American Consequences - October 2017

But when payday came, I found that after withholdings for federal, state, and city income tax, Social Security, health insurance payments, and pension plan contributions, I netted about $160. I’d been struggling for years to achieve socialism in America only to discover that we had it already. What with the job, I was too busy to be involved with left-wing causes anymore. And truthfully, all causes are boring. They’re a way of making yourself part of something bigger and more exciting, which guarantees that small, tedious selves are what a cause will attract. Plus, I liked my job. I was finding my job to be as big and exciting a thing as my own small, tedious self could handle. And I had begun to notice something else about left-wing causes. Radical leftists claim to seek what no one claims to want. The “collective” has been tried in every conceivable form from the primitively tribal to the powerfully Soviet, and “the people” who are thus collectivized immediately choose any available alternative, whether it’s getting drunk on Indian reservations or getting shot climbing the Berlin Wall. My aging hippie friends were boring, too. They continued to be convinced that everything was going to be shared soon, so they hadn’t gotten jobs. They hadn’t gotten married either, although wives were the one thing that did seem to be getting shared. Occasionally they had kids. These children,

though provided with remarkable freedom from discipline and conformity, didn’t seem to give much thanks for it, or ever say thanks, or please, or even “How are you?” My friends were living the lives of unfettered bohemian artists. Except the lack of fetters seemed to tie them to rent-controlled dumps on New York’s Lower East Side. And where was the art? If I’d had a UBI, I could have afforded to live this life forever. And I could have afforded all the drink and drugs the life entailed. No, worse... I could have afforded much more to drink and far stronger drugs. The short version of the story of my life if there had been a Universal Basic Income of $1,000 a month when I turned 21 is... I’d be dead. And you’d be glad of it. The "collective" has been tried in every conceivable form from the primitively tribal to the powerfully Soviet, and "the people" who are thus collectivized immediately choose any available alternative, whether it's getting drunk on Indian reservations or getting shot climbing the Berlin Wall.

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