Universal Basic Income: What It Is And Why It Is Important

Effectively providing for the basic needs of citizens is a cornerstone concern of any modern country. As the world changes, the way we address these needs must also evolve. Universal Basic Income, or UBI, is an increasingly popular approach to providing these resources for people. UBI goes far beyond the minimum wage, and acts as a social security system that you start collecting as soon as you become an adult. This means that whether you work or not, you will have enough money to purchase the most basic needs like food, clothes, and shelter.

Part of the reason that UBI has become an increasingly popular theory is that the nature of work is changing. For almost all of history, humans have found their worth through work. As artificial intelligence continues to advance at a rapid rate, a large amount of jobs could be taken over by non-humans within the next 20 years. This means that not as many humans are going to need to work, or at least as long. This also means that we will need people to train for the highly specialized jobs of the future.

The UBI would allow larger access to education so that people would be able to train for these high skill jobs. Many people simply cannot afford to go to school while also working to support themselves or their family. The UBI would provide them the ability to work a little less, and still have some extra money to seek an education. 

Financing a UBI is the main concern of critics, but there are ways to pay for it. Several economists discovered that the United States could incorporate a basic income by using a flat tax of 39%. This may sound like a lot, but taxes in some progressive countries are significantly higher. Also, any money you worked for would be supplemental to your basic needs. Other financing proposals include imposing a tax on the artificial intelligence taking away the jobs of humans. It should also be noted that UBI would dissolve Social Security and welfare, so a lot of the money is already there, this would just be a new way of distribution.

Several small test runs have taken place around the world, and it was found that the people in communities with UBI felt happier, more free to make their own choices, and the amount of work put in for week only dropped slightly, with the largest decline amount mothers and second-earners.

There is large support for UBI all around the world, with the most enthusiastic support in Europe where 65% of people would vote for basic income legislation. Prominent supporters in the United States include Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, and Elon Musk who has talked extensively on the subject.