With Safety Nets, Framing Matters

  • Charity steals dignity.
  • Inheritance gives dignity.
  • Charity makes you feel like an outsider
  • Inheritance makes you feel like you belong.
  • Charity makes you want to hide.
  • Inheritance makes you want to engage the world.
  • Charity makes you resent those who have been luckier than you’ve been.
  • Inheritance allows you to have better luck.
  • Charity makes you think about yourself.
  • Inheritance makes you want to leave even more to the next generation.
  • Means-tested charity discourages productive behavior.
  • Inheritance provides the means for productive behavior.
  • Charity singles you out as a special-need case.
  • Inheritance is given equally to all.
  • Charity is REACTIVE and makes you feel like a burden.
  • Inheritance is PROACTIVE, and makes you feel like you’ve been entrusted with responsibility.

A natural inheritance (in the form of a basic income) is a much better way to provide a safety net than is means-tested welfare. It would make the poor MORE productive; it would keep everyone out of poverty; it’s easy to afford (I’m working the numbers now [1]); and it’s only fair. We weren’t there for the initial land grab where some people’s ancestors grabbed an out-sized share of the natural inheritance and cut everyone else out.

Families take care of each other and cut their members in on their inheritance. Tribes take care of each other and share mother nature’s natural inheritance. Why shouldn’t nations (and especially extremely wealthy nations) do the same?

(Not to mention the fact that we have to find a way to share the profits better anyway as machines continue to drive down the value of human labor.)

[1] For Ed Dolan’s discussion of the matter, read his two part post: The Economic Case for a Basic Income