An Argument For Universal Basic Income
This is a post I’ve wanted to write since before college. I’m finally getting to post about it as Universal Basic Income enters the zeitgeist over 7 years after I first began to wonder about it. For even longer than that, it’s seemed like an eventuality in the view of many futurists.
Whether you know me well or you’re just stumbling on my blog, you can imagine that being 23, there aren’t a lot of things I’ve thought consistently through the last half a dozen years of my life. The increasingly compelling argument for basic income is one.
I took a recent post on the super popular FiveThirtyEight.com blog about this topic as the sign that this idea is finally mainstream enough to be seriously discussed. As you know, I’ve been posting lots of ideas here recently as part of my journey to find out what kinds of conversations I should be having as I continue to build my network and figure out where to live.
The basic update on the current conversation about Universal Basic Income is that various governments, for-profit companies, and non-profit organizations are petitioning for research about the viability of Universal Basic Income – a paycheck for everyone, no matter what they’re doing.
Recent interest is spurred by two main concerns:
- There’s increasing evidence that most of us won’t have jobs soon, thanks to intelligent computer automation. Most jobs require humans to do dangerous or deadly boring work, which we put up with because we need to eat and pay rent.
- Jobs are bullshit. People shouldn’t be afraid that they won’t be able to pay their bills if their employer’s needs change. That’s nuts. It stifles organizational agility, and it is one of the many forces that gives rise to organizational behemoths that get nothing important done.
Universal basic income is starting to make common sense.
This means in the foreseeable future, it will be worthwhile to pay everyone for their basic needs (which many estimate at ~$1700 USD per month or so) so that rent and food are a given. Not only is guaranteed income an appealing solution because we already spend about $700 a month on the average US citizen (in convoluted and wasteful ways), but because it also provides a few extraordinary bonus benefits:
- People can finally work without fear. I’ve encountered countless folks in my fairly short time as an adult that are just plain scared for their job security. They don’t want to negotiate salary or speak up about an abusive boss because they know that they need the money to pay loans, rent, and more. Fear should not be the reason people come to work.
- Businesses will function more effectively, people will have more fun, and almost every job would be improved if people weren’t afraid. That sort of security would so effectively contribute to making a world we’re all excited to live in.
Anyway, It’s not a new idea (with supporters from Bertrand Russel to Martin Luther King, Jr.), and there’s plenty you can read about it if you’re interested.
This best thing you can do if you’re curious is check out the article I referenced earlier over on FiveThirtyEight.com – it does a great job of linking to tons of relevant articles, studies, and even gives a brief history of the idea of Universal Basic Income.