With the current American labor shortage, millions of jobs are available, but few want to go back to work. Many politicians and business owners are criticizing the stimulus checks because it disincentivizes labor. This creates an unneeded worry around UBI and its implementation.
How UBI Could be Beneficial With Proper Measures
UBI reduces poverty and income inequality and improves our health
The Economic Security Project found that paying Americans $1,000 (plus $300 per child) a month would eradicate U.S. poverty entirely. Namibia’s UBI program reduced household poverty from 76% of residents to 37% in one year. In India, UBI improved mental and physical health.
Stress from poverty actually exacerbates inflammation in the brain, which could lead us to make poor decisions. Drug use, domestic abuse, and child neglect are more common in poor households. UBI would reduce the number of adverse childhood experiences and violence.
UBI leads to positive job growth and lower dropout rates
UBI protects people from poor wage growth, lack of job security, and low wages that are currently affecting the gig economy. It’s unsurprising why there are more self-employed freelancers who compete through paystub generators created by other startups.
When testing all 3 available UBI scenarios, the Rosevelt Institute concluded that every single one would lead to increased job output, employment, wages, and prices. The increased purchasing power would result in 10,000 additional jobs.
What’s better is that UBI gives employees the job security to leave a bad job and to stay in school longer. Trials conducted in Uganda, Canada, and Namibia found that earnings increased by 38%, high school completion rose significantly, and dropout rates fell by 40%.
UBI guarantees an income for non-workers, thus empowering unpaid roles
UBI makes all roles equally deserving of payment and eventually eliminates gender-based inequality in the workforce. Both men and women can reduce their working hours to spend more time with their children. Plus, it gives single parents access to healthcare, education, and food without needing to struggle. This also reduces the pressure of transactional sex.
How UBI Could be Disastrous Without Proper Measures
UBI takes money from the poor and gives it to everyone, increasing poverty
A common misconception here is that more money would be given to top earners and that poverty isn’t the only issue that affects the poor. No program is a cure-all, but UBI can help those struggling in poverty find help in other ways.
As discussed in our next point, UBI isn’t a tax; it’s a rebate, meaning income isn’t redistributed upwards – it stays in the same economic class.
Even if UBI didn’t solve poverty by itself, it definitely helps people maneuver across careers at their own pace. Remember: no one will get rich off of UBI, but they will have enough to live.
UBI is too expensive to function on a large scale
The cost of UBI is often exaggerated because it’s calculated by the size of the grant times the size of the population. However, UBI is actually a tax rebate -the government pays you.
Since UBI is universal and in cash, everyone receives it, and the people that receive it earn the same thing that they pay. Say you buy something for $200, and you get a rebate of $100. You only need to budget for the $100, as that’s the only real cost to this policy.
However, with healthcare spending (which UBI is often compared to), we don’t actually know the purchasing power of healthcare itself. On top of that, the government can’t give you back everything you pay in taxes for healthcare. With UBI, we know the net cost of a dollar to a dollar, so it’s unfair and bad journalism to use gross costs to calculate universal income.
UBI costs $539 billion less per year when using net cost, not gross. This number sounds large, but it’s less than 25% of U.S. entitlement spending and about 2.95% of the GDP. What we’re saying is, UBI is very possible with the current amount of money the U.S. currently has.
UBI removes the incentive to work, which could lead to a skill shortage
Earned income motivates people to work, but why is that? The truth is, when workers have options, they are not forced to labor or starve. Yes, even in a free capitalist society.
Able-bodied workers aren’t avoiding minimum-wage jobs because they’re lazy, they’re avoiding them because of poor work conditions, but workers are missing out on more than their mental health.
A trial conducted in India concluded that receiving basic incomes led to improved nutrition, sanitation, and school attendance, meaning UBI increases happiness and the skill pool.