Every Citizen Will Be A Public Man

In 2017, Ontario’s Liberal government decided to test the waters of Marxism, giving thousands of public dollars to approximately 4,000 people in selected Ontario towns, with every intention of doing this monthly for the next 3 years.

The province of Ontario is currently $349Bn in debt.

In 2018 Ontarians elected the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party to power for the first time in 15 years, and so shunned the Ontario Liberal Party that they are no longer officially recognized as a provincial party. Taxes and government waste were popular topics for discussion during the election.

So it’s not surprising that cancelling the previous government’s more expensive and less beneficial projects would be a priority for a new government looking to slow Ontario’s descent into bankruptcy, and its experiment with a Universal Basic Income was prematurely cut short. This, of course, led to outcry, rage, hand-wringing, and dozens of online petitions shaming the Conservatives for their heartless cruelty and affront to human dignity, from Ontario’s Progressives.

Ending any entitlement program is bad press for a government, especially one that hits so close to the philosophical core of the Left as a Basic Income, so kudos to the OPCP for their fortitude in making a sensible decision.

Even if the outcome of this experiment couldn’t be foreseen by the most myopic of us (Recipients will be happier, work less, and the public will be out millions of dollars), even if it hadn’t been tried and discarded by other countries, Ontario cannot afford to throw its scant and dwindling resources at the passion projects of preening politicians, for the benefit of 4000 people and one dead German philosopher.

Far from being resentful that their good fortune has come to an end, the beneficiaries of this short-lived sham should be grateful to have received thousands of dollars of free funds in the first place, count their blessings, and return to living their lives by the same laws of commerce as the rest of us, richer for the experience.

But if you’re really and truly concerned for the plight of down-on-their-luck Ontarians, consider this radical idea: Rather than handing people money, maybe the government could continue to reign in spending across the board, and by doing so not need to take so much money from people in the first place.

 

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Automation Is Not a Justification For Universal Basic Income

Hand-wringing opinion pieces on the rise of automation and its impact on minimum-wage jobs have become vogue online. News articles about automated check-out lines, touch-screen fast-food menus, and computer-controlled cars are inevitably followed by editorials predicting an impending collapse of society as workers are replaced by circuits boards and algorithms whose only cost is a monthly electrical bill, and who never sleep or need a vacation.

These authors immediately and without fail give their game away by insisting that this is a problem that can only be solved by imposing a Universal Basic Income, mandating that the government take money from a small segment of the population and distribute it more fairly amongst the entire population.

This is marxism.

Given the historical record and moral repugnance of communism, socialism, and marxism (as these ideas routinely follow each other around), the only thing more shameful than calling for marxism is fear-mongering and feigning concern for one`s fellow man in order to do so. Authors who use advances in technology as evidence for their necessity are as short-sighted and ignorant of human nature as communists, socialists, and marxists have ever been.

Jobs are not an artificially limited resource in finite supply, and subtracting those jobs that can be performed by machinery from the current total does not leave humanity with a permanently lessened sum. Jobs are any activity a person can perform to produce a good or service in exchange for goods or services provided by other people. Jobs are potentially as infinite as human wants and needs, and limited only by our ability to imagine new ways to help and serve eachother, to improve eachother’s lives. So long as humans have the ability to act, they will find goods or services to offer that technology can’t replace. Actors, hair stylists, journalists, all provide services that at one point in history humans didn’t even know they wanted, and to assume that we have achieved the totality of all services that we will ever want is laughable.

Humans adapt to change. This is the same fact ignored by proponents of minimum wages, price regulations, or government subsidies. If an employee costs more to hire, a business owner will adapt by firing employees to reduce costs or raising prices to increase earnings. If a service such as education is made cheaper by government subsidies, institutions like universities can quickly raise the cost without reducing sales, as the difference in cost isn’t absorbed by the customer. Similarly, if a person loses their job to obsolescence of any kind, they quickly adapt to find a new job. This may require learning a new skill-set, working in a different industry, or providing a good or service to the world that has never been explored before, but humans do not sit motionless, waiting for a mystical body to dole out work like rations in a food line.

Technological change is nothing new, and history has seen new technologies supersede entire industries before. There is far less demand today for chimney sweeps and farriers due to electric heating and the automobile, but the demand for electricians and mechanics has grown in proportion. The new jobs that arose are in place of the old are far safer and more comfortable for those who perform them, and the humanity is far better off for the change. The savings incurred in placing robots into the workforce has and will continue to allow companies to undercut each other’s prices, as lowering the cost of production allows for lowering the price of their products, motivated by market competition. The cost of living has and will continue to fall as a result of technological advances, and as this drops consumers are left with more money to spend, and new industries arise to take advantage. Interior decorators and wedding planners would seem ludicrous extravagances back when a solid meal required an entire day’s hard labour, but are now viable careers in an age of plenty.

That the kind of tasks in which robots and automation excel; menial, repetitive, and back-breaking tasks, can and will be replaced by something other than a human is a fact to be celebrated. There is nobility in every kind of work, as every job by definition benefits society, but if less human capital is spent on necessary but monotonous tasks,  countless hours of human life are freed to be spent on tasks better suited to human creativity. If a job can be performed better and more cheaply by a robot than a person, bless the person for doing that job until now, and bless the creator of the robot for making that job obsolete. That the miracle of human ingenuity would be used as justification for the type slavery imposed by marxism would be ridiculous were it not so horrendous.