From Rats in Cages to Primates in Paradise — The Scientific Story of Stress in Society
Scott Santens

Well done. Not only this article provides salient scientific observations in support of UBI, it’s also very neatly organized. And so smoothly written that one does not feel time passing.

Yes, it does look like inequality has been and is still the major source of troubles in human societies — and apparently in primate societies too. The “Spirit Level” book (subtitled “Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger”) by Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett (both epidemiologists) already provides plenty of hints in this direction. The ethological and ethnological facts you have gathered all go in the same direction. This defines a very convincing convergent set of evidence.

Yet, UBI is probably not the universal cure against inequality you implicitly assume it is. And its attractive simplicity should not be a reason to forget all the complex mechanisms that will still exist behind it when/if it gets implemented.

  • UBI requires extensive taxing. This will not be easily accepted and may likely favour tax evasion. This makes its creation very tricky.
  • UBI is just money that can be spent in existing economical markets. Many socially crucial activities, that should be universally granted, have intrinsically imperfect markets, with a strong asymmetry in information. To summarize the deeply flawed but yet interesting article of Nicolas Colin: when you are gravely ill, you are ready to spend all your money to try to save your life. Yet, you probably know little of medicine and drugs. The healthcare industry has therefore all power to raise prices up (think about Martin Shkreli) up to the point where only a minority of rich people will be able to afford it fully. In a settings where UBI is implemented without prior implementation (or worse, with associated destruction) of universal basic services for health, food, lodging, child care, UBI may quickly become totally unable of solving the problem it was supposed to solve: inequality.

This is in no way a proof that it cannot be useful or should not be implemented. Just that its effective implementation is far from trivial.