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An example of the dangers of a government provided basic income

In my post ‘Governments and Basic Income: Why they don’t go together’ I discussed the dangers of relying on a basic income provided by the government. Specifically I mentioned the following:

If every individual’s universal right to life isn’t respected (in the broadest sense possible) then no amount of free money will be able to save them from abuse.

In fact, introducing a basic income in the current anti-social system can even be VERY DANGEROUS when the government decides on that income — making the individual even more dependent on the government for their basic human needs.

Once most individuals in society get comfortable receiving a basic income from the government and get to heavily rely on it for their survival, they’ll be even easier to control and manipulate by the government and the financial elite who control the money supply in society.

[…] In this way individuals in society can easily be manipulated and their thoughts and behavior can easily be controlled. Just look at how difficult it is for most people who work for governments worldwide to speak up against their governments, afraid of the repercussions and of losing their jobs/income.

And if you want a good example of how bad things can get, you just have to look at what’s happening in China today.

The Chinese government is in the process of introducing a system that will enable them to maintain a ‘citizen score’ that will “incentivize ‘good’ behavior”:

This society may seem dystopian, but it isn’t farfetched: It may be China in a few years. The country is racing to become the first to implement a pervasive system of algorithmic surveillance. Harnessing advances in artificial intelligence and data mining and storage to construct detailed profiles on all citizens, China’s communist party-state is developing a “citizen score” to incentivize “good” behavior.

While the Chinese government has long scrutinized individual citizens for evidence of disloyalty to the regime, only now is it beginning to develop comprehensive, constantly updated, and granular records on each citizen’s political persuasions, comments, associations, and even consumer habits. The new social credit system under development will consolidate reams of records from private companies and government bureaucracies into a single “citizen score” for each Chinese citizen. In its comprehensive 2014 planning outline, the CCP explains a goal of “keep[ing] trust and constraints against breaking trust.” While the system is voluntary for now, it will be mandatory by 2020. Already, 100,000 Chinese citizens have posted on social media about high scores on a “Sesame Credit” app operated by Alibaba, in a private-sector precursor to the proposed government system. The massive e-commerce conglomerate claims its app is only tracking users’ financial and credit behavior, but promises to offer a “holistic rating of character.” It is not hard to imagine many Chinese boasting soon about their official scores.

While it isn’t yet clear what data will be considered, commentators are already speculating that the scope of the system will be alarmingly wide. […] Well beyond the realm of online consumer purchasing, your political involvement could also heavily affect your score: Posting political opinions without prior permission or even posting true news that the Chinese government dislikes could decrease your rank.

Even more worrying is that the government will be technically capable of considering the behavior of a Chinese citizen’s friends and family in determining his or her score. For example, it is possible that your friend’s anti-government political post could lower your own score. Thus, the scoring system would isolate dissidents from their friends and the rest of society, rendering them complete pariahs. Your score might even determine your access to certain privileges taken for granted in the U.S., such as a visa to travel abroad or or even the right to travel by train or plane within the country. One internet privacy expert warns: “What China is doing here is selectively breeding its population to select against the trait of critical, independent thinking.”

And let me stress that this isn’t hypothetical anymore as the Chinese government is already moving ahead with implementing the above. One of the first things that they’ll implement is denying citizens with low scores access to public transportation:

THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT will implement the latest phase of its Black Mirror-esque Social Credit System on 1 May, which will see citizens who have a poor social-credit rating barred from planes and trains.

It comes as China’s government has led a concerted push to remove internet anonymity from mobile phone and social networks so that anyone online can be identified online at all times by the authorities. This is in addition to the country’s firewall, which restricts access to websites outside of China that its government doesn’t want Chinese citizens to see and use. Blocked websites include search engines, foreign media and social media websites outside of the Chinese government’s control.

China’s government hopes that by adopting a combination of punishment and reward it can keep its people in-line – and the Communist Party of China in power indefinitely.

Here’s an example of how this affects citizens in China:

For the Chinese Communist Party, social credit is an attempt at a softer, more invisible authoritarianism. The goal is to nudge people toward behaviors ranging from energy conservation to obedience to the Party. Samantha Hoffman, a consultant with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London who is researching social credit, says that the government wants to preempt instability that might threaten the Party. “That’s why social credit ideally requires both coercive aspects and nicer aspects, like providing social services and solving real problems. It’s all under the same Orwellian umbrella.”

Chinese people who have been branded untrustworthy are getting the first glimpse of what a unified system might mean. One day last May, Liu Hu, a 42-year-old journalist, opened a travel app to book a flight. But when he entered his name and national ID number, the app informed him that the transaction wouldn’t go through because he was on the Supreme People’s Court blacklist. This list—literally, the List of Dishonest People—is the same one that is integrated into Zhima Credit. […]

Although Liu hadn’t signed up for Zhima Credit, the blacklist caught up with him in other ways. He became, effectively, a second-class citizen. He was banned from most forms of travel; he could only book the lowest classes of seat on the slowest trains. He could not buy certain consumer goods or stay at luxury hotels, and he was ineligible for large bank loans. Worse still, the blacklist was public. […]

The way Zhima Credit is designed, being blacklisted sends you on a rapid downward spiral. First your score drops. Then your friends hear you are on the blacklist and, fearful that their scores might be affected, quietly drop you as a contact. The algorithm notices, and your score plummets further.

Now imagine how easy it would be for such a government that was also providing a basic income to its citizens to manipulate their citizens based on that basic income that they depended on. If they can deny citizens access to things like public transportation based on their ‘citizen score’, they can also deny those citizens (part of) their basic income depending on how ‘good’ their behavior is. So if you were too critical and thinking too independently, you could very easily be denied your basic income, and this could be a serious problem especially if you were brought up to be dependent on the government and to (heavily) rely on the income they provided.

The freedom of a human being is lacking if his or her needs are controlled by others, for need may lead to the enslavement of one person by another. […] Whoever possesses […] the income on which you live, possesses your freedom, or part of it. […] Whoever possesses the means of fulfilling your needs controls or exploits you, and may enslave you despite any legislation to the contrary. Muammar al-Qaddafi in The Green Book

What’s getting implemented in China right now is basically a more modern form of slavery; it’s taking the current anti-social system of enslavement that’s already implemented worldwide to the next level. And this might soon be implemented all over the world. For example, we already have the untrustworthy hypocrite Mark Fuckerberg calling for a universal basic income in the USA, all while abusing people’s data on his Facebook social media platform to manipulate their behavior and speech, much like what’s going on in China. Not to mention that Fuckerberg even wanted to integrate censorship tools into Facebook for the Chinese government. It seems that still too many people aren’t paying attention to what George Orwell warned us about in his book ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.


  1. Learning China’s Forbidden History, So They Can Censor It — Karel Donk (05/01/2019)
  2. On money, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general — Karel Donk (26/06/2021)


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