy. It’s wrong to lock people up in your basement because it is a kind
        of impermissible interference. But given that you’re locking people in your
        basement, you can still do better or worse by them morally. For example, it’s
        more wrong to starve your prisoners or to constantly interfere in their lives
        than it is to just give them all some food and let them all do what they want.
        So even though 1 and 2 are true, 3 can still be true as well. 

  • shemsky

    Impartial institutional designers? You’re shitting me, right?

  • Deep_Thinker

    Has the left infiltrated Cato? Or is this just utilitarian nonsense justified by false historical revisionism of our classical liberal history? Either way, it’s crap and in no way libertarian. Libertarianism means individual freedom. Any step towards aiding an individual by way of another individual is not libertarian, but socialist…

    • Gregory Paul Smith

      This should make one rethink one’s opposition to socialism.

  • 3cantuna

    Chancellor Bismarck of centralizing-imperializing 19th century Germany could not have argued for Social Security as well as you have for UBI and public schooling, Dr. Flanagan.  Please explain how a free market leads to starvation- when the very core principle is success by serving others?  All of the worst modern famines have been instigated by the state– intentionally or not.  Rationalize a necessity of state socialism in a limited form as a means to ensuring poverty eradication on economic grounds:  if you can. Political scientists tend to think in moral terms– but that is not economics.  What good is moral theory without grounding in economic reality? e.g. The importance of the price system in a social division of labor cannot be understated:  if you want to talk absolutes– there certainly is an absolute necessity for competitive private property in exchange to form real useful prices. 

    Market advocacy against all state socialism is not absolutist about marketizing everything, including the hungry, as you suggest (“Get your starving child here, 35% off!”). The market is not the end-all-be-all. Individuals have their own value judgments. But the market is the only means known for producing a 1st world material existence.  The state, on the other hand,  is destruction, conquer, privilege and poverty. This is not a moral statement. Economic reasoning makes no moral statements. The state necessarily leads to lesser material existence;  that is the nature of violence. Whatever ills plague the world, the state is not the answer– but the very core of instigation.  

    Hard libertarians do not believe one should be required to participate in the market.  Yet hard libertarians understand that real functional tolerance begins with—you guessed it– property.  In this sense, free marketers are less absolutist than you, Tomasi, Gaus, and many BHLs– since the political creations you advocate force persons into divisons of labor based on violence. Taxation is violence when one does not want to participate.  BHL rhetoric cannot put lipstick on this pig.

    It is the free market that remains the center of non-absolutism. One good thing here is that it provides an opportunity to clarify that the state and market are two completely separate things.  Given a goal of 1st world living, it should be clear that individuals manning a state require market participants to parasite– but the market oriented folk have no need of political masters of the state kind.

    There is no need to only be an anarchist at heart when the logic backs the sentiment sure enough.

    • Deep_Thinker


      • Jessica Flanigan

        I’m confused by what you mean here by ‘free market’ if not something like a state enforced system of property rights, including enforced rules of just acquisition and transfer. Maybe you think private enforcement of property claims is in principle morally better, I do too. 

        But as it stands, hard libertarians seem kinda cool with the state as a second best means of enforcing their contracts and protecting their property, but not as cool with a higher rate of taxation. Why? Is there something in principle that makes you think that the state shouldnt charge to much for the good it provides when it protects your rights? Is there a reason you are against it giving that money to poor people? 

        More generally, a universally enforced property system, free market or otherwise, is a form of interference. Is that interference ok? No, but it depends on the nature of the interference how wrong it is. My argument is that it’s wrong to interfere with people’s freedom if doing so makes them really badly off, and that a universally enforced system of private property would do that. Maybe it wouldn’t, maybe you have some story about vikings or cowboys and charity that makes you doubt my hypothesis. If such a system would not leave people very very badly off then I don’t think its’ as wrong. 

        In any case, I wonder what ‘deep thinker’ thinks of a system that aids an individual property holder A by having B coercively limit C’s freedom of movement. On that definition, is that socialism? 

        • Deep_Thinker

          “In any case, I wonder what ‘deep thinker’ thinks of a system that aids an individual property holder A by having B coercively limit C’s freedom of movement. On that definition, is that socialism?”
          First off, you are assuming a possibility. In other words, even in your micro-example IF the system was set up for someone to coerce another, I take no issue with it until someone actually does coerce another. Pre-Crime is a slippery slope that has no end. The crime here as you state is that A has B limit C’s freedom of movement. I assume you mean by crossing his property in order to get somewhere. Are you assuming that property rights means there are no “common roads”? Property rights does not mean there would not be roads, or parks etc.. But there would be private ownership of them. I doubt anyone would own land surrounded by other landowners with no way out except to cross a neighbors property. In fact, this is the exact way a private road would prop up. The land buyers would see a need for a passageway, before they bought the land. Or on a street of say 10 houses, each house would hold a 10% interest in the road..

        • 3cantuna

          Not necessary to enforce property right by state government. Enforcement services can also be marketized– which lends accountability, at least conceptually. There are no guarantees. Delegitimizing  political monopoly in the general populace’s mindset would do wonders, at any rate.  It must be admitted that slavery works because the slave acquiesces. In other words, the market idea undermines both king-like and modern state types of holding.  Cooperation under competition works. It is morally better because it is logically better in attaining the fine moral ends you seek.

          Yes, there are many who look to the state to defend their holdings; and the state defends and acquires, helping its favored allies to  do the same,  ill gotten gains.  The important question is working out whether acquisitions are fair and square.  Quick analysis rules out the state as a player of any legitimacy! Two wrongs do not make a right. Energy is better spent getting rid of the means of state privilege rather than trying to turn it into some form of kind benefactor.

          UBI and vouchers for school might possibly become the biggest scam boondoggles in the history of the US, if they can eclipse the semiotic illusions of state legitimacy otherwise known as the Wars on Terror and Drugs.  Having the phrase “It is for the children” is the all-time best sell. Will the populace buy it?

          You can wish for the state to help the poor more than it hurts but it just won’t happen. The means is violent and attracts the worst kind of people. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  Further, the state government is uneconomic– it cannot resort to profit/loss in analysing its own endeavors. There are no prices in the factors of production where it matters.  Taxation is a horrible phenomenon.

          • Jessica Flanigan

            I agree with you that state monopolies are the worst and taxes are immoral, thats why my argument is conditional. Given a state enforced property system, the moral reasons tell in favor of UBI. 

            On the children point, if you were to grant the UBI, why wouldn’t they be entitled to a UBI like everyone else?

          • 3cantuna

            If there is going to be a criminal gang running things, and they “guarantee” special favors to x group, why can’t they guarantee things for my interest, y group?

        • Adrian Ratnapala

          Why? Is there something in principle that makes you think that the state shouldnt charge to much for the good it provides when it protects your rights? Is there a reason you are against it giving that money to poor people?
          Yes there is a reason; if the state is there just to defend your rights, then it should only charge the cost of that service.  If it charges more in order to do other things, that needs separate justification.  

          Now I think taxing and spending for social-welfare if fine, but not because it is some kind of compensation for the property system.   Suppose you believe in (some) property rights but not in (any) government enforcement of them.  That doesn’t mean I have the right to go stealing a farmer’s sheep, it just means that the burden of chasing me down falls on the farmer, and not the police.  

          (I have assumed, without evidence, that you only think government enforcement of property rights is unjust, not that the rights themselves are.  That would be a different argument).

          • Jessica Flanigan

            What does that even mean? There’s no magical ‘fair price’ for the service of enforcement or any other good … 

            in any case, yeah, I think that there is an important difference between having a property right and having the right to enforce a universal property system… but also, i dont think that we have natural absolute property rights, or any natural absolute rights.. so if the farmer has a right to the sheep he can chase you down and permissibly take it back, but he may not have a right to that sheep.. 

    • j_m_h

      “when the very core principle [of free markets] is success by serving others? ”

      You’re making a lot of assumptions in that statement that simply don’t hold. Yes, production for exchange is the nature of a free market and we can assume that voluntary exchanges are a positive sum game for the exchanging parties.* However, producers are going to largely ignore the non-producers who lack desired goods or money to pay. 

      For those who lack access to suitable resources to either produce for exchange or at the very least produce for themselves they get little back from a free-market. In short your statement is false: the core principle is not “serving others”. 

      It is true that people who support free markets may well be compassionate and charitable people who act on their feelings to help others who are down and so fairing poorly in the free-market. I think thats largely where the BHLers are at.

      • 3cantuna

        The fact that exchange is a mutual gain says a lot. This is a logical reality. And if this is true then the only thing that can be improved is what the exchangers believe to be of a better moral interest.  It does no good to automatically point the finger at a producer because they might not be Mother Teresa. What enables a Mother Teresa to be most effective anyway- but the selfish profit seeking producer increasing the capital and knowledge base.

