Monday, April 2, 2018

Chris Hedges - The Oligarchs' "Guaranteed Basic Income" Scam

If Amazon captures most of the sales in the US but doesn't pay a proper wage, then how are they going to keep the sales going, well, get the government to pay everyone a basic income, of course, then the One Percent can keep on creaming it in? But who's going to pay for the basic income if the elite pay hardly any taxes? A government deficit, maybe? KV

A number of the reigning oligarchs -- among them Mark Zuckerberg (net worth $64.1 billion), Elon Musk (net worth $20.8 billion), Richard Branson (net worth $5.1 billion) and Stewart Butterfield (net worth $1.6 billion) -- are calling for a guaranteed basic income. It looks progressive. They couch their proposals in the moral language of caring for the destitute and the less fortunate. But behind this is the stark awareness, especially in Silicon Valley, that the world these oligarchs have helped create is so lopsided that future consumers, plagued by job insecurity, substandard wages, automation and crippling debt peonage, will be unable to pay for the products and services offered by the big corporations.

The oligarchs do not propose structural change. They do not want businesses and the marketplace regulated. They do not support labor unions. They will not pay a living wage to their bonded labor in the developing world or the American workers in their warehouses and shipping centers or driving their delivery vehicles. They have no intention of establishing free college education, universal government health or adequate pensions. They seek, rather, a mechanism to continue to exploit desperate workers earning subsistence wages and whom they can hire and fire at will. The hellish factories and sweatshops in China and the developing world where workers earn less than a dollar an hour will continue to churn out the oligarchs' products and swell their obscene wealth. America will continue to be transformed into a deindustrialized wasteland. The architects of our neofeudalism call on the government to pay a guaranteed basic income so they can continue to feed upon us like swarms of longnose lancetfish, which devour others in their own species.


"Increasing the minimum wage or creating a basic income will amount to naught if hedge funds buy up foreclosed houses and pharmaceutical patents and raise prices (in some cases astronomically) to line their own pockets out of the increased effective demand exercised by the population," David Harvey writes in "Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason." 

"Increasing college tuitions, usurious interest rates on credit cards, all sorts of hidden charges on telephone bills and medical insurance could steal away the benefits. A population might be better served by strict regulatory intervention to control these living expenses, to limit the vast amount of wealth appropriation occurring at the point of realization. It is not surprising to find there is strong sentiment among the venture capitalists of Silicon Valley to also support basic minimum income proposals. They know their technologies are putting people out of work by the millions and that those millions will not form a market for their products if they have no income."

The call for a guaranteed basic income is a classic example of Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci's understanding that when capitalists have surplus capital and labor they use mass culture and ideology, in this case neoliberalism, to reconfigure the habits of a society to absorb the surpluses.

In the wake of World War II, for example, the capitalists' problem was solved by heavy investments in the military and war industry, ideologically justified by Red baiting and the Cold War, and by massive infrastructure projects, including the building of highways, bridges and houses, to move people out of cities into suburbs, where consumption rose. The social engineering projects were done in the name of national security and progress. And they made the oligarchs of that day richer.

OpEdNews

Chris Hedges - The Oligarchs' "Guaranteed Basic Income" Scam

33 comments:

Matt Franko said...

He’d have to against a JG then too... I told you guys he was an idiot...

Noah Way said...

Beware of geeks bearing gifts.

Kaivey said...

I like him but a basic income is better than nothing at all, I suppose.

Matt Franko said...

Well I don’t like him and think he’s a self-righteous asshole...

Kaivey said...

He's a nice guy.

Ralph Musgrave said...

Obviously excess inequality is wrong, but it doesn't actually have much effect on total sales of billionaire owned corporations. E.g. if inequality increases, that just means more sales of Rolls Royces, champagne, yachts etc rather than more mundane stuff.

Kaivey said...

Selling more champagne, yachts, Rolls Royce's isn't going to keep the local economy alive. It isn't going to help keep the pizza shops and the bars open, or the local double glazing company in businesses, all the things that people need.

In a democracy people have the right to ask for another system. But the media in controlled by the one percent, so fat chance of that.

Calgacus said...

Of Course Hedges & Harvey are basically right. Unlike the Job Guarantee, Basic Income is a scam to make the rich richer. The only good thing about it is that a real one is so stupid and impossible and destructive that one can safely say that it can never be instituted anywhere. But the mirage of one will be held up by con men, and if they institute a fake Basic Income they might well succeed at fleecing the suckers. They often do.

