Universal Basic Income For The Average Joe

What if your state covered your living expenses? What would you do with your newfound freedom and wealth? Would you still go to work? Binge watch Netflix? Pursue the business idea you always had? Go back to school? Well, that is the concept of Universal Basic Income or UBI for short. Despite not being a new concept, UBI has begun to gain momentum around the world with many billionaire entrepreneurs and politicians talking about it. Many trials are currently occurring or are about to begin in countries around the world testing the effectiveness of a Universal Basic Income.

The philosopher, public theorist, and political activist Thomas Paine advocated that government pay everyone a basic income of 15 euros per year back in 1797. Governments have been teasing with the idea for a long time but have generally preferred welfare programs -- where those who can not work because of misfortune or age will be compensated over any type of basic income. However, in the past few years, interest in a Universal Basic Income has increased with people worrying that current incomes are not rising enough to boost living standard for average people. Many people feel that new technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence will replace workers and cause widespread unemployment with a UBI becoming necessary.

A basic income of $12,000 to every person in a country the size of the US would be a massive endeavor. The US would need to raise the money collected by taxes by at least 17% and scrap most welfare programs. Let's first look at the pros. Poorer workers and people who work for free (ex: stay at home moms) would see a boost to their income. A good amount of people would use their UBI money to gain a higher education or training to gain better job prospects. Some people may also start new businesses or pursue new ideas.

However, there would be downsides. Some people may choose to not work or contribute to society at all. Some may waste their salaries on useless objects and intoxicants.

Despite the high amount of testing and interest around the world, a Universal Basic Income present in most countries is still far away. Governments are still not sure if the pros outweigh the cons. It will take much more unemployment and hardship for workers to allow for the embracement of such a radical idea.