        If serving others is not the way to success under market conditions, then what is?  You really think Adam Smith was wrong about the baker?

        Producers in a market do not have to be charitable and compassionate to be socially progressive:  they just need to get people what they want. If people are negatively, cynically even, selfish in a voluntary environment with off-setting competitive property, then how will people be with state monopoly power?  It is the hope that if such an unfortunate situation arises that it would be controlled by “compassionate and charitable” types. More like a wish. It would alleviate some of the pain of state chaos.  Alleviation is not the same as fix. 

        People are poor because of a lack of market, not lack of state.

        • j_m_h

          Actually there’s more that needs to be considered in the claim of fact that “exchange is a mutual gain”. It’s not sufficient to say competition resolves the issue and it’s not sufficient to say consumers in a modern economy can police the producers without getting into a bunch of underlying aspects.

          In Smith’s world there was a great deal more local knowledge that afforded  markets to function as if under the guidance of a beneficial invisible hand. 

          If you’re  interested in more than tautologies you need to get into the underlying rules that ultimately define both caveat emptor and caveat venditor. It’s going to be much more than merely two individuals offering exchange to one another — even that trivial setting assumes much.

          So getting back to your claim, “free market” must clearly refer to some subset of all market setting but it’s not at all clear that free market is defined by caveat emptor, the profit motive, regulation only by property rights and individual contract/agreement.  If you don’t have something more to say about the underlying structures that lead to the smithiean positive outcome then your claim doesn’t follow. It’s merely an assumption.

          Last, nowhere am I suggesting government action so the appeal to “state monopoly of power” is a red herring.

    • Damien S.

      “But the market is the only means known for producing a 1st world material existence”

      In reality, of course, every first world existence is backed by both a market and strong government action in law enforcement, public education, infrastructure development, and even periods of protectionism.

      • 3cantuna

        Forward moving production goes on in spite of  “strong government action in law enforcement, public education, infrastructure development, and even periods of protectionism.”   One cannot steal and parasite a rich material existence if there is nothing to take. 

        Mao instituted “strong government action in law enforcement, public education, infrastructure development, and even periods of protectionism” during the Great Leap Forward.  How come so many people were murdered and starved to death? 

        • Damien S.

          “goes on in spite of”

          More unsupported dogma.

          How come most governments aren’t like Mao?  Hey, maybe democracy and markets matter.

        • Damien S.

           Legal drug companies live under the law enforcement of the state, and compete through price and drug quality.  Illegal drug gangs live in anarchy, avoiding the state, and compete through shooting each other and anyone who disrespects them.  The Roman Empire wasn’t particularly economically optimized, yet saw a golden age of trade both internal and external, as did the Mongol empires 1000 years late.  The Dark Ages were a time without large or strong states, and trade and money collapsed while Europe fell into feud and raid.

          Security in life and property is needed for markets to work well, and only states have ever given that at a large scale.  That anarchy can do the same, and not be awash in bloodshed like every anarchy in history, is pure fantasy.

          • 3cantuna

            Legal drug companies are tied into the state as well– they pour in lots of dough on K Street. it is a saving grace that they still have to answer to consumers, investors, to some degree. But the whole thing is rather distorted. Corporatism.

            States themselves live in anarchy.

            Illegal drug cartels are often in league with the state. Corruption pays. Maybe a quarter of Mexican Special Forces are on the take and/or work for a cartel.  The Zetas, a relatively new and uber-violent cartel, was started by American trained special forces. The CIA is well known for looking the other way while their high placed asset makes money from illegal drug trade. The CIA makes money off the trade as well. The CIA has called off the DEA in other countries when they got too close. The DEA is also rife with corruption. Then there is the bank laundering– that must have inside state acquiescence to succeed.

            If drugs were not illegal– then the incentive for violence would go away. Illegality is a form of rent-seeking.

            I am familiar with the mainline story on the Dark Ages. I read Strayer and Munro. “The lack of central authority…yada yada yada..”   Although it is true that the collapse of the Roman Empire killed much of trade– it is what killed the Empire that remains significant. Through the debasement of coin and imperial decadence etc. – the internal contradictions necessarily led to collapse. One quick note though- it is generally thought now that trade was better than imagined in the Dark Ages- though not on par with before. Nonetheless, trade was being killed and then collapse followed. The market needs no giant political infrastructure to succeed. What it needs is a populace that wants to trade– and won’t let any political rent-seeker get in the way.

    • Noah Arthur Vickstein

      “Please explain how a free market leads to starvation- when the very core principle is success by serving others?”

      Sure. Serving others to enrich yourself works great when it’s voluntary. When it’s not voluntary it’s called slavery. A UBI would potentially mitigate that outcome by guaranteeing the freedom to choose to serve, or not to serve. Note that a UBI does not impose limits on income earned; it merely ensures a base minimum.

  • LogisticEarth

    Jessica, I’m generally coming around the the idea of a UBI as a practical solution to the vast problems and injustices created by the state-run property systems of, well, basically all of human history.  This sentence stuck out at me though:

    “In particular, the balance of moral reasons tells against adopting a system of property rules that causes innocent people to starve (a totally ‘free market’ system) and also against a system that requires constant interference in everyone’s lives and leveling down (an egalitarian system).”

    Did you mean to say that a free market CAUSES people to starve, or simply ALLOWS people to stave?  I think that might help clarify your position to some of the other more critical commenters.

    • Jessica Flanigan

      I mean causes. If A is starving because B owns all the food according to the given property system and so C coercively interferes to prevent A from going and eating it, then C causes A to starve by enforcing the property system in the same way that D would cause E to starve if he blocked her from walking to a food source every time she tried. Thats why you don’t need to assume positive rights to get the UBI, because enforcing property systems is itself a kind of interference 

      • Deep_Thinker

        No one group or person would own all the food… Get real. You must not have ever heard of the division of labor, the benefits and necessity of trade, or the fact that without trade no one would survive. You use property as something that when enforced, would lead to harm of another if not given out. That is absurd. There are benefits that one needs by trading his property. Maybe B holds all the food in your silly example but A has all the water. Then B would need some of what A has and have to trade food with him. The problem with your nonsensical examples is that you assume monopoly. Let me say this very clear so you understand a principle of economics that you must not understand: Without the state enforcing regulations and laws that diminish freedom and property rights, there would be no such thing as a monopoly… Try and prove that wrong.

      • LogisticEarth

        @ Jessica: Ok, that makes more sense.  At first reading it seems that you were saying that a free market inherently leads to/causes starvation.  It’s true that enforcing a “free-market” property-rights system can cause individuals to starve, in the same way a mismanaged planned economy can cause people to starve by destroying resources or productivity.

  • berserkrl

    Even leaving aside the deontological objections to UBI, the main consequentialist problem with it is that it requires a powerful state for its implementation, and so long as such a state exists it will continue either to be an irresistible target for capture by special interests, or to be incentivised to act as a special interest itself, or most likely some of each, making continuing abuse of power virtually inevitable.  There is no way of making the state “safe.”

    • Jessica Flanigan

      Thanks for this reference- I like the idea of the freed market too, and if it provided the functional equivalent of a UBI without relying as much on state power then I’m all for it! The argument I endorse is importantly conditional: IF you have a central authority that enforces a system of acquisition and exchange, THEN that system shouldn’t make people starve. But like I said, anarchy and markets do have the moral high ground in ideal theory. 

    • I think the argument for UBI can be conditioned in a way that makes it palatable to libertarians with anarchist leanings. Given that, even if anarchists are correct, the state will take some time to dismantle — in the meantime it is better to have a state that offsets some of the damage it creates rather than one that is purely abusive.


    Interesting post, and I agree with much of it. However, two comments. One apparent problem with UBI is the “U.” Surely, not all claims of needy people have the same moral status. A person who is destitute because of a developmental disability that severely restricts his/her employment opportunities has a stronger claim for assistance than the kid who drops out of high school to do drugs and pursue his dream of being a rock star. Why wouldn’t we want to target resources to those who are not poor through their own irresponsibility. And, why is income the best answer, instead of training, education, special equipment, or other things that would then allow the needy to stand on their own two feet, and not be dependent on others?

    Also, I don’t understand this: “Even if you were entitled to your property holdings, you are not entitled to coercive public enforcement of those holdings. Just because we have negative rights doesn’t mean that those rights merit full public accommodation.” Would you also say that even if you are entitled not to be murdered or raped “you are not entitled to coercive public enforcement of these” rights? Shouldn’t a just state coercively enforce all of people’s rights? Natural rights libertarians reject the idea that property rights are categorically inferior to other types of rights. Obviously, you may reasonably disagree, but it seems to me that your statement simply begs the question against the “hard libertarian” perspective, yet at the same time you are saying that we should be sympathetic to UBI.


