Thoughts on universal basic income, since I’m already sitting on my ass far too much

High Arka has some harsh criticisms of UBI, none of which I find particularly objectionable. Swiss voters were probably wise to vote down the recent UBI referendum: well-heeled outsiders may think of Switzerland as a power center of dolce vita wankery (heli-skiing, Davos, chocolate leisure, money laundering), but it also has strong pastoral and skilled crafts traditions whose continuation militates against sitting on ass all fucking day and collecting welfare for a living.

One crude way to look at this is that there will be no one to slave away in the Patek Philippe workshop on behalf of a minority of rich mofos if everyone goes on the damn welfare rolls. Another is that there will be no point to slaving away in the Patek Philippe workshop if the watch money is diverted from the rich to the poor and middling for across-the-board gibs. The latter is quite unlikely, not so much for internal Swiss reasons as because Switzerland launders a stupefying volume of stolen money from the Global South in a time of chronically feeble anti-corruption initiatives in Nigeria. For that matter, #ImWithHer because ours is a time of chronically feeble anti-corruption initiatives in the United States. Seriously, can you imagine what American news outlets would say about an African country governed by the likes of the Clintons? We’d be led to believe that they’re Anthony Rollins meets Aileen Wuornos meets Imelda Marcos. If you’re Joseph Kony, the Western press will vilify you as a warlord. If you’re John Travolta/Smokey Robinson lookalike Muammar Qaddafi, you’ll be vilified as an eccentric, narcissistic butcher. If you’re Hissene Habre, you’ll be reported as a convicted serial rapist, inter alia. If you’re Robert Mugabe, you’ll be smeared as an incompetent economy-wrecker and enemy of free speech. If you’re any number of African leaders, you’ll be presented as a huge crook.

If you’re Hillary Clinton, you’ll be celebrated as a superbly qualified presidential candidate whose time has finally come. Let’s #LeanIn and #RaceTogether. Or, as Monica Lewinsky put it, as a matter of fact, Mr. Holtzclaw, yes, I have sucked white dick before. There is, of course, a huge volume of coarse rhetoric attacking the Clintons online (mostly against Hillary), but little of it comes close to the coarseness of Bill on Rector, Billary on Broderick, or Hillary on Qaddafi. Aren’t Democrats supposed to be supportive of rape victims? I just listed two credible ones. Or maybe Hillary figures that that bimbo will shut up if she knows what’s best for her and that it’s kosher for a mob to forcibly sodomize one’s enemies in the course of summarily executing them.

The key socioeconomic truth of the Clintons is that they’re monsters of new money gaucheness and aggression. This is especially true of Hillary, who has never had her husband’s natural social savvy and disarming charm. Bill lent an air of grace to their self-dealing, craven machinations throughout his presidency. At a glance, he looked refined, cordial, even urbane. He was for several years the most notorious cockhound in American politics, but there was a widespread feeling that he was more decorous about it than the freakish scolds dogging him about his womanizing. It helped that these scolds who gravitated to him inevitably served as foils to his easygoing persona because they were undersexed-looking dorks who couldn’t resist an opportunity to traffic crude, salacious moral panics about adultery, involving a president who had first been elected after he had become an international byword for serial adultery.

Hillary has never had any such subtlety. Looking at Bill superficially, it was easy enough to ignore the substance of his career and imagine that he wasn’t hellbent on slashing his way to the top of the yuppie pile. He cultivated an air of graciousness and decency, and he was an exceptionally smooth operator. Hillary, on the other hand, has always come across as a graceless, balls-to-the-wall cutthroat, contemptuous of anyone who disagreed with her, always looking out for number one. Where Bill hid his moral ugliness behind a solid veneer of good ol’ boy charm, Hillary was a crude, overtly rapacious, vicious, uncompromising, conniving shrew. She was a classic yuppie wife from hell, the sort of bitch who inevitably inspires sympathy for her husband for having to suffer such a wretched woman. Objectively, Bill was a very effective proponent of the yuppie project in his own right, but he was discreet about his own material interests in pursuing it. Hillary jumped out as the bitch who would yell at her husband and deny him sex to force him to buy them all the proper yuppie Veblen goods. Her rapacity has probably been at its most overt in her current run for the presidency, notably in her shameless refusal to release the transcripts of her sinecure speeches to Goldman Sachs. There’s hardly even a nod to statesmanship in that stance; it’s all fuck you, serfs, get back to the plow, biotchim.

These two bottomfeeding shitbirds have grifted tens, maybe even hundreds, of millions of dollars’ worth of corporate and sovereign wealth fund bribes since leaving the White House. It is absurd to describe the serial profanity of their career as public service. This is the couple that rented out the Lincoln Bedroom to high-roller donors. The fury of tone-policing undertaken against “Bernie bros” and company this year is coming from the same political machine that pimped out the presidential palace like the victim in a bad Dick Wolf rape porn fantasy. It takes utter shamelessness for anyone involved with that sleazy racket to lecture other campaigns about gravitas, experience, and respect for the office.

