What if the state covered your cost of living, would you still go to work?
Go back to school?
Not work at all? What would you do?
This concept is called a universal basic income or UBI
And it's nothing less than the most ambitious social policy of our times
in 2017, basic income is gaining momentum around the world
First trials are ongoing or on their way
and a growing number of countries are considering UBI as an alternative to welfare
How would it work and what are the key arguments for and against?
Right now people can't really agree. What universal basic income is or should be
Some want to use it to eliminate welfare and Cupp bureaucracy
Others want it as a free extra for existing programs, or even want it to be so high that work itself becomes optional
For this video we'll talk mostly about the minimum basic income
enough money to be above the poverty line
in the US this means about $1,000 a month or $12,000 a year
The money would not be taxed and you could do whatever you wanted with it in
In this scenario UBI is a way of transferring the wealth of a society
while still keeping the free market intact
But if we hand out free money will people just spend it on booze and stop working?
A 2013 study by the World Bank
specifically examined if poor people waste their handouts on tobacco and alcohol if they receive it in the form of cash
The clear answer, no they don't. The opposite is true
Other studies have shown that the richer you are, the more drugs and alcohol you consume
The lazy and drunk poor person is a stereotype rather than reality
What about laziness?
Universal basic income test runs done in Canada in the 1970s showed that around
1% of the recipients stopped working, mostly to take care of their kids
On average people reduced their working hours by less than 10%
The extra time was used to achieve goals like going back to school or looking for better jobs
But if laziness and drugs are not a huge deal, Why doesn't our current welfare state solve poverty
Welfare or unemployment programs often come with a lot of strings attached
Like taking part in courses,
Applying to a certain number of jobs a month or accepting any kind of job offer
no matter if it's a good fit, or what it pays
Besides the loss of personal freedom, these conditions are often a huge waste of time and only served to make the unemployment statistics
Seem less bad
Often your time would be much better spent looking for the right job
continuing education or starting a business
Another unwanted side effect of many welfare programs is that they trap people in poverty and promote passive behavior
Imagine a benefit of $1,000 each month
in a lot of programs if you earn a single dollar extra the whole thing is taken away
If you take a job, that's paying $1200 you might not only lose your benefits,
but because of your taxes and another costs like transportation
You might end up having less money than before
So if you actively try to better your situation, and your total income is not improving or even a shrinking
welfare can create a ceiling that traps people in poverty
and rewards passive behavior
A basic income can never be cut and therefore getting a job and additional income would always make your financial situation better
Work is always rewarded
instead of a ceiling it creates a floor from which people can lift themselves up
But even if UBI is the better model, is it economically feasible?
What about inflation?
Won't prices just rise making everything just like it was before?
Since the money is not being created by magic or printers it needs to be transferred from somewhere
It's more of a shift of funds than the creation of new ones
Hence; no inflation
Ok, but how do we pay for it?
There's no right answer here because the world is too diverse
How well-off the country is, what the local values are,
Are things like high taxes or cutting the defence budget politically acceptable or not?
How much welfare state is already in place and is it effective?
Each country has its own individual path to a UBI
The easiest way to pay for a UBI is to end all welfare and use the free funds to finance it
Not only would this make a number of government agencies disappear, which in itself saves money, it would also eliminate a lot of bureaucracy
on the other hand cutting them could leave many people worse off than before
If the goal is to have a foundation for everybody there still need to be programs of some sort because just like countries,
People are not the same
The second way - higher taxes especially for the very wealthy
In the US for example there's been a lot of economic growth but most of the benefits from it have gone to the richest few percent
the wealth gap is rapidly widening
and many argue that it might be time to distribute the spoils more evenly to preserve the social peace
There could be taxes on financial transactions, capital, land value, carbon, or even robots
But UBI is not necessarily expensive
According to a recent study
a UBI of $1,000 per month in the US
Could actually grow the GDP by 12% over eight years
because it would enable poor people to spend more and increase overall demand
What about the people who do the dirty work?
Who will work in the fields, crawl through sewers, or lift pianos?
If you don't need to for survival, will people still do hard boring and unfulfilling labor?
UBI might give them enough leverage to demand better pay and working conditions
a study calculated that every extra dollar going to wage earners would add about $1.21 to the national economy
While every extra dollar going to high-income Americans would add only 39 cents
There would still be very rich and poor people
but we could eliminate fear, suffering, and existential panic for a significant part of the population
Making poor citizens better off could be a smart economic tactic
For some this isn't enough. They want a UBI large enough to live a middle-class existence
If we set the financial obstacle aside, this idea fundamentally challenges, how our society is constructed
By earning money, you earn the possibility to take part in society this determines your status and options
But it also forces many people into spending huge chunks of their time on things they don't care about
in 2016 only 33% of US employees were engaged at work
16% were actively miserable and the remaining 51% were only physically present
Would 67% of people stop working if they could?
It would be unfair to portray work as just a chore
work gives us something to do. It challenges us
it motivates us to improve, it forces us to engage
Many find friends or partners at work, we work for social status wealth and our place in the world
We're looking for something to do with our lives and for many people work gives them meaning
There are other concerns with UBI
If all welfare programs were exchanged for one single payment, this gives the government a lot of leverage
individual programs are easier to attack or cut than a multitude
or populist smite promise drastic changes to the UBI to get into power
and a universal basic income doesn't tackle all problems when it comes to equality
Rents for example
while $1,000 might be great in the countryside, it's not a lot for expensive metropolitan areas
which could lead to poor people moving outwards and the difference between rich and poor
becoming even more extreme
and of course, for some people, the concept of work itself not being essential for survival is appalling
So is the universal basic income a good idea? The honest answer is that we don't know yet
There needs to be a lot more research more and bigger test runs
We need to think about what kind of UBI we want and what we're prepared to give up to pay for it
The potential is huge. It might be the most promising model to sustainably eliminate poverty
It might seriously reduce the amount of desperation in the world and make us all much less stressed out
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