A common criticism of UBI has echoed that of the welfare state: Give people money, they get lazy, and don’t work.

Have Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg stopped working because they have more than enough money to live a luxurious life free of employment? Why is anyone else any different?

Some worry (UBI)) could lead to a shortage of labour in highly undesirable and low paid jobs, like cleaning and sewage system maintenance.

Why should these jobs be low paid? If supporters of capitalism truly believe in their rhetoric about supply and demand, then dangerous and unappealing jobs should be paid more. Enforcing suffering and destitution upon people, so you can make people agree to low-pay for awful jobs, is barbarous. In fact enforcing destitution on people with no safety nets is a canny way to dictate the conditions of all workers who are now in a precarious position.

If no one truly wants certain jobs, even if the pay is exceptional, then there is this:

And of course there’s the big tech guys on silicon valley, the so-called futurists. They warn of the mass displacement of jobs by robots and artificial intelligence

Creating robots and AIs to do dangerous and awful jobs is the appropriate application of technology. We then need to find other means to redistribute wealth.

He worries that as a result of U.B.I, entry-level salaries in competitive, highly-pursued industries — which already have low pay because affluent, Ivy-league graduates can easily afford a few years of low pay, — “would be free to shrink to honorarium size”, a luxury only the rich could afford.

This is hilarious. Internships have already been made positions with NO pay. My university students have been complaining about this for some time. UBI would have zero affect on this abuse of labor.

In light of such arguments, economists such as Joseph Stiglitz argue that instead of U.B.I, policy should focus on helping those that need it most.

Stiglitz has clearly had no experience with what it is like to live below the poverty line. People below the poverty line are stigmatised for having anything, for being given anything, and for asking for anything. The mainstream demonises the poor for getting “free stuff”. With UBI everyone would receive exactly the same amount of money. This would lessen the stigma of the poor receiving help and lessen the class war between the low and middle classes.

This is especially true if we consider how poor people have a high marginal propensity to consume. In other words, most of their income gains are spent, thus recycled in the economy leading to a boost in GDP. The rich, by contrast, tend to put their income gains in savings.

This is the ugliest bit. The Federal Reserve system is mandated to keep inflation low and employment high. However, it is entirely possible to create a situation where both inflation and employment are low. The wealthy are expecting the poor to do all the spending and paying of taxes. The poor are the ones who prop up capitalist redistribution. However, the less they have, the less funds can circulate. The wealthy are damaging this system by removing their currency from this system of circulation and putting it into off-shore tax havens where they aren’t even contributing to the collective well-being of their country by sharing the tax burden. This makes every bill you have worth more, because there are so few of them. The wealthy do not want the Reserve releasing more bills, because that would reduce the value of their saved wealth. They can enforce this desire via the Reserve Board. The Federal Reserve is not in fact a fully public institution. To keep things rolling despite their damaging behavior, the wealthy offer people credit. So, in a way they have invented more funds, but in a way where they get to independently tax people through fees for the use of money that they don’t really have. Most people now own their souls to the company store.

UBI is not about inventing money and flooding the market with bills. It’s about streamlining social safety nets, providing real money for circulation, and taxing the rich. Jeff Bezos alone could fund one third of UBI for the entire US for a year. Think about that. We need to consider who really isn’t pulling their weight. Most especially UBI is about relieving the suffering of the poor. Do you want to relieve the suffering of the poor?

    Dr Katherine Phelps

    Written by

    Activist, Author, Playwright, Performer, Tea-drinker: katherinephelps.com