Lately you might have been hearing a bit more and more about the concept of universal basic income. It was brought into the spotlight most prominently by US presidential candidate Andrew Yang. He did this by proposing that each member of the United States within a certain age group receive a thousand dollars a year without any pre-conditions. It is also something that we have seen implemented by some countries during COVID-19. It has been used to help citizens stay financially afloat as they are asked to stay home for everyone’s safety. Some might argue that universal basic income has drawbacks. However, I believe that it has a lot more benefits than it does have drawbacks. Hopefully this post will help you see why universal basic income is good.
How Technology and Automation Have Affected Society
As you might have heard or noticed, technological advancements have changed how we work. We are now able to do things that previously took a lot of people with very few people. Also, we are able to do things much more quickly than in the past. This is great for big business owners and society. However, it also means that a lot of people are losing their jobs thanks to technological advancements. And even though production has increased drastically, it does not necessarily mean that the employees are getting salary increases. Only the company owners are the ones beneficiaries of the increased productivity of technology.
Partly due to this, advancements in technology are helping a very few groups individuals become incredibly wealthy. The rest of the population, in the meantime, has not improved their standard of living. In fact, they are likely to be struggling now more than in the past. After all, their wages have not kept up with inflation. Also, because jobs less subject to automation require more education, more and more people have taken on student loan debt.
Worse of all, big technology companies are getting rich by using the information of people detrimentally affected by automation. They are able to do this because sufficient regulation does not exist to protect how individuals’ data is used. Also, there is established method to financially repay individuals for the use of their data.
Why Universal Basic Income? – Because it is Good for the Health of Society
Thus, the efficiency brought about with technology has led to an increase in the gap between the rich and poor. While a few have reaped benefits from automation, automation has mostly led to the decline of the middle class. Increasingly, people are struggling to keep up with the basics of life, such as shelter, food, and transportation.
Universal basic income would be good to tackle this problem. This is because it would make up for the unintended consequences of technology. It would be able to by these people to increase their standard of living. With a guaranteed stream of income, people would no longer have to worry as much if they will have enough money to eat or pay rent. They might even have a few bucks left to invest in their future.
If basic universal income is provided to all people, regardless of income, it would create superior social support system. This is because most of today’s social assistance programs provide disincentives for individuals to improve their situation. For example, under a current assistance program, an individual might fear getting a promotion or working additional hours. This is so because this might disqualify them form their financial assistance. With unconditional basic universal income, this would not be a problem.
Why Universal Basic Income? – Because it is Good for Your Mental Health
With universal basic income, people would also be able to take some reasonable risks that they might not have previously taken. Even in a time of crisis, they would be able to count on some money to meet their basic needs. This would be especially true if the individual finds themselves in a physically or emotionally abusive situation. They might had not previously been able to get out of due to being financially dependent on the abuser. But, with universal basic income, they might be willing to take the risk of getting out of the abusive situation. They would be able to seek a better life on their own thanks to the security universal basic income provides.
Aside from that, people might be more willing to take risks in terms of starting their own businesses or partaking in endeavors they previously could not. Being able to pursue their ambitions will enable people to pursue their motivations and desires. This means that they will likely be more satisfied with themselves for being able to pursue their dreams and take on challenges. Pursing their dreams will not put their livelihood at risk. Even if they fail in their efforts, they will at least not risk having to starve.
In other words, they would be able to shift their mentality from a scarcity mindset into an abundance mindset. Universal basic income would only be enough to cover basic expenses, however. Therefore, most would want to have a job in order to live a more pleasurable life. But just having enough to cover basic needs can be an incredible financial cushion, especially during life transitions. It will be able to provide peace of mind during these periods usually tied with anxiety due to financial insecurity.
Why Universal Basic Income? – Because it is Good for Your Physical Health
Being left without food, shelter, and healthcare are perhaps most people’s greatest fear. After all, all of these things affect’s one’s physical well-being. In turn, they also affect’s one emotional well-being. And, in turn, these affect one’s success and outlook in life.
With universal basic income, people would at least know that they have the specific amount of income to rely on for these basic necessities. It might not be enough to cover everything that they would want. However, they could at least make a plan to make ends. For example, they might be able to find a roommate in order to afford living in a particular home. They might also be able to explore how they may able to afford groceries at a particular budget. In short, a reliable source of unconditional income would provide the certainty needed to set a realistic plan for subsistence.
Once one has the basic necessities taken care of, universal basic income can definitely lead to improved life quality. For instance, if one has a steady job in addition to universal basic income, for sure, one would be able to buy better quality, healthier food. One could also dedicate more time to exercise and leisure activities. Perhaps most important, one would also have more money to invest in preventative healthcare in order to prevent health complications.
Additionally, one would be able to take care of a home improvement project that might affect one’s health. For example, one might be able to take care of a mold problem or a net infestation problem. Or one might be able to get a new refrigerator if the current one is no longer functioning effectively. Being able to take care as problems as these helps create a healthy environment.
Without universal basic income, the gap between the rich will continue to grow. And there will be fewer people and fewer people in the middle class. When people are left behind, they rightly feel angry. This anger could be misplaced in ways that are detrimental to the fabric of our society. Unfortunately, this seems to be an issue we are seeing right now.
If more and more people start to realize that the issue to leading to the gaps is automation, they will start to see why universal income make sense and is increasingly necessary. The solution is not to stop automation. After all, automation has made our lives better in so many ways and has the potential to improve it in many more ways. The true solution is to come up with a way to address how can redefine how earn and distribute money in a way that is practical in this new world.
The ideas that I discussed in this article are explained in more detail in Andrew Yang’s audiobook, The War on Normal People. In it, he proposes the idea of giving all in the United States an unconditional universal basic income each month. He also proposes solutions as to how this might be funded in a manner. If you have not already read it, I encourage you to do so today. By talking about his experiences, as well as his research, he makes many strong points as to why universal basic income is a good and necessary proposition at this point in time.
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