    • Jessica Flanigan

      1- While I agree that some claims may be stronger than others, I’m against letting the state take a stand on which people to assist, for a variety of reasons. First I think it’s stigmatizing and offensive for the state to evaluate people like that. Second, it’s perfectionistic for them to take a stand against the high school drop out, who may not have as strong of a claim but still has a claim. Third, I kinda think that a UBI will facilitate all the gains of a more general system of liberty, allowing people to pursue a diversity of ends (including dropping out to use drugs) and protecting everyone from predictable threats to their freedom. 

      2- This is a good point about accommodation, and I’m not sure I think it because really what’s going on in my post is that I’m trying to put a lot of arguments on the table, but I’m skeptical of natural property rights. But more generally, I’m also skeptical of other kinds of rights, I agree with natural rights libertarians that property isn’t inferior, but I don’t think bodily rights are absolute. All that said, what I hoped to establish in that point was just that it’s a further question whether and to what extent those rights should be accommodated. We have rights against being lied to but should the state punish people who tell lies? We have rights against bodily invasion but mandatory vaccinations in times of pandemic may be okay. Similarly, even if we have absolutist property rights that doesn’t mean that the state needs to enforce them. 


        Thanks for the thoughtful responses. What I think they indicate is that the case for UBI  depends on how we come out on a variety of other moral issues. Speaking from the perspective of a natural rights libertarian, the coercion required to realize UBI is a moral evil and should be heavily disvalued. However, I am sympathetic to the claim that our moral autonomy may be overriden in extreme cases, like to save the devlopmentally disabled who would otherwise starve. But, I strongly resist the notion that coercion is justified to assist the irresponsble. If you want to help slackers, I think you should use your own resources.

        Also, the help we give people should be temporary and designed to make them fully functioning and capable of fending for themselves. To put anyone on the permanent dole who doesn’t have to be there is an unjustified use of coercion.

        Along these same lines, natural rights libertarians will certainly reject the moral equivalence between the state enforcing social promises (“I’ll meet you for lunch on Wednesday”) and enforcing a right to retain justly earned income. As Nozick argued, to seize the latter is essentially like seizing the labor required to earn this income, and this seizure “is on a par with forced labor.” Again, I recognize that you may reasonably disagree, but for the reasons outlined here, I think UBI (at least as you have described it) should be and will be rejected by most libertarians (and I would guess many classical liberals as well).

        •  “… the coercion required to realize UBI is a moral evil and should be heavily disvalued.”

          I think this is the crux of Jessica’s argument.  Because any coercion required to keep a starving A from accessing any element of B’s property is also a moral evil and should be heavily disvalued.

          I mean, it’s not either or.  It’s both.  If it was either/or then either starving A could demand of society that B be forced to help, or else B could demand of society that it hold A at bay until starvation takes its toll.  But if it were A or B at least you’d have a choice.  Instead both A and B are equally absolute moral evils.  You get no choice — your hands are going to get dirty.

          At which point the question becomes how you want to get them dirty.  At which point we stop talking about morality and begin talking about Character.


          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Hi Figleaf,
            Jessica started with the assertion that UBI should be attractive to other libertarians and I am a libertarian; so this is the context of my comments. As a libertarian, I do not deny that coercion exercised to keep an innocent and starving A off of wealthy B’s property (to harvest abundant food let’s say) would be morally indefensible. The state should not defend B’s right of exclusion under such circumstances. But do you really think that UBI is the moral equivalent of this scenario, especially in light of the alternatives I mentioned? My objection to UBI is that it sanctions unnecessary and thus unjustified coercion.

          • Like a lot of other people (Jessica included) my heart isn’t too deep into UBI.  Like Shemsky, below, I think there are other ways for a society to help A.

            But!  I also agree with Jessica that an expectation that the state (or its quack-like-a-duck topological equivalents like syndicates, posses, neighborhood covenants, etc.) enforce property rights implies an endorsement of identically unnecessary and unjustified coercion.

            That’s the point where things fall apart.  Call it Libertarian original sin.  Or call it the implicit camel’s nose under the tent.

            But once that sin is committed, there’s no reason others can’t ask “why not a UBI sin instead?”  Or, in Jessica’s and my case, “why not a UBI as well?


          • shemsky

            figleaf, you’ve decided that B has committed a moral evil by keeping A from using his property to keep from starving. Other people, including B, may disagree. Why not advocate that the people who are concerned about A starving put their efforts into helping A instead of prosecuting B?

          • Don’t assume that B is starving because he’s impoverished.  It could be the case that, for instance, A is capriciously boycotting him, refusing to sell at any price.

            And don’t assume that B happens to own the only source of food.  That would be hard to accomplish.  But in the past it has been fairly common for A to own the only affordably-accessible salt mine, grain silo, or mill stream and water wheel.

            This second scenario has been common enough in many parts of Europe and Asia for considerable original law to have arisen around it.

            The point being that under the “natural” property rights scenario, A must have an expectation of state (or “state”) support even if he’s making passive but malicious use of his property by refusing others to access it at any price.

            Again, not so odd a scenario.  See American railroad monopoly practices in the 19th Century or coal company refusal to permit power and phone lines to be installed along their road easements in Appalachia in the 20th Century.

            Actually that last example is pretty interesting.  In the late 1950s my family had to stay the night in a “hillbilly” family’s home when our car broke down in coal country.  Because of some land dispute the coal company couldn’t forbid use of road easements but they did refuse to permit construction of power and phone lines.  So the families in the valley we broke down in were still stuck using kerosene lamps and coal-burning stoves around the same time as the Kennedy/Nixon debates.

            Point being that, sure, cases where B actually starves for want of access to something of A’s are rare. But cases where B can legally be made to suffer for want of access to something of A’s is common enough throughout history for substantial property-rights case law a.k.a. “infrastructure of state coercion either for or against property rights” to have built up around it.


          • shemsky

            I wasn’t assuming anything, figleaf. I was just taking your example and going with it. But, in any case, I don’t see how B refusing to sell to A at any price changes anything. I maintain that B has no obligation to sell to A unless a previous agreement was made between them to do so. You probably disagree. So where are we then? With my original response that if you are concerned with A then why not use your resources helping A instead of prosecuting B.

    • Surely, not all claims of needy people have the same moral status.

      True, but not all of the wealthy have benefited from the state to the same degree. If it were that easy to work out who precisely are the winners and losers from state intervention and to what exact degree, it would be very easy to roll back that power. Alas, far too many of the gains and losses are buried in the complexity of the system.

      Thus, the better solution is to have UBI in the present (which will help those who need and deserve it — as well as some who don’t), all while fighting the longer battle to untangle the state and create free competition. Over time the need, and demand, for the UBI will decrease and it can steadily be reduced in size commensurate with the aggregate amount of state intervention.


        Hi Kurt,
        Please see my response to Jessica’s reply, above. If our only choice were between UBI (which helps the undeserving) and allowing the innocent needy to starve, then UBI might be required. But, I reject this premise. I would privatize the system, i.e. funnel relief dollars to private agencies and then let them compete to show how much good they can do per dollar allocated to them. You could instruct them to prioritize certain types of cases and ignore others.  You audit them, and the ones doing the best job get more dollars and you terminate the rest. There are already many great private charities out there doing heroic work (and doing it efficiently).

    • Noah Arthur Vickstein

      The “U” is what reduces the size of the state. It abolishes means-testing and the abhorrent poverty traps currently associated with welfare programs.

      So you would restrict someone’s freedom because you disapprove of their lifestyle choices? A UBI is very much pro-freedom. If someone wants to overdose on drugs, they are free to do just that. Trying to determine eligibility is a part of what makes today’s entitlement programs so unpalatable, as it inflates government interference and is a drain on resources. The best way to independence is through something resembling a UBI. The problem seems to be that you don’t appreciate what independence truly means.

      Try not to think of it as “the dole” but as compensation for loss of inheritance due to implementation of a system of landed property.

      It’s not coercive in the slightest. The state can simply print money and distribute it directly in the form of a UBI (as opposed to through the practical monopoly and usury of private bank loans). Conditional entitlement funds can also be rerouted in this way. How can a UBI be worse then redistribution through poorly managed government programs?

  • Jessica,
      Bravo! First, don’t let the bastards get you down. There is apparently acottage industry among some libertarian types in lambasting anything that departs even slightly from their own particular hard-lib philosophy. Sort of the Opus Dei of libertarianism. Departing from hard-lib principles isn’t a bug; it’s sort of the whole point of BHL, so those kinds of criticisms are mostly pointless.

    Second, this is a timely topic coming on the heels of the land symposium. Classic Georgist philosophy proposes a “Single Tax” on land value that would be used simply to fund whatever government normally does — infrastructure, public protections, social services, etc. However, the libertarian strain of Georgism — geolibertarians — have among them a large contingent that advocate for a minimalist state and a Citizen’s Dividend, which would effectively be the same thing as a UBI. We even have a real-life example in the state of Alaska with their permanent fund from oil royalties distributed yearly to the citizens.

