Crikey, that’s such a good tagline I’d like it for my blog.
The go to man for all things on Universal Basic Income (UBI) is Scott Santens, who has decided to see what life is like if all his immediate needs are taken care of by a self funded Basic Income. Scott defines Basic Income thus.
Basic income is money an individual receives regardless of whether he or she works or not, sufficient to meet our most basic human needs for necessities like food, water, shelter, and clothing. It’s an amount sufficient to keep us above the poverty line, not living lavishly, but basically. And most importantly, it’s a stream of income independent of all other income that functions as a baseline. It enables, and never in any way prevents, additional income.
So Basic Income (BI) is not intended to enable you not to work it’s there to support you whilst you decide what you want to do. The income level Scott chose was $1000 per month fractionally above the US poverty line. This has enabled him to devote his life to the promotion of UBI and he earns money by writing and speaking on the subject, he also uses crowd funding to enable him to attend conferences. Note that all this is possible because his most basic needs are already taken care of, he has no worry of going hungry or being homeless. It takes little foresight to see exactly how far this could be taken, so much imagination unleashed, so many new ideas to be explored the potential is, to say the least, exciting and I can see why Scott is inspired. Will technology kill our jobs? Scott certainly thinks so.
Basic income for all people is also a government policy idea being increasingly discussed worldwide, where it’s primarily seen as the way to make unemployment brought on by self-driving vehicles and machine learning algorithms work for us all instead of the few. By simply cutting every citizen a monthly check and getting rid of most of the welfare state and tax code complexities we use today, everyone could be better off tomorrow, rich and poor alike. If machines are laboring in our stead, and aren’t buying any of the fruits of that labor, should we not receive the paychecks that aren’t going to them or us, so as to buy those fruits?
This seems to be solving a problem that isn’t here yet, and indeed may never be but this time it might be different. It is obvious that robots don’t consume only human customers can do that and they need money in their pockets to do so. So that’s the general purpose of UBI how about cost?
What is the cost to provide you $12,000 in basic income if you are asked to pay $12,000 to receive it?The answer is $0. It carries no cost. If 1,000 people fit the exact same example, the cost is 1,000 x 0, and that’s still zero. Multiplying 1 million by 0 is still 0. That’s how zero works.The true cost of basic income is thus the amount of money provided to net receivers, not net payers (who all cost nothing), minus the amount net receivers put into the hat.
I suggest you read the full short article in full the cost is never that emphasised by detractors and in fact works exactly like a negative income tax. It appeals to both left and right and a UBI has been advocated by figures as diverse as Milton Friedman, Martin Luther King and Richard Nixon. In America Charles Murray, a libertarian political scientist with the American Enterprise Institute, has proposed a basic income plan that would replace all transfer payments including welfare, food stamps, housing subsidies, the earned income tax credit, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. (Source Drudge Report). Americans, many of whom seem like trained Pavlovian dogs to howl “Communist!” at the mere mention of the government spending money, are sceptical but the right would of course gut all further Federal spending.
The idea is also silicon Valley’s cause de jour with Zipcar founder Robin Chase, now a speaker and author, said universal income would encourage and reward important work that “does not get monetized,” such as child care and volunteer work. It would also spur business creation. “I had the luxury of taking risks because I had a husband who had a full-time job with health care. A majority of the population cannot take any risks in pursuing innovation or higher-value, non-remunerative things”. The whole point of a UBI is to set people free and enable them to work rather than replace work in itself, a point the right should appreciate.
The UK has no-one like Scott, that I know of, but we do have Basic Income UK, who advocate the UBI here and up pops that frightfully good egg Simon J Duffy once again who inspired this trilogy of mine. What should public policy be about? “Don’t talk to me about all that fluffy love stuff – public policy is a man’s game. Show me the money! Show me the stats! These are the things that matter to me”. Pleasing as that is to the Well ‘Ard brigade I think any good welfare system should consider love, look how things work at the moment. “It is so strange isn’t it. Take love out of the world and you have no lovers, no children, no families, no communities and no purpose. Take love out of public policy and you are one-eyed, like a monstrous cyclops, crashing around and tearing people apart”. (Damn his eyes why can’t I write like that?). He continues…
Today people who rely on benefits and tax credits are disadvantaged if they choose to start living together or get married (Duffy & Dalrymple, 2014). Moreover they are severely punished if they choose to put together the benefits they get as single people but don’t let the DWP know they’ve started to share their lives together (Duffy & Hyde, 2011). This means millions of people have to choose between love and income, and millions of people feel that the state is monitoring their personal life choices. This is a very unhealthy state of affairs, where the welfare state has become like nosy and interfering parent – checking up on their children’s love lives and punishing them if they hook up with anyone they don’t like.
And yet I am still not an all out advocate of a UBI, I favour a Basic Income as part of the Job Guarantee, available to all citizens who have an idea of what they’d like to do but need the safety net of an assured income whilst they do it. MMT has many objections to the idea of a UBI but in time we will have to reconcile UBI with MMT if the jobs aren’t available for the JG. When, or if depending on your point of view, the time comes for a UBI I’d like it to be thought through by genuine progressives like Scott and Simon or Neo-Liberals will hijack the idea to bake in poverty and dependence. I hereby declare an outbreak of peace between UBI advocates and MMT and leave the last words to The Black Eyed Peas, we need a welfare system we can love.
Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love… Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love?