Tom Woods interviewed Matt Zwolinski on Matt’s Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) proposal, and Matt’s belief that it is a libertarian proposal. It is worth listening to the discussion if you have an interest on this topic. To make a long story short: if you think the idea is cuckoo, you will only think this all-the-more after listening to several of Matt’s responses. If you think the idea is…libertarian, a critical listen should shake your belief.
I have written a few posts on Matt’s views: certainly regarding his BIG proposal; regarding his concerns about BIG as a libertarian proposal (don’t get your hopes up); also, he suggests libertarians reject the non-aggression principle (which, of course, is necessary if one wants to support BIG).
I have never been very kind or courteous in my writing on these topics; in the interview, Tom is much more a gentleman – a BIGger man than am I. Tom asks many insightful questions, and leaves nothing unturned.
What is BIG? Matt suggests that government cancel all existing welfare-type programs and replace these with a $10,000 annual stipend to every American adult. He suggests that libertarians support this on two grounds:
First, practical: it is more efficient, less costly, and less intrusive than current programs. When Tom points out that simple math suggests that Matt’s proposal is more than twice as expensive as current welfare programs, Matt agrees and then suggests some form of means testing, etc. – which, of course, violates the “less intrusive” aspect of his proposal.
Second, on a moral basis: it is not appropriate to suggest – as some libertarians do – that it is assumed all current titles to property are legitimate unless direct evidence can be provided to the contrary: theft, documented expropriation on an individual level, etc.
Matt admits that figuring out precisely who owes what to who is difficult – if not impossible – practically speaking. Therefore everybody should owe the $10,000 annually to everybody else (I know, I don’t get it either). Matt also admits that his theory would require redistribution across the globe (as the poorest American is better off than the vast majority of the remaining world population) – requiring some kind of world body to establish and enforce (but he doesn’t want to call this global body a “government” – you know, because they will just ask nicely and everyone will voluntarily hand over the $10,000).
I suggest the following with 100% certainty: every single person on the planet has both gained from and been a victim of some form of property injustice somewhere in his past. To attempt to resolve this in any method other than individual property claims based on individual circumstance is the ultimate war of all against all.
There is much more to the interview; but here you have it in a nutshell.