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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 will only work if it replaces the welfare state

UBI will save money if it is used to replace all other tax benefits. It will not work if it is used in addition to extensive welfare measures, because there will be no way of paying for it.

The Argument

UBI schemes can provide a replacement for a bloated welfare state. The US has many different welfare programs (estimates vary; Milton Freeman put the number at 126), and it would be far simpler to roll all these programs into one payment. A sensible UBI program could remove the current costly bureaucratic system.[1] The stipend would not be enough to live off, and so it would still provide an incentive to work, which would mean people would still seek work. As a safety net, it would offer more freedom for those looking to lift themselves out of poverty.[2] At the same time it would mean that UBI does not incentivize laziness, as demonstrated in other more generous models, which keep a range of tax benefits. Not only would it be simpler, but it would also be much less expensive to have only a single payment. In comparison to other left-wing models which propose to keep a series of welfare programs in addition to UBI, a conservative UBI model may reduce government spending. Models that factor in additional welfare programs have universally proved to be staggeringly expensive and not economically feasible. UBI will save the government money if used to replace all other tax benefits. It will not work if it is used in addition to extensive welfare measures, because there will be no way of paying for it.[3]]

Counter arguments

With UBI, it’s challenging to find a proper balance so that it helps people, rather than hurt them. While the ideas behind it are virtuous, it would be impossible for it to replace welfare programs completely. The perfect amount to give people in place of welfare is a number continually changing to fit with the current economic stability along with a person's state of affairs, such as family and medical problems.[4] It’s hard to predict these numbers, making it that much harder to implement. Even if there were an agreeable figure, it's not feasible to believe it could function at capacity. To completely replace welfare state will not save the government money but drain it. It’s not even extenuating circumstances that are the problem in this situation but people themselves. Not everyone is good with money, nor do they know how to save properly. Coming into extra money does not always mean they are taking the initiative to have a safety net in place. Human beings are terrible at long term planning. For too many, extra money means having more to spend, not save.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] UBI should be used to replace costly welfare systems. [P2] A libertarian version of UBI will help people in poverty while still incentivizing them to work. [P3] Other forms of UBI are unaffordable [C] UBI will work if it replaces the welfare state

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://heavy.com/news/2019/06/milton-friedman-on-ubi/
  2. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/08/why-arent-reformicons-pushing-a-guaranteed-basic-income/375600/
  3. https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-guaranteed-income-for-every-american-1464969586
  4. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/universal-basic-income-adam-smith-institute-austerity-libertarian-a8167701.html

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 1 Oct 2020 at 11:28 UTC

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