    The money is certainly there. Estimates from Georgist economists peg the total share of national income deriving from rents as approximately 1/3 of GDP. That works out to about $20k per capita.

    Now as a more conventional liberal, I don’t have quite the problem with paternalism or suspicion of state actors as you do, so I have my own ideas of how to structure such a beast. Suffice it to say I view those rents as the perfect — and sufficient! — source of revenue for the kind of social spending and transfer payments that conservatives/libertarians despise. I also believe that much of what’s left is best funded by user fee structures (e.g., fuel taxes and/or vehicle registration fees to fund roads and streets).

    The basic principle is simple: Keep what you produce, but pay for what you take from the commons to produce it. Basic accounting 101.

    • Deep_Thinker

      You do pay for what you produce, in the form of payment to the person you purchase from. The “commons” as you refer to is the central government. I don’t believe I take anything from them to produce anything. Taxation is not something I give in return for something in a free market. In a free market, all goods (food, water, defense, security) are provided for privately. Therefore I do pay for what I need, just not to a holy gubmint like you think I should by the threat of violence.
      Basically you have done the classic bait n switch. You created the commons, then come in and say that we need to pay for our use of the commons. But we didn’t ask for you to create the commons nor do we support the continuing operation of it.

      • Jessica Flanigan

        Ok, I think I see what you are getting at. Here is the thing- I agree with you about how everything should be privatized and voluntary, that is why i think anarchy is morally best. 

        But just because it would be morally best, doesnt mean we should start down that path, or that it’s a good idea for us as we are. 

        So the fact that states coercively enforce a system of property rules, wrongly, doesnt mean that those rules should look like the standard libertarian property system that you seem to like. There are moral considerations about which coercive system is better, and I made the case for a UBI. If you want to disagree, you’ll need to show not that the state is awful (I agree!) but that it’s better for the state to coercively enforce non-redistributive policies than the UBI, that’s a harder case for you to make. 

      • Damien S.

         ” I don’t believe I take anything from them to produce anything.”

        But you do.  Law enforcement and rule of law, public roads, clean air and water, public health initiatives.

    • Damien S.

       1/3 of GDP is  more like $15-16K/capita.  More if you’re ‘paying’ taxpayers or adults or citizens only.  I have no idea if 1/3 GDP being rents is plausible.

      I’m torn on UBI.  It has a lot of emotional appeal.  But smaller estimates I’ve seen that’d be non-distortionary are too small to be all the help (about $3K/capita), and amounts in the $10-20K start getting big enough that I’d worry about disincentive effects.  I’ll freely admit that with $20k and health insurance I’d think about being frugal enough to not work; really it would just take not living in the expensive cities I favor.

      I kind of lean more toward a citizen’s grant — turn18, get $100,000 — and full employment policies, from sensible Keynesian macro policies to guaranteed government jobs, even if low-paid part time ones.

      I also support stiff pollution taxes, redistributed per capita, which would amount to a partial UBI of its own.  But probably not more than a few thousand dollars, if that, and mostly going to pay for the higher energy and product prices induced by the tax.

      • ” 1/3 of GDP is  more like $15-16K/capita.  More if you’re ‘paying’
        taxpayers or adults or citizens only.  I have no idea if 1/3 GDP being
        rents is plausible.”

        I think you’re right. And I’m assuming all citizens including children, but citizens only. And the 1/3 of GDP figure is something I can’t independently verify either. Suffice it to say that the existing statistics — both government and private — underestimate this amount quite a bit for various reasons. Basically a lot of rent gets conflated with profit and “capital” gains.

        “…and amounts in the $10-20K start getting big enough that I’d worry about
        disincentive effects.  I’ll freely admit that with $20k and health
        insurance I’d think about being frugal enough to not work; really it
        would just take not living in the expensive cities I favor.”

        That’s kind of the point for some advocates. One of the big selling points of an advancing industrial infrastructure with increasing productivity is supposed to be having more material abundance with less labor. I would postulate that a goodly portion of our unemployment problem is simply that we don’t need that many people working anymore to produce what we need or even all that we want.  So maybe Hilton has to double their wages to get people to clean toilets; is that so terrible?

        In order for the pricing mechanism of a free market economy to function as advertised both buyers and sellers need to have the option to simply say “no” and walk away from a proposed transaction. Generally that requires either that the good or service in question is optional (e.g., a luxury item) or that substitute goods or providers exist in the market. A UBI provides an alternative better than starvation for sellers of labor services when negotiating with a purchaser of those services (an employer). BTW, this is the same reason why a free market in health care services doesn’t work very well; the practical inability to walk away from many transactions; the demand curve is essentially inelastic wrt to price.

        But actually I’m not a big fan of a simple cash dividend. My more detailed proposal, which is hard to outline in a commentary like this, is to use the Citizen’s Dividend to pay for the stuff that left and right constantly argue about; education, health care, social security, etc. And it can be done in a way that actually applied market forces to these services without leaving people in the cold.

        “…full employment policies, from sensible Keynesian macro policies to guaranteed government jobs, even if low-paid part time ones.”

        That’s actually my preferred means of making the labor market work the way it ought to. A guaranteed government job, no questions asked, at a minimal living wage. There would be no need for a coerced minimum wage and we could probably get rid of OSHA as well once people aren’t trapped needing a job and employers actually have to compete for labor.

        “I also support stiff pollution taxes, redistributed per capita, which
        would amount to a partial UBI of its own.  But probably not more than a
        few thousand dollars, if that, and mostly going to pay for the higher
        energy and product prices induced by the tax.”

        Georgist theory provides the right mechanism for this as well. Call it “cap and dividend”. Set the upper limit of allowable pollution to something the ecosystem can sustainably process and auction off the permits. The proceeds are part of that “1/3 GDP is rent” figure. Rents are actually externalities so it’s all part of a unified paradigm.

  • As a reformed/reforming liberal and possible burgeoning anarchist, this is a very interesting take on some ideas I’m only just starting to understand. I’ve been keen to identify as some sort of libertarian for a while, but the popular contemporary right-libertarian position on property rights is one point that’s never sat particularly comfortably with me. There’s a lot to think about.

    • Damien S.

       As someone who was once anarcho-capitalist and is now strong social democrat, I’d say you’re going in the wrong direction.

  • This blog is a joke, right? A giant troll job? Like if I started a blog called “State Supremacists” and then every post was about how government sucks and market interventionism is not only counterproductive but also immoral — that’s what y’all are doing here, right? Trolling libertarians?

    Because if not, I pity you.

    • Kevin Vallier

      Translation: Go, Jess, go!

  •  Though I believe in libertarian principles, I’m also an empiricist by training (social psychology). I want to look at evidence, not just theory.  And not just economic evidence, but sociological and psychological as well. On the one hand, Jessica has made an argument that hints at a sociological/moral  argument–that 1) people in society cannot be left to starve and 2) the best way to accomplish that is with a UBI. I agree morally with the first part but the second part is merely theory and theory that needs empirical evidence. What is the evidence that would support/not support that idea?  None that she has offered. On the other hand, we have the example of Great Britain, which did try its own version of a UBI. It was a catastrophe, economically, socially, and psychologically. Generations of people who never wanted to get off the dole and who had not learned responsibility nor how to have goals; people who are both psychologically and morally adrift.  Mark Friedman sensibly calls attention to the different between the deserving poor and those undeserving who simply don’t want to get a job.  Without that, any plan is on a collision course with social disaster.

    The current welfare  system in the US has been somewhat revised to take that kind of difference into account for the very reasons I stated.  Generations of people on welfare with no incentive to get off. Now, though far from perfect, the rules (well, in theory) make that difficult. If the US welfare system recognizes, however imperfectly, the difference between the deserving poor and those not, and GB has been trying to recover from its horrible mistake, what sense does it make to advocate something that has not worked?  Shall I elaborate on the psychological and sociological reasons why it is unlikely to work under any circumstances I can imagine?

    I want to see some actual empirical evidence that suggests that this UBI could work without the same disasterous results we have seen in Great Britain and in the welfare system in the US.

    And contrary to the concept (and results) of the universal dole, there is plenty of evidence that the dole destroys character and private charity and private programs help people without destroying their character. There is also empirical evidence of the charitable nature of Americans and how it could be augmented and encouraged.

    Here’s some ideas I used
    in a recent speech, based on ideas from Cato research: A number of studies show that as
    welfare programs go up, private giving goes down and conversely when the
    welfare go down, private social welfare giving goes up.


    Suggestions or encouraging giving:
    allowing people to deduct charitable gifts from income tax even if they don’t
    itemize. The PricewaterhouseCooper report indicates that result would be to
    increase giving by $14 billion and stimulate 11 million new givers.

