Universal Basic Income (UBI)
We need to get serious about UBI before it’s too late.
Before we discuss the need for UBI, let’s discuss what it is:
Universal basic income takes on distinct forms in different historical and geographic contexts. It varies based on the funding proposal, the level of payment, the frequency of payment, and the particular policies proposed around it. Each of these parameters are fundamental, even if a range of versions still technically count as UBI (a universal, unconditional, individual, regular and cash payment). (Source)
A recent article from the BBC shows us just how dangerous technology can be for humanity’s future.
Half of all work tasks will be handled by machines by 2025 in a shift likely to worsen inequality, a World Economic Forum report has forecast. (Source)
We continue to advance as a society in ways that were never before possible. With such advancements comes the need to rethink our approach to basic income. Our world will continue to change in dramatic ways that require a serious discussion about UBI. A few cities have experimented with UBI’s idea, and well, it reflects how successful it would be more broadly.
Former Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang had it right. We do need to enact “The Freedom Dividend.” His logic for a broad based UBI is simple:
In the next 12 years, 1 out of 3 American workers are at risk of losing their jobs to new technologies (Source)
Everyone is overworked and underpaid. Technology is making it so, even more, are out of work and not paid at all. The United States already has a form of UBI in place called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Rather than limiting it to retired or disabled people, we should expand the program to every U.S. Citizen.
How do we pay for UBI?
Many proposals are floating around, but the most viable ones appear to be a Value Added Tax (VAT) and Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). We could quickly raise over $3 trillion annually to fund UBI. Think this is a lot of money? Think again. The Department of Defense spends over $700 billion on war and conflict. Imagine, instead, if we invested in people and progress.
The arguments for UBI far outweigh the ones against it. Politicians are reluctant to take a firm, supportive stance on UBI, but they are hurting us by ignoring the inevitable. We need to get serious about UBI before it’s too late.