Matt Franko said...

He’ll just say a JG is a BS job that does the same thing...

Matt Franko said...

If they are “fleecing” hen for food and shelter and clothing etc then who cares they will get the same income the next month too... it’s not like they should save the $ otherwise... ie no need for savings if the income is guaranteed...

Calgacus said...

He’ll just say a JG is a BS job that does the same thing.
They are accurately saying that something that is actually BS - basic income - is BS. One can't and shouldn't predict what they would say about something that is not BS - a Job Guarantee. If anything their criticism of Basic Income is evidence that they will think clearly about the JG and say that it is NOT BS. In any case the important thing is not whether people call something BS, it is whether it is BS or not.

Under Basic Income, the rich will fleece the poor, the guaranteed income recipients. That is the guarantee. It won't and can't be enough for food and shelter and clothing, it won't be the same income from month to month. That is another guarantee.

Andrew Anderson said...

They do not support labor unions. KV

What good will labor cartels do when the government-privileged/enabled/subsidized money cartel has automated almost all jobs away?

Andrew Anderson said...

Hey Calcagcus,

Is IOR (interest on reserves) BS? Yes, it is. Are non-negative yields on other inherently risk-free debt of a monetary sovereign BS? Yes, they are.

So it appears that BS can last indefinitely when the banks and rich profit.

Besides, restitution for theft is most definitely NOT BS!



Matt Franko said...

What is David Harvey on the record about a JG?

He should have a position...

Tom Hickey said...

Marxists are opposed to wage labor as expropriative through commodification of labor and pricing labor power in markets.

What is expropriated? The surplus value that is not earned by work. Surplus value is monetized as profit that constitutes owners' share of proceeds by the mere fact of ownership. This gives owners of capital a disproportionate on the real wealth of a society toward whose production they did not contribute through work. It's "passive income," or "economic rent," aka "making money while you sleep."

Marxists don't see this arrangement as fair to workers.

Karl Marx, "Wage Labour and Capital" (1847)Karl Marx, Wage Labour and Capital (1847)

Matt Franko said...

IOW organizational and management skills are worth ZERO to Marxists.... I know....

So Harvey would naturally be against a JG then...

How does he then think shit is going to get done? Evolve from the apes by random chance?

Matt Franko said...

“. It won't and can't be enough for food and shelter and clothing, “

Yes it can... basic food, basic housing and basic clothing, medical, education, etc....

More is produced than is basic... we throw out half our food... $200 for denim jeans, Neil says you can pay 200 for a pair of Wellies which I found a basic pair online at wal-Mart for $15....

Matt Franko said...

Probably HALF of our illustrious "GDP!" is BS overspending for the "designer" brands and "luxury" stuff and sports recreation and leisure ...

We can EASILY guarantee the basics here in the US... then as usual ROW will follow like the disgraced zombies that they are..

Calgacus said...

Yes, these things, providing food and housing and clothing can and have been done. They just can't be done through Basic Income and Hedges and Harvey roughly understand the basic problem. The problem is that real basic income wrecks "the economy", the means by which they can be done, while a JG makes it work better. I'm all for a JG providing non-monetary "basic income" and they might be too. I mean, the human race has experience with these things and it supports what I've been saying. I can't really find anything on Harvey and the JG; he states here that minimum wages and basic income are both inflationary, which is pretty confused. The first conceivably could be I guess, but hardly ever is, while the reverse goes for the second. (David Fields notes this too Some Remarks on MMT & Marxism in Light of David Harvey’s “Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason”)

Arthur Andersen:

What good will labor cartels do when the government-privileged/enabled/subsidized money cartel has automated almost all jobs away?

The GPESMC is not automating jobs away. They are just playing dumb games to parasitize off of everyone else. If anything they are obstructing automation.

It's good that you understand restitution. But the problems you worry about aren't the real ones and you oppose justice and genuine restitution (a JG) in favor of unjust crackpot schemes (UBI). (Sounds so nice until you think about it. Then, well, Neil calls it "theft", I call it "slavery".) If the "restitution" is a universal basic income, the "cure" is worse than the disease. That is what the Bad Guys want: after a UBI wrecks an economy, people will flee into the comparatively safe arms of austerian capitalists (safely collecting high interest on government debt) as restitution for the damage the UBI caused.

