"support universal basic income"

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post explaining the basics behind universal basic income. I never said whether I supported the idea or not, but this post answers that! (Hint – check the title!)

I support Universal Basic Income

I know, it’s a crazy idea! How would any government be able to afford to pay all of its citizens a monthly stipend? The logistics of that are insane! I’m not here to talk about how it could be implemented or how we would pay for it. I know that would be a long process with a lot of compromise; and I know I don’t have all the answers.  I’m just going to talk about why I love the idea of Universal Basic Income.

Universal Basic Income and FIRE

It seems weird for a finance blogger to advocate for a program that makes it easier for people to not save money. But hear me out! Universal Basic Income would help tons of people achieve financial independence in the most basic sense.  If people had enough money to pay for their basic needs each month, they wouldn’t be forced to waste their lives working menial jobs that they can’t stand but that also don’t pay enough for them to be able to get ahead. People wouldn’t have to work two minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet.

I know that opponents of this program will use this as an opportunity to say that we would lose tons of workers and society wouldn’t be able to function; but that brings me to the next major reason why I support universal basic income – automation.

Automation is coming

Automation is going to be the number one destroyer of minimum wage jobs in the future. The consulting firm Mckinsey reported last year that almost 30% US workers are at risk of being displaced by automation by 2030. That is a whole lot of people that are going to be out of work – and the majority of them work in the menial low wage jobs that I described above.

Sure, automation will create new jobs just like the industrial revolution did, and just like all major technological advances have in the past. But what people forget is that during the transition, people suffer. Unskilled workers who can’t find jobs in new industries suffer. Families that lose their only sources of income suffer. Yes, society will eventually even itself out and adapt, but we can do better than we did in the past. We can do better to ensure that this transition is smoother and better for the working class than previous shifts have been. I think universal basic income is a great method of easing this transition.

Work is Overrated

I also support universal basic income because I think work is overrated. I get that things need to be done, and we have to pay the bills and all that. However, I think that the American concept of valuing work just for work’s sake is insane. Why should we be forced to spend forty hours per week in an office when we can get all of our work done in 20 hours? Why do we only value each other based on our salaries rather than what we contribute to society?

I think that if we implemented an idea as crazy as universal basic income, people would stop working just for work’s sake. They would start living their lives, and I think a big part of that would be making a positive impact on society. People would take care of their elderly parents rather then sticking them in a home. Families could have more time with their children rather than relying on day care, schools, and television to raise them. People would volunteer with organizations that they believe in, and would have time to pursue their passions, create art, invent things, be innovative. As it stands right now, most people don’t have time to take care of themselves much less volunteer for anything else.

Universal Basic Income and family values

A few months ago, I wrote a post on what I think family values truly are and why we should support them. I support universal basic income because I think it would be a great way to support all of those family values that I wrote about. It would help people afford healthcare, education, and homes. It would also give families more options in deciding how to care for their children.

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Universal Income and Income Inequality

Yes, I know my liberal is showing. Sorry about that! But we need to admit that income inequality is becoming a huge problem in the United States. The top 1% of households hold more wealth than the entire bottom 90% combined. That’s insane! I’m not advocating that the working class seize the means of production (socialism) but I am in favor of a safety net that ensures every person the ability to meet their basic needs in a civilized society. Wages aren’t exactly cutting it at the moment, and neither is the gig economy. I’m sure there are alternatives to universal basic income that would fix these problems, but this post isn’t about those!

What about they guy who just plays video games in his mom’s basement??

There are plenty of great arguments against universal basic income, but this post isn’t about that (does anyone want to do a guest post of why they are against it though? It would be a great debate topic!). The only argument against it that I’m going to address in this post is the one that makes no sense to me. I hear a lot of people say that they are against universal basic income because they think that Joe Schmoe will sit in his mom’s basement wasting his payment on video games and Cheetos. My answer to this is: So what?

So what if a small percentage of people use this as an excuse to not work? They are still putting their payment back into the economy. They aren’t hurting anyone.  All the Joe Schmoe’s could even band together to rent their own house and play video games together all day! They would be providing someone with rental income and keeping Pepsico stock up – both good things for the overall economy.

