Universal Basic Income

Why the U.S. Should Provide Universal Basic Income” -- The Atlantic, 2018, 3:20 -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnWsPIgl8_s

“UBI” is short for Universal Basic Income, the idea that we should receive money just by virtue of being citizens (and taxpayers) in a certain area. Several UBI experiments have been conducted in the recent years with mixed results, and the small scale of such studies leaves many questions unanswered. The basic idea is that everyone receives a stipend with no strings attached. Like standard income, people are free to spend the money on whatever they want. What such programs are designed to do is provide a safety net for individuals so that relative poverty can be eliminated. In a country as wealthy as the United States, UBI is highly possible and may help reverse the decades long trend of growing inequality. However, UBI goes against the core values of capitalism and American individualism, and as such may not be a politically-viable option.

Do you think UBI would work in the US or elsewhere? How should it be funded? (One great idea I have heard is to tax robots… this idea is even more appealing when you consider how robots often replace paid workers). Economics aside, what do you think would happen to communities and social life in the US?

From the video’s description: America is the richest civilization in history. Why, then, are our living standards so low compared to those of other wealthy democracies? “There’s a big idea out there that could help solve this,” says The Atlantic writer Annie Lowrey. “It’s called a universal basic income.” In a new animated video, Lowrey argues that UBI—a concept that has existed for more than 500 years—would help close the income inequality gap, eliminating poverty and increasing mobility and opportunity for all American citizens.