    Another idea from National Center for Policy Analysis is to 
    provide all taxpayers with a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for private
    charitable contributions. The Beacon Hill Institute estimates that this would
    generate as much as $125 billion per year in additional giving.

    So it’s not like private giving isn’t helpful or can’t be encouraged.  It’s way more helpful than people give it credit for. It just needs more encouragement.

    I’m sorry but I have little patience with pie-in-the-sky theories that have no empirical evidence to back them up and that go against what we know about human nature from the social sciences. The one social argument offered is that people can’t thrive without an income. No argument there. But the method proposed for solving the problem has too much evidence against it to make it reasonable to consider, even if we set aside the very real moral problems that Mark Friedman has drawn attention to.

    • Jessica Flanigan

      Why does it matter if people live on the UBI and never get off it? I think that these kinds of worries about ‘character’ are as objectionably perfectionistic as other kinds of paternalism, and that the state shouldn’t take a stand on how people spend their income, even if their income is a UBI. 

      It’s also not pie in the sky with no empirical evidence, plenty of states have UBI’s with varying degrees of success, but in any case, I don’t really care about the consequences as much as the deontic facts, namely that it’s morally wrong to interfere with people in ways that prevent them from freely accessing the means to subsistence just as it’s morally wrong to interfere with people in ways that force them to give up on important economic projects. 

      States that enforce systems of property have obligations to those whose liberty is limited by the system, in ways that private citizens who would otherwise give to charity do not, so I’m also not really too concerned if the UBI discourages private giving because I’m skeptical that there is a similar obligation to give to charity. 

      • Hi Jessica,

        You ask: “Why does it matter if people live on the UBI and never get off it?”

        There are two types of reason. First, many (probably most) of those people are wasting their lives. They have few real challenges or projects through which they can develop as individuals and find meaning in life. They never have to co-operate with others productively, so they often fail to develop ordinary ‘interpersonal skills’ and are incapable of worthwhile personal relationships. They lose, or never develop, self-discipline, so they are feckless. The pointlessness of their lives quite understandably leads them into escape through drugs or drink. That in turn can lead them into criminality, another attraction of which is that it gives them something interesting and exciting to do. Once they have fallen into this pit, it is very difficult to help them out of it, not least because they don’t need to get out of it, since all their ordinary material needs are provided for. This is a disaster not only for the individuals themselves, but also for their families, who suffer not only empathetically, but also from having to deal, one way or another, with the dependent individuals and the consequences of their behaviour. I speak from personal experience.

        Second, the cost of supporting these anti-social idlers is borne by working people, many of whom are struggling to bring up families and could do with a helping hand themselves. This is a matter of ‘social justice’ if anything is.

        • Damien S.

           This seems to call for a steep inheritance tax, to save the children of rich people from the moral perils of inheriting idle wealth.

          • I don’t think it does. Of course, it is a cliche that some spoilt rich kids end up ruining their lives too. But at least their parents can turn off the tap when they see the damage it is doing. The parents of welfare dependents do not have that choice: the state keeps up the payments no matter what. Indeed, the worse the kid gets, the greater the payments become, because his/her needs are greater. I am writing from the UK, incidentally. I doubt that the American welfare system is as bad (generous) as ours.

        •  This assumes that the only worthwhile projects are those that someone else is willing to pay for. Some feminists, for example, point out that child-rearing is extremely important work that isn’t rewarded in a capitalist market place. Similarly, a lot of worthwhile projects fall under the rubric of “volunteerism”; caring for the aged, etc.

          A lot of the problems you outline are also the result of stigma attached to not participating in the industrial paradigm, of not being a proper little cog in the machine.

          • Hi Rod,

            “This assumes that the only worthwhile projects are those that someone else is willing to pay for”

            It doesn’t. I said many or most are wasting their lives. I know that some use their time productively/meaningfully. Of course, whether they should be able to do that at others’ expense is questionable.

            “Similarly, a lot of worthwhile projects fall under the rubric of ‘volunteerism’.”

            Indeed, they do. But idlers on the dole tend not to do them. It is usually working (or retired) people who do them in their spare time.

            “A lot of the problems you outline are also the result of stigma attached
            to not participating in the industrial paradigm, of not being a proper
            little cog in the machine.”

            I don’t think so. Many people who do work actually work for themselves, either as self-employed or as small businesspeople. And many who are employees work in service businesses, with flexible working hours and often with a good deal of scope for defining their own job/role.

    •  “I’m sorry but I have little patience with pie-in-the-sky theories that
      have no empirical evidence to back them up and that go against what we
      know about human nature from the social sciences.”

      Pretty much sums up why I reject hard libertarianism.

  • Hard to follow this Jessica Flanagan’s reasoning, but look, I’m a tolerant libertarian–I’m okay with her trying out her social justice ideas. As long as she keeps her hands out of my fucking wallet.

  • Not sure what you mean by UBI since you never define it or link to an article about it, but I’m guessing you mean it is OK for some state agent to stick a gun in your face and demand money that he will give to someone else (after taking a cut).

    I fail to see how anyone with this view can be called a libertarian, but hey, play with labels all you want.

    I do sympathise with some of the ideas here but can’t see why the state is needed to take care of any of it. Some redistribution will no doubt happen, not only through voluntary actions but also such things as squatting and theft. Maybe people regard these as bad, but they surely are not as bad as the state. If the state is not subsidizing property enforcement because the state does not exist, the full cost of grabbing and holding a big piece of property will be felt by the property owner, thus providing a strong incentive not to grab so much. Also, squatters will simply take some and if looked on sympathetically by the neighbors (notice the incentives at work here) they will not help the property hog to evict them.

    Keep also in mind that to hold a big piece of property, the property hog will have to hire people to watch his property, thus providing employment. So people are taken care of that way too.

    I have written some about this subject here:

    Bottom line answer for me, NOTHING justifies state violence or any other kind of aggressive violence, ever. But people do act based at least partially on how their friends and associates perceive them. No one want to be shunned and considered an asshole. That is where your social justice is taken care of. No, it is not institutionalized, nor is it spread around equally. I consider that an advantage, not a drawback. The incentives of the people involved all point in the correct direction.

    • Jessica Flanigan

      Note that you are also departing from the hard libertarian positon if you think that ‘squatting and theft’ are an acceptable mechanism for redistribution, because the hard libertarians will say that those things are wrong because the squatters and theives are taking ‘your stuff’ as you call it. I don’t think there are any natural facts about what is ‘your stuff’ and what isn’t, that is, I don’t think any entitlements are absolute.

       There are a lot of empirical claims here about anarchy, but they miss the point. The point is that given where we are I don’t think we should try to approximate anarchy, even though anarchy is morally best. This is to say that the alleged good consequences of anarchy are irrelevant both from the practical and moral point of view. I think anarchy is morally best even if people aren’t taken care of because the state is not justified in ruling us. 

      You say that nothing justifies state violence or aggressive violence, this is true but it doesn’t get you as far as you think. Is violence to prevent further violence (aka enforcement) permissible? If so, we need to think of which forms of enforcement are morally permissible and when it is not. If not, then we seem to be morally required to permit violence against innocents. The point here is just that none of this is as clear as you are making it seem. 
      In any case, I’m not so confident (and even less now, after reading some of the other comments!) that the stigma associated with ‘being an asshole’ will be that deliberatively salient to people, some people seem to embrace it. Maybe I’m just not as optimistic as you are about that, but given how little most people give to charity, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be skeptical of your optimism. 

      • “In any case, I’m not so confident (and even less now, after reading some
        of the other comments!) that the stigma associated with ‘being an
        asshole’ will be that deliberatively salient to people, some people seem
        to embrace it.”

        SNAP!!!  LOL

  • “Why does it matter if people live on the UBI and never get off it? I
    think that these kinds of worries about ‘character’ are as
    objectionably perfectionistic as other kinds of paternalism”

    Because if you want a society that is benevolent, civil, pleasant to be in, with low crime, with innovation, you won’t get it with the kind of people Great Britain raised on the dole.  That’s not what happened. If you think what I am saying is “paternalistic,” then I guess you think psychology is bunk and society will turn out whatever way you want it to because you want it to.   If you are unaware of how social and personal attitudes affect society, or the effect that lack of responsibility has on personal psychology, then I wonder what classes you took in college. It seems to me that demanding that we all pay for those who don’t want to get a job, and then saying that the state has no say in whether they even try to get a job is far worse paternalism than anything I could possibly come up with.

    “I’m also not really too concerned if the UBI discourages private giving
    because I’m skeptical that there is a similar obligation to give to
    charity. ”   HUH? If we have no obligation to give to charity then what the hell do you call the government FORCING us to pay for those people who don’t want to get a job [I am excluding for now those who are unable to get a job because of disability, etc]  Is the government going to pay for it with its printing presses? Haven’t we had enough of that?  Where do you suppose that money is coming from if not out of our wallets? If we are being forced to pay for this charity–and yes it is charity of a kind–then how can you say that we have no obligation. Isn’t that a gross contradiction?

