Universal Basic Income is just what it sounds like.
One that has been tried on a small scale or during emergency situations. It has not, however, been successfully implemented for an extended period of time in any country on Earth. Maybe, there will be no work on Mars when we all move there, but for now, it seems we all must work.
Lori Summers is a fan-fiction writer and tweeter of progressive ideas. That’s about all the info I could find on her, but she has some clear insights on the subject of work and money. She wrote a viral Twitter thread on the subject of UBI, and many people agree with her, while others have some points that must be reckoned with before we start throwing out those checks.
The jury is still out (in America at least) whether socialist policies are directly at odds with free-market capitalism. And, yes. Lori writes Harry Potter fanfiction. But is the utopian society where no one has to work really a fantasy? We will get to the bottom of that question here (we won’t, but please share your thoughts on the matter).
Here’s the viral Twitter thread about Universal Basic Income that’s starting a debate about work in general:
It’s nice to imagine, but where is the money coming from without taxes on people who make money? It’s nice to believe in the idea that everyone should have their basic needs met, like housing and shelter, but according to some economists, that could trigger inflation and then we’re in a vicious cycle where the cost of living goes up, but your monthly $1,000 check from the government (which Andrew Yang campaigned on) isn’t enough to meet the cost of living when the checks started.
Living in America at the moment is rough. Our leaders couldn’t even agree on increasing the minimum wage, and that’s a benefit for people who would be working. That said, it’s not enough to simply explain away “some people will take advantage.” For one thing, whether you love or hate money, it incentivizes the workforce. Jobs that pay more attract and keep talent. Jobs that offer bonuses put a monetary value on your contributions to your job. Is that fair? Its aim seems to be making income a meritocracy.
Then again, the people at the top (since the 1970s, according to Britannica) sometimes get bonuses whether they did a good job or not. The rich get richer whether the people on the bottom have their needs met or not, so… why not give them healthcare and housing?
No country has successfully implemented a program of the sort for the entire populace. Some places, however, have offered pilot programs. Iran, Kenya, and the state of Alaska have tried something close, according to Vox. In Alaska, residents receive $1,000-$2,000 a year from a oil profit fund. Economists who’ve studied the results of this “free money” for citizens found it had no bearing on who entered the workforce. People work where they want to work.
It’s the internet, so people had their own thoughts to share on Twitter:
How, you might ask, is it a good idea to simply relieve people of these burdens? Isn’t working for money a fact of life? You can easily understand the benefits of UBI by hearing out experts on simple student loan debt forgiveness. Bharat Ramamurti, a member of the Congressional Oversight Commission, said that canceling student loan debts (even by the $10,000 threshold Biden proposed) not only would lift millions of people out of poverty, but would likely boost the entire economy. If people suddenly don’t have to worry about pay $250 a month in debt, they spend it on other things. It doesn’t mean they never have to work again.
So, would $1,000 of free money make it so you never had to work again? Anyone with kids will tell you “No. You are dumb.” But it could be life-changing to those in need, and beneficial to people with money in the stock market when the economy booms. It’s a win-win. We should do it. QED.