His idea, briefly, is this: that the government should give every person US$10,000 a year in place of all welfare benefits, retirement payments and healthcare. Of this, US$3,000 would have to be used to buy health insurance.
He said he was not primarily concerned that the welfare state costs too much "though it does", nor that it tends to make things worse "though it does" but that it "drains" the life out of people - particularly the spiritual life and sense of meaning.
He believed that people derive a sense of meaning in their lives in one or more of the following four ways: vocation, community, family and faith. For these things to retain their meaning, it was vital that government should leave them alone.
I do suggest that you read James' whole precis, because it is very much worth it. Why? Well, Charles Murray is, essentially, on eof the more famous exponenets of what we would call the Citizen's Basic Income (CBI). Although Murray's specifics, naturally, apply to the USA, his philosophical points apply equally to our own fair isle.
Your humble Devil has constantly harped on about how the state's extortion of money from the poor—and then using such mechanisms as the Tax Credits to make them beg for some of it back—is a disgusting thing; indeed, the Gobblin' King's adherence to these tactics is one of his most egregious aspects (and, let's face it, there's an awful lot to choose from). However, we all know why he does it: to build a client state and thus to perpetuate a Labour government.
But, you see, some of we disgusting right-wing libertarians are not interested in power: we just want to be left alone to live our lives. And this applies as much to the poorest in society as it does to the richest.
The concept of the CBI would allow this to happen, by removing means-testing; not only would this remove the necessity for a massive state bureaucracy invading and prying into people's lives, but it would also restore pride to people by ensuring that they are not penalised for working. Whatever the noble principles of the Welfare State, its implementation in terms of societal health has been a dismal fucking failure. The disgusting marginal deduction rates now present in our benefits system—in some cases, well over 90%—are just one example of this.
As Tim Worstall wrote over at Tech Central Station (in his first article on Murray's ideas):
I'll stick with my basic thought that the reason to oppose statism isn't that redistribution is immoral (although it may be, to your taste) it's rather that the actual way it is done is so hopelessly complicated that it manages not to achieve its stated aims. The Plan, to my mind, neatly sidesteps almost all of these problems. Instead of a web of grants, tax breaks, allowances, subsidies for this or that, there is simply one payment to all. It's not enough to live comfortably on, but it will provide for the basics.
This is really the beauty of the CBI: it's simplicity and (a crucial point) you do not lose the benefit if you get a job. And one would hope that most people would be forced to find employment but, no matter how badly paid that employment, will boost their earnings.
In plain words, people will not be financially punished for going to work.
There is, of course, one or two bonus corollaries (apart from the releasing of thousands of parasitic civil servants so that they can generate money in the private sector); as Timmy wrote in his second TCS article, the CBI will not lead to lower wages, as some have argued, but rather the opposite.
Those who seek education, an improvement in life can do so, those happy to laze on the porch can, as well. But what the Plan might do is to make it possible for all to unlock their potential, if they should so wish.
There is also a more Marxian (that is, using some of the insights of Marx without swallowing the entire pitcher of kool-aid) analysis possible. That economy, especially political economy, is about the analysis of power structures. In Marx's original analysis, still fervently believed by some today, capital will ever conspire against labor and attempt to engender a situation where there is a large reserve army of the unemployed. These unfortunates will have no option but to sell their labor at whatever miniscule price the oppressors are willing to offer, leading to ever fatter profits and the ever increasing immiseration of the proletariat.
If that is, indeed, the view of the world people really believe in, then The Plan is actually the answer. By providing an unconditional grant sufficient to survive upon, this "power structure" is subverted. The unemployed cannot be forced to accept lower wages for they can survive with none.
The second is, of course, that we can expose people such as the Gobblin' King for the power-mad fiends that they are.
It won't come as any surprise to regular viewers of the political scene that there are those who play the game for what they can get out of it. Yes, it happens on all sides, in all parties. You might be slightly more surprised to find that there are those -- yes, again, on all sides and in all parties, however strange this might sound -- who are doing it all out of conviction. They really do want to change the world for the better.
To me the genius of The Plan is that we'll be able to see, on the liberal side, who is who. Those who really are in it to make the world better will support it, for it achieves two desired goals: increases equality of opportunity and inverts the perceived power imbalance between labor and capital.
Those who oppose it we must assume are in one of two other groups. Those in the political system simply for the joy of the power they get to exercise and those in that very same system simply so they can suck at the teat of the public money cash cow.
So, let us all agitate for the CBI and see just how dedicated Gordon fucking Brown is to genuinely helping the poor.