    I rarely agree with Kinsella 😉 but on this he is right. What gives you the right to take it out of our wallets and then turn around and tell us we have no obligation to give to charity????

    • good_in_theory

      Did you read the initial post to which you are responding?  Jessica gives four arguments justifying provision of a basic income.  Only the first was a sketch of her own view.   
      You’re engaging with an argument that has not been presented.  The exemplary quotes for her argument are these:

      ” a UBI is morally required, given the wrong of a state-enforced property system.”

      “Enforced private property rules can limit our freedom to move, use, and live independently in the same ways that enforced taxes can limit our freedom.”

      “people have claims against coercive interference”

      By her (sketch of an) argument, the UBI is justifiable as rectification for a wrong.

      The argument:

      A. There is a state enforced property system.
      B. This system harms others by limiting their freedom coercively.
      C. Those who use this system harm others by so limiting their freedom.
      D. Those who use this system owe others rectification for the harms they have caused.

      It should be clear how rectification creates a stronger claim than charity, and why an obligation to rectify wrongs is not similar to an obligation to be charitable

      On this argument, if one wanted to avoid a moral obligation to pay into a UBI, I presume one would have to forego state protection of one’s property rights, e.g. refuse to use the police for protection or press charges in a court, settling claims only via private arbitration (and whatever counts as natural right, I guess).

      • shemsky

        If one should be expected to forego state protection (and I agree that one should), then one should also be allowed to forego paying for state protection, and one should also be allowed to use alternative protection agencies. But the state prohibits that. So it’s kind of hollow to just say that one should forego state protection.

  • good_in_theory

    My question for the first argument is what separates states from any private enforcement regime?

    Presumably, in anarchist land, private enforcement regimes may prevent 1 (meeting basic needs) and 2 (pursuing important projects).  As such private enforcement regimes will potentially owe all affected parties compensation.  Or, rather, deprivation of access to (1) and (2) may be the product of the sum total of prior private agreements to enforcement regimes.  As such, the emergent effect of the interaction of the various units which constitute the global ‘enforcement regime’ will be unjust harms.  

    How does that work?  It seems like one would need some comprehensive authority which would collect duties from all private enforcement regimes in order to rectify those harms.  E.g. you would need state.

    • Jessica Flanigan

      This is a good objection. The thought is, if states are bad because no one consents to the public enforcement system, then anarchy is bad because no one consents to the global private enforcement regime. I will need to think about this more, but the initial intuition is that people do consent to the private system in a way that they cannot with states. Still, you are right that this is the best place to push back on the view I sketched I think. 

      • Damien S.

         How do we consent to the private system?

        • Jessica Flanigan

          Consider this analogy. If A marries B and they decide on particular terms, like monogamy, C now cannot marry B, because of A and B’s voluntary choices to exclude C from participating in their relationship, but C doesn’t have a claim, A and B can do what they want. That is what the private system is like. In contrast, if there is a universally enforced system D that forces A to marry B on particular terms, and not to marry C, then C has a claim, as do A and B fwiw… that is what the state is like. 

          • Damien S.

            I’m not sure that’s a good analogy here.  Replace ‘marry’ with ‘own’ and B with property rather than a person.  When do we consent to the idea that people can own things outright, or that specific people own specific things like the beach or oil deposits?

  • Anon

    What a bunch of trash. Third rate reasoning. Why don’t you guys just drop the libertarian already and just call yourselves bleeding hearts?

  • It occurs to me that an old piece of mine might be useful to you, although perhaps not adequate, for defending your position:

    • Jessica Flanigan

      for this link! I look forward to reading it more closely. I tried not to rely
      on the idea of compensation, but I do think that’s an attractive position, but
      I also agree with you that you quickly get into a big mess when you try to
      frame it all in terms of ‘harm’

  • TracyW

    Like most discussions of UBI, this is very one-sided. It doesn’t mention who is obliged to provide the UBI, except for waving hands and saying “taxes”. 
    When I was in NZ, forecasting tax revenue for the NZ Treasury, we once got to discussing proposals for a UBI, and decided to informally run some numbers in a static analysis. If we replaced all the government spending on benefits and pensions then with the UBI, then a UBI per individual of 10,000 NZD a year would require average tax rates of 50% (not just top marginal rates, average rates). And $10,000 a year was about a third lower than the basic rate of the NZ pension for a single person.  This cost did not seem bearable. 

    Basically, a UBI, in all the numbers I’ve seen, calls on a lot of people to spend a lot of time working for their fellow citizens, rather than for themselves. Doesn’t this involve state inteference that prevents us from “pursuing important projects, including economic projects, without excessive interference.”?  

    Also, what happens under this to people who chose not to work in taxable ways? Or, who choose not to work at all? Or people who prefer to work at low-paying jobs when they could work at high-paying ones (eg prefer making $30,000 a year as a struggling actor than $200,000 a year as a bored accountant). 
    Are they preventing their fellow citizens from meeting their basic needs, and pursuing important projects? What’s the morality of this? Do you call for introduction of a UBI to be accompanied by harsh criticisms of housewives/husbands or those who deliberately chose low-paying jobs?

  • Tibor Machan

    It would show some integrity to simply call a spade a spade.  This is not libertarianism of any recognizable kind and calling it such is rank duplicity.  You  should just join Jim Sterba who has been arguing for decades that libertarianism implies the welfare state, just as absurd as this.  But the beauty for me in all this is how it once again shows that people have free will and are thus capable of coming up with utterly weird and mendacious thinking.  Shows also that any hope for reaching some consensus on the truth is delusional.  So the vigilance asked for in defending liberty must be reaffirmed in the sight of this and other attempts to undermine it.

    • shemsky

      “…any hope of reaching some consensus on the truth is delusional.”

      No truer words have ever been spoken. Which is why I am in favor of pluralistic institutions which base their authority on the consent of those who freely choose to belong to them. Instead of thinking that we all must live under the same exact “one size fits all” rules. Treat freedom to choose how one is governed just like freedom of religion.

  • the balance of moral reasons tells against adopting a system of property rules that causes innocent people to starve (a totally ‘free market’ system)

    Be careful to distinguish between intentions and outcomes. The fact that a free market system does not explicitly aim at preventing starvation does not imply that it will lead to starvation. Economics teaches us that intentions often have no correlation with outcomes.

    • Jessica Flanigan

      Fair enough, and if I was confident that everyone would live a minimally decent life under an enforced property regime that did not involve any redistribution then my argument for a UBI wouldn’t be as strong, as it stands though, I’m just committed to the claim that ::whatever:: the enforced universal property system, it shouldnt be one where people starve 


        But, UBI does MUCH more than merely preventing starvation, so you are just shifting ground, and not defending UBI against the objections I raised above.

        • Jessica Flanigan

          It’s true that I haven’t said much about where we draw the line for the UBI,  how much should it pay out to everyone? Just enough to prevent them from starving in the streets or enough for a wonderful life? There is a lot of space between no redistribution and egalitarianism, and here I just meant to say that I favor some redistribution between those two poles. 

          You object that some people might deserve what they get, I responded to that objection by saying they are entitled to not starve even if they are only starving because they are lazy bums who don’t work, I don’t think I’m shifting ground here, you just seem to be assuming that I think the UBI is really robust, but I haven’t really taken too much stand on how much it should include, beyond some gesture to a ‘minimally decent life.’ You also objected that the UBI goes too far beyond the state’s merely failing to enforce/protect your right to exclude people from accessing your property when they would otherwise starve because it involved the state actively taking your property. I don’t know why this distinction is morally relevant within the context of a state enforced property system, both are ‘preventing starvation’ as you say. 

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            You started by claiming that libertarians should support UBI–I don’t think so. I agree that some UBI proposals are much worse than others, but from the libertarian perspective giving people a guaranteed income for life, without requiring that they make reasonable efforts to get off the dole, violates the constraints against coercion that most of us endorse. The disvalue we attach to coercion has its limits, but it cannot be overidden to permit the lazy to loaf.

            I’m not sure that I fully understand your last two sentences. Libertarians don’t accept the idea that all state coercion with respect to property is equally bad. When the state enforces valid rights it is, for that moment at least, acting justly, in the same way that when it acts to arrest and prosecute violent criminals. When the only way for an innocent person to avoid starvation is to  trespass on another’s land, then the state should not prosecute. But, when trespass occurs simply in order to steal timber for resale (for example), the state should act. To the extent that UBI helps slackers without making any demand on them, it more closely resembles the latter case. 


