Você está na página 1de 4

Should the state provide everyone a universal basic income?

Universal basic income is a regular payment of a certain fixed amount of money that a government provides to each individual who lives in its territory. Such an amount should be regulated depending of the acknowledged poverty line (cita). It is unconditional, i.e. no specific social or economic condition is required in order to receive it, nor it matters the possession of a job, the will of getting one, the wage one earns, the services one has eventually given to the community in the past or one is giving in the present. It is supposed to be added to all the other welfare measures already existing (cita). UBI differs from negative income tax since the latter gives individuals a periodic unconditional wage by subtracting its amount from the one of that each household must pay through taxes. If such a remainder is negative (that is if an household has to pay to the state less money than it is supposed to receive through a benefits by it), that household will be paid a benefit from the government equivalent to the difference. UBI also differ from stakeholder grants, that is a sum of money to be paid one time for all when a person come to maturity. This amount is equally given unconditionally, and can be used in all the way the subject prefers. This essay will argue in favour of UBI. It will be firstly presented Van Parijss argument that indicates UBI as able to promote positive liberty (that is freedom of doing things as opposed to liberals idea of negative liberty istitutions with a minimum amount of rules). It will be then shown Andersons objection against the possibility, for individuals, to practice all the form of freedom that they believe as adequate. It will be shown that such an objection is grounded on a precise idea of the role of humans in societies that cannot be granted. It will be then shown the so-called desert objection and exploitation objection to UBI, to which Offes reply will follow. Such an answer will be shown as inefficacious. The conclusion will show that if one wants to hold a certain picture of human nature, one ought both to accept Van Parijss argument and refuse desert and exploitation objection. According to Van Parijs each individual should be able to pursue his idea of good life (cita). Everyone should be accordingly endowed with the same amount of natural and human-produced resources. Such a claim derives from the assumption that these two kinds of resources have a fixed value. The ones under private property can be taxed (cita); the ones already at everyones disposal count as already equally distributed; heritages and high-prices gifts can be taxed, whilst low-price gift would require an expense in order to be verified that taxes would not return; all the means by which resources were transformed into object that have been then sold are usually patented invention, that already have a market price; all the means already at everyones disposal (fire, for example) are already distributed. Given the current situation, such an equal endowment can be reached only through a redistribution. If the resources belong to everyone, the money earned from the transformation of this resources are equally a common possession (cita). Consider for example two people who share a house. The first decides to give a party with a ticket entrance while the second is out. The money earned from the entrance ticket is to be shared even if only one of them organized the party. The proviso of unconditional distribution of UBI is justified as it follows: giving money only to those who cannot work although they would like would mean that the state is helping someone in reaching a desire difficult to satisfy (having work in a world in which is not easy to get it), as for

example it would do by financing art collectors; impeding those who do not want to work to live off UBI would be an arbitrary discrimination between different ideas of good life. Anderson objected that the concept of freedom held by Van Parijs is grounded on a conception of humans as being isolated from one another. Freedom is rather the possibility to enjoy social relations and actively promote the development of the community. An intuition supporting such a claim could be that if one chooses to use drug, for example, one would not say that one has used his freedom nor that one is pursuing his idea of good life. If one can instead choose all the job one wants, can join all the possibility that a society offers to individuals (going to a museum, voting, attending whatever school one prefers) then one is viewed as free. Such a kind of liberty does not require any basic income, since it is not necessary not to be forced to work in order to enjoy normal social relationship. An income should rather be assured as a concrete aid to all those who cannot participate the life of community. For example, money could be used to enhance internet connection in some area of a country that lacks it. It should be noticed that such a view is still compatible with Van Parijss claim that everyone is equally entitled to all the resources available: it is for this reason that one should not be allowed to use them for his egoistic desires but rather in activities that involve the whole community. Insofar liberty equals the possibility to enjoy meaningful relations within the community, a person who decides to live off UBI does not appear to be impeded in such a possibility. As Van Parijs argues, on the contrary, those people could have more time to dedicate to active political life in contexts in which it is unpaid, to care other people (cita). Insofar liberty is instead understood as the possibility to be useful to the community, it seems that it comes down to the necessity that the state imposes to individuals to take part in productive process. To avoid such an impression, Andersons view should be able to demonstrate that there exist a non-productive activity that is useful to the community and not only for individuals alone. It cannot however do it, since the very concept of what is useful for a community is too vague if separated from the parameter of money. Consider for example a person who spent all his time collecting stamp. He is clearly useful to himself only. If however he has a relative who is forced to stay at home because of some sick, he is also useful to this second person, who can enjoy his company. One would intuitively say that the collector is not still useful to the community, but one should consider that such a situation is akin to the case of a scientist who discover a medicine that heal a very rare ill. In this second case everybody would say that the scientist is useful to the community. Andersons idea of freedom is therefore tailored for a human being thought as a gear of productive process. Even avoiding to refer to Andersons idea of freedom, however, it remains true that one of the argument often moved against UBI is that it is not moral to subtract money to people who have worked to give them to people who do not want to work (Galston). Even concerning about the inequality provided by differences in luck, it is not obvious that UBI is the solution to such a problem (Galston). One could say, for example, that the fortune of being able to do a certain work is not comparable to the fortune of not working at all and yet being regularly paid. A closely related objection to UBI is the exploitation objection, according to which the people who earn money by working would be deprived of the fruits of their labour in order to permit people who do not want to work to equally have money. Such a relationship between these two groups of people resembles serfdom (White, 317-318). Here again the underlying idea is that one must give something to society in order to receive from it (cita white).