And they would be right to, and the austerian neoliberal capitalist oppressors have every right to capitalistically oppress everyone else. After all, they understand what is going on and say so occasionally. If people are morally opposed to oppression, they have a moral obligation to think clearly, listen to other people's arguments and proposals and to criticism of their own ideas. People for progress should fight those against it with their (hopefully metaphoric) guns pointed somewhere else than their own heads. They usually win on the rare occasions they do that.

I mean, think about a tiny society with 10 or even 2 people. Can Basic Income work? Can a JG work? (No and yes are the right answers)

Tom Hickey said...

We can EASILY guarantee the basics here in the US... then as usual ROW will follow like the disgraced zombies that they are..


If not the US, then China.

This is a battle between systems for the minds and hearts of the emerging world, as well as workers and the dispossessed of the developed world.

Andrew Anderson said...

@Calgacus,

1) Neil Wilson is a huge hypocrite to speak against theft since he supports government privileges for private credit creation, i.e. he supports the extension of the PUBLIC'S CREDIT but for PRIVATE GAIN. A more pious hypocrite I've never encountered.

2) A UBI is necessary but not sufficient for proper restitution, i.e. asset redistribution is also called for. You, otoh, would perpetuate wage slavery and call it justice.

Tom Hickey said...

What Calgacus says can be extended beyond the UBI. The left in general is good at diagnosing problem but generally clueless about actual reform in terms of how to get from here to there. Moreover, the historical record of the so-called left is pretty abysmal in terms of creating a society that works for all.

The road to utopia leads through agathopia. Utopia is from the Tree ou (not) and topos (place), meaning nowhere. It can also be read as eu (good) so utopia cal be construed as good place. Agathopia is from Greek agathos, meaning good, and topos. It just means good place.

The road to utopia, the as yet non-existent good place, lies through agathopia as the good society.

The way to start is by moving the present society in the direction of achieving an ideal society through raising collective consciousness as reflected in culture and institutions. See, for example, John Kenneth Galbraith, The Good Society (1996).

Abstract

The subject of this article is the specificity of Peirce’s Agathotopia and the relevance of his thought for the «actual global crisis». charles sanders Peirce preferred to be considered a pragmaticist (cP 5414) and focused on the research of the evolutionary process which leads to the summum bonum where aesthetics, ethics and logics converge into the same purpose, the Wellness (eP 2.27). Locus of Wellness - agathotopia - term used by James edward Meade, nobel Prize award in economics (1977), has come out in the universe of political economy. it would possibly be a model for the construction of a good society to live in, as an ideal place depicted by Thomas Moore’s utopia (1516). according to Peirce, the so-called - Agathotopia - different and original, will not be reduced to a specific and ideal geographical place to live as sought by the utopias, and even less a post-death base as the religions postulate. it would be neither a socio-political nor an economic model to promote the collective welfare in the reality of the existential universe. Peirce’s Agathotopia has been proposed in all his scientific metaphysical architecture, in his realistic philosophy and logic of his objective idealism, in his synechism, into the ongoing semioses between his three categories, and the evolving process of reasonability, a continuous teleological self- corrective movement toward the evolutionary enhancement. if Peirce believes in a dynamic mental loving action (evolutionary love) that tends to the admirable, Fair and True Purpose then he might not be proposing just one more utopia in the history of Philosophy, but Agathotopia for the first time. An tópos to the Summum Bonum.


The Agathotopia of Charles Sanders Peirce
Maria Augusta Nogueira Machado | DIB International Center of Peirce Studies

See also

James E. Meade, Agathopia: The Economics of Partnership

Tom Hickey said...

"Utopia is from the Tree ou (not)" should be "Utopia is from the Greek ou (not)"

Tom Hickey said...

Very careless today.

"Maria Augusta Nogueira Machado | DIB International Center of Peirce Studies" should be Maria Augusta Nogueira Machado Dib | International Center of Peirce Studies".

Andrew Anderson said...

as well as workers and the dispossessed of the developed world. Tom Hickey

A pertinent comment from Naked Capitalism wrt to work and jobs: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/04/gaius-publius-stephen-hawking-on-what-killed-the-world-of-the-jetsons-prelude-to-thoughts-on-a-guaranteed-jobs-program.html#comment-2947774

Matt Franko said...