  • Thank you, TracyW, for bringing some *facts* to bear on this. I was taught in my research methods classes that theories that don’t correspond with the facts are not good theories. Research is partly about testing theories to see if they make sense. I would add that morality that brings about bad results is not good morality [one argument that I use against anti-abortion advocates]. Some people here seem unconcerned with whether this scheme has any relationship to what would actually work in the real world. IMO it clearly does not for many reasons, some of which I enumerated above.

    This concern with theory to the exclusion of empirical evidence, except with economics, is one of the major problems I see in the libertarian movement. If we want to achieve a libertarian society that actually works, we will have to do more than merely debate theory endlessly without recourse to empirical evidence from *all* the social sciences.

    Tibor, thanks for cutting to the chase. I agree that there is nothing libertarian about Jessica’s proposal. Forcing some people to pay to support others clearly goes against the NAP. The problem of state-enforced property rights is a separate issue and does not justify the State’s hand in our wallets. We could argue that in some interim state, it might be OK to help those who cannot work through no fault of their own, till such time as private giving has increased to the point where it can sustain all such cases. I do find it morally objectionable to simply let people die. But the idea that people who don’t want to work even if they could are entitled to our money coercively because of some twisted argument about enforced property rights, seems not only non-libertarian, as Mark Friedman and Tibor both argue, but simply bizarre reasoning that is not unlike “how many libertarian angels can dance on the head of the metaphorical pin.”

  • And I might add, that I don’t see anyone even addressing the various empirical points that have been raised. What *is* the counter to the real-life examples of similar schemes that have been disastrous or to the economic forecast that TracyW points to? Just brushing it away as unimportant?  That’s cheating.

    • good_in_theory

      There are also empirical examples of the success of basic/guaranteed incomes:

    • red_anonymous


      With all due respect (and I might be wrong about this) but you sound as if you’re the only person in the world who has heard of the empirical method and anyone else who has a differing opinion needs to be schooled in it. You also sound as if the entire psychology/social worker profession supports your strict libertarian views.

      Obviously, the profession has no consensus on political views, and even people in more relevant fields (specifically economists) adopt a wide range of ideas. The wide majority of economists (people who are trained in the empirical method and apply it on a day to day basis) seem to be more centrist than modern day libertarians (even Hayek and Friedman are more centrist than many libertarians)

  •  Thanks, G-I-T, I appreciate these articles (real data!) and found them fascinating. The experiment in Namibia certainly seemed to help people. However there are some important differences between that community and that project and what Jessica was proposing. First of all, the project was paid for out of private voluntary funds, not government. I’d even be willing to give to this kind of project. Secondly, these people were on a sub-subsistence level. They were so desperately poor that they couldn’t help themselves if they wanted to, which I imagine most of them did. I doubt there were many slackers in this kind of society because the slackers would have simply died. They had few alternatives. This situation is not particularly comparable to the US. While there are certainly people in dire straits (the disabled, single mothers with children, etc), nonetheless there are job opportunities for some and overall, the situation is not as dire, however bad it may be for some. Also the US has a far more diverse culture than rural Namibia, again making comparisons difficult and questionable.
    Somewhat more comparable are the Canadian experiments. First, govt funds were used. Secondly a culture a bit more like the US. However, they were basically small town people, not large city. For many reasons, data analysis was very difficult. The successes were quite modest–marginally more likely to continuing schooling, etc While I don’t dismiss it, I would like to see a more detailed analysis. [tough to do because the data was initially collected rather poorly in some ways] What would economists (or Cato) say? Did the cost justify the outcome? The report didn’t discuss that. More importantly, even if we conclude that it was a success (which I have some reservations about), would it be economically feasible on a large scale?  This I have major reservations about.  TracyW’s comments speak to this. Programs in the US that have been even remotely comparable have pretty much been disastrous in terms of cost, efficiency, and bureaucracy.  We also still have the white elephant in the living room to deal with–the unmitigated disaster of the most comparable culture and program, the one in Great Britain. We can’t ignore that. It nearly did GB in.

    Of course this is setting aside the matter of principle. I don’t want to rehash that so I’ll simply say that there is no way such a program imposed by the govt would be even remotely libertarian. I think there are libertarian alternatives that could be developed and I would infinitely rather see that than govt. fiat that would be highly likely to have bad economic consequences.

    • Jessica Flanigan

      I think it is libertarian, for the reasons I said above, but even if it isn’t, why is that a strike against? Beyond the empirical hypothesis that you think it would make people lazy and that ‘small town people’ are different from big city folks, what is the objection? I don’t have a real moral problem with people spending a UBI however they want and just living off of it. Either you have a moral objection to it, which you have not explained, or an empirical objection, which you havent shown except to talk about people on the dole in GB, but that sounds fine to me, the problem is the big government apparatus that came with it, not that some people didnt work because they didn’t need to. 

  • R-A: Frankly when I hear phrases like “With all due respect (and I might be wrong about this), ” I immediately know that the person has no respect at all for the person being addressed.  Seen this many times before. (Be careful what you say to psychologists.)  Blunt criticism is better than this kind of comment.  But your comment wasn’t even close to reasonable criticism. It was nothing but hyperbole/ red herring and fairly snotty at that.

    First of all, my criticisms were primarily aimed at Jessica who provided no evidence and seemed disinclined to do so. Secondly I commented favorably on other data provided by TracyW. Thirdly, nowhere did I suggest that economics was not empirical. Whatever you may imagine, I am neither silly nor stupid. I just think that we need other social science data in addition to economics. Is that unreasonable?  The rest of what you said is just more hyperbole/red herring nonsense.

    You probably don’t like my tone [which makes us even ] or my comments about libertarianism. It wasn’t an indictment of all of libertarianism and there is no reason to construe it as such. I have been libertarian activist for 48 years. I’ve seen lots of good libertarian thought and plenty of bad. I think I’ve earned the privilege of being exasperated with the latter group, having heard more of this than I can possibly recount. 

    If you imagine that I am simply dumping on libertarians thoughtlessly, than you are apparently unfamiliar with my writings or my many contributions.  There are many libertarians I admire greatly and think have made important contributions, both theoretical and practical.  Two of them are on this thread–Tibor Machan and David Friedman, both of whom I have known for many years. David’s many articles and  books, starting with the excellent “Machinery of Freedom,” offers many practical libertarian alternatives. His talks are always fascinating and full of new information.  I really liked Tibor’s book “Generosity: Virtue in a Civil Society,” a libertarian argument for giving. Jessica might disdain it, however, since it makes an argument for “good character.”  Oh well, I think good character has a lot of merits.

    Thus your comments were really uncalled for.  At least good-in-theory responded rationally with a good argument and data that supported his/her position. All you did was carp and be snotty.  H-m-m-m.

    • red_anonymous

      First of all, I didn’t really have to say the first few sentences. And I wouldn’t have said them if I didn’t mean them. You took them in bad faith, there’s nothing I can do about it. Please don’t claim to know my motives better than I do or lump me in with the cases you’ve seen as a psychologist.

      My tone might have been snotty but only because I felt that you were being the same and looking down on others with differing views.-Let me illustrate with one specific example: You claim that welfare encourages lack of responsibility and wonder what “the effect that lack of responsibility has on personal psychology “. That might be your own professional opinion and I’m sure you have strong reasons to believe it, but you made it sound as if it is a consensus in the psychology profession. It seems to me though that a significant number of psychologists are more leftist than libertarian and worry about the psychological effects on children who grow up in poverty and material inequality, something which Jessica was trying to address. The empirical method in social sciences does not give one clear cut answer and could bring out good arguments on both sides. But it sounded as if you were using it one-sidedly to justify your argument while accusing others of being ignorant of the empirical method.

  • I  won’t claim to know your motives if you don’t claim to know mine. Which you seem to be doing. You seem to imagine things that aren’t there. Like “looking down on others…” That sounds like a motive to me. The comments I made about psychology are based on my understanding of the research, not merely my opinion. Do all psychologists agree? Of course not. Did I say something that no other psychologist would say? Hardly. There is a large literature on personal responsibility. Others are concerned about the issue of welfare and lack of responsibility, not just me and not just psychologists.

    I have already stated that I was in no way trying to say that others are ignorant of the empirical method and explained why your claim that I am doing this is nothing but a red herring.  That’s something you uncharitably read in because *you* disagree with me. You are still dealing with red herrings and accusing me of some of the very things you do yourself so I see no point in continuing this discussion.

    • red_anonymous

      Sharon, i might have come off too strong and in the process offebded you. For that im sorry. My intent was to have a political discussion. Politically we disagree, but its not worth proceeding with the argument at the expense of the other person feeling offended.

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  • How would this not cause the general price of goods to inflate especially the goods typically chosen by the poor? And how would the price inflation not harm the people it intended to help? And after harming the poor, how is this moral? And after giving the state the power to tax, collect and redistribute wealth in this fashion, how is this libertarianism?

    I have trouble seeing how in reality and application this would do anyone any good.

