Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the idea that citizens around the country would get a standard income to help deal with poverty issues, afford basic necessities, and in general have more money to spend. However, this is the most general of definitions, and many nuances come with the potential establishment of UBI in society. Some factors that have led to this conversation include the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) taking jobs, the extremely large income gap between the rich and the poor, and, mainly in America, the cost of healthcare. While tackling all these with UBI could provide benefits, there are still some issues to consider before implementing this, if at all, into society.
First off, it seems like a bandaid for capitalism to remain (disclaimer: I’m more of a socialist myself), it might require less work to make the money necessary to families to reach their basic necessities, but it doesn’t actually change the structure of the economy as much as a change towards socialism would. Our company drives are still focused on profit and UBI won’t change that.
One other concern I have with UBI is who would be in control of it. If we (I’m speaking in terms of workers, in general) were to have control of UBI, that would be great. But if the wealthy elite/bureaucrats have the control, then it’s not something we can guarantee the best out of. They would have this ability to benefit from UBI while harming the lower class. For example, providing UBI may allow companies to stop support for some of their social services on the basis that employees could now afford them. This results in lower disposable income for the employees, while the companies don’t have to pay those service fees. Although those employees may not be as poor as before, the result would still be a large gap between the rich and the poor. We saw something a little bit similar with the minimum wage increase; prices everywhere went up to compensate. Will these prices also rise with the introduction of UBI?
The lower class requires more stability and infrastructure support. It’s not about the money, it’s having the ability to have little money and feel okay. We see this through our friends down south; how one car crash or one hospital bill can cause bankruptcy. Although we’re luckier in Canada, we should make sure the additional taxes paid from UBI go towards things like more accessible healthcare, transportation, and other public services that can alleviate poverty, unemployment, and poor public sector infrastructure. Funneling the taxes back into public services also lets people ensure their money would be going in the right place, but this should be a certain result of the taxes before UBI would be introduced, thus, giving back to the people who paid the taxes.
Innovation will still occur. UBI won’t stop us from working hard and making additional wages to afford products. Inflation is a thing, and our housing market is still super expensive. Some people still say to “bootstrap” your way out of being poor by just, “not being lazy,” but it’s a stupid analogy. The idea of all people being lazy is a basis of classism, and thinking you’re successful solely due to hard work (all of us had some luck, and those who have it rough may have bad luck) is in itself a shaded view of reality. I’m pretty sure most of us have been paid salaries close to minimum wage, and we still do well on our coop jobs. The point I’m trying to make is that UBI won’t change how we work. We’re still going to favour the productivity over the wages we receive. We’re always producing more than we’re paid for nowadays.
I really want to help the poor, but we should hold UBI for now and focus on accessible healthcare, transportation, and other public services that can alleviate poverty and unemployment. With automation happening at an alarming rate, I do believe we will need to introduce UBI eventually, but we should fight for more economic power than more money. I suggest watching “Universal Basic Income: A Critique” by BadMouseProductions on YouTube. It highlights most of how I feel about UBI, and goes over some good arguments I had with a little more nuance. Finally, I’m not an economist. I know nothing about money. This was just done off research, but it’s a topic I really enjoy discussing. Hit me up if you want to talk more about it.