While I’m not one of the reactionary Luddites who claims AI is suddenly not capable of doing anything or is only as capable as looms and tractors ever were, and I’m not going to bother using the same an!capistan arguments against basic income that clearly aren’t swaying anyone (I don’t know why anarchocapitalists and libertarians even bother), I will say that we’re giving basic income too much credit.
Keyword: credit. That’s what I’m leading into. Whenever I keep promoting Vyrdism, I also mention why I don’t trust basic income— the State, which is the agency who will distribute said income, is not and never has been altruistic. They’re not going to give out a basic income unconditionally, and if you believe they will, you’re wrong. I know it’s your opinion, but your opinion is wrong. Literally 8,000+ years of experience with the ruling owner class proves you’re wrong— there will be conditions, even if the elite says there won’t be.
And China gave me the idea as to what that condition would actually be.
China is allegedly bringing out a social credit system, and your social credit score determines your ability to function in modern society. That sounds to me like the perfect opportunity to bring about a basic income— your social credit score determines the amount of your income. Lose too much social credit and you might be cut off from the basic income, and the justification will be “you’ve proven that you can’t be helped, even with a basic income.” So yes, you’ll get a basic income, and you’ll allegedly be allowed to do whatever you please with it— but those in power are closely watching what you’re spending it on, as well as your actions in other parts of your life.
Let’s say that there’s a baseline that everyone receives a month— $1,000— which supposedly cannot be altered. The State is promoting a ‘healthy’ lifestyle. In other words, if you buy too many greasy foods and sugary snacks, your social credit takes a hit and you might get less income. It’s not going to be overt— the easiest way to take money away from you while also keeping up with the “unconditional” basic income would be to penalize you elsewhere, such as with higher taxes and fees for goods. You may still receive $1,000 a month, but your expenses jump from $800 to $1,000.
That’s still manageable, and your basic income can still cover most of it. However, if you subscribe to anyone the ruling elite doesn’t like on Facebook, that’s more of a hit. Hell, if the ruling elite decides you can only use certain social media sites or search engines or only use certain ISPs and you defy them, you might get a big hit to your social credit score. Your $1,000 income becomes worthless as your expenses reach $2,000 or more a month. And I don’t even think I need to say what would happen if you protested against the government or its corporate-bourgeois masters. And by that point, it’s too late, because artificially intelligent technotarians have already rendered human workers utterly obsolete, meaning there’s no other way to improve your social credit score again other than to accept whatever the State demands.
Of course, it works in the other direction as well. If the State tells you to jump, you ask “How high?” You become their drone, doing absolutely anything and everything you can to be a Model Citizen™. You may be rewarded with laxed expenses, effectively increasing your basic income every month from $1,000 to $1,200.
Now if you ask me, we are going to see a universal basic income in our lifetimes. Not even just in our lifetimes, but very soon. And it’s not going to hit the ground running as a totalitarian social regimen.
I’m not against basic income. I just recognize the potential for abuse. Basic income-esque schemes have been tried throughout history, even though they’ve never been called basic income. And always, they’ve been part of a “deal” rather than being unconditional. For example, with feudalism, you need only work for the local lord and you get free protection. It’s just that feudalism also gave us serfdom, and basic income could very well lead us to a dystopian existence that few proponents seem to believe it could lead to because they opt to believe a false dichotomy that anything other than basic income is a dystopia as well.
And if you’re alright with this or already accepted that basic income was never going to be unconditional, then fine; I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the wide-eyed idealists who still believe it’s the ends and of itself instead of a means to an end.
“But Yuli,” one might ask, “isn’t this more of a critique against a social credit score?”
Yes of course. My point is that, at least in our current mode of existence, the two will likely be intertwined. We won’t see UBI without a social credit score— it might even prove to be one of the compromises that must be made!
So in summary, I don’t blindly trust basic income. There’s been no proper debate on it because the opposing argument’s almost nothing but an!cap whinging about how taxation is theft, welfare is Stalinism, and the very-thinly-veiled “Tyrone’s just going to buy crack and beer and play Call of Duty all day on my paycheck”, which backfires and results in more people accepting basic income by making it seem only an!caps and closeted fascists oppose basic income. This, in turn, makes the Left look even more like Statist Sheep that the Right oft claims they are.
A legitimate concern is that the ruling elite won’t make it unconditional because there is literally no evidence in history of them being altruistic in such a way. China’s social credit score is almost certainly what basic income is going to be tied to.
One last word: I’m not against basic income. I know I’m repeating myself, and I know most people are smart, but I’ve long since become cynical enough to realize that I must keep repeating this, as there will always be someone who decides that I’m actually a denizen of the aforementioned An!Capistan all because I dared to say anything against UBI.
If you want a true alternative to the current mode of existence, look to Vyrdism. Maybe read this: OPINION: Why I am pro-Vyrdism and not pro-Universal Basic Income (UBI).