    • Damien S.

      Econ 101  What happens when a typical demand curve shifts to the right?  Equilibrium price and quantity both go up.  So prices might go up, but the poor would still be getting more goods.  Net win.  That answers the first two questions.

      • shemsky

        But it doesn’t answer the moral hazard question.

    • Jessica Flanigan

      A lot of people here ask ‘how is this libertarianism’? Like I said, I am an anarchist, but once you have a state that is in the business of protecting a system of property rights, which a lot of libertarians are cool with, i dont think that there are any easy answers to how that system should look, except that (and here is another libertarian premise) the state’s actions should not immiserate people. Do you think that just because this argument requires some redistribution it’s not libertarian? If so, would a system that redistributed some resources for a minimal state that protected only antecedent holdings also be ‘not libertarian’ ?

      • shemsky

        Jessica, if you hold the view that the state is not a legitimate authority (as I do and as I believe you also do) then proposing something like a UBI is going in the wrong direction. You will only draw people to the idea that the state is legitimate. which is what I thought you wanted to avoid. People who have been conned into thinking that they have no alternative but to depend on the state for their daily needs will always support the state. It’s a trap set by those who want to rule others. People who are not poor but want to take the easy way out of providing for the poor (and clearing their own conscience and sacrificing theirs and other’s liberty) would favor something like the UBI.

        • Jessica Flanigan

           This is an empirical hypothesis. Here is another, a basic income will make people less vulnerable to state interference. In any case, it seems like people who profit from a system of property rights with less redistribution will also (by your causal hypothesis) become dependent on the state to protect their entitlements and support the state. That story doesn’t favor one system either way.

          • shemsky

            Well, they won’t become dependent on the state if there is no state to be dependent on, Jessica. I’m not ready to give up on that idea. Are you? If so, then why even call yourself an anarchist? Besides, how would a state provided UBI make people less vulnerable to state interference (and not only those that depend on a UBI but everyone else as well)? Those that are depending on a UBI will do whatever the powers-that-be tell them to do, so that they don’t lose their financial support.

          • Jessica Flanigan

             These are good points, let me clarify. I call myself an anarchist because I think that anarchy would be the morally best system, not because I think we should go for that right off, though in some ways we should, in other ways that’s probalby not the best first move. I think a UBI would make people less vulnerable to state (and any other interference) than other systems, as an empirical matter, in part based on the limited studies of the topic and in part because i think that government run programs, and also means testing in particular, are really invasive and they give the people who control the benefits too much power. These social welfare provisions also have other problems relative to the market, as I discussed above. I also dont think that people depending on the UBI should be told to do anything… if people want to spend it all on heroin that’s their business as far as I can tell.

          • shemsky

            Well, I sure don’t want what I have worked hard to earn to go for someone else buying heroin or doing whatever they goddamn well please – with my money. If you don’t mind, Jessica, then give your own money, but not mine. I have better things to do with my money (and a lot of them involve helping other people not as fortunate as myself). To be willing to sacrifice someone else’s liberty so you can have a clear conscience is not in any way libertarian. It’s foolish. It’s immoral. And people who think like that deserve whatever bad government comes their way.

          • Guest

            Finally, this is the crux of your argument: you don’t want to give your money.

            I’ve noticed that a lot of libertarians misleadingly use economic arguments or social arguments or even sound as if they’re genuinely interested in helping the weakest elements of society. But eventually, after a long and lengthy discussion, all those facades drop and the remaining argument just seems to be: I don’t want to give my money to those undeserving parasites.

          • shemsky

            If I didn’t want to give my money then why would I say that a lot of things that I want to do with my money have to do with helping those who are less fortunate than myself? Did you even read what I wrote?

          • Guest

            Fair point. I think both you and I are half right half wrong.

            If your main argument is that you like to keep your money and do whatever you want with it including a lot of charity, why didn’t you use it from the beginning?

            You started by arguing that a UBI will make the poor more dependent on the state, but then when Jessica used a valid counter argument, you implied that even if Jessica was right, you’d like to keep your money anyways.

          • shemsky

            Taking someone’s money and giving it to someone else and telling them they can do whatever they want with it, including buy heroin, is not a valid counter argument. It’s fucking stupid.

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  • -If the income tax and all other taxes (capital gains,import tariffs etc.) were eliminated, and replaced with a national sales tax
    -If competing currencies were legalized and thus the sales tax would only be imposed on purchases made with government issued money
    -If all other forms of welfare and redistribution, personal and corporate, were eliminated
    -There were no qualifiers for entry into the system, apart from volunteering to sign up

    Then, perhaps.

  • Jessica, your article hit on a very important point for a libertarian in the social sciences like myself. The work of libertarian social theorists points us to the sincere problems with the present governmental approach to social justice. I am very interested in hearing which Hayekian ideas you link with the lack of diversity within the social support programs we currently use. If people were more in control of distribution and services workers and clients were more in control of their funds, there would be greater organizational diversity–one that actually reflects the morality of the people. The lack of a libertarian voice from within the social sciences really deprives us of the knowledge of deep structures such as homogenization, sclerotic approach to change, and the structural, objective difficulty of marginalized groups to organize for change.

    However, the article uses a definition of social justice I’m not entirely comfortable with. There is an equating of social justice with distributive/economic justice. This definition is different than the one I use and subscribe to as a social worker–one that focuses on peoples who are marginalized and discriminated against. There is a health amount of overlap between the two, but there are also important differences. Social justice from this perspective commits individuals to the painstakingly slow process of institutional change in the social world, and a healthy, earned skepticism of the ability of government to do anything productive in that effort.

  • oneandahalfcents

    okay, i’m curious….to all libertarians who do support a flat tax, how would UBI not be related if only in reverse? if you acknowledge or support the government needing some form of payment, what is so strange about the proposal that it could give an equal amount to all citizens? i’m not suggesting these two proposals could exist side by side, but really what’s the difference?
    let’s assume that having a UBI would cost the same as current welfare programs and replace it! having a BI would *shrink* government interference/nannying as everyone would get this basic income (wealthy or otherwise) and it could be spent in any way. so much bureaucratic nonsense would be wiped out by wiping out the welfare infrastructure and replacing it with UBI. it wouldn’t dampen people’s desire to work, because it would be a very basic stipend.
    people would not have to worry about losing these “benefits” by working or making too much money (getting rid of those welfare in-betweeners) so they would work! people could pursue volunteering (shrinking government need)! people could pursue self-employment/entrepreneurship/freelancers (good for the free market and shrinking the government)! it could replace welfare benefits for unemployed people and it could replace tax credits for employed people (shrinking the government)….
    also, i know libertarians and capitalism go hand-in-hand…so do you support corporations? i’m assuming “yes”. do you support monopolies? i’m assuming “yes” again. can you not accept that the government is a huge corporation that indeed is a response to a demand in a market? it is bloated and corrupt, yes, but i believe it will always be there because of people like me placing that demand. it’s like flippin’ walmart or something. you may say that the government doesn’t turn any sort of profit, not everything is measured in monetary gains…money is as fake as jesus anyhow…and with your help, the government could turn a profit…that we could receive as a dividend…. why can’t you get your big-boy panties on and make the government DO what it’s supposed to? yes, this includes shrinking it, but i don’t believe this includes getting rid of all its functions. if a bunch of narrow-minded moms can make the corporation of jcp drop ellen degeneres as a spokesperson why do you think you wouldn’t be able to make the government do x,y,z?! also, why does it seem that a lot of libertarians are obsessed with their personal property? it just worries me.

    and in closure i would just like to add that this is mainly an attempt to understand libertarian views and yes, a rant at 2 in the a.m. so i will read this tomorrow and shake my head for posting.

    • LibertarianSocialist1980

      You stated “i know libertarians and capitalism go hand-in-hand.” That is not necessarily true. I am a libertarian socialist.

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  • LibertarianSocialist1980

    Wow, really good topic. I am a libertarian socialist and realize that every system has its flaws. There are many more people like me. If the libertarian party in America would make UBI a permanent part of their platform I would most likely join. However I also believe that proving healthcare falls under the governments job of protecting the citizens. Healthcare for all would benefit citizens and the economy. That is why I support the expansion of Medicare to include everyone.

    UBI and Medicare for all and I could back libertarians 100% and I think a lot more people would swarm to join the ranks of the libertarian party. Something else to consider: With UBI & Medicare we could eliminate all of the other assistance and welfare programs and the agencies that run them, Federal and State level.

    There would be one agency and it would provide the same exact service to every American citizen. We could call it The Department of Basic Needs and it would run the UBI & Medicare program. Welfare as we know it – gone. Food stamps – gone. Housing assistance – gone. SSI – gone. Heat assistance – gone. The bureaucratic mess, bloated cost, lack of efficiency, and fraud in the current approach would all be gone.

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