With an uncertain future of increased automation, as we all watch technology make us redundant and social media tearing our society apart one of the big questions is:
Would a Universal Basic Income be a Social Vaccine of the 21st Century or a terrible idea.,
Because there is a colossal shift happing in the world, and especially in the world of work. The gigantic transformation that we call digitalization won’t mean that work disappears, but that the kind of work will change at a speed that has never happened before. Millions will either lose their jobs or invent a new one. To do so we need to be independent of technology that is now just not ruling the stock exchange but recommending what we do hear or say.
Proponents of UBI say that it reduces poverty and income inequality, encourages employment and skills training, and values normally unpaid roles such as homemakers and caregivers, it improves the health of recipients and empowers women.
Opponents of UBI say that it does not reduce poverty, that it deprives the poor of needed targeted support, provides a disincentive to work, and weakens the economy. They also say it is unaffordable and less effective than targeted aid and welfare.
So how could it revolutionise our society? How could it backfire?
It could act as a sort of security net for the millions of people who will be left jobless by the tech revolution.
It could make leaving an abusive partner easy and would unleash the potential of countless people trapped by domestic violence.
It could allow care-workers to support themselves, encouraging care work and taking pressure off public services that provide care to the sick and elderly.
It could help balance inequality by bringing everyone’s income above the poverty line.
It could cut a country’s spending by eliminating social welfare benefits, food stamps, subsidised housing.
It could contribute to the economy by recipients starting their own business.
It could if with successful implementation mean improvements in food security, stress, mental health, physical health, housing, education, and employment.
The biggest concern is that UBI would incite millions of workers to stop working. If people aren’t working, there is less taxable income. However, people may choose to stop working for reasons that benefit society as a whole, like getting a better education or caring for an elderly relative.
It raises the question is money a birthright?
Rather than reducing the overall headcount of those in poverty, a BI [basic income] would change the composition of the income-poor population and thus would not prove to be an effective tool for reducing poverty. If people are paid unconditionally, to do nothing… they will do nothing and this leads to a less efficient economy, in order to motivate people there needs to be an element of uncertainty for the future.
Of course, this leads us back to the fact for Capitalism to operate it needs poverty.
Capitalist countries are built on the ideological foundation that money is something we earn – UBI would completely change this.
Some believe that community service should be a requirement for receiving UBI as it does not cure addiction, poor health, lack of skills, or other factors that contribute to poverty.
It would be too expensive.
At a level which can guarantee an acceptable standard of living is “impossibly expensive… Either the level of basic income is unacceptably low, or the cost of providing it is unacceptably high.
These are the best argument against UBI. The cost of living would end uprising and politically there is significant bias against unconditional transfer programs.
However, the simple idea to solve inequality and revolutionise our lives with UBI lies in the power of choice.
Managing the risk of automation obsolescence while also tending to rise poverty remains one of the greatest challenges facing both advanced and developing economies. These problems won’t be solved simply with a guaranteed income nor will they be solved with present programmes that kick in when people have hit rock bottom, rather than trying to prevent them from getting there in the first place.
There are two challenges ahead with UBI.
The first is to spread the basic idea so that it continues to move from fringe to mainstream.
The second is to build it into a workable policy with a political base.
To date despite some bipartisan support, the concept has failed to gain enough traction to pass either challenge.
Surely it would be far cheaper to give people a life of dignity, than a life of desperation.
The purpose of UBI is to give every person the ability to live without being beholden to a capitalist system however without socialist additions it would be almost worthless.
Robots are not here yet to pay tax, but profit-seeking algorithms are.
For me, there is only one way to help the world and us.
(See the previous posts on a World Aid Commission)
All human comments appreciated. All abuse and like clicks chucked in the bin.