Should universal basic income be established?

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Should universal basic income (UBI) be established?


  • A quantitative aspect is missing. There is a great difference between UBI that amounts to, say, 1/10 of minimum wage and, say, 1/2 of minimum wage.
  • The arguments found at by Encyclopedia Britannica are not fully covered.

Universal basic income should be established

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  • Argument for Universal basic income would provide human dignity. No one would need to be forced to accept undesirable job just to stay alive. Employers would need to establish working conditions such that people want to work in them without the implied coercion of economic necessity.
  • Argument for Universal basic income would increase actual freedom of speech, as opposed to formal (legal) freedom of speech. Since, outspoken critics and voicers of controversial opinions would not need to fear for their livelihood.
  • Argument for With increasing automation of not only manual labor but also administrative and information work, universal basic income is a must.
    • Objection We can consider UBI seriously once the automation advances far beyond where it is today. There is still too much not really pleasant work that needs to be done, and it can only be done in presence of economic incentive to overcome the displeasure.
  • Argument against UBI harms incentive to work. With universal basic income, great many people would stop working in payed (and needed) jobs. While some people work for other reasons than money, a lot of work that needs to be done involves elements of displeasure: it can either be or become routine, tedious, boring, take place in not entirely pleasant environment, etc. The result would be inflation and an economic collapse. (This is approximately Con 3 from[1])
    • Objection While that sounds plausible enough as an abstract argument, a proper scientific argument would be evidence-based, showing results of actual UBI experiment.
      • Objection Fair enough. However, the argument is very likely correct even without a formal scientifically controlled experiment given the general human experience.
  • Argument against "Universal Basic Income (UBI) takes money from the poor and gives it to everyone, increasing poverty and depriving the poor of much needed targeted support."[1]
    • Objection Untrue if each person gets the same amount of cash or the amount is based on location (greater in more expansive places?) while the amount each person or economic entity contributes to the bucket is based on percent rate of their income. And that is the expected implementation, based on the current redistribution methods: the greater the earning, the greater the tax contribution, but not the greater the healthcare provided, schooling for children provided and old age pensions provided. The sensitivity of the redistributed value to earnings of the recipient provided depends on countries (old age pensions are usually more sensitive than healthcare and education), but what all usual redistributives schemes have in common is that they are institutional Robin Hood: take from the rich and give to the poor, and UBI is no exception.
      • Objection The intent of the argument was different: let us assume we collected a fixed bucket to redistribute via taxes. Let us then consider among how many people to redistribute this, whether to everyone or whether to the layer of the poorest. Since the latter group is smaller, one person in that group gets a higher amount in that option. Thus, switching from poor-only quasi-UBI to true UBI takes money from the poor (money that the poor would otherwise receive) and gives it to the less-poor.
        • Objection Fair enough. However, that assumes a fixed bucket to start with. A true-UBI scheme would collect higher taxes than a poor-only quasi-UBI scheme to achieve parity. A true UBI delivers all the benefits of true UBI, including genuine freedom of speech and forcing employers to create decent working conditions for everyone.
    • Objection Expanding on the above, there is nothing unfair about high earners receiving UBI as well since they overpay that in their taxes. The difference between quasi-UBI sensitive to the income of the recipient and true UBI is quantitatively not very great, both redistributing from rich to poor, or earning to non-earning. The main difference between the quasi-UBI and true UBI is that true UBI is super simple to implement and administer, lacking all differentiation.
      • Objection If the rich evade paying taxes (and they have enough money to pay specialists to help them do that), they will get UBI while not paying much in taxes.
        • Objection Pretty much a non-issue: The tax revenue loss from the tax-evading rich is a much greater problem than the relatively tiny amount of UBI a rich person receives.
      • Objection The recipient-income-sensitive quasi-UBI does not create so big disincentive to work.
        • Objection It still creates disincentive for low-paying jobs, often taken by the poorest people: someone still needs to do a bus driver, a supermarket clerk, and do a garbage collection. And such low-paying jobs are likely to be hit the hardest by UBI, as for the disincentive effect.
  • Argument against A 2016 Swiss referendum on basic income lead to rejection by 76.9% (over 3/4) of votes. See also Wikipedia: 2016 Swiss referendums#Basic income referendum. Not conclusive yet suggestive.
    • Objection The referendum initiators proposed 2500 Swiss franks for adults per month (although the English Wikipedia states this was not part of the voted text), which was arguably rather high. A much lower UBI could have passed.


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  1. 1.0 1.1 Universal Basic Income Pros and Cons - Top 3 Arguments For and Against, by Encyclopedia Britannica

Further reading

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