It sounds terrible doesn’t it. Income at poverty level. But we’re talking about poverty in America, not somewhere like Sudan. Poor people in America, believe it or not, still have a TV and and internet connection. So while they might not have disposable income to go to a bar every night, they have enough to just sit at home. And besides when your food, rent and utilities are covered, you don’t need a lot more money. Working 8 hours a week will give you enough income to do something, while not helping the economy at all.
Now do I believe people will stop working on masse? No, but it’s reasonable to assume enough of them will stop working to hurt the economy. I’m not going to argue against UBI, because if you believe such a thing is a good idea or at all viable, then no amount of debating will change your mind.
But I want to bring up this point. A lot of UBI advocates, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say you as well, make the argument that with their necessities taken care of, people wouldn’t accept any job, and they would only accept work that they like. The thing is, if no one wants to work as a janitor, fast food worker or some job in retail, then those companies will be forced to offer improved wages. At this point you’re thinking, that’s the whole point, you just made my argument for me, consider the economic implications. By significantly raising their payroll, these companies will have to balance that with something. And the most obvious way to do that is by raising prices.
Now consider Walmart, McDonald’s and other such businesses raising their prices. I might not care, you might not care, UBI advocates usually shop at Trader Joe’s and eat at Pret or Panera. But those poorest people who you so desperately wanted to protect? They will very much feel that. And all of a sudden that UBI that they get will not be enough to cover the rising expenses, and we end up right back where we started.