institutions are built, through polarization: it takes a movement of people willing to fight for a big idea over the course of decades.
This is yet another reason why I’m skeptical about basic income: I simply don’t see the movement behind it. It’s intellectually seductive, a lot of people like the idea, but I’ve never met anyone for whom basic income is literally a personal question of life and death.
Basic income is to the social state what the flat tax is to the tax system. It flatters the engineering mind with its apparent simplicity. But in fact it is impossible to implement; it’s also politically suicidal; nobody’s ready to die for it; and even if it existed, it would probably trigger extraordinary political tension and the highest level of inequality in modern Western history.
The fact is that it is not the weight of the tax burden that causes [tax] revolts, but rather the feeling among taxpayers that they do not get anything for their money. People who derive some benefit from a welfare system are its greatest supporters and therefore pay taxes without feeling exploited.
An efficient and stable welfare state must be based on universal social programs, such as health insurance, pensions, and child-support allowances-programs that are directed to all citizens.
— Olof Palme, Swedish Social Democratic Prime Minister, “Employment and Welfare“ speech, 1984