Conservatives need the basic income if they want to survive politically in the 21st Century. In fact, basic income will be necessary to preserve both conservative political thought and the traditional societies that conservatives claim to value.
Conservatives need basic income because technology is killing vast numbers of jobs. Cashiers, for example, are fast becoming an endangered species.
Notably, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is planning to open 20,000 of its Go cashier-less convenience stores. Indeed, Go stores are opening in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Moreover, Amazon is testing a small-sized Go that will fit into places like office buildings, airports, big box stores, motels, train stations, apartment houses, and truck stops in Seattle. After convenience, dollar stores; one of the fastest-growing retail businesses in America, are Amazon’s next logical target.
Conservatives Need Basic Income Because Technology is Killing Jobs
Conservatives need basic income because cashiering is one of the most plentiful jobs in America.
In detail, there were around 3.565 million cashiers in the United States in 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates. Additionally, the BLS calculates the average cashier makes around $10.11 an hour or $21,030 a year.
Nor are all cashiers as poor as many people think. The BLS estimates that some cashiers; those in natural gas distribution, make up to $42,570 a year or $20.47 an hour. In particular, cashiers in local and local government make $14.88 to $15.90 an hour.
Moreover, cashiering is an easy job to get that does not require much education. In particular, cashiering is often the only job undereducated working-class women can find.
Logically, the cashiers in the most danger of being replaced by automation are the highest-paid ones. To explain, executives will get the greatest savings by eliminating the highest-paid jobs first.
Okay, the pay is not great but many families rely upon the income from a cashier’s job to augment their income. Thus, many families will sink deeper into poverty; when Amazon and its competitors open cashier-less stores in every town in America.
Conservatives need Basic Income because Robots are killing jobs now
Conservatives need basic income because cashiers will not be alone in the lines at the food banks. Robotization threatens many working-class jobs; including janitor and stock clerk.
For instance, Walmart (NYSE: WMT); America’s largest retailer, will test robot janitors in 360 stores in January. Interesting Engineering reports Walmart will test 360 robotic floor cleaners in 2019.
Plus, Walmart is already deploying stock checking robots in stores. To clarify, the stock robots roll up and down the aisles scanning shelves and checking inventory levels. However, humans still stock the shelves after the robot checks them.
Conversely, the stock robots can replace higher-paid managers in Walmart stores. Thus, another higher-paying job will vanish from Walmart stores.
Conservatives should worry because Walmart has a history of killing jobs with technology. For instance, Walmart replaced 7,000 accounting clerks with cash recycling machines in 2016.
Conservatives need Basic Income because Technology kills Middle-Class Jobs
Conservatives should be frightened because automation and robots are systematically wiping out working and middle-class jobs.
Oil and gas drilling; one of President Donald J. Trump’s (R-New York) favorite businesses, provides a perfect example of robots killing jobs. To clarify, around 700 Americans worked on 195 oil and gas drilling rigs in 2015.
However, in 2017, there were 172 people working on 192 oil and gas rigs. Thus, five out of seven jobs on oil and gas rigs vanished in just two years. The job killer is a new class of robots called “iron roughnecks” that do most of the work on the rigs, Scott Santens writes in Futurism.
The amount of jobs involved is tiny but lucrative. For instance, the average salary for an oil and gas rig equipment operator is $60,900 a year, Chron.com estimates.
Conservatives need basic income because technology threatens middle-class jobs
Hence, the jobs most threatened by technology are those most likely to elevate a family to middle-class status.
Technological unemployment is a direct threat to conservatism; because modern conservatism is a middle-class movement. To clarify, conservatism needs a large and growing middle class to provide voters.
For instance, American conservatism was at its height in the 1980s and 1990s; when the middle class made up 59% and 56% of the US population. Notably, the 1980s produced the Reagan Revolution; and the 1990s a long-lasting Republican majority in Congress.
On the other hand, the middle class shrank to 52% of the population in 2016, Pew Research estimates. Markedly, 2016 was the year President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) lost the popular vote in the presidential election.
Conservatives Need Basic Income to Win Elections
Tellingly, Republicans lost the popular vote in four of the five presidential elections held; so far in the 21st Century. To explain, Roper estimates that only one Republican; George W. Bush (Texas) in 20014, won a majority of the vote in those contests.
Importantly, Pew estimates the middle-class shrank by 2% from 54% in 2001 to 52% in 2016. In addition, Republicans lost their U.S. House of Representatives majority and faced competitive opponents in numerous red state elections in 2018.
For instance, Democrats won a House seat in Oklahoma; captured the governor’s office in Kansas, and forced a run-off election in a U.S. Senate race in Mississippi. Notably, all three states are supposedly bastions of conservatism where the middle-class is disappearing.
Conservatives need basic income because lack of middle-class status drives voters to Democrats
Moreover, there is evidence the lack of middle-class status drives voters to Democrats. The average median household income in the United States in 2017 was $61,372, the Census Bureau estimates.
Yet that average median income for African American households was $40,258, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation estimates. Notably, Pew Research estimates 84% of African-Americans “identify” as Democrats.
Hence, Republicans and conservatives need a growing and inclusive middle class to win elections. Yet, Pew reports the middle class is shrinking.
Conservatives Need Basic Income to Survive
Therefore, conservatives will need policies that strengthen and expand the middle class to survive. Without a strong middle class, voters will turn to those willing to expand government and redistribute wealth.
For instance, a rising star of the new Congress is U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York). Ocasio-Cortez is a self-described “democratic socialist” who defeated longtime liberal Democrat Joseph Crowley in a June primary in the Bronx.
Conservatives will need proposals to counter politicians like Ocasio-Cortez. Such democratic socialists are succeeding because the Trump agenda of immigrant bashing and tariffs is not winning over the American people.
The basic income is a logical alternative to both the failed Trump agenda and the massive expansion of government Ocasio-Cortez and her ilk want. For instance, such socialistic notions as a jobs guarantee are being floated on Capitol Hill by prospective presidential candidates.
Conservatives Need Basic Income because it has Conservative Roots
The basic income is a good alternative because it has conservative roots. Notably, basic income’s most famous American supporter was superstar economist Milton Friedman, the father of conservative American economics. To clarify, Friedman promoted a basic income he called “the negative income tax.”
Friedman promoted basic income because he admitted the free market could not meet everybody’s needs. Unlike today’s conservatives; Friedman viewed the free market as an efficient economic system, not a magic wand that would solve all of society’s problems.
For instance, Friedman understood that the free market will not automatically; or equitability, distribute the fruits of capitalism. Hence, Friedman believed in wealth redistribution through a basic income.
History Teaches Conservatives Need Basic Income
“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs you would not hear of that party again in our political history.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower.
American conservatism (and American capitalism) survived the 20th Century because earlier generations of conservative leaders understood the limitations of capitalism. For instance, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R-Kansas) supported Social Security increases, high-income taxes, and massive public works projects in the 1950s.
In contrast to today’s “conservatives,” Eisenhower understood that an effective conservative movement needs a strong middle class supported by a robust welfare state. Eisenhower’s pupil President Richard M. Nixon (R-California) went even farther.
For instance, Nixon proposed basic income and single-payer healthcare (Medicare for all). Interestingly, Nixon won one of the greatest landslides in American presidential history in 1972. Notably, Nixon won 520 of 537 electoral votes and the widest margin of any president in the popular vote.
History is clear conservatives need policies like basic income to win elections. If conservatives do not embrace the basic income, they will find themselves in the ash heap of history.