Is Universal Basic Income Possible?

Dan Hurt

March 30, 2023

Is Universal Basic Income Possible

Universal basic income (UBI) is a proposal to guarantee a regular cash payment to every person in a country. It’s a simple poverty-reduction plan that could be implemented in several ways.

Supporters of UBI say it would reduce poverty by enabling people to pursue more meaningful work. They also say it can help offset job losses due to automation.

It’s a solution to poverty

A universal basic income (UBI) is a government-funded program that pays every person a set amount of money. Unlike traditional social welfare programs, UBI is unconditional and does not require any qualifying factors.

Despite its many advantages, UBI also comes with several challenges. One of the biggest is cost.

According to the nonprofit Tax Foundation, a $1,000-per-month UBI plan would cost $2.8 trillion per year. That’s a lot of money, especially when considering how it would need to be funded.

But if implemented correctly, UBI can be a powerful tool for eradicating poverty.  It can also help people work toward their goals, like getting a degree or starting a business.

It’s a response to automation

The growth of automation and artificial intelligence threatens to displace millions of workers. It’s already taking over truck and bus drivers’ jobs and will soon take over many other blue collar and white collar jobs.

It also threatens to erode wages. UBI could help soften the blow of automation by giving displaced professionals a way to pursue new opportunities and explore other industries.

Several countries have launched basic income pilots and longer-term programs. These include Spain, India, Israel, Wales, Sierra Leone and more.

It’s a way to reduce inequality

Universal basic income is seen by many as a way to reduce inequality. It can give people the financial freedom to pursue a career, care for others or even improve their community.

But it’s important to note that a UBI won’t completely eliminate poverty. Rather, it could lead to more wealth disparity and higher inflation.

One key concern is that UBI can lead to a lack of economic incentives for workers. Often, work is more about meaning and passion than money.

Another potential downside of UBI is that it can create a lot of red tape, especially if it’s paid for through progressive taxes. That would mean that wealthy people wouldn’t receive the full benefits, and the bureaucracy associated with it might make it less effective at reducing poverty.

Alaska has experimented with a yearly UBI that has been shown to decrease poverty rates by up to 2%-3%. Other countries have had similar successes, too.

It’s a way to reduce stigma

Universal basic income is seen by many as an opportunity to reduce stigma associated with unemployment, disability, poverty and gender inequality. It is also seen as a potential solution to the spectre of automation, which many technologists and politicians believe could displace millions of workers over the next few years.

UBI supporters claim that it would encourage people to work less when they want or need to, thus creating a more efficient economy. However, critics worry that it may actually increase unemployment in the short term by encouraging people to choose less productive activities.

This is a concern that should be addressed by those who support UBI. Eliminating tax breaks, which are a large part of federal government spending, would be a good way to reduce the cost and complexity of implementing a UBI program.