The Basic Income: Universally A Bad Idea

Gonzales, Allen, Reporter

The Basic Income: Universally A Bad Idea

Universal healthcare has been a long debated topic in American politics. The new emerging government universal program is guaranteed income. The name is self explanatory, and is officially known as the Universal Basic Income. The plan of UBI is a type of social security that guarantees a certain amount of money to every citizen within a given governed population, without having to pass a test or fulfill a work requirement. The recipients of UBI include everyone from the poor to the top 1% of rich people. Every UBI plan can be different in terms of amount or design. This economic policy is nothing new being introduced. However it would be new to implement full scale for a nation. Supporters of UBI hope it is capable to eliminate poverty and lift American standards higher to the trickle up economy.


One person whose goal is to implement UBI in the United States of America is Andrew Yang, an Asian American entrepreneur and business owner. Yang is currently a political candidate running as a Democrat in the 2020 presidential primary. His entire campaign is focused on implementing UBI, and his plan is called the Freedom Dividend. The plan 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, no questions asked. Andrew Yang’s political punchlines are “The Great Displacement” and the introduction of the “4th Industrial Revolution.” Only a UBI is anticipated to prevent a predicted economic collapse from the negative effects of automation taking away jobs, which supposedly causes a self inflicted national brain drain. 


Based on statistics from the World Economic Forum, UBI is the worst response to automation because it will prevent nothing. The WEF estimates in the Future of Jobs Report that in 2022 automation will create 58 million more jobs than they will displace. UBI will be a preventative measure for nothing. Technological progress has always disrupted economies globally since the 1st Industrial Revolution. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture reports that 90% of total U.S. jobs during the late 1700s were farm related. Since then, in the 21st century, it has been a dramatic decline to 2.6% of farm related jobs in the U.S. During this time period other industries raised like auto, oil, and healthcare. From historical and present data, it’s safe to assume that automation is nothing to worry about but rather gladly welcoming because it means the world is technologically advancing. 


Alaska is the only state in the U.S. with a guaranteed income plan which is called the Alaska Permanent Fund. On the off chance that the U.S. accomplishes a bill to begin a UBI policy, it will open up a cycle of nationally corrupt elections like Alaska recently experienced with its Permanent Fund. Republican Governor, Mike Dunleavy won the 2018 midterm election for Alaska campaigning on a promise of awarding a $3,000 dividend each month for Alaskans. $3,000 was the largest amount ever offered, in comparison to $2,702 in 2015. Then during the summer of 2019 he backtracks his campaign promise and only delivers $1,600 to Alaskans, who voted on him for his promise. What Alaska experienced was state legalized campaign bribery because politicians can just inflate the dividend amount to gain more supporters. Theoretically, if UBI was nationally implemented the politician in an election who offered the most money during election season will win. 


Recently starting in 2017 and ending in late 2018, Finland had run a 2 year experiment testing the outcomes of a basic income. The program gave 2,000 unemployed recipients $635 a month, with no restrictions in comparison to welfare. The program was created to accomplish an incentive for recipients to find work and lift themselves from poverty. Unfortunately this case did not occur; the study found that recipients of UBI were not encouraged to look for work with a guaranteed income, but it did increase a sense of well being because recipients received money not earned. The recipients of UBI were then compared to normal welfare recipients who both worked an average of 49 days. UBI accomplished nothing better than what welfare does. Imagine a full scale UBI system that included awarding the same amount of money to the top 1% percent like Andrew Yang’s plan.


Universal Basic Income is, universally, a bad idea that will corrupt the American political system and make the top 1% more malicious. Corporations could use this plan against the working class and reduce salaries to compensate for the guaranteed income they receive from the government.  There are other factors to include like the dramatic chance of inflation occurring, which makes UBI and it’s currency useless, meaning everyone is poorer. To fund UBI is another question to ask. Bridgewater estimates it will cost the U.S. government 3.8 trillion a year to fund. What social programs are at risk of being cut when a basic income is implemented? It seems that Universal Basic Income is not so basic. Americans must make sure to read the fine print of the bill before rewriting America’s social contract.

Andrew Yang, 2020 presidential candidate in proposal of the Freedom Dividend, holding a political campaign sign at a Los Angeles rally to display the amount of money his plan will give to each citizen per month in the United States.

Alaska Permanent Fund amounts given to citizens since the beginning of the program, fluctuation occurs to adjust for budget cuts/increases and inflation.