George Jetson WORKED at Spacely Space Sprockets...

Matt Franko said...

May be better to let the unqualified not even work they will just F something up if a “job” is forced upon them ... iow if they have to do a job they are not qualified to do...

Matt Franko said...

“The left in general is good at diagnosing problem but generally clueless about actual reform”

So you want to force a job onto those people? Idk....

Matt Franko said...

You’d have to be very careful with job assignments....

Andrew Anderson said...

George Jetson WORKED at Spacely Space Sprockets... Franko

Please don't conflate having a job with work. My experience is that quite a few of those who have jobs do net NEGATIVE work.

Andrew Anderson said...

What Calgacus says can be extended beyond the UBI. Tom Hickey

I've seen nothing from MMT advocates wrt euthanizing government privileges for private credit creation, the root of the problem.

Calgacus said...

(1/2)
Andrew Anderson: I've seen nothing from MMT advocates wrt euthanizing government privileges for private credit creation, the root of the problem.

A. There is some relevant stuff here and there, banking reforms, ZIRP proposals etc.

B. The MMT position: This is NOT the root of the problem. At worst it is a tool of oppression.

Please don't conflate having a job with work.

Well, it is important to conflate them most of the time, so I have to say, please DO conflate having a job with work. That's how it is in the real world in 2018.

MMT uses these words the way they are used in English ordinary language which happens to be a wide, philosophical way.

Every animal or living thing does work - to stay alive. Work = Doing stuff, at least for yourself.

Every society has jobs - doing work for someone else, a different individual organism or collective. There isn't much to a society without that. This division of labor happens at different times and is logically impossible without credit=debt=obligations. We very often now use money to measure, to transfer or to be these credit/debt/obligations necessary to the division of labor that gives us goodies.

The comment by David at Naked Capitalism is thoughtful and intelligent, but his statement that " “jobs” and “work” are actually quite recent developments in human history. " is shown to be quite false by the rest of his comment, by MMT usage & what I contend is normal English usage. Those words have to be read rather restrictively for his comments to be true.

The important point is that MMT arguments often operate at the wider, more general level applicable to any society. Worrying about money or capitalists or banks here can just confuse the issues. I would use your preferred choice of words, but I can't until you propose ones for the relevant concepts of job and work.

Calgacus said...

It's good to be concerned with justice, but it's important to think about them, not just support every hare-brained scheme that promises (but cannot deliver) justice.

The "wage-slavery" in the JG is the cooperation, reciprocity and "plays well with others" that is a necessary part of justice, necessary to any society. Kindergarten teachers tell us these are Good Things. I think they are right. Societies without them quickly disintegrate.

"Primitive" societies - like just about every one up to a few centuries ago, thought it crazy to do what modern smartypants societies do: Violate this reciprocity. Ask people to do a job, ask them to participate in the division of labor in order to reap the fruits of division of labor. And then prevent them from doing it. ????

This is because modern societies ARE insane. The solution is to do what everybody does in every other context but modern national economies - if someone in your organization is ready, willing and able to help out. LET THEM. And then they get some of whatever goodies your organization's works creates. This policy makes your nation, family, firm, organization, cult, society, chess club, knitting circle, whatever richer and healthier, not poorer. Many hands make light work. One hand washes the other. etc etc.
This comes from the doing stuff theorem: More stuff can be done by doing stuff, than by not doing stuff.

A UBI is necessary but not sufficient for proper restitution

No, a monetary UBI is the opposite of justice. It's based on observing that parasites have it better than hosts, so why doesn't everybody become a parasite? Masters have it good and slaves don't, so why doesn't everybody become a master?

Essentially, NOT having a monetary UBI, is necessary for justice. Sure, have as big a non-monetary UBI as you can. But if it uses money, it always works out to be slavery, it is stealing somebody else's labor in a hidden way, because that money is used by the UBI recipient, who did nothing for it, to pay for somebody else's labor serving him. If it is not theft, it is something logically impossible - universal parasitism. Or it is a really stupid game, which is really non-monetary and only pretends to be monetary. The government gives you a zillion $ UBI and then takes it away for basic food, shelter and clothing. Why bother? Make cheap things or necessary things free or cheap, easy to work for and get.