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Is Universal Basic Income a good idea? Show more Show less
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Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a program in which all people receive a regular sum of money unconditionally, regardless of employment or current wages. Proposed UBI programs vary across the world. This allows different UBI programs to align with both progressive and conservative goals. Several UBI pilot studies have been tried throughout the world, but the interpretations of results vary. UBI proponents consider many questions about logistics, economics, and human behavior: How will UBI be funded? Who will receive the income, every person or every household? Will people stop working or will greater economic stability allow them to better contribute to society?

It depends how UBI is funded Show more Show less

Right-wing arguments favor universal income without welfare. Left-wing versions favor tax increases. Others favor means-testing.
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UBI should be means tested

UBI is expensive, but the cost can be off-set only if it is given to the poorest in society. Some form of tax should be employed to provide for everyone under a certain income bracket.
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The Argument

Any system of UBI is likely to be very expensive unless implemented as part of a pared-back model that removes important welfare measures. Removing these welfare measures would make UBI useless and possibly make people poorer. A means-tested form of UBI is the most workable, cost-effective solution.[1] A middle-ground option that provides for the poorest and does not waste money on the wealthy would be highly beneficial and practical. Phasing in UBI by income is the best way to do this. For example, people earning under $50,000 a year could receive $500 a month to provide for their most basic needs. Income tax credit in the US has provided millions of people with better life outcomes; they work more, study more, and are ultimately more successful. Means-tested UBI will provide these benefits to a larger group of people, and ultimately reduce poverty.[2] Although truly universal forms of UBI seem attractive, wealthy people do not need subsidies, and it will be unaffordably expensive. We should lift the poorest in our society out of poverty by giving them a means-tested form of UBI.

Counter arguments

With a means-tested UBI, there's more than just yearly earnings to take into account. Depending on where someone lives, they're affected by the cost of their home and the taxes they have to pay. For people living in more rural areas, it's possible to live on $50,000, while the same income while living in a city would struggle to make ends meet. This questions who would be considered wealthy and who would need aid. Another issue is if this money is contributing to reducing poverty. Unfortunately, humans are unpredictable and don't always make the best choices. What will people do when they find themselves with virtually 'free money?' In theory, UBI is a fantastic policy, but implementing it is the struggle. Most importantly, a democratic process needs to take place to approve such an approach.[3] Voters need to examine the potential pitfalls of the system before its implementation.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] UBI can help end poverty for the poorest in society. [P2] To make it affordable it should only be given to people who need it. [C] Some form of means-tested UBI is the most affordable option.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v41/n14/john-lanchester/good-new-idea
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/20/america-guaranteed-income-chris-hughes
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/29/why-andrew-yangs-push-for-a-universal-basic-income-is-making-a-comeback.html

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 1 Oct 2020 at 22:01 UTC

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