Should the U.S. have Universal Basic Income? | The Tylt
Should the U.S. have Universal Basic Income?
Yang has made Universal Basic Income his signature policy moving into the 2020 primary season. His proposal would specifically provide every household with a standard $1,000 per month.
This form of basic income that he is proposing for the United States is a set of guaranteed payments of $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year, to all U.S. citizens over the age of 18. Yes, that means you and everyone you know would get $1,000/month every month from the U.S. government, no questions asked.
Andrew Yang wants to implement the Freedom Dividend because we are experiencing the greatest technological shift the world has ever seen. By 2015, automation had already destroyed four million manufacturing jobs, and the smartest people in the world now predict that a third of all working Americans will lose their job to automation in the next 12 years. Our current policies are not equipped to handle this crisis. Even our most forward-thinking politicians are unprepared.
...Andrew proposes funding the Freedom Dividend by consolidating some welfare programs and implementing a Value Added Tax of 10 percent. Current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally – most would prefer cash with no restriction.
Welfare, as it is currently set up, is a frequently hostile and labyrinthine system which many people are never able to fully utilize. According to Mother Jones, many welfare experts believe a standard monthly income with no strings attached could help dramatically increase quality of life for millions of Americans.
For welfare experts, this is where cash benefits can become a boon. “There are certain programs in place currently, which are deeply paternalistic, that tell the poor how to spend their money,” says Rakeen Mabud, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. “That paternalism, I think, goes away to some degree, when you replace some of those programs, the cash transfer program.”
“There’s a wealth of literature of the effectiveness of cash transfers over ad hoc [welfare] programs,” says Samuel Hammond, a researcher at the Niskanen Center who studies poverty.
Some more conservative experts, however, believe UBI could disincentivize workers. Per Forbes:
UBI would send exactly that wrong-headed message, reducing people’s incentive to work. And it would get worse. Our concept of a dignified life is relative. Getting by on my guaranteed basic income, I will look at my richer, working peers and feel that my lifestyle is not quite dignified. So I will lobby politicians for an increase in UBI. As UBI rises, even fewer people will work; those who still work will have to be taxed more, and so even fewer people will work, and…
If you doubt these arguments, consider that advanced economies are already littered with young people with college degrees no employer considers useful—while ancient Greek literature may be a passion, it does not guarantee a job and a living wage.
Joe Biden has weighed in on the issue, arguing that giving people money without making them work for it will dramatically decrease the morale of the country. Per Newsweek:
“Every time someone would lose a job, my dad would say, ‘You know, Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity, it’s about respect.' It’s about your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and saying, ‘Honey, it’s going to be OK.’ That’s what it’s about. Dignity,” he said. “Getting an annual wage, you sit home and do nothing. You strip people of their dignity.”
...Biden clarified that if there were no alternative, he might be able to get on board with the idea. “It’s like a rational welfare system. But I don’t know anybody on welfare that says ‘Boy, I’m really proud I’m on welfare,’” he said. “So the point is we don’t pay enough attention to what really is at the core of class cluelessness. We mean well, but we’re divided into a professional class now, and everybody else.”