The US Declaration of Independence says we all have the right to life and liberty. But the truth is: You don’t have the right to life and liberty unless you can afford it. 1 in 7 Americans live in poverty. That means they can’t afford basic needs like food and shelter.
Yet, we have an abundance of resources. We throw away 40% of the food we produce and there are 6 vacant homes for each homeless American. The problem is people don’t have access to money. Thanks to globalization and automation there are not enough jobs for everyone to earn a living.
So why don’t we just give everybody the money they need to live? It sounds crazy but “Unconditional Basic Income” is being discussed seriously, all around the world, as an effective permanent solution to poverty.
Here are 10 reasons why:
Most of what we’re all stressed out about is money. This stress leads to poor mental health, which leads to poor physical health, both of which lead to medical bills, which lead to even more stress about money! This survival anxiety can be eliminated with a basic income. So people can focus their mental energy on something other than worrying about money.
When you are less stressed financially you are also less likely to do something drastic and act out violently. Crime is often not the result of bad people but regular people (like you and me) put in bad situations. The odds someone will steal money is greatly reduced if they do not need it.
Everybody agrees it’s messed up for Sea World to punish and deprive whales of food to get them to do tricks. But we treat humans the same way. It’s unnecessary and unethical to force people to do tricks to survive when there’s more than enough resources to go around.
If people didn’t have to work to survive, you might worry that nothing would get done. Sure some people would leave their work if they had a choice. But that’s good because it opens up a job for someone else who does want it. It frees everyone up to do work that they want to do, work that they find meaningful.
Whatever people choose to do: Volunteering, parenting, programming open source software that’s gonna change the world—Productivity would increase because people who like their work are better at it and more efficient.
5. Fair Wages
If people are dependent on a job for survival, they have to take any job available. They can never negotiate a fair wage. Companies will only offer fair wages when people actually have a choice not to work. Basic income gives everyone that choice.
Welfare in the US is a complex maze of 126 separate anti-poverty programs. That’s 126 bureaucratic departments reviewing, rejecting, re-reviewing, then maybe accepting applications and doing the same thing over week after week. What a waste of time and money! Cut out the bureaucracy and just give the money to everyone.
A basic income program is so simple and efficient that it’s effectively transparent. So there would be less bureaucracy for government to hide behind.
To pay each adult citizen $1,000 every month it would cost $2.8 trillion/yr. The US government spends more than twice that: $6 trillion every year. So it’s not a question of whether we can afford it. It’s just a matter of spending our budget more effectively.
I’d much rather my tax dollars go to my fellow citizens’ and my own survival rather than pay for the poorest of our nation to be shipped off to another country to throw grenades and get shot at.
9. The Economy, Stupid!
When people have no money they can’t spend money. Without spending, businesses fail, and jobs are lost. A basic income would stimulate the economy, helping business owners, and their employees, stay in business.
10. Eliminate Poverty
"I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective—the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income." - Martin Luther King Jr