At the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as fears of an automated work place and an unemployed generation seem insurmountable, Universal Basic Income is the potential policy which simply refuses to die. The idea is that, rather than paying people to work, you pay them to live; each individual would be paid an amount to live – thus encouraging them to pursue parts of life they feel are more fulfilling to them. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Maybe not. Let us take you through the arguments for and against, Put Simply…:
- Basic income would contribute to better, safer working conditions: the safety-net of basic income would allow employees the freedom to challenge their employers on aspects of their workplace.
- Basic income would eradicate benefit fraud: nobody would need to commit fraud to gain the benefit of UBI, as it would be automatically granted to all citizens.
- Basic income is one of the simplest possible tax-benefit models. In implementing it, the layers of regulation and bureaucracy surrounding the welfare state would be simplified – making our welfare state less costly.
- Citizens are more likely to accept part-time or precarious work, as they wouldn’t have to fear losing benefits if they did so.
- The practice, however, is very expensive. One rudimentary scheme worked out for the UK proposed an income of £8,320 a year, to replace all benefits except housing and council-tax benefit. That is hardly a generous annual stipend, and yet if it is to be funded through the income tax system it would require the rates of income tax to go up from 20, 40 and 45 per cent to 48, 68 and 73 per cent. (The Independent)
- The ‘fear’ of automation is trivial. The 18th century saw the same worries, but the loss of jobs in agriculture created even more in industry. The introduction of robots will do the same.
- Basic income severs the connection between income and work. This will lead to a lazier population, with no motivation to seek employment due to the lack of stigma attached to being unemployed.
Where do you stand on it all? Let us know!