The universal right to capital income by Yanis Varoufakis


The idea that some work hard and pay their income taxes, while others live off this forced kindness, doing nothing by choice, is untenable. While a universal basic income – the main prerequisite for freedom in the outdated working age – is to be legitimate, it cannot be funded by taxing Jill to pay Jack.

ATHENS – The right to laziness has traditionally been reserved for the have-rich, while the poor have had to fight for decent wages and working conditions, unemployment and disability insurance, universal health care and other necessities. a dignified life. The idea that the poor should receive sufficient unconditional income to live on has been anathema not only to the great and powerful, but also to the labor movement, which has adopted an ethic revolving around reciprocity, solidarity and contribution to society.

When unconditional basic income schemes were proposed decades ago, they inevitably encountered indignant reactions from employers’ associations, unions, economists and politicians. Recently, however, the idea has resurfaced, garnering impressive support from the radical left, the green movement, and even the libertarian right. In question, the rise in power of machines which, for the first time since the start of industrialization, threaten to destroy more jobs than technological innovation creates – and to pull the rug from under the feet of white collar workers.

But as the idea of ​​a universal basic income returned, resistance from both right and left followed suit. Rightists point to the impossibility of generating enough income to fund such programs without crushing the private sector, and a decline in labor supply and productivity, due to the loss of incentives to work. . Leftists fear that a universal income will weaken the struggle to improve people’s working lives, legitimize the idle rich, erode hard-won collective bargaining rights (by empowering companies like Uber and Deliveroo), undermine the foundations of statehood -providence, encourages passive citizenship, and promote consumerism.

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