Utopia for Realists Review

This is a review of Rutger Bregman’s book Utopia for Realists.

Rutger Bregman is a journalist at The Correspondent. In his book Utopia For Realists, he lays out his ideas for

A. A Universal Basic Income

B. Open Borders

C. A 15 Hour Work Week

His ideas only make sense when you look at his goal: Utopia. However, you can only achieve that through government force. There’s no such thing as free cash. Someone has to end up paying and that person would be the average taxpayer. And the only way the government can force people to pay is through force. When you are forced to do something you lose your liberty. When you lose your liberty through government force it is no different from Stalin’s Gulags or Hitler’s concentration camps. The best way to protect someone’s liberty is through a capitalistic, limited government standpoint. If private individuals want to give people in Africa jobs then that’s wonderful but leave government out of it. I know that sounds harsh but that how life goes. If you want to get money to people in Africa than great but don’t force others to do that against their will.

If private individuals want to give people in Africa jobs then that’s wonderful but leave government out of it. I know that sounds harsh but that how life goes. If you want to get money to people in Africa than great but don’t force others to do that against their will.

Overall the book was an amazing read. I loved reading it even though I obviously don’t agree with him. I would give it a 7 out of ten (ten being the best) mainly because of his writing style.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. As always if you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to contact me in private by heading over to the Contact Me page, or just commenting below.




5 thoughts on “Utopia for Realists Review

  1. So, let me get this straight: we offer a free basic income to everyone in the world who wants to come here *and* we pay for it all by capping everyone’s maximum contribution to 15 hours of labor a week? All that seems to be missing are sparkly pet unicorns for everyone. Journalists trying to play at economics are sooo cuuuuute!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the review! This book has been on my reading list and I’m curious to read it myself.

    I had a couple comments/questions on your review:

    – I agree with your take that money for social services needs to come from somewhere, and usually from a country’s taxpayers. However, I think your jump to comparing this to lost liberty and gulag/concentration camps is extreme. I think there are other social arrangements through which societies decide how to allocate money. For example, perhaps the overall level of taxation doesn’t change, but people and their representatives decide to re-allocate money to different priorities (e.g. from the defense budget to social services, or vice versa). Some people may support higher taxation from a self-interested perspective, e.g. out of a view that rising inequality in Western societies is fuelling a populist backlash that might threaten the institutions that currently enable economic growth (e.g. support for free trade). And there are some people that simply support more re-distributive policies out of a belief that this is just a fairer social arrangement. Of course, there’s also lots of people that disagree with these statements, but my point is that a democracy involves negotiating different perspectives on social arrangements, with tradeoffs on all side. Redistributive policies aren’t necessarily a reflection of government curtailing liberty, and they’re certainly not equivalent to forcing people into gulags/concentration camps.

    – There is at least some research that suggests a universal basic income could actually fuel economic growth and be good for private enterprise. I’m not sure if the book you reviewed touches on this, but here is a short article that summarizes some of these arguments: https://medium.com/basic-income/why-basic-income-is-good-for-business-4305b7bf6a4a

    – Finally, I’d be interested in learning more about the ideas presented in the book you reviewed. You offer your take on these ideas, which is also interesting, but it’s hard to evaluate these when there isn’t enough background to at least understand what Bregman’s logic is.

    Just my 3 cents… keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi PTR
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Here is what I would say to someone making those arguments.

      1. Even if the tax rate doesn’t change you are still giving up your hard-earned cash and being forced to give it to someone else. Now correct me if I’m wrong but that sure sounds like a Human Rights infringement to me.

      2. Sure I agree that there are some benefits to the idea. But what ends up happening is the Broken Window Fallacy which I addressed in the previous article. https://theteenageeconomists.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/the-broken-window-fallacy/

      3. Yes, in the interest of keeping it short and readable I knew I would have to sacrifice some content. If you want to know more you can buy it here on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Utopia-Realists-Build-Ideal-World/dp/0316471895/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1491242530&sr=8-1&keywords=utopia+for+realists&linkCode=ll1&tag=ethaconn-20&linkId=664f23c9d64b1ed5d05a7295ac763ed2
      or you can see if your local library has it. (That’s where was able to read it.)

      Hey, thanks again for commenting.


  3. Coming from a ‘teenager’ of a developed nation, I am not the least bit surprised you would say this. However, you are right. You can’t force someone to offer help to others as it would become a reenactment of Hitler’s concentration camps. Leave the government out of this I say. Let ‘others’ do it.
    Quite deep if I must say so myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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