If Zuckerberg Wants a Universal Basic Income, He Should Pay for It

DAVID UNSWORTHDuring his recent commencement address at Harvard University, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made national headlines by calling for a universal basic income. “Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract. We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful.”

It is rather amusing to see the head of one of the world’s largest corporations, a quintessential capitalist if you will, extolling the virtues of a socialist pipe dream.

I, for one, would like to encourage Zuck to practice what he preaches, by putting his own philosophy into practice at Facebook. I can imagine it now. Zuckerberg strolls into the next meeting with his hard-charging Silicon Valley employees and announces some changes: “We are no longer going to measure progress here at Facebook by economic metrics like quarterly earnings, advertising revenue, or stock price. Rather…what I really care about from now on is ensuring that my employees believe that they have meaningful roles here.”

Call me a naysayer, but somehow I doubt that such a policy would foster a productive environment at Facebook, or any other corporation.

Zuckerberg further explains that, “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.”

Sounds all well and good. The harsh reality, however, is that the vast, vast majority of human beings out there are not Mark Zuckerberg. In the neo-Marxist, politically correct, social justice mentality that has proliferated in America today, every one is equal…the only differences in achievement are due to the cruel injustices that society brings upon individuals. Why…if only we had a universal basic income, then everyone could aspire to be the CEO of a $100 billion technology company, or an astronaut, or a baseball player, or a doctor, or a community activist, right?

Enter…big government, to make Zuck’s egalitarian, socialist dreams a reality. If only big government, under the control of benevolent and virtuous technocratic bureaucrats could redistribute wealth as they saw fit, taking it from greedy heartless capitalists and giving it to the less fortunate, we would eternally level the playing field, providing equality of opportunity to all!

Zuckerberg would be well-advised to heed the recent example of one of the world’s most advanced (and egalitarian) economies: Switzerland. The tiny prosperous Alpine nation, hardly a bastion of ultra-libertarianism, soundly rejected a measure that would have introduced a monthly basic income of $2,500 swiss francs (USD $2,555) per person, by the astounding margin of 77% to 23%.

The measure was opposed across the political spectrum, by every single parliamentary party in the nation.

Fortunately, the Swiss people had the good sense to reject the sheer lunacy of the proposal, something that apparently

What would be the end result of a universal basic income? My prediction: an alarming increase in really bad music, poetry, fiction, finger painting, and unwatchable YouTube videos.

For one to think that the answer to solving society’s ills is to distribute large sums of money, is to completely be a stranger to human nature.

No good will come of paying people to not work.

As Luzi Stamm of the Swiss Peoples’ Party noted, “Theoretically, if Switzerland were an island, the answer is yes. But with open borders, it’s a total impossibility, especially for Switzerland, with a high living standard…If you would offer every individual a Swiss amount of money, you would have billions of people who would try to move into Switzerland.”

If Mark Zuckerberg believes that a universal basic income is a good idea, he should put his money where his mouth is. With an estimated net worth of USD $63 billion, Zuck would be ill-equipped to fund such a program nationwide; but it would be well within his means to fund such a pilot program in a small US state or city.

So Zuck…my challenge to you: If a univeral basic income really is the answer, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is? Fund such a pilot program in Delaware or Bakersfield or South Dakota or Olympia. Then after five years let’s determine the success of your brilliant avant-garde thinking via objective measures.

Don’t get your hopes up though.

If you pay people to do nothing…they will generally do nothing.