Of course, basic human solidarity demands that anyone who is old, sick, disabled or otherwise unable to work should be provided for at society’s expense, with their medical care fully covered and living expenses provided at union wage scales. This can easily be paid for by reallocating funds from the oppressive military budget and by taxing corporate profits. This policy should be combined with a guarantee of a job for all who are able to work.
Lately, some have promoted the notion of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). To the extent that a UBI were funded by redistributing wealth from those at the top to those below – a principle that is by no means guaranteed by the concept – a UBI could be a positive reform. But a UBI is no substitute for a guarantee of jobs for all. Why not?
First and foremost, labor is power. The only power that can counter the concentrated riches of the ruling oligarchs is the collective organization of millions of every-day working people, who, as it happens, produce all of society’s wealth. The root of working class power is the fact that the labor of millions of people generates the riches enjoyed by those at the top, as well as the considerably smaller share currently allocated to the majority. By withholding their labor en mass, working people have ultimate veto power over any government policy. Guaranteeing jobs for all strengthens the ties of working people to production, maximizing the number participating in the labor force and, thus, the number who have a hand on the lever of society’s productive apparatus. A UBI by itself, by contrast, does nothing to reinforce people’s connection to work – that is, to the fundamental engine of wealth creation.
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