The concept goes by a couple of variations on the theme of ‘Guaranteed Minimum Income’ or ‘Universal basic income’ (UBI).
It is — strangely enough — a place where Extreme Progressive Left & Extreme Libertarian Right meet in a fond embrace; different reasons entirely but love is love, yeah?
The concept sounds to the uninformed ear like ‘FREE MONEY’. It is… but it’s not. It obligates you to nothing — yet frees you up to do EVERYTHING. If you want to live within the narrow, narrow margins that a UBI provides for — you can do that and not disappear into a crack — or a homeless shelter. Or you can bide your time PRODUCTIVELY — training yourself (using the money), honing your skills (using the money) until a JOB OPPORTUNITY that PAYS MORE and MAKES YOU HAPPIER because you’re doing something you like at least and are good (and, now, well trained) at — comes your way. When you get hired for THAT JOB then — it will PAY MORE, have MORE BENEFITS and — (bad news to Americans) pay more taxes into the government so that (good news to Americans) every American can RECEIVE just such a UBI.
Fortune talked about the idea last year —
Let’s start with the Expected RW Christian Knee-Jerk Reactions…
“…Critics have a buffet of objections to choose from—it undermines productivity, it rewards laziness, it’s socialism by another name.”
Do those, um, critics have DATA to back any of that up or is that, once again, THEIR REPRESSIVE, IGNORANT FEELINGS about ‘lazy people’ talking instead of FACTS?
Facts would interfere with their FEELINGS about the facts…
A couple of thoughts from the article to consider —
“There’s no doubt that it would be unprecedentedly, astronomically expensive. The concept also violates a core tenet of capitalism, by assuming that this technological revolution, unlike others before it, won’t create better jobs tomorrow to replace the ones it erases today.”
“Universal basic income (UBI) would insulate displaced workers from poverty and quell the potential for unrest during a profound and painful economic transition. Theoretically, it might spur innovation and encourage people to take entrepreneurial risks. It would almost certainly alter the definition of “work” by attaching compensation to whatever people choose to do with their time, including absolutely nothing.”
What the article doesn’t do (maybe I read it too quickly) — What happens to an economy — when more and more of its ‘contributors’ (and it’s a healthy MIDDLE CLASS that drives demand, not Rich Guys who already ‘have everything’) make more money, spend more money & pay more taxes into the system itself — that would create and drive not only short-term financial security but Long-Term financial health and prosperity, too.
When more of the Commonweal succeeds, the Commonweal itself succeeds even more. It’s just math. What a UBI does is guarantee the Math. And the Math — when given a chance, ‘guarantees it’…
This is from The New Yorker (thank everything in creation that THAT magazine is still around!)
At least read the first paragraph. Here — allow me —
“In the mid-nineteen-seventies, the Canadian province of Manitoba ran an unusual experiment: it started just handing out money to some of its citizens. The town of Dauphin, for instance, sent checks to thousands of residents every month, in order to guarantee that all of them received a basic income. The goal of the project, called Mincome, was to see what happened. Did people stop working? Did poor people spend foolishly and stay in poverty? But, after a Conservative government ended the project, in 1979, Mincome was buried. Decades later, Evelyn Forget, an economist at the University of Manitoba, dug up the numbers. And what she found was that life in Dauphin improved markedly. Hospitalization rates fell. More teen-agers stayed in school. And researchers who looked at Mincome’s impact on work rates discovered that they had barely dropped at all. The program had worked about as well as anyone could have hoped.”
There’s Gold here, waiting to be mined. Imagine having to give yourself the courage required to get filthy, stinking rich — even metaphorically — and doing nothing about it.