Jordan Peterson & Bret Weinstein: UBI, Rent-Seeking, and Inequality

A Great Joe Rogan Podcast excerpt

by Serban V.C. Enache

Jordan Peterson comments about Inequality and Universal Basic Income. He admits that too much inequality destabilizes the system and should be combated and even admits that a Universal Basic Income would be a good solution in this regard, albeit he loathes the policy itself.

I disagree with Peterson on degeneracy. People who have a drug problem will use their wage and or borrow to buy the drugs and use them, if they lose their wage and the ability to borrow, they will sell stuff from around the house and or resort to stealing.

When British traders brought in opium in Chinese ports, it wasn’t the poor/unemployed that used/bought opium, it was working class people (sailors and burghers).

I’m not saying that the unemployed don’t or can’t use drugs, but it’s folly to believe unemployment pushes people into drug abuse or that the unemployed have an incentive to do drugs more than those who have jobs (and receive wages). I agree, though, the UBI is not a panacea – and the ‘beasts of burden’ nature of humans that Peterson invokes might be better appeased via a (voluntary) Job Guarantee that doesn’t pay bread-crumbs in wages.

Moving on, Peterson makes good observations on the rigged economy and ethics, while Weinstein nails it on austerity and rent-seeking.

“[…] What fraction of the economy is actually crooked, rent seeking, not productive? I fear the answer to that question is an awful large fraction of the economy.” ~Bret Weinstein

YESSS!!!!! Weinstein is spot on with his assumption. Rent-seeking (unearned increment derived from land-values, arbitraj, interest, patents, and political lobbying) is indeed an important part of GDP. It adds no wealth, on the contrary, it privately appropriates wealth (real wealth being the result of collective labor) and concentrates it in the hands of a few. Uncaptured economic rent is a drag on the real economy and it gives rent-seekers tremendous leverage over the vast majority of the population via the financial, economic, and political processes.

“Rent-seeking may, indeed, impose costs to the economy as high, if not higher, than those arising from corruption (narrowly defined).” ~Anthony Ogus, Corruption and Regulatory Structures June 26, 2003.

Again, please watch Rogan’s podcast episode or at least the excerpt. It is worth your time whether you’re on the left, center, or the right.

Serban V.C. Enache is a Romanian journalist and indie author. Though interested in history, politics, and economics, his true passion is for medieval fantasy fiction. He can be reached over Twitter.