Work may define who we are less now than in the past (because we have more free time) but work still provides powerful positive attributes that define our character. There is currently a debate raging on whether or not to make work (providing financially for yourself and your family) optional.
Charles Murray (a well-respected scholar) recently wrote a surprising article supporting Universal Basic Income (UBI) instead of the current welfare system.
I’ve read about UBI before but always dismissed the notion as a wrong-headed, hair-brained socialist idea. But Charles frickin’ Murray now endorses it! UBI is still a bad idea on a cultural basis, from a practical standpoint and for profound moral reasons. Here’s a good break down from National Review:
That article argues that Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a terrible idea not only because it’s extraordinarily impractical (there’s no way it would work) but more importantly, on a philosophical principals basis, it should be rejected. It would fundamentally shift our character as a nation downward. UBI would re-define the relationship between people and the State by elevating Government to the role of provider.
Here’s another article from Thomas Sowell ridiculing the idea that government should relieve people of the necessity of work and personal responsibility.
UBI proponents argue:
- Guaranteed income would be better for people
- Technology will soon make work go away
- We should eliminate the social norm of ‘everyone should work if they can’ because in a wealthy society, everyone should be able to live a life of leisure if they want
Well, those are all weak arguments for the reasons set forth in the Oren Cass article:
- It would not be better for people – poor and uneducated Americans are facing a social crisis – not economic. UBI would change economic incentives and cultural norms that promote dependence over self-reliance and replace accountability with entitlement.
- Technology will not make work obsolete. Prior technological revolutions eliminated jobs but people found new productive vocations. Work is valuable in and of itself and undermining it based on the possibility that there will be less jobs is senseless preemptive self-sabotage as Cass puts it.
- Work is a virtue, indolence is vice. Work gives meaning, structure and stability to life. It fosters the corollary virtues of responsibility, perseverance and industriousness. Even if some dictator decided that everyone can live a life of leisure if desired, it’s immoral to impose this at gunpoint. Somebody has to pay for it.
Government has no money. It must confiscate wealth from some people in order to transfer it to others. A UBI system would undermine constitutional private property rights and create a lazy society of irresponsible, dependent people. Personal responsibility is a crucial to our strong character. We all have a natural tendency to want to play instead of work, which must be resisted with self- discipline. As John Denver sings, I’d play Sally Goodin all day if I could but the Lord and my wife wouldn’t take it very good, so I fiddle when I can and I work when I should…..
Work is a good old-fashioned, traditional, sturdy value that should not be legislated down to a choice.
Engaging in estate planning, like work, means embracing personal responsibility. If Government becomes financially responsible for all people it would not only make my estate planning law practice less vital, it would also cost us (the mass affluent) plenty because we bear the burden of wealth redistribution efforts. You don’t need a guaranteed Government hand-out and for there to be one for everyone, it would come out of your pocket. Work and personal responsibility are bedrock foundational elements of your Estate Planning War Chest.