There are three general categories of Objections to the implementation
of a Guaranteed Livable Income.

Number Two: Jobism

Work will set you free
slogan used at entrances to many Nazi concentration camps

Jobism is the belief that jobs are the only solution to poverty and other social problems. Jobism does not question conventional economic definitions of 'productive' so does not differentiate between necessary or unnecessary work, or harmful and beneficial work.

Thus jobism does not recognize unpaid care work, or those who do it, other than to say that if they are in poverty, they need daycare and a good paying job -- or public humiliating and inadequate welfare or private charity until they find one of those 'good' jobs.

Some jobists believe guaranteed income is a right wing plot to dupe poor people. However, to say something is bad because the right wing wants it is like saying families are bad because the right wing says they are pro-family. Should we then put our kids up for adoption and separate from our partners because otherwise we are dupes of a right-wing pro-family agenda? A ludicrous argument. Just as we must define our own families, we must define universal guaranteed livable income.

Even though jobists leaders are against guaranteed income, they can offer no alternative solution to poverty other than the vision of lots of good jobs even though there is overwhelming evidence that this is not possible. The endless demand for Jobs, Jobs Jobs by both the right and the left, has created the situation that when poverty affects people they almost always say "I really want to work and be a productive citizen". People want to be considered 'good' citizens, not bad or lazy because it can be very dangerous to be labelled "unproductive."

(In June 1938, the ‘National Campaign against the Workshy’ resulted in the internment of some 11,000 ‘asocials’ in concentration camps such as Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald. The term ‘asocial’ was applied to tramps, vagrants and the ‘workshy’ on grounds of their lack of productivity and use to society.)

People want to be thought of as productive, without ever questioning the why any paid job is considered good and "productive" regardless of what that job is. So selling junk food and cigarettes is "productive" as it is paid, but looking after your own children is not productive because it is not paid. Jobism means work for work's sake regardless of whether that work is necessary or beneficial. Jobism creates a stunning waste of natural and human resources.

When people demand jobs, they are really demanding money to live with health and dignity. Because Jobists romanticize work, there is a strong taboo against saying: "I don't want to do soul-sucking, life-destroying, health-destroying, nature-destroying work! "

Jobism is the biggest barrier to the implementation of a universal guaranteed livable income.

Jobism ignores most of the work that is done on the planet -- unpaid work -- and simultanerously ignores those who do this work: women. Jobism also ignores that many people cannot take jobs to solve their poverty. They are children, or elderly, or people with disAbilities or people with health problems who make up a huge portion of the world's population.

The biggest blind spot in jobism, however, is the fact that there cannot be more jobs without more consumption.

Jobism also ignores the fact that rising productivity though automation means fewer jobs in the future not more.

"...the economic goal of any nation as of any individual, is to get the greatest results
with the least effort...It is for this reason that men use their ingenuity to develop
100,000 labour saving inventions... The progress of civilization has meant
the reduction of its employment not its increase."

Henry Hazlett, Economics in One Lesson, 1946 pg 70.

Because of this, "progressive" jobists often support the creation or maintenance of good paying government jobs. In effect they want a guaranteed income for the few.

Jobists need to give up their belief in the job fairy and demand a guaranteed livable income for all. The creation of a GLI would actually protect wages and working conditions for necessary and essential work. (See Guy Standing's article "Income security: Why unions should campaign for a Basic Income") Yet, in spite of this, there is an almost inscrutible loyalty to the job system.

Even 'alternative' think tanks like the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Social Planning and Research Council of BC write that a progressive approach to reduce poverty would "emphasize the need for more decent-paying jobs, and would seek to build a full employment economy." (A Bad Time to Be Poor, June 2003, page 39).

Even as people reflexively demand jobs, most people don't dream of spending their lives doing soul-sucking work. They dream of more time to themselves, time to think, to do art, crafts, music, to play, to cook good food, to grow a garden, to spend time with loved ones. People dream of time-off from work, of 'free' time and the fact that people have less and less reveals just how 'un-free' the job system makes us.

"For this 'job', which everybody had congratulated me upon getting, which was
supposed to be so ennobling, which was to make a man of me, was actually
degrading, destructive, and above all useless. It was degrading because it reduced
men to the status of beasts... It was destructive because it reduced a glorious
setting to a black obscenity. And it was useless because the gold, which was
mined at such expense and human cost, was melted into bars and shipped
to Fort Knox in the United States where it was once again confined below ground...
The whole, vast, complicated operation seemed to me to be pointless...
Would we or the nation have been worse if we had stayed drunk all summer?"

Pierre Berton, The Smug Minority


"Workers must stop demanding the privilege of working and unite to obtain a fair standard of living as the right of a citizen."
Steve Brodie, Letter to today's unemployed, 1996


Back to Objection Number One
Next: Objection Number Three