Against the “Pragmatic Libertarian Case for the Basic Income Guarantee”

Originally posted on August 15, 2014

Self-styled “Bleeding Heart Libertarian” Matt Zwolinski is out with a new series of essays defending a “basic income guarantee” (BIG). For those who don’t know, a BIG is a program where the government gives everyone, regardless of wealth or income, a set amount of cash every year. Professor Zwolinksi has previously attempted to justify a BIG on philosophical libertarian grounds, which I considered unprincipled. He is now attempting to justify a BIG on “pragmatic” libertarian grounds. I have issues with this line of defense as well.

Zwolinki’s argument for practicality boils down to four claims: that a BIG is cheaper than the current welfare state, a BIG is less paternalistic, a BIG would require a smaller bureaucracy, and a BIG would remove a lot of the opportunities for “rent-seeking” (meaning it would be harder for the rich and powerful to get special treatment). Zwolinski then attempts to brush aside principled libertarian arguments against a BIG by claiming that a libertarian “Utopia is not an option”. Continue reading “Against the “Pragmatic Libertarian Case for the Basic Income Guarantee””

Against “The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income”

Originally posted on on December 6, 2013

Matt Zwolinski, of Bleeding Heart Libertarians fame, has a new post on in which he attempts to defend a so-called “Basic Income Guarantee”, whereby the government pays everyone (or a very large portion of people) a minimum amount of money regardless of employment or any other status, using libertarian principles.

I believe he failed in his endeavour.

Zwolinski’s first defence: A Basic Income Guarantee would be much better than the current welfare state.

This has a simple response: Why should the federal government be taking money by force from anyone, for any reason at all? There are many economic costs associated whenever the government purloins the public, of course; but there are also moral issues involved with theft. Just because a BIG may be less paternalistic and condescending to the poor than the current welfare paradigm, as Zwolinski suggests, does not mean that it just and ethical to do in the first place. Zwolinski provides no defense of why the state has either the right or the obligation to take from some to give to others.

Zwolinski’s second defence: A Basic Income Guarantee might be required on libertarian grounds as reparation for past injustice. Continue reading “Against “The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income””

War is not Peaceful

Originally posted on on July 24, 2011

In the wake of the senseless, monstrous, and completely unjustified attacks that have claimed (so far) over 90 innocent people in Norway, many of them teenagers, there has been a rather disturbing trend in the media’s coverage of the events: to describe Norway as a ‘peaceful country’, or presenting people who express that view unchallenged:

For instance, the Globe and Mail quotes Hillary Clinton in its lead story on Saturday: “This tragedy strikes right at the heart of the soul of a peaceful people”. And from its Saturday Editorial: “For decades Norway has done far more than its share in spreading goodwill around the world. […] The world owes a debt of gratitude to Norway.”

Here is also the Toronto Star, in an article trying to determine the cause of the attacks: “If there were a peace capital of the world, it would be Norway.”

Others, including the National Post and the Toronto Sun (not to mention international media), are also equally surprised that anyone could have targeted Norway for any reason. But is this sheer and utter bewilderment at all justified? Continue reading “War is not Peaceful”