Why a Universal Basic Income Would Be a Calamity

Why a Universal Basic Income Would Be a Calamity, by Dan Nidess.

Look instead to Saudi Arabia, which for decades has attempted the wholesale replacement of work with government subsidies. Perhaps more than half of all Saudis are unemployed and not seeking work. They live off payments funded by the country’s oil wealth.

And what has Saudi Arabia’s de facto UBI created? A population deeply resistant to work. Efforts by the Saudi government to diversify the economy have been hamstrung by the difficulty of getting Saudis to trade in their free income willingly for paid labor. Regular citizens lack dignity while the royal family lives a life of luxury. The technocratic elite has embraced relatively liberal values at odds with much of the society’s conservatism. These divisions have made the country a fertile recruiting ground for extremists.

It’s true that Saudi Arabia has a host of other social problems. For one, it is ruled by a hereditary monarchy and a strictly enforced set of religious laws. Yet the widespread economic disempowerment of its population has made it that much harder for the kingdom to address its other issues. Don’t expect the U.S. to fare any better if divided into “productive” and “unproductive” classes.

As it asks in the subtitle: How long before the elites decide the unemployed underclass shouldn’t have the right to vote?