For the past four months, America has taken part in a grand experiment. Unemployed Americans have received an additional $600 a week in unemployment insurance.
It’s our nation’s sudden and accidental leap into universal basic income, an idea that has been pushed by many thought leaders from the Left, including former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who ran on the platform of giving a $1,000 monthly check for every man and woman over the age of 18, all paid for by companies that would owe a new tax to the federal government.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook and one of the most influential persons in the Western world, supports UBI, as it is known.
Proponents say that a universal basic income would take the stigma out of getting a government check, and Zuckerberg said that such a program would “make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”
We’ve now outdone Yang’s aspirational basic income by more than double, and we see the results. The “new ideas” aren’t pretty.
First, employers are struggling to entice people back to the workforce. With the $600 many receive as relief checks in addition to the basic unemployment insurance checks they are entitled to, many now admit they’re making more money staying home.
One business owner in Anchorage says that one of her drivers asked her to lay him off because he could make plenty of money if she did, and have a nice summer to fish the rivers. She refused, because as a waste disposal company, she provides a regulated service and is not allowed to stop picking up the garbage just because her workers don’t want to drive their routes.
But a large number of laid off workers are indeed bringing in nearly $1,000 a week in combined cash benefits, and they qualify for free health care under Obamacare, while federal and local moratoriums on evictions are still in place, and mortgage companies are under orders to allow forbearance.
It’s easy to live a modest life in most places in America with such government largesse. One could, of course, use the time to take online classes, learn new skills, and prepare for a recovered economy by positioning oneself for a fresh start in one’s career.
Unfortunately, there’s no indication that some Americans have used their down time in any productive or proactive way, although there may be a few more better-tended vegetable gardens in the suburbs.
Some in the Northwest liberal strongholds are reaching new skill levels in Fortnite Battle Royale during the day, and then donning homemade battle gear to engage in street revolution cosplay at night — all paid for by the U.S. Treasury, which just keeps printing the money and sending it in the mail.
And that brings us to the second unintended consequence: The wave of social unrest that has swept our cities. The violent-but-localized Black Lives Matter protests quickly spawned widespread BLM-Antifa riots, the defacing of public and private property, looting, and the destruction of cultural and education monuments.
In Portland and Seattle, a revolution is underway against what are the most tolerant governments in the world. Even the mayors of Portland and Seattle are now under attack by the Left for not being “enough.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle, who chided the president for not appreciating democracy, found her own multi-million-dollar home in a gated community surrounded by protesters from the Democratic Socialists of America. She called for police protection of her property.
Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland joined a violent protest against the federal government and found himself tear gassed, but then heckled by his fellow protesters, who said he was not doing enough to resist federal intervention in Portland. Federal officers had been sent there to protect the federal courthouse, which has been under siege for 56 days, as rioters attempt to raze it on a near-nightly basis.
Over the past two days, two black Americans who support President Donald Trump have been attacked — one murdered and one stabbed. Americans who support the president are afraid to put “Trump” signs on their lawns, for fear their homes will be torched. Political radicals have struck such fear into homeowners that they are now afraid to post an American flag in front of their homes — the radicals see that as a symbol of hate.
Third, crime in our cities has spiked as mayors stopped supporting law enforcement and started supporting the “defund the police” platform of Black Lives Matter. Violent crime, robberies, rape — the numbers are skyrocketing in urban centers. In New York, the homicide rate for the first half of the year is up 23 percent over 2019, while Chicago murders are up 39 percent over last year, and Los Angeles is experiencing a 250 percent jump in homicides this summer.
The societal devolution is paid for by this new universal basic income, that no-strings-attached payment to those who now have no incentive to work and who are getting into more than mischief and mayhem. Their basic needs met, they are now tearing the fabric of the productive society that supports them.
Alaska has had a form of universal basic income for decades with the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, the royalty share from the oil wealth of the North Slope. This year, it equated to a mere $82 a month, and yet it is lauded by proponents of universal basic income as the model for the nation.
It is not a model to replicate. The Alaska Permanent Fund dividend has caused more unhappiness and strife in Alaska in recent years because state legislators have siphoned off some of the dividend that statutorily belonged to the people and used it to pay for government services that are used only by half of the people.
The lesson of the Alaska Permanent Fund is that what government gives, government can also take away.
UBI doesn’t yield happier, more creative, or more productive people. We’ve seen what it does — it pays for the socialist, possibly communist revolution. Our government prints more money daily and distributes it to Biden voters who are burning and looting their way to the November election.
We are paying for the revolution. The bill just won’t come due until after Nov. 3.