Kurtis Eisenhardt | Our Voice Contributor
Since the 1980’s public anxiety has grown surrounding the fact that good paying jobs have been leaving the United States at an alarming rate. The loss of jobs is primarily due to outsourcing and automation. In fact, nearly five-million manufacturing jobs have been lost in United States since 2000. Many experts, and former president Barrack Obama, feel that many traditionally middle class jobs will become obsolete due to advancing technology. Considering the inevitability of automation, I think it is vital for developed countries to fundamentally restructure their economies before most of the population becomes jobless. One such solution is the notion of a universal basic income.
Universal basic income (U.B.I.) is a tax funded program where each citizen of a nation receives a monthly payment from the government to help ensure that no citizen is without basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter. While the money given is intended to be unconditional, it is only meant to supplement the income of citizens. There are varying levels of nuance in the subject, but most proponents of U.B.I. agree that the ability to acquire food and shelter are fundamental human rights. The general goal of a universal basic income is to provide financial security to the public. With this security they gain more free time to be productive and contribute to the economy.
When considering Keynesian economic theories, U.B.I. is a wonderfully sound plan. The Keynesian economics premise is that an economy is healthy when money is frequently changing hands. Every purchase made promotes growth in the economy, which, in turn, creates jobs; as thriving businesses feel more secure in expanding. The result is a positive feedback loop of spending and job creation!
A financially empowered populace is the best source of economic growth. While it may sound like a great idea, critics of U.B.I. have raised serious concerns regarding it's cost. These critics also fear that citizens will stop working if universal basic income were to be offered.
It is important to consider what you would do if you received the U.B.I. money. Would you become lazy and stop contributing to society? Many critics of U.B.I. have expressed concerns over whether or not recipients would continue to work since the essentials would be provided to them. This concern, however, is counter to a large number of studies conducted by institutions including Oxford University, The World Bank, and M.I.T.
To address the cost, some have suggested a heavy progressive tax or a modified version of U.B.I. that would limit the funds to those who earn very little. Many experts claim, however, that the best way for this to work and be universally equitable is for every single citizen, from the billionaire to the beggar, to receive the U.B.I. payment. A wealth of information from studies to real world testing is available from a number of respected intellectuals. I encourage all of you to educate yourselves and your friends on the subject!