Long live the citizenship income! And whoever opposes it has a very specific name

by Riccardo Mastrorillo

In recent days there has been a lot of talk about the controversy started by the Neapolitan pizza chef who complained of not finding people willing to work. The controversy has mounted and many have identified in the Basic income the cause of the lack of willingness to work.

Citizenship income, done correctly, is typically and deeply a form of welfare liberal. In the 1980s it was among the proposals of Dahrendorf and, even, of the poet of liberalism Milton Freedman, who called it “negative taxation on income”. One of the indirect consequences of this form of social assistance is precisely that of prevent the race to the bottom in wages: the closer the proposed salary is to the amount of the citizen’s income, the more difficult it will be to find people willing to work for that salary.

Because the market only works if it has rules. A case in point concerns tenders: in the case of the maximum discount, the promoter of the contract can exclude the company that made the lowest bid, if it is not able to satisfy the rules on workers’ rights.

We will not be among those who tackle this issue with the approach of football fans: we believe the accusation, more or less veiled, made in general to the category of restaurateurs of being tax evaders, of preferring nero or to be crafty. We still believe, as liberals, that not “categories”, but people can be accused and, if the allegations are supported by evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, condemned. We believe, as liberals, that also in this field rules must be established to help everyone adhere to the principles of fairness and correctness. Many believe they must evaluate others through a “judgment” about adherence to those values, we who shun “judgments” and oppose the “censors” prefer to promote criteria and methods that facilitatehonesty, even before imposing sanctions for those who are not honest.

Today we claim with some satisfaction that we have always defended this imperfect, but ultimately useful, tool of social assistance: long live the citizenship income! We are not interested in the statistics of the use of black in a commercial category, our goal is to promote correct tools that can reduce the use of black payments as much as possible, such as reducing the use of cash.

It is not surprising that some political forces, in recent days, have lashed out against the “slackers of citizenship income “: they are the same ones that vigorously opposed any rule that would reduce the use of cash; are the same forces that propose an illiberal taxation system e unconstitutional; these are the same forces that faced with a proposal, however badly styled, to restore a rag of inheritance tax they responded with an outcry. These political forces have a name and a very specific political culture of reference: reactionaries!

They are the self-styled liberalists who would not want to pay taxes, raving about a “minimal” state, but who expect the state to pay them a subsidy for inactivity resulting from the pandemic. They are the “well-thinking” who in the name of nationalism they believe that it is enough to go back to the lira to be richer, forgetting the fact that Italy has a very heavy public debt, or perhaps believing that that debt should not be honored. They are the “anti-statists”, it would be more correct to say “anti-state”, who scream angrily at the weight intolerable of the tax levy: the highest in Europe, forgetting that Italy also has the sad record of the highest tax evasion.

But there are also other enemies of the liberal social system, who have always viewed with apprehension the introduction of citizenship income, they prefer to call it “unemployment benefit”: part of the trade union and a part of the right-thinking post-Marxists. They too are reactionaries, equal to the others, they prefer the layoffs, to be achieved with a negotiation, to an automatic universal welfare. They prefer cash over digital payments, so as not to be “extorted” or, worse, “controlled” by the banks. They prefer the state to reduce social security contributions or retire their grandparents first, rather than demanding an efficient nursery for everyone. They prefer to lower tuition fees at universities rather than requiring that the capable and deserving, without means, the state provide really the tools to study.

We look to the right or to the left: we meet reactionaries, and, unfortunately, the most reactionary of all are often convinced that they are liberals …

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