Where are all the lazy people?
I have been discussing universal basic income with my friends, that is an income that is paid to each individual just for being a person of worth and living in a civilized country that has been building up it's capital assets to a size where they can afford to start paying the people back for their generations of back breaking work and blood that has been spilled. There are various reasons given for why they are uncomfortable with the idea, the first being can we afford it which is certainly worth debating, however the real objection that they keep coming back to is that it will make lazy people lazier.
Which is a sentiment that I completely agree with, the last thing I would want is to enable people to waste their lives. I can think of nothing worse, I love life and all the opportunities that it gives me to grow as a being of consciousness, I love embracing the experiences that it offers me. I must admit that I do not think that every job gives you the chance to experience life to it's fullest, and when I had the chance to buy assets that provided an income for my lifestyle, I took it and I enjoy having a cash machine that enables me to do fun things like write articles about Stoicism (I know it sounds strange to work hard to buy an income to enable me to then work harder for shorter amounts of time, but work is satisfying even when you do not have to) and I want other people to have the same opportunity which basic income gives a shortcut to.
The difference between living in a state of scarcity and abundance is astonishing, life changing and actually makes you into a more productive person as you are not spending so much of your energy on stressing about money and it enables you to take more risks. Which is what you need to build a modern economy, you need people willing and able to take risks, especially in an increasingly entrepreneurial world. However I am willing to accept that maybe not everyone is the same as me, though I am pretty sure that I am the laziest person I know, it is almost the prerequisite for being a writer, the ability to sit, read and think (which looks an awful lot like sitting in a comfortable chair and doing nothing), so I am not really in a position to be calling other people lazy.
Instead I asked my friends, family and even people in the coffee shops where I do some serious thinking in, whether they know any lazy people. They assure me that they definitely exist but they do not personally know them. Though we certainly agree that there are people who are not economically active, there are plenty of homeless people around, unfortunately they tend to be people who have mental illness, drug and various addiction problem, which whilst meaning they are not productive, does not mean they are lazy as such. There are also people who are living on medical welfare, but again the illness part seems to rule out them out as purely lazy, and those are the people I am looking for.
There are teenagers but if anything the young seem a lot keener and involved than they were in my day, as I recall the summer holidays was a long party of late night drinking and hay rolling, but now it is filled with community work and engaging activities. If anything I would be in favor of a bit more laziness, doing nothing and being bored, or we might lose an entire generation of new writers. On the other hand there are a few people who end up in their mother's basements, who disengage with society in an unhealthy way, but would you want to end up like them, is that the reason we are not paying a basic income to stop people from having the choice to live in basements. If anything living there would seem to be a punishment for failure in and of itself, it is not something I would aspire to and I am pretty sure that all the social pressure around them is pushing them back out into the world and it seems to me like a little income would enable them to reengage with the world rather than reinforcing their behavior.
In many cases they fell into the trap of disengaging with the world because of their lack of money in the first place, but even if we found the perfectly lazy person which seems like a remote possibility to me. Are there any circumstances where you would want to be that person, someone isolated with no enjoyment in life and no interest. As when you have enjoyment and interest you can not help but end up being productive and engaged, but let's assume someone is stubborn and foolish enough to want a lazy life, they would be so rare that the cost of carrying them would be less than one percent of the cost of basic income and unintentionally they would be doing us the service of being examples of how not to live your life.
These mythical creatures would become the warning stories that mothers tell their children about to scare them into doing their homework. They would be the motivation to get up in the morning because you do not want to end up like Uncle Loser, and they would be incredibly noticeable in the new economy because everyone would have the same basic income and start in life that was not dependent on who your parents happen to be. The difference between those who are make an effort and make things happen in their lives, would be become more apparent, when the differential between those on welfare and those working change from being marginal to double, triple the income even on minimum wage. There will be no doubt of the benefit of being economically productive and socially active, we will be able to recognize the difference easier and social pressure will be even stronger on those who withdraw.
Of course, this useful social function will only be fulfilled if we can find some of these lazy person, so please keep an eye out for them, ask around if anyone you know is lazy and even ask if they know anyone who knows where all these lazy people are hanging around, because so far I have failed to find any. Good luck in your search.