Basic Income: Mandatory participation on trial – part one

Karl Widerquist

Every time you take a breath, you use something you don’t own to meet your needs without asking anyone’s permission and without paying anyone for the privilege. Although you don’t own the atmosphere, you’ve never had to get a job to earn the money to buy the right to use the atmosphere to keep yourself alive. You simply breathe it in as if the free use of a common resource was the most natural thing in the world.

I bet you’d be pretty angry if somebody made a rule dividing the atmosphere into private property without giving you a share large enough to keep you breathing.

I don’t think you’d feel much better if these new owners somehow improved the atmosphere, say, by taking out pollutants or making it more breathable. I don’t think you’d feel much better if atmosphere-access subscriptions were “affordably priced,” so that, only a few people end up begging on the streets for breathing money. I don’t think you’d feel better, if after working for years, saving your money, and investing it wisely, you have the chance to become one of the small portion of people who own enough of the atmosphere to rent breathing rights to other people. 

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