What is Basic Income?

Also called Universal Basic Income (UBI) is rather simple but quite powerful idea. It is a form of social security system or welfare in which all people of one country receive an equal monthly pay check (as a human right), just for being alive, without a need to do any work in return. The amount of money each citizen receives is enough to cover only basic needs. If someone needs more money, he or she will still need to find a job and work.

The idea of UBI is 500 years old and has been supported throughout history by those on both the left and the right, including people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Stephen Hawking, Buckminster Fuller, Friedrich Hayek, even Richard Nixon at one point, and many, many others.

Original photo source: "Money Count" by Pictures of Money 

The premise is simple: instead of giving money to bailout big-fat banks, who will circle that money back into the pockets of the rich, many started asking themselves, “Why not give money directly to those who actually spend money on goods and services, which will actually boost the economy?”

Immediately, the questions arise: “Why would we do that? Why would we, in any right mind, pay people to be lazy?”

There are many reasons, from eradicating poverty to boosting the economy, but the most important one is to create a safety net for the future, when robots and automation will take all of our jobs. It is estimated that, over the next 10-15 years, automation will remove 47% of currently-existing jobs. That is massive, and, unlike in the time of good old Ned Ludd (Luddites) at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, it will have a significant, negative effect on the economy. The economy won’t be able to create meaningful jobs that will keep people busy, pay them a salary, and still be able to compete against companies with higher levels of automation.

To answer “what jobs are in danger?” we must ask an additional question: “What is the time scale we are talking about?”

The first in line are professional drivers (3.6 million) and the 3.2 million shop workers in the U.S. If we add in the number of people affected in every country, this number is much larger. Those jobs are in danger because of advancement in the fields of self-driving cars and automated shops. If we take into account people who depend directly and indirectly on these jobs, those 6.8 million people will have a negative domino effect that could impact at least 70 million more people.

Now, you may think, “Why should I worry, my job is not in danger?”

Let’s imagine that you are a journalist or a top league, high-earning sports person. Even now, algorithms are already writing sport articles, and people who read them cannot tell the difference, leaving more and more journalist out of work. But, let’s take a different approach.

The sports industry has a few main revenue streams: TV, marketing, and selling tickets. Truck drivers, aside from the jobs they love (but will lose soon), adore drinking beer and watching football games. Now, if they are left without jobs, that means they won’t be able to buy beer or football tickets. That means that there will be less money for adverts and less money from tickets, and, all in all, less money in the pockets of the beer makers, TV channels, football players, and journalists, and, when I say less, that means significantly less. So, if you were a football player who suddenly starts receiving 10 times less money than before would you complain?

Bearing in mind that more and more jobs are automated every day, it follows that fewer jobs will be available on the market. If that is true, and it is, there is one important question we have to consider: in the fully-automated world, who decides who has access to resources?

That is the reason why this is everyone’s issue and why ideas like Basic Income are so important. If people have money and continue buying goods, they will continue supporting production, economy, and progress.

But Basic Income is not without issues. The one that is most discussed is the significant price tag. From country to country, it ranges from 50 - 120% of total GDP, but, with a slight tax increase and change in welfare structure, this system is achievable. It only needs a good will and the acceptance of the majority. Furthermore, there are new ideas like Basic Tax Control (BTC) that need far less money to start (0.5 - 5% of GDP), and they work as kick starters of the UBI systems, making implementation immediate and gradually available, giving people a chance to adopt to a novelty system and the new economic circumstances.

Basic Income is getting more and more traction every day, and, if you have not yet, you should spend some time thinking about it and talking with other people. This idea definitely has potential to change our lives for better.

For more information, read the following article: The Next One - Economics

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System Upgrade v2.016:
Solutions for a failing economy, wealth distribution, declining democracy, climate change, and robots that steal jobs