It is possible to reply to both arguments by referring to Offes view. He shows that the indignation for people who live without working derives from work ethic. According to it, work has an intrinsic value unrelated from the wealth that it provides. Having a job means having a role in society and a scope in life. The origin of such a line of though can be find in the raise of capitalistic society (cita quello su webct) or even in Protestant Christianity (cita). Given that this view about work implies that who has no work is regarded as unhappy, no envy should thus be felt in respect of these kind of people (pag 63), or, from the other side of the medal, workers should not feel unlucky about their condition. The desert objection is thus self defeating, since it simultaneously assumes that working makes people happy and non-workers are lucky people. Regarding exploitation objection, if it is true that it raises from work ethic, then it is not true that workers are in a servile conditions in respect of non-workers, since labour has value in itself, that is separated from the one of subsequent wealth. Since non-workers deprive workers of the latter rather than the former, UBI leaves no room for exploitation according to work ethic. Regarding Offes reply to desert objection: it is however true that an objective comparison of the needs is possible, and that the need of being a painter is less urgent of the need of a normal life for a disabled person. It is therefore immoral to permit someone to voluntarily live without working using money that could be used for helping people who struggle for a less difficult life (Cita Anderson). Interpreted in this way, desert objection avoids to refer to work ethic and therefore bypasses Offes objection. Regarding the answer to exploitation objection: it is to be noticed that work has value insofar it grants a position in society that can be shown to others. The higher a position is, the more the symbols of having reached it cost; if some non-workers can possess the same symbols of certain workers through UBI rather than work, workers are therefore also deprived of the intrinsic value of job. The argument pro UBI has been seen as rebuttable only if one hold that the only role of people in a society is to increase production. The same can be said for the defence of exploitation objection, since the work ethic on which it is grounded pretends the will to job being the only moral choice available: but since a thing is just when it reaches a just scope, and the scope of working is producing, to say that working is just means to say that the only aim of human is producing. The defence of desert objection objection is based on the intuition that living without working is equal to steal resources to needy people: but if one accept Van Parijss claim for equal entitlement to these resources, it is rather the help to needy people that is to be seen as a robbery, since the state does not have the right to force aspirant idles to charity. It is hard to see why Earths resources should not belong to the whole human genre. If one refuses such a portrait of human nature and the arbitrarily selective entitlement of Earths resources, one must support UBI.

Bibliography. Anderson, E. (1999) What Is the Point of Equality?, Ethics 109, 287-337. Galston, W. (2000), What About Reciprocity?, http://bham.blackboard.com/webct/urw/lc3952256006051.tp0/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct, accessed 08.03.11. Offe, C. (2009) Basic Income and the Labor Contract, Analyse & Kritik 31, 49-79. Van Parijs, P. (2000), A Basic Income for All, http://bham.blackboard.com/webct/urw/lc3952256006051.tp0/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct, accessed 07.03.11. Van Parijs, P. (1991) Why Surfers Should be Fed, Philosophy and Public Affairs 20, 101-131. White, S. (1997) Liberal Equality, Exploitation, and the Case for an Unconditional Basic Income, Political Studies 45, 312-326.