In a recent Gallup poll, 70
percent of American workers said they were not engaged with their jobs, or were
By AARON HURST
New York Times
APRIL 19, 2014
Essentially we’re just asking
people to think about the world they live in. We would hope that people would
question a system that can land a spacecraft on a comet millions of miles away
but can’t figure out the three-day week or eradicating poverty on this planet.
We don’t want to tell people they have to feel bad about these things, we just
want people to realize that everyone’s in the same boat, and we want to ask
people to act collectively, to demand better things.
spokesperson from STRIKE!
Paul Solman: What was the most
trenchant objection you heard when you came out with that book 10 years ago?
Charles Murray: The ordinary
objection to the guaranteed basic income is first, work disincentives. There
are answers to that. You have a very high cutoff point, whereby people have to
start losing their stipend. So I made the cutoff point $25,000 in income that
you get to make or keep.
It could be higher. This is a
matter of the details. It’s absolutely essential that you allow people to get
jobs and keep hold of their money for a substantial amount of money. Another
important objection is that you’re just going to have people go out and use the
money for a get-together and rent a house on a remote beach in California and
surf their lives away.
Paul Solman: And smoke dope.
Charles Murray: My reaction to
that is, so what? We have a huge problem with people dropping out of the
workforce right now. It’s not going to be any worse [with a guaranteed income].
And in fact, it’ll be better because I think we’re going to make it much more
visible to people that they can have a middle class life if they combine some
work with the basic income.
So there are lots of reasonable
objections to a guaranteed basic income. There are lots of ways you can do it
wrong, where it’ll make matters much, much worse than they are now. My argument
is that you can do it right and avoid all the obvious pitfalls.
What’s Wrong with the Current
Paul Solman: What’s an example of
doing it wrong?
Charles Murray: Doing it wrong
would be to add a guaranteed basic income onto the current system. Then you
have all of the defects of the current system, all the ways the government
stage manages people’s lives, all the ways in which they have incentives to
game the system, and you add on just a whole bundle of cash to that.
Paul Solman: And I know, having
read you for years, that part of your objection to the current system is the
sprawl of the bureaucracy and costs that don’t actually benefit anybody but the
people who have the jobs.
Charles Murray: In a sense, I’ve
always taken the view that saving money isn’t a big deal with this. It’s nice
if we don’t pay bureaucrats that aren’t doing anything useful. It’s nice if we
save some of that money.
But what I’m talking about is
going to be expensive. It’s actually now not going to be as expensive as the
. When I wrote “In Our Hands” in 2004, I calculated the cost
of that system would cross with the costs of the existing system in 2011, and I
Libertarian Charles Murray: The welfare state has denuded our civic culture
BY CHARLES MURRAY April 10, 2014