Comprehending ‘Universal Basic Income’
(UBI) is a combination of related ideas that can be introduced as public policy or adopted by society by way of constitution.
It is only considered UBI when all the features of UBI are in action.
In this way it is a very specific and simple idea.
The Basic Income Earth Network defines UBI as: “A basic income is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means-test or work requirement.” — it has five characteristics:
1. Periodic: It is paid at regular intervals (for example every month), not as a one-off grant. 2. Cash payment: It is paid in an appropriate medium of exchange, allowing those who receive it to decide what they spend it on. It is not, therefore, paid either in kind (such as food or services) or in vouchers dedicated to a specific use. 3. Individual: It is paid on an individual basis — and not, for instance, to households. 4. Universal: It is paid to all, without means test. 5. Unconditional: It is paid without a requirement to work or to demonstrate willingness-to-work.
Now I will provide my understanding of the characteristics of
Universal Unconditional Basic Income as I see it. The ideas are related because underlying them are the same things.
UBI is trust, respect, understanding, empathy…and acceptance:
Universal means that everyone is included. That includes the already wealthy, that includes those with some income, and those without any income. It means that it is all-inclusive. Nobody is shunned or ostracized based on gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion, married, single, kids, no kids, health conditions, abilities, or disabilities. Nobody is shunned or ostracized because of their financial standing, wealthy or not. You are included. It means it respects you from day one. That you should have the opportunity to participate. It means it is blind to financial position. It means it is not worthist. It means that it is not prejudiced.
Unconditional means that there are no requirements or stipulations. It means nobody assumes they know what is best for you. You know what is best for your current financial circumstance. It means that nobody must be required to jump through hoops or dance or do anything for anyone to prove that they are worth it. It is not worthist. It means there is trust in you from day one to do what you must do and what you feel is best for your situation. It means that it is not coercive. That unconditionality is freedom for you to choose what you think is the best course of action. That is trust. It means that it is not prejudiced.
Basic means that it is foundational, often defined as: just above the poverty line. It is a floor, not a ceiling. That means that it is generally simpler than something that is targeted and complex and static. Targeting comes with the assumption that one group of people know what is best for another group of people. Assumptions can lead to major problems when ignoring context.
Foundational income is not targeted, it is a floor beneath everyone. Basic also implies base. It doesn’t assume, it uses data of real costs to know where the poverty line is and adjust accordingly. It means it is not static or fixed forever, but instead dynamic, it can go up—or down. It means that by definition it is enough to lift everyone up out of poverty—and from there be free to seek new heights free from economic coercion. It accepts that there are agreed-upon basic human needs like clean water, nutritious food, shelter, clothing and accepts that everyone should have access to these very basic things. It accepts that we rely on a healthy planet to sustain those basic needs and that we must in return respect that which sustains us all, a healthy planet.
It means that ensuring these basic things is embracing empathy. It means that you deserve empathy too. It means it understands that we are all human. It means it understands that you are human too. That nobody should be forced to trade their limited time for such basic things. It means that it is blind to comparison between haves and have-nots. It is not worthist. Again: It is blind to financial prejudice. It means it is not prejudiced.
Income means cash, or money, or currency ensured to you. Here it is implied that it is guaranteed to you periodically. Ensured because it doesn’t need to come from a finite pie. ‘Income’ is the acceptance that we utilize money as an intermediary in trade (or exchange). Trade is a way for our society to function with reduced conflict (or increased efficiency). Trade involves mutual agreements between two individuals, it involves trust.
It accepts that trade is a necessary part of a living, breathing, moving economy. It understands that for an economy to continue to function in a healthy manner that exchanges must occur, that the velocity of money is real, and that money can move between many hands… in ways that individuals can benefit through mutual agreements. It accepts that everyone is experiencing different parts of their lives at different times and so have varying needs.
It is all of these things: trust through trade, respect through trade, understanding of differences, empathy for others in varying situations, and acceptance of different needs. Income here implies that everyone should be guaranteed an amount of it so they are no longer forced to trade their time for what we can all agree are basic: food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. Instead they should be able to spend their time doing things that they feel are meaningful. Again: It is blind to financial prejudice. It means it is not prejudiced.
Do you comprehend ‘Universal Basic Income’?
Universal Unconditional Basic Income is
trust, respect, understanding, and empathy.
Universal Unconditional Basic Income is TRUE acceptance of our humanity.
It’s time we each stand up and declare that we must now raise the bar, reach new heights, and BUILD THE FLOOR for all.
Read more of my writings published on Medium.com about Universal Basic Income:
Read about the existing evidence supporting UBI:
https://list.ly/list/1RdG-ubi-research-links-universal-basic-income-evidence or visit http://UBI.EARTH
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