When so much wealth is being looted and amassed by the likes of the Clinton crime family, a reasonable argument can be made that a good portion of this wealth should be expropriated and redistributed to normal, workaday Americans, or perhaps to normal loungeaday Americans. We aren’t the ones using charities as slush funds to launder bribes from foreign kings and business magnates, after all. We aren’t the ones who just claimed victory in a presidential primary while under federal investigation for deliberately mishandling classified information for personal convenience and evasion of FOIA requests. It’s hard to find welfare recipients who are engaged in economic behavior as vile as the Clintons’.

There’s a broader, stronger argument to be made for the UBI or something like it in the United States. This argument is that we have too many fucking hustlers running around, blinding and choking us with their fog machines, and that these miscreants should be given incentives to sit down, shut up, and let people who fill actual economic needs replace them as economic actors. Yes, this is easier said than done. Yes, it would probably clash with human nature, or alternately with American inhuman nature. It’s worth giving some thought nonetheless.

Being friends with a number of insurance salesmen, I’m exposed all too often to obnoxious Type A behavior that frankly 1) should not be rewarded and 2) is generally about as useful as tits on a boar in the operation of a genuinely productive business. If I were, say, on a blueberry harvest crew (and, all else being equal, I wish I were right now), only one thing would be worth fuck-all for my job performance: picking some damn fruit. By this measure, bragging about how I wanted to take the Mercedes out and try the Bluetooth doesn’t pick any damn fruit. That’s pretty much all there is to it. In an extreme case, some dipshit might have trouble picking because that would get in the way of asking me whether my grandfather the Army colonel was a sergeant major, but that’s just another reason not to illegally hire twelve-year-olds. No sir, no “might be” about it; as they say at XO Jane, it happened to me. But, yes, do brag to me about your nesting Veblen goods while I try to hold my own car together with duct tape.

This kind of shit can be infuriating. For one thing, it gives off the vibe that these people can’t help but DLV me in an endless, reflexive campaign to aggrandize themselves. The parts of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that I usually straddle are having Burger King money, hopefully scavenging two or three dozen deposit bottles a day, hiring a prostitute when I can afford one, finding a place to bathe that won’t cover me in filth, somehow keeping my car from breaking down and bankrupting me, and not inhaling aerosolized rat shit all day and night. Recreational travel in Europe and, by God, bragging to an uninterested party about a high-end car and electronics that I don’t have are too high up the pyramid for me. You can chuck your Mercedes with the Bluetooth inside it into the Schuykill River for all I care. I swear, I do not want to hear about that obnoxious shit. Why should I feel happy for someone else because his dad bought him a Mercedes as a graduation gift? I sleep in my Civic and pray that the engine doesn’t go funny and quit on me. I’d feel bad if the California Comet crashed into San Pablo Bay, because that would be an unfortunate waste of a bitchin’ ride. Your Mercedes, though? You have to be a serious fucking class act for me not to want you to shut the fuck up about it and stay shut up. I don’t call people with first-strike news about how I’m on this sweet-ass refurbished New Jersey Transit rolling stock and then sperg out about how it’s handling.

The thing that bothers me about the socioeconomic context of this particular Mercedes is that dude’s father bought it for him but then made a point of telling him that he’d have to work for a living. I don’t want some haut bourgeois scold getting self-righteous about how he makes his kids work for a living insinuating that my parents are out of line to give me money so that I’m living in my car, not on the street, especially when I’ve been doing farm work and young bougie, I infer, is hustling insurance packages to daddy’s golfing buddies. For one thing, I’m pretty sure that one of the reasons my parents have been transferring me money is so that none of us has to sue Joe Dirtbag into compliance with the law. Damned if he isn’t another hustler, although an extremely seedy one.

I don’t like this arrangement, but there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it. The economics of making ends meet by reputably working for a living have gone to shit. This wasn’t my idea. I’d rather not be holed up with my parents for such long stretches; I’ve been staying with them for less than a week this time, and already it’s getting spiritually deadening every few hours. The problem is that the alternative is sleeping in my car again. I spent nine consecutive nights in my car last week, followed by a night on a plane to Chicago. If you think I should rent a longer-term place of my own, feel free to direct me to a low-end landlord who isn’t walking garbage. I’m not interested in being humiliated by nosy slumlord white trash again. Nor, as I mentioned, am I interested in being lorded over by the autosexually aroused.

Let’s say it again: we have too many fucking hustlers in this country. Some sort of UBI-style gibs might put a damper on the bullshit. As Michael O. Church noted in one of his deleted essays (archived on the Wayback Machine), explicit low-end gimmedats concentrate mooches in the lowest, least influential tiers of society, while the smooth gimmedats of professional bullshit artists concentrate mooches in the highest, most influential, most destructive tiers. There’s a ready and eager market for prostitution; there’s a much more tepid market for FIRE sector sharks who drop hints that their friends might want to transfer their future inheritances to old boy financial management vehicles. This is the kind of crass, offensive, obscene self-dealing that American sales cultures teach and nurture. No welfare loafer has ever tried a stunt like that on me.

The tangible wealth to fund this hustling is coming from outside, much of it ultimately from the working poor. Although I’m uneasy with the prospect of encouraging mass indolence, I can’t object too strongly to grabbing some of this hustle money and kicking it back down to the lower ranks, to beneficiaries who aren’t hustling everyone else into the ground. As a society we celebrate worse moral hazards than sitting on fat welfare ass or, in my recurrent case, trying to clean up a deadbeat’s rat infestation without pay.


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