Do you Support Universal Basic Income?

So now that I’ve showed my cards and my support for universal basic income, I’d like to know what you think! Do you like the idea or not? Tell me why in the comments!

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Have you heard of Universal Basic Income? It’s a fringe idea that’s been generating a lot of discussion lately. But what does it actually mean? And who supports such a radical idea?

What is Universal Basic Income

The essential concept of Universal Basic Income is pretty simple. The government pays all of its citizens a monthly stipend. This money can be spent on whatever the individual wants with no oversight. Program advocates debate whether minors should receive a stipend. Some argue that parents should receive a smaller amount for each minor child while others argue that minors shouldn’t receive anything. Ultimately this detail would be up to the government implementing the program.

Universal Basic Income and Social Programs

Whether Universal Basic Income would replace or be in addition to the social programs that we already have is another huge topic of debate. Many argue that it should completely replace all of the social welfare programs that thousands of people rely upon. Why would people need food assistance, housing waivers, Medicaid, etc. if they are getting a guaranteed monthly stipend? Others argue that the stipend won’t always be enough to cover these essentials. They argue that we need to maintain some of these programs to ensure that no one is lives in poverty. 

How would we pay for Universal Basic Income?

And here’s where the idea gets incredibly unpopular! The number one source of income for most government’s is taxes, so increased tax revenue is the most popular choice for funding the program. People on the high ends of the income scale would probably pay more than their stipend in taxes to support the program. No one wants to pay more in taxes.

Other ideas for funding the program have been discussed as well. These include raising corporate taxes while closing some of the loopholes in the corporate tax code or raising tariffs. The main arguments against these ideas is that corporations would pass the costs along to the consumer, and higher operating costs would stifle innovation and potentially cost jobs.

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What are the arguments for and against Universal Basic Income?

There are tons of arguments both in favor of and against the program, and there is a lot of nuance in between. Therefore, I’m just going to lay out the basics.

For It

Proponents of Universal Basic Income argue that wages are too low and jobs are too scarce for people to lift themselves out of poverty. The argument is that if people were able to cover their basic needs (food and shelter) they would be more productive and have the time to develop in demand skills. People would also be more innovative and creative if they weren’t trapped in soul-sucking jobs. This would mean that we would have more art and more people pursuing their passions. A final argument in favor of universal basic income is that people would have more power to decline unfair wages and working conditions. This would force businesses to pay fair wages in order to be competitive. 

Against it

Opponents of the program argue that giving people free money will lead to a dependent society where nobody will actually want to work. Another aspect of this is that people would refuse to work menial jobs for minimum wage, so companies wouldn’t be able to find workers and would potentially be forced out of business, leading to less competition. Opponents also argue that it’s unfair for the people who do work to support those that do not. A major argument of this position is that it is way too expensive to pay every citizen something.  Those that work would be taxed an outrageous amount to support everyone else.

Related: What Are Family Values?

Is Universal Basic Income being used anywhere?

Some countries are actually toying with the idea of Universal Basic Income. Finland was the first country to do a trial run on the program. They selected 2000 unemployed Fins who then received a monthly stipend for two years. Although the final results of the study have not been published yet, initial reports from 2018 imply that the program wasn’t ambitious enough to work.

Individual cities and states are also testing out types of Universal Basic Income programs. Alaska gives all of its citizens a yearly payout of its oils and gas revenues. Though this was never actually considered a Universal Basic Income program, it has a lot of similarities.

 Hamilton, Ontario, is testing a program to determine if basic income is more effective at reducing poverty than existing social programs. Barcelona began testing their B-Mincome program in 2017. This program  provides a monthly stipend to residents in the poorest area of the city. Most of these pilots are still in progress, so it’s unclear what the final verdict will be.

Who Supports Universal Basic Income?

There are actually a few big-name proponents of the program. Most notably are billionaire entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Richard Branson. In all fairness, it would be impossible to list all the people who don’t support it, because there are so many. 

What are your thoughts on Universal Basic Income?

I’ve tried my best to not interject my opinion in this post (that’s for a different day!) but I’d love to know what your thoughts on the program are! Are you for or against it? And why?

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