Recently, someone named Joe Walsh Freedom had a thing to say about basic human rights:
In a way, I agree. I think healthcare is something that people in a position of power or authority should consider it their default ethical duty to provide, rather than something which those who are not must demand, or have protected from loss. So too daily food, so too a roof. I don’t really understand why a social leader wouldn’t actively want to bestow such things on everyone they could, seems to me that people would love them for it. So, obviously, I don’t really agree with Joe Freedom, whoever he is (probably an American and maybe a comedian, judging by the name).
I genuinely don’t think a job is a right, though — but this is all down to something like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If people have the base essentials like health, food and shelter, which only the deliberately short-sighted would consider a bad thing, they have a platform from which to build better lives. When people aren’t forced to compromise to survive, find themselves making bad (or even terrible) decisions to survive, there will inevitably be positive knock-on effects for the society they inhabit. If there are negatives waiting in the wings, I’m not sure what they are.
This is why I think that Basic Income is the way forward: not because it’s freemoney for freeloaders, but because it ensures a survival baseline for all (indirectly including all the commercial providers of those essential resources — see? not a communist right here). Now I recognise that some people in such a system could be satisfied with “merely” surviving, but I don’t think it would be many. If our drive to survive stops being a necessity, we may discover that it was actually just Our Drive — and find it starts pushing us to pursue more valuable activities, things that might benefit more than just our individual lives.
For many people that will mean performing jobs, just like it does now, although suddenly they’d be able to pay for more than medicine, breakfast and rent with their paychecks. For others, well, who knows what they’d do to earn more than the minimum? I guess I should concede the possibility that some might persist in resorting to anti-social measures even in the face of a little unconditional generosity from the state, but I suspect that it won’t be a high percentage.
I think the counter-arguments of people like Joey Freedom boil down to the perspective that these are “Gateway Rights”, and once people have their foot in that door they’ll demand more and more. First it will be Free Netflix, then the right to recreational drugs, a new car every year, and gimme gimme gimme. Eventually we’ll all want to blight the planet or murder with impunity — you know, the kind of perks that only the rich and powerful currently get access to. [/satire]
I don’t think that’s how it would go down. I think Joey Freedom’s perspective is a bit depressing, it doesn’t credit humanity with very much, and isn’t even funny.
He’s not a very good comedian.